The downward movement under only the force of gravity.
Above the noise of the crowd walking past, Hermione Granger heard faint shouts of her name. She craned her neck above the moving bodies to locate the source of the sound. There were too many people though; too much confusion, too many conflicting noises that she didn't know where to look.
It was a terrible idea to have agreed to meet at the stadium entrance.
Whose idea was this again?
"Hermione!" She heard once more, closer this time. Her head swivelled from left to right until she felt a force knock into her from the side.
She was enveloped in a hug from her dear friend - her best friend - Amelie Bernard. The petite female had one of the strongest grips known to men although she barely reached 5 feet. Her body was shaking with excitement as she hugged Hermione and rocked them side to side. Hermione laughed openly and encircled her arms around the other female.
It was Amelie's idea to meet here and Hermione could hardly say no to the other witch.
"Hermione! I'm so excited!" Amelie screamed again before letting go.
"I can see that." Hermione replied as she looked at Amelie's outfit.
The witch was decked in red, white, and blue. Her normally black hair was tipped with the two primary colours. She wore a snow white beret that rested perfectly atop her head. Her top was blood red, as were the pair of shorts she was wearing. Draped on her shoulders was a large French flag. On Amelie's porcelain cheeks were two more flags drawn with makeup. Her lips were painted red as well as her nails.
And what drew another laugh from Hermione was the item her friend was carrying. For in Amelie's hand was a baguette. A two feet long, proudly French, and looked to be quite fresh baguette.
"You brought a baguette?" Hermione asked incredulously.
"Of course!" Amelie replied. "It's French. Besides, we could have it as a snack for when we get hungry." She added quite seriously, waving the long loaf of bread around. She studied what Hermione was wearing and gasped, aghast. "Where is your team spirit?!"
Hermione looked down at her clothes. She wore a simple pair of blue shorts and a white tank top. White trainers were on her feet.
"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" Hermione asked with a frown.
Amelie rolled her eyes. "I knew you would do something like this… which is exactly why I brought extras. Hold this for a second s'il vous plait." The baguette was thrust into Hermione's hands. The dark haired witch rummaged through the bag strapped to her waist (it, too, was charmed to look like the French flag). Out came her wand and two pieces of shiny, laminated paper which she proceeded to hand to Hermione. Hermione's eyebrows raised and she discreetly looked around them as more items emerged from the bag than what was physically possible. Amelie withdrew another beret (blue this time), something which looked to be rolled up socks, a square of folded material (which Hermione assumed was another French flag), and… a golden rooster.
"Why do you have a rooster?!" Hermione asked as the offending item was thrust into her hands. She looked at the metal rooster, agog. It was smaller than the animal but it was still quite large and heavy. Moreso, it was so brightly gold and shiny. It was almost as if it was emitting its own rays.
"C'est le coq gaulois," Amelie replied. "C'mon Hermione, are you even French?"
Hermione knew what the Gallic rooster was of course for it was France's unofficial symbol. "But where in the world did you get this?"
"You needn't worry about that," Amelie said and simply grabbed her wand from Hermione. Looking imploringly at the gaping witch, Amelie cast a spell that she would often use to dress her clients.
Hermione came out of the spell with the beret on her head and the French flag wrapped around her arms. Her curly brown hair was in a French braid draped elegantly over one shoulder and tied with a ribbon of white silk. The striped red, white, and blue knee high socks were on her feet and French flags were drawn on her cheeks. Like Amelie, her lips were painted red as well as her fingernails. Clutched in Hermione's hands was the rooster.
"There! You look so much better!" Amelie said with a beaming smile. Linking arms with Hermione, Amelie led them to join the stream of people entering the large open spaced stadium in front.
Hermione simply laughed and shook her head. "I don't know how you got me to come with you today! I don't know a thing about Quidditch!"
"This is a momentous occasion!" Amelie exclaimed passionately. She expertly dodged bodies and led Hermione near the front of the queue to enter. "France versus England. For the Quidditch World Cup Final! The biggest rivals in the game, no, in the whole world competing, once more, for the Cup. I will not have you miss this!"
She had a point, Hermione mused.
This was history in the making.
Hermione let herself be led inside the roaring stadium.
To avoid any home court advantage, the stadium was located in what many would consider "neutral territory". No, not Switzerland, but the large body of water separating England from France and the rest of the continent.
The stadium stood smack in the middle of the English Channel.
Or rather, it was submerged in the middle of the English Channel.
Like a bowl placed in a bathtub half full, the top of the stadium emerged between the roaring waves. The International Confederation of Wizards Quidditch Committee (ICWQC) had magically built a stadium in the water. A wall of marble protected the players, spectators, and entire Quidditch field from the wrath of the channel while underground tunnels especially built for the occasion led fans from both England and France towards the stadium.
Hermione's jaw turned slack as she climbed higher and higher up the stands to their seats. The stadium was huge and roaring and so alive that she felt it had its own heartbeat. Everywhere she looked she saw red, white, and blue. Everyone cheered and yelled and enthusiastically waved either St. George's Cross or the Tricolore. Hermione saw that Amelie wasn't the only one to bring baguettes to the stadium for hundreds of French fans proudly waved their bread in the air.
Amelie got to the very top of the stands and led Hermione to two seats overlooking the stadium. The top of the highest Quidditch hoop extended to just below their seats. They were at the highest section and furthest away from the actual Quidditch field but they were in the middle of the pitch in between the two goals. Below them on the other side of the stadium was one of the large screens currently showing replays of the highlights of the World Cup games.
Hermione peeked over the metal railing in front of their seats and gaped at the distance to the ground.
"We're so high up," she whispered to Amelie.
"Best seats in the house! We could see everything from here and feel everything too!" Amelie yelled. She got to the edge of the railing and waved her French flag proudly. The French fans sat around them cheered and hollered.
Suddenly the screen turned black. The spotlights came to life casting the whole stadium in a bright glow.
Everyone got on their feet and cheered. Hermione followed their lead and stood next to Amelie. One hand was gripped tightly on the metal railing while Amelie held onto the other. The other witch screamed and yelled and vibrated in anticipation next to Hermione.
A figure appeared in the darkness of the screen. It was a man dressed in a fine three piece suit made of dark velvet which was a stark contrast against his pure white hair. He was handsome and the whole stadium cheered when he smiled. He brought his wand to his throat, muttered a spell, and Hermione heard his voice boom around the arena.
"Welcome," he said, and paused dramatically. The stadium grew quiet. "To the 425th Quidditch World Cup FINAL!" The stadium erupted in deafening acclamation. "My name is Mentor Metaxas and I am the Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards Quidditch Committee. I am simply honoured and proud to welcome you here to see the battle of the giants. This fight is going to be unforgettable since it is the clash of the titans. Our entire world history was leading up to this very moment when these lifelong rivals face each other once again. ENGLAND-" The English fans broke out in yells and fierce shouts. Hermione swore she heard a lion's roar. "- AND FRANCE!" Hermione laughed when Amelie jumped and screamed next to her to show support for her beloved country.
"Our head referee is… Lord Baron Mackenzie!" Metaxas announced with a flourish. The stadium cheered and a short but muscular man with flaming red hair and large mustache walked to the middle of the field. He was dressed in all black. A vibrating trunk floated behind him and set itself down on the grass when he stopped. Hermione watched on the screen as Mackenzie surveyed the stadium with severe green eyes and pursed lips. A shiny broom remained perched on his shoulder. "Assisting him tonight are Referees Ian Capulet and Anastasia Springfield!" Two more figures walked onto the pitch: one a tall male with a bald head and the other a beautiful blonde. Both wore black and had brooms on their shoulders.
"And now… here are your starting lineups," Metaxas said. There was anticipation in his voice now. The stadium clapped and Hermione felt the collective excitement of everyone around her. Her hand finally let go of the railing and she found herself clapping and cheering with the crowd.
"First, let me introduce to you the FRENCH NATIONAL TEAM!" Metaxas roared. Amelie and Hermione shouted and clapped as all of the French fans got on their feet. A large flag of the familiar vertical stripes unfurled on the Quidditch field below. On cue, a hailstorm of blue rocks came falling from the sky. It was magiced as it didn't hurt when the rocks hit the skin. When one fell into Hermione's hand she saw that it was a shining and brilliant blue sapphire. Everyone in the stadium gasped and eagerly held their hands out for the gems.
"First… hailing from Marseille and representing the Fleur-de-Lis, we have the league's record holder for most saves during a career so far at three hundred and ninety four, FRENCH TEAM CAPTAIN, NUMBER 14, KEEPER… RENÉE DUBOIS!"
"She's amazing!" Amelie yelled over the cheers. Hermione could only nod, awestruck. She saw a figure in royal blue zip into the air from one of the openings at the side of the stadium. Her eyes watched the screen which showed the French Keeper circle the field. Her black hair was trimmed above her shoulders like a pixie's. Her eyes were as bright blue as her Quidditch robes. She raised one hand and waved to the crowd, a shining smile on her beautiful face.
Metaxas, with equal fervor, introduced the Beaters and Chasers. They were Gilles Deschanel (Beater, Number 20), Jean-Paul Vernier (Beater, Number 15), Rose Pomeroy (Chaser, Number 3), Etienne Tremblay (Chaser, Number 24), and Luc Laroque (Chaser, Number 12).
"From Paris, he has played in more Quidditch World Cups than anyone else here tonight… Le Comte, The Count, NUMBER 1, SEEKER… PHILIP BAUDELAIRE!"
Amelie shrieked so loud that Hermione laughed and moved her head away. As she clapped, she watched another figure in blue circled the field. The screen showed a very handsome man with auburn hair and cool grey eyes. His smile was charming and showed his full set of teeth as he acknowledged the crowds. He winked at the camera and the stadium grew louder.
The French national team hovered on their brooms in front of the golden hoops to Hermione's left. The French battlecry rang throughout the stadium.
Allez Les Bleus!
Allez Les Bleus!
Allez Les Bleus!
Amelie shouted the chant and Hermione found herself doing so as well. Together they raised their flags with both hands as they showed support to France.
Metaxas grinned as he let the French team and their fans have their moment. He cleared his throat once again and the stadium quieted down as much as was possible. Hermione saw the English sitting around her tense in anticipation.
"Everyone… help me welcome the NATIONAL TEAM OF ENGLAND!"
The English flag of pure white emblazoned with the red cross unfurled on the field. English fans screamed and shouted as fireworks of gold erupted all around the stadium. Gold sparks fell onto the field and magic amassed the embers. Three gigantic golden lions were formed from the embers and hovered in the middle of the pitch. Hermione watched in awe as the lions opened their mouths and roared. The sound reverberated around the arena sending shivers down her spine. The lions exploded in another flash of gold and golden nuggets rained down into the stands.
"From Devon, he allowed not one single goal in the semi-final match against Romania which brought the English team here in the Finals… here is NUMBER 9, KEEPER… RON WEASLEY!"
A figure in white with bright red hair zoomed out and into the air to the adulation of the crowds. The cameras followed Ron Weasley as he made his lap around the Quidditch field. Both hands were raised as he waved, his smile so deep and pronounced. He stopped his lap and hovered in front of the other set of Quidditch hoops.
"He holds the record for most knock-outs in the league, so you better watch out! NUMBER 13, BEATER... NICHOLAS YOUNG!" The screen showed a man with dark brown hair and even darker brown eyes. He was as large as a tank that Hermione thought it impossible he remained on his broom. He was pure muscle and had a big scowl on his face. Hermione thought he was quite sourly looking unlike the other players she had seen so far but the crowd seemed to love him. The English cheered as the Beater waved his bat in the air and hovered next to the Keeper.
The remaining Beater and Chasers were introduced to the roaring crowd. The other Beater, one Daniel Powell (Number 29) was almost as muscular as Young but not quite. He clanked bats with his partner while they hovered in the air. The Chasers were Elise Pearson (Number 18), the one who held the record for most points scored in the season so far; Francesca Chang (Number 8), a beautiful raven haired witch who looked to be too fragile to be on the broom but apparently was one hell of a flyer; and David Bradley (Number 5), the youngest player in the World Cup at only eighteen years of age.
Mentor Metaxas was always one for the dramatics. So after introducing David Bradley, he paused and he waited. The cheers and yells in the stadium began to peter out into a buzz.
Hermione looked around her. Amelie was clutching onto the rail with excitement, her eyes trained on the screen which currently showed Metaxas just smiling serenely and still just waiting. The English fan on her other side had his fists clenched so tight in front of his chest that it was wrinkling the flag held in them.
She felt the anticipation. It was almost eerie, really, to be in a stadium that quiet. No one around her was speaking as they all stood and waited.
Metaxas shot another grin to the camera before he opened his mouth to speak once more. The crowd collectively drew a breath.
"And last but certainly not the least… He flew to us from London… the most decorated player in the League's history… THE ENGLAND TEAM CAPTAIN, NUMBER 7, SEEKER… HARRY POTTER!"
The stadium absolutely exploded.
English and French fans cheered and hollered as a figure in white emerged in flight from the opening at the side of the stadium.
"YES! POTTER!" Amelie screamed from beside Hermione and waved her hands in the air.
Hermione clapped and watched the screen as the Seeker made his round. Harry Potter was a figure on the broom. He moved with such fluidity, such ease, that it looked like he belonged in the air. His hair was as black as midnight and his eyes were like emeralds. His windswept hair revealed the scar on his forehead which first catapulted him into the public eye. Every witch or wizard knew the story of the Boy Who Lived who ended up being the Man Who Saved. But what truly made him a household name to be celebrated was what he decided to do after the Dark Lord was vanquished.
Many thought he would join the ranks of the Aurors. They expected it from him. The Minister and Head Auror certainly approached him with the proposition. If not Auror, then perhaps a prosecutor to bring to justice the remaining Death Eaters? Maybe even join the Wizengamot? He declined the offer, though, and enrolled to an eight year at Hogwarts instead. Soon after graduation, when he was eighteen, almost nineteen years old, Harry Potter joined the Puddlemere United training camp.
He worked his arse off at camp. He had a lot to prove. People knew he could fight - killing Voldemort was enough evidence of that - but could he fly? Perhaps within Hogwarts he was considered a great flyer, but that didn't mean he was good enough to go pro.
On the eve of his nineteenth birthday, Harry Potter was made reserve Seeker for the Puddlemere United regional team. The starting Seeker, one Gabriel Murray, mentored him. Gabriel was only in his mid-twenties then but he had been flying since he could walk. He saw the potential in Harry; saw past the name Harry Potter and recognized the man who wanted to be in the sky. So he took Harry under his wing and taught him what he knew about the game and, more importantly, how to navigate through the politics of Quidditch to make it a career.
Gabriel retired as a player a year later. An injury and his growing family made the decision for him. He didn't give up on Quidditch though, and instead bought shares - and lots of it - of the Puddlemere United. As part owner he had a huge say on who was going to replace him for the next season.
Harry Potter, at age twenty, became the starting Seeker of one of the most famous and successful Quidditch teams in the world.
He didn't remain with the Puddlemere United. Players were traded as often as Chocolate Frog cards. After his stellar performance at the 2002 World Cup (unfortunately England was outscored during the semi-finals) the Chudley Cannons made a bid to employ the Seeker. And surprisingly, or unsurprisingly to some, he accepted. He brought the renaissance to the Chudley Cannons.
Fans on either side of the English Channel knew this story. And it was Harry Potter's miraculous triumph over evil, over expectations, over fate to end up playing the game he loved was what made them root for him. His fights no longer involved his wand but his broom.
That, and because he was a really good Seeker.
And handsome too, Hermione mused.
Unlike the other players, he wasn't smiling (or scowling like Young). Instead he had an intense look on his face as he made his lap around the Quidditch pitch. His green eyes blazed with concentration and determination as he looked towards the other set of golden hoops. He joined his team in a hover and that was when he finally smiled. Not at the roaring crowds, but to his teammates. Hermione saw him say something to them which made them nod their heads and bump fists. They lined up with Potter at the front and Hermione thought they looked like an army ready for battle.
From his place at the very centre of the Quidditch pitch, Mackenzie mounted his broom. The two other referees followed suit. While in a hover, he withdrew his wand from a pocket in his robes and pointed it to his throat.
"Captains!" His thick brogue cut through the cheering crowd and quieted the stadium. Potter and Dubois left their teams and approached him. The stadium cheered when their team captains were shown on the screen alongside Mackenzie. "I want a clean game," Mackenzie commanded. Potter and Dubois nodded their heads and shook hands. Then, they turned to the referees and shook their hands as well.
"Players! In your positions!" Mackenzie's voice boomed once again.
The crowd watched as the Keepers went to their goalposts. The Beaters and the Chasers hovered in a circle around Mackenzie and the trunk he brought with him which still laid on the ground. The two Seekers flew metres above the circle.
The stadium held its breath. Hermione swore she could hear a pin drop as everyone watched.
The screen showed the Head Referee and the Chairman of the ICWQC exchange nods.
At precisely 15:13 to honour the very first Quidditch World Cup (which was held in 1473, but 14:73 was not a real time), Mackenzie pointed his wand to the vibrating trunk. The top burst open and the Bludgers, Quaffle, and Golden Snitch were released into the air.
Metaxas roared as the crowd screamed and applauded.
"LET THE GAME BEGIN!"
Harry Potter watched from above. He preferred to scan the field away from the rest of the melee as to avoid getting hit by a Bludger or getting in the way of Chasers. He heard the crowd erupted in applause as Dubois let a goal through shot by Elise with an assist from Francesca. The score was 20-10 with England in the lead.
Harry allowed himself a small smile. Dubois was a great Keeper but the English Chasers were damn good. Elise, Francesca, and Dylan moved so fast on the broom that it was impossible to track them all at once.
He made his way around the top of the stadium. Harry made sure to keep his ears sharp for any approaching Bludgers. His green eyes scanned the stands for any signs of gold.
He saw gold indeed, but it wasn't the Snitch. His eyes were drawn to the section of the stands where a French fan was hooting and hollering with the flag above her head. It wasn't her who Harry looked at, though. It was to the girl sat beside her. She looked to be a French fan as well if the flag on her shoulders and beret on her head were any indication. She had golden highlights in her chocolate brown hair but that wasn't the gold Harry saw.
It was the damn chicken in her lap.
The chicken reflected the sunlight beating down on the Quidditch pitch. It positively glowed and Harry saw it quite clearly as he flew past.
Fans were really getting inventive with their ploys to distract players.
Harry scowled a bit. Perhaps he was paying too much attention to the chicken that its owner noticed his gaze.
Their eyes met briefly.
Hermione felt her breath caught in her throat when those green eyes held hers for even just a second.
The Bludger whizzing past his head broke their gazes and he immediately jerked to the left to avoid the collision. Looking behind him, he saw Baudelaire tailing him from a couple metres back. The French Seeker had seen no signs of the Snitch then.
As he heard Metaxas announce that the score had tied 20-20, Harry thought it was time to play.
It was time to fly.
With the smallest of smiles, Harry crouched in his broom and zoomed across the Quidditch pitch. Baudelaire followed him of course, thinking that he had seen the Golden Snitch.
In a move that would have made Viktor Krum proud, Harry tipped his broom downward and dove in a straight vertical towards the ground.
The entire stadium gasped when Potter made the dive. Hermione did so as well and set the golden rooster down. Was it actually the Golden Snitch? Was the game going to end with barely thirty minutes on the clock?
Baudelaire caught up to Potter and they were neck in neck. From the screen, Hermione saw both of their faces. Baudelaire's eyes kept looking at the Seeker beside him. Potter, meanwhile, kept his gaze forward. With the ground fast approaching, Potter extended his left arm out… and pulled out of the dive.
Baudelaire's eyes widened at the deception. With barely a metre to the ground he managed to right his broom. At this point the English Seeker was already on the other side of the Quidditch pitch looking once again for the Golden Snitch.
Fans of England clapped at the wonderfully executed Wronski Feint and for Baudelaire taking the bait. Hermione felt her heart pounding in her chest when she watched the replay on the screen. It was a dangerous move even for the instigator. Baudelaire looked livid but Potter was back in business. His head was moving back and forth as he flew near England's goalposts.
An hour passed and the score was 180-150 with France in the lead. Tremblay was fouled as he was trying to score. The goal went in but in trying to stop the score Chang's hand got tangled in Tremblay's broomtail. A blagging* foul was awarded and Tremblay scored once again. On the rebound play, Laroque received a foul for cobbing* Bradley. Bradley was awarded two shots into the hoops which he nailed.
Hermione and the people around her jumped back from the railing as a Bludger came whizzing by and narrowly missed them.
"Merde! THAT'S BUMPHING*!" Amelie yelled next to her. Other French fans agreed and yelled in outrage that the English Beater did not received a foul. The female yelled profanities at Young who only shrugged as he flew by after the Bludger. Another whack from his bat sent the ball towards Pomeroy who was trying to score from above.
Hermione sat back down and took a breath. She put her hand in between her breasts and felt the thumping of her beating heart. Amelie sat down as well and nudged her.
"So... any regrets with coming with me today? Was it worth it leaving your shop to be here?" Amelie asked with a sly grin, an eyebrow quirked in question. Hermione looked at her best friend decked with all manners of the French flag and laughed.
"None! Absolutely none!" Hermione shouted over the roar of the crowd. Chang had scored bringing England to 160. France was still in the lead. "This is something I've never experienced before. Merci beaucoup, Elie. C'est très incroyable!" She cried. 'This is amazing!'
Amelie looped an arm around Hermione and squeezed. "I'm so glad you're here. And I promise to help around your shop tomorrow after we celebrate tonight because FRANCE IS GOING TO WIN!" The witch screamed and stood up once again, waving her now half-eaten baguette in the air.
Hermione laughed and shook her head. Her best friend was such a character. Amelie and her met each other in their first year at Beauxbatons. They were so different. Amelie was so outgoing and so loud. Hermione, on the other hand, preferred solitude and her books over people. The raven haired witch was obsessed with Quidditch while Hermione didn't even like to fly. It was during one of their flying lessons that their friendship was formed. Hermione couldn't control her broom and was hovering uncontrollably in the air. She froze while her classmates watched. Their flying professor then, one Madame Maleficent, commanded Hermione to get down. The woman wouldn't help the terrified girl. When tears sprung from Hermione's eyes, the smallest girl in class grabbed one of the brooms and flew up to her. Amelie helped her down to the outrage of Madame Maleficent. They were awarded detentions and the seed of friendship was planted. Amelie helped Hermione get over her fear of flying to survive their lessons and the horrible Madame Maleficent while Hermione helped Amelie with her other studies. Madame Maleficent was sacked at the end of the year by the headmistress.
Fifteen years later and their friendship was stronger than before. Amelie loved designing and fashion that after graduating from Beauxbatons she moved to London to apprentice under Madam Malkin's. Now, she was an equal partner of the seamstress. Hermione stayed on the continent and worked as an aide for the French Minister. Her stellar marks upon graduating brought her to the attention of Minister Pierre Lafontaine and he immediately wanted her as part of his staff. Over the years she climbed the ranks of the French Ministry and became Minister Lafontaine's Chief of Staff. It was half a year ago when Amelie visited her that she was approached with an idea.
"Move to London, Hermione," Amelie had said. Hermione looked at her incredulously. "Madam Malkin heard that Flourish and Blotts are selling. They don't want to run the shop anymore and neither do their families. They're looking to sell, and they want to leave it in good hands. Haven't you always said that you wanted to own a bookstore?"
"Well, yes, for when I'm old and retired! But now?" Hermione looked absolutely stricken at the idea.
"Just think about it," Amelie pressed. "You kept telling me how stressed you are with your job. You told me Lafontaine would no longer be running in the next election too. This is a great opportunity Hermione!"
Think about it she did. She even went to speak to the Minister for he had grown to be a mentor to her. He confirmed his plans to retire from politics at the end of his term and echoed Amelie that it was a great idea indeed. The following day she was taking an international portkey to Diagon Alley to see the shop she loved so much. She made a point to go every time she was in London visiting Amelie. She only wanted to see the store; maybe get a feel on how it was managed and run. She had no intention of committing to anything that day but yet she walked out of Flourish and Blotts hours later as its new owner.
She settled her affairs in France and the previous owners agreed to manage the shop during her absence. She moved to London officially last week and was in the process of transitioning the shop's operations. The five other staff would be staying on but she would be its official owner and manager on more than just paper.
Amelie approached her with the tickets to the World Cup last minute. She was hesitant to go at first - Quidditch wasn't her cup of tea and she was still averse to flying - but being there in the electrifying stadium supporting sa patrie was something she never thought she would experience.
The arena gasped and Hermione's head jerked to look at the screen in front of her. It showed Potter and Baudelaire flying across the Quidditch field with the grass less than a metre below their brooms. One arm was outstretched and the screen was able to capture the Golden Snitch flying rapidly just barely out of reach.
Hermione gasped and leapt to her feet. Her hands grasped the railing as she looked over it. She could see the two figures zoom across the pitch. When they neared the Quidditch stands directly below her, they turned their brooms upwards and shot into the sky. Her mouth turned slack as she saw them approach. Faintly she could see a little ball of gold still just whizzing left and right and up and down out of the Seekers' reach. They got closer and closer and Hermione jumped back from the railing and into her seat when the Seekers flew past her in a vertical climb. She felt the wind tickle her cheeks from the speed of their brooms.
Hermione's hands gripped her seat as her head remained trained upwards. The Seekers flew into the stratosphere way above the stadium. There was a murmur in the arena as they all wondered what was happening for even the screen only showed clouds.
Where were the Seekers?
And then Hermione saw a dot emerge from the clouds. She squinted her eyes and looked at the dot which was getting bigger and bigger. She gasped when she realized it was the Seekers. They were still flying right next to each other but this time in the opposite direction. They dove in a straight vertical above her and towards her, both arms still outstretched, the Golden Snitch still out of grasp.
To Hermione, it was quiet. Her ears tuned out the screams and shouts of the stadium around her. At the corner of her eye she saw the screen flicker to capture the two Seekers in their dive. Vaguely she heard Metaxas say something but she couldn't understand his words. Her whole focus was on the two Seekers racing towards her with a fury.
They were so close now that they were blocking the sun. Their faces were obscured by shadows and yet still their figures grew larger as they approached. She saw one peel away, but yet the other kept getting closer and closer…
She felt the wind knock out from her.
She felt the weight on her lap.
With her mouth opened in shock, she looked down to be met with the greenest eyes she had ever seen. They were wild and shining and yet they remained locked with hers. She saw the scar above those eyes and the dark black hair which partly hid it. She saw the sharp nose and the lips parted below as their owner gasped for breath.
Hermione didn't remember Metaxas roaring into the microphone saying that England had won.
Hermione didn't hear the whole stadium erupt in cheers.
She kept her eyes trained on the face of the man who fell into her lap as he looked at her too. She held Harry Potter's gaze as the people around them went into a frenzy.
She saw those lips slowly curve into a breathtaking smile. Vaguely she saw something gold beating furiously from the corner of her eyes. Was that the Snitch?
His eyes were ablaze with so many emotions. Happiness, relief, interest… There was intensity in there too that she couldn't quite place.
And then Hermione felt something at the back of her head.
The Seeker gently brought her head down.
And he kissed her.
"Now it's time for bed, Sophie," Hermione said.
The little girl on the bed sighed. Those chocolate eyes grew even larger as she looked at Hermione. Her black curls swayed as she shook her head from side to side and her bottom lip was thrust in a full pout. If she didn't stay strong, Hermione knew she would cave.
"But maman," Sophie began. "I want to hear more about how you and daddy met!"
"It's way past your bedtime, love," Hermione insisted. She brushed a stray curl away from her daughter's forehead and kissed her. "You've heard that story a million times before!"
A dramatic sigh escaped Sophie's lips. She brought her stuffed broom closer to her chest. "Yes but I want to hear it again. It's my favourite story!"
Hermione drew the blankets higher and tucked Sophie in bed. "You have a busy day tomorrow, love. You have little league Quidditch in the morning and then it's daddy's game that afternoon. You wouldn't want to be tired for all of that, now would you?" She stroked Sophie's head and leaned closer to her little girl.
Hermione watched her daughter think. Sophie considered her words with pursed lips and squinted eyes. Finally deciding that it would be catastrophic if she was asleep for daddy's game, Sophie finally nodded her head and relaxed. She drew her arms from under her blanket and hugged Hermione. She kissed her mother's cheek. "Okay, I will sleep then. But I want to hear the whole story for bedtime tomorrow!"
Hermione laughed and kissed Sophie again. Her daughter was turning into quite the negotiator and she had a feeling it was due to Tante Amelie's influence. Perhaps she should find another babysitter. "Why don't you get daddy to tell you the story tomorrow evening?" Hermione offered. Sophie smiled and nodded her head enthusiastically. Hermione squeezed her daughter once more and rose from the bed. "I love you, baby. Sweet dreams."
"I love you too, maman," Sophie replied and yawned.
Hermione turned off the bedside lamp casting the room into shadows save for a small night light shaped like a Golden Snitch. She walked to the door and left.
It took her awhile to get to the master suite for she had multiple stops along the hallway. She finally got to the bedroom and entered. She was greeted with the sight of her husband already in bed with a book in his hands. His chest was bare for he was only wearing joggers and his feet were crossed at the ankles as he read. He looked up when he heard her enter and that smile she loved so much lit his face.
"Our little princess finally let you go?" He asked in a baritone voice. He set the book down when she climbed into bed and into his arms. Her arms snaked around his waist as she snuggled into his side.
"Yes, she wanted to hear the story about how you and I met… again," Hermione said. She felt him shake when he laughed.
"That seems to be a favourite around here… Gabe and Bast requested for the same story," he replied. "I think it's the Quidditch."
Hermione sighed and tsked. "Leave it to fate to have me marry a Quidditch player. I didn't even like the game."
Her husband laughed once again and rolled her onto her back. She looked up with mirth in her chocolate eyes as she played with his hair with one hand.
"Well, Mrs. Potter," Harry began. "I sure hope you're a little more accommodating to the game now than you were before. If not the game, then perhaps its players?"
"I might be persuaded," Hermione replied. She looped her hands around his neck and brought him closer.
"Do you know what the twins asked me tonight?" He whispered. He was a hair's breadth away that his words were like light kisses against her lips.
She looked at him with questioning eyes and shook her head.
"They asked if they could have a little brother. Or sister. They said either one would work," Harry said with a grin. He watched his lovely wife burst into laughter underneath him.
"Oh Harry, honestly," was Hermione's only reply to that.
He nuzzled her cheek. "I did say I wanted a big family… they could be their own Quidditch team!"
Hermione snorted. "Right, and they shall be called the Potterhead United."
"I knew you would see my vision," Harry said once again. He cut off another sarcastic remark from his wife by covering her lips with his.
Harry and Hermione set off to make his vision - their vision - come true… with properly placed silencing and locking charms, of course.
They had already been scolded by their five year old before that "practicing their winning cheers" so late at night even if it were under the covers would wake everyone up.
So as to avoid any discontent between future players and their management, Harry and Hermione never again forgot to cast the charms.
The future roster of Potterhead United slept soundly that night.
Fin. (for now.)
Commissioned from Arishatistic.
Blagging: Grabbing any part of an opponent's broom to slow or hinder. Applicable to all players.
Cobbing: Using excessive force with elbows against opponents. Applicable to all players.
Bumphing: Hitting Bludgers towards the crowd to force the referees to stop the game and rush to protect bystanders. Applicable only to Beaters.