:This is a prequel to 'Snape's Inner Charm'. Please review:
A New Spark
The sun was setting down on the neighbourhood as Nymphadora Tonks walked up to Grimmauld Place, yawning loudly. She rapped on the door impatiently, completely forgetting about the rules of not making too much noise.
She soon remembered when she heard the shrieks through the old wooden door.
"Filth! Half breeds! Mudlbloods! How dare you trespass on the Noble House of Black!"
"Pipe down you stupid old hag!" Another voice bellowed. The shrieks immediately stopped and the door opened very slightly, revealing a very annoyed-looking Sirius Black on the other side.
"I might have known it was you," he muttered, his eyes glinting through the gap at Tonks in a humorous manner.
"Sorry," she whispered, walking inside the house.
"Oh don't worry. I'm actually grateful. The woman drowns out that pair in there." Sirius indicated to the living room door which was slightly ajar.
"Who…?" Tonks faltered, confused. Were Ron and Hermione having a disagreement already? They only arrived from their homes the previous day!
"Oh do hurry up. I'm three moves ahead already." A familiar, drawling voice drifted from the room.
"Then you're not taking your time," an equally familiar, irritated sounding voice replied, "I need to think carefully over this move."
"What's there to think about? There are several easy ways on how to get out of this situation. I thought you said you were a pro at this?"
"I am a pro at this, but as you can see, I have been put into a difficult position here!"
"I did warn you that I've been unbeaten for the past 25 years."
Tonks furrowed her eyebrow at Sirius, who looked like he wasn't sure if he should laugh or yell in anger.
"Are they who I think they are?" She asked him, shock seeping through her.
"Yes." Sirius muttered. "They've always tried to be…civil."
Tonks pushed the door open wider and did a double-take. There on the rather dusty carpet was a large, ancient chess board. Sitting cross-legged by one side of the board was Remus Lupin with an unmistakable, satisfactory smirk lurking on his face.
The most shocking thing about this scene though was who Remus appeared to be playing. Severus Snape was sitting opposite Remus, looking slightly uncomfortable, but nonetheless staring at the chess board with immense concentration.
"Do you forfeit?" Remus taunted Snape.
"No I will not." Snape snapped, looking briefly up at Remus. "I am almost certain that I can win this game in five moves."
Remus laughed. "I don't see that happening."
"What makes you so confident?" Snape sneered.
"Because I can win this game in two moves..." Remus bragged, grinning.
Tonks glanced behind her to stare at Sirius, who shrugged his shoulders in despair. She walked back up to him and stared at him questionably.
"They've been like that for five hours now," Sirius whispered in exasperation. "Moony and I had been cleaning out the attic this afternoon and we came across my brother's old chess board. Naturally, Remus got all excited about this and insisted on playing."
"I didn't know he knew how to." Tonks said, amazed.
Sirius chuckled softly. "He was the champion of Wizarding Chess at Hogwarts. He was the only Gryffindor who dared to play the Slytherins, the self-confessed 'masters' at the game. He dared and won every match."
Tonks grinned, looking back over at Remus and Snape. "How does Snape get into this?"
"Snivellus walked in just as Moony and I were setting up the board. He said a few snide comments about Moony's strategies at Hogwarts and the rest, as the muggles say, is history." Sirius smiled wryly. "It's a very good thing for Snape that it wasn't me he was taunting… otherwise he would have felt a few very unpleasant hex boils forming on his face."
Tonks continued to stare at Remus and Snape. Snape had just moved his King. Remus immediately used his Queen to destroy Snape's Knight. It also put Snape's King back in check.
"Check." He confirmed, smiling broadly.
Snape scowled nastily and stared at the board.
"I take it that your 'five move' plan is out of the window?" Remus enquired.
"Shut up." Snape quickly moved his King behind his one remaining Rook.
"Oooh," Remus widened his eyes in delight. "Ba-ad tactic."
Snape groaned inwardly as Remus quickly moved his Queen to the appropriate spot.
"Check-mate," he announced proudly.
Snape's King slowly fell over, ending the game.
Remus stood up and did a little victory dance around the room. "Still breaking records! 25 years and 10 months unbeaten!"
"How utterly fulfilling for you," Snape deadpanned, rolling his eyes. He stood up and smiled unpleasantly at Remus, who finally stopped dancing to shake his hand.
"Good game." Remus said jovially, "the last match I had that was five hours long was when I was in 6th year playing Seamus Finnigan's mother, Geneva, who was in 7th year at the time."
"She didn't seem too disappointed that she lost to you though," Sirius said, his eyes suddenly twinkling, "I heard you two had a bit of a snog after."
"What?" The sudden sound of Ron's voice at the doorway startled everybody, "Lupin snogged my mate's mum?" He grimaced. "I think you'd have done better than her. She's always criticising Harry that one."
Remus flushed, avoiding Tonks' amused gaze. "She wasn't that bad back then." He pointed out. "And it wasn't a snog…it was more of a friendly peck on the lips."
"That's not what Lily told me," Sirius told him, grinning. "She said you told her that you and Geneva had a full-on lip-lock by the lake."
"Ho-ho!" Tonks exclaimed, looking at Remus in delight. Here was a side to this seemingly shy man that she had not seen yet. "Come on Remus, what other secrets have you been hiding from us?"
"I – I really don't think we need to talk about my love life." Remus stammered.
"This is all so pleasant," Snape said, curling his lips into a mocking smile. "I really wish I had the time to watch Lupin's face turn into so many startling shades of red, but I must be going to the quiet comfort of my home."
To Tonks' astonishment, Snape smiled around the room. "Maybe we should have a re-match on my next visit?" he questioned with a hint of ridicule.
"Um…yes, yes of course." Remus muttered, nodding.
"Re-match for what?" Ron asked. He looked down at the chess board and gave a loud exclamation. "Blimey."
When Snape left the room, Tonks clapped her hands in a business-like fashion. "I think it's time to really challenge your unbeaten record," she told Remus, staring at him challengingly.
Remus raised an eyebrow. "You can play chess?" he asked, surprised.
"Don't be so shocked." Tonks said sarcastically. "I'll have you know that I was the champion in my Gryffindor common room. I once beat Hestia Jones, a third year at the time, in half an hour…and I was only a first year."
"Really?" Remus looked almost shaken for a second and then smiled shrewdly. "Is that a fact?"
Ron and Sirius sent amused glances to each other and settled themselves on a nearby sofa.
"That is a fact," Tonks confirmed. "Hestia wouldn't acknowledge my existence for weeks after. Do you want to play or not?"
"I do indeed." Remus settled himself on the floor and reassembled the board with a flick of his wand. He pointed to Snape's vacated space and smiled at Tonks invitingly. She eagerly plonked herself on the floor and rolled up the sleeves of her robes.
"Get ready for a sound beating," Remus warned her. "I don't doubt your talents but I have played this game for many years and…"
"…and you're unbeaten yes, yes, whatever Moony." Tonks interrupted, rolling her eyes. Sirius gave a muffled snort.
"It's not to be taken lightly Nymphadora." Remus said mildly, amused.
Tonks pulled out her wand. "Call me by that name again, and you'll never be able to play Wizard's chess again." She pointed it mock-threateningly at Remus.
"Hi, I've just been through some of your family's old school books Sirius and…" Hermione ran in and stopped abruptly, taking in the scene. "What's going on here?"
"Wotcha Hermione," Tonks murmured vaguely, her eyes and wand still fixed on Remus. She lowered her wand, and the pair of them continued to stare at each other. Remus had a confused smile on his face, his eyes suddenly full of a mixture of fear and excitement.
"Um…" Tonks broke eye-contact with Remus, feeling a dark flush form in her cheeks. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Sirius smirk. What had that look meant in Remus' eyes? Was it is the same as hers, that sudden desire to want to kiss him in front of everybody?
"So let's play," Remus said quietly. "You go first."
Tonks gave him an awkward smile and stared down at the board. After a moment, she moved one of her pawns forward. She felt Remus' eyes on her, and felt a warm feeling flow through her body. She looked up at him sharply, only to see him quickly avert his eyes down on the board. She had only met this man last week when the Order had first arrived at this dark, gloomy place, but already she knew she was starting to fall for him.
She tried not to look at Sirius, knowing that he was smiling widely, waiting for the new spark that had just been present between her and Remus.
She heard Sirius start to hum a familiar track by the Weird Sisters, a song about blind love and denial. She wanted to hit him.
Then Remus started to chuckle softly and she broke out of her daydream, startled.
"Um…it's your turn," he told her in a helpful tone, his eyes sparkling in mirth.
Tonks quickly looked down at the board, seeing that Remus had indeed made his move without her realising it. She giggled nervously and nodded. The silence had been broken.
"You've seriously got to watch out for your record today Moony," She told him.
Remus grinned at her. "We've barely started and I already know how I'm going to win."
"Oh, how?" Tonks challenged.
"Well, if my opponent isn't going to pay attention, that's sort of a bonus," Remus taunted.
Tonks glared at him and focused her mind on the game. She wasn't about to let the look in his eyes hypnotise her like that again.
" 'And in the white team, Nymphadora Tonks is about to make her move. What could she possibly be thinking about right now?'" Sirius commentated in a throaty, intense voice. "Remus Lupin is the all-time greatest champion of Wizarding Chess, will his head be big enough to fit through the door if he was to beat his rather vague opponent?"
"Hey!" Remus and Tonks shouted together, both looking up at Sirius accusingly.
Six hours later
Tonks blinked twice, trying to stay awake. It was a little after midnight and the game with Remus was still in progress. The room was silent apart from the faint snores coming from Ron Weasley. His head was leaning against Hermione's shoulder, who was also asleep. Sirius had long since gone to bed.
A burning candle that was placed by the side of the board flickered.
"Are you ok?" Remus whispered, looking at Tonks in concern. "Do you want to stop?"
"No," she whispered back, smiling determinedly. "You can't get me to forfeit that easily."
"You don't have to. We can finish this up tomorrow." Remus suggested, yawning.
"No I think we should carry on," Tonks insisted, "I've almost got you."
"I've almost got you," Remus corrected, smirking.
Tonks narrowed her eyes. Both her Knights and one bishop had been destroyed by Remus' deadly Queen. Most of her pawns were gone too and it looked like she was about to lose a Rook. However, she still had her Queen and the other Bishop. That was still enough to trap Remus' King. Maybe he hadn't realised she could win this with one clever move. She slowly moved her Queen to the very end of Remus' board, stopping it right next to his King. The King couldn't take the Queen because then it would be in check with Tonks' other Rook. The King couldn't move anywhere else either.
She grinned triumphantly at Remus, who looked suitably horrified.
"Merlin's Beard," he stuttered, "I forgot about your other Rook!"
"Check mate." She told him simply, raising her arms in victory.
Remus' King fell over in defeat. Remus buried his head in his hands.
"Ha! There's a new champion!" Tonks whispered, taunting him. He looked up at her and forced a smile.
"Am I ever going to hear the end of this?" he asked painfully.
"No," Tonks smirked and nodded over to their young friends. "I plan on telling them a nice tale tomorrow."
She reached over to shake Remus' hand and he took it. She involuntarily sucked in her breath at the contact with his skin and blushed. She hoped it was too dark for him to see. The candle light shone on Remus' pale face, showing his merry hazel eyes and uncertain smile.
She quickly removed her hand from his. "I-I suppose I should be getting to bed," she murmured, "I have the 6a.m shift at the Ministry."
Remus nodded. "Ok."
"Good game." He told her as they walked upstairs to their bedrooms. They paused at the top step and smiled at each other.
"Y-Yes," Tonks nodded, feeling tongue-tied. She quickly leaned up to peck him on the lips. "Goodnight."
Remus looked shocked for a second before smiling shyly. "Goodnight Tonks." He cleared his throat and walked inside his bedroom.
After one last lingering look at Remus' closed door, Tonks sighed heavily and went to bed.