"To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength." Phoenix Lancaster is just as extraordinary as she appears, she is a muggle-born metamorphmagus, and she has never had a quiet life. Thanks to her courageous and troublesome best friends, Fred and George Weasley.


5. The Quidditch World Cup

Excitement hung in the air over the thousands of tents like a blanket. The dusk air itself seemed to be a riff with the anticipation of the upcoming match. As darkness fell millions of stars littered the sky, winking down at the campsite. The Ministry had seemed to given up preventing the inevitable magic that was now breaking out across the site.

Salesman Apparated everywhere that Phoenix looked, all pushing carts or carrying trays full of the most remarkable merchandise that Phoenix had ever seen. Phoenix couldn't help but purchase a pointed green hat with luminous dancing shamrocks shattered on it, a small model of a Firebolt and she also brought both Fred and George, despite their refusal, large green rosettes as they had spent their savings on the bet.

"I see that you are supporting Ireland," grinned Fred as he gestured at not only Phoenix's green hat, but also her vivid green hair and green eyes that glimmered like the shamrocks on her hat.

"You have excellent observation skills Fred," said Phoenix as she forcefully put the rosette into Fred's hand, who simply grinned in gratitude.

"His observation skills do amaze us all indeed Pixy," said George, who was already wearing his green rosette, "your hair looks cool by the hair," he commented, before frowning slightly, "so does your eyes, but I think your blue eyes look nicer."

Phoenix couldn't help but blush.

Suddenly a booming gong sounded from beyond the woods, and all at once, red and green lanterns ignited in the hundreds of trees, lighting a path to the field.

Phoenix gripped both Fred and George's arms, her eyes ablaze with excitement as Mr. Weasley turned to them all, his excitement mirroring his children's and their friends as he said, "It's time! Come on, let's go!"

When they emerged on the other side of the forest, in front of them was a colossal sized stadium, Phoenix stared, open-mouthed and she couldn't help but feel, for the millionth time in the past years of her lives, that magic was truly astonishing.

"Prime seats Arthur!" said a Ministry witch that stood at one of what seemed to be hundreds of entrances as she checked their tickets, "Top Box! Go straight upstairs and as high as you can go!"

Now Phoenix knew why her step-brothers kept saying they had amazing tickets.

Truthfully, Phoenix had never seen something so unbelievable. Even as they walked up many flights of purple carpeted stairs, her mouth was still slightly ajar in surprise.

"We are so high up!" exclaimed Phoenix, looking both left and right to the stands that surrounded them.

"You are not going to tell me you are scared of highs as well as spiders!" George cried dramatically, slinging one of his arms around his small companion as they reached the very top of the staircase.

"No I'm not," said Phoenix, cracking a smile, "and I am not scared of spiders!"

"Whatever makes you sleep at night," George mused as they entered the top box, the most highest point of the stadium, located halfway between the immense golden gold posts.

Phoenix sat herself beside George and Ginny, her heart racing as she looked around at the astonishing view in front of her eyes. A sea of witches and wizards were in their seats, the red and green colours seemed to glitter breathtakingly. It was truly a view in which she could have never imagined.

"Bloody hell," Phoenix exclaimed, her eyes looking across at a massive blackboard that was directly at eyelevel with her, gold lettering dancing across it, advertising various wizarding items.

The Bluebottle: A Broom for All the Family—safe, reliable, and with Built in Anti Burgler Buzzer… Mrs. Shower's All Purpose Magical Mess Remover: No Pain, No Stain!… Gladrags Wizardwear—London, Paris, Hogsmeade…

"I've never seen anything like it," said Ginny, "and usually I am quite unfazed by most things when it comes to magic, but this is just-"

"I know," Phoenix finished, "my dad took me to a muggle concert once to see Oasis but it doesn't compare to this,"

Fred, George and Ginny all frowned at Phoenix, who was still ogling at the view, "What's an Oasis?" quizzed George.

Phoenix smiled, shaking her head slightly, "it's a band – you know – like the Weird Sisters,"

"Oh," the three Weasley children chorused.

"Good evening Fudge," a cold, drooling, all too familiar voice sounded behind them. It was the voice of Lucius Malfoy. Phoenix turned in her seat to see that he was closely followed by his son, Draco, and a woman that Phoenix recognised to be Narcissa Malfoy, which so happened to be Phoenix's adoring step-aunt.

Cecilia and Narcissa were sisters, but they were not at all close, in fact Cecilia only keeps in contact with one of her three sisters, Andromeda Tonks. Both Andromeda and Cecilia had been disowned because Andromeda had married a muggle-born and Cecilia had married a muggle instead of pure-bloods. Her other sister was indeed Bellatrix Lestrange, who was surviving life imprisonment in Azkaban for the torture of two Aurors.

Narcissa looked much like Cecilia, her blonde hair was almost identical and she was slender, but unlike Cecilia, Narcissa didn't have a kind, loving face, but a look on her face that could only be described as breathing in an unpleasant smell. Her beady eyes swept across the row that the Weasley party were situated, before she spotted Phoenix and a smug kind of look appeared on her face.

"Good lord, Arthur," Phoenix turned her head from her step-aunt to Mr. Malfoy who had a smug look on his face, identical to his wife. "What on earth did you sell to get seats in the Top Box? Surely your house wouldn't have cost that much?"

Phoenix gritted her teeth and curled her fits, shaking her head furiously at his words. She was glad that the Minister of Magic was in close proximity overwise there would be a repeat of what had happened a few years previous between Mr. Weasley and Mr. Malfoy in Flourish and Blotts' bookshop where the pair had issued a fight.

Phoenix did not like to hate people, but the Malfoy's were one of the exceptions. Mr. Malfoy's eyes flickered from Hermione, who was pink in the face but staring at him determinedly, to Phoenix, a malicious smile appearing upon his face. Phoenix knew exactly what he was thinking. The Malfoys seemed to marvel that they were purebloods and anybody who was of Muggle descent, like her and Hermione, was dirt upon their shoes. Phoenix stared back with equal dislike edged on her face.

Then Mr. Malfoy nodded curtly to Mr. Weasley and along with his son and his wife made their way down the lines towards their seats.

"It's hard to believe that Cecilia is related to that women!" Phoenix said in a hushed voice to George, shaking her head angrily.

George was still glaring at the Malfoys in their seats when he answered, "I know, at least you don't have to spend Christmas with them."

Phoenix sniggered, "imagine that eh? Maybe I could stuff Draco's head up the turkeys-"

"Ladies and gentlemen… welcome! Welcome to the final of the four hundred and twenty second Quidditch World Cup!" Exactly where Draco's head was going to be stuffed, George did not find out, as a roar sounded from the spectators, as they screamed and clapped loudly, waving their flags madly so it looks as though waves were spilling out through the crowds. Roars of national anthems began and Phoenix's heart rate increased, her mind completely cut off from the Malfoys.

The blackboard was now wiped clear of its final message of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans and now showed BULGARIA: 0, IRELAND: 0.

"And now, without further ado, allow me to introduce… the Bulgarian National Team Mascots!"

The right hand side of the stands, roared, their block a solid scarlet as thousands upon thousands of flags were waved.

"What do you think they've brought?" Fred asked excitedly, leaning forward to see the field.

Phoenix mimicked his actions and realised the Bulgarian Mascots at once, Veela. She watched as what looked like a hundred veela seemed to glide out onto the field, their white gold hair swam out behind them without any wind, their skin seemingly shining. She smirked and leaned back in her seat so as not to see the veela beginning to dance, but to watch the boy's reactions to them, which of course would be worth it. The music began and instantly a glazed look swept over all of the Weasley's boys faces.

Ginny and Phoenix giggled as they watched as Harry was stood up, one of his legs resting upon the wall of the box as if he were stretching for ballet, Ron was frozen in a position that looked as though he were about to jump over the wall, whereas Fred and George were ripping off their rosettes.

There were roars of anger; the crowd clearly did not want the veela to go, the Weasley boys, minus Mr. Weasley, joined in. Phoenix shook her head, smiling as she grabbed both Fred and George's rosettes before they threw them from the box.

"Don't throw them away yet," said Phoenix as she pinned them back onto each of their jackets, "Ireland's mascots haven't even come on."

"What?" said Fred; his eyes looked slightly glazed as he stared open-mouthed at the veela that were now lined up along the Bulgarian side of the field.

"And now," roared Ludo Bagman's voice that was reverberating through the stadium, "kindly put your wands in the air… for the Irish National Team Mascots!"

In the blink of an eye, a flash of Irish green and gold zoomed into the stadium like a comet. Phoenix, Fred and George yelled their appreciation as the comet did a lap of the stadium, suddenly splitting into two smaller comets, zooming at light speed towards the goal posts. A glittering rainbow arced out of nowhere across the field, connected by the two balls of light. Phoenix aaaahed, reminded of firework display she and her father had seen a few years ago at New Years in London. In a flash, the rainbow glimmered and faded; the levitating balls of lights crashed together and spiralled as one, magically forming a colossal glittering shamrock that rose up into the sky, igniting the stadium in a green light.

"This is amazing!" exclaimed Phoenix, staring at the shamrock shimmering in the night sky as what looked as if it was golden rain falling from it. Phoenix realised that it was golden coins that were raining from it, clanging as they hit the ground. She squinted as the large shamrocks and saw that it was in fact leprechauns were actually formatting it, all carrying a small lamp of either gold or green.

The shamrock faded and the leprechauns slowly fell down onto the field and lined up opposite the veela on the Irish side.

Ludo Bagman yelled each of the teams player's names and each of them zoomed out onto the pitch, they were simply blurs of green and red as they got into their positions and the referee also zoomed onto the pitch.

"Theeeeeeeey're OFF!" screamed Ludo Bagma, his voiced echoed over the screams and yells from the crowd, "And it's Mullet! Troy! Moran! Dimitrov! Back to Mullet! Troy! Levski! Moran!"

The speed of the players was simply unimaginable. The Chasers that were throwing the Quaffle to one another were so fast that Ludo only had time to say their names. Phoenix's eyes were darting around, trying to keep up with the speed of the match.

"TROY SCORES!" roared Ludo's voice, the ground underneath Phoenix's feet violently shook as the entire either cheered or booed, "Ten zero to Ireland!"

Phoenix, Ginny and Hermione waved their arms madly in the air as Troy did a lap of honour around the field. Fred and George openly laughed at each of them, both joining in exasperatedly. Phoenix grinned slightly as she saw the veela sitting at the sidelines, looking sulky as the leprechauns had formed the shimmering shamrock once again in celebration.

"The Chasers are amazing!" Yelled Fred, leaning across George to talk to Phoenix as everyone cheered for Ireland who had scored for the second time, "You should take notes Nix,"

"Don't worry I am!" She replied. Fred was right, the Irish Chasers were sensational. Not only were they superb flyers but their teamwork and very well-coordinated movements and Phoenix couldn't help but take mental notes for their tactics for when she was next playing Quidditch.

When the Irish scored for a third time, the match quickly became even faster and ruthless. It minded Phoenix was heavily of Gryffindor's brutal match against Slytherin for the Quidditch Cup Final at Hogwarts, which was one of the most vicious game of Quidditch that she had ever played in. Derrick and Bole, Slytherin's beaters, had aimed a Bludger at Phoenix, which knocked her off her broom. Fred and George both them preceded in throwing their beaters bats at Derrick and Bole which got each of the teams penalties. As the Bulgarian Beaters, Volkov and Vulchanov, were pelting the Bludgers at the Irish Chasers, sadly preventing them to perform moves that Phoenix knew would have scored them a goal. Finally, Ivanova dodged the Irish Keeper, Ryan, and managed to score Bulgaria's first goal of the match.

"Fingers in your ears!" Mr. Weasley yelled over the sounds of applause as the veela began their celebration. Fred and George didn't need to be told twice, their concentration was clearly set upon the match, and did as Mr. Weasley said and closed their eyes for good measure. When they had opened their eyes again, the veela's dancing had stopped and Bulgaria had the possession of the Quaffle.

"Dimitrov! Levski! Dimitrov! Ivanova—oh I say!" roared Bagman.

Phoenix gasped, grabbing the first hand she felt as she and the entire stadium watched as the Seekers of both teams, Krum and Lynch, plummeted through the Chasers at unbelievable speed. They were both going to crash. Suddenly, at the last second, Krum pulled out of the dive superbly and zoomed off. Lynch on the other hand; hit the ground and a sickening thud that could be heard over the loud silence of the crowd.

"Fool!" bellowed Mr. Weasley, "Krum was feinting!"

"It's time out!" yelled Bagman's voice, over the groans of the Irish supporters "as trained mediwizards hurry onto the field to examine Aidan Lynch!"

Phoenix let out a sigh of relief and suddenly realised that she squeezing onto somebody's hand. She looked down and saw that it was George's. He looked down at her and grinned.

"Did that give you a fright?" He teased, using his hand to guide hers so that it moved around in a circle. Phoenix felt her face turn pink and her hair turned to a vibrant fiery red, "thought so." Phoenix smiled and shook her head, smiling as her hair turned back to the Irish green.

"He'll be okay, he only got ploughed!" Charlie said reassuringly to, who Ginny was leaning over the side of the box, looking a mix between scared and worried. "Which is what Krum was after, of course…"

After only a few minutes, Lynch was on his feet and loud cheers from the Irish supporters echoed to the corners of the stadium.

When Mostafa blew his whistle again, signally the continuation of the match, the Chasers immediately came into action, their teamwork, tactics and their flying were unlike anything Phoenix had ever seen before.

In under twenty more minutes, where the match got dirtier and dirtier, Ireland had bagged ten more goals were now leading by one hundred and thirty points to ten.

"And Mostafa takes the Bulgarian Keeper to task for cobbing—excessive use of elbows! yes, it's a penalty to Ireland!"

Phoenix, who had been busying trying to find her hat, that had fallen off when George had raised his arms in victory for Ireland's previous goal, she had missed what had happened. "What did I miss?"

"I don't know myself," said Ginny, "it all happened so fast."

"Mullet had the Quaffle and then Zograf came out of nowhere," said George, "I have no idea what happened after that, but it was a foul."

The leprechauns were now angrily rising into the air, we now, instead of forming the glittering shamrock, formed the words, 'HA HA HA!'.

"I love the Irish," Fred said dreamily, smiling at the leprechauns' new formation.

"The veela don't look happy," said Phoenix smugly. The veela definitely did not look happy. They tossed their hair angrily, and started to dance again. The Weasley boys and Harry all stuffed their fingers back into their ears and screwed up their eyes. But Phoenix wasn't paying attention to the veela, but the referee.

"Ginny, look at the referee!" Ginny's eyes found the referee and both she and Phoenix roared with laughter, and Phoenix tugged on George's arm and poked Fred's.

"Huh?" said George.

"Look at the referee!"

On the field, Hassan Mostafa had demounted his broom directly in front of the veela, who were still dancing, was flexing his muscles and smoothing his moustache exasperatedly. Fred and George both roared with laughter, both of them immediately impersonating him.

"Now, we can't have that!" said a highly amused Ludo Bagman, "Somebody slap the referee!"

A mediwizard tore his way across the field, his fingers stuffed into his own ears like the Weasley boys and Harry had done, and kicked Mostafa hard in the shins. Mostafa immediately reacted, looking extremely flushed and began to shout widely at the veela, who by now had stopped their dancing and were looking practically murderous.

"And unless I'm much mistaken, Mostafa is actually attempting to send off the Bulgarian team mascots!" said Ludo, now attempting not to laugh; "Now there's something we haven't seen before… Oh this could turn nasty…"

Indeed it did turn nasty. Volkov and Vulchanov, landed beside Mostafa and began to argue angrily with him. George poked Phoenix's arm and pointed towards the leprechauns, whose formation was now the words 'HEE, HEE, HEE'. The whistle blew furiously once again.

"Two penalties for Ireland!" roared Ludo and the Bulgarian crowd groaned and yelled in anger, "And Volkov and Vulchanov had better get back on those brooms… yes… there they go… and Troy takes the Quaffle…"

The match, if possible, had returned even dirtier. After Ireland was awarded a penalty after Dimitrov flew straight at Moran, who had the Quaffle, almost knocking her off her broom.

"Dimitrov skins Moran—deliberately flying to collide there—and it's got to be another penalty—yes, there's the whistle!"

The leprechauns, who Phoenix had taken an extreme liking to, had made a new formation of a giant hand, which was making an extremely rude sign directed at the veela on the other side.

"They're not going to like that," laughed Phoenix, "the leprechauns just seem to love annoying the veela."

"Don't blame them," said Ginny in a quiet voice.

Instead of the veela's usual dancing, they tore across the field and began to throw handfuls of burning fire at the leprechauns. They didn't look practically beautiful or glimmering now, they seemed to resemble rather ugly looking birds, with long and scaly wings that were bursting from their shoulders.

"And that, boys, is why you should never go for looks alone!"

"Levski—Dimitrov—Moran—Troy—Mullet—Ivanova—Moran again—Moran—MORAN SCORES!"

The roars of Irish cheers was not heard over the shrieks of the veela, that Ministry wizards were now trying to separate, and the roars of anger from the Bulgarian supporters. But Phoenix's concentration was quickly put back to the match just in time to see Quigley, the Irish Beater, swung his bat furiously at a Bludger, but missed, and it smashed right into Krum's face.

"Oh my-" Phoenix started as she saw blood flowing out of Krum's nose, which looked as though it had broken. But the whistle was not blown as Mostafa's broom tail was on fire from one of the veela's balls of fire. "He can't play like that. He could really hurt himself!"

"You sound like Ron-" said Fred.

"Lynch has seen the Snitch!" George bellowed as he pointed to Lynch. The Irish seeker had suddenly gone into a full blown dive. A look of the upmost concentration of his face as he zoomed after the small golden ball. Phoenix and Ginny screamed the seeker on, waving their arms madly in the air in support. But Krum was on his tail now, blood still flowing from his nose and through the air behind him. The Snitch suddenly changed its direction, tearing through the air towards the ground and both Seekers followed.

"They're going to crash again!" yelled Ginny, hanging off the edge of the box to see the Seekers.

"Krum isn't-" shrieked Fred.

"Lynch is though!" yelled George.

George was right. Once again, Lynch hit the ground in an agonisingly painful way and once again, Phoenix grabbed George's hand as her eyes darted around for the snitch.

"The Snitch, where's the Snitch?" bellowed Charlie, he too was leaning over the edge of the box.

"He's got it—Krum's got it—it's all over!" shouted Harry from along the row.

Harry was right. Krum, his nose broken and his face and robes covered in blood, was gliding through the air, his hand held high and a golden ball secured tightly in his hands.

Many of the crowd had not realised what had happened and slowly, as the scoreboard flashed BULGARIA: 160, IRELAND: 170, the stadium rumbled as the Irish supporters screams and cheers of triumphant silenced Bulgaria's groans and yells of fury.

"IRELAND WINS!" Ludo bellowed, sound somewhat surprised, "KRUM GETS THE SNITCH—BUT IRELAND WINS—good lord, I don't think any of us were expecting that!"

"You can stop holding my hand now," a smirking George whispered in Phoenix's ear.

"What?" Phoenix said, looking back down at her hands again and immediately withdrawing her hands from his, "Sorry."

"WE WON THE BET!" Fred bellowed, punching the air with his fist and jumping about in the top box, "WE WON THE BET!"

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