Young witch, about 26 years of age, dressed in a beautiful summer dress, made out of luxurious materials with a hand-knitted flowery design, walked through a secluded part of a rose garden. She did not stop to adore all the blooming roses, but simply walked straight to small stone chess table, just like so many times before.
He was already waiting there for her. Standing, his head lowered and eyes closed. He pursued unspoken law of never sitting down before her. Why did he chose to do so, she did not know. She stopped for a second and took in his appearance. He was dressed in a semi-formal black pants and a deep green high-collar shirt. Despite his high cheekbones and sharp angels, he looked couple years younger than her. His hair was styled in a typical gentleman fashion of the 50's and face cleanly shaved. With his completely relaxed expression he looked almost innocent. Almost.
"Are you going to join me for a game, or would you prefer to just stand there and stare at me all day?" he smirked without even opening his eyes.
"I got lost in my thoughts." She stated plainly without any hint of apology and took his hand, which he was already holding up for her.
He gracefully let her to the chair in front of the white figures. She predicted so. It was not like they never switched, but he seemed to prefer to play with the dark pieces… Or did he prefer for her to play with the starting pieces?
Whatever the answer was, she did not waste any time and advanced one of the pawns on the left side.
"How predicable!" he said and moved his knight forward in a similar manner.
"Likewise!" she smiled sweetly back, the smile never reaching her eyes.
"We need to do something! Soon!" whispered brown haired witch to a boy next to her. The boy straightened his glasses and ran his hand through his untamable black hair. He looked deep into her eyes and without any words they both knew they will need a plan; a way better plan than they had right now.
"We have destroyed another Horcrux! Naginy!" whispered Fred to the trio across the corridor. He was hiding just couple yards from them behind a statue of Lord Boldrick. "It was Neville!" he added with a half-smile.
Harry licked his lips nervously and said: "And I think I know what's the last one…"
They all turned to him expectantly.
"It-it's me." peeped Harry. Ron immediately started round of protest, but Hermione looked at him silently. She knew too well that Harry's theory was more probable than possible. Reading his eyes she started to understand his plan. Making Harry his final horcrux was Voldemort's great idea, but also a great mistake. They could still win..
"I have a plan." Added Harry quickly and Hermione already knew where it was going and she did not like it.
She did not like it at all. Her opponent advanced every one of his figures, except of couple pawns and one knight, which were protecting the dark mahogany king. He was doing very well, seeming better than her. She frowned and looked over the chess board one more time. Then she moved her Queen down couple rows- she had a plan.
His black orbs bore onto her caramel colored ones as he smirked at her obvious trap. Yet he still took his queen and knocked the white one over. Yes, they were using muggle chess. It was another unexplained thing about the man in front of her. She guessed it reminded him where they both came from, but it might as well have been just his cruel play with her.
She smiled inwardly. It always started innocent.
Hermione smiled at Harry, bitter tears starting to escape her eyes. Harry squeezed her hand for the last time and lifted the vial filled with dark purple liquid to his lips. His eyes shut as he took a first sip, and then another and another till the vial was empty. Hermione wrapped her arms around him tight, not even trying to stop the tears from coming anymore. She quietly listened to his breathing slowing until it faded to nothing. The poison was working. She remembered when she first met him and Ron, and how seemingly careless their childhood was. They fought over essays, they joked about Slytherins and stressed in Snape's class. Her heart broke when she remembered how much she laughed when Ron pushed Harry, who subsequently ended up knocking over all of Snape's supply cabinets like they were nothing more than domino.
She swallowed last cries and laid her best friend’s body on a cold stone floor in one of the empty Hogwarts’ classrooms. Then she walked outside and locked the door behind her. The others were waiting for her.
"We are ready." She said wiping her tears away and handing Harry's wand to Ron. Soon Voldemort will be mortal. Mortal, but not harmless. They had about 30 minutes, before Harry's body die completely and Voldemort will find out what happened.
The man sitting across from her ran his hand through his dark hair nervously. She knew he slowly started to realize her plan. She could read him like an open book. His obsidian eyes concentrated on the board, like there was nothing else in the world outside of that game. He was calculating every move. Not many pieces left on either side.
She smiled victoriously as he made the fatal move with his rook. It did not take her a second to move her bishop into the right position.
"Check" she said quietly and looked him in the eyes. First there was shock on his face, his mouth slightly open and eyes widened, but then a smile appeared as he took the fall.
There was no need to finish the game. His king was blocked in by his own pieces diagonally right in front of her bishop.
Hermione watched Ron drink a polyjuice potion with one black hair in it and then slowly changing into exact copy of the famous Boy-Who-Lived. She gave him a quick hug and whispered: "Good luck!"
He gave her a very crocked smile, tightened his grip on Harry's wand and ran into the court yard, where he met face to face with Lord Voldemort himself. All eyes were concentrated on Ron, now in the body of Harry Potter, and that was her chance.
She couldn't remember the details. It all happened so fast. When Ron and Voldemort dueled she circled them till she was right behind the dark wizard. It was all just waiting game from now.
Soon Voldemort grabbed his head in pain. Harry’s body finally succumbed to the effect of poison; the last horcrux was destroyed. Voldemort’s snake-like eyes surveyed the surroundings, panic mixed with anger easily detectable on his face.
Hermione stood up from her hiding place and Lord Voldemort turned his entire body her direction.
"You!" he spat out, not even bothering to raise his wand.
Hermione gave a half-smile and said loudly enough for him to hear: "Checkmate, Voldemort!"
With the two simple words light green beam of light hit Voldemort's tall figure and Hermione watched his body fall onto the ground. She did it.
But they didn’t win…
Without any other word her opponent got up and walked to her chair. He helped her up like always. They stood close, almost touching. Many people would be scared of his eminent closeness, but somewhere along the line she got used to it. Never letting go of her hand, he used his other one to cup her cheek, his eyes tracing every curve of her delicate face.
She looked up to him and said happily: "You lose, Tom!"
Those words became a phrase for her. She always won.
He let go of her cheek and ran his hand through her long brown curls, feeling the untamed magical power crackle between them. Then he gave her a smile, the real one, stripped of all snobbishness, self-ego and evil.
"Not as long as I have you, Miss Granger." He whispered pressing his forehead to hers. Hermione watched his eyes narrow and turn red, his skin lost all the color, and his hair fell one by one until there was none left. Until he looked like his real self again.
The rose garden, as well as her beautiful dress, were gone in a second and Hermione found herself back in her dark stone room. His spell wore of. Their victory was nothing but charade, a fake vision, he conjured in her head as the game evolved, making her re-live the moments of victory, that never happened.
Now the vision was gone and she was faced with reality.
It has been six years since Hermione Jane Granger was captured by Lord Voldemort. She never lost track of time. She scratched one line for every day onto the wall of her cell. She never stepped out, but he always returned. Sometimes he would show up daily, sometimes she wouldn't hear of him for months.
So she just waited.
Waited to play Chess with the Dark Lord, and to be saved.