Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize belongs to me but to the goddess, JKR. This is rated R for events which will come later although I would like to think that this first chapter is frightening enough…not because it is graphic but because of the situation being described at the end. There will be romance (of course) and there will be action. I hope you like it. Constructive reviews are encouraged. Flames will be doused with a Super Soaker water gun (I just love summer, don't you??)

Chapter One: Ominous Beginnings

Her screams were getting louder as the pain intensified. There was barely any time for a respite now…it just kept coming and coming, wave after wave. She was vaguely aware of hands supporting her, words comforting her. She felt something cool on her forehead and almost smiled with relief but all she could do was concentrate on the pain and try to work through this. She felt almost completely spent and yet she had to do this, she really had little choice in the matter.

"You should feel the need to push soon, Mistress," a voice said to her. It was a soothing voice, calming and she could sense the years of experience in these matters. It reassured her.

Suddenly, she felt something telling her to bear down. She did not need the midwife to tell her how to do this…she simply listened to her body and obeyed it without question. Holding her breath, she pushed as hard as she could until the urge was gone then she panted, as the midwife had instructed her, in order to regain her energy for the next. It followed almost immediately.

Push. Rest. Push. Rest. It seemed as if her entire existence was reduced down to these two words. It was the timeless rhythm of life that had been dictated by her kind for countless millennia. No matter how sophisticated the magic, no matter how advanced the thinking, no matter how pure the blood, this is where it was all for naught. It was at this time, perhaps even more so than the actual act of procreation, where one was reduced to basic animal instincts.

"You are making wonderful progress, Mistress," the voice came again. It was heartening to think that this would soon be over…but that brought upon her a wave of panic…better not to think about that right now. Setting aside those thoughts, she concentrated on continuing the cycle of pushing and resting.

"I see the head now, Mistress. It won't be much longer."

She reached down with her hand and felt the top of her baby's head. That first maternal touch filled her with energy and a fierce love which almost overwhelmed her.

"My child. My first child," were the thoughts racing through her head as she continued to push. She was almost in tears at the prospect of holding her baby in her arms.

She pushed and felt herself stretched to the point of pain.

"Stop pushing now, Mistress. I will ease the baby's head out so that you will not tear."

Panting now, trying desperately to ignore her body's insistent demands, she managed to hold off pushing until she heard the blessed words…

"Now, Mistress, you may push the baby out."

With renewed energy, she pushed and felt the baby ease out quickly. Finally opening her eyes, she saw the midwife quickly clear the baby's mouth and nose and place it on her chest. It was crying and she instinctively placed her arms around the slippery bundle to help keep it warm.

"Congratulations, Mistress. You have a healthy son."

She looked down at her firstborn and felt such a rush of love she felt it would consume her entirely. He was beautiful. His hair was almost white but his skin was very red, probably because he was crying so much. The midwife brought a warm towel to cover him.

"He is a beautiful child, Mistress," the midwife said with a smile.

She could say nothing. She was simply in awe of this child who had spent the last nine months growing inside her. It was an amazing miracle. She had seen other babies and had been around several pregnant women but this was her child, brought forth from her body. She asked for nothing else.

"He looks a bit hungry, Mistress. You might want to try feeding him."

She nodded and picked up the little body and placed him in the right position. The midwife was right, he was hungry and the sounds of crying were quickly replaced by the sounds of contented feeding.

"Well, I must say, he certainly knows what to do. One of the quicker ones in my experience," the midwife chuckled as she gently cleansed the mother and cut the umbilical cord.

She smiled and contented herself with watching her son feed and with feeling his entire hand grasp her little finger as if it were the most important thing in the world…well, second most important at least.

"Mistress, I must tell the Master that he has an heir," the midwife's voice held a note of fear as if this was the one thing she had not been looking forward to.

Her gaze locked with that of the midwife. She saw her own fear reflected in the good woman's eyes.

"Can I not have a few more minutes?" she pleaded.

The midwife looked at her in sympathy but she shook her head silently.

"Of course, please inform my husband that he has a son," she said in a voice that completely lacked emotion.

The midwife curtsied politely and left the room, closing the door behind her.

She looked down at her little boy, now fast asleep, and cuddled him.

"You are the most precious thing in the world to me," she whispered.

There was a knock at the door. She knew who it was.

"You may enter," she said in a quiet voice.

The door opened and her husband walked in. He was tall, very handsome, with silver-blonde hair and grey eyes that glittered as he looked at the baby sleeping in his wife's arms.

"But his heart holds so much darkness," she thought to herself, feeling that sense of fear taking hold of her heart once again.

His eyes did not hold love or affection or any emotion whatsoever. He simply walked over to the bed and sat down on the chair next to it.

"So, what is it? That fool of a midwife couldn't tell me she was so scared," he demanded in a cold voice.

His words stung her deeply. There was no asking how she felt. There was no concern for the health of their firstborn child. He had not even bothered to be with her during the whole birth as if his own breeding were too high to be involved with such…animalistic things. He just wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl.

"You have a son. Isn't he a beautiful ch…"

"Well, at least you got the sex right. A girl would have been a problem…easily taken care of, mind you, but a problem nonetheless," he looked at the child in closer detail, "He's got blonde hair…is that from your side of the family?"

How dare he question the paternity of his child? Her eyes reflected the indignation of being asked such a question and he laughed, a cruel low chuckle, which did nothing to assuage her feelings.

"If I seriously thought this child was not my own flesh and blood, I would kill you both."

She shivered suddenly because she knew this was true.

"What do you wish to name this child?" she asked, trying to draw him back from dangerous waters.

He stood up and paced the room for several minutes. It was obvious that he had not really considered that matter.

"I am not certain. I will speak with…well, I will come to a decision soon," he hesitated and she hated him intensely for that. He could not even name his firstborn son without discussing the matter with that…that…vile…

"How long do you plan to breastfeed this child?" he suddenly asked. It was a question she had been expecting and had discussed with the midwife.

"The midwife suggested that I breastfeed for a year…to make sure that the child is strong and healthy. After a year, I can begin weaning him."

He pondered her words carefully.

"Agreed. The child must be strong. I cannot tolerate weakness."

"He is only a child."

"He is my son and heir. He will follow in my footsteps and he will dedicate his life to the same glorious servitude that I do."

"You wouldn't dare…"

"Ah, but I do dare, my love," he said the last two words in such a sarcastic tone that it hurt her. She knew he did not love her…had only used her body to create the heir he so desperately wanted and needed.

"The child will undergo the Ritual Bath when he is 30 days old. He will be dedicated and consecrated. This will bring honour and glory to the family name and to me, of course."

"You cannot do that! He is too young! You could kill him!" she held the baby closer to her as she tried to keep her voice low. She did not want him to wake up crying. Who knew what her husband would do then??

He walked up to her with deadly intent in his eyes. They were absolutely cruel and looked upon her with loathing. He casually placed a hand across her throat.

"I can and I will. You will soon be more than willing when I place you under the Imperius Curse again once you are fully recovered. The one inconvenience about your pregnancy has been the inability to keep you in line but now that will change. Things will be as they were before the pregnancy. You will be the model wife and mother, a woman of impeccable pedigree, and our son will grow to be a true warrior to our cause."

She could not say a word. She simply looked at him with horror.

He laughed at her and took his hand away.

"Don't look so glum. You will not be separated from your son. I have no desire to return to your bed now that I have an heir. There are other…avenues…open to me which means that I really do not have any need for anything other than a token public appearance now and then. I have never loved you…only married you for your breeding," still smiling cruelly, he kissed the top of her head and left the room.

She was almost shaking with rage and humiliation. The kiss felt like a blasphemy of the most nauseating kind. Nothing he said surprised her but the way he said it, as if he enjoyed inflicting pain on her, was almost more than she could bear.

Looking down on her sleeping child, she felt the tears burning as they pooled in her eyes before escaping to spill down her pale cheeks.

"My poor son. My poor child. What will happen to you?" she wondered.

Maternal instinct told her she had to do something to save her son and she had been prepared for this. She reached over to her bedside table, carefully so that she would not waken her son, and picked up her wand.

"Accio, Unguam Beneficam," she said firmly.

A secret compartment opened in the nearby dresser and out came a small jar, cobalt blue with a silver stopper. It flew directly onto her bed. She put her wand back onto the bedside table and gently placed her son on his back. Picking up the small jar, she opened it and the sweet scent of lilacs filled the room. It was a comforting smell. Inside the jar was a moderate amount of a colourless ointment. Working quickly and gently, she uncovered her son and smeared his sleeping body with an invisible coating of the compound. The scent vanished and there was no trace of the ointment once it was rubbed onto the skin. When she was done, the jar itself vanished, its purpose done.

She covered her son once again with the warm blanket and settled him comfortably against her own body. She could not stop the tears from coming.

"Oh, Albus, will it be enough? Will it save him?" she cried softly.