Title: The Game of Chess
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Summary: Chess leads to many revelations for Hermione Granger about the mysterious Sirius Black.
She hated him. She hated him. What with is sulking manner and deriding remarks about the Black manor's house elf. She could, with just cause, just slap him. Of course she wouldn't get away with it. He was, after all, Harry's godfather, therefore, making it unavoidable that she would be in some sort of trouble for her out of character behavior. But, nonetheless, she still wished she could pluck up enough courage to at least yell at him to get off his lazy arse and do something productive for once.
Okay, so she didn't hate him, per se. She strongly disliked his mood, appearance and everything else about him down to the way he ate. He could be so much better were her daily thoughts.
Hermione didn't do anything though. She never would. She would let him live his life like he wanted to; apparently sulking around the house was what he fancied. Hermione didn't want to be in the gloomy house any more than he did, but not one of the Order members saw her wallowing in her self pity.
But, she was allowed outside. And, she was allowed to help -no matter how trivial - in Order missions.
He, on the other hand, wasn't. She sympathized with him there.
Gradually through the summer, she began to see what made Sirius Black tick and quickly and inconspicuously stored this information in the back of her mind to be filed and possibly used at another date.
That day finally did come, sooner than she, or Sirius for that matter, expected.
She watched as he played chess against the magical pieces themselves, an intense look of concentration upon his face.
"Knight to E5." She commanded softly and took a seat across from him, folding her hands into her lap. An odd expression of - was that annoyance - swept across his features before settling back into the look of contempt that was perpetually there. "You know, if you keep making that face, it's going to stay like that." Hermione teased.
"Yeah, what would you know." He went back to staring at the pieces scattered about strategically the board, no doubt to ponder about where make his next move. When he did speak it was only to take her pawn.
She countered by taking his rook.
He with obliterating her bishop.
And so the battle of wits began.
The first game he won with a softly spoken, "Checkmate."
The next with her triumphant, "I got you."
The one after that with his cockily spoken, "I win."
And so, for the remaining days of summer vacation the two sat about playing chess. When they weren't playing, eating and sleeping, albeit very little of it, battle plans and maneuvers ran through their heads simultaneously.
She noticed in their very first game that they ever played that he immediately took the offensive position. Evidently she was to take the defensive. When he took far too much time allotted for making a move Hermione pondered this parallel. True, most of the time he was on the offensive, it would only be practical and logical that he would take this position in chess as well.
Throughout their time together she noticed things, characteristics and features about him that she normally would have overlooked had she not been spending so much time with him. The way he moved his scarred hand to one of her pawns was awe-inspiring. Hermione longed to ask him what had happened to him, how he lived his life knowing three of his one time best friends were never coming back, one having become traitorous and killing the other two. She didn't though.
One day he told her that he didn't want to play. Just like that, he flat out refused to play.
Hermione didn't question him and silently made her way up the stairs, running her hand along the scratched banister marveling at the similarities of this inanimate object and the escaped convict downstairs.
After that she never asked or engaged him in another chess game.
She went back to school, going on to become Head Girl and he to sit back in his dusty old couch reading outdated Daily Prophets.
The next time they saw each other was Christmas break. Hermione had arrived a few days late after staying with her parents. Her first glance at him sent her reeling. He looked fantastic. No, not fantastic, hot. Sexy even.
She noticed all of this at a decidedly inopportune moment while playing chess with Ron. Despite her earlier admission of the game being barbaric she found she preferred magical to Muggle chess. Hermione lost her queen to Ron, him taking it with his rook. She really should have seen that coming; Sirius happened to be quite the effective distraction.
Trying her best Hermione ignored Sirius, which proved to be quite difficult seeing as he had just woken up, his disheveled look sending blood rushing to her cheeks. She tried desperately to hide her blush, twisting this way and that, letting her hair fall into her face.
A good hour later Hermione was the victor of the match much to the surprise of Ron. He questioned her on this and looking directly at Sirius she replied that she had a worthy opponent before.
Ron, being ever oblivious, didn't catch the look between the two that passed between them. Instead he prompted a match to be had between Sirius and Hermione as he had played Sirius the other day and found himself to be on the losing end.
Hermione stared hard at Sirius gauging his reaction to the prompt. He had played Ron, but wouldn't play her. Why was that? Was she not a good enough player, she had beaten him a few times when they played. Maybe he had grown tired of her...
She sighed and looked to Ron. "I don't think that's such a good idea Ron."
"Why not? Sirius is good. You're good." At that she blushed a little. "You two should go up against each other."
"Yeah." Harry agreed coming into the room with a glass of butterbeer in hand.
"Why not? You afraid?" Came Sirius' deep voice from behind her.
"Afraid? Of you?" Pushing her hair out of her eyes Hermione glared at him before motioning for him to take a seat across from her. Suddenly they found themselves in the familiar positions they once occupied. They easily slipped into their respective roles they had established before; each quickly and efficiently setting the pieces up not allowing them to do it themselves.
Their battle was a long and tedious one that took the better part of two days to complete. Both were at their wits ends.
By the end of the first days match both were tied, having taken the other's rook and a few scattered pawns. Neither spoke during the whole exchange allowing their facial expression to show what they were feeling, a smile here and a grunt there to show approval of a move or disapproval.
The word food meant nothing to them as the battled on, both wanting to show the other up, they made no time for eating.
The beginning of the second day yielded an unexpected bet that came about without words.
Again they took their places, refreshed and ready after a long nights sleep, they stared each other down.
With one look in his eyes she could tell he wanted to wager on the outcome of the game. Hermione nodded slightly giving him the go ahead to explain the terms. Sirius didn't speak. At that moment she knew what he was asking: whoever lost would have to do one thing the winner wanted them to do. She gave a barely perceptible nod. To show that he had acknowledged her decision he lowered his eyes. The battle would, in fact, truly begin that day.
Swiftly all but one pawn was knocked out and Hermione, in an uncontrollable bout of inattention, lost one of her knights to him because of the simple fact that she had been admiring his chest.
During the game she came to a conclusion. She had an epiphany of sorts. A revelation. She, Hermione Granger, could quite possibly - no she did - fancy the older man sitting across from her. With taking his bishop she accepted this and moved on having no time to think it through thoroughly.
Finally, it was over. Both were utterly exhausted; they fell back against the couch with an audible sigh.
"I won." Hermione huffed.
"You did not." Sirius countered.
"Sirius, I won. That's all there is to it."
"You cheated!" And in that split second Hermione realized that this was the longest conversation that she had ever had with the dark haired man sitting next to her. She would have to remedy that quickly.
"I did not." She turned toward him. "How do you cheat in chess?"
"I don't know but you certainly did it."
"I won; you have to do one thing I say. Those were the terms."
"What, are you going to make me shut up?"
"You know, now that you mention it..." Sirius' eyes widened at that prospect. "But of course I would never do that, you're too cute when you pout like that." It was now Hermione's turn for her eyes to widen at what she had just said. Sirius' eyebrows shot to his hairline.
"I'm cute?" He asked with a smirk.
"Well...I...uh...oh shoot." Hermione stuttered. She, as calmly as she could given the circumstances, got to her feet and navigated her way out of the room, cheeks flaming.
"Hermione!" Sirius called. She turned back toward him. "My room. Midnight." A nod was all he got for an answer.
Midnight could not come fast enough for Hermione as her anticipation of what could possibly happen built. By the time the clock had actually chimed twelve times signally the occurrence of midnight she had butterflies in her stomach.
Quietly she crept out of her room that she was sharing with Ginny and down the hall to Sirius' room being careful to skirt around the floorboards that creaked.
She stood just outside of his door trying to scrounge up enough courage to knock on it, but before she could the door swung open with a very handsome Sirius Black on the other side.
He leaned against the door jam, his arms crossed and smiled at her.
Those butterflies were doing back flips now.
"Come on in." He whispered. Again, she nodded. Hermione stepped into his room taking in every bit of detail trying to put off the inevitable. Why oh why did she have to acquiesce to that bet? "What is it that I have to do?"
"I…um…I'm not really sure Sirius."
"You're not sure?"
"Well, yes. I mean I haven't really thought about it." That was a blatant lie. She knew it and he knew it.
He had no choice but to call her on it. "Tell me Hermione, you honestly haven't thought about our little bet?" The smoothness to which he said it had her resolve cracking, but still in place. Of course she had thought about it, it was the only thing on her mind for the past eight hours.
"Perhaps a little bit..."
"Only a little?" He pushed further. She knew that he knew what she wanted and by God he was going to make her admit it, beg for it even.
"I uh..." When had he gotten so close to her? Hermione inhaled deeply taking in his scent. He was now hovering over her his lips close to hers, she could almost taste him. She only had to reach up a few centimeters and their lips would touch. Desperately she tried to close that minimal distance, but Sirius pulled back before their lips touched.
"What do you want Hermione?" He was really going to do it, make her beg for it.
"I want," she took a deep breath, she could do this no matter how humiliating it may be, "I want you to..."
"You want me to what?" Again, his lips were so close to her and again she reached for him. But, for the second time he pulled away. "Say it."
"Kiss me, God dammit." She crushed her lips to his in a bruising kiss that left them both breathless. They pulled apart only for a split second to catch their before coming together again.