*up to date with June 2014 canon- woo-hoo!
“Enough with the outfit check, Dom!” I said with a laugh.
Dom cracked a smile. “Sorry. It’s a habit.”
Not only is Dom girly and mildly addicted to gossip, but she’s super organized to the point of being a perfectionist. Handy around exams, but annoying the rest of the time. My running shorts don’t need to be organized by color, they just need to be in my trunk. It’s an odd mix of stylish clothes, color coded binders, and scolding rule breakers. Did I mention that she’s a Prefect as well?
Anyway, after Dom finished her outfit critique, I sped off to my first ever Quidditch practice! Unfortunately, Al Potter hadn’t told me the exact location of the practice and was nowhere to be found at breakfast, so I found myself blundering blindly through the locker rooms, hoping to find Madam Hooch, a person in Gryffindor Quidditch robes, or a giant, neon, light-up sign that could point me in the direction of my six new team members. Right when I was about to give up, go out to the pitch, and practice on my own; I spied a flash of scarlet Gryffindor Quidditch robes spinning around a corner at the other end of the corridor. I broke into a run.
“Hey! Wait up!” I called. The boy in the robes turned around.
“What?” he asked.
“I’m Ella Levine,” I panted, sticking out my hand to be polite, mostly because this guy had about a foot on me (which is saying something since I’m 5’6”), so I figured manners would be a good idea. “I’m the new Seeker.”
His brow furrowed in thought, trying to place me. Then it dawned on him. “Oh! You’re the little princess who turned that seventh year into a teapot! Nice spellwork. Finn McClintock, Keeper.” He turned my offered handshake into a one-sided fist-bumping, finger-snapping ordeal. Who was this kid?
“Lovely. I’m not a princess. Listen, I have absolutely no idea where practice is. Can you show me the way?”
“Of course! And for future reference,” he added in a voice that was a dead ringer for the Muggle news anchor on my parent’s preferred channel, “we go to one of the back meeting rooms to talk tactics, then outside to the pitch to put them into action.”
“Thank you!” I sighed, relieved. “Lead the way, Finn!”
By the time we reached the secret meeting room, the rest of the team was already in a deep conversation about tactics. I gulped. I hate being late. Being friends with Dom gets you accustomed to being three fashionable minutes early for everything.
“Hey, guys! I found the Seeker.” announced Finn, dragging me into the room. I waved a semi-awkward hello. “I’m Ella Levine,” I added.
“And this is Nick Evans, Sam Evans, Ryan Gallagher, Freddy Weasley and Al Potter.” Finn said, pointing each team member out in turn. My eyes followed his finger down the line while my mind promptly forgot all their names. “And of course, yours truly! Welcome to the team, princess!”
I glanced around the room again, eyebrows raised appraisingly, thinking to myself, God, something is off, but I couldn’t place it. That is, until it hit me like a rampaging Blast-Ended Screwt. I was the only girl in the room.
Every masculine aspect of the room suddenly and sharply came into focus. Bulging biceps. Cracking knuckles. A nasty black eye, probably the spoil of some testosterone-fueled brawl. I gulped. I’m not going to lie and say that the ever-confident Ella Levine was positive she could hold her own on the team. I was scared snitchless.
A screeching tweet from Al’s whistle brought me back to the present.
“Today’s practice will be easy since we’re just going to try and remember how to play Quidditch.” He barked out our assignments like a drill sergeant. Did this guy actually have emotions? “The Chasers will do the keep away drill, the Beaters will have batting practice, and Finn can help Ella with the fetching drill. Let’s go!”
Ten minutes later, we were out on the field and practice was in full swing. The Chasers were just playing a sort of monkey-in-the-middle game with the Quaffle. Down on the ground, the Beaters were smacking ordinary soccer balls at different targets. High above the others, Finn threw regular golf balls all over the pitch for me to catch.
“Nice one!” Finn commented as I returned my twelfth catch in a row. “How long have you been playing, princess?”
“Since first year. And stop calling me princess.”
“Then why haven’t you tried out for the team before? And, not going to happen. It’s your nickname and I like it.” He ran his fingers through his light brown hair and picked up another golf ball.
“Fine, call me ‘princess’ if you must. And I wasn’t ready to try out because I needed more practice. I wanted to be as good as possible before trying out. But I’m ready now!” I said, streaking after the thirteenth golf ball and catching it easily to prove my point.
“So how long have you been on the team?” I countered.
“Since last year,” Finn replied, tossing one of the golf balls back and forth between his hands. “You know, princess, I’m sort of surprised, to be honest. I wasn’t expecting you to be this good at Quidditch.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I burst out, suddenly defensive. “You thought I wouldn’t be good at all, didn’t you? You thought that because I was a girl I would be incapable of catching thirteen stupid golf balls in a row, much less the Snitch!” I was on a ranting roll now. I flew over to him, grabbed his broom so he couldn’t fly away from my feminist outburst, and looked him straight in the eye. “Well, guess what, Finn McClintock. I am a girl and I can do this. I’ve been practicing for years. I am just as good as the guys.” I paused for dramatic effect, and added, “Maybe. Even. Better.”
“Okay, okay!” Finn said, holding up his hands in surrender. “I was wrong! I accept defeat! Mother of Merlin...” He ran his fingers through his hair and began to toss the ball from hand to hand again. “Friends?”
“Friends.” I agreed. One down, five to go, I thought. “And sorry for the rant.”
He launched the golf ball that he was playing with into high arch that spanned all the way across the pitch. I flew after it, preformed a somersault in midair for flair, and caught it neatly with one hand.
A few catches later, I posed another question. “Tell me about the team members. You know, just the basics. Like who plays what position and stuff.”
“All right. So first you’ve got me: Finn McClintock, Keeper, fifth year, highly attractive, the best—“
I punched his arm lightly. “Shut up. I already know about you. Other members please?”
“Fine. There are the twins, Nick and Sam Evans. They’re the beaters, fourth year, and they’ve got psychic twin telepathy skills so they can wordlessly communicate during matches.” He pointed out two boys on the ground far below. I squinted at identical twins. They were small for Beaters (aka not your typical boulders with human tendencies), with curly brown hair and mischievous smiles, like they were going to Transfigure you into a ferret at any moment.
I raised my eyebrows in suspicion. “They’re telepathic? Really?”
“Probably, but they won’t admit it. Anyway, they’re really good, even though they’re small. Don’t tell them I said they’re small. They’d probably pull some prank on me. I’d rather not have a repeat of the Cockroach Cluster Conundrum.”
Before I could ask what that even meant, he continued to plow on with his monologue. “Our Chasers, Al, Freddy, and Ryan, are probably telepathic too.”
He pointed out the three boys, swerving and weaving in the goalpost area. Al Potter, certifiable clone of his father, save a smattering of freckles across his nose. Freddy rocks the classic “Weasley” look (flaming red hair and freckles), and Ryan Gallagher is a dead ringer for your stereotypical jock in a Muggle high school rom com, with his close cropped dirty blond hair and muscular physique.
“They always know what the other two are doing on the pitch. Al and Ryan are in our year, of course, Freddy’s the year below, and Al and Freddy are cousins. Al’s the responsible one and the most serious about Quidditch, but he’s lots of fun once you get to know him. Freddy’s sort of the peacekeeper of the team, and Ryan’s part jock, part cocky drama queen, part ladies’ man.” Finn paused. “Don’t tell him I said that, even though he knows it’s true. I don’t want to be punched. And then there’s you, princess, the newbie. But don’t worry about that. You’ll fit in fine. I can already tell.”
“I’m not worried.” I said defensively.
Finn cocked an eyebrow. He looked like a quizzical puppy. I melted.
“Okay!” I admitted. “Maybe just a tiny bit worried… but not that much…just, argh! Just chuck another golf ball, Finnie.”
One hour later, another shrill blast from Al’s whistle brought us back down to earth. All the boys were laughing and poking fun at one another, while I just stood there, slightly isolated from the rest of them. I should’ve just worn a sign that said, Hi, I’m new and awkward, ask me if I like chocolate cake!
“So..er… good job today, I guess. Our practices this year will be twice a week, HOG rotation, and three times a week, WARTS rotation, from 6-8pm on weekdays and 9-11am weekends unless I tell you guys otherwise. I’m working on a printout of the playbook. We’ll practice daily the week leading up to a match. Oh, and our first one is against Hufflepuff, by the way, it’s in October. Er… that’s it, I guess. Tuesday. Questions?”
One of the Beaters, Sam, I think, raised his hand.
“Yeah, Nick?” Al asked. Close enough, I thought to myself. They’re twins.
“Uh… when are we supposed to eat, Admiral Al?” he asked awkwardly, faking a lisp. “I’d like some exact times and dietary restrictions for optimal performance.”
“Yeah, and can you, uh, coordinate a broom waxing schedule?” his twin added.
“Also morning runs? Swims with the giant squid?”
“Will the playbook be color coded?”
“Oh, sod off, you two.” Al growled, holding back a grin. “You’ll thank me for all of this once we win the Cup.”
I fell into step with Finn and Al on the walk back up to the castle.
“Good first practice, Ella?” Al asked. He was still oddly formal for a sixteen year old. A bit of Admiral Al seemed to have followed him off the pitch.
“It was better than I was expecting it to be!” I said truthfully. “I was expecting hardcore workouts and skill practicing.”
“All in due time, princess,” Finn said wisely. “Just you wait until Hell Week.”
“’Hell Week,’” Al air quoted, “is seven straight days of intense conditioning where everyone practically dies of exhaustion. My psychotic older brother, James—“
“Quidditch star extraordinaire, carried our team to back-to-back undefeated seasons his sixth and seventh year,” Finn interjected.
“James made it up. It may suck, but it’s for the best.”
“I hate it. It’s the worst thing that ever happened to Gryffindor Quidditch team.” Finn stated.
“Oho, BS, my friend, BS.” Al retorted angrily. “It worked for James—he’s playing Division I first string this season! And you said so yourself, the team was undefeated under his leadership- you know when that last happened? Well…”
I tuned out their argument until we reached Gryffindor Tower. I started up the girl’s staircase. “See you in class, guys!”
“Goodbye, Ellikins, my little princess!” Finn shouted exuberantly, waving his arm like a maniac. “Have a splendid day!” He turned to Al. “How dare you insult the Tornados?”
“They played like shit last year, you can’t deny it!” He took a split-second break from his argument to wave in my general direction, then continued. “Take, for example, Petkovic’s goal tending in the game against…”
The rest of the fight was lost to the general common room chatter as I ascended the stairs. What a bunch of Quidditch nerds. I laughed softly to myself as I turned the doorknob to the fifth year dorm.
what do you think of the updated version? what sort of vibe do you get from the team? who's your favorite team member so far?
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