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four good thoughts and a game of chess

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Ron Weasley would be the first to admit that he was not smart—at least, not smart like Bill and Percy, who got top marks, or like Fred and George, who could definitely get top marks if they wanted to.


Ron liked chess. He liked its deceptive simplicity—just two players taking turns, moving one piece at a time, yet every game was different, because every player was different.


Ron wasn’t very smart, but he was good at reading his opponents—good at knowing when he could take risks, and when he should play it safe. Ron was very good at chess.


When he saw the four seventh years cornering Harry Potter, his first thought was but he’s just a kid. Sure, he was a Slytherin and Ron hadn’t exactly been too friendly since the Sorting, but Harry had been sort of nice on the train, and he was just a first year.


I have to do something, was Ron’s second thought. The brave thing, the Gryffindor thing, would be to step out and confront them. But Ron, who was good at chess and had five older brothers, knew that he’d just end up hexed himself.


I have to get a teacher, was Ron’s third thought. Snape’s the closest, was Ron’s fourth.


And that’s how Ron found himself bursting through the door and into the middle of Snape’s third year Gryffindor-Hufflepuff class. A small part of Ron took in the steam coiling from the cauldrons and whimpered it’s a brewing class I’m dead I’m dead but the rest of him was too busy tripping over words and feet to panic.

“Seventh years—wands out—Harry Potter!” That was all Ron managed to get out and for a second he thought that it wasn’t enough, that Snape would turn that awful gaze on him and say in a horrible, sneering voice Do tell me why I should care, Mr. Weasley. 


Instead Snape turned to his class and said sharply, “Messers. Weasley, I expect you to maintain order and prevent explosions until I return.” For the first time Ron noticed his brothers, twin faces grim.

“Yessir,” George said, as Fred busied himself waving his wand over their potion in a complex pattern. Ron had time to see a shimmering bubble begin take shape before Snape was there, blocking his view with a swish of his dark robes.

“Show me,” was all the man said, and then Ron was running again, Snape keeping pace beside him with long strides.


The scene they finally came upon was an awful one—Harry Potter was curled up in a ball against the wall, flinching against the hexes and curses the seventh years were still shooting at him.

Expelliarmus!” Professor Snape snarled, and the three boys were blasted backwards, their wands flying through the air into the teacher’s hand. “Incarcerous! ” Ron watched in awe as ropes appeared from thin air, tying themselves around Harry’s attackers.


Snape was already crouched down at Harry’s side, waving his wand. “Unconscious,” he muttered grimly. “Expecto patronem” he said, and from his wand came a shiny silver doe. “Go to the headmaster. Inform him that Harry Potter was assaulted by three upper year students and his attackers are incarcerated within the third dungeon hallway.” Ron watched as the beautiful creature bowed its head, and then bounced away through the halls. Then in a single, swift motion Snape picked up Harry and came to his feet. “Weasley, with me,” he said sharply, and set off towards the hospital wing, Ron following behind.


Queen to C8, Ron thought, and was curiously satisfied.