The rules of Quidditch are very simple.
Seven players on a team. One Keeper, one Seeker, two Beaters, and three Chasers. One pitch. Six goal hoops. Four balls in the game. Two Bludgers, one Quaffle, and one Golden Snitch.
The Chasers try to get the Quaffle through one of the three opposing goal hoops. The Keeper guards the hoops. The two Bludgers are bewitched to try and knock the players off their brooms, and it's the Beaters' duty to protect their team from them and hit them back towards the opposing players.
It is the Seeker's job to catch the Golden Snitch. Which is easier said than done.
My position on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team may not be the most glamourous—I'm the first to admit it—but it is definitely vital. While the Keeper is keeping, the Seeker seeking, and the Chasers chasing, Brittany Kennicot and I are doing our level best to prevent the Bludgers from injuring our teammates. I am a Beater.
I make my way quickly towards the Hogwarts pitch, having decided just to carry my Quidditch robes in a huge bundle so as not to be late for practice. It's only early October, but we've already been meeting twice a week under our current captain, Ethan Chambers. I'm starting to regret that bundle decision now as the pouring rain continues to soak me and everything I'm carrying.
I hear myself drop something as I jog down the familiar beaten path. Coming to a halt and turning around, I see a shin guard in the mud, and groan. It's slowly being carried down the hill by tiny rivers of rain, but I know I can get to it before it's completely out of my grasp.
I trudge over to it, fighting uphill against the slick angle of grass and mud. I actually manage to pick it up without sending myself head-first into the sludge, but when I stand again, there's a bright flash as an unseen force rumbles and tears the air around me. I shriek and my arms go up, sending my freshly-cleaned uniform and Quidditch pads flying through the air. Oh, if only I knew a spell to fix these kinds of things, I think woefully, taking a second just to breathe. I bend to pick up a stray elbow pad when I hear the sound of someone else's boots making little splats.
"I never knew you had brontophobia, Chris," a girl laughs.
I look up and see Kendall Forge, a third-year Chaser on my team, walking towards me with a bright red umbrella. She grins widely and gathers my Quidditch cloak right away, which is a few feet away from me. I can sense the unspoken agreement between us that we're going to fix the situation together.
I smile back but don't respond, too focused on picking up my mess. We work together for a couple of minutes, and when we think we've got everything, we both huddle under her umbrella and head towards the pitch without a word.
When we get to the pitch and approach the arch to the locker rooms, I realize that we must be at least ten minutes late by now, and sigh quietly. I brace myself and enter. I see that the rest of the team is sat on benches, facing away from us, and they're listening to Ethan explain a new play. I clear my throat to signify our arrival.
Ethan stops talking and looks up slowly, and I hear the creak of wooden benches as everyone turns to look at me.
"Thank you for joining us, Chris," he glowers. The booming thunder outside intensifies his remark almost comically. Almost.
"And Kendall," I add, allowing her to enter as well.
"Kendall," he emphasises, "had got permission to be late."
I look to her, and she smiles at me almost apologetically, as if she's sorry she can't share the blame.
"I'm sorry, Ethan." I drop my eyes to a spot on the floor. "As you were saying?"
"Actually, we were just finished," he says. He claps once and says in a louder voice, "Everyone get changed."
There are multiple complaints and groans about the weather, but everyone eventually stands and begins to ready themselves for practice.
As I put on my Quidditch equipment, Ethan stands by and does his best to brief me on the new play. I mostly pay attention, but I'm partly zoned out as he rants on about Quaffles and Snitches and broomsticks and Chasers.
When we finally get outside, the rain has let up to a light shower, allowing tiny patches of sunlight to glow through the weakening points in the rainclouds. Thank Merlin. I'm like a temperamental cat—I don't like to get wet.
However, when we take off on our brooms, I quickly realise that I'll be soaked just as quickly as I was on my journey to the pitch. Oh well. I can take it.
"Everyone in position!" Ethan calls from his spot on the ground. He's knelt before the notorious brown Quidditch trunk, his usually well-styled blond hair stuck in dark, wet ropes to his forehead. He opens the trunk, first unsnapping the Golden Snitch. It flits out of sight almost immediately.
"Releasing the Bludgers!"
Ethan unsnaps both restraints at once, ducking away immediately. They launch themselves out of the trunk and into the air, one already heading straight towards Kendall.
"Where the hell is that Snitch?" I hear someone shout behind me in an American accent.
Kendall catches sight of the Bludger and promptly ducks, allowing it to soar directly at me instead. With a sound crack of my bat, I knock it to the other side of the pitch. I look left...right...the other one's not visible right now.
I hear a girl's high-pitched squeal, but before I can identify where it's coming from, the source herself blows past me in a blurred streak of red and gold. A Bludger races after her a half-second later, but I don't realise the situation until I'm hit by the wind in their wake.
I veer left after them, hoping I can set the Bludger off its course before anyone gets injured. When I'm about twenty feet off of its tail, I can finally make out through the rain the name on the girl's sodden cloak—d'Arca. Madeline, a second-year transfer from Salem. One of only three people who had tried out for Gryffindor Seeker. Never played Quidditch in her life, but she'd somehow made the cut.
She tries weaving random patterns through the air, possibly to disorient the Bludger, but to no avail. In fact, she just ends up practically launching herself off her broom in the process. I lean forward with my bat, ready to strike the Bludger away from her—it's a yard away—have I ever gone this fast before?—wait, what is she—
I angle directly upwards just in time to hear a raucous crash, followed by a wail and an uneven ripping noise. I can't see what's happening, but my imagination provides plenty of detail as I speed over the towering stand in front of me—the one I nearly crashed into a moment ago. I can only hope she's not hurt too badly as I try to slow down and regain stability up here.
Shortly after, there's a muted thud and a whimper. Now I'm steady enough, and I begin to fly back to the ground.
When I land a minute later, she's already being carried off the pitch.