Written for Ralinde's 'Chocolate Frog Cards' Competition with the character Montague Knightley
Written for HedwigBlack's Minor Character Boot Camp Challenge using the prompt 'acknowledge'
Monty Knight: A Legend
Montague Knightley – more commonly known as Monty Knight these days – didn't know what had become of himself. One moment, he had been a small boy who had been introduced to the game of Wizard's Chess in a pub back in 1518. The next, he was clutching an old, golden trophy with his name engraved into its centre at the age of eighty.
It all seemed slightly surreal if he was being honest. It was a life Monty had never expected to live.
He had grown up in a pretty ordinary wizarding family for his time. He lived in Wiltshire with his father, mother and two younger sisters – Bevlin and Johana. Wiltshire at the time was home to both Muggles and wizards and Monty could remember all the times he would entertain the Muggle children with his 'magic tricks'.
Like all wizarding families, his family were treated differently – some even feared them – but the majority of people respected the Knightleys (perhaps that had something to do with most thinking they would be killed if they didn't).
His father, George, was a strict, but relatively kind man. Like most wizards, he worked at the Wizard's Council in London and was trying his very best to form a Wiltshire Quidditch team. Apparently, however, too many Muggles occupied the area and there were many others who were arguing against it.
But, it was thanks to his father that Monty had been introduced to the old game of Wizard's Chess – if only by accident – and he would never forget that.
While Quidditch was becoming more standardised and more popular around Europe, Monty found himself less interested in the sport. Even at the mere age of thirteen, he considered himself more of an intellect than most. When he had been introduced to Wizard's Chess at ten, he had read as many books and scrolls as he could get his hands on and by the time he turned thirteen and played his very first game against Orlan the Mute – the current champion – it was apparent that his knowledge on the subject justified his ability.
Although he didn't win that game, the two met three years later and Monty's talents had much improved. After three hours of sitting in front of the Chess board – the crowd thinning due to boredom – Monty's knight finally claimed Orlan's king. It was then that his name started to be heard in the streets of Diagon Alley. Orlan was a well known Chess champion, who'd been beaten once in his forty years of playing, yet this boy of only sixteen had claimed victory. Of course, the people's reasoning began as Orlan being too old to continue playing at the same standard he once was. But the more skilled wizards Monty continued to beat, the more people began to wonder if they had a new champion in their midst.
Monty often found himself wondering what would have happened if he had not been in the pub with his father that cold, winter's afternoon. He had been playing in the muddy street with some of the other children when his father had Apparated home from the Wizard's Council. George normally arrived home just as the sun was setting and Monty's mother was calling him inside for supper, but he seemed to be early that day.
Monty, of course, had been delighted and when his father had asked if his only son wanted to join him at the tavern, Monty had agreed. His father had met some of his fellow Council workers there and the more Butetrbeers they drank, the louder they got.
It wasn't until Monty had become bored of the drunken behaviour and had decided to take a look around the small pub that he discovered Wizard's Chess. In a dark corner, he came across a witch and wizard of about twenty-five playing it. Monty had watched with interest as the tiny chess pieces moved around the board, destroying one another.
It had been fascinating for him to see and as the game went on, he learnt more and more about the rules. After the witch had beaten the wizard and they had shaken hands, Monty asked them more about it. His father was more of a Quidditch man and he couldn't remember ever seeing a Chess set in his home.
The witch and wizard had been more than happy to share with him the details of the fascinating game. The witch had taken out her wand and suddenly four very large books appeared in front of her.
"Take them, dear," she had said, dumping them all in his small arms. "They will tell you all you need to know."
So Monty had hurried home that very same evening, skipping supper to read the first book: Chess and Cheats: How to be a successful chess player.
It had taken Monty over a year to get through all four of them, but halfway through his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he closed the final one the witch had lent him – Chess History. The fire blazed in the Ravenclaw common room – all other students had gone to bed. Monty couldn't sleep, though. There were so many questions running through his head that he wanted answered. He was ready to play now. He knew all he needed to know about it.
He just needed people to practice with.
He had requested the help of his fellow Ravenclaws, but they had simply laughed at him. With Quidditch becoming more popular, the students were more interested in using their spare time outdoors on broomsticks than they were sitting at a Chess table. But there were a few who had grown up with a knowledge of the basic rules and had been more than happy to play with him.
Even then, Monty's talent at Chess proved formidable, beating not only his fellow first years, but seventh years too. He impressed some, angered others. Not many were used to being beaten by someone much younger than them.
The rest of his years at Hogwarts were spent studying the subject that was Chess. Many were envious of Monty – he'd always leave his homework to the very last minute because he was too busy reading books from the library, yet he was always getting Outstandings or Exceeds Expectations in every test.
By the time his seventh year came, Monty had not only defeated the greatest wizard to ever exist at Chess, but he had made a name for himself in the wizarding world. People recognised him wherever he went and would stop him in the streets to talk to him, or ask him questions.
Even Wiltshire wasn't safe anymore. Many of his Muggle childhood friends would be curious when a grown man or woman would approach the boy and want to shake his hand and congratulate him. Once he had left Hogwarts for good and returned to his family home, Monty realised he was ready for better things.
He had received many invitations by owl, requesting his presence at one Chess tournament or another. Some were in England, or Wales, while others were much further – some even in Africa.
For a boy who had just turned eighteen, Monty couldn't help but feel slightly overwhelmed by the prospect, but also excited. Never, had anyone so young, been written into the wizarding history books. People were mesmerised by his talent and his dedication to a dying sport. It was even said that Monty Knight – as they were calling him – was making Chess popular again.
Just a few short years after leaving Hogwarts, Monty was officially declared Wizard's Chess Champion. He had just turned twenty-one and was due to be married to his fiancé, Mallory Hedge in a month.
Their marriage had been arranged by their fathers; Mallory was a witch and had attended Hogwarts a year behind Monty. He didn't mind, of course. Mallory's honey coloured hair and green eyes had attracted him to her. He would even say he loved her, which was more than a lot of Monty's friends would say about their own wives.
Mallory had been supportive of Monty's travels, following him wherever he went. And when she had given birth to their first child – a son – he had come along too.
Over the years, as his name and family expanded, Monty continued to compete in tournaments. It wasn't until the death of Mallory that he stopped. Monty had been twenty-eight at the time, Mallory twenty-seven. It was common for Muggles to die in childbirth, but not witches. Something must have gone wrong and from then on, Monty would always say his actions afterwards were his biggest fault.
He had loved Mallory and missed her dearly. Monty had never loved their only daughter like he loved their two sons – she reminded him too much of the wife he had lost.
Mallory's death affected Monty more than he cared to think about. He began losing tournaments against people who he – on a normal day – would finish off in less than an hour. He had played more difficult opponents at the age of thirteen and won. But with his wife gone and three children to care for, his head or heart were no longer in the game.
He wasn't proud to admit it, but he had neglected his children after their mother had passed. He did not care for the girl who had taken his wife away and he was unable to be a proper father to his sons. From then on, his three children were cared for by his neighbour – she was much more capable of loving them than he was.
It was one of the darkest times in Monty's life and after hearing the news that his daughter had also passed at the young age of ten, things got worse. He had taken up a position in the Wizard's Council and had been relatively happy working there. He had not touched a Chess set since Mallory's death, nor did he ever plan to.
By that time, he was married again. In his despair at the death of the daughter he never thought he loved, his two sons returned to him and his new wife, Olive. They were almost adults now, his eldest attending his final year at Hogwarts.
Monty had been unprepared for the turn of events, but at the same time had been pleased. Olive was a kind woman and a good mother to the two boys that weren't hers. He loved her dearly.
Monty hadn't realised until then that the absence of his children had been what was holding him back. A year later, Olive encouraged him to take up Chess again and a year after that, his name returned to the top of every tournament.
Much to Monty's disappointment, his two sons had followed the trend at Hogwarts and preferred Quidditch to playing Chess, but they would still come along to watch him compete. Like Mallory, Olive was very supportive of his career and would join them, nursing Monty's fourth child and third son.
The years went on and as Monty grew older, so did his name. His was one of the most celebrated names in the whole wizarding world. People in the streets spoke his name more than they did any Quidditch player's, which delighted him.
But, there was always going to be a time when one got too old to continue what they were doing. Even for something such as Chess, that wasn't as physically strenuous as Quidditch, at eighty years old, Monty's brain was getting tired.
Orlan the Mute had continued to play until he was eighty-five – three years after sixteen year old Montague Knightley had beaten him. Monty knew his days were coming to an end and he wanted to go out with a bang.
It was the most celebrated tournament in all of Europe – the London Cup. Monty had played his way all the way up to the final, which, of course, was unsurprising for everyone there. In the crowd was his dear wife, Olive and his three – now adult – sons. Each had their own children now. They, too, were there.
Monty's youngest grandchild – Eloise – waved to him, which he returned. She'd be going to Hogwarts in a few years and she was more than excited.
He was up against an opponent he had never played before; a witch about fifty years his junior who went by the name Cordelia Primrose.
This was going to be his last tournament – he needed to make the most of it, though he had watched Cordelia play. She had earned her spot in the final – it was going to be tough.
"Ready, Monty?" Cordelia asked. Her tone was competitive, but in no means vicious. It was a means of making it a good competition.
"Of course," Monty replied, giving a short nod. He had never wanted to win a tournament more than he wanted to win this one. After this, he was never going to compete again and if he lost, he was not going to be acknowledged in the same way he had been his whole life.
He'd be known as The-Wizard-Who-Lost. Orlan the Mute had won his last match and Monty was determined to do the same.
Though, naturally, he wasn't going to allow Cordelia to know that. It would give her an unwanted advantage.
She already had an advantage by having the white Chess pieces. Those who organised the tournaments always allowed to so-called 'underdog' the additional advantage of going first – they thought it evened out the competition.
Of course, to anyone who knew the game of Chess like Monty did, it made very little difference. He had spent the past forty years going second and had rarely lost.
The crowd grew silent in the large courtyard in Diagon Alley. Quidditch matches tended to draw a thousand people, but never a Chess match. Monty had to assume there were at least a thousand people there watching him.
His stomach churned slightly. He'd never felt so much pressure before as he watched Cordelia make her first move. She took the safe option – one that many people (including Monty) used to get started. He hadn't been surprised at what she had done. In fact, he had been expecting it.
A light breeze blew around them, cooling the surprisingly warm air. Studying the board with great intensity, he eventually decided to move the same pawn that Cordelia had on his own side. Chess was a logic game. There was more than one way to win and Monty was known for his ability to mess with his opponents' heads. It was said that that was how he had won over half of his matches – he was able to fool the opposition into thinking they had lost before they actually had.
Cordelia made her next move and then Monty again. The tiny Chess pieces followed their master's instructions, walking across the board and destroying the others when they had the chance. Monty was using the same set he had used since he was twenty. It was his most prized possession – something he had worked hard for. They hadn't failed him yet and he was confident they wouldn't today.
Just as one of his rooks claimed Cordelia's bishop, the crowd broke into a loud cheer. There were far more black pieces on the board than there were white and their amateur knowledge of the sport thought that meant he had won.
It all came down to the positioning of the king and those protecting the king. He knew that and so did Cordelia.
She glanced up at him. "Got quite a following, don't you, Knightley?" she questioned humorously.
Monty ignored her. She was only trying to distract him.
Cordelia studied the board. Monty had positioned his remaining pieces in a way where sacrifices would have to be made. The only question was – what sacrifices was Cordelia willing to make?
"Nice," she whispered after a while so only Monty could hear. "I've heard great things said about you, Knightley. Glad I have been given the chance to see it for myself."
Once again, Monty chose not to respond. He waited patiently for her to make her next move, which was sacrificing one of her two remaining pawns.
The crowd hushed again as they anticipated Monty's decision. The truth was, Cordelia had played well, but not well enough for the man whose name was known all around the world. Monty could see the defeat in her eyes, even though she tried not to show it.
He had beaten her well and truly – there was no denying it.
"Bishop to C5," he instructed and the piece obeyed, sliding diagonally along two spaces. He looked up at the young witch. "Checkmate," he said.
Cordelia took one last look at the board and then sat back in her seat, accepting defeat. The crowd all got to their feet and started cheering. Her king crumbled on the board, turning into nothing but a pile of dust.
"Good game, Monty," she said, holding out her hand for him to shake. "Even for an old man, you're too good."
Monty accepted her hand and nodded. "Thank you," he said. "You also played exceptionally well."
Olive and his three sons came over to congratulate him, while the tournament organiser – a wizard many years older than Monty – handed him the trophy. His name was already engraved into the golden cup.
Montague Knightley 1586.
In his eighty-two years, Monty's name became legendary. Many children aspired to be like him and many practiced day in and day out to become as good.
To many, he was a hero. To others, he was a formidable opponent. To some, he was a legend.
Even hundreds of years later as wizards and witches faced each other in the same tournaments, the name Monty Knight would always come up. Those who hadn't been alive when he played knew of him from books.
He was celebrated and acknowledged as one of the most successful Wizard's Chess players to ever exist and his victory in the London Cup at the age of eighty was the one they all remembered.
Not a single person in the history of Wizard's Chess had ever – or would ever – be as successful as Monty had been.
He had become a legend.
This involved a little bit of reasearch, because a) as fascinating as the time period is, I don't know very much about it and I apologise if I made any mistakes. b) I don't know much about chess either, so again, I apologise if it's inaccurate. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this. I had some fun writing it as he was virtually an OC. I knew his name and why he had his name on a Chocolate Frog card. The rest I made up. Please leave a review :) I'd really appreciate it.