Thousands of voices on the bleachers above meld into a vibrating hum - the kind you hear near a beehive.
Each of those voices has at least one pair of eyes, they are all looking at you - worse yet - many of those voices are clad in Puddlemere blue and yellow.
Bathed in golden light, blues and yellows glared at yellows and greens.
Good thing they’re all wandless.
"This is it, half-pint," Gwen said, sounding as motherly as Gwenog Jones could probably muster.
With a faint rustle of robes and some coughing, the Harpies set off for the pitch.
“I’m not that
small,” Ginny argued, amongst the roar of the spectators.
Gwen smiles at her. “We’ll see how you fly today, half-pint,” she said teasingly. She moves to the front of the line so she can shake hands with the Puddlemere captain.
The two captains square off, and Ginny watches the Snitch flutter high to escape the clutches of those who are going to Seek it. She doesn’t focus on the Snitch for long, but instead looks at the Quaffle in the referee’s hands. Her eyes follow it into the sky as it is thrown. Then the whistle blows.
Both teams rise in the air and the game has begun. Ginny ducks her broom below the rest of the team, searching for an open spot she could fly to at her opponents end. In the midst of scanning, a Bludger whizzes past her ear.
"Half-pint! You gotta watch it!" Gwen screams, having been watching from behind. Speeding over to the referee, she began pointing wildly at Puddlemere United's Beater. The referee shook her head, throwing the captain into a rage.
"He's after my Chaser! He's not even bothering with the rest of the game!" Her face contorted with fury.
The crowd isn’t too happy about the whole affair: for one, both they and the players are wandless; and two, the referee, somehow, does. If only Puddlemere and the Harpies didn’t have such a long-standing rivalry, maybe it would have been better.
Maybe. But not much.
Ginny watches Gwenog argue animatedly with the referee. The crowd jeers at them, the supporters of each team yelling out their respective opinions. Ginny smiles. Maybe I should interfere…
Gwen is an inch away from getting physical. On second thought, this is much more entertaining that what I am supposed to be doing.
Up above, near the heavens, a semi-transparent, but tangible hand crumbled undercooked pudding. “Ahh, it’s breezy up here…” reflected the hand’s beholder, smoothing out the garish flowers on his housecoat.
“And very, very chaotic down there!” the ethereal hand threw a handful of pudding in the game’s general direction. “Shall I swoop downstairs and meet the ladies? But of course! I don’t even come empty-handed – I’ve a picnic!”
Icarus Tilley flicked something out of his eyes – it burned and smelled strongly of liquor. “Hey, pretty boy!” a cocky voice called from above. I imagined that. I absolutely did...
However, Tilley wasn’t the only person to notice that something strange was going on. Ginny had the Quaffle neatly tucked underneath her arm and was soaring towards the goal post when a loud cackle broke her concentration. Surprised, she quickly engaged the brake on her broom so she didn’t accidentally crash into the stands. However, her sudden halt caused the Quaffle to slip through her fingers and into the waiting hands of a Puddlemere Chaser.
“Pay attention to the game!” Gwen screamed as she flew past Ginny.
Ginny looked up at the sky. “I think I’m hearing things,” she whispered.
In the stands, a small man with grey hair was eating popcorn. After jumping up to cheer for the Harpies and spilling his Chocolate Frogs, he sat firmly glued to his seat. Literally.
"Sticky, sticky" a cackling voice whispered in his ear. The man tried to turn around in his seat to see who it was, but was cemented to the seat by the glue. Figuring it must be too crowded to move, he didn't think anything of it.
Meanwhile, Ginny scored a goal. The man tried to jump up to cheer, but instead jarred his kneecaps.
"ARG!" he cried.
Suddenly, the entire half of the stadium the supported the Harpies went quiet. Without warning. Oddly enough, the volume level of the cheering did not change at all, but instead of the indecipherable babble it had been before, it was quite easy to pick out screams of "Puddlemere for the cup!" and "Down with the Harpies!" Nothing that supported the Holyhead Harpies in any way was discernable out of the roar.
Thousands of Harpy fans moved their mouths angrily, without result, to the jeering delight of Puddlemere United’s supporters.
The faint hand in the sky let out a disembodied cackle.
He hovered to the goalposts and shook one tentatively. The post screeched gently and gave. "Ah, very nimble..." the poltergeist noted approvingly and steadied the pole.
"Now, if I remember correctly -" he tilted one ring to the upcoming Quaffle "Perfect!"
The green blobs on the stadium flailed in silent disapproval as the commentator's voice boomed 1:0 in Puddlemere's favor.
"Well, that's a freak goal if I ever saw one," muttered Wood from the bull pen "did you see that?"
"I did, and we oughtta be thankful. Warm up!" the team boss commanded firmly.
Furiously, Ginny took off with the Quaffle. She had no idea how Puddlemere’s goal had made it through the hoop, but there was no point in complaining about it now. The only thing she could do was try make up the points before Puddlemere became too lucky. She gained speed as she saw the goal posts coming up and was almost about to throw her arm back and try to score, when one of the goal posts seemed to move slightly towards her. It was too close now! She crashed right into it, her ears echoing with someone else’s laughter.
The Mediwizards rushed over as Ginny and her broom fell to the ground. One of them directed a levitation spell in her area to cushion her fall. As Ginny landed on the magic stretcher and the referee called a time out, Gwen flew to the ground for the second time that match.
"WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?! Someone is trying to sabotage my Chaser!" Her face was turning more beet red by the second. The Puddlemere captain, who was also on the ground now, began to scream at her.
"IT'S NOT JUST YOUR TEAM. SOMEONE IS SABOTAGING THE ENTIRE MATCH!"
“Simmer down, Holloway.” Greg Bennett spoke coolly, “Accidents happen but games need go on. She can walk, can’t she?” the manager faced Ginny. She wobbled to her feet, but floated back down at the swish of a Healer’s wand.
“Now?” Wood inquired gravely, but Bennett only gestured him to wait.
The Keeper walked over to where Ginny lay – Mediwizards, no longer bumbling, instead eyed the field, awaiting further casualties.
“Hey you too,” Ginny smiled weakly.
“Wha-what the sod happened?”
“Well, there’s a Poltergeist there, for one thing.” Drawled Ginny.
“Saw him, and the green people?”
“Dunno…” she grimaced.
Ginny didn't know that they were being overheard until Bennett cut in to her conversation. “Poltergeist?” he muttered disbelievingly. “You have got to be kidding me! Why would a poltergeist be hanging around a Quidditch match?” He cast a glance over one shoulder and before adding in a low tone, “You shouldn’t blame other things for your inability to break properly.”
Glaring at him, Ginny struggled to sit upright. “It’s not just a poltergeist, The Harpies' supporters got stu—”
She was interrupted by a shrill shriek as a woman with long black hair threw herself at Bennett.
When the crowd heard the shriek, many people grabbed for their wands, forgetting they weren't there. Groping at the inside pocket of his robes, a small tufty haired man started muttering under his breath.
"My wand...it'd got to be here somewhere..." Swear words were passing fluently past his lips by now. Giving up on his search for his wand, he turned to say something to his daughter, but oddly enough she wasn't there. Glancing down at the field, he saw her familiar black hair, moving violently as if she was throwing a fit. Sighing, he started toward the field.
“Romilda, you twit, get back up here!” The tufty-haired wizard yelled at the girl. She didn’t hear him, seeing as she was busy yelling nonsense words at the referee, players, and Mediwizards. He knew he wouldn’t easily be able to make it down there without a wand…
Speaking of wands, how had his daughter gotten down to the pitch, anyway? There was only the special entrance; Apparating was blocked and no one in their right mind would drop from the stands to the pitch without a wand. Something no one was supposed to have.
He cursed his bad luck.
“Obsessions, scandals, petty schemes -” Gilfred Vane mused staggering. “Damn and blast if Shacklebolt finds out. Millie!!”
Romilda Vane turned around seething. Her medusa-like hair took on a life of its own.
“Father I’ll handle this.”
“Will you?! Before or after your scheming costs me my job?” Mr. Vane towed his daughter out of earshot. “I’ve had to contain the gruesome consequences of your obsession with that boy for long enough, Romilda. You’ve disobeyed Ministry orders, you’ve injured someone, you’ve betrayed me – it ends tonight.”
The commotion beneath did not go unnoticed. Two figures huddled with the referee gesticulating wildly.
Gwenog and Ben’s animated conversation had migrated over to include the referee, who was rather eager to get the match started again. Romilda spotted ignored them, shrieked wildly, and threw herself towards Ginny, who, although she was somewhat stiff, was able to dodge her.
“Milly!” sighed Gilfred Vane, exasperatedly.
“Romilda!?” yelped Ginny. “Romilda Vane!?”
Romilda grinned wickedly, and the referee stared back and forth between the two young women. Animosity glared in the eyes of the darker-haired one. “That’s right, Weasley, I’m back, and this time, I’m not losing!”
Ginny groaned. “Romilda! That. Was. Years. Ago. Give it up already.”
The referee had neared the brink of sanity that evening.
“You’re sure about this?” She sounded exhausted as Jones and Holloway finished recounting their story.
“I’m positive!! The broad comes here all the time and none of us even know her!” - Nearly shouted Jones brandishing her bat in Romilda’s direction.
Holloway nodded “She has her wand. She must have hidden it while we were training…”
“Oh, Merlin…” the referee looked crushed – there’ll be another day of rowdy fans and strict Ministry orders.
She cleared her throat. “This game is transferred to Bodmin Moor, submit to controls… disperse as instructed.”