The World Cup
Author’s Note: Chapter 10 was edited slightly, the bond with Ginny no longer exists.
Out of habit Harry woke up early the next day and couldn’t get back to sleep no matter how hard he tried. His body was used to doing the chores for the Dursley’s or the magical exercises Ollivander assigned him, and he now had way too much energy in the mornings. Checking the magical box Ollivander gave him, Harry found another elixir waiting for him, along with a potion he knew would taste horrible. Chugging down the vile potion as quickly as he could, Harry wondered how long he’d have to keep drinking these things for.
"You're awake early," Percy commented as he walked into the kitchen.
"I normally start my chores a couple hours before the Dursley's get up. It's kind of a habit now."
"Good parents those Dursley's. I keep telling Molly that she should have more chores for the kids to do, but save for degnoming the garden and cleaning their rooms, she won't hear of it."
Harry wanted to tell him just what type of parents the Dursley's really were, but knew it wouldn't do any good, Percy was just like that sometimes.
"How about you?" Harry asked, realizing it was so early that not even Mr. or Mrs. Weasley were up yet. "What are you doing up this early?"
"Preparing the documents I’ll need for the day. Negotiations are quite stressful at the moment and the early mornings are the only time I can get any peace around here."
"You know," Harry said after a few moments. "My uncle makes a lot of deals by taking clients out for tea, dinner and drinks, the opera, or a golf course. Things like that. He always says that people are more confrontational in the office, but take them out and charm them, and they're much more open towards business." As much as Harry hated to admit it, and he really did hate to admit it, Uncle Vernon was good at his job and had worked hard to earn his position within the company.
"Outside the office you say? A ridiculous notion for meetings in my opinion.” Percy said in a stiff tone.
"The negotiations have stagnated though," he added a minute later. "Perhaps a change of scenery is in order. I'll mention it to Mr. Crouch."
Harry just nodded to him and headed out the door to the Weasley’s backyard. Running through the grasslands and forest that surrounded the Weasley’s home was quite a bit different than he was used to at the Dursley’s. There was a sense of peace and tranquility at being out in nature at such an early hour, he loved it.
Like when he cast spells for Ollivander, Harry let his body continue the run allowing his mind to be free. He was hoping to do things a bit differently this time though. The incident yesterday proved there were more memories than he knew about, and that they'd undoubtedly continue to affect him. He needed to understand them better and find a way to tell the difference between his own memories and those from the future. They all seemed so real. It was only the fact that most the memories were of an older Harry, of things he knew couldn’t have happened yet, that let him know the difference. Could there be others though? Perhaps of an only slightly older Harry that seemed so real he accepted them without question?
Lost in thought Harry wasn't sure how far he'd run or even where he was. By the time he finally made it back to the Weasley's though, Ron was already up in the air with Ginny, Fred and George. Hermione, who’d been reading in the shade of one of the trees, wasted no time in dragging him off to talk.
It turned out Harry had been right in thinking Hermione suspected there was more to his headaches than he admitted. She’d received a few of them herself throughout the year. Besides the ability to go back in time, the Time Turner was also enchanted to protect the wearer from different forms of time disruptions. Some of the enchantments only worked if the Time Turner was touching the skin though, and sometimes during the night it’d slip. He didn't ask, but from the way she tensed at even the mention of them, Harry was pretty sure at least some of the things she saw were like his own visions; horrible.
Having dealt with them first hand, Harry knew all too well how much even a few could bother a person and felt guilty about their fight last year. If all his visions were what he only received from just the one experience playing with time, Harry couldn’t imagine what she must have gone through having used it an entire year. He'd find some way to make it up to her.
Ron and the others seemed to notice he was there finally and called him up for some Quidditch. Though they didn’t hold any sort of competition, since Harry’s Firebolt was much nicer than Charlie’s older Comet, spending a few hours flying was still a lot of fun. Charlie was loads better than the competition at Hogwarts and even took the time to give him some pointers. By slightly changing his position and weight distribution on the broom he could temporarily increase his speed at the at the expense of maneuverability, or increase his maneuverability by losing a bit of stability but still keeping his speed. There were quite a few other little tricks and Harry was amazed by how much more there was to flying than he’d ever thought.
Harry woke up early again the next morning and was surprised to find Charlie sitting at the kitchen table.
"Morning," Charlie said as Harry fixed himself a glass of water.
"Didn't figure you as an early riser. It's still at least an hour or two before sunrise."
"Which would explain why you're up as well?" asked Charlie.
"Good point," Harry admitted as he sat down at the table. "You know, I can go back to bed if you want to get a couple more hours of sleep."
"That see through, huh?"
"There aren't many reasons for anyone to be up at this hour. That, and you're already prepared for a run." Harry said with a gesture towards Charlie’s clothes, including his running trainers.
"I heard you were quick, wouldn't have put those together myself. Percy mentioned your early morning run to mom last night. Don't worry about going back to bed though, I'm used to being up early. At the preserve we rotate shifts in order to keep a 24 hour watch. Besides," Charlie added with a grin. "This works out better for me. I can head up to my room early tonight claiming sleep, and then Apparate out to meet a few friends."
Harry just nodded to him, as he wondered what the freedom of being to Apparate someplace whenever he wanted would be like. The idea of seeing Katie again was nice.
"I can see why you like this." Charlie commented a few minutes later as they jogged through a path in the forest. "It's peaceful, reminds me of when I first went to Romania for my internship 10 years ago. The sound of nature was so different from anything I'd ever heard before. Back then the Burrow was even nosier than it is now, if you can believe that. Of course Ginny and Ron were only three and four years old, and the twins only six."
"What were they like?" Harry asked.
"Any of them really. Ron, Ginny, the twins, Percy. Just growing up here with little kids around."
"Different," Charlie told him. "When Bill and I were home in the summer I'd help watch Percy and the twins, while Bill was responsible for Ginny and Ron."
"You had to watch the twins?” Harry asked, imagining all the trouble those two could cause. “That must've been an adventure."
"Not as much as you might think. They weren't trouble makers then, that didn't start until Hogwarts. Percy was their best friend and role model since the beginning. I used to joke about Percy having three shadows. They hated it when he'd go off to Hogwarts without them though, and spent two years looking forward to finally being able to go themselves. I think they expected everything to go back to the way it was, but Percy was in third year by then and had friends of his own. The pranks were their way of trying to get his attention. In a way it worked, just not like the expected.”
Charlie went silent a moment, before adding. “That's why they pick on him so much you know. The twins don't actually hate him. It's just how they get the attention of their older brother, or at least that's how it started anyway. I'm really not too sure about those two anymore. They’ve changed over the years and seem to actually believe their own lies about the pranks. It also helps explain Percy a bit. The professor's held him responsible for his younger brothers, so every time the twins pulled a prank, Percy had to be that much more above the board."
The next few days were spent similarly. The Weasley’s seemed to have some sort of agreement not to mention what happened the first day and, while this would normally annoy him, he was actually quite thankful for it. The twins also seemed to be a bit wearier about their so called jokes. They still pulled a few prank on everyone from their mother to Hermione, but neither Ginny nor he. Not even a single teasing word had been said to either of them since that first day. If he’d known that would happen, Harry would have thrown them against the wall ages ago.
“You’re too bloody cheerful for this early in the morning.” Ron muttered as he made his way downstairs the next morning.
“Too right,” Fred or George yawned.
He noticed Hermione and Ginny seemed to be in an unusually grumpy mood this morning as well. Sure it was early, but still… “How can you all be grouchy on a day like today? We’re going to the World Cup!”
The dirty looks thrown his way were enough to keep him from making any more comments. Not that they did anything to dampen his spirits.
“Well, what d’you think Harry?” Mr. Weasley asked, gesturing towards the seven sets of clothing he selected for the rest of the Weasley’s to wear. “We’re suppose to blend in as Muggles.”
Harry wasn’t sure if he should laugh or cry at the selection of clothes. A quick glance towards Hermione showed that she wasn’t fairing much better. Now he wasn’t much on fashion himself, but even Harry knew that the amount of reds, purples, greens and yellows before him would draw the attention to every Muggle they passed.
“Um… They’re bright sir, but wouldn’t it be easier just to cast a quick notice-me-not charm on normal robes?”
“Well yes,” he admitted, “but where’s the fun in that?”
Mr. Weasley smile was so genuine Harry couldn’t tell him how horrible they’d all stand out. Besides, it wasn’t like he’d be wearing any of it. In a whisper he told Bill to cast a notice-me-not charm on all the clothes anyway.
“What d’you mean?” asked Bill. “I thought they were pretty spiffy myself.”
He just stared at Bill a moment. Mr. Weasley he could understand as he was already a bit weird, but Bill?
“Ah…. Okay.” Harry said, hoping there wouldn’t be many people about so early in the morning.
The walk to the nearby village didn’t take all that long, at least from Harry’s perspective, though he could tell most the others weren’t handling the distance nearly as well.
“Over here, Arthur!” A figured called as the group trotted up the hilltop.
"This is Amos Diggory, everyone," said Mr. Weasley. "He works for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. And I think you know his son, Cedric?”
"Hi," said Cedric, looking around at them all.
Amos Diggory peered good-naturedly around at the group. “Going with the new Muggle fashion I see. Very nice, blend right in. Went with the more tradition look ourselves.”
New Muggle fashion? Traditional look? Perhaps if we lived several hundred years ago. They looked like they just walked out of the Renaissance Era.
“All these yours, Arthur?"
"Oh no, only the redheads," said Mr. Weasley, pointing out his children. "This is Hermione, friend of Ron's - and Harry, another friend -"
"Merlin's beard," said Amos Diggory, his eyes widening. "Harry? Harry Potter?"
"Err - yeah," said Harry, feeling uneasy from meeting Cedric and Mr. Diggory, though he couldn’t figure out why.
"Ced's talked about you, of course," said Amos Diggory. "Told us all about playing against you last year... I said to him, I said - Ced, that'll be something to tell your grandchildren, that will.... You beat Harry Potter!"
“Harry fell off his broom, Dad," he muttered. “I told you... it was an accident...."
"Yes, but you didn't fall off, did you?" roared Amos genially, slapping his son on his back. "Always modest, our Ced, always the gentleman... but the best man won, I'm sure Harry'd say the same, wouldn't you, eh? One falls off his broom, one stays on, you don't need to be a genius to tell which one's the better flier!"
“You’re right sir.” Harry admitted. As much as he may hate it, even Wood knew Harry lost that game. “Even if the Dementors hadn’t attacked, Cedric would’ve won. He’s a great Seeker and I’m looking forward to our next re-match. Too bad there won’t be any Quidditch this year.”
“What?” Nearly all the redheads and Cedric shouted.
“You all haven’t heard?” Harry asked, having figured Lee or one of the others would’ve filled the twins in. “They canceled Quidditch because there’s going to be some sort of big event involving like five or six other countries at Hogwarts this year.”
“Where’d you hear this son?” Amos Diggory asked as the others were muttering amongst themselves.
“At the World Cup. Some of my friends have been camped there the last few weeks, the rumors floating all over.”
“I knew they were up to something, but never expected them to bring the trial back. Thank you son, I’m going have to talk to a few people. Author, I’ll need you do the same.”
“Of course.” Mr. Weasley responded instantly, “I have a hard time believing they’d bring that back, not with all the dangers, but I’ve known Harry a few years now. He’s a reliable sort when it comes to things like this.”
“Ah. Here comes the Fawcett’s, they’re the last we’re waiting for.” Mr. Diggory said as Harry glanced over to see a group of five walking towards them. “Lucy, over here girl!”
“I thought you were already at the World Cup?” Harry asked Sarah, a Hufflepuff girl in his year, as the adults started talking amongst themselves.
“No, I was there with Hanna and her family. They’d just arrived that morning.” Sarah replied.
“I know how that feels. One moment I’m talking with Mr. Bell and Lee Jordan, the next we’re being thanked for volunteering to help setup everything for Katie, Angelina, and Alicia.”
“From what I heard you were well thanked though,” she said in a teasing voice that caused Harry to blush.
“Alright everyone,” said Mr. Diggory, “gather around. The Portkey’s field should cover the top of the hill, but better safe than sorry I say. I’ll activate it as soon as we’re all ready.”
Harry felt as though a hook just behind his navel had been suddenly jerked irresistibly forward. They were all speeding forward in a howl of wind and infinite blackness. Suddenly the noise died and Harry found himself standing perfectly in front of a pair of tired and frumpy-looking wizards. Looking around he found Ron, Hermione, and most the others either sprawled out on the ground or just barely standing. He smiled.
If it wasn’t for Ollivander’s lessons he’d have been the same way. All you had to do was trust the magic. It was when you tried to compensate for the magic, in this case trying to force yourself to stay standing, that you ran into problems.
Making sure that his invisibility cloak had stayed hidden, Harry took a look around and was stunned by what he saw. They were on a circular platform with a highly polished, dark wood floor inlaid which overlooked the Quidditch field for the World Cup by a good two hundred feet above the ground. What he saw earlier this summer, and thought big at the time, was nothing compared to what he was looking at now.
Pretty much everywhere he looked were fields full of tents. The rather chaotic layout Harry remembered from the ground actually made a great deal of sense from up here; the tent locations all spiraling outward from the center, the Quidditch Pitch. The rest of the group was up and looking over the sides in shock as well, even the adults seemed impressed by what they saw. The ride down on the lift was just as impressive as the platform and Harry spent his time staring at the masses of people everywhere.
Thankfully, the plots for box seat holders were separated from the rest and easy to get to. The same could not be said for setting up the tent however as Mr. Weasley decided to do things the Muggle way. Still, in less than an hour the large four bedroom tent had been erected and they were finally getting ready to head out into the fair.
“Arthur,” a voice called out as they arrived to the main section of the fair. “There you are!”
Looking towards the voice calling them from the entrance of the main section of the fair Harry saw a stiff, elderly man in a well-fitted suit.
"This is Bartemius Crouch, everyone," Mr. Weasley said as they approached the uptight and serious looking man. "He heads the Department of International Magical Cooperation at the Ministry.”
"Ah, Potter.” Crouch said, putting our his hand for Harry to shake. “Young Mr. Weasley told me your idea for moving the meetings out of the office. Ingenious! Worked wonders my boy.”
“And this,” Mr. Weasley said, introducing them all to the middle aged foreigner who was next to Mr. Crouch, “is Ali Bashir, heir of the Bashir family, designers of magical carpets for a great many years.”
"Flying Carpets?” Harry asked as he thought back to his encounter with the creature in Ollivander’s house. “Can you make those carpets that can fly on their own and almost seem to react to the rider’s mind?”
Ali Bashir’s eyes widened for a moment before he grinned. “I am most impressed Mr. Potter. Very few Westerners know of the napšutu carpets, let alone one so young. Where did you hear about one?”
Harry he wasn’t about to tell him about the vision, or whatever that had been. “I read about one,” he said instead. “Some villagers were being attack by a magical creature when an old man saved them. The author, I don’t remember who anymore, went into detail about the fight though. That’s what interested me. The man fought from a flying carpet that seemed to react as if it was one with the rider, and even came to him when he needed it.”
“Very interesting, that must have been before carpets were banned of course.” Mr. Crouch said, his sharp eyes glancing once towards the foreigner before focusing on Mr. Weasley again. “Which brings us to you Arthur. Ali here was just asking me about your embargo on flying carpets.”
"I’m sorry Ali, but I sent you an owl on this subject several times before. It’s not a personal decision, carpets are defined as Muggle Artifacts by the Registry of Proscribed Charmable Objects. As such, the sale or use of a flying carpet is prohibited.”
“Actually sir,” Harry interjects. “I don’t know much about that Registry but a carpet is no more Muggle than a broom. I’m kind of partial to my Firebolt of course, but I could easily see a Flying carpet for a family with children, especially if you put on a Muggle notice-me-not charm on it. Wouldn’t it have been nice for the walk we did this morning? I was actually kind of surprised that the magical world didn’t use flying carpets. The Muggles have had them in their stories for ages. I’m don’t remember that much about it myself, but it’s quite well accepted in the Muggle world.”
“Flying carpets have appeared in literature since the Biblical times.” It was Hermione, in her regular position beside him, who answered in a lecturing tone that Harry and Ron knew so well. “In the 10th century BC King Solomon's throne sat on a magical carpet, a gift from the Queen of Sheba, that was large enough for his entire entourage. Though it wasn't until around 800 AD, with the popularity of One Thousand and One Nights, that the idea was brought to the west. Also, Russian folk lore tells that the hag Baba Yaga supplied Ivan the Fool, a lucky but simple-minded young man, with a flying carpet. Even the newer American culture tells of magical carpets. In Mark Twain's "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven", flying carpets were used to travel throughout Heaven.”
“You don’t say.” Mr. Weasley said, intrigued to learn more about the Muggle world. Ali Bashir, however, sensed an opening and moved in to renew his protests before Arthur could ask any more.
“Alright, what’s going on Harry?” Hermione asked in a moment of uncharacteristic bluntness as they made their way out into the Fair.
“What do you mean?”
“What’s happened to you? You dealt with Mr. Diggory and Mr. Crouch admirably, even when Diggory nearly insulted you. What was that about your idea helping Mr. Crouch? How did you know so much about the Flying Carpets, and since when do you speak your mind like that? You just gave them The-Boy-Who-Lived’s endorsement on selling carpets here. To put it bluntly, when did you learn tact?”
“Yeah mate,” Ron added. “And how is it you knew that Hufflepuff bloke and the girl back there?”
“I don’t know Cedric all that well really, we’ve just talked a few times at school. We’ve both been playing Quidditch for the last three years remember, and we’ve had classes with Sarah before mate. I saw her hanging out with some friends of Katie’s at a party here over the summer, so I just thought she’d been camping there too.”
“As for the tact,” Harry said, turning towards Hermione. “I guess I just sort of picked it up. I haven’t had a chance to tell you everything that happened over the summer, but basically Ollivander has been helping me a lot more than I let on. One of the things he kind of drove home was that it’d be smart to get to know people better, or at least learn how to really talk to people. It’s not like I had a lot of practice talking with the Dursley’s, so I spent some time talking with the regulars in the Alley. Honestly, it was kind of fun once I started to get to know them. It’s amazing just how different everyone is once you look past the basics.”
“What else did he help you with?” Hermione asked, as Ron asked him why he couldn’t say anything at the Burrow.
“I’ll tell everything but we’ll need time and privacy, so it’ll have to wait till Hogwarts. This really can’t be overheard. Besides, we’re at the World Cup! So come on, let’s go explore some."
The entire area was filled with people ranging from tiny babies clutched in their mothers arms, to old men who could give Dumbledore a run for his money with the size of their beards. Going through all the different booths of the World Cup was like nothing Harry ever imagined before. Merchants and Peddlers from throughout the world were all there trying to sell their wares.
Quite a few of the booths were set up for entertainment as well. Many with games and prizes, or rides and magical simulations close to what Harry imagined a modern-day theme park would have. The Wizarding world was generally hundreds of years behind the Muggle world, but they had all this? He was even more shocked when he mentioned it to Hermione and learned that fairs had been around for a lot longer than he ever suspected.
“Amusement parks can be traced clear back to medieval times,” Hermione explained, eager to feed his interest on the subject. “Pleasure gardens were often built on the outskirts large of cities, both Muggle and Magical, and sometimes had as many as 20,000 visitors in a single night. Live entertainment, games, dancing, and fireworks were common among them for many years until the advent of railways in the mid-1800’s. There are still a couple in operation today though, one in Copenhagen caters to both Magical and Muggle tourists and is the oldest amusement park in the world.”
Unfortunately, the World Cup started at noon, so the three of them only had a few hours to look around at all the amazing booths before they had to head back. Still, they each managed to play a few games and Ron even bought a Victor Krum figurine, while Hermione bought two books from a foreign wizard. Harry had eyed the rather ingenious Omnioculars but at 10 galleons, they were far too expensive for what he needed.
When it was time they all met back at the tent and made their way through the crowds towards the stadium. Once in sight of it, Harry couldn't help but stop as he looked upon it in awe. Though he could see only a fraction of the immense walls surrounding the field, he could tell that ten Hogwarts would easily fit inside it.
"Seats two hundred thousand,” Mr. Weasley said with a spot of pride in his voice as he lead the way toward the nearest entrance. “Nearly every member of the Ministry worked on it at some point over the last year.”
Harry knew they would have good seats, but once they arrived he couldn’t believe how great they really were. The box was located exactly halfway between the goal posts and only slightly higher than where the Seekers would be looking for the Snitch. To Harry, this was the absolute perfect spot.
The box gradually filled in around them, but Harry was too busy looking around enormous Stadium to pay attention. That was, at least, until he heard his name being called. Looking back he saw the Minister of Magic himself, Cornelius Fudge, walking towards him.
It was rather annoying, Harry decided, to be introduced around like he was some sort of object. Still, the Minister did get him out of trouble last year, so he put up with the clumsy introduction. It was during while Fudge tried to introduce Malfoy to the Bulgarian Minister that Harry saw something. If he hadn’t worked so much on his perception, he probably would’ve written it off as his imagination. He had worked on it a great deal though and knew what he saw. For only the barest of moments, while Fudge was massacring the introduction, a flash of irritation and indignation had crossed the Bulgarian Minister’s face. He understood what was being said!
“Does he really believe you don’t understand him?” Harry asked after Malfoy and Fudge went to meet some other wizard. While nowhere near as big as Hagrid, the Bulgarian was still one of the larger men he’d ever seen.
A slight smile graced the man’s face before he spoke in a heavily accented, but quite understandable voice. “Never underestimate the arrogance of a Brit.”
Hermione gasped, but Harry wasn’t sure if it was because of the backhanded insult, or the fact that the Bulgarian spoke English. And, after taking a look at Fudge being all chummy with Malfoy, he didn't know which should insult him more; what the man said, or the fact that it was true.
"This is one of my best friends Hermione Granger. Easily the most brilliant student in Hogwarts, and probably one of the smartest witches her age in the world.” said Harry, knowing full well the effect flattery had on her and enjoying her blush. It was nice not to be the one blushing for once. He’d lost count how many times Katie had caused him to blush this summer.
After another rather annoying call of his name by Fudge Harry rather reluctantly left the Bulgarian to go meet a few more VIPs. He wanted to introduce Hermione to them as well, if for no other reason than to shove it in Malfoy’s face that Hermione was far smarter than his son, but found she had stayed behind to talk to the Bulgarian Minister.
Thankfully, after about 15 minutes of being stared at by different witches and wizards, Harry was saved. Ludo Bagman, the famous former Wasp player, started the proceedings by introducing the Bulgarian Mascots.
The Veela were exotic and amazingly beautiful, but Harry had the odd feeling that he’d seen them somewhere before. Shrugging it off, he watched as they danced. The dance itself wasn’t terribly erotic, but Harry and couldn’t help but feel turned on by it. The faster and faster they went, the worse it became. Not the best thing in the world to have happen while standing next to your best friend, who also happened to be a girl. Slouching forward a bit, Harry tried to casually adjust himself. Thankfully, Hermione was too busy stopping Ron from jumping out of the box to notice.
The Irish introduction was just as impressive as the Veelas. A giant green and gold comet circled the stadium before breaking into two pieces, each heading for the opposing goal posts. The rainbow that appeared as the passed was cool, but the formation of a great, shimmering, shamrock that exploded over heard only to rain down thousands of little leprechauns was amazing. Harry, like the rest of the stadium, was deeply impressed by the huge display of magic.
The next few hours were a blur for Harry, having never seen Quidditch played like this before. Every player was pushing their limits all the time, there were no slow spells, no stopping to catch up on what was happening. Even after three years of playing with three great Chasers, Harry had a difficult time keeping up with the Quaffle as it was passed up and down the pitch. The Chasers dived, jinxed, faked, rolled, and passed at amazing speeds. Incredibly complex plays that Harry knew of, but had never seen before, were done with split second precision.
The Bludgers screamed across the field, never where a player was but rather where they would be. They rarely hit however, as the Beaters for both teams seemed to be nearly telepathic. It was almost like there was a completely separate game being played just between those four. Even with such amazing Beaters, a few got threw and easily interrupted the play, even forcing a couple drops.
The Seekers dove repeatedly, feinting time after time, to the cheers of the crowd. Harry knew what it looked like to be on a Firebolt, to be pushing such fast speeds while constantly seeking for the Snitch, but he’d never seen it from the perspective of a fan before. It was truly a sight. Krum and Lynch were little more the blurs at the slower times, and Harry was quite certain they passed by without him even seeing more than once.
Ireland managed to get a lead of around 70 points by the end of the second hour, but Bulgaria was making them fight for every point. There was something odd about the way Bulgaria was playing, Harry just couldn’t put his finger on it. It was after one specific play near the beginning of the third hour, where a Bulgaria chaser aloud the Quaffle to fall on a bad pass that Harry knew something wasn’t right. The way the team reacted was wrong. They were still playing a defensive game even when they were down by 90 points!
It was Charlie who recognized Bulgaria’s strategy. They weren’t going for the goals, they were wearing Ireland out, and fast! Charlie screamed it out, knowing it was futile and that the team wouldn’t be able to hear him.
Harry, alerted by Charlie’s yell, also realized what was happening and could do nothing but watch. There was nothing Ireland could really do against it but let it play out anyways. The only hope for them now was to catch the snitch quickly. Unfortunately, as the fourth hour progressed it became painfully obvious that Charlie was right. Ireland was still playing strong, but the minuet differences caused by the fatigue was enough for Bulgaria to make their move. And make their move they did.
About halfway through the fifth hour, with Bulgaria behind by only 20 points, Lynch took off into a steep dive. Most people assumed it was a feint, but Harry was sure it was the real thing. “He’s seen the Snitch!” Harry shouted! If Lynch could get the Snitch first, Ireland would win!
Unfortunately, Krum had been paying attention as well and was on his tail the entire way down.
Realizing that it wasn’t a feint, the entire stadium was on its feet yelling and cheering for their team. As they hurtled down toward the ground Krum managed to draw level with Lynch. Neck and neck they approached the ground at breakneck speeds. At the last possible second both seekers grasped at the air and brought their brooms up, trying to break before hitting.
It didn’t work. Both Seekers hit the ground and went tumbling a good several meters. The stadium erupted into chaos, everyone shouting trying to figure out who had the snitch. Finally, after a few long moments, Krum’s hand went up into the air. He had the Snitch. Bulgaria had won.
The line to leave the stadium was long and slow moving but they were all laughing and having too much of a good time to really care. By the time they finally reached their tents everyone was ravenous, not having eaten since early that morning, and they all gorged themselves on the delicious food Mrs. Weasley had packed for them. Even Hermione, who generally preferred salads, was affected by the festive atmosphere and looked past the rabbit food to enjoy the excellent meat and treats.
After countless servings of food Harry and Ron sat on the couch in the main room, their robes and ties draped over the back and shirts partially unbuttoned, lounging and joining in the conversation about the World Cup. After a couple hours of rehashing every move from the World Cup though, as well as a few stories from Charlie and Bill about a previous World Cup they'd gone to, the lethargy set in and everyone slowly migrated towards their beds. This was exactly what Harry had been waiting for. Soon he’d be able to sneak out and surprise Katie.
The minutes ticked by slowly, driving Harry nuts as he stared up at the drag ceiling of the magically enlarged tent. Finally though, after what he swore to be three or four hours, but was actually less than one, Harry was certain that Ron, Fred and George were all fast asleep.
Author’s Note: It’s been a long while since I last updated this story, so please let me know what you liked, didn’t like, or thought needed to be changed. This chapter ended up becoming way too long, already reaching 10,000 words, so I broke it up into two so I could post it sooner. The second half, which finishes out the summer and goes through the arrival of the foreign schools, should be posted within the next week.