“Pawn to E4.”
“Knight to G7.”
“Queen to C2.”
Ron looked at the chessboard, his brow furrowing, trying to decide the best course of action, but he was having a hard time concentrating. And lately, his inability to concentrate on his favorite game was centered around Hermione, who was sitting across the chessboard, biting her lower lip as she surveyed the pieces.
“Bishop to D5.”
Ron watched as Hermione’s hand came up and brushed away a few stray strands of hair in front of her face. She tucked them behind her ears, still chewing on her lip. Ron wanted to tell her to stop, that her lips shouldn’t be abused that way, but he didn’t know what to say. So he didn’t say anything, tearing his attention away from Hermione’s lips back to the chess game.
“Rook to C7.”
Hermione apparently didn’t realize the danger to her knight. Ron counted on that. Hermione was often so focused on the goal that she didn’t realize the little dangers along the way. He was taking a chance with moving his rook there, but he thought it would work out.
“Pawn to G3.”
And it did.
“Rook to G7.”
The knight was now lying smashed on its square, before it was dragged off to the sidelines to wait with all the other injured chess pieces of both colors. There were growing piles of both white and black pieces, which actually appeared to be about even now.
Hermione surveyed the chessboard, looking for a move to make that wouldn’t get her slaughtered. Ron was, after all, the acknowledged Chess Master of Gryffindor, who could play even Professor McGonagall to a stalemate, but Hermione had the decided advantage of playing against him constantly for the past six-and-a-half years. She knew what moves he would typically make. And she could call him on them.
Luring him into a false sense of security. Making him feel complacent, sure in his skills. Hermione knew his typical plan of attack just as well as she knew her own. But she also knew that if she wanted the results to go her way, she would have to have a new strategy, one Ron wouldn’t expect. She would turn the game around when he expected it the least. She smiled to herself.
Ron saw Hermione smile, and decided that he liked it. It was just a small smile, but nice, and sure of itself, just like Hermione was. He’d like it if she smiled like that all the time...
“Bishop to E3.”
“Queen to F2.”
Now it was Ron who was overlooking moves in favor of his own strategy. And it was Ron who would lose his rook for it.
“Bishop to G7.”
The rook, now resembling a ruin, became part of the rapidly growing pile of bruised chess pieces. Sometimes, Hermione knew, not even the things she thought glaringly obvious were even visible to Ron. He would be off in his own little Ron-land, and it was usually only either a threat to Harry or a smack to the head that would bring him back. Whether that smack was literal or figurative…well, that depended on what the situation called for.
“Queen to C5, and check.”
Ron would think he was in control, when really his every reaction was carefully planned out by Hermione through her knowledge of him, the knowledge of a girl who has watched him closely for the past three years. She probably knew him better than he knew himself, and she turned that to her advantage.
“Knight to C5.”
Ron hadn’t even remembered her knight. Hermione was slowly cutting off all his resistance with her carefully executed moves, and then she would go in for the kill. This time it was a broken queen who limped furiously off the board, joining her other subjects on the sidelines. Ron’s king was beginning to look scared, for perhaps the first time since Hermione had played against this set. Ron himself was now concentrating fully on their game, little beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead as he considered his next move. He only had a few pawns, a rook, a bishop, and his king left.
Ron wasn’t sure if he would be able to salvage a win out of this game. Hermione certainly turned the tables on him, and she currently had some much more useful pieces in play, including her queen. And—there’s a move!
“Rook to G3.”
A pawn joined the ranks of its brethren on the sidelines. An insignificant victory, perhaps, but little victories could easily add up and contribute to the total victory.
“Rook to H8.”
Why was she moving to the corner? The action of the game was in the middle right now—quickly, Ron checked for hidden motives and possible moves, but found no reason for moving a rook out of the action and into the corner. Suspicious, Ron took his time before making a move of his own.
“Rook to B3.”
In a couple moves, he would be able to put her king in check again, and with the strategic placement of a few pawns…the game would be his.
“Queen to A6, and check.”
Ron’s king, currently on D6, protested loudly at this until Ron bid him move to a different square.
“King to D7.”
Hermione made her next move within the seconds following Ron’s own.
“Rook to H7, and check again.”
Eyes widening as he checked the board, Ron nearly groaned aloud at the trap he had allowed himself to be caught into. With a growing sense of futility, he ordered his king into the last row.
“King to D8.”
“Queen to A8.”
And the game was over, but Ron wasn’t sad to have lost. He looked up at Hermione, smiling slightly. She returned his smile.
“Well, Ron, it looks like you’ve finally met your match.”
Ron cocked his head to the side, looking at Hermione in a different light. She sat there, slightly cocky smile on her face, leaning back in her chair with her arms crossed, as if daring him to do something. In a split-second decision, he did.
He found he liked kissing her very much. And it appeared she shared the sentiments.
After about a minute or so, Ron drew back a bit, grinning widely, the tips of his ears slightly red. Hermione smiled widely back at him, her own cheeks flushing a bit as well.
“Looks like I have, then.”