"Black or white?" Draco asked as he methodically began setting up the chess board.
After a pensive second, Theo replied, "Black."
Draco frowned and hastily said, "Er—well, you know we should really randomize it, come to think of it. Here, I'll put a piece of each color in my hand, and then you pick one." He plucked two pawns from the board and put one in each hand, mixing them behind his back before presenting his two closed fists to Theo.
"The left one."
Draco opened his fist to reveal a black pawn and immediately frowned before stuttering, "Well, I mean, it really only counts if we do two out of three. Let's try it with the bishops instead."
"You just picked up two white bishops, Draco," Theo casually interrupted.
"Er—I did, didn't I? Funny that," Draco said, before picking up a black and a white bishop with a quick glare at Theo.
"Listen, if you want to be black, Draco—"
"Well, I mean if you don't want to," Draco trailed off with a wide grin before promptly spinning the board so the white pieces were facing Theo and the black pieces were facing himself. "White goes first; your move."
"Pawn to A4," Theo promptly began.
"Pawn to F5."
"Rook to A3."
"Bishop to A3."
Theo frowned as Draco's bishop swung its arm out and knocked over his rook, unceremoniously dragging it off the edge of the board. "Your chess pieces are awfully violent for wizarding chess," Theo replied, before resting his chin on his hand and pensively looking at the different chess pieces. He continued regarding the chess board, before nonchalantly continuing, "I'm surprised your aunt and uncle are here. And your uncle-like-person."
"My 'uncle-like-person'?" Draco snorted. "If you don't know the proper term for how Rabastan is related to me, you can just call him by his name. And it's Christmas; where else would they be? Hurry up and make your move."
"I just meant that since they're all escaped Azkaban prisoners. Most Azkaban escapees can't even owl anyone for risk of being caught, much less visit civilization." Theo glanced towards Rodolphus, who was sitting on the other side of the room with a Daily Prophet in front of him. "Knight to A3."
Draco shot Theo a peeved look as his white knight clobbered Draco's bishop and dragged it to lie with the other defeated chess piece. "I guess our house has enough security charms on it that we don't have to worry. Pawn to C6."
"Why don't you invite more people over, then?" Theo asked in a forcibly casual tone, determinedly looking at the board as he spoke. "Pawn to C3."
"You mean the other Slytherins in our year? Just because our house is secure, doesn't mean I fancy broadcasting to the entire student body that the Lestranges are staying with us. Pawn to B5."
A nearly imperceptible crease was lining Theo's forehead when he next spoke. "I wasn't really thinking of students. It's just, when I received your owl inviting me for Christmas dinner I thought—I thought there might be other people here. Pawn to B5."
Draco frowned slightly as Theo's pawn dragged his from the board, before smiling as his pawn took the previously conquering pawn from the board. "Pawn to B5. And I don't know what's got your knickers in a knot, because you were going on about other guests earlier, too, but there are other people here—all of the Lestranges and Snape."
"I didn't mean it that way," Theo said irritably, as though Draco was missing a rather obvious point. "I meant that maybe I was thinking there might be another Azkaban escapee here who I would've liked to see, because I haven't seen him in a while."
"No, I already told you; it's just us and the Lestranges. And Snape. Hey, what happened to our defeated chess pieces?" Draco abruptly stated, glancing towards the side of the chess board where there defeated pieces had been gathering.
Theo looked around the perimeter of the chess board with a surprised expression on his face, before stubbornly stating, "But they were just here."
"Evidently not anymore," Draco said dryly. He dropped on all fours to examine the ground around the table more carefully, and Theo shortly followed suit.
"The pieces have green-colored bases, right? It looks like they went that way, judging by the narrow green stain." Theo pointed to the kitchen door on the other side of the room.
"Oh, great, we stained the carpet. Now I have to worry about my Mother having my head for staining her carpet, as though worrying about death at the hands of the Dark Lord isn't enough," Draco grumbled under his breath.
The kitchen was full of bustling people, accompanied with the smell of burning food. "Merlin!" Draco exclaimed upon catching sight of a roast which both Narcissa and Rabastan were pensively regarding.
"What is it, dear?" Narcissa said, glancing towards Draco.
"Uh, nothing. The roast looks delicious," Draco replied, glancing between the charcoal black roast and his mother.
"It's a bit burnt," Narcissa replied lightly. She tapped the blackened roast with a finger and it made a clunking noise. "We'll fix it, though."
"What if we cut away the outer layers?" Rabastan said, still thoughtfully regarding the roast.
"That could work, but the inner layers are undercooked," Narcissa replied with a frown.
Theo tugged slightly on the shoulder of Draco's robes, before muttering a reminder, "Chess pieces?"
"Right," Draco nodded, and the two boys began examining the various kitchen counters and drawers for any signs of the missing chess pieces.
They finally reached the other end of the kitchen, where Snape and Bellatrix were stonily glaring at each other. An angrily bubbling pot of stew was boiling nearby, which Bellatrix gestured to when she sneered, "I'm surprised you're not being more enthusiastic about helping, Snape. Cooking is just like brewing a potion, after all."
"Brewing is an art. Cooking is not," Snape retorted, his upper lip curling in disdain. "Besides, I believe Narcissa said she wanted her sister's help with making the stew."
"I'm sure she would be just as happy if you made it. It's only fair for her old friend from Hogwarts to pull his weight in preparing Christmas dinner," Bellatrix returned the sneer, before continuing in a mock sweet tone, "Go on, start chopping up the vegetables. I'm sure the cutlery is just waiting to be used."
"I can think of several uses for that cutlery right now," Snape replied coldly.
Draco and Theo were awkwardly standing by the side, hesitantly glancing between the two adults. Wondering if they should re-inspect another section of the kitchen for the lost chess pieces, Draco glanced away from Snape and Bellatrix towards the cutlery laid out on the counter.
"Hey, our chess pieces!" Draco cheerily exclaimed, earning turned his heads from everyone else in the kitchen. He plucked the squirming, bickering chess pieces from the cutlery and held them out to Theo. "I should've known they'd be there."
"I hope you're not mistreating the chess pieces I leant you, Draco," Bellatrix interrupted, drumming her fingers on the kitchen counter.
"No, Aunt Bellatrix, they just got carried away a bit," Draco replied politely, quickly leaving the kitchen with Theo.
"Why do your chess pieces like playing with knives?" Theo asked, a puzzled look on his face.
"They're my Aunt Bellatrix's chess pieces," Draco said, as though that explained everything. Theo blinked at him, the puzzled expression still on his face, while Draco nonchalantly continued, "I can't remember—was it your turn or my turn?"
"My turn, I think," Theo said, sliding into his seat behind the chess board.
Draco frowned slightly. "Actually, just to make it fair, maybe we should flip a coin to decide—"
"Would you like it to be your turn, Draco?"
"Well, I mean, if you don't care—" Draco cheerfully began. "Pawn to D5."
The two boys continued their chess game, before it finally drew to a stalemate and they began a new game. They had been playing for some time when Narcissa entered and addressed the three people sitting in the room. "Dinner's ready, Draco. Theo, Rodolphus." She glanced around the room again before adding, "I thought Lucius was in this room. Do any of you know where he's gone to?"
"He went out a while ago," Rodolphus spoke. "It sounded like he had an errand to run or something."
"Well, let's wait until he gets back before starting dinner," Narcissa said distractedly, a worried frown creasing her brow.
Draco and Theo completed another two chess games before Bellatrix lightly touched Narcissa on the arm and said, "I'm sure Lucius would understand if we began without him."
With a sigh, Narcissa gestured them towards the dining room table. She had barely begun serving the burnt, undercooked roast when there was the distant ringing sound of the front door's security wards being activated. "Oh, maybe that's Lucius!" Narcissa brightly exclaimed, walking towards the front of the manor. After a moment of indecisiveness, Draco decided that he ought to also greet his father and followed, while Theo uncertainly looked between the Lestranges and Snape and quickly decided he would rather follow Draco than be left alone with them.
Lucius had barely stepped inside the house when Narcissa tightly embraced him and demanded with a worried frown, "Where were you?"
"I was out getting Theo's Christmas gift," he replied, giving the surprised Theo a slight nod.
"Theo's here?" A man's voice from behind Lucius said ecstatically.
Stepping aside, Lucius ushered the man in Theo's direction as Theo joyfully exclaimed, "Father!"
A small smile spread across Lucius's face as the two Notts hugged each other. "Merry Christmas, Theo."
A/N: This is officially the end of "Eight Death Eater Christmases". I was trying to imply at the beginning of this one-shot that Theo was hoping to see his father the escaped Azkaban prisoner at the Malfoy's house, so definitely let me know if that's not clear and I'll fix it.
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