Disclaimer: The Harry Potter Universe belongs to J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. I'm just taking them for a spin around the block--I'll put them back where I found them, I promise.

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Walburga Black knew how to throw a wonderful party. It was August 31st, and she was hosting a 'Slytherin' bash in honor of her eldest son, Sirius, who was going away to Hogwarts for the first time tomorrow. Illustrious guests were dressed in silver and green, and the exquisite food was served on silver plates emblazoned with snakes.

The only problem—if, even, it was a problem for Walburga—was that the guest of honor was no where to be seen. After he had been dragged around to meet the most important of guests, he had quietly disappeared.

Several floors above, in a small room, Sirius was engaged in a deadly struggle. He was battling Regulus, in their final battle before Hogwarts. "Knight to F-3." He whispered.

Regulus and Sirius Black had been playing chess together for over three years. At the tender ages of six and eight, their father had deemed them old enough for the game and had taught them the rudiments over the course of a summer. They disliked it at first, because just as there were lessons for reading, math, and Latin, there were now lessons in Chess. In time, as they each improved, they had grown to love the game. It had become such a part of their relationship that there was always a game in play on the elaborately carved set in the formal parlor. The unspoken rule of that particular game was that at least one move had to be made per day. Regulus and Sirius had taken to checking the set each time they passed the parlor to make sure it wasn't their turn. The fact that they were forbidden from being in the parlor only made the game that more interesting. If you were caught it was an automatic forfeit.

Regulus countered his move, and Sirius moved again. Both were deep in concentration, trying their best to ignore any advice from their chess pieces. After a particularly good move where Regulus took Sirius' bishop, he leaned back. "Siri," he asked quietly, "Are you scared?"

Sirius sent Regulus a deadly glance, "Stop trying to distract me," he muttered.

"No, really. Are you scared?"

Sirius sent his rook to topple one of Regulus' pawns. "Honestly? Yes and no."

"Yes and no? How can you be both?"

Sirius sighed. "I just am. I'm scared, yes, because it's new, and I don't know anybody, and…" he trailed off thoughtfully, "But no, I'm not scared. I'll be glad to finally be sorted into Slytherin, so I can get on with it."

Regulus didn't ask what "it" was. Sirius was referring to finally fitting in as a Black, a member of the most Ancient and Noble House of Black. Finally being sorted into Slytherin would make Sirius' life easier, and hopefully, allow him to obtain the unrequited love of his parents instead of the conditional love that he was granted. "Yeah," Regulus mumbled, sending his knight to take Sirius' queen, "I'm going to miss you."

Sirius looked up from the chess board to see Regulus' eyes filled with tears. "I know," he whispered, "I'm going to miss you, too."

"Siri," Regulus whispered, "It's…going…to be hard without you."

"I know," Sirius said sadly as drunken laughter drifted up from the ballroom, "Don't let them get to you."

Regulus nodded bravely despite the tears that were threatening to spill out his eyes, "I won't."

Late the next night, an owl tapped quietly at Regulus' window. Opening the window as quietly as he could, he took the letter off of Sirius' beautiful eagle owl. Opening it eagerly, he read the only word Sirius had scrawled on the parchment. Gryffindor. Underneath was a picture of a toppled king piece. Sirius' meaning was clear: he had been checkmated and there was nothing he could do now to secure the affection of their parents.

Regulus threw himself down on his bed, and for the first time in his life, cried himself to sleep.