Luck, Karma, and Tiny Sandwiches
From the top of the stairs, Draco hears the door open and his mother's rolling, simpering voice, spitting how very lovely to see yous and may I get you some teas. He peers over the banister and sees his housemate and whom he assumes is his housemate's father. He can't help but let out a groan of frustration; Theodore Nott annoys him so.
Not in the way that Potter annoys him, he has found. That is a sharp, searing hatred that never seems to go away and makes the insults spew forth. No, Theodore annoys him simply because Theodore is smart, Theodore is clever, Theodore is witty and can think up better insults, and Theodore could be the biggest thing in Slytherin, but he isn't. Draco is. Because Theodore does not like crowds - he suspects that Theodore does not like people. He doesn't say the insults loudly enough for anyone to hear and laugh about, but instead keeps to himself. The lack of initiative is what annoys him, other than the simple fact that if he had any motivation, he could easily take down Draco.
He turns to retreat up to his room, but as soon as he does, he hears his father. A harsh demand for him to come down at once, cleverly disguised as a silky, fatherly request. Draco knows better. He knows that if he doesn't walk down the stairs, smile graciously at Mr. Nott, and run along with Theodore, he will be punished in front of the guests.
"Go show Theodore the gardens," he says, almost shoving his son towards the backdoors. "Mr. Nott and I have business to discuss."
So, with a false smile and a 'yes, father,' he leads the other boy outside. The two sit on a stone bench amidst the pansies that are enchanted to grow thrice their normal size. Theodore stares, bored, eyes not moving from Draco's own.
And suddenly, without warning, he speaks. "They're talking about the Dark Lord and the Potter boy in there." He pauses and plucks a giant petal off one of the pansies. "Personally, he tires me."
"Who, Potter?" This is as close as they've come to casual conversation since they met in first year and Draco decided that he didn't like Theodore very much.
"Yes, Potter. How do you think he escaped the Dark Lord?"
Draco doesn't say anything. He has always chalked it up to things that he doesn't yet understand, because his father's stories are deliberately one-sided, saying that they caught Voldemort on a bad day.
"You know, I think it was just luck. You have to get lucky sometime, and I think Potter's been lucky his entire life. Escaping You-Know-Who once - twice, now. Or karma, because although they weren't on our side, the Potters were well-liked, and maybe that was some higher being's way of taking the mickey out of the You-Know-Who."
"You're pretty casual about all that, you know?" Draco remarks through a sneer.
"Nothing should be taken too seriously. That Potter - he takes everything too seriously." Theodore is smiling bemusedly, as if he has had these theories for years and Draco's reactions to them are mildly entertaining.
"I hate him," Draco says truthfully.
"Weasley. Granger. Dumbledore."
"Oh, so he has a Weasley and a Mudblood on his side. Good for him. Honestly, the Weasleys are a disgrace to purebloods." Draco nods vigorously, but Theodore just keeps on talking. "And Dumbledore? He's a joke. My father says that when he was in Hogwarts, their Headmaster had everything together. He never let so many things slip up like Dumbledore has. Honestly."
"And he always takes away our winning House Points at the very last minute - completely unfair, I say."
Theodore laughs a high, sophisticated laugh. "Winning the House Cup is nothing. Everyone gets so excited over it - I don't see why. But, all the same, I don't think Harry Potter will stand a chance, in the end. Not with what my father has told me about the Dark Lord."
Narcissa interrupts by bringing out tea and tiny sandwiches, all the while making pleasant conversation with Theodore. He is perfectly charming with adults, and even makes her laugh more than once, which Draco sees as an incredible feat. They talk more, and Theodore seems to be very passionate about giving Harry Potter a bad name and wanting to be there for his defeat.
Draco likes Theodore quite a bit more now.
By the time the tea is gone, their fathers appear in the doorway and beckon them.
"So," Draco ventures, "I suppose I'll see you on the train."
Theodore seems to consider this. "Will there be room?"
"I'll make Crabbe and Goyle budge up."
For a moment, a smile plays across Theodore's face, then he turns and follows his father. Draco thinks that second chances are something only Hufflepuffs give, but in this case, it seems worth it. As long as Theodore knows his place, which is slightly under his own (because he wants no one to overthrow the Pride of Slytherin) he will make a good comrade.