Note: This is dedicated to Kateydidnt/MadamAuthor, who stood in our living room and promised me that if I wrote this fic, she would watch a Boston Red Sox game with me.
Dad never knew what he was getting himself into that fateful day in 1989.
I was eight years old with six older brothers and Mum who was much more accustomed to letting me act like a tomboy than trying to raise me as a girl. After all, I was the first female Weasley born in several generations and she had her hands full enough trying to keep the twins from hexing Ron.
When Dad suggested that Uncle Bilius take me out to have some fun, Mum waved a dishtowel distractedly at me and told me not to talk to any strangers, hags or Muggles and to be home by dark.
Our seats weren't even that good. We were behind Parkinson's Pole on the east side of the Quidditch pitch and Dedalus Diggle, who had one of the seats in front of us, wouldn't take off that top hat of his.
Still, it was the first time in a few years that I had enjoyed something without my brothers to nag me and I paid close attention to everything that Uncle Bilius said about the rules of the game, the players on the field and what a "barmy old blunderer" the referee was.
It was a great match—they won by 50 points for the first time that season—and by the time we Flooed back to the Burrow, I was one of the world's most pathetic creatures: A Chudley Cannons fan.
A year later, Uncle Bilius died just twenty-four hours after seeing a Grim. It was the first time that anyone I had known had died and I was quite shaken. He left a few things to our family—Ron's middle name, the Sneakoscope that always sat as a conversation piece on his kitchen table, and other odd things. The one thing that he left to me was the set of season tickets to the Chudley Cannons games.
Since I'm still at Hogwarts, most of those go to my parents or their friends during the school term. My wedding gift to Bill and Fleur was a pair of much-coveted tickets to the Tornadoes/Cannon game that month. Every holiday, though, I find the time to see a few matches for myself and I am probably the only girl in the school who wears a Cannons nightshirt to bed.
The others simply don't know what they're missing, the poor fellows.
They say there is nothing as fine as a game of Quidditch played well. Whoever "they" are, they have never watched a Cannons game. It's true that they're not always the ones who pull ahead at the end or who take home the League cup, but for those of us who want to see a team play with heart, the Cannons never disappoint.
That's why I'm absolutely certain that they'll take the league this year. They won't let me down.
One of the many advantages to having Harry Potter for a fiancé was the fact that he didn't mind the small things that I did. He wasn't much bothered when studying for N.E.W.T.s took priority over the romantic candlelit dinner he had planned. He never complained that I occasionally left one of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes around his house.
One of the things that I appreciated a great deal, though, was the fact that he wasn't conceited. For example, if Dean Thomas or Michael Corner had made the front page of the Daily Prophet, they would have expected me to linger over the article, rereading every word and wondering if the photo made their nose look big. Harry, on the other hand, didn't mind that I took a quick look at the headline and then opened the Prophet to the sports section.
"Who's Tutshill playing this weekend?" he asked idly over a piece of toast.
"Falmouth Falcons," I reported.
Everyone who followed Quidditch who was listening in on the conversation grimaced at the mention of the toughest players in the League.
"Never thought I'd feel sorry for the Tornadoes," Dennis Creevey murmured, "but the Falcons are…"
He broke off with a shudder and went back to eating his porridge. Harry leaned over, scanning down the list of standings with a practiced eye.
"And Chudley's facing off against Kenmare," he reported. "They're an easy target."
"Too right," a first-year Harpies fan piped up, obviously enthusiastic about debating Quidditch with the upperclassmen. "They bungled the Bagman Bounce last weekend and…"
He trailed off as every person involved in the conversation turned an eye on him, some with disgust, some with amusement, most with curiosity. He quickly shoved a piece of toast into his mouth and tried his best to not be noticed again.
"Well," I said before anyone could pick up where he left off, "I think this is the Cannons' year."
"Come off it, Gin," Miriam Marks scoffed. "They haven't even come close to taking the league since your parents were in nappies."
"And the only team with worse standings in the league is… Oh, wait, there isn't one!"
That came from Oliver Wood's second-year sister, a revolting toe-rag named Angela. She had many unpleasant qualities, but one of them happened to be the fact that she thought she knew everything about Quidditch just because her mad brother was now a regular keeper for Puddlemere United.
Of course, it went without saying that Professor McGonagall would eventually turn up at any and every Quidditch debate in the civilized world. Technically, handing out schedules was the deputy headmaster's job, but she apparently had grown fond of the habit and Professor Flitwick was still mulling over a platter of chipolatas at the staff table.
"One point from Gryffindor for insulting another student's team," she said sternly.
"Yes, Professor," she said dutifully. "Won't happen again, Professor."
Not ruddy likely.
"Mr. Potter," she addressed Harry. "Should you not be joining us at the staff table?"
Harry blinked with feigned innocence. "But Professor," he said blandly, "I'm taking classes with the rest of the students."
It was true. Harry had agreed to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts assistant instructor on the condition that he be given the opportunity to complete his seventh year. As a result, he would be taking classes during the times that he was not helping Professor Hestia Jones with her lessons. At the end of the year, he would be sitting his exams with the rest of us.
"Besides," he said when Professor McGonagall didn't answer, "someone has to moderate the Gryffindors. You know how rowdy they can be."
There was a general round of laughter at that and McGonagall must have been in high spirits, since she actually smiled at that as she passed out our schedules.
"Don't tarry too long," she admonished Harry. "Have a good term."
We all waited until McGonagall was out of earshot before the "Good one, Potter" comments began. Harry just grinned at that and reached across the table to grab my copy of the Prophet for further scrutiny.
"So," he said conversationally, "what makes you think that this is the Cannons' year?"
"Well, it's rather obvious," I said firmly. "This is a year of amazing things. The Dark Lord has been defeated, I'm Quidditch Captain and Droobles just came out with a new kind of gum. With that kind of record, there are bound to be a few upsets."
"So, the Tornadoes will lose everything this year?" Dennis asked.
"I wouldn't go that far," I countered, "but they will ultimately fall."
"Care to put a wager on that?" Angela Wood interrupted.
Technically speaking, there was not supposed to be gambling on school grounds, but it would feel good to see that blighter cut down to size.
"What sort of wager?"
She grinned mischievously. "If you win, I will stand on McGonagall's chair and, wearing orange and black, sing the Cannons' anthem at the end-of-year feast. When I win, you will color your hair blue and wear Tornadoes robes to graduation."
It was a childish wager, one definitely invented by a bored, self-important twelve-year-old, but it would be worth it to see her so humiliated.
"Are you sure you want to take the risk, Weasley?" she taunted, jerking her head towards the Prophet. "It's a long climb from the bottom and I think blue looks terrible with your skin."
Harry folded down the edge of the paper to watch, his expression neutral except for the look in his eyes. He was clearly thinking the same thing as I was about the end-of-the-year entertainment to come.
"It's a deal," I proclaimed.