So I'm currently in the process of leaving my job and moving on to...unemployment. As such, I've been writing like mad these last few days. This is just another one of those things that popped up and needed to be written.
Thanks to those who review! You guys rock.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine...well, at least the stuff below isn't mine. My room at home is filled with stuff that's mine...now I'm just rambling...
It is a quiet summer Sunday afternoon and the Great Hall is full of flowers and empty tables. Two lone figures sit across from each other, staring intently at a chess game that rests on the table top. Severus Snape, resident Potions Master, and Hermione Granger, resident librarian, have been engaged in a tournament of sorts for most of the day, as evidenced by the darkening of the enchanted ceiling as the sun sets and twilight settles in for the evening.
This day has been coming for some time, now. In retrospect, Hermione reasons that it might have been a better idea to play this particular game in the privacy of one of their suites, but she's used to public displays of humiliation, having grown up with the Boy Who Lived and the Boy Who Broke Every Bone in His Body – Twice, so losing four times in a row in public to a man who used to relish in making her life a living hell is simply icing on the cake.
Hermione knows he's watching her every move; knows that he's waiting for her to slip up and make a mistake that will give her away. She knows this because she knows him and searching for her weaknesses is one of Severus' favorite pastimes. Just below tormenting the young and impressionable.
Granted, the situation isn't one that she willingly created for herself. In many ways, he's backed her into this corner and was she able to choose her own way out a properly placed hex would be at the top of the list, but, alas, such is not the case. He's forced her into a move she has been avoiding and when she plays into his willing hands, he's more than a little overtly triumphant.
"Ha!" he exclaims as he takes her queen – her valiant queen – from the chess board and deposits it among all her other black pieces on his side of the table.
Make that five times in a row.
The worst part is that it isn't even Wizarding chess. At least if it was Wizarding chess, she'd understand her failures; but to lose repeatedly at Muggle chess, a game she used to win all the time, is more than a little humbling.
"I believe that's checkmate," Severus says smugly with just a hint of a self-satisfied smile. She fights the urge to roll her eyes and instead stares at him with all the venom she can muster.
"I understand your desire to feel competent at something, but the last time I checked it was vastly inappropriate to gloat during a chess game."
His smile sags just slightly.
"I feel competent at hundreds of different things," he replies with just a hint of doubt.
"Hundreds? Really?" She says this while she casually sets the board up again. Her tone is one of bored disinterest and he blusters a bit. It makes her gleefully happy to see that she's getting to him, if ever so slightly.
"Ms. Granger, I will have you know that I am a very competent person."
The fact that she's gotten him to say those words out loud and in a very indignant tone of voice is almost too much for her to take and a small giggle escapes her lips. His eyes narrow in their appraisal of her and it just adds to it. She giggles a little more.
"I don't remember you being this incredibly evil as a child."
She smiles sweetly. "Honestly, Professor, do you remember much about me as a child, besides my hand constantly waving in the air?"
The question strikes him dumb and she ticks off another win in her head. She points to the board. "Another game? I believe if you win this time it will be an even six and Lord knows how competent that will make you feel."
"Now you're just being a twit."
She loses it completely and roars with laughter until her sides ache and there are tears streaming down her pink cheeks. She laughs so hard that she finds it hard to breathe and when she finally calms down to the point where she can function, she sees the dumfounded look on his face and it sets her off again.
"Hermione, it isn't nice to laugh at your elders." His expression is incredibly stoic, but she can see the hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth. If there's anything that's changed over the years, it's his ability to take being laughed at, though that personality quirk really only extends to her and occasionally Minerva McGonagall.
"Oh, Severus, I'm sorry." Truly, she isn't, but he doesn't need to know that. "If I promise not to insult your competency, can we continue with our game?" She wipes the tears away with the sleeve of her jumper.
He agrees and they engage their pieces once more in a battle of wills. She leads for a short while, but he gains the ground quickly and before she knows it she's in check. As she stares at the board intently, willing it to show her some spectacular line of defense, she becomes aware of Minerva approaching their table. She moves her last bishop and realizes all too late that she's played into his hands once again.
"Checkmate," he declares and smiles that ridiculous self-satisfied smile at her and Minerva. Hermione makes no mention of his gloating. Minerva, on the other hand, is not as tactful.
"I'd be careful about your bragging, Severus. Passersby might think you're compensating for some inadequacy or another." The older witch winks at Hermione and shuffles along to her seat at the Head Table.
They look at each other and over Severus' mutterings about female conspiracies and being perfectly adequate, Hermione roars with laughter once again.