Harry Potter found himself alone in a white mist. He looked around in puzzlement for a moment before chancing to look down. He was standing on a white square, bordered by three black squares and a silver strip perhaps half as wide as the squares. Looking further, he realized he was standing on a chessboard in the white queen's position. The sound of footsteps made him turn away from the board, and he saw figures beginning to take shape in the mist, becoming clearer as they advanced through the fog.
First came Dumbledore, who calmly took the white king's space next to Harry. Professors McGonagall and Snape were next, walking side by side until they parted to take their places as the rooks. Hermione and Ginny came next, taking places as the bishops. Ron and Neville approached, taking the knights' places.
Then came eight figures marching two by two. Harry realized these must be the pawns even before they reached their spaces. Sirius and Remus. Cedric and Cho. Arthur and Molly Weasley. Dean and Lavender.
Harry turned to face the board as the white pawns took their spaces and found that the black pieces had already arrived. Voldemort stood as the black king; Nagini, coiled at his side, as the queen. Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange stood proudly as rooks. Barty Crouch Jr. and Professor Quirrell were knights; Wormtail and a Dementor, the bishops. Eight masked Death Eaters were pawns.
"Two steps forward, if you please, Sirius," came Dumbledore's voice, mildly.
No! Harry thought desperately. The king's pawn almost never survives! He tried to speak, but couldn't. Voldemort made no sign, spoke no word, but the Death Eater in front of him strode forward two paces, stopping to stare eye-to-eye with Sirius. Both drew their wands, but neither pointed them or tried to cast a spell.
"Miss Weasley, if you would be so kind as to take two steps forward and to your left... thank you." Ginny stepped out and drew her own wand, flanking Sirius.
Wormtail took a horrified glance at Voldemort, then nervously walked forward to mirror Ginny. He drew his wand, but Harry could see his hand was trembling.
"Mr. Longbottom, please take a position next to Sirius." Neville flanked Sirius other side, drawing his wand and aiming it at the Death Eater facing Sirius.
Quirrell adjusted the turban around his head and moved out, mirroring Neville. His arm was steady as he aimed his wand at Sirius.
"Minerva?" Dumbledore stepped two squares to the right, and Professor McGonagall stepped past him, leaving Dumbledore protected behind Remus, Cedric, and Cho.
Voldemort sneered, but did not speak. Quirrell strode towards Sirius. Harry wanted to yell, to rush forward, but he could not leave his space. Quirrell and Sirius shot spells at each other simultaneously, and Sirius missed. Quirrell didn't, and Sirius fell to the board, and then slowly faded as Quirrell took his space.
Ginny glanced back to Dumbledore and received a nod. She hurled a curse at Quirrell and took his space, even before he fell. The former professor never even got a curse of his own off.
Crouch pushed past the Death Eater pawns and stepped up next to Wormtail, who looked highly relieved.
"Miss Brown, please take two steps forward." Lavender stepped forward into the open, and behind her, Snape drew his wand to cover her back.
The Death Eater that had been standing in front of Crouch took a step forward.
"Serverus, forward please." Snape stepped forward to stand directly behind Lavender. Harry was stunned. Didn't Dumbledore see that Wormtail could take him?
Wormtail seemed to be sharing Harry's thoughts, but he could also see that Dean had drawn his wand, covering Snape. Wormtail might take the Potions Master, but he wouldn't have long to enjoy his victory. He advanced nonetheless, but as he stepped up next to Snape, the professor snapped up his wand and shot a burst of red light squarely into Wormtail. Harry had only a moment to realize that whatever the rules of this place were, this was more than just a chess game, before Dumbledore spoke again.
"And now two steps to your right, Serverus." Snape complied.
The Dementor glided forward and to one side, forming a line with Crouch and the Death Eater.
Snape advanced confidently, but Crouch sneered and then transformed into Moody. Snape stopped in surprise, and the false Moody cut him down with a blast of green light before resuming his true form.
The Dementor began gliding towards Professor McGonagall. She tried to cast a Patronus, but all she could produce were little wisps of silver. As the monster approached, her wand slipped from her fingers, and she fell to the ground. The Dementor towered over her, and she faded away.
"No! Expecto Patronum!" Harry found his voice and charged forward behind the silver stag that flew from his wand. The Dementor recoiled, then disintegrated, as Prongs lowered his horns and rammed into it. Harry halted on the square next to Dumbledore.
"Both your rooks have fallen, old fool. These children cannot protect you." Voldemort spoke for the first time.
"The game is far from over, Tom," replied Dumbledore mildly.
Barty Crouch moved forward and then to Harry's right, coming to a stop side by side with Ginny.
"Mr. Longbottom." Neville turned and looked fearfully back at Dumbledore, who merely gestured him towards Crouch. Neville swallowed hard. As he passed behind Ginny, she patted his shoulder. Crouch hurled a blast of red light, but Neville managed to duck it, returning fire with a jet of orange light. Harry saw a flicker of surprise cross Crouch's face before he crumpled.
Harry tried to shout a warning, but once again he was bound to his space. Neville was still looking down in awe at the space he had taken from Crouch when the Death Eater who had originally come out to face Sirius cut him down with a blast of green light.
"Mr. Thomas, one step forward, if you will."
"Don't trust the little girl, old man?" Voldemort called as Dean moved forward. Voldemort gestured to Lucius, who Ginny was threatening on the diagonal.
"I take only the risks I feel are necessary, Tom."
"Fool. Lesser beings are of no importance." Nagini slithered in front of him and hissed at Ginny, who swallowed and looked back over her shoulder at Harry.
Harry swallowed hard. "Professor...."
"Yes, Harry. Two spaces up and left." Harry hurried to flank Ginny, moving right to the corner of the square closest to her.
The Death Eater who had stood in front of the Dementor at the start stepped forward two paces to cover the Death Eater in front of Harry.
"Mr. Weasley." Ron didn't even look at Dumbledore. He nodded and stepped forward and to the left, coming up behind Lavender.
Nagini slithered forward. Harry tensed, ready to put all his power into breaking free, but the snake stopped after moving a single space.
Ron moved forward two more spaces, this time taking one step right. He was facing one Death Eater and side to side with another.
The Death Eater who had started in front of Nagini stepped forward two spaces as well, and aimed his wand at Ginny. "Lost your chance, doddering fool," taunted Voldemort.
"Now, Mr. Weasley!" Ron shoved past the Death Eaters and forward, simultaneously threatening Voldemort, Nagini, and Malfoy!
Voldemort hissed and quickly stepped forward a space to stand behind Nagini.
Harry wanted to scream at Ron not to do it, to retreat, but Ron visibly set his jaw and advanced on Nagini. The serpent hissed and snapped at him, but Ron made a slashing motion with his wand, and a fan of fire hurtled forward, ripping the snake apart. Ron turned to face Voldemort, one square away, and raised his chin defiantly.
"Foolish brat." Voldemort hissed. He did gesture this time, and the Death Eater beside him stepped forward and cut Ron down with a bolt of red light.
"RON!" Harry tried to move, but despite it being their turn, he could not leave his space.
"Forward, Miss Weasley." Dumbledore's voice was as calm as ever. Harry wanted to scream at him, to hex him. He'd killed Ron! But Ginny advanced one square forward and to her left, almost casually cutting down the Death Eater in the space, before turning to face the one that had taken her brother and now threatened her.
Not Ginny too. Please, not Ginny too....
But the Death Eater facing her didn't move. Instead, Malfoy strode haughtily three steps to Harry's right, stopping to face Ginny. Harry saw Ginny tense and realized that Lucius was holding not his wand, but Tom Riddle's diary.
"Miss Granger." Harry had all but forgotten Hermione. She advanced to the left edge of the board. Harry was trembling with rage. Did Dumbledore care at all?
Bellatrix took two steps to Harry's left, coming out from behind the two Death Eaters left in the line on that side.
"Onward, Miss Granger." Hermione advanced again, and before she'd even left the square, a line of golden light whipped from her wand, tripping the Death Eater that stood halfway between her and Voldemort. She moved into his square and aimed her wand at Voldemort. Perhaps only Harry saw that her arm was shaking. Just a little.
Voldemort gestured almost casually, and the next Death Eater moved to attack Hermione, but the man took two steps before dropping into a hole that Hermione had opened between their spaces. It closed behind him.
Hermione started to move towards Voldemort, but halted, trembling, before she had left her space. "No, Miss Granger. To your left. Your part is done for now." Dumbledore's voice was gentle. Hermione nodded sharply and began to move towards the lone Death Eater on the left.
She flicked her wand, and a burst of silver stars shot out, one of them blocking the Death Eater's own curse, others striking him down.
Lucius Malfoy advanced. As he walked, he hurled the diary at Ginny. Ginny flinched away, but managed to get off a spell at Malfoy. His hex passed hers in mid-air, and the two faded away simultaneously.
"GINNY!" Harry broke free of the force holding him in place. He physically slammed aside the Death Eater in his path. The rules tried to hold him to that space, but he kept going. One space. Two. He fell to his knees, diagonally across from Voldemort. It had been just a few feet, but he felt as if he had run a marathon. He arms trembled, his chest heaved as he struggled for breath.
"Breaking the rules, Harry?" whispered Voldemort. There was the soft wonder of an unexpected gift in his voice. Harry's blood froze. He realized he was alone, unprotected, and weakened. It was over. Finished. The blaze of green light that hurtled towards him matched his earliest memory....
Harry shot upright in his bed, soaked in sweat. He panted for breath as the world slowly spun back to reality. He was in his bedroom on Privet Drive. Hedwig's cage was across the room, his trunk by the desk.
His breathing slowed. It had only been a dream.
"Just a dream," he said to himself. "Just a dream."
Author's Note: I like reviews. I especially like reviews with constructive criticism. If you found the chess moves confusing, I apologize, and recommend you try setting down chess pieces on a board by your computer to refer to. There's actually a fair amount going on with the moves that aren't made, as in all chess games.