"I smell muddiness of their blood, Aleksandar Ivanovich!" Transylvanian Chaser Emilian Ionescu sneered in bad English, to his fellow Beater over their empty Firewhisky bottles. "Stench can be smelling even on whole bar; like dead animal in road."
His other drinking companion nudged him, shooting a warning glare over Emilian’s shoulder. "Ionescuvich, my friend," Chaser Dragomir Pavel warned.
“Pavel,” replied Ionescu nonchalantly, turning to see what the problem was.
Standing behind him was a tall, seething Scotsman. “Take. It. Back. Now!” snapped Ian McCormack. His equally furious teammates gathered around, and knuckles cracked in preparation for the imminent fight.
Emilian Ionescu felt not even a twinge of fear as he sized up the eight Scots before him; a team of snivelling Mudbloods and blood-traitors, and their opponents in the Quidditch World Cup. He turned his back on them, the lot of them a waste of his time. He looked at Gustav Krum, captain and Keeper of their team, and grinned into his ale.
Chaos exploded when McCormack slammed his fist into Ionescu’s head, sending him forwards and into his grouped teammates. Fists and curses began to fly.
McCormack reached through the tumult to grab a small redheaded girl.
"Come on, you don't want to get involved in this," he whispered to the girl.
"Thanks," she replied, her cheeks colouring a bright red. Ian cleared his throat nervously and asked, "So, are you looking forward to the game tomorrow?"
“Of course. But it will be a hard match,” Sorina replied. “As we can see.” She nodded towards the scuffling teams.
“I’m sure you’ll do well.”
Sorina blushed even more and looked away, to the brawl.
There was a crash as Ionescu was thrown onto a table.
“Okay, break it up!” called a voice from the back of the room.
The bartender had finally realised what was going on, and was seemingly trying to end the fight.
“If you have any problems among yourselves, go solve them somewhere else – but not in my bar,” the bartender said, approaching them, wearing a dark-blue apron and holding a big glass in one hand.
“Oh, we’ll solve these problems,” Ionescu said. “Tomorrow, in the pitch. You’ll see!”
“Let’s see just how good you are tomorrow,” Linus MacDonald, Beater for the Scottish team, taunted. “You may be mean, but we’re meaner.”
“That’s what we’ll see,” Lucian Moldovan, one the Transylvanian Chasers said, surprisingly calm.
He took a long hard look at the opposing team, pausing on Mathilda O’Connor, giving her a once over. Then he and his teammates turned and walked out the door of the pub and into the balmy night. They made it back to the camp before the worry set in.
“Vat if he found out?” asked Andrei Dumitrescu, voicing the concern of many players.
“Dumitrescuvich, all is vell, if he did find out he vould only commend our loyalty to the greater good,” said Krum, with an unwavering faith in his voice.
“If Krum believes, ve all do.”
The entire Transylvanian team turned to see who had spoken, and were surprised to see their Seeker, Josef Wronski, usually silent and reserved. He wiped blood off his chin. “Do you not trust our captain? He says it is good thing, then it is good thing.”
Back at the pub, the Scots triaged their injuries. None was serious enough to keep them from playing the match. They trudged up the stairs to their cramped, dank rooms above the pub.
“I’ll bet the bloody Targoviste Dragons aren’t sleeping in a hovel like this,” complained Peter O’Tool, the small Scottish Seeker.
"Silence," commanded Captain Jocunda Sykes, "or you'll be sleeping outside.” Peter glanced away; he had always been slightly intimidated by the captain.
"Sorry," he said sheepishly.
"Now, I want you all to have a good night's sleep. I'll let you sleep in, but just make sure it's not too long.” Jocunda looked at the rest of the team. “I will also leave some Sober-Up potions out for you, because I know most of you have been drinking.” She glared particularly at McCormack. “What are you waiting for? Go to bed, team!”
The team quickly hurried off to their appropriate rooms.
The next morning came and with it a chill in the air. Several hundred feet above the Scottish Quidditch team, the Pride of Portree, were thousands of screaming, jeering, half-crazed fans.
“You reckon a single one of them is cheering for us?” asked Cambeul Llyal, Chaser for the Prides. “To win, I mean.”
His teammates peered out into a towering sea of almost animalistic faces; a mix of Russians, Germans, and Bulgarians. Not a single familiar feature amongst them.
“No. They want our blood, and that is all,” replied Jamilyn Channing, Keeper for the Prides.
The trepidation set in.
They couldn’t help but admire the place it was set in, though. Although it was cold – much more cold than they were used to – it was still beautiful.
Ian McCormack remembered how dreamy-eyed the girls had all been when they saw the thick, white layer of snow covering the entire grounds.
They were going to play in a big Quidditch field near where Nurmengard was being built. Nurmengard was basically a prison for anyone who strayed out of Grindelwald's desires.
“Hey, snap out of it,” he heard Sorina say. “You’re getting nervous, aren’t you?”
“Of course not,” stated Ian with as much confidence as he could. But Sorina wasn’t fooled. She gave his hand a quick squeeze before following the rest of the team.
Suddenly, a loud voice spoke out in German, the Scottish team all heard their names called out by the booming voice of the commentator. Taunts and boos followed their introduction, and the team cringed at the foul-mouthed spectators. All except Jocunda. She held her head high and strode towards the middle of the pitch. Then the rest of the team watched in awe as she faced the Transylvanian team defiantly.
The walk across the frozen pitch seemed to take an eternity; the jeering and screaming intensifying with every step. Finally, they stood face-to-face with the Targoviste Dragons, a smirk covering each face.
“I don’t suppose one of them just told a terribly funny joke, d’you?” Mathilda said between her teeth, hoping to break the tension.
The entire team relaxed for just a moment before hearing, "A bunch of Mudbloods, blood-traitors, and filth!" Krum continued. "Is there a single decent vizard amongst you?"
The Prides gasped collectively; Mathilda and Peter blanched at the words, their eyes blazing.
“Now, listen here,” Ian said, his voice colder than they had ever heard him get before. “You will respect our team. Blood doesn’t really matter in Quidditch.”
“Again, I say, we will see,” Ionescu said. “Our team is entirely made up of pure bloods – yours is not. When we win, you’ll finally see that pure blood is unbeatable.”
“You will be proven wrong,” Mathilda said, finally speaking up. “I’m a Muggle-born – I’m not afraid to admit it either. I bet I’m better than your Chasers.”
Lucian Moldovan gave her a long, hard look. Who did she think she was?
“That’s enough,” said a loud voice from a few meters away. “Save it for the Quidditch match.” The two teams turned and saw that it was the referee who had spoken. He was a small man, but had a determined look in his eyes. “Now, captains, shake hands,” he continued.
Jocunda and Krum stepped forward, Jocunda holding out her hand. Krum looked down at it with disgust and suddenly spat on it.
“Blood-traitor,” he growled. Jocunda stared him down, unblinking, and turned back to her team, Krum’s saliva shining on her hand. She did not even bother wiping it off.
Krum now looked over at the referee and gave him a small nod. When the man returned the gesture, his face broke into a wide grin. There was no way his team could lose now.
He mounted his broom and the entire team lifted into the air in unison, each positioning themselves across from the Prides of Portree, awaiting the release of the balls and the beginning of the game.
Time slowed for the Prides, breath solidifying when it hit air, hearts pounding in fear and elation, sweat forming on brows.
They were about to be eaten alive, without mercy.
Aleksander Ivanov watched the Scottish captain hurtle towards her team’s offensive line, Beater’s bat in hand. Ivanov gripped his own bat and decided to follow her. He had to admit that the blood-traitor captain was a good flyer, but, nonetheless, she was a blood-traitor. And she needed to pay.
The other players zoomed around him, but his eyes were only set on the blood-traitor.
“Ivanov!” yelled the angry voice of Emilian Ionescu, Chaser for the Dragons. “Keep your eye on the game! Ve can deal vith the blood-traitor after ve embarrass them in front of a whole stadium of spectators!”
Ivanov gave a short grunt of acknowledgment, but didn’t really say anything else. It wasn’t as though he was feeling insecure about the outcome of the match – the results were pretty much obvious – but blood-traitors with so much confidence and without really caring about what others thought of them annoyed him.
He looked down and saw the referee heading towards a big box in the middle of the field. The balls were going to be released. Good.
He tried to focus on the match, but to no avail.
“Focus, Ivanov,” Emilian Ionescu growled. “You’ve been more distracted than anyone else.”
The referee blew his whistle and three balls flew into the air. Ionescu caught the Quaffle thrown almost at
him, and headed towards the goal posts.
Ivanov swung his left arm forwards, sending a Bludger through the air straight at that little blood-traitor captain. His stomached clenched in elation when it made contact with the tail end of her broom, causing her to spin towards the earth.
His delight was cut short when Jocunda rose in front of him, the match swirling around them she said in a low voice, “ Do it again, and see what happens, you snake!”
Ivanov started when he heard the captain’s voice, but he quickly recovered himself.
“No,” he said, “you are the one that needs to watch out. I didn’t go against the rules.” He grinned at her before speeding off after the Bludger he had just hit.
Jocunda watched him in frustration. She hated to admit it, but Ivanov really hadn’t gone against the rules. Taking a deep breath, she got a hold of herself – losing her cool this early would be a disaster. And without another thought, she zoomed to the other end of the pitch, towards the second Bludger.
Meanwhile, the six Chasers out in the field all tried to grab the Quaffle and take it to opposite sides. Sorina, Cambeul and Mathilda speeded across the field, trying to stop the Transylvanian Chasers from getting too close to Jamilyn’s position.
Jamilyn, in the meantime, took the moment to get nervous. Ionescu, Moldovan and Pavel were obviously dangerous, and would not object to the idea of hurting her to score.
This is progressing too fast
, she thought. They shouldn’t be nearing me so quickly.
Ionescu, who was still holding the Quaffle, passed it to Pavel.
Pavel caught the Quaffle, beady eyes boring into Jamilyn, tearing her confidence to pieces. She watched the Quaffle change hands once more, back to Ionescu and then get passed to Moldovan.
She blinked, and the Quaffle was hurling towards the lowest goal post, the post she was farthest from; she dived, but not in time.
“Score! Ten to zero - Transylvania!” yelled the announcer in German.
A cloud of despair hung over the Scottish team members as reality set in; they would be lucky to get out of this alive, and it would take a miracle to win.
Only Jocunda felt hopeful.
She had seen this sort of team before. They would completely take over the game until one thing went wrong for them. They would then lose confidence and start to fail.
Mathilda had the Quaffle. She burst off in the direction of the goal, and quickly passed to Sorina. Sorina was gaining on the goal posts; she locked eyes with Krum, who was hovering in front of the middle post. Suddenly, something rammed into her and she went flying sideways. Gripping her broom tightly, she looked furiously at the referee. That had to be a foul!
The referee was looking over his shoulder, perusing the other end of the field, obviously ignoring what had just happened. Sorina flew near Mathilda, and Cambeul Llyal, the other Scottish Chaser, and took out her anger in a rant. "Did you see that dirty ref? He won't call any fouls against us, so we’re going to have to match their goals, and we’re already behind. We've got to break Krum, or the ref, otherwise we’ll never score. Come on!" Mathilda and Cambeul nodded and sped down the field to interfere with the Transylvanian’s hopes for another ten points.
The Quaffle was in the possession of the three Transylvanian Chasers once again. Jamilyn was more nervous than she had been before, because she’d already gotten a taste of how they worked together, and it wasn’t something she could easily compete with.
As soon as Pavel passed the Quaffle to Moldovan, Cambeul sped up and interposed himself between them, catching the Quaffle and passing it to Sorina, who was waiting in the middle of the field.
Mathilda, meanwhile, had already flown over next to Krum and was waiting for Sorina to pass her the Quaffle.
Real team work
, she thought.
Sorina was flying towards the goals, but this time she passed to Mathilda, who quickly lined up and threw the Quaffle to the middle goal post. She watched it soar through the air, but Krum was also watching. He appeared out of nowhere and caught the Quaffle with his fingertips.
Mathilda gaped at the Transylvanian captain. Not only was he a cheat, but a really talented Keeper, too.
Moldovan now had the Quaffle and passed it off to Pavel, who sped towards the goals. Jamilyn watched their progress carefully. They were not going to catch her by surprise this time.
She felt the determination well up inside, felt it coat her spirit in faux-courage. She positioned herself on her broom, ready to strike.
Pavel passed the Quaffle back to Moldovan, who handed it off to Ionescu. He weighed the ball in his hand as if debating where to throw. Jamilyn met his eyes and saw the hate buried there, but she also saw fear.
Fear of what?
she thought. Before she could contemplate it any longer, the Quaffle was flying through the air towards the goal posts. Jamilyn hurtled after it, arms stretched in front of her, fingers splayed …
Just as her fingertips brushed the Quaffle, Ionescu ‘accidentally’ bumped her. She couldn’t get a good grip, deflecting the ball only marginally. It hit the top of the goal ring and rolled down the side, finally dropping through. So close
, thought Jamilyn. “Ionescu, you son of a --!" Her outward belligerence gave away none of her thoughts, which were calm and determined.
So they’re not playing fair. Cheating’s not going to help me. I need to find their weak spot…
Her eyes followed the Transylvanian Chasers, and lit upon Moldovan. His flying had stuttered when he passed the Quaffle.
Meanwhile, Peter O’Tool was circling the Quidditch Pitch, eyes scanning for a sign of the Golden Snitch. A flash of gold near the Transylvanian goal post distracted him, but he tore his eyes away from it when the Transylvanian Seeker, Josef Wronski, went streaking past. He must have seen the Snitch!
thought Peter as he quickly raced off , the flash he had seen forgotten.
Wronski went into a dive, and Peter followed, eyes scanning for some sight of the Snitch. Where was it? Peter gripped his broom tightly. They were going too fast!
Peter pulled up as hard as he could on his broom handle, but it wasn’t soon enough. He and his broom went bouncing across the frozen ground of the pitch, like a rock skipping on water. Peter could hear the fans screaming over the sound of his bones breaking. By the time he stopped, he knew there was no way he could finish this game. He lay bleeding on the ground while the Medi-Wizards took their time walking to check him out.
Sorina circled above him, worried . Behind her came a voice, “Vorried ’bout the Mudblood, are ya, girlie?”
Sorina turned around, gripping her broom tightly. It was Emilian Ionescu, of course. The stupid man couldn’t seem to remain quiet enough. He’d disturbed them all enough when they had been at the bar, and he seemed determined to disturb them all again.
“Don’t call him that,” she said loudly, seemingly not bothered by his presence near her.
“Vhy? My parents taught to alvays tell the truth.”
Sorina clenched her teeth. Don’t get mad, don’t get mad
, she chanted over and over in her head.
"Break it up, guys," came a voice. Sorina whirled. It was Linus, glaring at Ionescu.