The Quidditch World Cup
'It's time,' Arthur said, leading the group into the forest.
They walked quickly, excitement pulsing through every part of them.
'Prime seats!' said the Ministry witch at the entrance when she checked their tickets. 'Top Box! Straight upstairs, Arthur, as high as you can go.'
They reached the box, and took their seats in the front row.
'Oh, this is going to be good,' Elizabeth said to Fred, looking down at the pitch. 'I've heard Bulgaria's seeker is fabulous.'
'He's amazing,' Fred agreed, looking around the box.
'I heard he's really young, too,' George added. 'Just a couple years older than us. He was recruited while he was still in school.'
'Oh, really…' Elizabeth said, but before she could continue, the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge entered.
'Ah, Elizabeth, and Harry! Good, good,' he said, shaking hands with both as Percy looked jealously on. Behind him, the Bulgarian Minister was looking over at them, casually interested. 'Harry Potter, you know. Harry Potter… of come on now, you know who he is… the boy who survived You-Know-Who… you do know who he is-'
Elizabeth muttered in the Minister's ear, and suddenly the Bulgarian wizard spotted Harry's scar and started gabbling loudly and excitedly, pointing at it. She smiled over at Harry and rolled her eyes, and spoke to the Minister in rapid Bulgarian for a moment while Fudge, completely ignoring the multi-lingual Elizabeth, told Harry, 'I'm no great shakes at languages; I need Barty Crouch for this sort of thing. Ah, I see his house-elf is saving him a seat… Good job too, these Bulgarian blighters have been trying to cadge all the best places… ah, and here's Lucious!'
As he, Ron, and Hermione turned quickly, Harry heard Elizabeth's voice stop its rapid speech, and then heard her approach and stand behind him.
'Ah, Fudge,' said Mr Malfoy, holding out his hand as he reached the Minister of Magic. 'How are you? I don't think you've met my wife, Narcissa? Or our son, Draco?'
'How do you do, how do you do?' said Fudge, smiling and bowing to Mrs Malfoy. 'And allow me to introduce you to Mr Oblansk – Obalonsk – Mr – well…'
Elizabeth shot a wary smile over to the Bulgarian minister as Fudge attempted to pronounce his name, and he returned the gesture with a large, toothy grin.
Mr Malfoy's lip curled as he set his eyes upon Hermione, and as they strayed away, they came to rest on Elizabeth, whose seat was almost directly in front of Narcissa's. 'Ah, Elizabeth,' he breezed, bowing over her hand. 'How are you?'
'Excellent, Lucius, thank you. Narissa, Draco, how good to see you again.'
'Likewise,' Draco drawled, kissing Elizabeth cordially on the cheek following Narcissa.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione watched as Elizabeth and the Malfoys exchanged pleasantries.
After the Malfoys had taken their seats, Harry leaned over Hermione and Ginny's seats, and asked Elizabeth, 'What was that all about?'
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and said quietly, 'Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Besides, he can't very well snub me, nor I him. He can the Weasleys, because they're – no offence, Ron – but they're not rich. I, on the other hand, am. And I'm pureblood, so they can't just cut me off. Besides, I have just as much political influence as Lucius does, and he knows it.' She smiled wickedly, winked, and said, 'And here's Ludo!'
'Everyone ready?' Ludo Bagman exclaimed as he bound into the box. 'Minister – ready to go?'
'Ready when you are, Ludo,' Fudge replied from his seat next to the Bulgarian minister.
'Ladies and gentlemen… welcome! Welcome to the final of the four hundred and twenty-second Quidditch World Cup!' Harry glanced over Elizabeth, and saw she was screaming just as loud as the twins, and clapping along and laughing. 'And now, without further ado, allow me to introduce… the Bulgarian National Team Mascots!'
'I wonder what they've brought,' Mr Weasley said, leaning forward in his seat. 'Aaah!' he said, whipping off his glasses and wiping them hurriedly on his robes. 'Veela!'
'Arthur!' Elizabeth cried, laughing. 'What would Molly say?'
'What are veel-?' Harry started, but as a hundred veela glided onto the field, his question was answered.
Charlie stuffed his fingers in his ears, and kept his eyes on Elizabeth.
'Don't you want to watch them dance?' she mouthed, gesturing to the beautiful veela on the pitch.
'I don't need them; you're much prettier.'
'Liar,' she said, blushing. She leaned back in her seat as Mr Weasley reached over her to tug Ron's hat out of his hands. 'I've always loved leprechauns.'
Indeed, in the sky above the stadium there was a shimmering green shamrock, from which gold was now falling.
'And now, ladies and gentlemen, kindly welcome – the Bulgarian National Quidditch Team! I give you – Dimitrov!' Bagman cried over the applause.
As she clapped, Elizabeth told Charlie, 'Ah, if only you hadn't gone off chasing dragons, you could have been out there winning one for England!'
Charlie laughed genially and clapped along while Bagman introduced the rest of the team. 'Ivanova! Qograf! Levski! Vulchanov! Volkov! Aaaaaaaand – Krum!'
'I wonder how long he had to practice that,' Bill laughed over the noise.
'And now, please greet – the Irish National Quidditch Team!' The noise almost knocked the viewers in the Top Box over as Bagman called out, 'Presenting – Connolly! Ryan! Troy! Mullet! Moran! Quigley! Aaaaaaand – Lynch!' As seven green blurs shot out over the field, the stadium exploded with cheers. 'And here, all the way from Egypt, our referee, acclaimed Chariwizard of the International Association of Quidditch, Hassan Mostafa!' Striding out onto the pitch was a small, thin man, wearing gold robes and carrying a large wooden crate. And as he kicked it open, Bagman cried, 'Theeeeeeeeeeeey're OFF!'
And the game began.
'IRELAND WINS! KRUM GETS THE SNITCH – BUT IRELAND WINS – good lord, I don't think any of us were expecting that!'
Everyone laughed as Fred and George grinned absurdly at each other, realizing they had just won their bet.
Then, from behind Harry came a gloomy voice speaking with a heavy Bulgarian accent. 'Vell, ve fought bravely.' It was the Bulgarian Minister for Magic.
'You can speak English!' Fudge cried, outraged. 'And you've been letting me mime things all day!'
'Veil, it vos very funny,' the Bulgarian Minister replied, his eyes moving over to Elizabeth, who was trying to conceal her giggles.
'And as the Irish team performs a lap of honour, flanked by their mascots, the Quidditch World Cup itself is brought into the Top Box!' roared Bagman. 'Let's have a really loud hand for the gallant losers – Bulgaria!...'