Molly Weasley has screamed through five births before this one, but she has never screamed like on the night the planets aligned and the stars imploded on themselves.
She has never screamed like on the night destiny knocked on its own door.
She has never screamed like on the night her daughter was born into this world.
"A seventh child for the Weasleys," is heard down the halls of Saint Mungo's, a whisper half contemptuous, half impressed.
"A seventh child for the Weasleys," makes its way down Diagon Alley.
"A seventh child for the Weasleys," seeps through the creaks that separate Nocturn Alley from the rest of the civilized, respectable wizarding world.
Somewhere in the dusty, crowded rooms of Borgin and Burke's, a young clerk catches the rumor by its tail and inhales it deep, filling his lungs with its promise. Interesting.
There is a thing about fairytales, how they sugarcoat their lies to make their consumption easier; how they seem to slide down your throat like honeyed, buttered bread; how their ending never burns, though the rest of the story is in ashes. The thing they never say is that evil is like sweetener, sticking to your teeth in rotten cavities.
You still need sugar, Molly Weasley, no matter how many healthy fruits you stuff your silly homemade pies with.
Yours is not a fairytale, Molly Weasley, but evil is more than just words on paper, anyway.
Abraxas Malfoy hears the news from his son, who's sneering with disdain and whose contempt reverberates with every inflection of his accent.
"The Weasley woman had a girl, you say?"
Lucius nods exasperated and Abraxas' smirk flourishes on his face like molten lava filling empty caves. Suddenly, it matters none his son doesn't understand power, not when, if he is not entirely mistaken, she has finally arrived.
There is another course this story could take, of course, where the young clerk believes in prophecies and stars and goes on rampant quests against newborns and destiny and specters of his own mind's making.
There is another story, but this is not that story.
Here, the devil itself has the sense to use the long spoon and his mind is as sharp as the sharpest thing the reader can think of.
Here, Tom Riddle knows the stars are fickle. And that their words change like the winds that caress the tides.
Molly Weasley doesn't like to be reminded of her mistakes, so maybe that's why she tucks the note in the roaring fireplace after tearing it to pieces.
Time to pay your dues, it says and maybe that's why she clutches her daughter to her chest that much tighter.
Some women went to Borgin and Burke's for antique black market jewelry and fairy-spooned embroideries.
Some women went to Borgin and Burke's for poison and cursed daggers and ways to get rid of old, dreadfully boring husbands.
Some women went to Borgin and Burke's to count the lashes of a boy who never seemed to become quite man, who never seemed to be quite human, who was half marble statue and half the cold fire gods are made of.
Molly went in there for her sweetheart's heart and though it happened almost six births ago, time is a loop that cannot be escaped.
"So peculiar," Narcissa says to her sister over tea, voice pleasant and lacking inflections. "A girl for the Weasleys, I mean. Half Prewett, too."
Bellatrix nods thoughtfully, well-manicured fingers daintily holding the porcelain teacup, bored expression carefully in place.
"It's been what? Five hundred years?" she asks, voice dripping with fake idleness.
They both know it's even longer than that and still refrain for putting names on things, for they are the daughters of an Ancient House themselves and know what flows through their veins is not mere blood, but stardust melted and diluted to fluid power.
Tom arrives at their door on the eve of Ginny's first birthday, all charming cruelty, all perplexing, statuesque coldness.
"You can't take her," Molly says defiantly, like a woman used to getting her way.
A seventh child is not a mere kid. A seventh daughter is an explosion in an abyss.
"What do you want with her?" Molly asks wobbly, watching her sweetheart-turned-husband grin foolishly at Riddle while under the attack of a blood-chilling Cruciatus.
By now, her bones ache, her heart stutters, her blood boils. Death blows gray fog upon her vision and she bends.
"Time to pay your dues," Tom says, Cheshire cat turned rogue.
"They found the Weasley woman dead," Abraxas Malfoy is told by his gleeful son one day on the morrow and he raises an eyebrow in polite inquiry.
"Arthur Weasley is in the Janus Thickey ward," Ted Tonks says the same night over burnt beef stew and over-boiled potatoes and Andromeda's forehead furrows as, for the first time in years, she counts the all-encompassing string of dates all pureblooded girls have learned for centuries by heart.
The Weasley boys scatter like wild cats and nobody thinks too much of little girls as a clerk disappears into the night, a fragile whimper trailing behind.
Tom is sarcasm and contempt and challenge and sugarcoated bigotry and Ginny knows all this words before she is even five.
She knows Tom before she is even five and he finds it dreadfully peculiar.
"Have you finished your translations, Ginny?"
Ginny's barely ten when it happens.
"I think I prefer Ginevra," she says and he acknowledges it with a tilt of his head.
"Have you finished your translations, Ginevra?"
"I think I'd prefer you do them for me."
Tom smirks and the curve of Ginevra's lips is a perfect mocking mimicry. "Force me," he commands, tossing her his wand.
It doesn't work then, but it does eventually.
She's fifteen when she starts to put things together, all the little snakes that can be found in their home and the Aztec religious mythology books that make the bookshelves sigh and creak and the runes she keeps translating from Mayan languages dead for centuries.
"I'm beginning to figure it out," she tells him as she bends over a sky map so crowded it looks like a battlefield in ink.
He gently trails a finger over the conch birthmark on her nape and though she can't see his hungry gaze, she can still feel herself being eaten alive.
"Are you?" he murmurs and she shivers in liking of the devouring words.
"You used to come more often," she admonishes Abraxas one time as she takes the parchments from his arms and spreads them on the tables so they can both lean over them in peace.
"My debt to him is almost paid," he offers as way of explanation and Ginevra hums gently, a sound both idly polite and dooming in its gravity.
"Tom's debts are never fully paid," she says and Abraxas feels the cold clutch of desperate excitement clenching around his heart.
This girl, he thinks, this girl knows power. And bows his head in acceptance of her words.
"And how is you ward, Abraxas?" Bellatrix asks conversationally over breakfast.
"Like everything she wouldn't have been in other circumstances," he answers and the woman nods in understanding.
He introduces her to his Knights on her seventeenth birthday - draped in green silks and silver accents, a vision with a cruel smile and mocking blue eyes - and they toast her in the silence of dawn.
"A pretty weapon for your steady hand," Rodolphus Lestrange says, addressing Tom over her head as if Ginevra is wisps of air creating an unclear form.
"A pretty weapon for her own steady hand," Tom argues, "and I'm just riding on her coattails."
"Chosen by the old order of things," Narcissa Malfoy observes while placing a hand like a vice on her brother-in-law's arm. "The feathered snake's last priestess."
Ginevra doesn't crumble under the force of her stare and the older woman eventually bows her head in submission.
He takes her aside when she is seventeen and presses a cup into her hands and says "You can make and unmake the universe, Ginevra, and the Via Lactea is bending at your will."
"I know," is all she says and "You'll have me unmake it at your whim?" like the smart girl he always knew she was.
"Naturally," he drawls and bends to kiss her forehead with poisonous care.
In the end, this is not a story with a climax. It's an ode to power for a man who could turn straws to gold with just a thought and who could make babies into princesses and give them the power to be queens. It's an ode to power for a man who planned so careful and so deep he knew the quiet force of deals and who became the spider in the middle of the web and the villain who crowns the evil peasant girl in quiet, lacking ceremonies.
It's a story without a climax for a man who knew love to be the best weapon and didn't fear it and who used its double edges for his advantages until the very end.
It's a story without a climax, but it's a story, nonetheless.
Still, not a fairytale.
"I'll make him love you to death," he promise Molly and "You'll pay me with the priestess' soul."
And Molly, naïve and young, just said "Weasleys only ever have boys," and Quetzalcoatl made the stars align in a carousel of doom.
A story lacking a climax, but a story nonetheless. Inspired by Rumplestiltskin if you squint your eyes hard enough