(1938-11-09) Saved by the Chess
Details for Saved by the Chess
Summary: Alphard saves Andromena from the terrible drugdery of Herbology work, offering chess, hot chocolate and distractions.
Date: 1938-11-09
Location: Greenhouses
Related: imPerfect Youth

Andromena could be found tending some plants; what was not important. They were green, leafy, and perhaps most importantly not something that was readily able to harm a person. Her hair was pulled upwards, a few loose strands curling about her cheeks as she leaned over something, her expression one of concentration. Yes, she was wearing gloves. Now and again she would stop whatever she was doing to jot down some notes. So involved was Andromena that she was utterly oblivious to the comings and goings of any others. This was the Andromena most knew; absorbed, reserved, quiet.

"Just looking at you.." and how long exactly he had been looking at her wasn't immediately apparent, as the boy was nonchalantly leaning against one of the tables in a way that suggest he could've been there forever. He let loose a very dramatic sigh as he said: "Makes me wince. The tragic drudgery they put us through is absolute torture. A good thing you have a friend like me, then! Thoughtful, considerate, bringer of hot chocolate and a game of wizard chess to take your mind off everything." Casually he wiped a bit of unruly dark hair from his brow, slipping all those tresses sideways towards his ear. "Too bad there's just one of me, huh? I wish I had myself as a friend."

Like a startled doe, Andromena glanced up to find Alphard when he announced his presence. She eyed first his offerings (hot chocolate and chess!) and then her plants. The decision was made in short order. Pulling off her gloves, straightening up her notes, Andromena abandoned her work to approach Black with outstretched hands. "You may want another of you," she chides lightly as she takes the cup, using it to warm her hands. "But I don't know how I could possibly handle twice the radiance of Alphard Black." Sweet wand of Merlin, she could only imagine the terror wrought unto others if Alphard had a twin or something. That he was uniquely…him…might persuade one to believe in higher powers. "Fair warning, I'm not that good at the game." Andromena remained beside the Slytherin, taking small is of the hot chocolate. Then, somewhat awkwardly, "Thanks for stopping by."

Alphard's lips twitched with a smug smirk at the surprised reaction he provoked from the girl, though he tried to keep it somewhat in check. A short bit of laughter escaped him at her comment of his radience. Part of it was humor, part of it was satisfaction of having his ego stroked. Whether in earnest or not. It still did the same job. The work table he'd been leaning against had some opens pace free of pots and such, and was fairly clean. It was on it that he had placed the wooden box containing his wizard chess. With a flourish he draped himself down onto a chair (if only after he'd used a hankerchief to sweep it clean), and then opened up the box. There was an immediate and loud cacophony of noises, as his chess pieces appeared.

They were a vicious bunch. One side contained a nasty crew of thieves and murderers, grinning and laughing and talking about how much they were looking forward to slitting some throats. The whites were cast in the semblance of heroic and historical Aurors. For a pack of heroes, they looked about as vicious as the first group, and were even louder with their threats of violence. "It's time for some blooOooOooood to flow!" Shouted the Black King manically.

"That's alright," more than alright. It meant he could win mor easy! "And don't think about it. It's what friends do!"

Watching the chess pieces as they made their threats, Andromena's lips were invariably pulled upwards into a smile. How anyone could ever play the game with the mundane, lifeless piece used by muggles was beyond her. Sure, there were some elaborately and intricately carved sets out there, and perhaps if one just liked to look at them that was enough. They could never compare to, in her mind, the real thing. (Because surely a wizard created the game).

"Am I to be white?" Asked from where she was retrieving her earlier used chair and collecting her notes on the off chance some one or some thing came in and soiled them. Thunk, scrape. Down went the chair opposite Alphard before Andromena slipped inside it. Her eyes dipped back down to the pieces, one of whom pumped his fist into the air while shouting a decidedly lewd obscenity. Her cheeks flushed, and seeing this, other pieces began to cackle whilst congratulating their comrade.

"I didn't even know they knew about such things," Andromena admitted, hand over her eyes. So maybe there was something to at least a silent chess piece. Clearly, his set was conspiring against her so that she couldn't think properly!

"It wouldn't feel right to force you to play white, when everybody knows that Black is always better." Which was not exactly true, at least not in chess. Whoever got to play the white had a significantly better chance at winning the game, at least at high levels. "So I'll leave the choice in your hands, Meanie." He leaned back in his chair, his cup of hot chocolate oozing pleasent warmth out into his cradeling fingers. Not that it was too cold in the greenhouses, but still not summer temperatures anymore.

"I want to be handled by a girl for once!" Shouted the Black rook, to which the Queen cackled. "Talk for yourself! I rather like having a nice manly voice order me around!"

"They used to be my dad's.. so they've been played a while. I mean, you figure they pick up a few things after a while. Plus.." he leaned forward just a hint, fixed his eyes on Andromena's, and slyly told her: "Beside, who knows what they do when we close the box!"

"HEY! I HEARD THAT!" The White Queen protested!

"Come on, lass!" Shouted another of the black pieces. "Every woman wants a bad man!" He was accompanied by several others heartily voicing their agreement. "And look at those fingers! Mmm…" Looking to Alphard, Andromena gave him a helpless shrug. "Okay, then," said she. "I'll take the black." Some of the white pieces muttered that Andromena was missing out, but if one looked closely enough, the white queen could be spied giving her opposite a clearly smug look.

"I just always assumed they went to sleep," she confessed to Alphard. She had never really put much thought into it before, but the notion that they might learn over time most certainly intrigued her. "The set I learned with was new and rather standard." How much more exciting it would have been if they had been more like these pieces. She took another sip of her hot chocolate before setting the cup aside. "Did you learn from you father?" Asked in that small talk sort of way as opposed to: I am avidly interested in knowing this.

It wasn't often that their owner picked up the white pieces, for all that he had voiced his quest to become an Auror himself at some point in the future. While the pieces marched themselves into position, waving their wands, swords, knives (and a butcher's knife, wielded by one of the black bishops), Alphard sat his cup down. There was still a stream of fine steam coming from it, so he hadn't finished it all already.

"Sometimes new is better. New clothes or a new broom. Wizard chess is like fine liquer. It just gets better with age." Thoughtfully he scratched at his cheek, watching the field while pondering how he was supposed to make his opening move. The White Queen looked over her shoulder at him with eager expectation, while half the pawns were already telling him how they aught to go first.

"Pick me, pick me!"

"No, me!"

"Bah, don't listen to those peasent fools. PICK ME!" The latter was one of the knights.

"Hrm? Oh, yeah. I don't really play that much, but I'm a natural." Obvously. Since he wsa a natural at everything.

Their first round showed just how inexperienced Andromena was at the game. It was likely a clear and obvious victory for one such as Alphard, though his opponent did try her best. The most memorable moment came towards the game's inevitable end. A rook, disgruntled at the ass-whooping he and his brethren were suffering, snapped at Andromena just before he was taken out by Alphard's opposing piece. "At least kiss me on the mouth the next time you want to fuck me!" The Ravenclaw's mouth fell open in utter surprise, before her hand clapped over it to stifle her laughter. Quite unable to help herself at that point, Andromena had to look away, her shoulders shaking with her mirth. "Just finish it," she managed, wiping at an eye. "Put me out of my misery."

"I'd normally tell him to shut up," the Slytherin mused with a wry little grin at that lewd comment. "But he does sort of have a point, you know?" From grin to laughter, before he ordered his white clad heroes to advanced, piece by piece, laying about themselves with their weapons. Hacking, punching, pointing wands that didn't actually do anything, but looked dramatic before they finished with physical violence. The firs game was a complete rout for Alphard, and he looked down at the final devestation with smug satisfaction.

"Come on, let's do another." So said, he waved his wand and cast the spell to repair the pieces again. "I'll be Black this time."

"Yeah, I suppose he does," she agreed, surprising herself by admitting such out loud. While the set was reconstructed and they swapped sides, so to speak, Andromena took the chance to drink more of her hot chocolate. Thankfully, it had retained much of its heat still. The start of their second round looked much more promising for Andromena, despite the taunts from her former team. As they played, she bantered with Alphard about this and that, nothing vastly important.

"So," she announced suddenly, just after making her move. "After you had to leave the other day, I was talking with Edwards." Andromena gave a haughty sniff. The boy had clearly ruffled the feathers of Rowle. "He started rambling off about being perfect and blonde with blue eyes," yeah, she was definitely leaving things out…but only because she knew nothing about what Julian had been referencing! "And seemed offended that I think his mother should have married another wizard." Andromena was becoming more comfortable with the game, because several of the mistakes she had made earlier were now carefully avoided.

Lulled into complacency, Alphard wasn't playing nearly as good the second game as he had the first. Which wasn't to say that he was doing bad, but gradually as things progressed he became aware of the fact she was gaining the upper hand. Not that he could have failed to become aware of it, of course, with how the black pieces were loudly complaining about how they were losing: "YET AGAIN! AAAAAAAaaaAaaAaAAaAAAA! OW!" That was the butcher-knife wielding rook taking a sword to the skull. It cracked. While there was no blood, there was marble dust oozing out of the wound while the piece collapsed. Alphard's engagement with the banter died out as he focused more on more on the desperate quest to reclaim the equilibrium in the game.

"Hrm?" Asked distractedly. "Trying to make you swoon over him? He does realize that he's a.." and then Andromena alraedy pointed out what he was going to say: Half-Blood. He snorted with bemusement. "Figures. I mean, try to be nice to some of them and they lash out immediately. Half of them seem to think we should be embarassed about being proud of ourselves."

It was much too late to reclaim this particular game. )Worry not, Alphard, Andromena would accept that she lulled you into complacency if you worded it right). For her part, Andromena was as gracious a winner as she had been a loser, never making much fuss. However…she did certainly smile just a bit broader for having gotten the best of him this game. The white pieces lorded it over their black cousins, equally a loud about winning as they were about losing.

"Exactly," she agreed, staring down at the board. "It was not as if I was saying anything wrong. I had only been trying to be helpful. I mean, really," one of Alphard's knights was toppled with over the top scream of agony as it was felled. "With some of the things he was saying, it makes me feel like…" How to say it? "Like it's hopeless. And can you believe," her little hands thumped down upon the table and she eyed Alphard squarely. "He told me how he was going to invite me to the coming game this weekend." Huff. Scoff. Andromena was not about to be scorned by some boy! "When its your team playing."

"You made me laugh on purpose, didn't you?" Alphard asked Andromena with a huff as he gave up the game. "Lulled me into complacency. Sneaky." Then his eyes sparkled and his grin grew absolutely devious. A white toothed devil's own, while he leaned towards her. "I knew you had it in you!" Laughing, he slumped back into his chair. The last of his hot chocolate was already gone, so he settled for scrubbing his palm against his smooth chin in the archtypical depication of deep contemplation.

"Another one. I'll stick with the Black pieces. They deserve a victory."

"You can't take it onto your shoulders, Meanie. It's not your fault. Really, it just shows how dangerous it is when wizards get so influenced by Muggles. Did you pick up Grindelwald's new manifesto? It's in the library. Real interesting read." At the same time, he mentioned it more offhandedly than with real enthusiasm. Like it was something he was expected to say, and so said it, but really his interest was on the game.

"You are coming to watch the game, right? I mean, I sort of figured you'd be cheering me on since it's not Ravenclaws I'm playing against."

His grin is reciprocated, though shortly thereafter Andromena draws herself up with the most innocent of looks as she bats her lashes toward Alphard. "I don't know what you're talking about," said oh-so-sweetly. How could anyone accuse her otherwise, with lips pouted and big brown taking on a sudden sheen of vulnerability!? Some people just had the knack for making themselves appear as harmless and weak as kittens, and it must be admitted, Andromena Rowle was one of them.

"We deserve blood!" Griped one of the pawns at Alphard's comment that he would keep them.

"I was going to pick it up later today," she informed Alphard, lips pursing. She hardly considered herself a political, but she did read to keep up on things. Therefore the manifesto would be visually consumed, if only because it would never do not to know what he had to say. It seemed Alphard was not the only one paying more attention to the game. Andromena was thoroughly enjoying herself.

"Of course," answered airily. "How could I not cheer for you now that we are such pals?" Talk of Julian was not set aside. She had comfortably vented her concerns regarding the matter. "Are you excited?" Round three had now begun, with no clear indication as to which player would come out on top.

Alphard shook his head when Andromena did her whole innocent little kitten routine. Just to let her know that wasn't working on him! He was made of sterner stuff, by far.

"First game of the season, so yeah! I'm gonna crush those bloody Gryffindors. Though I'm a bit worried that our team doesn't have a single Seventh Year. That's going to leave us at a pretty severe disadvantage. We're just going to have to play twice as hard, and twice as mean, and make sure that we leave bodies on the pitch when we're done." Which was Alphard's solution to just about every Quidditch game. Perhaps it wasn't a great surprise that he was't the Slytherin Captain. It was, infact, one of the few titles he was happy to avoid. Being Captain would've meant having to spend more time paying attention to the game, and less just beating people up.

Once the pieces were reassembled, he waited on Andromena's first move. This time there would be no distractions, dammit! His eyes were fixed on the board, on issuing his orders. It was an aggressive warpath he was taking, and even if she was playing better than ever, this time he showed no mercy. The Black pieces squealed with murderous glee.

Andromena dropped the act when she saw that Alphard wasn't going to even give her the tiniest bit of satisfaction. Stern indeed. Upon her features now was a look of concentration, though despite her best efforts it was made known unto her that when Alphard Pollux Black wanted to win, then win he would. Her sole consolation was that this last game was not quite so horrific a loss as her first had been. A loser has to take their comfort where they can, hey?

"Have you ever been really hurt yourself?" Asked with just the sort of concern Andromena would have offered any one of her friends. Sure, she was also quite curious as to whom he may have hurt the worst over the years, but she reasoned showing concern for his well-being ought to come first. Right? She winced when his next move showed her the error of her ways, weakening her overall strategy.

Alphard's pieces danced with glee as they finished up the last of the Whites. With supreme satisfaction he leaned back, watching the aftermath like a big cat who'd just gotten its tummy rubbed. All he lacked was the purring. Actually, the sound he made in the back of his throat was sort of close. "Mhmm. That was well played." Though whether he meant himself or by her, was debatable. The polite thing would've been the latter, right?

"What? Oh. A few times. Not as much as I've hurt others. Broken a few bones, but nothing so bad it couldn't be fixed at the infirmary easy enough."

"Yeah," she agreed, oblivious if Alphard meant otherwise. "I had fun!" Last year, Andromena would have been quite annoyed at having been interrupted during her studies. Things changed, as they were wont to do, and she hadn't even once thought about how much time she lost on doing extra school work. She watched as the last of the whites were 'slain', folding her arms one over the other.

"I've never had a broken bone in my life!" Andromena admitted with a shudder. "I think the worst injury I've ever experienced was…" A quick mental recheck. "When I cut my palm on some broken glass." The hand in question squeezed shut at the memory. "I don't really remember that much about it, though." So she didn't like violence, and she didn't like pain, though blood bothered her not at all.

With a quick wave of his hand he returned the pieces back into order, then locked them up into their beautiful laquered box. Three games in a row seemed to be how long the game could keep a hold of his attentions. plus, she had proven increasingly resilient, and he didn't want to push his luck and suddenly end up losing overall to her.

"It's not very fun," Alphard admitted with a grimace. "But it's part of the game. You can't play Quidditch if you're going to be squamish about a bit of pain." Frowning, he looked down at his broad hands. He admitted somewhat grudgingly; "it took a while to toughen me up." Because he had been a spoiled little brat when he'd arrived at Hogwarts. Some might say he still as. Though he'd vehemently disagree! "Fainted or something? Or just fazed out?"

Which was why she would never play Quidditch - plus she was just not the sporty type. Leaning back in her chair, Andromena regarded Alphard silently for a moment. "I think I just blocked it out. Nobody ever told me I fainted, in any case." There wasn't even an echo of the pain that remained with her, but it had left a lasting impression of wanting to avoid it thereafter. Absently, Andromena began to gather up her previously abandoned notes. "Well, you have to toughen up for what you want to do, no?" Posed to Alphard with one brow quirked.

"Yeah," he agreed. It was dangerous business being an Auror. With a grunt he pushed himself up to his feet. "I guess I should let you go back to doing.." his wrist flicked with an extremely dismissive 'whateverthehellyouwereupto' gesture. He had some ideas about Herbology, and had already delivered them to her more than once. No reason for a repeat. "I'll see you later in the library?"

"Certainly," Andromena agreed. Like she would be anywhere else? "Thanks again for stopping by." She gave Alphard a wave that was decidedly more animated than his dismissive hand-flopping had been. It seemed Andromena was either willing to endure Alphard's less-than-stellar behavior or was just that plain ignorant of it. It was a toss up as to which it may be! Watching him leave, the Ravenclaw smiled contentedly to herself before pulling on her gardening gloves once again.

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