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Fated Chance

By Euonym




The Game board was all set now. The pieces had been weeded, until only those necessary for the final Play remained: a tall, black-maned lion, a brown owl and a red dog at its side, a slew of white pawn shaped pieces behind them, a red snake, silver rat, and a sea of black hooded pawns behind those. The two Players sat thoughtfully at either end of the Board, quietly contemplating how to win the game.

The one on the left- he appeared to be a man with a beard of light spilling down his chest- suddenly reached out and moved the red snake several spaces forward, into the midst of the other Player's team.

"No!" the other Player called out sharply. He seemed to be made of light, and then shadow. One moment his presence was everywhere, the next barely felt. The only thing remaining constant was his eyes, bright as the sunlight on a freshly fallen snow. Now they glared angrily at the figure across from him. "No, that was not fair! I had no time to prepare!"

The pieces on the board had come to life. Before the eyes of the two Players, the snake was rapidly crushing all the white pawns. The bearded Player watched the scene with amusement and chuckled before opening his mouth to speak. His voice was rather felt than heard. "It is a good thing, then, that Time is none of your concern. Good for me, that is. I can do whatever I choose with time, and if it is my desire not to give you any, then nothing can change that."

"Nothing save Fate," the Player replied quietly. He no longer looked angry. Instead, he was watching the board quietly, as the snake moved on to the owl and the rat destroyed the dog. When only the lion remained, he reached his hand down and paused all movement occurring in the Game. "I have a proposition for you."

"Oh? What kind of proposition?"

The ever-changing Player shrugged, "It's really more of a gamble. You give me one dice roll. Only one. If I roll a thirteen, you let me make one move. Any move that I desire, be it in your power or mine."

The bearded Player looked at his companion thoughtfully, his eyes darting from his pieces to the other Player. "And if you don't roll a thirteen?"

"Then I make no move to stop you from winning this Game, and forfeit the first round of the next one."

After a few moments silence, the bearded Player came to a decision. Nodding sharply, he threw the dice at the other Player. "Deal."

The bright-eyed figure rattled the two dice around for a full minute before releasing them swiftly. They scuttled across the board noisily, both coming to rest on a six. The bearded Player glared at them, looking as though the two dotted cubes upon the table had insulted him. "What is your move?" he asked at long last.

Wordlessly, his companion picked up three pieces- the lion, the dog, and the owl- and placed them on a board five tables away- the play made five rounds before the play they were currently engaged in. He put the pieces among five others: a brown stag, white flower, black dog, grey wolf, and silver rat. "A second chance," he replied.

Furiously, the bearded Player slammed his fist into the board before him. "No! That could destroy my entire Game plan!"

"We had a deal, Father Time. My side is meant to win, and you should know by now that nobody cheats Fate. Now, if you please," he gestured toward the distant board.

Grumbling, Father Time flicked his wrist toward the board on which they played a Game round on years before. It was enveloped in a sparkling blue mist and moved toward the two players- Fate and Time- so that they might begin their Game anew.

Worlds away, a blue mist rose over a desolate Russian plain. It separated a boy with raven hair from who had so nearly killed him seconds before. The boy and two lifeless figures beside him- a redhead and brunette- were lifted from the ground. Enveloping them, the mist swirled, faster and faster until it felt like the three were also spinning. The bodies of the brunette girl and redheaded boy became warm once more; color returned to their ashen faces. From above the three, a voice echoed.

"You've been given a second chance, but only one (for I doubt that I will be able to get Time to do something like this again). But one second chance should be enough; I don't foresee Time cheating you again. As it is, I've chosen only to send you back. How you mend the future and explain yourselves to those around you is entirely up to you. Harry, Ron, Hermione, good luck."

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