VOLUME TWO: WHITE KNIGHT
by Flye Autumne
A/N: Just your typical disclaimer for this entire work: I own nothing. All of Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Note: This is the sequel to The Chessmaster: Black Pawn. If you have not read Black Pawn yet, you should do so before reading this volume.
CHAPTER ONE: A VISIT TO GRAM'S
23 Rose Lane
Framlingham, Suffolk, England
7 July, 1992
"Hermione! We're leaving in five minutes to go visit Gram and Grandpa!"
"Coming, Mum." Hermione slipped a bookmark into Rise of the Modern Wizard and stacked it neatly on her bookshelf with the other four books she'd owl-ordered from Flourish and Blotts. The previous year of school had been informative, to say the least. Between being sorted into Slytherin to making friends with the famous Harry Potter and discovering a mysterious room in the bowels of Hogwarts, Hermione had had a lot on her plate - and that was without mentioning the entirely new culture she'd been plunged into.
Hermione eyed the stack of books again. Lily and Millie had recommended her a short list of books to help her catch up on the ins and outs of wizarding culture. Hermione had never thought she'd find a book that didn't interest her, but The Manners of Polite Society by Lucretia Nott, along with The Essential Handbook on Etiquette by Victoria Malfoy, looked like it'd be drier than the Sahara Desert. On the other hand, Ye Olde Ways by Phineas Black, and The High Holidays by Celeste Moon looked positively enthralling.
"Hermione! You need to have your shoes on and be ready to go in one minute!"
Hermione gave the books one last longing glance before heading downstairs.
"Mum, why are we going to Gram and Grandpa's house again?"
Helen Granger shot her daughter a disapproving look. "Your grandparents are getting old, Hermione. It's important that we spend time with them."
"Yeah, but -"
"No 'buts', Hermione," Jack Granger interrupted. "We're going to see your mother's parents. You're their only grandchild, and they're excited to see you, especially since you're away most of the year."
"Speaking of school, what am I supposed to tell Gram and Grandpa if they ask?"
Helen and Jack exchanged a look. "We'll tell them as much of the truth as possible," Helen said. "You'll tell them you go to Hartwood Hall - that's the Muggle cover name for Hogwarts - and that it's an exclusive boarding school in Scotland."
"And if they ask where it is?"
"Say it's up in the Highlands, a couple hours from Wick."
Hermione sighed. "Okay. Do you think they'll ask a lot of questions?"
"About school? I don't know. In general? Definitely. They're your grandparents, and we haven't seen them in a while. They want to get to know you."
"So I can't bring a book along?"
"Not even for the car ride there? It's over an hour away," Hermione wheedled.
"Fine - but under the condition that you leave it in the car."
Hermione grinned. "Of course, Mum!" She quickly bounded upstairs, grabbed Rise of the Modern Wizard, slipped her feet into her trainers, and followed her parents out the door. Minutes later, they were underway, and Hermione once again had her nose buried in a book. She was only on the introduction, and the book was already completely and utterly fascinating.
It was a time of great change and upheaval in Europe. The Roman Empire had just fallen, which created a large power vacuum. Powerful wizards and witches, known then as mages, sought to build their own monarchies. In modern-day Scotland, House Gryffindor presided over the Kingdom of Caledonia. The kingdom was governed by the king and advised by the Trifecta, which were the heads of the three most powerful clans. The Caledonians were known as a fierce, loyal people who lived in prosperity for many years under the rule of Geric the Great.
The Éire Republic, now separated into Northern Ireland and Ireland, was governed by the High Coven. The origin of this government is steeped in Éirish mythology. Legend has it that the first Wizard-King of Ireland was the Dagda. He, along with his wife, the Morrígan, formed the first wizarding government of Ireland in which the Wizard-King ruled hand-in-hand with the Phantom Queen. Before the two passed beyond the Veil, they left their closest advisors in charge. The advisors formed what is now known as the High Coven, which governs Wizarding Ireland. Both the Dagda and the Morrígan are viewed as gods by the modern Irish people.
Meanwhile, there was a great power struggle occurring in what would soon be called Britannia. The Kingdoms of England and Wales were at war, and the losses climbed higher each day until the advent of Helga the Humble. A little known mage from the English-Welsh border, Helga did not have the stomach for violence, and managed to single-handedly stop the war and unify England and Wales through a series of negotiations and demonstrations of raw power. This proved to be catalytic. In 512 A.D., Helga the Humble, who had been renamed Helga of Hufflepuff, organized a meeting between herself, the king of Caledonia, Godric Gryffindor, and a powerful young mage from the Éire Republic, Rowena of the Ravens. The three met clandestinely, and at the suggestion of Helga, determined they should work to unite their three countries. After several meetings, they determined that a school of magic would be an excellent way to push unification.
Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately, depending on how one evaluates the situation - they were not as secretive as they thought. Word of a magic school reached the ears of an Iberian mage, Salazar de Slíterin. Salazar, along with his wife Amalia, his son Damián, and his close friend and confidant, Baron Sebastián Amare, journeyed to find the three wizards intent on creating a magic school. Eventually, Salazar found the three and impressed them enough with his skill in runic magic and wards that they allowed him to co-found the school with them. Salazar's name was anglicized, and he would henceforth be known as Salazar of Slytherin.
"Hermione! Find a good stopping point in your book! We're almost there!"
"But Mum, I'm at a really good part!"
"Sorry, sweetie. Put a bookmark in. The book will still be here when we drive home."
Grumbling, Hermione placed her bookmark and stared out the car window. The words on the desk in the secret library made sense now. She'd been wondering why they'd said Salazar de Slíterin instead of Salazar Slytherin, but now it made sense. Salazar de Slíterin was the wizard's original name, whereas Salazar Slytherin was the one the other founders gave him.
The question was, what were the implications of this? If Salazar had built the secret room with the help of the other founders, he probably wouldn't have signed his desk in the first place, and much less signed it with his original Iberian name. So, Salazar must have built the secret room in secret…
The car shook slightly as it rolled up a long dirt driveway, and Hermione sighed. It was time to visit the grandparents. The car stopped in front of the small white cottage belonging to Victoria and Tristan Sanders. Hermione heaved another sigh. She did not like talking to old people - it was just so boring.
"Hermione, I can hear you sighing back there."
"Quit the drama."
Hermione slumped her way out of the car and followed her parents up to the front door. Helen rapped sharply on the door, and moments later, it opened amid the delicious scent of freshly baked challah. A small smile worked its way onto Hermione's face. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad, if there was freshly baked Jewish food. Maybe her Gram had also made hamantaschen. They were technically holiday cookies, but they were also Hermione's most favorite baked good ever…
"Helen! Jack! It's so good to see you!" Gram exclaimed. "And Hermione! You've grown so tall! Come here, and give me a hug."
Hermione obliged. "Did you make hamantaschen, Gram?"
"I was just about to start them - I was thinking you could help me make them this time, yes?"
Hermione grinned. "Sure! As long as I can be the quality control sampler."
Gram chuckled. "Of course, dear. Come inside, all of you."
They did, and after shouting an obligatory hello to her grandpa, Hermione followed Gram into the kitchen.
"Alright, Hermione, the first thing we're going to do is make the dough. If you could get out three eggs from the fridge and the sugar from the corner cupboard…"
In almost no time, Hermione was whisking the eggs in sugar, then stirring in the flour and baking powder. Once the dough became stiff, they plopped it onto the flour-covered countertop to roll, and then cut into triangles.
"Did you make these with your mum when you were my age?" Hermione asked.
Gram frowned slightly. "No."
"Hermione, you remember how I grew up in Russia?"
"It was a dangerous time to be Jewish in Russia. Jews were viewed as less-human the rest, and many were persecuted."
Hermione was eerily reminded of many of the purebloods' views of muggleborns.
"I eventually had to flee the country because of my beliefs. I was sixteen, then. I met your grandfather shortly after arriving in Britain, and we got married several years later."
"Do you have any pictures?"
"Of when I was your age, no. I have an album of ones with me and your grandfather, though. I can find them when we're done baking."
Hermione spooned raspberry preserves onto the cookies, and Gram popped them in the oven.
"Alright, we're all set here, let's go join your grandfather and your parents."
They headed towards the living room, and Gram excused herself momentarily to go find pictures.
"Done with the cookies already, Hermione?" Helen asked.
"Uh huh! We made raspberry ones this time."
"How's school going, Hermione?" Grandpa asked. "Your mum and dad were telling me
that you got into a special boarding school up in the Scottish Highlands."
Hermione nodded again. "Yes, I did. It's called Hartwood Hall, and it's really great!"
"And you're learning lots?"
"Oh, definitely!" Hermione enthused. "The, er, science teacher is really strict, but very knowledgeable about his subject," she ad-libbed. "I got to take an astronomy class this year, too! We went out at midnight once a week to look at the stars through a telescope!"
"Must be some posh sort of school!"
"I suppose," Hermione allowed.
"Are you making lots of friends?" Gram asked, walking back into the room with a large album.
"Uh huh. I'm close to two of my roommates, Lily and Millie, and there's also my friends Harry and Ron."
"And do these people have surnames?"
"Yeah. Er, Lily Moon, Millie Bulstrode, Harry Potter -"
Gram gave a weak laugh. "I'm sorry, I don't know what got into me. Old age, perhaps." She stooped to pick up the photos. "And who was your last friend?"
"That's nice. And are these boyfriends?"
The adults chuckled, and Hermione folded her arms.
"They're just friends," she said crossly.
"Of course they are, dear," Gram said placatingly. "Now, do you want to look at the
photos, or -"
"Be careful, the album is very old."
Hermione gingerly opened the faded red cover.
"That was me and your grandfather on our wedding day," Gram remembered fondly.
"You're so pretty, Gram! I wish my hair would do that," Hermione said, looking
enviously at the perfectly sculpted curls.
"Yours will, one day. My hair was just as wild as yours when I was your age."
Hermione sighed. "I wish you had pictures of you then. It'd be nice to see some, uh, evidence."
"I also wish I still had pictures. Alas, I had to leave them behind when I fled Russia."
"Why'd you have to leave them behind?"
"I left very suddenly - my parents were planning on marrying me to a man they believed would protect me. Unfortunately, I knew him better and saw him for what he was - a cruel, cold man."
"And then what?" Hermione asked.
"And then I fled Russia and ended up here with your lovely grandfather."
They gave each other sappy smiles, and Hermione winced. She did not need to see her grandparents making goo goo eyes. She looked back to the album and began flipping through the pages. There was Mum as a little baby, then as a toddler. There was Gram, helping toddler Mum walk - Gram's hair did look a bit bushier here, and a little more like Hermione's…
Hermione happily looked through the rest of the album, then stopped on the last page. There was something stuck in the binding.
"Gram? There's something stuck here." It looked like the edge of a photograph. Hermione cautiously wiggled it free. A curly-haired girl stared out of the picture at her. "Gram, is this you?" Hermione asked, examining the picture closer. The girl was standing in front of Big Ben, and was squinting slightly at the camera. If it weren't for the old-fashioned dress, the girl could have easily been mistaken for Hermione's sister.
Hermione flipped the picture over. The words Viktoriya Dvorkina, London, 1943 were scrawled across the back. "Gram?"
"May I see it?"
Hermione wordlessly handed the photo over.
"It's been so long since I saw this...yes, Hermione, this is me."
"Why is your name spelled so funny?"
"It was originally in Russian. I anglicized it when I got married."
"I haven't seen this photo in many years. Thank you for finding it, Hermione."
A buzzer dinged from in the kitchen.
"That'd be the hamantaschen."
Gram bustled off, and Hermione stared off in thought. Something was odd about the photo, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. Shrugging, Hermione walked off to the kitchen. There were freshly baked cookies to eat.
A/N: I'd like to welcome back and thank my fantastic betas, Satanniel and Scintilla of Myself.
I hope everyone has enjoyed the first chapter!