The Sugar Quill
Author: Artemay  Story: A Fighting Chance  Chapter: Chapter 1: Chess
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Sunshine filtered in through the curtains of Ron Weasley’s room making him groan in resentment

Disclaimer:  Everything belongs to J.K. Rowling, I am just adding what I feel should have been in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince! J

 

Author Notes:  Thanks so much to my beta-reader, Night Zephyr.  My first story wouldn’t have been as successful as it was without you!

 

A Fighting Chance

Chapter 1:  Chess

 

Sunshine filtered in through the curtains of Ron Weasley’s room making him groan in resentment.  It was too early to wake up, especially for a sixteen year old boy.  He groggily sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes, trying to rid them of tiredness.  Harry was supposed to be arriving in three days time and, well, Hermione… was supposed to be there today.  How could he forget?  He jumped out of bed and rummaged through his small pile of clothes to find something to wear.  Quickly, he put on a pair of tattered jeans and a red t-shirt. 

 

Not very impressive but it’ll do, Ron thought.  What am I doing?  Trying to impress Hermione?  She is just a friend…just a friend… 

 

Trying to act casual, he walked downstairs into the kitchen where his mother was cracking eggs over a frying pan.  From the end of the table Ginny greeted her older brother, “’Morning sleepyhead.” 

 

He grinned at his little sister charismatically until his eyes fell upon Hermione, who rose from her seat at the worn table to greet him. 

 

“Hi Ron.” She smiled up at him and gave him a friendly hug. 

 

“Hey, Hermione,” Ron said, trying keep his voice from cracking.  Although it was only a few seconds, a shiver still managed to go down Ron’s spine as she hugged him.  What’s wrong with me?

 

“Come sit down,” Molly said from the table. 

 

Ron obeyed without question, due to the fact that he was completely intimidated by his own mother.  The minute he sat down, a towering plate of food fell in front of him. 

 

“Eat,” Molly commanded.  “I swear if you get any taller your bones will start sticking out.” 

 

“Mum,” Ron began.  “You know for a fact that I can’t eat all of this.”

 

“Well share it with the twins when they arrive,” Molly sighed in deep disappointment.

 

The three ate in silence, being hungry and still sleepy all at once.  Ginny finished first and said gruffly, “Where is Phlegm this morning Mum?”

 

“Don’t call her that, Ginny,” Molly said, trying to sound stern.  Both siblings, however, saw the small smirk on her face when Ginny had said “Phlegm”.

 

Hermione looked at the three of them in confusion, “Did I miss something?”

 

Ginny nodded.  “You know that girl Harry competed against in the Triwizard Tournament?  Fleur Delacour?”

 

“Yes, but what does she have to do with anything?” Hermione asked. 

 

“Well, Bill and her are engaged and she has been hanging around here lately because Bill’s been busy.  I can’t stand her; she is a terrible headache. Hopefully Bill will come to his senses and realize she’s not for him. I call her Phlegm for short,” Ginny said grinning ear to ear.  “Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the fact that Ron is head over heels in love with her!”

 

“Shut up, Ginny,” Ron said loudly as he crumpled a napkin in his hand and chucked it at her forcefully.  She dodged it by running up the old staircase and into her bedroom. 

 

“Really?” Hermione smirked at him. 

 

“No!” Ron said exasperatedly.  “She’s part Veela you know!”

 

“Sure,” she said unconvincingly, rising from her chair with a book in hand and walking outside.

 

Ron jammed the last bit of toast on his plate into his mouth.  Why does she always have to open her big mouth?  One of these days she’s gonna get it.

 

He put on his muddy sneakers and followed Hermione outside.  It was not a typical summer day; in fact it felt more like a fall day than anything.  The air was crisp and the sky was clear blue.  Seeing Hermione disappear into the gardens Ron slipped his hands into his pockets and decided to follow her.

 

Just like the rest of the Weasley property, the gardens were not well taken care of.  It wasn’t really a garden; it was more like an uncontainable jungle.  After about five minutes of walking through the wild garden he found Hermione sitting on the ground in an open area. 

 

“Mind if I join you?” Ron asked uncertainly, looking down at Hermione who seemed to be deeply engrossed in her book. 

 

“No, of course not,” Hermione said, gazing up at her friend with a smile. 

 

He sat down on the soft grass and asked, “So how has your summer been?”

 

“Nothing special,” Hermione began.  “I read most of the time.  You know, brushing up on my Defense of the Dark Arts spells and jinxes, just in case…What?” Ron was smiling at her. 

 

“Can’t you take a break from school and studying for a day?” Ron asked incredulously. 

 

“Of course I can,” Hermione replied indignantly. 

 

It was Ron’s turn to say it. “Sure.”

 

“I can!” Hermione said, grinning as she punched him gently on the shoulder. 

 

“Prove it,” Ron said in return. 

 

“All right, what do you want to do that isn’t ‘schoolwork’?” Hermione asked. 

 

“That would be up to you,” Ron answered. 

 

“Fine,” she said, getting flushed in the face.  “Let’s see, how about a game of chess?”

 

“You’re on,” Ron said.  “I’ll go get the game.” And with that he took off to get his battered chess pieces back at the Burrow.

 

~~**~~

 

Why did I have to get all worked up about that?  Hermione thought desperately.  It’s only Ron…

 

She hastily lowered her brown eyes to the book she was reading.  Trying to focus on the words and what they were trying to depict was nearly impossible.  Her thoughts kept straying to Ron, of all people.  This never happens with Harry…

 

Hermione could hear him returning through the underbrush and tried to put on a straight face.  They had known each other for six years and he would know if there was something bothering her.    

 

“I’m back and so ready to beat you,” Ron said gleefully as he placed the box on the grassy carpet. 

 

Hermione, rolling her eyes, took out the white pieces.  “Well, if you are going to beat me, and I know you will, I am at least going to go first.” 

 

“Fine with me,” Ron said as he set up his black pieces. 

 

“The queen goes on this side, right?” she asked. 

 

“Nope, this side,” Ron made a gesture to the right.  He had set up all of his pieces and realized Hermione had one left to place, a knight.  Reaching for it he touched Hermione’s hand.  He swiftly looked down at the white knight and found that her hand was on top of his.  Instinctively Ron pulled his hand away and said, “Sorry.”

 

Hermione let out a small sigh.  “For what?”

 

“Nothing,” Ron muttered.  “Ready to start?”

 

“The question is Ron, are you ready to start?” Hermione said, trying to sound intimidating. 

 

Ron shook his head.  “It isn’t working, Hermione.” 

 

“I thought I would give it a try,” Hermione said, smiling and moving the pawn in front of her king two spaces forward.   

 

Time passed and both friends played the intense game of chess and rarely spoke to each other.  Why did he have to pull his hand away?  Hermione thought as she watched him thinking about his next move. 

 

“Checkmate,” said Ron victoriously, grinning as he looked at Hermione. 

 

“I suppose you want to play again?” Hermione asked sarcastically. 

 

“Only if you want to,” Ron said politely.  “Just a warning though, you are going to get beat again.” 

 

“I know,” Hermione said.  “But I like playing chess with you.”  Ron fell silent and began setting up his pieces. 

 

The sky gradually began to get dark as the sun sunk deeper into the horizon.  “We should probably get back,” Ron suggested.  “Mum will have a fit if we are out here for much longer.” 

 

“Good idea,” Hermione agreed.  Ever since she had said that she enjoyed playing chess with him, Ron had become increasingly quiet.  “It is so beautiful out here,” she said softly. 

 

“Yeah,” Ron said.  “Is it different from where you live?”

 

“Oh yes,” Hermione said with a laugh.  “We live near London.  It is so busy and noisy and not to mention bright.  You can’t see the stars or hear crickets in the fields.  You’re really lucky to live here.” 

 

They reached the Burrow’s entrance and they both unintentionally tried to squeeze through the door at the same time.  They were very close together; Hermione could feel the heat of Ron’s body course through her.  She looked up at him and found he was looking down at her. 

 

This isn’t right, Hermione thought frantically.  She swiftly turned to go inside the Burrow, leaving Ron in the doorway still holding the chess game.  

       

//
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