It was a wonderful day for a Quidditch. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and--the teams were...yelling?
"Settle down!" called Gabriel Resolde as he stepped out from behind his flap. The raven stood out on his blue uniform. "I know you're excited, but we need to be composed."
"It ain't every day you make it to the first World Cup final, Gabriel!" yelled one of the beaters, blond-haired Cellon Lemand.
"If not for me, then, for dear Rowena's name, quiet down!" the captain roared.
"Aye, Captain," said Markus Haven. The tall, handsome Chaser ran his fingers through his wavy, brown hair nervously. He looked intently at the throng of spectators. "' 'Tis a goodly amount gathered already!"
Abel Nabemheld laughed loudly. "You believe any will look at you when one has such as myself to focus on?" he said, flexing his large muscles as he swung his Beater's club. He slapped Markus good-naturedly on the shoulder causing Haven to lose his balance and drop his broom.
"The Quidditch World Cup is serious business, gentlemen!" growled Avenal. "Stop your nonsense!"
The young seeker suppressed a snort with difficulty. Her hair was hidden beneath a shortly cut wig and unless you were searching for them beneath her bulky robes you couldn't see the breasts cleverly hidden by them. But with the vast amount of testosterone in the air, she did not know how long her disguise would last.
Regardless, she leapt in with the rest of them. She, Elaina Cadala, the first woman on a professional team, was impersonating a man after all.
“Hey, come on now lads!” Tristan called out, smiling broadly, his curly black hair fluttering in the wind. “Avenal’s right, this is the first World Cup match!”
“Thank you Tristan,” Avenal replied, looking surprised since Tristan never agreed with him.
“So what do you say that we show him a good time,” he continued. “Loosen him up a bit!”
Before Avenal could ask what he meant, he was pushed off his broom into a mud puddle. Tristan piled on top of him and beckoned for the others to follow. Able and Cellon grinned maniacally and piled on top of them.
Gabriel smacked his hand to his forehead. He loved his team--they were all like brothers to him--but sometimes, they were idiots. Big, fat idiots.
"Break it up!" he called, though he couldn't keep the humor from his voice. He pulled Able and Cellon off first, who were fit to burst with laughter, then the new seeker, who seemed rather uncomfortable when he hauled him up and set him on his feet. "Five minutes left, everyone huddle up." He sighed and walked to the center of the tent, broom in hand. "And no riding brooms in the tent!"
Avenal Casten rose to his feet, spitting mud and muck from his mouth. He grabbed his broom and stalked angrily to the tent. Laughing, the rest of the players entered the tent and one by one circled around their Captain.
Gradually, the noise turned to quiet anticipation as each player looked at the Captain. Markus Haven shifted from foot to foot, pre-match jitters starting to get the better of him. He hadn't been able to choke down any breakfast and in the stillness of the tent, his stomach gave a huge, loud rumble.
"Sorry," muttered Haven, red-faced.
The new seeker, Evan, was the only one not laughing at Markus. He walked over to his bag and pulled something out of it. He-or rather she- handed him a roll of bread and said in an imperious voice that barely hid her true gender, "Eat, now."
Markus blushed even more and the rest of the team (who had stood silently shocked at the spectacle) burst into laughter once again. Elaina wondered why she had offered herself up to this again. She had been refused once for being a woman. Maybe this was why.
"Okay, listen up!" Silence fell once again as the captain began to speak. "This is it, boys. We've worked long and hard for this day. We've even lost a seeker to get here." Everyone bowed his or her heads thinking of the man Evan had replaced. " Tristan, Avanel, Markus--their keeper is one of the best, use every trick you know. Abel, Cellon, watch those bludgers and keep an eye out. Evan!" The young seeker snapped to attention. "We need that Snitch as fast as you can possibly get it. We can't give them any time to pull fouls on us!"
From outside the tent, a loud whistle blast was sounded.
"Very well, gentlemen. For glory, for honour and for the Cup!" the Captain yelled. The players responded with a resounding cheer, raising their fists in the air. With adrenaline pumping and the excitement building, they left the tents in high spirits and trotted out towards the pitch.
The audience was on their feet, sporting their team's colors and calling out the names of their favorite players. It was a heady potion, indeed - and the players reveled in it. They couldn't keep the grins from spreading across their faces.
As Tristan flew around the edge of the pitch, he waved and blew kisses to the female fans calling his name.
“Tristan, is that really necessary?” Cellon called from behind.
“I can’t disappoint my adoring fans,” he replied, not looking.
The Beater just sighed and waved to his own fans, but not with as much grandiose as the Chaser. A minute later, Cellon noticed something that Tristan didn’t.
“Tristan! In front of you!” he yelled.
But it was too late. Tristan smashed right into one of the basket poles, too absorbed in showboating to see what lay in his path.
Elaine hovered high above the pitch, her eye out for the golden snitch. The game hadn't even started yet but something told her that this was not a match to prolong. The sight of those Transylvanians crossing the field gave her the willies.
The captains shook hands in air and the bludgers erupted. The quaffle soon followed and the match began.
Gabriel flew to his spot, shaking his head at his brother. The female fans loved him, but he was a dobber sometimes. Why couldn't they see that? (Or that he himself was a much better catch.)
"Oi! Stop your rubbish, the quaffle's up!" he called just as Avenal went after it. The commentator's voice drowned out the crowd, his magically amplified voice resounding around the stadium:
"Welcome, ladies and gents, to the first Quidditch World Cup Final! Representing Britain, we have the Ravaging Radishes in blue playing for the memory of Rowena Ravenclaw! Their opponent is the undefeated Transylvanian Trekkers!"
Avenal nabbed the Quaffle and turned towards the goalposts. Fellow Chasers Haven and Resold quickly flanked him. He made eye contact with both and immediately they understood the plan. Avenal fell behind as Haven and Resold closed ranks in front of him. The three flew straight as an arrow towards the Transylvanian Keeper, Sedmohradsko Kersana. Tristan and Markus smirked at each other as the Keeper went pale. They each leaned down closer to their broom to gain more speed. The Keeper lost his nerve and vacated the goal, leaving the way clear for Avenal.
"And the Radishes score!"
Just after it passed through the goal, Tristan dove after the Quaffle. He caught it an inch off the ground before soaring back up to the level of the goal posts.
“Ready to see how a real Chaser scores a goal, Avenal?” he called, looping around an idle Transylvanian Beater.
Avenal scowled as the cocky Chaser took off to the center of the pitch before returning to the scoring area. He dive bombed the poor Keeper and tossed the Quaffle in.
“Twenty-nothing for the Ravaging Radishes!” the commentator yelled to the crowd. “Goals by Avenal Casten and Tristan Resold!”
At that point something strange happened: Tristan was transfigured into a duck.
The referee immediately blew the whistle. "Foul to the Trekkers!" he called.
The Trekker fans started to boo and shout while the Radish fans called, "Good call, ref!"
The commentator winced. "ooo, looks like the Trekkers have some bad seeds! Sefer Hacisri has transfigured Avenal Caston into a duck! I believe he may be put into the penalty box . . . and he is! Not very happy about that."
Little did they know that that was that beginning to an all-out foul war.
Haven held the Quaffle tightly, preparing to take the penalty shot. He leaned forward on his broom and faced down the Transylvanian Keeper. He swooped to the left and the Keeper took the bait. Markus swerved quickly towards the right and scored. The crowd cheered wildly. Play resumed with a restored Tristan, but the team now had a grim attitude. When a Trekker Beater aimed a bludger at Avenal, Avenal whipped out his wand and hexed the bat to continually thrash the hapless Beater about the head and face.
"Foul! Penalty shot to the Transylvanian Trekkers!" yelled the incensed Referee.
"Oh come on Ref!" Tristan shouted. "That Beater was… going for his head!"
The referee glared and turned back to Avenal and a Transylvanian Chaser. Tristan grinned evilly as an idea suddenly came to mind. He pulled out his wand and conjured a club. The referee still had his back to him so he swung it the other Transylvanian Beater’s broom and lobbed off the front. Instantly, the broom nose-dived and Tristan Vanished the club.
“What happened?” asked the referee, turning around as the Beater screamed.
Tristan shrugged as the Transylvanians pointed to him. The ref looked between them exasperatedly.
"Nothin', sir," explained Tristan. Gabriel was shaking his head in the background.
"All right. Play on!"
The fouls went back and forth for the next hour or so; Caston charmed the quaffle to sail away from the Trekkers, one of the opposing team members hexed Abel, the bludgers were attacking select players, and so on. Nearing the end, both teams were frustrated. Gabriel was ready to pull what hair he had left after this game out.
"We need that Snitch, Evan!" he growled as the seeker flew past.
"Working on it!"
Evan was trying, but how was one to find a walnut-sized Snitch in this chaos? Brooms set on fire, Beaters exchanging bats for axes, and the animal kingdom well represented, as players were hexed left and right. Seven hundred fouls and three referees later, the Radishes were 50 points behind. Ducking a flaming Bludger, Evan suddenly saw the glittering Snitch hovering a foot off the ground. She dived, the wind whistling in her ears, her arm outstretched.
She caught it.
She held the struggling Snitch up triumphantly. The referee blew his whistle and gratefully yelled, "The Radishes Win!"
"We did it!" yelled Tristan as Gabriel was presented with the cup. He held it up high as the crowd cheered. The shining silver gleamed in the late afternoon glow. (And the still flaming broomsticks.)
"Congratulations, Radishes!" cried the Minister of Magic. "You did Rowena proud."
"Sure did, sir," said Gabriel, smiling at his team, who beamed straight back. He hugged his seeker, who tensed. "Sure did."
Through the cheers, Evan whispered, "Gabriel."
"I...I need to tell you something. Later, in the tent."
"Why not tell me right here? Go on."
Evan took a deep breath. "I'm a girl."