Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Slytherin Loyalty
By Silver Sailor Ganymede

It was almost three-o-clock in the morning, but Theodore Nott knew that he'd never be able to sleep even if he wanted to. He had hardly slept all summer, and he didn't see why that would automatically change now that he was back at Hogwarts. If anything it would get worse; it always had before. So instead of forcing himself to lie and wait for a sleep that was never going to come, Theodore decided that he was going to sit up in the common room and read. It was peaceful at that time of night: the common room was finally empty. How Theodore craved his solitude and peace; the lack of privacy was the thing he hated most about this awful school.

Theodore stared blankly at the pages of the book that was resting on his lap. He knew there were words in front of him; he just couldn't quite fathom what they said. He was thinking too much again. He had been like that ever since the start of the summer. Why, even Goyle had asked what he was thinking about the other day. If even Goyle could tell that he was thinking then he was certainly thinking too much. Either that or his defences had just crumbled over the summer; he had barely seen a person for weeks. His father had his part of the manor and Theodore had his. Interaction with other people wasn't a thing that either of them was too fond of.

He continued to stare at his book. It was his potions textbook, he remembered that much, but he didn't know why he was trying to read it. He had already finished the essays that Slughorn had assigned them, so why bother trying to read it? Probably because it was the only book he had had a chance to pick up before having to run away from Blaise Zabini, who looked like he was on the verge of suggesting a trip to the darkest part of the dungeons to raid Slughorn's firewhisky cabinet again. If that boy had been any more reckless, Theodore was certain that he would have ended up in Gryffindor despite the fact that he would torture a mudblood as soon as deign to speak to one. Theodore shuddered at the mere thought of this.

He had always known that anti-mudblood sentiment was strong among his housemates, but it had become far more visible since the Dark Lord's return. He had even heard first years, mere children, singing the Dark Lord's praises, evidently brainwashed into brainwashed into believing such sentiments by their parents. The sight of it disturbed Theodore greatly, though of course he was careful not to let anyone realise that. Indeed, that was the only thing for which he was grateful about his father: at least Arcturus Nott had never tried to turn him into a mindless inferi who followed the Dark Lord's every whim.

The entrance to the common room slid open and then shut again. Theodore didn't need to look round to know who it was; the same person had been following this routine every night since they had arrived back at the school. Of course Theodore had pretended to be reading and the other person had not noticed his presence, either accidentally or because they were too wrapped up in trying to hide what they were doing. Theodore suspected the latter: Draco Malfoy had never been the most observant of people.

Theodore could well guess what Draco had been up to, not that he cared too much. So long as he never had to do such things himself; he would rather be branded a traitor than be as weak-willed and cowardly as his father, his schoolmates and their fathers. Theodore Nott had his own mind; Draco Malfoy evidently did not.

"Prefecting again, Malfoy?" Theodore drawled, and was delighted to see Draco jump, startled, for as Theodore had suspected he hadn't realised that anyone was there.

"Of course," Draco said curtly. "What else would I be doing out of bed at this dreadful hour."

Theodore saw straight through this lie, though. Oh, yes, Draco sounded convincing, but Theodore happened to know that he did not have perfecting duties on that particular night. He made it his business to know what everyone else was up to and never let them find out what he knew; that was why he was a Slytherin, after all. However, this time Theodore decided to let Draco know that he had called his bluff.

"Why, I had no idea that the Dark Lord even had input over your perfecting duties," Theodore drawled. Draco visibly paled. "I know you've joined him, you know."

"And I'd like to know why you haven't," came Draco's snarled reply.

Theodore raised an eyebrow. "Why would I?"

"Your father was one of us," Draco replied. "You should carry on this honour."

Theodore's lip curled in distaste. "You really are mindless, Malfoy. You're simply doing this to uphold 'family honour' and all the dragon dung, aren't you? Tch, well unlike you I have my own identity. I am not my father – and you are not yours, as you'll find out soon enough."

"The Dark Lord will show you otherwise."

"I do not fear Voldemort," came the cold reply. Draco flinched. Theodore smirked. He would not fear a name; he was no coward, not like the others in his house. Draco glared down at Theodore. Theodore glared back. He was not one to be intimidated by a Malfoy – nor even by the Dark Lord himself. Eventually Draco gave up and turned to walk into the dormitory.

"Have fun perfecting tomorrow night," Theodore called after him then he turned his attention back to his potions book. But of course he could not focus; he never could anymore. There was too much playing on his mind.

Draco had done the wrong thing. He had joined the Death Eaters, got himself involved in this war, and likely had blood on his hands already. Theodore, however, would do nothing of the sort; he was a Slytherin, and his only loyalty was to himself, just as had always been the case. And yet Draco, for all his wrongdoings, could sleep soundly at night, while Theodore was kept awake, staring blankly at the pages of a rotting old potions textbook. Such delicious irony: how very Slytherin the world could be at times, he decided.