Quidditch Excursion
by Seagull Laridae

A/N: Pepsi is the truth. Pepsi is the truth. *looks around* What? Oh, whoopsie! *clears throat* Hello, and welcome to another METMA challenge fic. I won the last one! Yay! This one still sort of runs on from the last one... somehow... Some OOC stuff, as usual – no, no Jewish McGonagall this time (hey Mandy, where’s the Hebrew?) – but some OOC stuff anyway... oh, and I nearly forgot the disclaimer again, but HP belong to JK and not ME. To the Ron-lovers, I apologise in advance for the skirt, but if you want to know what I mean you’ll just have to read the story, ‘kay?

“I trust you will all behave yourselves on this trip. You are very privileged to be here, and if I hear about ANY of you acting up you can rest assured that you will be sent back to Hogwarts IMMEDIATELY.” Madam Hooch looked very fierce as she said this last, and the Gryffindor Quidditch team and their supporters quailed under her glare. Then her expression softened. Smiling again, she said, “But I hope you all have fun!” and waved them towards the entrance of the stadium, then headed herself for the commentator’s booth and a nice hot coffee.

“Have fun? We’re in Australia, on an excursion to see how different countries handle the concealment of Quidditch pitches, we get to play Quidditch against the Hawthorn Hustlers, and best of all, Snape is half a planet away from us. How could we NOT have fun?” Ron Weasley asked to the general agreement of all present as they wandered into the stadium.

“I’m glad you guys got to come along,” said Harry Potter. “Telling Madam Hooch you were going to be our cheerleaders was a stroke of genius. She believed you, too.”

Ron nodded. “Yeah. I guess you’re right.” He tugged on the bottom of his red skirt with one hand. “Does this make my thighs look fat?”

“Ron, for the four thousandth time, no, it doesn’t,” Katie Bell said. “Those knee socks make your ankles look bony, though.”

Ron hopped on one foot as he unsuccessfully tried to hitch up his drooping socks. “Oh, pumpkin juice!” he swore.

“Here,” said Hermione Granger, “let me fix that.” She dropped to one knee in front of Ron, and as she fixed his sock, her hands brushed against his bare knee, sending a tingle down his spine and making all the R/H shippers go “Awwww!”.

The group, which consisted of the Quidditch team plus Ron, Hermione, Lavender Brown, Neville Longbottom, and Parvati Patil (the cheerleaders), straggled across the ground towards the members’ rooms. This, they had been told by the club president (Bruce, he’s in it more later), was where they could find the Hawthorn Hustlers team and find out about the history of Quidditch in Australia in the Archive Room.

“This bloody wind’s playing havoc with my ‘do,” Ron complained as they reached the centre of the field and stood for a moment in the central circle, feeling the general Quidditch “vibe” and revelling in it. “Anyone got any gel?”

Katie took a quick glance at him. “Not worth it,” was her verdict. “Come on, let’s go, team!” And she strode off ahead, the team and the others wandering along behind her.

The wind was still getting into Ron’s hair, and by the time they had reached the shelter of the doorway into the clubrooms, it was standing on end wildly.

“My hair... my skirt... my socks,” Ron lamented.

“You could’ve worn trousers,” said George Weasley.

“But no,” said Fred Weasley. “You had to wear a skirt.”

“All the other cheerleaders are wearing skirts! Even Neville’s wearing a skirt! I didn’t want to look like an idiot!”

His brothers scrutinised his appearance. From the shock of carrot- coloured hair at the top, to the yellow v-necked top with a big “G” emblazoned on the front, to the red skirt which stopped just inches below the hem of his boxer shorts (also red), and finally down to the red sneakers and drooping yellow socks.

“And you don’t ALREADY look like an idiot?” they chorused.

“Guys, guys, come on,” Katie said. “We’re supposed to be here to learn, not to fight.”

“That’s right,” Hermione chimed in, exactly as if she hadn’t been trying not to laugh at Ron – and Neville – since they had Apparated on Station Pier early that morning. The disturbing part of the whole deal was that the cute little outfit – complete with pompoms – rather suited Neville. Even the skirt. “We’re here to learn about Quidditch, and really, if that can’t keep your attention for five minutes, I don’t know what can.”

“Besides, Ron, you look very... pretty,” Angelina Johnson said, biting her lower lip. “And we appreciate the support, really we do.”

“As if we’re going to win against a professional Quidditch team anyway,” Harry said glumly. “They’re too good. They’re one of the top five Australian teams, you know.”

Ron sneezed explosively. “Bugger that,” he said with feeling. “You guys can beat anyone you like.”

“If only we COULD,” said Danica Adams. Danica was the new Keeper since Oliver Wood had left the school. “We’d beat Slytherin every time and wouldn’t need to worry about that little gobshite Malfoy sneering at us every time Slytherin wins by some foul means.”

“Danica!” Katie reproved.

“Sorry, Katie.”

“Let’s just go inside,” said Alicia Spinnet. “I’m getting cold.”

As if to back up her argument, Ron sneezed again. He sniffed loudly, and most of the others looked away in disgust.

“Um, do you want a tissue?” Neville asked hurriedly, pulling one out of the long sleeve of his top.

“Thanks,” Ron said, muffled by the tissue. “I thigk I’be geddig a code.”

“‘Code’ or not, we’re not going to have time to see everything if you don’t hurry. Let’s go!” Katie said.

The members’ rooms were upstairs in the area at the end of the stadium, and Hermione spotted an elevator which would be a lot quicker than the stairs, which looked rickety and ready to collapse.

Ron was intrigued by the elevator. “Cool!” he said when Hermione pushed the button. “So, you push this button, and then what?”

“The elevator comes down, and then you get in it and go to the floor you want, which in our case is floor 3,” Hermione explained.

“What’s an elevator?” Ron asked, trying to flatten his hair.

“It’s a kind of box that Muggles use to go up and down inside buildings,” Harry said.

“And how does it know which floor to go to, if it’s a Muggle thing? It can’t be magic,” Ron said, wide-eyed as the elevator arrived with a ping.

“It’s not,” Hermione said, trying not to giggle. “It’s electronic. You push the button on the wall – here, see? – and it tells the machine which floor you want to go to.” She put Ron’s fingertip on the button marked “3”. “Go on, you try.”

Ron pushed the button. There was a pause, and then the elevator doors slid closed and with a jerk, the “box” started moving upwards.

They were held up for a further twenty minutes as Ron insisted on going up and down in the elevator at least four more times – Hermione lost count – but finally they got off at floor 3 and stepped straight into the Hawthorn Hustlers Hall of Fame.

“Wow, would you look at all this?” The twins were fascinated.

“It’s cute,” Hermione admitted. The room was carpeted in brown, with brown wooded panelling and yellow lights – brown was the Hawthorn Hustlers’ colour, and their symbol was a hawk. “It’s nice and cosy, too.” There was a magical fire burning in a fireplace at the end of the room, and Hermione, Lavender and Parvati went to it to warm up. Ron went with them, still sneezing.

“I’d love for us to be able to stay here all day, guys – I know it’s good – but we still have to meet the players and have our game, and it’s already lunchtime. Madam Hooch said that the bus back to Station Pier goes at three-thirty, and we need to be on it,” Katie said after a while.

“Did you see this, Katie?” Lavender called. “It’s a history of how Quidditch originated in Australia. It says that Australia is one of the best countries in the world to play Quidditch in because of the ‘great expanses of uninhabited outback where Quidditch pitches may be established’!” (A/N: Yes, it IS straight from “Quidditch Through the Ages”).

Parvati, beside her, looked out of the small window, straight out to the view of the towers and skyscrapers of Melbourne City. “Some great expanse,” she said.

“Not here,” Katie said, hurrying over. “Right out in the middle of Australia. The Outback. This is the city. Come on now.” She made for the second door out of the room and pushed it open, onto the members’ clubroom. The rest of the group jostled up behind her, and gasped when they saw what lay beyond the door.

The seven members of the Hawthorn Hawks were sitting around a long table, which was absolutely loaded with food. Harry saw at least three roast chickens, piles of hot fish and chips bundled up in butchers’ paper, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, tureens of steaming peas, bowls of dim sims and soy sauce, and much more hot food besides.

A smaller table off to the side held the desserts: four different cakes (chocolate, angel-food, passionfruit-upside-down, and raspberry), tiramisu, and a rich chocolate pudding swimming in sauce. The centrepiece of this table was one that brought a wry grin to Harry’s lips: it was a mountainous heap of whipped cream covered in sugared violets, exactly like the one Dobby the house-elf had dropped on the floor the day of his twelfth birthday, the one he had gotten in so much trouble over.

“Um, excuse me?” Katie said.

“Bugger off, can’t you see we’re busy?” asked a witch without even turning her head. Or maybe she had. The tremendous bush of brown hair that crowned her head made it hard to tell – her afro rivalled even Ron’s hair, which had resisted the most determined efforts to flatten it.

“Ah, Sheila, no, you dunny-bludger, these are the Pommy kids over to have a chat with us,” said a wizard. He turned to face the door and the Hogwarts group recognised Bruce, the head of the club, who had let them in earlier. “Come in, kids, pull up a rock, and have some lunch.”

Katie, Harry, Ron and the others ventured into the room, but even Sheila was quite friendly now and soon they were all gathered around the table, talking and laughing and stuffing their faces.

“This is good stuff,” Ron said.

“Yeah, it’s amazing what you can get through takeaway these days,” said Kylie, the skinny Aboriginal witch he was seated next to. She grinned. “We even ordered the desserts in, except the cream thingy, and my advice is don’t eat it – Sheila made it, and she might be the best Beater in Australia, but she’s naff at cooking.”

Ron nodded solemnly, blew his nose, and went back to his corn on the cob, tearing the buttery yellow kernels off the cob enthusiastically.

After lunch it was out to the pitch for their match. Ron, Lavender, Hermione, Neville and Parvati started some practice cheers on the sidelines (since they’d made the whole cheerleader story up to fool Madam Hooch into letting them come, it was a desperate practice), while Katie led her team out onto the field for a warm-up.

The Hustlers were up in the commentator’s booth speaking to Madam Hooch, who would referee, and the Hustlers’ commentator, Johnno Sparks. The Gryffindors had met Johnno on the way in: he was a fat man, whose gut bulged over the belt of his Levi 501’s, and wasn’t quite contained by the blue singlet he wore.

“This should be fun,” muttered Katie as the Hustlers came down from the booth, followed by Madam Hooch. The Hustlers were all adults – Kylie was the youngest at twenty – and looked very, very intimidating.

“Oh, Katie, don’t panic,” said Danica. “We’ll do fine.”

Madam Hooch came out to start the match. She released the balls, then blew her whistle, and the fourteen players kicked off.

The first thing Harry noticed was that the adult Beaters were very powerful. One Bludger that came flying at his head would have taken it off if he hadn’t ducked.

Then there were the Chasers. They had the Quaffle almost before they’d taken off, and Danica was at her wits’ end trying to keep them from scoring. She managed to block one goal, but one got through.

“Hustlers score. Ten-nil,” Johnno said over the loudspeakers. The sound was amazing. Harry remembered all he’d read about this place – it was actually set up in a Muggle football stadium or something, and the Muggles didn’t know about the magical attributes of the place. It was right in Melbourne City, and teams from all around Victoria came to play here.

The big screens at each end of the pitch lit up, and Harry was fascinated to see himself on one of them.

“Hey, look!” Neville said, down on the ground. “Harry’s on TV!”

“Ah, who cares,” Ron said, executing a perfect split and trying to flatten his hair with his hands. “Harry’s famous. Harry’s always famous. Anyone got anything for this hair?”

“My Sleekeazy Hair Potion’s back at Hogwarts,” Hermione said, leapfrogging over his back and yelling “GRYFFINDOR GO FOR GOLD!” at the top of her lungs.

“Sleekeazy won’t do anything for that. He needs oil, or something,” Parvati said, dive-rolling between Neville’s legs.

“Parvati, for that he needs a quart of motor oil and someone to set it on fire so he can start over from the start,” Lavender sniffed.

In the end, the final score was very close: the Gryffindor team had scored forty points, the Hustlers sixty, when Kylie, the Hustlers’ Seeker, spotted the Snitch and zoomed down and caught it before Harry could so much as blink.

“Great game!” she said cheerfully when they came to land and shake hands. “You’re a great Seeker, Harry – you’ll probably play for a real team someday!”

“Thanks,” Harry said awkwardly, grinning.

The cheerleaders came to join them and say goodbye. Madam Hooch thanked the Hustlers and then had the Gryffindors say thank you as well. Bruce looked at them all with a big grin on his face.

“You lot are gonna do well,” he said in his gravelly voice. “We have a lotta nippers come through here on their way to the big time, and you lot have real potential.”

“Bruce, come on, the Muggle footy teams’re comin’ in, in about ten minutes, no less. Let’s truck the kids out and clear up before they get here, OK?” Sheila said.

“Aright. See yas some other time, OK?” Bruce waved at them. Kylie and Johnno walked them to the gate, heaping praise on them, and waved as they scrambled onto the chartered bus that would take them back to Station Pier.

“You lot have a good day at the ‘G?” their driver (whose name proclaimed her to be “Hi my name is Lauren” in gold letters).

“Pardon?” Ron asked, sneezing.

“The ‘G. The MCG. The big footy ground,” Lauren elaborated.

“Oh, yeah,” Harry said. “Yeah, we did. It was great.”

“Which team didja go see?”

“Hawthorn,” Hermione said.

“The Hawks? Jeez they’re crap. I mean, no offence if youse are fans, but they’re crap. Couldn’t lift a boot and run to save their lives.” Lauren started the bus up and it rumbled out onto the road, bound for Station Pier, where they could all safely Disapparate back to Hogsmeade without being observed.

“Oh, they weren’t so bad,” Harry said. “Not so bad at all.”

A/N: Well, there you have it, another outrageous piece of weirdness from the Great Gull. Now I HAVE to go do my Chemistry experiment report, so no more fic for the night, OK?

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