DISCLAIMER: I do not own Ron or Hermione or Hermione's parents, though I have given them names and a history. Also, I am not a chess player, so please tell me if there is anything glaringly wrong with any of my descriptions.


"It's just you and your opponent at the board and you're trying to prove something"
(Bobby Fischer)

Hermione was not old enough to have a boyfriend. Of this, David Granger was absolutely convinced. His daughter was not old enough to have a boyfriend, let alone one she'd been dating long enough to be comfortable bringing home to meet the parents.

His wife Jenny would disagree with that, had disagreed when he'd voiced this complaint, reminding him that Hermione was twenty, almost twenty-one, and had been dating this boy for almost three years. Like David had needed the reminder. And when he'd argued that, only yesterday, she'd been climbing into his lap to learn how to play chess, his wife had laughed at him. Laughed. No, she'd corrected. He'd pulled Hermione away from her book, sat her in front of the chessboard and insisted she learn to play.

"No, no, sweetie," David said to his six-year-old daughter as her hand hovered over a white rook. "You want to move your knight," he said, pointing to an empty square on the board. "Here."

"But you'll take him," she protested.

"Yes," he agreed patiently. "But then you can take my knight, see? With your Queen?"

"But if you know that's what I'm going to do, why would you let me?" she asked.

"Well, maybe I wouldn't. Maybe I'd catch it."

"But you would catch it, so why would I waste my move?" David resisted the urge to rub his eyes.

"You have to see the whole board, sweetie," he tried to explain patiently. She scowled at him.

"I do, Daddy," she said with little-girl exasperation. He looked at her for a moment, then bit back a sigh.

"You want to go back to your book?" he asked, and her face lit up, though she tried to hide it. He had to smile. "Go on," he said, gesturing over his shoulder. Her sigh of relief was audible as she skipped across the room. He watched her go with a pang of regret and the tiny, unvoiced hope that his brilliant daughter was merely still a little young for chess.

"Well," he'd said, remembering the incident. "Maybe. But that doesn't change my point."

Ron was in no way prepared or mature enough to meet Hermione's parents, of this he was absolutely convinced. He was barely mature enough to keep up with a flat of his own. Meeting the parents of someone like Hermione? Out of the question.

Hermione had just rolled her eyes when he'd mentioned this, and told him to stop being melodramatic because, after all, it wasn't as if he'd never met them before.

Not officially, he'd argued. Not as anything that mattered. Just a fly-by introduction on the steps of Gringotts because they all happened to be there at the same moment. Hermione had given him a look and informed him that she'd introduced him as her friend, so to her parents, it had mattered.

"Wanna play?" A tiny part of Ron's eleven-year-old brain demanded to know what he thought he was doing, but he determinedly pushed the thought away, hoping his nervousness wasn't showing. His friendship with Hermione was still pretty new, and with Harry spending almost every night at Quidditch practice and not there to act as a buffer, Ron didn't really know how to relate to this brainy, confusing girl. He guessed he thought that, somehow, chess might help. Though with the look she was giving the chessboard he had out to her, he was losing confidence in that thought by the moment. "Er – I mean – " he tried again. "Do you . . . know how?"

"Oh – yes," she said, tearing her eyes away. "My dad taught me, or – well, he tried. I'm – not very good."

"Not very good in a normal person way or not very good in a Hermione way, which means still ten times better than everybody else?"

He said it without thinking, and, for a moment, he was terrified that he'd said the worst thing possible, but then, unbelievably, she laughed. Well, almost. But it was a smile.

"In a normal person way," she said. "Really, I'm pretty awful."

"Well, we'll see," Ron said with his own smile, setting down the board as she cleared the table.

Fifteen minutes later, he was calling checkmate and feeling a little thrill at actually having beaten Hermione Granger at something. Quickly, he stifled his smile, not wanting to seem like he was lording it over her, but to his relief, she was smiling, too. "Told you," she said.

"No worries," Ron told her. "I can have you playing like a pro in no time."

"If that doesn't make my dad believe in magic, nothing will."

Knocking out a mountain troll was a good way to lay the foundation for a friendship, but, Ron learned that day, it was laughing together that really cemented it.

"It meant that much to your parents to see that you had friends?" he had asked after that comment. She hadn't really answered, but the look she'd given him had been answer enough.

It wasn't so much that she had a boyfriend. That's what he tried to tell himself, anyway. It wasn't that she had a boyfriend, it was who that boyfriend was. Ron Weasley. He was that red-headed boy he'd seen a handful of times, but a name he'd been hearing for years, not always in the best context for a father in terms of his daughter.

"Hermione's in a fight with Ron again," Jenny said with a sigh, looking over Hermione's latest letter.

"Ron's the skinny one with the glasses?" David asked, not looking up from his paper.

"No, that's Harry," Jenny corrected absently. "Ron's the redhead."

"Doesn't our daughter have any female friends?" David asked, prompting a laugh from his wife.

"A couple. But she's closest with Ron and Harry."

"And yet she's fighting with Ron?" David asked with a raised eyebrow. "How do you know?"

"Well, she goes out of her way to avoid mentioning him," Jenny said, turning to the next page of the letter.

David looked at his wife from behind his paper, frowning. "Just because she doesn't mention him doesn't mean they're fighting." Jenny lowered the letter and gave her husband a look.

"Dear heart, that always means they're fighting."

Ron Weasley. David didn't like him. He knew that instinctively. "Isn't this the boy Hermione was always fighting with in school?" he demanded of his wife. "The one she didn't write all the letters about?"

"The very same," Jenny said, not even looking up from the vegetables she was peeling. "Hand me those potatoes?"

"Doesn't this concern you?" he asked, handing her the sack.

"What, the potatoes?" she asked a hair too innocently.

"Jenny," David said with a look. Infuriatingly, she laughed.

"No, David, it doesn't concern me at all," she said. "And you want to know why? Because I wrote my mother several similar letters about you, once upon a time."

This news stunned David. "You did?" he asked. She gave him one nod, her eyes sparkling with amusement. "Oh," he said, and wandered, after a moment, out of the kitchen.

"He plays chess, you know," Jenny called after him, and he could hear the laughter in her voice.

It wasn't so much that he was meeting her parents, at least, that's what he tried to tell himself. It wasn't. It was meeting her parents knowing that she had written them regularly for the past ten years, which meant that her parents would be well versed in their entire history. And when Ron thought back over that history . . . Anyone would be nervous about meeting parents under those circumstances.

"Writing home?" Ron asked, careful to keep his voice down, but Hermione jumped anyway.

"You're awake," she said, slightly awkwardly, but Ron, at this point, hearing the first civil words he'd had from Hermione in months, didn't much care. "Your mother's outside, just stepped out," she said in a rush, half-rising. "I'll get her –"

"Hermione," he said, reaching out to stop her. "Can you just – stay? For a minute?" After a slight hesitation, she nodded and sat back down. The silence stretched out between them, and Ron knew it wasn't just the silence keeping them apart, but everything that this year had put between them. That they had spent this year putting between them – Lavender, Krum, McLaggen, angry words, unfair accusations, and too many emotions that refused to be let out into the open. And Ron didn't know how to close that gap, but he knew he had to try, and he also knew that there were too many topics that were off limits.

"You write your parents about everything that happens here?" he asked, not really asking that at all. Judging from the sideways glance she gave him, she knew it.

"Yes," she said softly. "It worries them, to hear what's going on and not understand half of it and not be able to do anything about the other half, but it would worry them more to be kept in the dark." She was silent for half a beat, then, "I really should go get your mother. She's been really worried, your whole family has." She rose again, but Ron was desperate to keep her in the room.

"They the only ones who've been worried?" he asked, but this was the wrong thing to say, if the hardening in her face was any indication.

"No," she said in a tone of voice he'd become all-too-familiar with recently. "Lavender's been nearly inconsolable." He had to lunge for her hand to keep her from stalking out after that.

"And you?" he asked, a little harsher than he'd intended, his hand around her wrist as he forced her to look at him. "Have you been worried?"

She opened her mouth, to give a no doubt biting reply, but something about him must have changed her mind because something in her softened, and she closed her mouth with the angry words still unsaid. Speaking firmly to the hand whose wrist was still fastened in his grasp, she said, "I'm here, aren't I?"

He released her hand and sat back against his pillows, trying not to show how much that exchange had taken out of him. Their eyes met.

"Am I going to be in that letter?" he asked softly.

There was a moment of silence during which he held his breath, then, "I was just about to put you in."

Knowing everything they had to know about him, there was no way her parents would approve of him.

"Your parents are going to hate me," he said, watching her move around her flat, getting ready.

"My parents are not going to hate you," she said immediately, but he could tell she wasn't really paying attention.

"Your dad is," he countered stubbornly. He could almost hear her roll her eyes.

"And why is my dad going to hate you?" she asked, but he knew she was jut humoring him.

"Because that's what dads do. They hate the boys their daughters bring home. He's going to hate me on principle, and then, knowing what he knows about me, he's going to hate me for specific reasons, too. You wrote home constantly! He knows all the stupid stuff I did when I was younger."

"Oh, not just when you were younger," she assured him. He gave her a look.

"You're not helping," he informed her.

"Ron," she said with a smile. "My dad may be a little gruff at first, but you'll win him over."

"And how do think I'm going to do that?" he asked loudly, having to call after her as she moved into the kitchen.

"Using your wit and charm?" she called back. Suspicious, he stood and poked his head around the corner.

"You mocking me?" he asked.

"Maybe a little," she said with a smile.


"Relax, Ron," she said with a little laugh. "Be honest, be yourself, and when that doesn't work, trying something else." And with that, she edged past him into her bedroom.

"Like what?" he called after her, slightly exasperated that she was finding such amusement in the situation (though a small part of him noted that she was probably right, and he was probably being a little ridiculous. He ignored that part.).

"Like chess," was the answer that floated back out to him.

They were due to arrive any minute – in a car pulling into the driveway, Hermione behind the wheel. She'd promised to try and make this as Muggle an evening as possible. Her words.

Because while his daughter had never tried to ignore that part of her life for them or close it off to them in any way, the magical world had always felt just a little beyond David's reach. Especially after Australia.

He tried not to remember Australia, or the year of his life that he'd lost because of the way that had torn Hermione's world apart. He didn't like the fact that his 20-year-old daughter was a war veteran.

"David," Jenny said in the tone of voice that said she was losing patience. "You aren't listening."

"I am listening," David argued heatedly while Hermione sat silently between them, staring at her hands while her parents shouted over her head. "And I understand the seriousness of what's going on, so please don't talk to me as if I'm unintelligent." David and Jenny were in the middle of the latest chapter of the argument that had been growing since the end of Hermione's fifth year. But hearing that her headmaster had been killed and that she wanted them to go into hiding and allow her to erase all trace of herself from their memories was the last straw for David.

"You heard what Hermione said –"

"Yes, Jen," David interrupted. "I heard what Hermione said, I heard it the first, the second, the third, and the fourth times. But what I have not heard is a particularly convincing reason to believe that we specifically are in danger! I mean, we're Muggles. The attacks on Muggles have been random. Why should we be any safer out of the country with our memories erased than right here at home with them still intact?"

The words hung in the air for a moment or two and then Hermione stood, pushing herself violently off the sofa and striding across the room. "Hermione –" both David and Jenny said at once, but as David turned to try and stop her from leaving the room, he realized she had never intended to leave. She was merely storming to the old chessboard in the corner. Without a word, she pulled open the drawer on the table and began setting up the pieces. David watched her, bewildered, until she had finished whatever she was doing, and then turned sharply to him. "Hermione–" he tried again, but she cut him off abruptly, pointing at the table beside her and saying, "See the whole board, Daddy!"

Brow furrowed in confusion, David slowly crossed to the old board. She'd set out only a handful of pieces, and he looked to her for clarification.

"This is Voldemort," she said, touching the black queen, standing in the middle of the board. "These are Voldemort's forces," she said, indicating the remaining black pieces. "And this is Harry," she said, pointing to the white king. "And this is me." The white rook. "And this, this is you." The piece she touched was a white pawn right in the path of a black knight. "See the whole board, Dad," she said again, less of a demand this time and more of a plea. So he did. And his heart sank.

She moved the black knight and took the white pawn. He moved the rook and captured the knight. Then the black queen took the white rook, and the white king was in checkmate. Game over.

They went to Australia.

Even when he stopped and tried, he couldn't quite remember Australia. He remembered sunshine and dentist's tools and being happy, but that last one made him guilty, in some way, so he thought it was better not to think of it at all.

He remembered Hermione coming for them, Hermione coming into the dentist's office of Wendell and Monica Wilkins, taking out her wand and sending their memories flooding back to them. He remembered the flare of panic he'd felt once he recognized her, thinking the war musthave gone on much longer than she'd thought because she'd looked so much older. He remembered the way his heart had broken, just a little, when he'd learned that, no, his daughter had really aged that much in a single year.

He tried not to remember.

Ron was not a huge fan of automobiles. Not since his second year, which he thought was reasonable, all things considered. His nerves during this particular automobile ride weren't helping matters.

He could feel Hermione looking at him, glancing his way from time to time as she drove through the growing darkness toward her parents' home. One of those times, his eyes caught her own.

"Are you really that nervous?" she asked, all teasing from earlier gone from her voice. He stared straight ahead.

"Yeah," he said softly.

"It's just another chess game," she said after a pause, and he frowned, not understanding. She glanced at him. "Remember when you said that to me?"

He was vaguely aware that he was lying on the ground, that there was something uncomfortably bumpy under his back, and that someone nearby was shouting his name. He really wished they wouldn't – the closer he got to consciousness, the more his head began to pound, and the shouting really wasn't helping at all.

"Ron! Ron! Please say something, Ron!"

"Stop . . . shouting," he moaned, and then something large and slightly damp was flung against his chest. It took him a moment to realize that the something was Hermione. "Hermione," he said, his face going red as he pushed at her a little and struggled to sit up. Almost as quickly as she'd flung herself against him, she sat up, swiping hastily at damp cheeks and speaking very quickly about Harry and potions and fire and Dumbledore, and he really wasn't able to follow anything. "Hermione!" he said sharply, and much to his surprise, she went quiet. "Take a deep breath and tell me all that again, slower."

"There's no time!" she said breathlessly. "Haven't you been listening? Harry's in danger; he went after Snape and You-Know-Who by himself, and we have to get out of here and send Hedwig to tell Professor Dumbledore, so can you walk?"

He could, though he was limping a little and his head was still throbbing as if someone had hit him with a very large rock. Which, he realized belatedly, was kind of what had happened.

Later, he couldn't much remember how they had gotten past all the obstacles and out through the trapdoor again, only that it involved broomsticks and flying them and only avoiding Fluffy's teeth because they took him by surprise as they shot up into the third floor corridor.

But then they were out, and slamming the door behind them and dropping their broomsticks to the ground and sprinting up the corridor, only to come face to face the very person they were on their way to summon.

"Harry's gone after him, hasn't he?" Dumbledore asked, a hand on both their shoulders before hurrying past them, wand already out.

And Ron and Hermione just stood looking at each other, breathing hard, not really knowing what to do next. Ron made the first move, sliding down the nearest wall into a sitting position simply because he couldn't stand up anymore.

"You think he'll be okay?" came Hermione's scared voice by his ear. He turned to see that she had followed his example.

"'Course he will," Ron said gruffly because he didn't like how pale and shaky Hermione looked. "He's the Boy Who Lived, isn't he? And Dumbledore's there now. He'll be fine. . . What about you? I – I mean . . . are you all right?"

"Me?" She sounded startled by the question. "Oh – yes. I'm all right. And you? I mean — you've got a nasty bruise . . ." She reached for it, then quickly snatched her hand back, embarrassed. Suddenly, the throbbing in his head didn't seem so bad.

"Takes more'n a bump on the head to take me out," he said with more bravado than he felt.

"I don't know how you did it," Hermione said in a hushed voice then, with something a little more like awe than Ron was comfortable with from Hermione towards him.

"Did what?" he asked uncomfortably, shifting slightly on the hard floor.

"Taking on that game like you did! Knowing what would happen if you lost. Sacrificing yourself so Harry could go on. I never could have –"

"I — wasn't thinking about any of that," he said quickly. "I wasn't trying to be noble or – or brave or anything. I was – I mean, it was just another chess game, you know?

It took him a moment to drag the memory forward through his recollection, but he wasn't surprised to learn that Hermione had held onto it all these years.

"Just another chess game, huh?" he asked, glancing at her.

"My dad's a master," she said, eyes on the road. "But so are you."

Hermione's young man was polite and friendly and had very good teeth, but David Granger would not allow himself to be won over so easily. For all he knew, this young man had gotten his good teeth the same way Hermione had – through magic. No, good teeth in a wizard was not necessarily a sign of good character, so David had reason to be wary.

They made polite and pleasant conversation throughout dinner. David let Jenny to most of the talking, and he noticed that Ron was trying to let Hermione do the same, but Hermione wasn't going to let him get away with that. He wanted to smile at the way they communicated so well without any words, recognizing in them what he and Jenny had perfected over their 24 years of marriage —

Forcefully, he scowled, realizing where his thoughts had gone without him keeping them in check. His scowl did not go unnoticed by the others at the table.

"Ron," he spoke into the silence, seeing that dinner was all but over. "My daughter tells me you play a mean game of chess."

"I'm a fair hand," he replied after a slight pause and a glance to Hermione.

"Would you care to join me at the board?"

"If there's nothing I can do to help with cleanup," Ron said, half a question directed toward Jenny. David knew the young man had just won his wife over.

"Oh, no," Jenny said, dismissing the notion with a wave of her hand. "Hermione and I will get it. You go on and give David a run for his money."

Once at the chessboard, David held a king in each hand and offered his closed fists to the boy. He chose black, and the game began.

"Now, listen close, Davey, and pay attention." Seven-year-old David sat up a little straighter in his bed, ignoring the itching on his arm, and focused all his attention on his grandfather and the battered chessboard on his bedside table. "The most important rule of chess is this one: see the whole board. Never forget that, Davey. The moment you forget to see the whole board, you'll lose, and it won't be just because of higher skill. It will be because you got too focused on one element of the game and didn't step far enough back. So what's the most important thing to remember?"

"See the whole board!" the boy piped up eagerly.

The game took less than ten minutes. David was thoroughly beaten by his grandfather, but as the older man looked down at him, he gave a smile of approval. "You'll do," he said, ruffling David's hair.

The boy was good, David would give him that. He knew how to play the game. He didn't make his move until he knew what it would be, and he didn't let David rush him. He seemed almost to be a different person over the chessboard. Less nervous, more confident.

"So who taught you the game?" David asked suddenly a few moves in.

"My father," the boy said, moving his knight out of the path of David's bishop. "I was seven and all of my siblings had dragon pox. Dad needed to keep me quiet and out of Mum's hair. He taught me to play chess to keep me occupied."

"He taught you well," David said, capturing a pawn.

"How did you learn?" the boy asked.

"Much the same as you," David told him. "Only it was my grandfather, and I was the one with a pox. He taught me to give my hands something to do besides scratch. You fought in this war with Hermione?" The abrupt change in topic earned only the briefest upward glance.

"I did, yes," he said simply.

"Hermione doesn't talk about it." The boy shrugged and took one of David's knights.

"Most of us don't."

"You didn't go back to school after the war." It was not a question.

"No, sir," was all he said, and it was a good move on the board, David thought with something like approval, because it forced David either to voice the question or drop it. He voiced it.

"Why not?"

"It wasn't beneficial. They needed me on the force then, not a year from then. The only reason I would have gone back was to fulfill the requirements needed to be admitted to the Auror program, so when they offered me that admittance without asking me to finish school, I said yes. I went where I was needed when I was asked."

"Was Hermione asked?" David asked, genuinely interested.

"Yes," the boy said, glancing toward her. Hermione smiled at him from the doorway of the kitchen. "She turned them down."


He laughed a little. "Because she would never pass up a chance to spend another year at school. Plus, Hermione was never a fighter." Initially, David bristled, but then he read the look on the boy's face and realized the statement had been a compliment. "She fought when it was necessary for her to, and she fought brilliantly, but it's not what she should do for the rest of her life, and she knows it. She's too compassionate for it."

"And you're not?"

He didn't answer, just gave a small smile. "It's your move," Ron said.

It was just another chess game.

Hermione's words rang in his head as he faced her father over the chessboard. These pieces didn't move on their own or offer him advice or complaints, but it was just another chess game, and in some ways, the silence was better because the game was between just him and Mr. Granger.

The man was a master, Hermione had been right about that. But Ron was in his element, and he could see what Mr. Granger was trying to do with the conversation. They physical game was just a cover for the verbal game, but Ron was confident in his performance in each. He answered each question simply and didn't let himself fall into the traps. He moved his pieces against Mr. Granger's, understanding the man little bit more with each move he made. And as his mind made patterns and connections in each game, Ron knew how both would end.

The rook was the key.

"Here's the thing about chess, Ron," Arthur told his six-year-old son. "You have to pay attention to everything, and not just the pieces on the board. No two people play chess the same way, and the way your opponent plays the game is as important as the movement of the pieces themselves. If you can get into your opponent's head, you'll have won."

"But what if he can get into my head?" Ron asked, feet swinging a few inches above the floor.

"Well, then it comes down to who understands who better, doesn't it?"

"I've heard a lot about you over the years, Ron," Mr. Granger said.

"I imagine you have, sir. Hermione and I have been friends for a long time." He moved a pawn in front of his rook.

"A strange friendship, though, hasn't it been?" He took the pawn.

"Strange in what way?" A knight took the rook.

"You used to get into a lot of arguments. Check." A bishop moved forward.

"Yes, sir." A queen moved back.

"She wouldn't write about them, you know, but the letters made it fairly obvious, and the longer you were gone from them, the longer we knew the fight was lasting. Check."

"I'll be the first to admit that I was an idiot in my adolescence, sir. And I think most men can say the same." Their words were punctuated by the clack of pieces of the chessboard, no pauses now between moves, just each play coming on the heels of the next, as they moved ever closer to the end of the game.

"So the fights have stopped now that you're older? Check." Clack.

"No, sir. We still fight." Clack.

"And do you think that a good basis for a relationship?" Clack.

"Well, we're still friends after almost eleven years and still together after three, and each fight lets us know a little bit more about the other, so, yes, sir, I would say that it has been a good basis for our relationship. I can't speak to anyone else's, but are you saying that you never fight with your wife?" He held the older man's gaze, not hostilely or defensively, but calmly. Waiting.

"Make your move, son." He said it softly, but with the tone of one who knows that he's won. Glancing down at the board, Ron knew the reason for that tone. The older man was two moves away from winning. He would move his bishop, it would be taken by the queen, he would move his king out of her path, and the white rook would take the game. The rook was the key.

Ron moved his knight.

"Checkmate," he said. Mr. Granger's smile froze, his eyes still locked on Ron. After a beat, he frowned, glancing at the board, then back up at Ron. And then he leaned forward to study the board more carefully. Ron knew he had won the physical game, taking advantage of the older man's intense focus on the rook. He'd let the attack come, and, under the guise of moving his pieces out of harm's way, had moved his knight into just the right position, forcing a checkmate from behind. Now it was time to end the verbal game as well.

"I love your daughter, sir," he said while Mr. Granger's focus was still on the board in front of them. "Since I was fourteen. And I've made mistakes in how I've handled that, we both have. But I love her, and she loves me. We are two passionate people, and we both have tempers, so yes. We fight. But it's about the little things. Whose turn it is to pay for dinner and how formal the ceremony we're going to really is. But the big things? Whether or not we love each other? If we can make a marriage work someday? How certain we are that we would rather spend the rest of our lives fighting with one another than existing peacefully with someone else? We never fight about those things. Hermione is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her, and I've tried to make sure she never has reason to doubt that. Out of all the men in both worlds, Hermione's chosen me. And I don't pretend to understand why, but I'm never going to take it for granted. Even when she's shouting at me over something stupid I've done, or I'm yelling at her for being too uptight over something that doesn't matter, I am grateful, always, that she has chosen to be there fighting with me instead of having some boring and tame conversation with someone else."

And he sat back, eyes on the man with his eyes on the chessboard, and waited for a verdict.

"So, do you like him?" Hermione asked her mother as they stood at the sink drying dishes. Jenny smiled.

"Yes, I do," she said, glancing through the doorway to where Ron and David still sat engaged over the chessboard. "I think Ron is a very nice young man. He's a lot like your father, actually." Hermione smiled and ducked her head.

"I know," she said and laughed a little. "Gram was right all along, I guess. Girls really do marry their fathers." Jenny raised an eyebrow at that.

"So marriage is in the picture?" she asked her daughter. Hermione gave a soft smile and nodded.

"He hasn't asked," she said. "But we've talked about it, and we've both agreed that we want it someday. We're young, though, and neither of us are ready right now. But soon, I hope." Jenny had to hide a smile at the longing that crept into Hermione's voice with those words.

They both realized at the same time that the conversation in the other room, which had been steady for the length of the game, had waned, and they both turned to the doorway in time to see David tip over his king on the board. Jenny stared. Hermione smiled.

"Did your young man just beat your father at chess?" Jenny asked in mild disbelief.

"No need to sound so surprised," Hermione said. "I told you Ron was good."

"I never disputed that, dear, but no one has beaten your father at chess since his grandfather died." Hermione just shrugged and gave a knowing smile, and the truth struck Jenny in an instant. "For someone who cannot play the game with any skill, you certainly orchestrated this to your liking," she said pointedly. Hermione just grinned.

"I learned from the best," she said with a glance to her mother, and then she was through the door and accepting a kiss on the cheek from Ron before Jenny had a chance to ask whether she'd meant her young man or her father.

From across the room, David's eyes met hers, and the message in them couldn't have been clearer.

He'll do.

Coming from David, it was high praise indeed.

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