see a/n at beginning of ch 1 for basic things that apply to all chapters!
“Ella, will you stop blowing bubbles in your butterbeer; it’s distracting me from the notes!” Ryan snapped.
“Sorry for enjoying my pink bendy straw, Mr. Snappypants!” I growled, and continue with my frothy bubble blowing.
I was in a booth of six crazy Gryffindor boys in the Three Broomsticks, reviewing strategies for our match with Hufflepuff next week. The notes Finn and I had taken were currently being passed around. I’d thought that having this information would lower everyone’s stress, but, if anything, it was making things worse. Nick and Sam had decided it was necessary to master the Dopplebeater Defense right now with French fries and bottle caps. Al had begun muttering plays under his breath.
“Now that we know that they like this play, we’re going to have to alter our defensive strategies by—“
“Al!” I poked him with my bendy straw. “Stop mumbling plays. You sound like a crazy person.”
“But there’s so much to practice and perfect and—“
“We have another week. We’ll be fine.”
“Has everyone read the notes on the secrets of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team’s success?” Freddy asked loudly, waving them around like crazy.
“Freddy!” Finn groaned, glancing around to see if any Hufflepuffs had overheard. Luckily, there weren’t any.
“You can’t go around screaming about these!” I scolded. “They didn’t know that we were at the practice! And stop stealing my fries, Finn!” I slapped his hand. He grinned sheepishly and grabbed a few more. Boys.
“Right. Sorry.” Freddy handed the papers to me, and I tucked them into my jacket. Safe and sound.
“So, Al, what’s the plan?” Ryan asked.
“Well,” Al began. “We’re going to be practicing everyday this week, focusing on countering the moves that the Hufflepuffs like best and working on a few signature moves of our own.”
“Sounds like a plan!” Nick said. The rest of us nodded in agreement.
“Meeting adjourned, I suppose.” Sam concluded. “Can we please go to Honeydukes now? They have a new chocolate out—it has bits of Exploding Bonbon in it so it randomly explodes when you eat it—and they’re only giving out free samples til 3!”
“Are you serious?” his twin asked excitedly. “I’ll race you there!”
The two of them sprinted out of the bar, almost upending our table in the process. The rest of us quickly slapped some change on the table, and ran after them towards the sweet shop.
It was Wednesday when the taunting began.
I knew it was coming. In the week leading up to the match, the two houses playing try to crush the spirits of the opposing players by coming up with awful taunts and songs that often rhymed. It’s a part of being a Quidditch player. The one thing that surprised me was how hurtful these words were. Some commonly used taunts include:
“Gryffindor makes me want to hurl, their Seeker’s just a little girl!”
“You’d better be careful on Saturday, princess, don’t want to ruin your ball gown!”
And of course, the particularly nasty plethora of taunts that rhymed “bitch” with “snitch”. Such astounding creativity, Hufflepuffs.
I was targeted more than my other teammates because this was my very first match. Plus, I was the only girl on the team, so people targeted me as a weakling. It also bugged me that some of the taunts used my “princess” nickname. I was fine with the guys using it, since with them it was just friendly teasing, but it really bugged me when people used it as a part of an offensive taunt meant to hurt me.
“Hey Ella!” Finn called over the taunting, falling into step with me on the way to Charms.
“Hey Finn,” I sighed.
“The taunting’s finally getting to you, isn’t it?” he stated.
“How’d you know?”
“You look like your either going to lash out and turn everyone into kitchenware or shrink into the wall. Besides, I’m your teammate, not to mention your friend and partner-in-Hufflepuff-related-crime, and it’s my duty to look out for you.”
I sighed. “I know it’s getting to me,” I admitted, “and I’m trying to block it out and focus on my practice, but it’s hard to focus on winning when people are trying to bring you down.”
We stopped outside of my Charms classroom. “I know it is, but hang in there, princess. If anyone can take down the taunting it’s you. ‘Princess’ started out as a taunt, remember? Besides, if it makes you feel better, you’re holding up much better than me. The taunting before my first match made me feel so awful that I passed out at lunch twice and threw up daily.”
“Ew!” I laughed and scrunched up my nose in disgust. “TMI!”
“I know, but it worked, see?” Finn said with a grin. “I took your mind off of taunts and made you smile!”
“You’re right. Now I have the mental image of you puking to occupy my brain. Thanks, Finnie.” I said, semi-sarcastically. But I actually was glad to take my mind off of the match, and I gave him a quick hug before entering the classroom.
“Ella, wake up.”
“Five more minutes.”
“It’s game day.”
I sat up in a flash. “Why didn’t you mention that before?”
I shot out of bed like a bullet and ran to the window, taking in the conditions outside. A little misty, some clouds, and the ground was only a little muddy. I’m fine with that.
I put on my Quidditch robes and lucky socks while Dom French-braided my hair down my back. I have no idea how she does it. The extent of my hair-styling abilities is ponytails with the occasional messy bun.
“Are you nervous?” she asked as I brushed my teeth.
“No.” I garbled.
Dom raised her eyebrows at me. Ugh, she knows me too well. I spit into the sink.
“Okay, yes, I am nervous, but I have the right to be nervous! It’s my first match! And I’m not that nervous. Just butterflies-fluttering-happily-in-my-stomach nervous, not hippogriffs-galloping-up-a-storm-in-my-stomach nervous. I can do this.” I sat down on the edge of the bed and put on my Quidditch cleats.
“Right you are, El. How ‘bout you go down to breakfast. I’ll catch up. I just need to help Rose put the finishing touches on a banner.” I nodded and left the dorm.
My teammates were waiting for me at the bottom of the girls’ staircase.
“We are here to escort the lovely princess to breakfast,” Finn grinned, trying to sound as regal as possible.
“I’d be delighted to accompany you,” I replied in my most princess-y voice.
We entered the Great Hall to tumultuous applause from the Gryffindor table, and hisses and boos from the other houses. Luckily, the boys acted as bodyguards for me against unfriendly Hufflepuffs and mean taunts. I had a feeling that Finn had put them up to this. I’d have to thank him later.
After we’d eaten as much as we could (which was very little since we were so nervous), we sped off to the locker rooms to get ready.
The locker room was a madhouse. My teammates and I were cheering, warming up, running around, and war dancing to distract ourselves from our nerves. A constant stream of fans popped in to wish us luck before finding seats in the crowded bleachers.
Freddy and I were in the middle of a classic Gryffindor chant (“GO, GO, GRYFFINDOR!” screamed repeatedly at the top of our lungs), when a flying blur of silvery blond hair crashed into me.
“Good luck, El!” Dominique squealed, pulling me into a bone-crunching hug. “You’re going to do great!”
“Whoa, cuz, stop squeezing my Seeker. We don’t have a reserve!” Al intervened, prying Dom off of me.
“Al! Freddy! Good luck!” Dom spun around and tackled her cousins. Once she was done, Dom pulled me off to the side.
“You still nervous?” she asked seriously.
“No, not really,” I answered, completely honest this time. “I’m still a bit nervous, but it’s good nerves. The kind that keep you alert and help you avoid being smacked by a rogue Bludger.”
“Good!” Dom said with a toothy grin. “I had a whole pep talk prepared, but it wasn’t very good, so I’m glad you don’t need it. You’re going to leave Summerby in the dust!”
Just then the slightly crazy Quidditch referee, Mr. Wood, entered the room and barked, “Team! Game starts in five! If you are not a member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, leave the locker room now!”
A swarm of people followed Mr. Wood out of the room. Dom flashed one last thumbs up and a smile as she left. The door shut with a click, and an air of seriousness fell on my teammates and I. We put on our game faces, stopped talking, and focused on last-minute repetitions and stretches. I sat on the ground, stretching my quads, quietly reciting everything I knew about Quidditch, Hufflepuff, and the Wizarding World in general that might be helpful.
My name is Ella Levine. I am the Gryffindor Seeker. The only thing I have to think about is the Snitch. The Snitch is gold, the size of a walnut and was invented by Bowman Wright. It’s modeled on the golden Snidget, which is a bird that—
“Ella, I thought we established that mumbling plays under our breath is a bad thing.” Al whispered, sitting down on the floor next to me. I glared at him, reached for my toes, then continued my speech in my brain.
Hufflepuff finished 1-2 last year. They have four returning players- Smith, the captain—
“Well, princess, do you want to do partner stretches or not?”
I smiled. “Of course! I’m going first. Do my quads, please!”
We had gotten through quads, shoulders, calves, and a couple of sit ups each when Mr. Wood barged into the locker room again, shouted “TWO MINUTES!” then slammed the door. Too many Bludger hits to the head for that man, if you ask me. Good thing he retired from the pros a few years back, or he’d be completely bonkers.
Al, who had been unusually calm the entire morning, suddenly tensed and gripped his broomstick until his knuckles turned white.
“Stop!” I hissed, attempting to pry his fingers off of the broomstick. “You’re going to snap your broom or your fingers and then where would we be?”
Al tried to smile, but it was more of a grimace. “Sorry, just got randomly nervous.”
“Why on earth are you nervous? This is your third year on the team. You have nothing to worry about.”
Al took a deep breath. “Yeah, I know. I’m usually not nervous at all. I’m just nervous because it’s my first game as Captain. My brother, my dad, heck, even my grandfather all captained successful Quidditch teams, and it’s a lot to live up to.” He rushed this all out, as if he was afraid that saying it out loud would doom our team to failure.
I sat there for a moment, taking in what he said. Finally, I came up with a reasonable response. “To be honest, Al, I’m really not good at feelings. That’s Dom’s job.” He smiled, and I plowed on. “But there’s no need to feel this much pressure. We’ve been practicing so much—endless drills and repetitions, even Hell Week—and we know some of the Hufflepuffs’ tricks. Our team is much better and much closer than theirs. The six of us won’t let you down.” As soon as I said this, I felt my own nerves diminishing to a microscopic speck. Our team was good. We worked hard. We could do this. We could win. Scratch that. We will win.
“It’s time guys!” Ryan shouted.
I stood up and grabbed my broom from a bench. Al hugged me from behind and whispered, “Thanks for the pep talk, princess. You’re the best.”
My team walked out to the field through a tunnel, the cheers from the crowd growing louder by the second. At the edge of the tunnel, Nick and Sam held out their arms to stop us.
“Team huddle. Now.” Sam demanded. “We forgot to do one in the lockers and I’m not playing without one.” We circled up, jokingly grumbling in protest.
“C’mon, let’s pretend to like each other for a second.” Nick laughed. “Any words, Captain?”
“Not really.” Al replied. “All I can say is, let’s kick some Huffle-butt!”
WHOOOSHHH! Another Bludger whizzed past me.
“Nick!” I screamed. “Get it!”
“Got it!” he shouted back, whacking it away towards Summerby. “How’s the hunt?”
“Good! Don’t worry about me! I’ve got it! Focus on the Bludgers!” He nodded and flew over to his brother to attempt a Dopplebeater Defense.
I circled the pitch twice, then swooped down, eyes peeled for the elusive Golden Snitch.
“—and that’s another ten points to Gryffindor! Lions in the lead, 120-80!” roared the commentator, Leigh-Ann Jordan. Leigh-Ann was a witty, enthusiastic Gryffindor, and her commentary was hilarious. Apparently her father, Lee Jordan, was a Quidditch commentator while he was at school too.
“—we’re officially thirty minutes in, folks, and no sign of the Snitch so far. Hufflepuff now in possession—O’Flaherty to Andrews, dropped by Andrews, now Potter—“
I tuned out Leigh-Ann’s commentary. The match had been pretty eventful so far. The Hufflepuff Keeper, Mayer, was really good—Al, Freddy, and Ryan had to work hard to get past him—but Finn was definitely holding his own at the other end of the pitch. Finch-Fletchley-Fisher and Brown were doing their best to knock all of us off our brooms, but the Evans twins proved to be quite a challenge to beat. As for Summerby and I; she chose to tail me at times, but mostly kept to herself. This was her first Quidditch match too.
“Any sign of it?” Finn asked as I circled the goalposts about an hour in.
“Nope.” I was getting more and more frustrated by the minute. Where was the goddam Snitch?
“AHA!” I shouted, then quickly clasped my hands over my mouth. At last, the Snitch! It was fluttering in the middle of the pitch, about twenty feet above the main Chaser area. The only problem? Summerby was closer. There was no way I’d be able to get to the Snitch before her. So, I did the first thing that came to mind. I pointed in the opposite direction and screamed as loud as I could,
“Merlin’s pants! Look, Summerby, a Blibbering Humdinger!”
“What?” she spun around.
In that split second I zoomed past her as fast as my broom could go. I wove in between Andrews and Al, and snatched up the Snitch.
“GRYFFINDOR WINS!” Leigh-Ann hollered. That was the last thing I heard before I was mobbed by my team.
“Good job, princess!”
“What the hell is a Blibbering Humdinger?”
We slowly fell to earth, and were joined by our classmates. I nodded and smiled as people cheered and congratulated us.
“Ella!” Dominique flung herself at me. “That was amazing!”
“You were great, Ella!” added Rose Weasley.
“Anyway, there’s a party in the common room, like, right now, to celebrate the win. You there?”
“Sure!” I said. “Sounds fun.”
“Hi, ladies!” Finn grinned. “Sorry to butt in but—“ he pulled me away from my friends. “You aren’t going to that party. We’re having our own victory party/ campout. Just the team. It’s a tradition. That’s why you never see team members at those parties anymore.”
“Fine,” I pouted. But actually I was okay with it. I (officially) love my team. Just don’t tell them that.
Dom was shocked, the goody-goody in her brought out by potential rule-breakers. “But won’t you get in trouble for having a campout? I mean what if one of you drowned in the lake or you accidentally set the Forbidden Forest on fire?” She glared at Finn.
“Oh shut up, Dom, McGonagall doesn’t give any shits. She won’t care-- we won the match!” Finn answered coolly, somehow managing to resist her withering gaze.
“All right, have fun, you crazy hooligans,” Dom said resignedly, ruffling my hair affectionately. With a final glare towards Finn, she and Rose ran off to Gryffindor Tower. He watched their retreating backs, his expression plainly saying, WTF, Dom?
“Ellaaaa!” Sam shouted, ecstatically jumping over to where Finn and I stood. “You are coming with me and Nick to the kitchens.”
His twin appeared at his side, grinning like a maniac. “C’mon! We need food for the campout!”
“Talk to you later?” I asked Finn as Nick and Sam picked me up and carried me away.
“Sure thing princess. Make sure you get some donuts for me!”
GRYFFINDOR WINS! BLIBBERING HUMDINGERS SAVE THE DAY!
thank you for reading and don't forget to write a review with your match comments!
what were your thoughts on the quidditch match? did i do okay? i'd really appreciate your comments on that specifically, since i have 1-2 more matches to write for this fanfic...