Athos didn’t resent that his father expected him to play chess. He didn’t even resent that the late Count gloried in winning games over his small son. What he resented—the memory that still made the bile rise at the back of his throat—was that the rules of the game had never been explained to him. Night after night, he’d sat there, and learned all the moves by trying them the wrong way first. Night after night, day after day, he’d brooded on the losses. And every night his father smiled at him, with the exact same smile that the Cardinal was now giving him. Something to the movement of the Cardinal’s eyes made Athos realize he’d been inching his hand towards his sword, and he pulled it back by an effort of will.
But he pushed a smile onto his lips, and what he hoped was a pleasant expression into his eyes, and looked up at the Cardinal. “Do you truly mean, your eminence,” he said, filling his voice with wonder, “that I know more than you do?” There was a dark shadow beneath the Cardinal’s gaze, just like the first time that Athos had managed to take Father’s queen.