A. N: Thank you for reading this little one shot. As I'm not an English native speaker, there might be some grammar or spelling mistakes. If you happen to notice any, please do tell me! I'm trying to improve my English so this would be a great help. I hope you like it, thanks for give it a try!

Disclaimer: I do not own Akagami no Shirayukihime


Checkmate

The first time Haki saw her husband playing a match of chess with his first aide, a small smile tugged her lips. She found amazing how even the respectable and composed king could be totally absorbed with a simple game. However, to Haki's disappointment, the game ended ten minutes later with His Majesty's victory.

"Congratulations, Your Majesty" said the Queen after the beaten had left the room. "You are invincible".

He smiled at her words, sensing the faint irony on her voice.

"Oh, but he has beaten me before plenty of times. And I doubt he's the only one in the palace capable of that" While he pronounced those words, his blue eyes never left hers. He made a gesture towards the chess board, a silent challenge for his Queen. She knew where this was going, but that didn't prevent her from accepting his invitation.

They sat facing each other and the game started.

Winning a match of chess isn't a simple thing, nor a complicated one. It just needs time and flexibility, both of which Haki had. However, Izana wasn't an average opponent: he was always calm and analyzed every single move, looking for the most effective to beat the game. Thus resulting into a merciless battle between the pair.

This first match ended relatively early. It was won by His Highness, due to a masterstroke between a rook and two knights. Haki had expected this result, but she believed, now that she knew her enemy, that she would be able to win him someday.

"I want a rematch: next time I'll beat His Majesty" She said challenging.

Izana nodded at her statement but collected the pieces and stored them away with Haki's help. They both knew there would be time for that. Since then, once every week or so they held a match on their quarters, each time Haki trying to beat her husband and getting discretely disappointed at her failure. And, each time, he would sense her frustration and smile amused at his lovely wife.

With the passing weeks, both of them started treasuring these times. While they played, they talked about everything, from state affairs to the most trivial things, without any further thought. They contrasted opinions and never hesitated to oppose to the other's mind, most of the times finding harmony between their agreements and disagreements.

Haki felt proud that he would come seeking her advice and that he would be always willing to listen to her concerns. Times like these showed her how much he valued her opinion and how he considered her as an equal. But what she didn't know is that Izana trusted her to the point of rely on her judgment above his own. He knew better than show her that, though.

He loved how her scholar's mind could analyze individually each problem and come up with a solution, pointing faults on his plans and bringing up unexpected considerations. He loved how she wasn't afraid to speak her mind or oppose his will. How, in spite of that, he could still surprise her, and how he was able to read her like an open book. He loved that warm smile she constantly showed him. That smile with multiple meanings.

"Checkmate, Your Highness" These words surprised Izana and brought him back to earth from the depths of his mind. He checked the move and discovered his Queen was right. He smiled proudly at her. "Good job Haki, as expected from you" A faint blush tainted her cheeks and her eyes where bright with happiness. Seeing her like that, he again remembered how much he loved her. They stood up, as they started to pack away the chess pieces.

"However, Izana, I still want a rematch"

He paused, surprised at her words, not for the idea of needing a rematch, but at the perspective of stopping their games. He had grown fond of their times in front of a chess board. With a fluent movement, he gave her a peck on the tip of the nose, an act of tenderness he displayed every so often.

"I would never dream of ending this here"