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SPOILERS FOR VARIA ARC. If that doesn’t worry you, read on!
– The Cradle Affair is the name for the biggest coup d’etat (internal revolt) in recent Vongola history, an attempt to kill the 9th-generation Vongola leader and place Xanxus as the 10th-generation boss. This happened 8 years from the present.
– It all happened when Xanxus discovered that he was NOT a direct blood-relative/descendant of Vongola Ninth. Now, for someone who was taken from the slums(remember: Xanxus’ mom believed that Xanxus was Vongola Ninth’s son and would be the next Vongola Boss, hence she gave him a name with two X’s) at a young age and promised greatness (ie, inheriting the Vongola name AND the title of Tenth Boss), discovering that he wasn’t a direct descendant meant he wasn’t going to be the Tenth.
– This made him very angry (not that he wasn’t already angry because there were other people who were candidates for being Tenth- it was a competition Xanxus wanted to win), especially at the Ninth for deceiving him, making him believe that he was his real son, that he was actually going to get anything, especially the title of Tenth Vongola Boss.
– Basically the “Cradle” in “Cradle Affair” refers to “the place where anything is nurtured during its early existence”, which would be, for Xanxus, Vongola Ninth taking him in as his son when he wasn’t, and being brought up thinking that he would be the next Boss. It’s more of a family thing than being frozen and caged in steel walls.
– Somewhere between this discovery and the coup d’etat/Cradle Affair, Xanxus got involved with the Varia and became their boss. Which is weird, since the “law” with the Varia is that whoever defeats the old Leader becomes the Leader– Squalo was supposed to be the Varia’s leader after defeating Tyr, but since he’d already pledged fealty to Xanxus, I suppose Xanxus became the de facto Leader.
– Now, being Leader of the Varia gave Xanxus power. Not a lot to control the Vongola, but it was still power. He got himself a small group of loyal Varia members (his Guardians), and then they stormed the Vongola HQ. All because Xanxus felt that he deserved the title of Tenth, and that he was angry at Ninth for not telling him that he was adopted, for deceiving him all those years.
– Timoteo, the affirmed 9th-generation boss, has his version of the dying-will flame and all powers associated with it. This allowed him to use a variation of the reverse zero-point breakthrough on Xanxus, freezing Xanxus in place. Since Xanxus has no genetic link and no affirmation, he could not counter the freezing at all.
– Xanxus is then cryogenically sealed off and hidden deep underground, for the next few years.
– The revolt is kept secret from all but the highest echelons of the Vongola (including CEDEF), and Xanxus is pretty much forgotten.
– Unfortunately someone collected all 7 Vongola power rings and released Xanxus from that cryo state (collecting all 7 rings in one place releases a great amount of power). Xanxus revives to wreck havoc on the family once again.