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Title: What the Heart Wanted
Author: BrightFeather
Type: Fiction
Length: 1005 words, one-shot
Main character or Pairing: Merope Riddle nee Gaunt
Card: Three of Swords
Card Interpretation: "For a woman, the flight of her lover."
Rating: PG
Disclaimer:Harry Potter and all associated characters and situations do not belong to me. I borrowed them, hugged them, squeezed them, called them George, then gave them back like a good girl. All things Harry Potter belong to JK Rowling.
Warnings: mentions of past child abuse
Summary: Merope Riddle reflects upon the choices that led to her current situation.
Author Notes: My thanks to Chris, my beta reader and britpicker, who keeps me on the straight and narrow... This can also be considered a companion piece to A Little Intelligent Conversation.

He left me. I should have seen it coming, I really should have. I thought that even underneath the love potion, he loved me. I was wrong. I know my father won't take me back, not pregnant as I am with a half-blood child. Not after 'soiling' myself with a Muggle. I don't want my child to grow up there, anyway. I had a miserable childhood, a horrible girlhood, and now I have blighted my adulthood as well. I thought I could make my Tom truly fall in love with me. He was so handsome, so perfect! Not for the likes of me. Not for the last, unwanted daughter of Slytherin's line. For the useless, almost-squib daughter of Marvolo Gaunt.

I thought I could snatch a little bit of happiness for myself. I thought that for once, I could have someone love me, not shout insults or throw curses and hexes for real or imagined sins. That for once I could be better than a disappointment and a failure. But my father was right. I am a worthless excuse for a witch, just like he always said.

I lay my hand on my stomach and feel my son kick. I have something now that can't be taken from me--a son whom I can love and will love me back. I won't treat him as my so-called family treated me, I swear it. Somehow, I will take care of us both, even if I must sell Slytherin's locket for enough to feed us until after he is born. After that, I'll find work somewhere, even if it's just as shop assistant to support us. I may be worthless, but my son is not. I have made mistakes, but he is innocent. I hope he inherited his father's looks... and perhaps he will be stronger than I, because of his father's strength.

I hope so. I can't give the world to my son. Perhaps I would have, if his father had stayed. If I wanted to keep him, I should never have discontinued the love potion, but I was deluding myself. I honestly thought that his false love had deepened and become real. I wanted the real thing. I shall have it, now. My son will love me, just as I love him. It's really too early to know for sure that he's a boy, but I know anyway. In school, I wasn't very good at much of anything, except for potions and divination. Potions, however, are a family gift and not much to be proud of. Like parseltounge and my family's thrice-be-damned pride, they have not brought me happiness.

My child is a boy. He shall be named Thomas Marvolo Riddle, after his father and his grandfather. I loved Tom, his father, I really did. Or perhaps I loved the idea of him more than I loved the real man. I ignored the hints of cruelty, the arrogance, and the sheer bloody-mindedness that were present in him. I hope my son inherits the best of both of us. I hope he receives the family gifts and is a strong wizard and a strong man when he grows up.

I just hope that I will be around to see it; my Sight has been more limited since my husband left. It was never a large gift, anyway. Despite the fact that my Tom left, there is one bright spot--I managed to get him to marry me, so my child will not be a bastard. There is far too much stigma associated with being a illegitimate child in both my world and the Muggle world. It will be hard enough for him to be a half-blood, especially if he is sorted into Slytherin once he goes to Hogwarts.

There will be no escaping that. He must attend Hogwarts to learn to control his magic. Damnitall. If my son and I were Muggles, Tom would not have left us. If I was a Muggle, my life would have been better. Magic has never brought me anything but pain and I can only pray to a God who has never shown me any mercy that my son will have a happier life. I will not live to see him grow up. I know this, just as my Sight showed me that by the time he leaves school, war will have broken out all over Europe.

I can't say how or when or why, but it will happen, just as I will not live much past my son's birth. I hope his life will be happy. I hope that he will be adopted and find someone to love him and he will love them in return. I hope he will someday marry and restore the Slytherin lineage and name. Despite his faults, my Tom is of good blood, in spite of his Muggle heritage. It is his blood that will make his son strong and help renew the magic.

Strangely enough, even though I curse myself for my mistakes, I don't regret giving my Tom the potion; I regret stopping it. I should not have deluded myself that way. After all, who could love scuttling, lack-witted Merope Gaunt? Except my son. Oh, my baby! He would love me, if I should survive, which I won't.

Quickly, I pack a suitcase, taking only the barest essentials. There is no work to be found here. I will not be able to support myself until Tommy is born in this town. If I travel to London, perhaps a potions shop will hire me. Perhaps not. My Sight has not shown me the outcome of this. Perhaps I should give up magic and that small sacrifice would enable me to live past my son's birth. Perhaps my Tom would take me back, at least long enough for me to dose him again. Perhaps if he takes me back, he will fetch a doctor who will save my life so that I can raise my boy. Perhaps...