(All characters and locations within belong to J.K. Rowling unless otherwise stated.)
The Quidditch World Cup
“It is always easier to head into danger when one has an objective. It was always like that in the war. The moment you don’t have a plan, that’s when the panic sets in.”
General (ret.) Jigme Dorji Wengshuk
In spite of the unpleasant revelation about Crouch, Harriet couldn’t help smiling as the afternoon wore on. There was simply too much to be excited about. They played fetch with Max (though Max seemed more interested in getting as much petting and attention from everyone that he could), and had deep conversations about how the match was going to turn out. Dora was espousing passionately on the talents of Krum, but no one else seemed to share her confidence of a Bulgarian victory.
Ronnie wasn’t really joining in. She’d never been as big on Quidditch as the rest, preferring the muggle sport of football. She was instead talking with Remus although Harriet couldn’t hear what they discussed. Ronnie was giving Remus a slightly sceptical look, but Remus was smiling at her kindly, in much the same expression he’d worn when talking to Harriet in the tent.
“Look, souvenirs,” Scott suddenly said excitedly.
Sure enough, there was a wave of souvenir venders Apparating up and down the thoroughfare which went right past their tents. There were shining rosettes in each of the teams’ colours that squealed the names of the teams’ players in high-pitched voices. There were hats in shamrock green for Ireland and scarves in the colours of the Bulgarian flag. There were tiny models of Firebolts that really flew. There were also little moving models of the players. Ronnie was looking at the figurines of Krum with interest, though was stealing glances at Dora the whole time before buying one and pocketing it as discretely as she could.
Harriet spotted the best of all, however. A few carts down was a rack of brass binoculars covered in assortments of dials and nobs.
“Omnioculars,” the vendor said eagerly. “Zoom in and out of course, but can also replay action, play action in slow motion, and do play by play breakdowns. A bargain, ten galleons each!”
Scott bought a pair for himself and Kieran. Dora bought one for herself. Marcus already had a pair from the previous matches, which didn’t please the vendor, especially when Ronnie moaned about not having any more money.
Harriet smiled. “Three pair!” she said, which cheered the vendor up greatly.
“No, that’s okay,” Ronnie said. She was always sensitive about the subject of money.
“Well, this’ll be your Christmas present then,” Harriet said smiling. “Better?”
Ronnie grinned taking the omnioculars from Harriet. “Better.”
They returned to the tents, their moneybags lightened considerably, when a deep, booming gong rang somewhere in the distance. At the same time, green and red lanterns illuminated themselves in the trees, lighting the path through the woods to the stadium.
“It’s time!” Mr Weasley said hopping to his feet again. “Let’s go!”
Mr Weasley led the way. They could hear the sound of thousands of people on all sides of them walking and chatting. The excitement was so infectious that Harriet couldn’t help but grin. After another twenty minutes, they finally emerged upon the clearing with the stadium.
Harriet gasped. The stadium was enormous and shone bright gold. It was the biggest building Harriet had ever seen in her life.
Marcus gave a little laugh. “Lemme guess, Flamel family donation?” he said nudging Dora’s arm.
Dora smiled. “Yep. How do you think we got tickets for the rest of us to be in the box?”
Marcus smiled. “Wicked.”
Dora looked rather flattered.
They met up with Kieran’s parents and Ginny. Ginny seemed a bit sad that she got to go to the top box while her friend Luna had to go to a lower seat, but she came all the same.
Harriet looked around confused. “Where are Scott’s parents?”
“They’re back home with the girls,” Scott explained.
“Couldn’t they come too?”
“Well, not exactly,” Scott said. “The Ministry still thinks it’s not safe enough for them to go around in public with Kinney on the loose… so my parents stayed home with them instead.”
Finally, they made it to the entrance. It was slow moving getting through the doors. Teams of Ministry wizards were inspecting everyone entering the stadium. They were waving golden rods up and down everyone going through the line. Harriet recognized the rods. The watch-wizard at the Ministry of Magic had used one when they had gone to give their testimonies to the Wizengamot.
“Prime seats!” said the Ministry witch who took their tickets at the entrance. “Top box! Straight upstairs you lot, as high as you can go. Enjoy!”
The families filed up the stairs. It was packed and slow going at first, but the higher they got the thinner the crowd on the stairs became. Harriet had the strong desire to run the rest of the way. She did feel disappointment when Daniel, Remus and Kieran’s parents broke off to head to their lower seats. It seemed only Mr Weasley and Dora’s parents were accompanying them to the top box.
Finally, they arrived. The top box was full of purple and gold chairs. Looking to either side, Harriet realized they were located halfway between the two sets of goalposts. Harriet hurried to the edge and leaned over, gasping in amazement at the sight. The stadium was already almost full, a moving mass of changing colours as the witches and wizards took their seats. The pitch looked to be made of green velvet from this height. Directly across from them, a large billboard was flashing advertisements just like at Muggle sporting events.
The Bluebottle: A Broom for All the Family – safe, reliable, and with In-built Anti-Buglar buzzer
Mrs Skower’s All-Purpose Magical Mess Remover: No Pain, No Stain!
Gladrags Wizardwear – London, Paris, Hogsmeade…
Harriet grinned and looked around the box. It was almost empty still, with one exception. There was a house-elf sitting in the seat almost directly behind Harriet. Unlike Dobby, this house-elf wasn’t wearing normal clothes, and instead wore a tea-towel it had fashioned into a toga. The mark of a house-elf that had not been freed. It was sitting and covering its eyes, but between its hands Harriet could see a nose the size and shape of a tomato.
“Oh, hello there,” Harriet said cheerfully.
The little elf lifted one of its hands just enough to reveal it also had large eyes like Dobby’s, although this elf’s were brown.
“H-hello, Miss,” the little elf said. Its voice was even squeakier than Dobby’s had been. Harriet deduced that this one just might be a girl.
“What’s your name?” Harriet asked. The rest of her friends turned now looking at the new elf with interest.
“W-Winky, Miss, Winky the house-elf,” Winky replied, covering her eyes once more. Harriet found this odd. The box wasn’t very brightly lit yet.
“Are you alright?” Ginny asked. Clearly she’d noted the same thing.
“Oh yes, young Miss, Winky is fine. Winky does not like heights at all, Miss.”
“Then why are you here in the top box?” Kieran asked.
“Master sent Winky to save him a seat. My master is very busy at the moment.”
“Winky?” Dora asked, thinking hard as if she’d heard that name before. “Ohhhhhh, I know you. You’re Crouch’s elf, aren’t you?”
“Ohhhh, right,” Scott said cottoning on.
“Oh, yes Miss,” Winky replied.
“How’d you know that?” Ronnie asked.
“Crouch sometimes sends her to deliver important mail that’s too sensitive to be sent by owls,” Scott explained.
“And you is Master McIntyre who is now master of Dobby,” Winky said.
“Uh, well no we’re not his masters,” Scott said. “We don’t own him, he works for us.”
Winky blinked and actually let her hands fall. She gave Scott such a look of bemusement that Scott might as well have told her that he liked to fly on brooms upside down wearing a pair of underwear on his head with two pencils up his nose.
“That’s a bit of a foreign concept to most house-elves,” Scott explained to the rest in an undertone. “Trust me, we love Dobby, but by house-elf standards he’s a bit of an outlier.”
“You mean you is paying Dobby for his work, sir?” Winky asked, scandalized.
“Well, yeah,” Scott admitted.
Winky tutted shaking her head. “Poor Dobby; that is no life for a house-elf, sir. No pride in his work for that! Being paid,” Winky spat, as if this was the most distasteful thing imaginable. “Not like Miss Dora and her family’s elves.”
Dora suddenly looked awkward as Hermione gave her a hard look.
“What, and he’d have been better off with the Malfoys being told to shut his hands in oven doors all the time just for the fun of it?” Harriet snapped. She didn’t know what was making her so irritable with the elf. Aside from the fact that even if Dobby hadn’t done her many favours during his time with the Malfoys, he certainly hadn’t deserved what they had put him through.
Winky simply scowled at Harriet. “And you is Harriet Potter, Miss. You is causing all sorts of troubles for my master, Miss!”
“Trouble?” Harriet asked, quite taken aback.
Winky suddenly looked horrified. “Winky should say no more, Miss! Winky has said too much already. Please do not talk to Winky anymore, Miss.”
Winky covered her eyes once more and fell silent. Harriet and her friends all gave each other very confused looks and slowly turned back around.
“Well, that was different,” Ronnie muttered.
“And I thought Dobby was weird,” Harriet said.
“Well, he is,” Dora whispered. “That’s what most house-elves are like.”
“They’re bred to be,” Scott explained. “No one knows when exactly they started, but most house-elves are completely subservient to their owners like that.”
“Honestly,” Dora said. “Snickers would probably cut out his own lungs to give you if you asked…”
“That’s horrible!” Hermione spluttered.
“Oh like I actually would!” Dora snapped back, offended.
Scott sighed. “But it’s really hard to undo after so long. And with magical attitudes what they are…”
“So most families like ours just treat them the best we can. I mean… he’s not exactly great, but from all I can tell Crouch is really nice to Winky.”
Harriet distracted herself by looking around the box some more. It was then she noticed that it wasn’t just them and Winky anymore. A small group of three people were sitting in the very back row. Two were wearing black robes and had their hoods up. The third, sitting right in the middle, was wearing robes of an iridescent blue. Harriet got the distinct impression that the other two in black were bodyguards.
Harriet squinted at the man. She was having a hard time telling which was whiter; his hair, or his skin. His eyes were a dazzling blue as he looked over the grounds with an imperious look. Harriet tilted her head. It wasn’t just his odd skin that caught her attention. There was something off about his face, but she just couldn’t quite put her finger on what.
Harriet’s attention was torn away by some commotion from the entrance to the box. Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic of Britain had arrived. He was talking with a small contingent of people and waving his arms animatedly as if miming as he spoke to another man dressed in immaculate red robes. Harriet took this to be the Bulgarian Minister for Magic, who by the looks of it did not speak English very well.
Fudge quickly moved over to Harriet and smiled. “Ah, and here is one of our great national treasures, Minister,” Fudge said. Harriet went very pink. “Harriet Potter. The girl who vanquished You-Know-Who.”
The minister spotted Harriet’s scar and comprehension swept across his face. He leaned over and chatted in another language with the woman to his left.
“Well, that was easy enough. Harriet, this is Minister Oblansk, er, Obalonsk? The Minister for Magic for Bulgaria, and his guest, Minister Grigescu, the Minister for Magic for Romania. Ah! And here’s Lucius at last.”
Harriet felt her heart jump unpleasantly. Moving towards the empty seats behind Mr Weasley and Mr and Mrs Flamel, came Dobby’s old owners, the Malfoy family. Harriet, was revisited with the unpleasant memories of hiding from Mr Malfoy and Draco in the cupboard at Borgin and Burke’s two summers ago, as she looked up at the blonde haired man who Draco so resembled. Draco’s mother was also blonde, and Harriet supposed she would have been quite lovely, if not for the fact she bore an expression suggesting there was a foul smell in the air.
“Ah, Fudge,” Mr Malfoy said holding out a hand to the Minister. “How are you? I don’t believe my wife, Narcissa, and son, Draco, have had the pleasure of meeting you, yet?”
“How do you do, how do you do,” Fudge said cheerfully. “And might I introduce you to Ministers Obelisk and Grigesky of Bulgaria and Romania.”
Both Ministers gave Fudge very cool looks. Dora however snorted a derisive laugh.
“Let’s see, who else? Ah, I daresay you know Arthur Weasley and of course the Flamels.”
This triggered a very awkward moment as Mr Flamel and Mr Malfoy exchanged very cold looks. As far as Harriet knew, the very last time that Mr Malfoy had met with Mr Weasley and the Flamels, Mr Flamel had given Mr Malfoy a bloody-nose.
Mr Malfoy held his tongue however and instead looked along the row. His eyes lingered on Hermione and Marcus and a cold sneer flashed across his face, but it was gone in an instant once his eyes fell on Harriet. He smiled again as he saw her, and while it wasn’t a sneer, it gave Harriet a chill all the same.
“Ah, Miss Potter,” Mr Malfoy said. “I believe you are acquainted with my son, Draco?” Mr Malfoy asked, putting a hand on Draco’s shoulder and bringing him to the forefront. Judging by the look on Draco’s face, he wanted to be anywhere else in the entire world except being put on display at that very moment.
“Y-yes?” Harriet said, not knowing what else to say.
“Doesn’t Miss Potter look nice, Draco?” Mr Malfoy asked.
Harriet raised an eyebrow. All she was wearing at the moment was a pair of cut-off jean shorts, a tee-shirt and trainers.
“Yes,” Draco said. His voice sounded very forced. “You look nice, Harriet.”
“Um, thanks,” Harriet said, though she didn’t feel very appreciative. Draco hadn’t even looked at her. Then again, she wouldn’t have felt very appreciative even if he had.
“Why don’t you sit with Miss Potter and her friends to enjoy the match?” Mr Malfoy suggested.
Draco didn’t say anything in response. Instead he gave his mother the slightest of glances. Harriet saw his mother give him the faintest of nods. Draco sighed and moved towards them. Harriet was grateful that she was sitting near the middle of the group. However, Draco seemed a little relieved as he moved to the end and sat at the end farthest from his parents, next to Marcus and Kieran. Mr Malfoy looked irritable, as though he was going to say something, but Mrs Malfoy put a hand on his arm and he simply glowered and sat down instead.
“What’s that about?” Hermione whispered.
Harriet knew full well what that was about. She’d never forget Lucius Malfoy telling Draco that he needed to be “overly fond” of Harriet.
“I’ll tell you later,” Harriet said as more people started streaming into the box. She noted two other teens around their age enter the box as well, though she didn’t recognize them. The odd thing was they seemed to be wearing uniforms which Harriet found strange given that it was summer. Unfortunately, they sat near the rear of the box, near the mysterious trio from earlier. Neither of the teens looked that thrilled about the seating arrangement.
Finally, Ludo Bagman himself came bounding into the top box. His face was shining with excitement. “Everybody ready? Minister, ready to go?”
“Ready when you are, Ludo,” Fudge said, shifting comfortably in his chair, which was the largest and cushiest.
Bagman beamed as he whipped out his wand and pointed it to his throat. “Sonorus,” he said. Instantly, his voice boomed so loud he was easily heard over the dull roar of the crowds below.
“Ladies and gentleman! Welcome! Welcome to the four-hundred twenty-second Quidditch World Cup!”
The crowd below doubled the volume of its cheers at once. The crowds were a sea of little flapping Bulgarian and Irish flags, creating a cacophony of discordant national anthems for the two teams. Across from the top box, the billboard that was now displaying an advertisement for Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans wiped itself clean and now read:
“And now, without further ado, allow me to introduce the Bulgarian Team Mascots!”
“Mascots?” Ginny asked over the road of the Bulgarian supporters.
“Oh yes,” Mr Weasley replied. “Teams traditionally bring creatures from their homes to put on shows. I wonder what the Bulgarians—ahhhhh, Veela.”
“Oh no, not again,” Marcus muttered and quickly stuffed his fingers in his ears.
Harriet puzzled at him but quickly turned her attention to the pitch. The Veela had arrived. A hundred of them, walking so gracefully they appeared to be gliding. Harriet was mesmerized. They were women. The most beautiful women that Harriet had ever seen, though they couldn’t be human. Their hair seemed to be blowing around as if in a breeze, though there didn’t seem to be one. They were also quite literally glowing.
The Veela began to dance. As they did, Harriet felt a pleasant sensation all over. It was like a warm hug, a soft embrace as though someone was holding her tenderly from behind, whispering gentle promises of safety, love and care into her ear. She simply kept watching, smiling dazedly. She turned and watched with disconnected amusement as Fred, George, Kieran, Scott, Draco, Ronnie, and Dora all slowly rose to their feet.
“What are you all doing?” Hermione asked, her voice breaking Harriet from her stupor.
Harriet looked around. Kieran was trying to swing his bad leg over the edge of the box. Scott looked as though he was getting ready to dive off a springboard. Fred and George were fighting each other. Dora and Ronnie were just staring down at the Veela, who had finally stopped dancing, both breathing heavily. Draco was ripping his Irish shamrock hat to pieces.
Harriet blinked. Hermione had not seemed to be affected at all by the Veela as she tutted and reached over, pulling both Kieran and Scott back into their seats. Dora and Ronnie both seemed to rouse themselves at the same time and trading sheepish grins before sitting back down again.
Down below, the crowd began to roar again, angrily. They did not want the Veela to go. To Harriet’s great surprise, Mr Weasley actually reached over and nudged Draco’s shoulder. Draco paused in destroying his Ireland hat and looked around in bemusement.
“You’ll be wanting that, once Ireland have had their say,” Mr Weasley said, kindly.
Draco stared back at Mr Weasley, as though no one had ever really spoken that kindly to him before in his life. Mr Malfoy looked outraged that Mr Weasley had even touched his son but once again Mrs Malfoy put a hand on his arm and Mr Malfoy simply scowled and resumed watching the pitch.
“And now!” roared Bagman, “kindly put your wands in the air for the Irish National Team Mascots!”
Harriet gaped as what looked like a giant green and gold comet came hurtling into the stadium. It circled the stadium one before splitting in two. A great rainbow shot between the two circling lights, rotating round and round. The rainbow vanished and the orbs reconnected, now turning into a great shamrock. It flew through the air and passed low over the crowd. It seemed to be raining gold, and sure enough as it passed over them, a shower of golden coins rained down on everyone’s heads.
Ronnie was leaping with excitement as she snatched up as much of the coins as she could get her hands on. Harriet however was still watching the shamrock. As it passed, she noted that it was actually made up of what had to be thousands of tiny men, no more than a foot tall. All of them we wearing green jackets with red waistcoats, and carrying tiny golden lanterns.
“Leprechauns!” Mr Weasley exclaimed excitedly.
Down below, the crowd that had once been cheering the Veela were now scrambling around to collect as many gold coins as they could. Even Ronnie stuffed a handful into Harriet’s hands as repayment for the omnioculars. Finally, the great shamrock disintegrated as the leprechauns settled onto the pitch opposite the Veela.
“And now, ladies and gentleman, kindly welcome the Bulgarian National Quidditch Team!”
Seven scarlet players shot onto the pitch one after the other. As they did, Bagman shouted each of their names.
“Dimitrov! Ivanova! Zograf! Levski! Vulchanov! Volkov! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand Krum!”
“There he is! There he is!” Dora gasped bouncing up and down excitedly, watching through her omnioculars.
Now Harriet could finally get the full measure of Krum. He looked much older than eighteen, with his hooked nose and thick eyebrows. What she noticed most however, was the fact that he was in fact a very good flyer as he skimmed the crowd over the Bulgarian supporters so closely that Harriet was amazed he didn’t clip anyone with his toes.
“And now, please greet the Irish National Quidditch Team!” Bagman’s voice boomed. “Presenting, Connolly! Ryan! Troy! Mullet! Moran! Quigley! Annnnnnnnnd Lynch!”
The green blurs that were the Irish players almost made the Bulgarians look like they were standing still. Harriet spun the little dial on the omnioculars that slowed down play. Sure enough, on each of the Irish players’ brooms was the golden inlay that read Firebolt.
“You know, I’d say the Irish are going to win now,” Kieran said. “See how the Irish fly as a team. I mean even Lynch is flying with the rest of the team.”
“Since when do you know anything about Quidditch, O’Brien?” Malfoy asked, coldly.
“Oh get stuffed,” Ronnie grumbled.
“And here, all the way from Egypt, our referee, acclaimed Chairwizard of the International Association of Quidditch, Hassan Mostafa!”
Down the row, Marcus and Draco both moaned.
“Mostafa, he refed that awful Netherlands/Germany match,” Malfoy complained.
“You saw that one too?” Marcus asked.
“Yeah, you?” Malfoy replied.
“Wait, did you two just agree on something?” Dora asked, a mix of amazement and amusement on her face.
Malfoy and Marcus both fell silent and scowled at the pitch. Harriet felt her lips give the faintest twitches of amusement before she returned her attention to the match. Mostafa was wearing bright gold robes, and carrying the box of Quidditch balls under one arm, and his broom in the other. He set the crate down, mounted his broom, and kicked the crate open. At once, the Quaffle, two Bludgers, and the tiny Golden Snitch shot into the air. Mostafa kicked off after them and as he did he gave a sharp blast on his whistle.
“And they’re off!” Bagman cried. “And it’s Mullet! Troy! Moran! Dimitrov! Back to Mullet! Troy! Levski! Moran!”
Harriet’s mouth fell open. She had never seen Quidditch played like this before. The Quaffle was moving so fast that Bagman only had time to say the players’ names as they caught it. The Bulgarians certainly weren’t slouches, but the Irish in particular were incredible. Harriet spun the slow dial back down and hit the ‘play by play’ button. Glittering purple letters flashed across the lenses, identifying the manoeuvres being shown.
The title “Hawkshead Attacking Formation” flashed on the screen as the three Irish chasers bore down on the Bulgarians. Troy was in the centre, followed closely by Mullet and Moran. Then came the words “Polskoff Ploy” as Troy darted upwards. Ivanova followed but Troy dropped the Quaffle to Moran. A Bludger, hit by Volkov, succeeded in getting Moran to drop the Quaffle, which was caught by Levski—
“TROY SCORES!” Bagman shouted, even louder than before in his excitement. “Ten-Zero to Ireland!”
“Wait, what?” Harriet said. “But, Levski’s got the Quaffle!”
“Harriet, you’re in slow motion,” Hermione pointed out.
Harriet glowered, angry with herself and spun the dial back to normal speed as the leprechauns formed a giant shamrock in the air once more to celebrate the goal.
As Harriet watched, Harriet had to admit that Kieran had a point about the way the Irish played. They were seamless in their manoeuvres, almost as though they could read each other’s minds.
However, as the match wore on Bulgaria’s beaters, Volkov and Vulchanov, were starting to learn how to read the Irish team’s moves. Finally, they managed to scatter the oncoming Irish and Ivanova managed to catch the Quaffle and successfully put it through one of Ireland’s hoops, scoring Bulgaria’s first goal and making the score thirty-ten.
“Fingers in ears!” Mr Weasley shouted.
In spite of herself, Harriet did so as well. The effect of the dancing Veela was almost non-existent this time. The Veela stopped and Harriet took her fingers out of her ears and picked up her omnioculars again.
“Dimitrov! Levski! Dimitrov! Ivanova—oh, I say!”
A collective gasp passed over the crowd as the Seekers, Krum and Lynch, plummeted earthwards, passing right through the Chasers. It looked as though they were in a perfect freefall. Harriet was watching for the Snitch.
“They’re going to crash!” Hermione shrieked.
She was half-right. At the very last second, his toes skimming the grass as he peeled off, Krum managed to pull out. Lynch, however, hit the ground with a resounding thud. The Irish supporters groaned in disappointment and worry.
Charlie whistled. “The Wronski Feint,” he said. “Even I was never fool enough to try that one out.”
Charlie leaned over and patted Ginny’s shoulder. “He’ll be alright. He just got ploughed, which was what Krum was after, of course.”
Harriet watched the replay in the omnioculars as the medi-wizards tended to Lynch. Krum hadn’t seen the Snitch at all. He was attempting to get Lynch to copy him and get distracted before running into the ground.
Krum was good. Incredible even. He looked weightless as he spiralled downwards with Lynch. Harriet returned the dial to normal and watched Krum. He was looking around below him, flying over a hundred feet in the air. She had to admit, it was clever, but a dirtier tactic than she would ever use. Krum was using the time Lynch was being treated to look for the Snitch.
The Irish fans cheered as Lynch remounted his broomstick and kicked off once more. Mostafa blew his whistle again and play resumed. If the Bulgarians had hoped to slow the Irish down, they were sadly mistaken. The Irish fans were heartened by Lynch’s revival, and the Irish players were only spurred on to play even harder. Indeed, it almost became painful to watch as it took only fifteen minutes for Ireland to score ten more goals.
The Bulgarians were starting to get desperate. There was a penalty when the Bulgarian keeper rammed the Irish chaser Mullet, using his elbow. After Mostafa blew his whistle, the leprechauns flew up to form “HA HA HA!” in the air. The Veela began to dance again in retaliation. Prepared for it now, Harriet was able to fight off the soporific effect of the Veela’s dance.
She and Hermione shared body shaking laughter as Mostafa flew down and landed before the Veela, strutting about in front of them and flexing his muscles (or lack thereof).
“Now we can’t have that!” Bagman said, laughing heartily. “Someone slap the referee.”
One of the medi-wizards, his fingers stuffed in his ears, ran out onto the pitch and kicked Mostafa hard on the shin. Mostafa was brought to his senses as he hopped up and down on one foot, clutching his kicked shin and thanking the medi-wizard. Then he rounded on the Veela.
“Good lord!” Bagman boomed. “It looks as though Mostafa is trying to send off the Bulgarian Team Mascots! Never seen the like of that before! This is going to get nasty!”
It did. Volkov and Vulchanov, the Bulgarian Beaters, flew down and started arguing furiously with Mostafa and waving their hands angrily at the leprechauns who had now formed “HEE HEE HEE.” Mostafa wasn’t swayed, and pointed into the air, indicating that the two players should get flying again. When they didn’t, he gave two more blasts on his whistle.
“Two more penalties to Ireland!” Bagman roared. “There goes Volkov and Vulchanov. Troy’s taken the first penalty.”
The play had now become more ferocious than ever. The Bulgarians were getting more desperate still, especially when Dimitrov drew another foul by deliberately flying into Moran and nearly knocking her off her broom.
In response, the leprechauns rose into the air and formed a giant hand giving the Bulgarians the two-fingered salute. When the Veela didn’t get the gesture, the hand resorted to just holding up the middle-finger instead.
That one the Veela got.
Harriet’s eyes widened in shock at what happened next. The Veela didn’t look like women anymore. Instead, long, scaly wings burst from their backs and their faces turned into the heads of vultures and they were throwing handfuls of fire at the leprechauns.
“And that’s why you should never go for looks alone,” Mr Weasley shouted over the cacophony of noise coming from the pitch.
Ministry wizards had poured onto the pitch in an attempt to separate the Veela and the leprechauns. Harriet had returned her attention to the match going on above. The Quaffle was nothing more than a red streak as it shot between the players. Ireland scored again when one of the Irish beaters managed to hit a Bludger at Krum.
Krum, who had just dodged another ball of fire from one of his team’s own mascots, didn’t see it coming. It hit him full in the face. Harriet and most of the crowd, even the Irish, groaned. Krum’s nose looked broken and blood was pouring down over his lips, chin, and robes. There was a roar of calls for timeout, but Mostafa wasn’t paying attention. Instead, he was too busy trying to put out the tail of his broom which had been set on fire by one of the Veela.
Just then, Harriet caught a streak of green in the corner of her eye and looked to see the Irish Seeker, Lynch, diving. It was no feint this time, Lynch was after the Snitch.
Below, the Irish supporters had caught on and were cheering Lynch on. Somehow, despite the blood, Krum was on Lynch’s tail. Now the two were level as they once more hurtled straight at the ground.
“Oh no,” Harriet said and sure enough, with another sickening thud, Lynch hit the ground. She couldn’t hear the thud over the roar of noise.
“Where’s the Snitch?” Charlie shouted, looking around. “Did it get away?”
“No!” Harriet shouted. “Krum got it! It’s over!”
Krum was circling the pitch, his fist holding the Golden Snitch stuck high in the air over his head. Across from them, the scoreboard now read:
BULGARIA: ONE HUNDRED SIXTY
IRELAND: ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY
The crowd didn’t seem to realize what had happened at first. Then, like the starting of a jumbo jet, the roar began.
“IRELAND WINS!” Bagman bellowed. The noise was so loud that even he was difficult to hear now. “KRUM GETS THE SNITCH – BUT IRELAND WINS! Good lord! I don’t know if anyone was expecting that!”
“He was so brave,” Hermione said. She was looking down at Krum who was finally letting the medi-wizards tend to his nose. On the sidelines, the Veela had returned to their usual forms, looking dejected and forlorn. But beautifully so.
“Vell, ve fought bravely,” said a gloomy voice from nearby.
“You can speak English!” Fudge said.
Harriet turned. The Bulgarian and Romanian ministers were giving Fudge very amused looks.
“Yes, ve can,” said the Romanian Minister.
“But you were making me mime everything all day!”
“Vell, it vas very funny,” admitted the Bulgarian minister. He didn’t look at all sorry.
Harriet was distracted again as the Quidditch World Cup trophy itself was brought into the top box. It was shortly followed by the Bulgarian team. Krum was the last into the box. His hooked nose had been returned to normal, but he had two black eyes and his robes were still soaked in blood. Harriet also noted that he still had the Snitch wriggling in his hand.
Next came the Irish. Lynch looked far the worse for wear than Krum. He was being supported by Moran and Connolly and was smiling vacantly as if dazed. The stadium erupted in applause again and the Irish team quickly mounted their brooms, taking off for another lap of honour. Lynch was riding on the back of Connolly’s broom, grinning stupidly.
“Quietus,” Bagman said, returning his voice to normal volume. “They’ll be talking about this one for years. Really unexpected twist, that.”
His voice had gone quite hoarse. He turned around smiling but looked taken aback as he found himself face to face with Fred and George, who each had their hands outstretched and expected.
“Oh yes… I owe you… how much?”
* * * *
“Girls! Girls! Wake up! This is urgent!”
Harriet grunted. “S’goin’ on?” she asked rubbing her eyes.
As she woke, she became aware of odd noises. There wasn’t singing anymore. Instead, Harriet heard the terrible sound of screaming and people running.
Harriet slid out of bed and reached for her clothes.
“No, Harriet! No time! Just grab your jacket and get outside, now!”
Harriet, Ronnie, Hermione, Dora, and Ginny all looked at each other and did as told. The sight that greeted them as they got outside was horrible. People were fleeing madly into the woods. Harriet looked to see what they were fleeing from. She couldn’t make it out at first. There were flashes of light and loud bangs, intermixed with the screams and what sounded like drunken laughter.
Finally, a flash of bright green light illuminated the scene. There was another crowd of wizards, all holding their wands in the air, tightly packed together, and slowly marching across the field. Harriet couldn’t make out any faces, then realized they were all wearing masks and hoods. High above them, four figures were spinning and flipping around, being contorted into grotesque shapes. They looked like reverse marionettes, with the puppeteers beneath and the puppets above.
As the crowd moved, more and more wizards were joining them. The marchers were blasting tents out of the way as they went, and setting others on fire. As they passed one of the burning tents, Harriet finally could make out the floating figures. Harriet recognized one as Mr Roberts and she felt a wave of horrified disgust pass over her. The other three looked to be his wife and children. One of the matchers was making Mrs Roberts’ nightdress fly up over her head. Another was making the smallest Roberts child spin like a top.
“Oh Merlin,” Dora said, aghast.
“That’s sick,” Ronnie said. “That’s really sick!”
At that moment, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, and Marcus all came stumbling out of the boys’ tent. Kieran and Scott had gone back to their families’ tents. Bill, Charlie, and Percy had dressed, and their wands were drawn.
“We’re going to help the Ministry!” Mr Weasley said. “You all get into the woods! Stay hidden and stay together!”
The four adults ran off in the direction of the marchers. Fred grabbed hold of Ginny’s hand and they all turned as one and ran into the woods. It was a total panic. The lanterns that had lit the path were out. They were jostled around by people rushing past them. Children were crying.
It was then that Harriet noticed it. They had gotten separated from Fred, George, and Ginny. She looked around, worrying. Where had they gone? And what about Kieran and Scott? Had they gotten away too?
“What’s going on?” Hermione said looking around.
“I dunno but screw this underage magic shit,” Dora said and drew her wand. “Lumos!”
“Language, Flamel,” said an unctuous voice from nearby.
They spun around. Blaise Zabini and Draco Malfoy were standing nearby. Zabini was leaning against a tree, his arms folded, smiling at them wickedly. Draco wasn’t looking at them at all. He was looking out on the clearing blankly.
“What the hell do you two want?” Dora asked, her wand still pointed at the two.
“You’ll want to watch that tongue, Flamel,” Zabini said. “It’ll get you into trouble.”
“Get Granger out of here,” Draco said abruptly. “They’re coming this way.”
“Yeah, they are after Muggles after all,” Zabini sneered.
Harriet furrowed her brow. Draco’s tone hadn’t matched Zabini’s. It was more a warning than a taunt. Zabini however didn’t seem to notice.
“Hermione’s a witch!” Marcus snarled.
“Whatever,” Zabini said dismissively. “You’d better keep yours down too, Van Der Lakk. If you think they can’t spot a Mud—”
“Zabini,” Draco said. His tone seemed sharp and Zabini looked at him quizzically.
Draco worked his jaw watching the marchers in the field. “Come on,” Draco said. “We can get a better view from over there,” he said pointing.
Zabini scowled but followed as Draco headed off, his shoulders hunched. The group stared after the two as they disappeared into the shadows of the trees.
“What was that about?” Marcus asked, finally lowering his wand.
“I don’t know,” Dora said, lowering hers as well.
“Malfoy’s been weird lately… has been all year. Which… I suppose is a good thing…”
“Let’s keep moving,” Hermione said as the bangs got louder. Harriet supposed Zabini’s taunt about the crowd being able to tell Hermione was a muggle-born had worried her.
They headed deeper into the woods and two figures stepped out into the path in front of them. “Hello?” asked a girl’s voice. “Professor Howe?”
They paused. “Uh, no?” Harriet replied.
“Oh,” the girl said and they stepped closer. “You lot go to Hogwarts?”
It was a boy and girl. The girl was tall and willowy, with long blonde hair, an oval face, wide blue eyes, and looked a bit older than them. The boy however looked to be about their age, and had curly, strawberry blonde hair and grey or green eyes, Harriet couldn’t tell in the darkness. Harriet didn’t recognize either of them at first, but then it dawned on her. They were the two other teens who had been in the top box wearing their school uniforms.
“Yeah,” Marcus replied. “What about you two?”
“Rathlin,” the boy replied. He held out a hand.
“Do you two know what’s going on?” Dora asked.
“Professor Howe said it was former Death Eaters. He sent us in here while he went to help apprehend them.”
Harriet frowned. Professor Howe had been around, had students in the top box, but hadn’t come to see her? She was shaken from this slightly selfish thought by another loud bang from the camp site.
“Anyway, umm, I’m Portia, Portia Figg, and this is Gaius Fearghal.”
Something about the name Figg triggered something in Harriet’s mind, but she didn’t have the time to really place it. Harriet and her friends all introduced themselves back. She sighed as she put up with the expected looks of recognition at her name from both.
“Well, let’s get a bit further away still,” Marcus said as another bang sounded off.
“We should stay here,” Portia said. “Professor Howe told us not to go too far. He said he’d be back for us soon.”
“Okay, good luck,” Ronnie said.
“If you see two boys about our age, one with a walking stick, they’re friends of ours,” Harriet said.
They headed deeper into the woods. It was getting so dark now that even Dora’s wand wasn’t quite bright enough. They drew out the rest of their wands, except for Harriet.
“Oh no!” Harriet exclaimed. “I can’t find my wand!”
“What?” Ronnie asked.
The rest all turned their wands on the ground around Harriet’s feet. They spent what felt like ten minutes looking around but searching but found nothing. Harriet groaned.
“It’s probably back in the tent,” Hermione said.
Harriet groaned louder. “You’re right, I had it in the pocket of my shorts but Mr Weasley wouldn’t let us get dressed properly.”
She was starting to feel very vulnerable. She’d never been without her wand. And to now be without it in a situation like this...
A rustling noise made them all spin around. As they watched, Winky the house-elf fought her way out of a clump of bushes nearby. She was moving slowly, as though something was trying to drag her backwards.
“Bad wizards!” she shouted in her squeaky little voice. “Bad, bad wizards! Winky is running! People high! High in the air! Winky must get out of the way!”
She disappeared again on the other side of the path, but Harriet could still hear her grunting and fighting against the invisible force that seemed to be holding her back.
“What was wrong with her?” Ronnie asked. “Why couldn’t she run right?”
“She probably didn’t ask permission to hide,” Harriet said.
“Well, no, I don’t think so,” Dora said. “Unless Crouch told her to stay where she was… they can do most anything unless you tell them not to.”
“Well, even then, they can break the rules, though they have to punish themselves,” Harriet said.
“That’s awful!” Hermione said. “How can people stand for it? And your family has three!”
“I told you Hermione, it’s not that simple!” Dora retorted. “And you really think I or anyone else in my family would ever tell them to hurt themselves or anything like that?”
Hermione didn’t respond, but she didn’t look happy either. There were more bangs and light and another bout of screams. Marcus gave Hermione a nervous look.
“Uh, let’s just keep moving,” he said.
“Hallo?” asked an irritable voice. “Who is that?”
The teens looked around. A tall man was walking towards them. He had white hair and a goatee. He was giving them a very disapproving look.
“What are you children doing all the way out here? Why are there no adults with you?”
“Uh… we were running from the riot, sir?” Marcus replied.
The man seemed rather unpleasant. His tone was cold and condescending. “Hogwarts students, are you?” he asked.
“Typical, running about scared like this. I would not put up with this from my own students.”
“Well those are Death Eaters and some of us are Muggle-borns,” Marcus snapped. “And that’s Harriet Potter!”
Karkaroff’s eyes widened as he looked down at Harriet. He curled his goatee, looking at her thoughtfully. “Harriet Potter, you say? Yes, we must get you to safety at once. Well, come, follow me.”
Harriet and the rest all gave each other quizzical looks but followed.
“Who is this clown?” Dora asked under her breath.
“He’s Igor Karkaroff, headmaster of Durmstrang,” Hermione replied. She was giving Karkaroff’s back a very cold look.
They kept following Karkaroff. Harriet was starting to get suspicious. Karkaroff had made a show of acting brave and in charge, but she couldn’t help but notice the way that he kept stealing glances back at the sounds of the riot. And every time he did, he glanced down at Harriet, thoughtfully.
“I say we ditch him,” Dora whispered shrewdly. “I don’t like the look of him…”
“Me either,” Harriet agreed.
She didn’t like the looks that Karkaroff was giving her at all. He wasn’t looking at her as though he was wanting to do anything to her himself. The feeling that look gave her was more as though she was a piece of property… something trade-able. She glanced back at the campsite and shivered. She wished she had her wand with her more than ever.
Finally, they reached an isolated clearing. They could barely hear the sounds of the riot now.
“We will probably be safe here,” Karkaroff said. “We will hear anyone coming a mile off—”
Everyone jumped. Ludo Bagman had stepped out from behind a tree nearby. He’d lost all his boyish charm from before, Harriet noted. He now appeared very pale and strained. He didn’t seem fearful, more stressed and worried, even irritable that they had intruded.
“What are you lot doing all the way out here alone?”
“Mister Bagman!” Karkaroff exclaimed. “What are you doing all the way out here when there is a riot going on, on your Ministry’s watch?! Is this how the ministry of this country behaves? Allowing such chaos to occur!”
“What?!” Bagman exclaimed.
“Yes, you fool! On the campsite,” Karkaroff went on. “Death Eaters are running amok!”
“DAMN THEM!” Bagman swore and Disapparated at once with a loud crack.
“Not exactly on top of things, is he,” Hermione observed.
“No… he was a great Beater though,” Ronnie said.
“Mr Bagman?” called another voice.
“How many people are out here this far?!” Karkaroff cried.
“Who’s that?” asked the new voice. “That’s not you Mr Bagman, is it?”
Another figure stepped into the clearing. It was a young man wearing Auror robes. Ronnie furrowed her brow and tilted her head looking at the man.
“No you imbecile, do I sound like a fool like Ludo Bagman,” Karkaroff snapped. “And who are you?”
The Auror looked taken aback at Karkaroff’s rudeness, but recovered himself. “Name’s Davidson, sir. Joshua Davidson. I’m from the Auror office. I was sent to find Mr Bagman when the riot broke out. You lot haven’t seen him, have you?”
“Why yes we have,” Karkaroff grumbled. “He was hiding out here like a coward and he Disapparated the moment we informed him of the riot. He left not even a minute ago.”
Joshua’s face fell. He suddenly looked as though he was holding back anger. “Dammit!” he spat. “Oh of course, I see, spend a half hour blundering around the damn woods looking for him and he’s gone back. First the riot and now this!”
Even Karkaroff was looking at Joshua with raised eyebrows. Joshua took a deep breath and smiled pleasantly once more. “Sorry about that. I’m sure you understand my frustration. It’s a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack out here only to find out once you found the damn thing it vanished on you and you have to start all over again.”
“And what of my frustration, young man!” Karkaroff boomed. “I come all the way here to watch my star pupil perform, only to witness terribly biased judging in the match and now this riot has broken out and I cannot find Viktor anywhere and I find one of your ministry’s top men just hiding out here in the woods!”
Joshua was now giving Karkaroff a very appraising look.
“I’m terribly sorry, sir, I didn’t get your name?”
“I am Igor Karkaroff!” Karkaroff declared. “Headmaster of Durmstrang and I demand explanations!”
Joshua gave a sigh of relief. Harriet found this reaction rather odd. Joshua’s eyes then drifted over the teens. His eyes settled on Harriet’s face and paused. Harriet prepared herself for the usual look of recognition and the eye-flick to her scar. But it didn’t come. Instead, he seemed to recognize her and simply smiled. He glanced back and forth between Harriet and Karkaroff as though sizing them up. He seemed to settle on Karkaroff.
“Oh jeez, oh I’m so glad to see you, sir,” Joshua said in a very relieved tone. “I was told to keep an eye out for important foreign guests as well. If you’ll come with me, I can take you to meet with the Minister. I’m sure he’ll be glad to know you’re safe.”
Karkaroff looked rather pleased and flattered. “Well, thank you very much—er—Auror. Lead on.”
Joshua smiled. The kids started to follow.
“Oh, ummm, you lot better stay here,” Joshua said.
“What? Why?” Dora asked, angrily.
“More Aurors are doing sweeps of the woods right now looking for campers. I’ll let them know your coordinates. Just with such an important person as Mr Karkaroff here, I really need to get him to safety right away. Sir, right this way.”
Joshua held out a hand pointing off into the darkness. Karkaroff threw his shoulders back importantly and headed off. Joshua followed, smiling pleasantly.
Harriet and the rest stared after the departing men. Their mouths were all hanging open. Had he really just taken Karkaroff and left them there?
“Is he seriously leaving us here?!” Dora asked, aghast.
“I… I don’t recognize him,” Ronnie finally spoke up.
Then, it happened in an instant. Just as he got to the end of the wand-light, Joshua paused. He turned and smiled back at them. However, it wasn’t Joshua’s face doing the smiling.
Harriet knew that face. It was a face from one of the most horrible experiences in her life. His face was round, and his skin pale. His cold eyes pierced her, not matching the smile on his lips. It was Solomon Kinney.
And just like that, he was gone, disappearing after Karkaroff into the shadows.
“The hell?” Marcus asked.
“STOP HIM!” Harriet cried out.
“What?” Dora asked.
“Kinney! That was Solomon Kinney!”
Marcus gasped. “Mr Karkaroff!” he shouted and before anyone could stop him he ran off after the men. Harriet and Hermione started after him but just as he got to the edge of the trees where the men had vanished the forest in front of him was illuminated by a bright burst of greenlight and a roaring sound akin to a passing freight train. Harriet covered her eyes, and only barely registered the loud crack of someone Disapparating.
“Marcus!” Harriet could hear Hermione crying out.
Harriet blinked the blindness from her eyes, looking around. Everyone was huddled together nearby. She hurried over.
Marcus was sitting, clutching his legs tight to his chest, rocking slowly and staring blankly. Hermione was hugging him tight around the shoulders while Dora and Ronnie knelt beside him, looking on with worry.
“Dead… he’s dead…” Marcus muttered.
“It’s okay, you’re okay,” Hermione was whispering softly. Everyone was shaking.
“Killed him…” Marcus muttered. “He just… killed him…”
Harriet knelt beside Marcus too. Dora gave her a pained look.
“What the hell…?” she asked. “Death Eaters rioting… Kinney just murdered someone… what’s… how… just… why?!”
“I don’t know…” Ronnie replied. “You sure he’s dead…?”
Dora rubbed her arms, still shivering as she looked in the direction Karkaroff and Kinney had gone.
“I’m not gonna check,” Dora said.
“But, he could be hurt,” Hermione said.
Dora shook her head. “Not if that curse is what I think it was…”
“He just fell over…” Marcus went on. Clearly he wasn’t listening to anything anyone was saying. “Crumpled, just like…”
“Shhh!” Harriet hissed.
They fell silent and listened. It was hard to hear over Marcus’ muttering, but it sounded as though there were more footsteps approaching. Harriet now found herself wishing that not only did she have her wand, but her invisibility cloak as well. They kept as silent as they could, aside from Marcus’ muttering. The footsteps were passing them, heading in the direction that Kinney had taken Karkaroff. The footsteps were heavy and uneven.
There was a shout of surprise and the thud of someone falling. There were snarled curses and then more silence. Then, the laughter started. High, cold, maniacal laughter.
Ronnie gave out a cry of shock as another burst of bright green light lit the scene. This time, it shot straight up into the air, high above the treetops. Harriet gasped as she watched. The green light had formed into a giant green skull. It looked to be made of emeralds as it rose higher. As if the sight wasn’t horrible enough, a long slender snake slid out of the mouth, like a horrible, writhing tongue. All around them, people began to scream louder than ever.
“Oh no, oh no oh no oh no!” Hermione was saying, her eyes wide with fear.
Next to her, Dora looked near panic.
“Oh god, we have to get out of here!” she tugged hard on Harriet’s arm. “We have to get you out of here now!”
“What?” Harriet asked. “What is it?”
Hermione turned a horrified gaze on Harriet. “Harriet! That’s the Dark Mark! That’s You-Know-Who’s sign!”