Disclaimer: I do not claim any ownership over Harry Potter, its characters and anything pertaining to the world of JK Rowling's creation
A/N: This one's an overdue challenge from an officemate of mine of her fandom shipping. Tim, I hope you enjoy this one. Also, I'm afraid this is somewhat officially AU because it isn't Cursed Child compliant.
Rook to D5
Wherein a memory of what could have been, surfaces for an older Draco Malfoy while his son plays Wizard Chess on his own. A painful one.
A quick tinker here with a swish and flick. His wand movements are precise and meticulous. Draco makes the small clockwork prototype come to life. He glances over the alchemical treatise of Xin Ho Jun on creating a magical charge into any gem and shakes his head. He missed it by a 45-degree flick and the clockwork stops once more.
'Oh well. I think I need a break for now. Maybe some red wine from Chateau Beucourt of Bordeaux should do nicely.' Draco ponders to himself, standing up and walking away from his little alchemical workshop into their modest home in the Isle of Man. Dragon's Roost, Draco calls it, a sanctuary away from everyone's peering eyes. But it wasn't the verdant and modest home he and his wife made before.
After he and Astoria got married, their fathers offered many locations for them to stay while they did not have a child. Many places were suggested, from Aix to Portsmouth. Draco, however, insisted to take on a smaller abode off the Isle of Man, where his grandfather Abraxas spent some time to be away from everyone once a month. "It's somewhere my wife and I can start anew," Draco argues, earning a scoff from his father. "A Malfoy heir always takes Malfoy Manor, but if you insist, we will stay here until you have our grandchild."
The place was barren, unkempt, and somewhat desolate when the newlyweds first set foot here. With only their wands, a bag full of assorted seeds Astoria kept and some comfortable clothes, the two aggressively cleared the plot of land, fixed the house and took out a comfortable tent as a base of operations for a week. And they stayed here ever since, especially when the occasional family dinners left everyone tense because Draco wanted to start a new leaf, while Astoria argued vehemently and rationally against raising their son to be a bigot.
That said, Draco steps inside their home, while a smiling Scorpius plays wizard's chess in his lonesome. "Rook to D5" his child says, and it takes Draco back to another time once more.
"That foul creature and half breed have no place in this school. What is that old fool thinking? My father will show him his proper place in society. No one harms a Malfoy and gets away with it" Draco mutters angrily as he passes through the library with his cast. 'One must always remember to put on a show to prove a point sometimes, son.' Lucius' words ring through is mind. He is many things to many people, but Draco adores his father and mother above all.
His thoughts are interrupted however when he sees Hermione alone with several law books on a table outside the library, 'Case Law on…' the other words were covered by another set of books. But as he removes his gaze on the books, he finds himself face to face with Hermione Granger.
"Malfoy, you can cut the act, we all know you're faking it," Hermione remarks while glaring at him.
"Really now, I doubt you could prove your baseless accusations, Granger." Draco retorts with a smirk. As he was about to walk away, a brilliant idea pops in his head. 'And to your possible rivals, you show how better you are. You are a Malfoy, the best of them all.' His father's words again, this time after his latest thrashing he gave his father at wizards' chess. His etiquette teacher during the summers was also a Candidate Master in the ELO ratings, so he learned and eventually caused draws or a fairly even win-loss to him just last summer. He is unbeaten at home now from the times his father or mother came to play with him, or when the random visitor decides to indulge him from time to time. "I'll show you I'm better than you, Granger."
He stops and turns to face Granger once more and says, "Beat me at Wizards chess three out of five times this week and I'll tell my father to pull out the charges. What do you say, Granger?"
Hermione is momentarily startled by the offer but immediately retorts, "You're on. 4th floor, third classroom to the left, 4:30 starting tomorrow, Monday."
Draco nods and walks away. "This will be easy."
Draco heads to the meeting point and finds that Hermione is already there in the classroom with a chessboard set up. Each piece is made of Marquina black (black pieces) and Picasso grey (white pieces). The board is made from handcrafted and lacquered cedarwood.
He smirks approvingly at first at the beauty of its craftsmanship, but then realizes that the automaton runes that were supposed to be there weren't there. "Enchanted but not of wizard-make. Really?"
"You didn't offer to bring any," Hermione retorts, "just sit down and let's play."
He sits down and states, "Just some quick rules. First, I'll give you the advantage of using white pieces since I doubt you would beat me at all. On the off chance that you do, we'll switch. Second, no one else should know about this or I'd find myself bothered with challengers everywhere. Lastly, we stick to this chessboard you provided. I find it… passable."
"Agreed." The two sit down and play but it doesn't last long. Draco dispatches Hermione easily in 4 turns with a Fool's Mate. Hermione looks shell shocked at how quickly she lost.
Draco shakes his head and snarks at her, "Are you seriously trying to waste my time? See you tomorrow then." He then walks off with a smirk that doesn't disappear for the rest of the evening. "I'll show that know-it-all that I'm better."
This time around, Draco shows up early and sits down in the same empty classroom. A few minutes later, a tired-looking Hermione arrives and sets up the board quietly. "Let's get started?" Hermoine narrows her eyes on the board in focus and starts the game.
This time around, she lasts longer to around 15 turns before losing when he surrounds her King with two rooks and a queen.
"You're a pretty quick study, Granger, but not good enough for me." Draco sneers, but with a hint of amusement in his eyes. 'Not bad. She learns quickly or at least wants to put up a fight. Maybe I can enjoy this a little bit more? No, a mudblood like her has little to offer me except amusement at how better I am than her. Time to seal the deal and get my spare hours back.'
Draco fixes his robe and adjusts for the cast on his arm, then struts in thinking he's early. To his surprise, the chess table is all set up with a cup of tea and some savory scones on a side table. "Oh, I hope you don't mind, Malfoy. I pulled a favor to have this be as comfortable as possible, seeing as I'll be beating you today." Hermione states, her brown eyes locked with his grey. 'Delusional'
"Coming from someone like you, I'd say overconfidence is an insidious killer, but I'll indulge you today, Granger," Draco responds, pulling the chair behind him and sits down.
The air in the room is different somehow. It's a bit like how they're both competitive in Potions class and her hand would almost always be the first up whenever Professor Snape asks a question.
A few minutes in, and she's focused on the board. The 18th move is standard to him at least, she uses the Queen to capture his black bishop in D3 and he counters by taking the white pawn at D4.
Hermione looks up and locks eyes with him, matching his smirk for the first time. "Prepare to lose." And she uses her knight to take the pawn at E6, which leads him to counter by taking her knight. It goes downhill from there despite losing her knights. Her queen is doing a lot of damage, smashing pieces left and right, while not being able to do anything about it. The game ends in 30 turns, after he finds his king pinned down by her rook at D5 and her Queen at H7.
"Consider it luck, I was taking it easy on you after all," Draco fumes and shakes his head at getting caught with a creative trap, "Looks like I'll play the white pieces then. See you tomorrow Granger." Draco leaves quietly and Hermione sips her tea victoriously.
'That game was intense. Hmm, I think today is the day I end this one already. I've been trained by a professional chess player for Merlin's sakes.' Draco told himself, still impeccable with slight silver trimmings on his school robes.
His classmates notice the pensive look on his face today, but decide to leave him alone. The last upperclassman who said an offhand remark a year and mocking "When my father!" before earned a week detention with Professor Snape scrubbing cauldrons without magic.
He opens the door and finds Hermione sitting down and with the board set up as usual. He observes that there's some banoffee pie with the tea. "Are you really try to butter me up, Granger?"
"No. I love some banoffee pie with some grated dark chocolate with my tea," Hermione gives him a polite smile for the first time and adds, "I didn't know you liked it as well."
Draco sits down and takes a slice then nods. "My mother used to sneak a slice for me when I was younger."
They share a few quiet minutes together, just sipping tea or eating their slice of pie. After afternoon tea, Hermione only nods then their game starts with Draco moving his pawn at D4.
By turn 28, both Queens are taken. Draco still has his two Rooks and a Bishop. Hermione on the other hand, had her Bishop, Knight, and Rook, while controlling the center. "Don't want to call it quits, Malfoy?"
"You wish, Granger."
By turn 34, when Hermione finishes her turn with moving her pawn to F4, Draco looks at the board and sighs. There isn't much for him to do with the upcoming loss. "You win this one, Granger."
As he stands up and walks away, he mutters, "Thank you for the banoffee pie." He pauses for a moment to look directly into Hermione and smirks approvingly, "I'll beat you tomorrow."
Draco and Hermione arrive at the same time, his casual smirk meets her respectful nod then they enter. The afternoon tea is already prepared in advance and Hermione sets the board with Draco helping place the pieces.
"I went easy with you for the last two times, you know."
"Fibbing isn't a strong suit of yours, just like that cast on your arm."
"Tut tut, Granger. Game first, bravado later." Draco motions to the chess set and sit down.
This time, Hermione plays with confidence, starting with something Draco recognizes as the Sicilian Defense but locks in her pawn at C5. 'Interesting'
They proceed further in filling the center of the board, until Draco places his bishop in D7 in turn 16. He then decides to up the ante by exchanging pieces, then realizes that he should have been more circumspect. "The left flank is exposed. But this game isn't done yet."
By turn 50, Draco could only check her king and four turns later, he only has a pawn stuck at F4, rook at H4, and king at C1. She has control of the board.
Draco looks pensive
"You win, Her... Granger. I'll tell my father to drop the case against Buckbeak." Draco stands up and walks away without a second glance, still seething from the loss. "How did she win like that?" He mutters, heading back to the Slytherin common room.
His mind goes idle for a bit, 'I wonder if she'll play again with me? I… Enjoyed the chess games with her.' To his surprise, he allows himself to smile genuinely at enjoying the week of matches. 'Maybe I should write to my father about dropping the case.'
Draco walks into the Great Hall early in the morning and then immediately sees Hermione with another person's chess set in front of her. There are only a few people in and as he contemplates challenging her for a game next week, another person comes in and sits in front of her. "Weasley!"
Draco walks slowly to the Slytherin table, subtly observing the two while listening in.
"I thought I was getting better?"
"Don't worry, Mione, you are. After all, I've already taught you a lot and you've taken to chess like a fish in water. Are you sure you don't want to play more? The lads don't provide a lot of challenge anymore." Ron quipped, taking her queen easily and setting up for the killing blow in what looks like turn 15.
"I do like to finish all my school work first. Chess takes a while to finish, even if it is rather fun," Hermione replies, blocking his plan for a quick game by moving her knight into the center for a quick fork. But to her dismay, Ron counters easily by taking the knight with a pawn.
"Your loss then." Ron retorts and beats her in 20 turns.
Draco grits his teeth from afar and leaves. "I was losing to Weasley all along!"
A few days later, as he runs his mouth mocking Hagrid once more, the last thing that pops in his head, just before Hermione's full-on slap hits his face was, 'Rook to D5', the first time she won against him.
And he burns the letter he was about to give his father that same day.
'Arms?', Draco could feel soft and tender but sweaty arms around his waist. "Glad to see you back in the world of the living, my Dragon."
Draco turns around and smiles at his wife Astoria. "Good to see you too, Storie. Done with the garden?"
"Yes and it's turning out to be beautiful. I got the dragon fruit to grow in our greenhouse. Daphne would be rather jealous. She couldn't even grow a turnip." Astoria chuckles before she turns to look at their son Scorpius and says, "I think he needs someone to play with though, care to join him?"
"Me? He should be playing against you. You have more wins on me when we play." Draco quips with a smile he reserves only for her, then he nods.
He holds Astoria's hand, twirling her in an effortless pirouette before leading her to their son playing wizard's chess.