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Chapter 1: The Hunt
The noise of the crowd was already deafening. It pounded through the beams of the stadium and straight into the locker rooms. The vibrations coursed through our bodies as we fidgeted mindlessly. Our captain stood before us, already sweating. Barking orders and pointless encouragements, we all knew only one thing was on his mind: this is it. Our last game, our last chance to show the world how great we were. It was the only thing on all of our minds. Terrifying, to say the least.
His speech ended, the din of the crowd and a lingering breeze wafting from outside through the halls were the only sounds. I turned to my left, and caught the eye of one of the beaters across the room. I couldn't manage a smile as I pushed past the other players in the room. His hand came to rest on my back as I clutched onto the front of his robes. No one in the room said a thing as we held each other close, they were all tied up in their own pre-game rituals.
A few seconds passed. We all looked each other in the eye one last time and nodded mutely. I double checked the pin holding my bangs back and grabbed my broom. Time to ride the air.
We paused outside the arena doors, waiting to be called. Our captain lifted his hand in one final good luck, and mounted his broom. We all followed suit, a harsh look of determination upon all our faces.
The crowd grew mind-numbingly loud as we blasted into the air to face our opposing team. Clutching the handle of my broom tightly, I closed my eyes and forced myself to breath. The air was still around us, as if holding its breath right alongside us. I smiled, and lifted a hand into the air as if caressing it. The whistle blew, the Quaffle released.
My eyes snapped open, hand flew back into position and I pushed myself higher. Climbing up and up, it felt as if the air itself was lifting me. My heart, mind and body soared higher and higher. With it came a rush of pure adrenaline. Never have I felt more alive than in this moment. The first rise through the skies was complete bliss.
Swiveling in place, I pinpointed the locations of our beaters, the other team's and the rival Seeker. I smirked at noting we were already in possession of the Quaffle. I sloth-rolled once before dashing towards the rival Seeker. A grin spread across my lips as I caught sight of the look of horror on his face as he frantically searched for what he thought I saw.
I raced towards him, on a collision course until the last second. Pulling up, I let the air pull me as I rocketed higher once more. I soared higher, very aware that the only thing keeping me from plunging to what would most certainly be a bloody death was the air around me.
As I floated calmly back towards the Quidditch Pitch, my eyes scoured the area for the players and the ever elusive Snitch. The commentator announced a goal in our favor, the score tied. I began flying circles around the pitch, simultaneously keeping an eye on our players, the other Seeker, Bludgers and searching for the Snitch.
The air felt alive around me now, pushing me forward and guiding my flight. My direction changed with the wind, something that had confused my teammates when I began on the team. The weather controls this game, everything we do rides on the air, I argued again and again, until the captain gave in and let me fly as I please.
I watched as the other team's beaters passed a Bludger between them, shooting towards our goalposts. I hovered stationary halfway up the field as our beaters raced to defend our keeper and the chasers looked back in worry quickly before carrying on. The crowd seemed to hold its collective breath as they too watched the scene unfold.
The silence was broken by the commentator's announcement of another goal in our favor. I turned to face the opposite goal, to cheer on our chasers, when I caught sight of the second Bludger careening towards me. I had no protection; all the beaters were down by the goalposts. Glancing towards the ground, my brain worked to calculate any possible escape.
Stealing myself for possible impact, I clenched my eyes shut and gripped the far end of my broom handle as tightly as possible. And then, I somersaulted forwards, right off the edge of my broom. Blocking out the outburst from the crowd and the voices of my teammates, I began a freefall, my broom barely held within my grasp. The Bludger zoomed right past where I had been seconds ago.
Forcing myself to breath, I began praying for the air to hold me just long enough. I could feel it rushing past, the weight of my body tearing through it like fabric straining to hold together. Moving my body in midair the best I could, I managed to finally get my broom level with my midsection and somewhat stable. Breathing a thank you to the captain for forcing us into hundreds of pushups, I hauled myself flat onto the broom. Swinging my legs into position, I gripped the handle and pulled up, trying with all my might to stop my fall.
The ground was rushing towards my body, and I could feel the weight of the entire stadium's eye on what I was doing. I could feel my speed decreasing and pulled harder on the handle. With only a few feet left before impact, I finally regained complete control and halted my movement. My head hung in relief, I began to laugh.
One of our chasers rolled up next to me and set a stabilizing hand on my shoulder. I locked eyes with her and smiled. Reassured, she flew off to join the game again. That's when I saw the Snitch for the first time. Hovering a few yards behind where she'd been.
Not wanting to take my eyes off the little beauty, there wasn't time to find the position of the other Seeker. I twisted my broom and shot off in the direction of the Snitch. As if sensing my approach, the golden ball made a loop before flying off. Within seconds, I could hear the rush of the other Seeker's broom as he raced to catch up. The hunt was on.
Relaxing my muscles as much as I could, I pressed myself closer to my broom, boosting my speed. I breathed in and blocked out all sound but that of the air around me. Years of flying and Quidditch have taught me to listen. Keeping my eyes locked on the Snitch in the distance, I looped around to the other side of my rival. I smirked as he grunted lowly and kept moving from side to side.
We were approaching his team's goalposts, and I knew that soon the setting sun's rays would reflect off the hoops, mimicking the flash of the Snitch. I sped up and began arching away from our path into the center of the field. My eyes stayed on the Snitch as I heard the other Seeker swear under his breath and move to follow me. Swerving across his field of vision, I effectively blocked the Snitch from his sight as the sun began to reflect off the goal posts.
Pressing lower onto my broom, I moved higher slowly. The weight of the air above me pressed down heavily. I was sure by now that my rival was confused about which twinkle was the actual Snitch. The wind shifted as we approached the center goalpost and was now working against us, slowing us. We pushed on and cut through the air as quickly as possible.
I began an upwards spiral around the center goalpost, the other Seeker gaining on my heels. We pushed upwards, gliding easily through the loop itself and speeding past both sides of their keeper in chase of the Snitch. We were even now. I glanced over, and our eyes locked. Smirking at one another, our heads snapped back to the Snitch.
The Snitch was right in front of us, swooping easily from side to side as if taunting us. It was calling to us, and I whispered pleas to the wind to push it towards me. My hair whipped in the wind behind me. Begging the air for one final push, I stretched my hand toward the Snitch.
A/N: Who do you think won?
Written for NadiatheRavenclaw's "Elemental" challenge on the forums. I chose the element of air, and this was what I was inspired to write. Thank you for the challenge!
This is the first time I've written Quidditch, so I'd really appreciate critique on how I did. Thank you, and, as usual, this is unbeta'd.