Disclaimer: Harry Potter and associated characters are the intellectual property of JK Rowling. I just played with them a little.

By the age of five, he was a marked man.

Before the age of five, in fact, if he had only known it. A murder in utero. As if he could have done anything about it.

His mother, the witch, consulted a fortune-teller the night before she married her Muggle lover. She was a real fortune-teller-a wrinkled, toothless old crone, who had the Sight and sold it for pennies to keep herself in meager supplies of second-rate tea and sausages.

"Give me the cup," she had snapped, the second that Eileen drained the last drops of her hastily-brewed tea.

She squinted her one good eye, beginning to cloud over with cataract, and turned the cup this way and that.

"Two children only," she said, her voice a malicious, old-woman's rasp, "a girl and a boy."

Eileen started to exclaim, started to clasp her hands, her eyes glowing with the light of such love that it made even her plain features momentarily lovely. But the crone held up her wizened hand.

"There's more," she said, turning the cup again. "The boy will grow to be powerful. Powerful, and noble. But he'll be a killer." She looked up, leveling her half-blind gaze at Eileen's pale face and gracing her with a crooked smile. "A murderer."

Eileen's denials withered on her lips. She knew better than to contradict a woman such as this, no matter how tightly she might hold her disbelief in her heart. She left a galleon on the table; it was lucky to overpay fortune tellers.

But the wedding day was beautiful. Tobias was all smiles, his long hair swept back from his head, the better to display his aquiline features, the joy of plain little Eileen's heart. It was easy to forget the fortune teller's words, easy to tell herself that the old woman could hardly be expected to See accurately every time. It must have been a mistake, or perhaps a cruel joke, played on a blushing bride by a bitter old woman forever past her prime.

And their first year was equally beautiful. A glow of love seemed to follow her wherever she went, lending grace to her gangliness and delicacy to her heavy, square face. She was hardly surprised, wrapped in that love, to learn that she had fallen pregnant just a week after they marked their first anniversary.

They engaged a midwife, a woman who plied her trade amongst Muggles and Wizards alike. Eileen wanted no part of Muggle hospitals, and Tobias was happy enough to submit to her wishes. They prepared to birth the baby at Eileen's parents' home, in the country, as far away from the prying eyes of the Muggle government as they could get.

She was huge when the time finally came, so swollen that she could hardly walk. Tobias sat by the hour and read to her, to save her the exertion. The child seemed to move constantly, shifting and kicking to find room. Eileen's face was thin and worn from lack of sleep. And then the labor pains came.

The midwife was duly summoned and duly arrived, carrying a bag of tools in one hand and her wand in the other. She was businesslike and maternal all at once, dispensing commands to Eileen's parents and to Tobias, letting no one be still except Eileen, who, she said, was already working enough, thank you very much.

It took twenty-two hours from the moment she arrived until the moment that Eileen, convinced she was about to die, and ready to welcome it, heard the midwife say "Here we are, now," and then there was nothing but pain and pushing, her mother mopping her brow and Tobias peeking around the door from the hallway, where he had been banished.

When she next knew herself, silence reigned. The midwife, her mother, and old Mrs. Prince, her grandmother, stood clustered at the foot of her bed, staring gravely downward.

"What is it?" she whispered, suddenly afraid.

Nobody answered. Eileen struggled to sit up straighter, struggled to see whatever it might be, however horrible. She hadto see.

A perfectly formed infant lay on the edge of the bed. A tiny girl, with thick, black hair, thicker than any baby she had ever seen before, eyes closed, her tiny hands balled into fists. And another baby-a boy, with the same thick hair, perhaps twice the size of his sister. Hiseyes were open, his mouth working, suckling at the air, his hand wrapped tightly around his sister's ankle. He kicked his feet in the air, staring up at the four women who watched him, making no sound.

Only when she saw the healthful vibrancy of the boy did she realize that the girl wasn't breathing.

"What's the matter?" she mumbled, staring in horror. "What has he done?"

The midwife started, and looked at her oddly. "He hasn't done anything, love," she said gently. "These things happen and it's nobody's fault. Let's clean him up and you can feed the wee lad."

But when she went to lift him, she could not pry his fingers from the dead baby's ankle. His grip was too tight for any of them to unwind. Nor did he cry, even when the midwife, giving up her attempts to open his grip, rubbed him down briskly with a blanket and tousled his dark, matted hair. He simply turned his black eyes on her and cooed, an innocent, baby sound.

"Bless him," she said fondly, stroking his cheek, "he isn't to know."

But Eileen, dizzy with pain and exhaustion, knew better. She remembered the words of the fortune teller, and shuddered with revulsion. A murderer. He had killed his sister.

She could never love him.