Disclaimer: I don't own anything! Please don't sue me…
Two men walked through the frozen mist in an ancient forest. The night was deep and dense, and sky was clear and cold, the full moon hanging precariously on a background of stars. The trees, tall and forbidding, formed a dense canopy over their heads. The forest floor was covered with a bed of dried, icy leaves that made eerie crackling noises as they marched, but otherwise the forest was silent as death except for a strange, muffled, mewling sound.
The men trudged on through the grim landscape for what seemed like ages, and without warning, the forest suddenly opened up, revealing magnificent rings of giant stones. In the moonlight, they formed eerie shadows on the frost, glittering wickedly, giving one of the two men an unsettled feeling, as if he were intruding on something sacred. As if he were somewhere he didn't belong. He quickly shrugged off the unfamiliar feeling. He had broken many more sacred laws than invading the sanctity of the Circle, and he would be damned if he would back off now just because of his discomfort.
The other man, however, felt no such uneasiness, and just seemed exhausted. A small bundle hidden under his heavy cloak started to squirm, and upon close observation, it could be ascertained that the strange noises permeating the night originated from said cloak.
As the bundle continued to make pathetic noises, the man ineptly pulled it out, revealing a small infant.
Overall, he was a rather ugly looking baby. Purple and mottled, he looked like he spent most of his young life screaming. To his father's displeasure, the 2-hour-old baby had not stopped whimpering since leaving his mother's breast.
"Lucius! Can't you shut that boy up?"
Lucius, awkwardly holding the baby, looked up, "And how the hell am I supposed to do that, Father?"
Darius Malfoy gave his son a quelling look. "How am I supposed to know? Whenever you started bawling like that, your mother took over… But I suggest you quiet him soon, or the ceremony will take even longer." Darius shot his son a wicked smirk, "And I don't suppose you want to learn how to change a dirty nappy, now do you?"
At this comment, Lucius, looking decidedly green, started to frantically jiggle the small infant, hoping to soothe him. Remarkably, the boy quieted down a bit, and closed his eyes. Lucius breathed a small sigh of relief, before remembering his dignity and resumed his arrogant stance.
Darius, observing this interaction with no small amount of humor, remarked, "Are you quite finished?"
Darius stretched out his arms, "Well then, give me the little brat and lets get this over with, or do you want to wait until the Spring Equinox?"
Lucius quickly handed over the squirming bundle and complained, "Finally! Why couldn't we just apparate here anyway? That goddamn walk was hell on my new boots. Moreover, after waiting twenty hours at St. Mungos for my son to be delivered, just to be dragged out to the middle of nowhere two hours later with said squalling son, I am exhausted. Now can you tell me what the hell we are doing?"
Darius rolled his eyes. Was his son really this spoiled and irritating all the time? "Just give me the boy. Remember the ceremony? The one that can only be performed at certain times of the year? The one that we would have to wait three months to even attempt to do again?"
At this, Lucius colored a bit, "Yes, I do remember, probably better than you. After all, I am the one who has… talent… in this area."
"Good. Glad to see that you have some intelligence after all. Now since you are such an expert, set this goddamn thing up before I freeze my arse off out here."
At this, Lucius quickly paced to the center of the clearing. The Circle was made of two perfectly circular stone rings. The stones were massive and ancient, but were perfectly preserved, showing little natural wear from the elements. Inside these circles was a simple stone alter, with four smaller pedestals surrounding it.
Shivering, Lucius took off his luxurious fur-lined cloak with a twinge of regret, revealing a set of dark brown robes. With a last look of longing, Lucius then took out his wand, and with a quick swish and flick, conjured four silver bowls. He smoothly placed these on each of the four pillars. In one bowl, he lit a small fire. In another, he placed a charmed, contained windstorm. In the next, he poured water from a small flask. In the last, he deposited a handful of dirt from the ground.
Lucius surveyed his handiwork, and satisfied everything was in order, called to his father.
Darius slowly advanced to the altar, holding the young baby. After casting a warming spell on the cold, hard slab ("Can't have the brat dying on us, can we son?") he gently placed the baby on the stone.
The baby, remarkably silent during these proceedings, opened his eyes and looked up at his grandfather.
"Well boy, he certainly looks like you did when you were born. You were an exceedingly ugly infant also. His eyes! Ahhh, you can already see the Malfoy eyes. It's good that he takes after you instead of after that Black girl."
Lucius really didn't see the resemblance himself. The baby's eyes seemed to be that vague blue that all infant eyes are until they changed a few weeks later. He huffed impatiently, "Are we going to get this over with, or are we just going to chat about my amazing good looks all night?"
Darius glared at his insubordinate son, and received a smirk in return. Rolling his eyes, he began the incantation. He saw from the corner of his eyes that his son moved to stand just in front of the pillar containing the bowl of earth. He heard Lucius begin to chant along with him, adding his considerable power to the spell weaving around the altar.
As the incantation went on, the bowls seemed to vibrate with latent power, and as the spell reached its climax, the men stopped chanting, and four pillars of colored energy exploded into the night.
Darius smiled. Any minute now…
The smile slowly disappeared as he looked up. The moon… the moon was disappearing. It looked like a lunar eclipse, but intuitively Darius knew this was definitely not something that ordinary. A Darkness, liquid ebony, was covering the moon at an incredible speed, blotting out its natural luminescence. The moon was soon completely covered, leaving a horrible gaping hole in the night sky.
Meanwhile, as Darius was preoccupied with the moon, Lucius was watching his son with fascinated horror.
"What? Can't you see that there is something wrong here? Your mother will have a lot to answer for when I talk to her. I can't believe that she never mentioned that this would happen. When we did this at your birth nothing like this ever…"
Darius turned sharply to his son, "What!?!! What is it?" He noted with some alarm that his normally perfectly composed son looked pale and drawn, and could not seem to take his eyes off… the altar! The boy! By the Goddess, he had forgotten about him!
Darius quickly turned and stared down at the stone slab. Horrified, he took an instinctive step back.
Inky Darkness had engulfed his grandson.
Pure ebony ether surrounded him, overwhelmed him. As Darius and Lucius watched in shock, the onyx substance seemed to become less substantial, less concrete. The boy opened his eyes… and instead of baby blue, there was only black. Oh Gods, the boy was absorbing it!
Soon, there was nothing left of the Darkness but the wisps of memory. The moon had returned to its normal state after it had disappeared into the boy. But the four elemental pillars still raged into the night. Lucius, with what little presence of mind he had left, started the final incantation that would end the ritual.
With the magical spell ended, the two men did nothing but stare at the small, shriveled boy on the altar.
He whimpered pathetically.
Lucius was the first to snap out of his trance. "I… I had better take him back to Narcissa. She will be wondering… and… well… Goodnight, Father."
Lucius quickly scooped up the child, deposited him under his cloak, and set off at a pace that was as close to a run as he could get and still be considered dignified.
Darius stood looking at the altar for a long time after Lucius left the clearing.
"Yes… your mother has a lot of questions to answer…" He whispered quietly into the night.
A darkly cloaked figure looked up to the moon and smiled. Another robed figure joined him and said, "What are you so happy about? That smile on you just isn't natural. It's positively scary."
The dark man turned to his companion, grinned and said, "All is as it should be."
-Approximately Seven Months Later-
"Lovely night, isn't it? I mean, you really couldn't have picked a better night for the ceremony if you tried. Its so pretty! Although there really is no breeze to speak of, and when it starts to get hot like this, I really do enjoy a slight…"
A man in dark robes sighed and tried to tune out the annoying chatter. Finally, he snapped. "Be quiet will you? I have just had to be one of the most exhausting days of my life. Comforting a violent son-in-law who has a bad temper to begin with was not my idea of a pleasant time." He mused regretfully to himself. "Damn that boy's lack of control! If he wasn't sedated, I could be asleep right now and he could be in this damn forest… "
The small figure in blue robes sniffed indignantly. "Well, that's no excuse for rudeness! I was there for just as long as you were, and I was just as worried as you, she's my mentor!"
The dark man pinched the bridge of his nose. Why were children so hard to handle? Why couldn't they be calm for once? "I'm sorry, Nymph… er, Tonks, I was worried for my daughter all day, and I am just relieved that she and the baby are healthy."
Nymphadora Tonks, age ten, was blessedly silent for a few moments.
However, as she bounced through the forest behind the dark-robed man, an unusually serious thought struck her young mind. "Hey… Why am I performing the ceremony with you? It's really important, isn't it? And I'm… I'm only an apprentice…"
The dark man looked back at the young girl and saw how nervous and scared she suddenly looked. He groaned wearily, but kneeled down next to her. "Tonks? You know that Miranda's labor was unexpectedly early. Everyone who was supposed to be here is at the Solstice ceremony, and if we wait to contact them, we lose our window of opportunity. You have proven to my daughter that you have tremendous skill and talent, and she has been very pleased with your apprenticeship."
At this, he held up a previously unnoticed bundle, and pulled back the blankets to reveal a tiny baby. "See my granddaughter here? She needs you to be brave for her. She's only an hour old, and everyone who could protect her isn't here. So can you defend her for me while I perform the ceremony?"
As he watched, Tonks puffed herself up, fears forgotten, proud to be given such an important mission. Well, there's no doubt about it, she's definitely a Gryffindor, he thought. Aloud, he said, "Now we need to hurry and get to the Circle, so we can perform the ceremony, alright?"
Tonks responded by giving him a determined look and marching off quickly through the dark forest. He quickly re-covered the baby and started after her.
Soon, they reached the Circle. The two figures, however, barely took in its majesty before stepping comfortably into its confines. While the dark man gently set his infant granddaughter down on the pedestal, Tonks hurriedly placed four elements into the silver bowls that the man conjured, all the while chatting away, her earlier trepidation discarded.
"I can't wait to go to Hogwarts! I mean, I get to learn magic, meet…"
"Tonks! Are you quite finished? We need to start."
Tonks jumped visibly, and inspected her handiwork. "Um, well, I think it's all done." The dark man gave her A Look. Tonks hurriedly corrected herself, "I mean, yes! All done! Perfect! Right…ummm, now what?"
"Stand in front of your element, Tonks, and say the incantation with me. All you need to do is watch the baby and see which element she chooses. Can you handle that?"
Tonks solemnly nodded, and stepped in front of the bowl containing the tightly contained windstorm. Once she was in place, the dark man and the young girl began to chant.
Over and over. Methodically. Rhythmically. Until they reached a crescendo, and the four elemental pillars of light exploded into the night. Tonks looked up into the night in awe.
"Oh, wow!!!! This is the wickedest this I have ever seen! Even the wizarding circus wasn't this…"
"Tonks!! Your job, remember??"
Tonks still stared up into the sky, dazed, "Wha? Oh! Oh, yeah!" Tonks gave one last wistful look at the night, and turned her gaze to the baby on the altar. She really is a cute little thing, she mused, not at all like cousin Draco… She vaguely remembered his little pinched face from her one visit with her mother, and compared it to this infant's calm, contented expression. As she was mentally contrasting the cuteness of the two babies, she began to notice a slight… well… brightness around her.
Tonks looked up at the dark man to tell him, and noticed that his gaze was fixated on the moon. Not that she really noticed a difference; it always looked like this when full. Hey, wait a tic, wasn't it a new moon tonight? She squinted at the moon again, and noticed that it didn't have the pock marks that usually dotted its shape. It… it looked like a big ball of… of light?
Tonks quickly looked back down to the little girl, and found that she had to shade her eyes from the powerful light emanating from the child. "Sir? Sir! Something's happening!"
The dark man looked at the altar, and quickly looked away, as the intensity hurt his eyes. He looked around the clearing, and noticed that it looked as bright as day, but the source of the light was not the sun or the moon, but the little girl in front of him.
The light began to recede, and he could look at his granddaughter again. She was still glowing, and her eyes instead of the dark brown she was born with, were a bright gold. Soon, there was nothing left of the brightness except the spots in front of their eyes.
Surprisingly, it was Tonks that had the presence of mind to initiate the final chant. The pillars receded, and the clearing was again back to its usual state.
The dark man picked up his granddaughter and grinned like a maniac. She had come at last. After a generation of worry, she had come. Relief welled up in him, and he almost felt like doing a happy jig around the clearing. Almost.
Tonks was happily chatting away again, "That was so wicked! Absolutely the neatest! I have to tell Miranda exactly what happened!!" Then Tonks looked thoughtful for a second. "Sir, what happened?"
The man smiled at her gently, "A miracle."
A/N: Well, this is my attempt at mystery… yeah. Anyway, I took a little liberty with canon birthdates, but don't worry, I won't make the characters OOC. (or at least too OOC) I love Tonks, I think she is such a fun character. I also love the Malfoys, I don't really buy the whole Abusive!Lucius thing. I think it's much more likely that Draco was spoilt rotten, and if there was any abuse it wouldn't be physical. Anywho, I would love it if you told me what you thought!