Summary: A Harry Potter one-shot. Ron and Hugo play chess.
Ron was trying to read some important paperwork for the joke shop (which could be summarized as "laws you didn't stop George from breaking this month") as his son sat on the couch, kicking the air indignantly.
"It's not fair! Why does Rose get to go to the Quidditch game and I don't?"
"Because you sent your cousin to the hospital," Ron said, not looking up.
"I DIDN'T MEAN TO! And James deserved it! Even Aunt Ginny said so!"
"We're not arguing about this again, Hugh. Go read a book or something."
"But I've already read all my books! Ooh! Can we go to Diagon Alley and buy some more? And then stop at the Quidditch store and see if they have any new Cannons posters? Please?"
Ron closed his eyes. He was beginning to realize that there was no point in trying to work unless he found a way to keep Hugo entertained—and honestly, this work was dead boring anyway.
And that's when Ron decided that he was going to teach Hugo to play chess.
"Then there are two bishops—they can move diagonally, see? Your queenside bishop is on the black spaces, and your kingside—"
"I'm gonna use the horsey!"
"It's called a knight."
"How does it move?"
"It's a funny piece—moves in sort of an L shape. Like—go on." Ron poked one of his knights with his wand, and it began to jump around the board. "See? Two spaces one way and one space another. Follow that and you can move it however you like, even if you have to jump over another piece."
"Whoa, that's weird, I wanna use that one! HORSEY! ATTACK!"
"We haven't started the game yet."
"WELL HURRY UP, I WANNA ATTACK STUFF!"
Ron rolled his eyes as the pieces all hopped to their proper spots on the board. He motioned to his son. "White pieces always move first."
"Brilliant! HORSEY! ATTACK!"
"You have to move your pawns first, Hugo. The little ones up front," he said, pointing. "Otherwise the pieces behind them can't move."
"What?! But you said horseys could jump over other pieces!"
"He's right," Hugo's queenside knight said suddenly. "There's no rule against me moving first."
Ron blinked. "Well, I—er. Alright, I suppose that is allowed."
Hugo pointing excitedly at the queenside knight. "Okay, horsey—OVER THERE!"
The knight jostled past the white pawns, which grumbled angrily, to reach its spot. Hugo sat back, grinning excitedly.
Ron rolled his eyes, moved one of his pawns and wound up beating Hugo in eleven moves.
Hugo was having a lot of fun moving his horseys around the board. He had even managed to kill one of his dad's pawns! Unfortunately, all of his other pieces were sitting back at the starting line, groaning in annoyance as Ron's rook picked them off one by one.
"Hugo, you know that you have pieces other than the knights, right? Pieces that I'm currently slaughtering?"
"Yeah, well—HORSEY! SAVE YOUR BRETHREN!"
One of the white knights moved closer to the slaughter, but couldn't do anything as the black rook took another pawn. (Ron was being nice and not going after the major pieces yet.)
"Wait..." Hugo turned his head, stared for a moment, and then grinned. "HE'S IN AN L PLACE! HORSEY, KILL IT!"
Hugo's knight slammed into the murderous rook, knocking it out. "HA!" Hugo screamed, as two pawns dragged it off the board. "TAKE THAT, DAD!"
Ron sighed, prodding his queen. "Go on."
The black queen suddenly raced in a straight line from her starting place, slamming into Hugo's knight so hard that it flew off the board and onto the table. The boy blinked, then stared down at it, bringing his hands to his mouth in horror.
"NO! SIR CAVALIER!"
"See, Hugh? If you want to win at this game, you need to—"
"THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING! HE WAS ONLY THREE DAYS FROM RETIREMENT AND NOW HE'S DEAD! HE HAD A WIFE AND PAWNS AT HOME! THEY'RE GONNA STARVE TO DEATH IN THE COLD AND IT'S ALL MY FAULT! I CAN'T LIVE WITH THE GUILT ANYMORE!"
He threw his face down on the table, his tiny body wracked with sobs. Ron and even the chess pieces were staring at him.
"Hugo, you know that none of that is true, right?!"
Hugo's sobs stopped as he looked up. There were actual tear tracks going down his face, but the frown he gave was calm and pensive.
"Well, yeah, Dad, but a game isn't any fun unless you add some stakes."
"See, this is why I tell your mum not buy you so many books. The last thing you need is more imagination." He rolled his eyes, motioning to the board. "Your move."
Hugo frowned to himself, then reached for his remaining knight—
"Sorry, Hugh. You can't use that piece."
"Huh?! Why not?!"
"Because you're in check. See?" He motioned to his queen, standing diagonal from Hugo's king, grinning maliciously; the king looked nervously around at his retinue. "You have to do something to protect your king, and your knight's too far away to get there in one move."
"Then how am I—"
"Think, Hugo!" Ron snapped, causing his son to wince. "The answer's right in front of you! I mean, you must have twice as much brains as I do, but you've always got them—working wrong, or something."
"My brains work!" Hugo sounded legitimately hurt, so Ron tried to reign in his tone.
"Well, then—stop and think for a moment. If you want to win at chess, you can't be so impulsive. You need to stop...look at all your pieces...and think."
"I am thinking," Hugo said, a bit petulantly. "But how am I—"
He looked down at the board again, blinked, and tilted his head to one side. "Oh." He nudged his king, which leapt forward and smashed into Ron's queen, knocking her halfway across the board.
Ron sighed. "Attaboy."
Hugo was making his most serious face (which looked ridiculous), surveying the board with a critical eye. After a moment he grinned, motioned to his bishop and cackled as it flew across the board to smash into Ron's rook.
"Damn it, I was hoping you wouldn't notice that." He grimaced for a moment, but smirked when he caught Hugo's gaze. "You're getting really good at this."
Hugo drew himself up to his full (and rather unimpressive) height. "Yeah. Rose keeps saying that she lets me beat her, but I can tell she's lying. Oh! And when I was staying at Grandma's house last weekend, I beat James, and Lucy, and Uncle Percy."
Ron's eyebrows shot up an inch. "You beat Percy? That is impressive. He's the one who taught me how to play, you know."
"Yeah. Well—first your grandpa tried, but he was never very good at it. Percy was the undisputed chess champion of the family until I came along."
Hugo's eyes widened. "We have a family championship?! Nobody told me that! When is it?! Who else do I have to beat to—"
"That was a joke, Hugh."
"Oh." Hugo slumped in his seat, frowning.
Ron moved one of his pawns forward, reaching Hugo's end of the board. Hugo blinked. "Hey! Where did that come from?!"
"You have to pay attention to the pawns, too, Hugo, not just the major pieces. And now I get a promotion!"
He tapped the pawn twice with his wand; it let out a slight cry, seemed to melt and reshape itself, and finally settled on the form of a queen.
Hugo made a face. "You always choose queens."
"They're the most powerful piece. Your move."
Hugo surveyed the board for a moment, chewing on his lip. "But who would win, between you and Uncle Percy?"
"Me," Ron said instantly, with a cocky grin. "He hasn't managed to beat me since I was nine, and he was—twelve or thirteen, I guess. In fact, that was the last time that I ever lost to anyone."
Hugo's eyes went wide once again. "Really?"
"Why do I think I like this game so much?" Ron quipped. "I always win! It used to drive your Uncle George and your Uncle Fred crazy, trying to beat me—it was the only thing I was ever better at them in."
Hugo blinked owlishly. Several of his pieces were jumping up and down, begging to be used, but Hugo ignored them so that his queen could take out one of Ron's remaining pawns. "What do you mean?"
"About chess being the only thing you were better at them in?"
"...Did I say that?" Ron examined the board in a way that seemed deliberately casual, and which just so happened to keep him from meeting his son's eye. "Just—you know. Your uncles were all older than me, and your Aunt Ginny was the only girl...um..." He hazarded a look up, and saw Hugo with his head tilted, giving him a curious look. Ron felt his face heat up as he looked back at the board. "It was just—back then, it seemed like all of them could do things better than I could. Chess was the only thing that made me feel...better, about that."
"But you're good at lots of stuff other than chess."
"Well, I know, but—"
"I mean, you fought a basilisk when you were only twelve! And you held off that army of killer brains in the Department of Mysteries! You killed Lord Voldemort and saved the world before you even graduated from school! Plus you're so tall!" he added.
"...Yes, that's all true, isn't it?" Ron quickly looked toward the door, just to make sure that Hermione wasn't around to discredit those claims. "But this was before I figured out how incredible I am, and found the things that I'm actually good at. Back then, winning at chess was pretty much all I had. And your Uncle Percy is still taller than me," he grumbled.
Hugo still looked confused, as though he couldn't quite believe in a time when his father had not been amazing. "But you know what the lesson is, son?"
"Even if somebody doesn't seem very impressive, they still might go on to become somebody great. For example..."
He pointed to the queen that had once been a pawn, and it shot forward diagonally, taking out its white counterpart. Hugo blinked, stared, and then fell back in his seat, scowling.
"Do you think that I'll ever be as good at chess as you are?" he asked sullenly.
Ron grinned, shaking his head. "That'll be hard, Hugh."
"...Do you think that I'll at least ever be as tall as you are?"
Hugo punched the air as his pawn reached Ron's end of the board. "KING ME!"
"That's checkers, Hugh."
"THEN KNIGHT ME!"
Ron raised an eyebrow, but then tapped the pawn, transfiguring it. "Interesting choice. By now I thought that you were over your 'horsey' phase."
Hugo smirked. "But horseys are the only pieces that can move in 'L' shapes."
"I know, but queens can move in every other way, so—"
Ron looked down at his pieces; they were coughing nervously, and his king was looking frightened, even though he was carefully protected on three sides. Except...knights could jump over other pieces. And the one unobstructed side was diagonal from one of Hugo's pawns—
Ron blanched. "No...there's gotta...how—"
Hugo's grin grew so wide that his face muscles hurt. "Checkmate, Dad."
Sure enough Hugo's new knight was looking around excitedly, and, finding no escape for the king, jumped over Ron's defenders and smashed its base into its victim's head. The black king stumble, knocking over the bishop beside it, and Ron's arms suddenly felt heavy, falling onto the table in front of him. Hugo whooped loudly and leapt out of his seat, beginning a ridiculous victory dance around the kitchen.
"Hugo can save anything/He never leaves a single ring/This song doesn't really makes sense for chess/But Hugo's still our king! Or—Hugo smashed Dad's king! Or maybe—"
Hugo suddenly froze when he turned towards his father again. Ron sat stunned, staring down at the pieces as they groaned or cheered at the victory.
"I...lost," he said simply. "For the...first time in...thirty years..."
"Dad? Are you okay? You're trembling..."
He looked up and stared at Hugo. His son looked worried; Ron's face was hard to read. After a moment he looked back at the board.
"You're not upset, are you?" Hugo asked meekly.
"Upset? I mean—well, a little," Ron admitted, rising from his seat. "But...if I had to lose to anyone...I'm glad it's you."
"Really," said Ron, putting his hand on Hugo's shoulder. "It's been years since I've enjoyed chess as much as I do playing with you, and...I mean, you've gotten And now you're...even better than I am." His lip was trembling, but it curled up into a grin. "I love you, son."
Hugo suddenly felt tears well up in his eyes. "Oh, Dad, I love you too!"
He suddenly threw his arms around his father's middle and began to sob. And the two were still crying a minute later when they heard the fireplace spring to life in the next room, and a few seconds after that when Hermione and Rose came into the kitchen, carrying shopping bags from Diagon Alley.
"Ron? Hugo?! What on Earth's going on?!"
Hugo pulled his face out from Ron's robes. "I beat Dad at CHESS!" he wailed, then went back to sobbing along with his father.
Rose turned to her mother. Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Don't look at me like that. How do you think that I feel when you lot start crying at a Chudley Cannons match?"