AUTHOR'S NOTE: The following story features two of my OCs, Jimmy O'Bannon and Mireet Miradeaux. Both attended Hogwarts as foreign exchange students during the events of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." At this point in time, Jimmy is a minor league hockey player in the Boston Bruins organization. Also, I do not own the Harry Potter Universe.
The green thing just stood there, perfectly still. Luna Thomas continued to gaze at it, waiting for it to do something. They called it a monster, the most unusual monster she'd ever seen. But it didn't do anything. Maybe it didn't like the sunlight. Maybe it didn't like the multitude of loud people around it.
Or . . .
"Excuse me, Jimmy?"
A lean, athletic young man with a dark ballcap emblazoned with a red letter "B" turned to her. "What's up?"
"Well, I was wondering. Is the monster the wall, or is the monster actually inside the wall?"
Jimmy O'Bannon scrunched his face in confusion. Funny how so many people looked at her that way.
Luna readjusted her big floppy hat decorated with clumps of pink and orange flowers. "Well, you call that wall the Green Monster, but it just looks like a regular wall. I doubt it can be a real monster, so I'm wondering if the monster's hiding behind the wall."
Jimmy just stared at her mutely. Luna began counting the seconds of silence in her head. When she got to five, she wondered if a wrackspurt had gotten in the American wizard's brain and affected his thoughts.
Wait. Are there wrackspurts in America? Before she could ask that question, Jimmy finally spoke.
"It's not a real monster. It's just a big wall."
"So there are no monsters behind it either?"
Luna's brow furrowed. "Then why do you call it the Green Monster?"
"Because . . . um, because it's a really big wall."
"Then why not just call it the Big Green Wall?"
Jimmy turned his palms to the air and looked very confused. That convinced Luna wrackspurts did indeed inhabit America. Only a creature like that could make someone so perplexed.
"We've been calling it the Green Monster since . . . well, forever."
"I find monster a rather derogatory term. Perhaps Green Creature would sound better."
Jimmy slapped his forehead and groaned. Thankfully Luna's husband, Dean, was sitting next to him and could comfort him.
"Mate, you were the one who wanted to bring us to this baseball game."
"Yeah, aren't I brilliant?"
The tall blond woman sitting next to Luna smiled at her. "I believe you are going to make this a most interesting day at Fenway, Luna," Mireet Miradeaux said in her silky French accent.
Luna loved the former Beauxbatons student's accent. She thought about spending a day talking that way, just to see what it was like.
Luna smiled and quietly gazed around the pitch, or park as the Americans called it. It certainly bore no resemblance to a Quidditch pitch, with seating so close to the ground and walls set at odd angles. She also noticed no goalposts. How did Jimmy say the players scored? Something about a home.
If they have to go home and come back to the park, this game could go on for a very long time. She and Dean only had a few more days left in the U.S. to complete their research on Skinwalkers. But Dean had wanted to see his friends from the old Triad hockey team, who were now engaged. She certainly couldn't say no to that. Besides, she liked Jimmy and Mireet. Even though Jimmy sometimes gave her odd looks when she talked about nargles or warned him about the Dark Cloak Society. While he didn't believe in those things, at least he treated her kindly.
Luna looked down at the cylindrical piece of meat wrapped in a roll. What had Jimmy called it? Oh yes, a hot dog. Not that it looked anything like a dog. It was also more warm than actually hot. She couldn't figure out what sort of meat it was made from, or why Jimmy insisted on putting some yellow substance on it called moo-stirt. She turned to ask him when a voice boomed through the air.
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO FENWAY PARK AND TODAY'S GAME BETWEEN THE VISITING NEW YORK YANKEES . . ."
The boos from the Muggle crowd nearly deafened Luna.
"AND YOUR BOSTON RED SOX!!"
The cheers and applause vibrated her entire body.
She sat up straighter, anxious to witness this baseball match. Outside of hockey and football, or soccer as Jimmy called it, Luna really had no experience with Muggle sports. It certainly seemed like a rambunctious crowd, reminding her of the Quidditch matches between Gryffindor and Slytherin.
She stood with the rest of the crowd while a woman with a rather lovely voice sung about rockets glaring red and bombs going off in a land of the free. Afterwards, nine men in baggy white uniforms ran out on the field to a thunderous ovation.
"Let's go Red Sox! Woooo!" Jimmy cheered fervently.
"Yeah! Go Red Sox!" Dean applauded. He was much more subdued than she'd seen him at West Ham football matches. Probably to be expected, as this would be Dean's first baseball game.
A dark-skinned man with long dreads ran across the expanse of grass in front of her and took up position near the base of the Green Monster.
Green Creature. That sounds so much nicer.
"You rule, Manny!"
"Manny's World! Manny's World!"
Luna gazed at the Muggles around her, most of them in shirts and ballcaps sporting the logo of this Red Sox team. She turned back to the field and eyed this Manny person. She leaned a little closer, studying those long dreads. Could it be . . .
"LEADING OFF FOR THE YANKEES," the P/A announcer blared. "CENTERFIELDER, NUMBER EIGHTEEN, JOHNNY DAMON!!"
The explosion of boos jarred Luna. She held her breath in shock at the venomous shouting around her.
"You suck, Damon!"
"We're doing better without you, you bum!"
"Damon, you friggin' traitor!" That came from Jimmy O'Bannon.
That prompted a collective chant. "Traitor Damon!" Clap clap clap-clap-clap. "Traitor Damon!" Clap clap clap-clap-clap.
"Excuse me, Jimmy?"
"Yeah," he practically snapped, his eyes focused on the diamond-shaped pitch.
"Why is this Mister Damon a traitor?"
"Because the friggin' worthless jagoff helped us beat the Yankees in the playoffs, finally, then helped us win the World Series. Then what does he do? He signs with the damn Yankees!"
"Is this World Series very important?"
Luna felt several pairs of bewildered eyes lock on her.
"Yeah, it's important." Jimmy sounded annoyed. "It's our championship in this sport."
"And I assume the end of the World Series means the end of the season?"
"Yeah . . ." Jimmy threw up his hands in frustration. "Aw, for cryin' out loud! I can't believe he walked Damon to start the game."
"So after the season, can Mister Damon seek employment elsewhere?"
"Well, um, yeah."
Luna's next question was interrupted by the P/A announcer.
"NOW BATTING FOR THE YANKEES, SHORTSTOP, NUMBER TWO, DEREK JETER!!"
Luna had to wait a couple minutes until Jeter hit the ball into the large expanse of grass beyond the diamond. She doubted Jimmy would hear her over the loud chant of, "JETER SUCKS!! JETER SUCKS!!" She wondered why the spectators here couldn't come up with something cleverer, like when the Slytherins used to do, "Weasley is our king," at Hogwarts Quidditch matches.
"Now, about Mister Damon. You said he can seek employment with another team after the season."
"Yeah," Jimmy snapped.
"And he did just that?"
"And before then, did he do anything to sabotage the Red Sox chances of winning this World Series?"
"Of course he didn't."
Luna canted her head. "So how can he be a traitor?"
Jimmy whipped his head toward her. She glanced around and saw several other fans looking at her incredulously.
"How can he be a traitor?" exclaimed a frumpy middle-aged woman in the row behind her. "He signed with the Yankees."
"Are the Yankees evil?" Luna asked.
"Hell yeah they are," declared a skinny teen with acne covering his face. "Greedy corporate scumbags who buy their way to championships."
"You mean they buy championships instead of play for them?"
A quizzical look came over the teen's face. "Um, well no. I mean, they play the games, but they go out and buy up all the really good players and don't give other teams a chance."
Several fans around the boy nodded in agreement.
"But isn't that the purpose of a sports team? To acquire the best players in order to win a championship?"
"Um, yeah. I guess."
"So how does that make the Yankees evil?"
The teen's mouth dropped. He looked at the other fans around him. They appeared as confused as him.
"Or are they evil in other ways?" Luna went on. "Do they kidnap Red Sox fans and use them for human sacrifices?"
"What?" The teen jerked his head back in astonishment. "No!"
"Are they trying to conquer the world?"
"Are you serious, lady?"
"Of course they're not."
"Then what makes them evil if they simply do what I assume all the teams in your league are trying to do?"
Like a ripple, confused expressions spread through the fans around her.
"Um, sorry folks," Jimmy said. "You'll have to excuse my friend. She's from England and this is her first experience with baseball."
"Look, luv . . ." Dean turned to her. "The way Jimmy talks about the Yankees, just think of the Manchester United. You know how I feel about those arrogant, overpaid wankers."
"Yes, I do. And I still don't understand it. How can you hate a team that constantly strives to be the very best?"
Dean shook his head and turned to Jimmy. "See what I have to put up with, mate."
Luna smiled serenely and went back to watching the match. Some more balls were hit into the large grassy field and people in the gray uniforms that read NEW YORK ran around the diamond-shaped pitch. From the way the Muggles reacted, this was not a good thing, at least for the Red Sox team.
"You suck, Dice!" shouted someone further down her row.
"Go back to Japan, you bum!" hollered a large, bearded man behind her.
"Who are you yelling at?"
"Who'd ya think?" the man growled. "Our worthless pitcher."
Luna's eyebrows scrunched together. She looked back to the field, then to the fan. "Do you mean the man standing on that little hill?"
"Yeah. Stupid Daisuke Matsuzaka. You pitch like crap!"
Luna frowned. "That's not a very nice thing to say to someone from the team you cheer for. You should say something encouraging."
The large man scowled at her. "All the money he's making, that should be encouragement enough. You overpaid hack!"
"Don't say things like that. It will only make poor Mister Daisuke feel bad. Here, let me show you." Luna jumped up and down and waved to the pitcher. "Mister Daisuke! Mister Daisuke! It's all right! We know you're trying your best! That's what matters! You're still a wonderful person and we like you no matter what!"
She turned back to the large Muggle. He wore the same perplexed look she'd grown used to seeing all her life. Actually, all the fans around her gave her a similar look . . . including Jimmy.
Eventually the Red Sox left the pitch and the Yankees took their places. This seemed to occur every few minutes, usually after someone caught a ball that didn't hit the ground or a Beater – she guessed it was a Beater since he had carried a bat – swung and missed the little white ball repeatedly. One time she missed an entire half, or inning the Americans called it, when a spectacular cloud formation floated overhead. It reminded her of a thestral. Such gentle creatures. She wondered if the cloud thestral took any interest in this match. If it did, she doubted it would yell nasty things at the players. Thestrals didn't possess an ounce of maliciousness in them despite their outward appearance. The people around her could take a lesson in this, Jimmy O'Bannon included.
Once the cloud formation passed, it gave her a chance to wonder about something else. Had someone placed a curse over this park that prevented people from saying the letter "R?" Of course, back at Hogwarts she noticed Jimmy seemed incapable of saying that letter. "Haag-waahts," he'd say, or "Pottah" or "Waa-tah." Perhaps this entire region of America was affected.
Luna gazed into space, thinking up an article on the subject for the next edition of The Quibbler.
A huge cheer broke her train of thought.
"Take a seat, A-Rod!"
"Yeah! You got nothing, you loser!" Jimmy cried and pointed to the Beater walking back to the - what was it? - the dig or dug-something.
Luna's shoulders sagged as she watched the very dejected Beater trudge down the steps toward the bench.
"Ha! Second time he's struck out today!" blurted the large bearded Muggle behind her. "Go on and cry like a widdle girl, A-Rod!"
"Please, Sir," Luna said to him. "Don't be so harsh. Mister A-Rod looks very upset."
"Ask me if I care. I hate that arrogant little wuss."
Luna sighed. She could just imagine how difficult this day must be for A-Rod. Not performing his best and being berated by these people. He must be so upset. Did he have anyone in the dug-whatever to console him during times like this? Was he alone like she had been before Dean?
Maybe I can help him.
A while later A-Rod came out of the dug-thing, stood in a circle and start swinging his bat. Luna smiled, reached into her bag and pulled out a pair of yellow and purple-striped socks with several holes and tears in them. She clenched them in her hands and rolled them back and forth.
"Luna? What the heck are you doing?" Jimmy eyed her curiously.
"Oh, this is one of my good luck charms."
Jimmy's quizzical expression grew more pronounced. "A pair of ratty old socks is your good luck charm?"
"You don't understand." She leaned closer to him and lowered her voice so the Muggles around them couldn't hear. "This used to be my favorite pair of socks until a garden gnome at our house took them and chewed them up. Gnome bites can bring good luck. I always bring them with us whenever we go to West Ham matches."
Dean shrugged and smiled at Jimmy. "You know, the first time she brought along those things, West Ham came back to beat Arsenal. I don't ridicule the lucky socks."
"You gotta be kidding me."
"You are one to doubt a good luck charm," Mireet told her fiancé before whipping her head toward Luna. "Did you know that Jimmy thinks nibbling on my ears before each of his games will bring him luck? And he does it so specifically. Five seconds on my left ear and ten seconds on my right ear. Or if he is not playing well he will nibble my right ear for five seconds and my left for ten seconds."
Luna chuckled softly.
"Mireet, c'mon." Jimmy's neck muscles visibly tensed. His cheeks turned the same shade of red as Ginny Potter's hair.
"Oh stop looking so embarrassed." Mireet gave him a dismissive wave. "That was tame compared to the AHL playoffs, when you thought spreading whipped crème on my -"
Dean silently mouthed a "Whoa!" and just stared at Jimmy. The American wizard grabbed the bill of his cap and shoved it over his eyes.
Mireet just giggled. Such a refined giggle, too. It must have something to do with being French.
"THIRD BASEMAN, NUMBER THIRTEEN, ALEX RODRIGUEZ!!"
The crowd booed with gusto after the announcement. Luna rubbed the socks back and forth in her hands, humming a lullaby Daddy used to sing to her when she was little. That only added to the luck.
"You know," Jimmy said. "If you're gonna haul out those 'lucky socks,' do it when my team is at bat."
"But I feel bad for Mister A-Rod. He seems so upset that he's not doing well today."
"Who cares? I hope the dillhole strikes out every time he's at bat. Then I won't have to listen to the guys on ESPN kiss his ass tonight when I'm . . ."
A sharp crack of wood echoed through the park. Manny started running toward the Green Creature. Luna looked up and saw the little white ball sail higher, higher . . .
And over the large wall.
A collective moan rose from the thousands in the stands as A-Rod jogged around the diamond-shaped pitch with a huge grin.
"They worked!" Luna jumped up and down, waving her socks. "See? My lucky socks worked!"
Jimmy bared his teeth at her. So did all the other fans around her . . . expect one young man three rows behind her wearing a black cap with the letters NY.
"Yeah, you keep those lucky socks out the rest of the game, lady!"
"Shut up!" Half-a-dozen Red Sox fans hollered.
Luna smiled wide and clutched her lucky socks tightly. She then looked over to Manny, standing with his hands on his hips, a sour look on his face.
Luna leaned closer, pressing against the small wall separating her from the field. She screwed up her large eyes, focusing on Manny's long dreadlocks. She thought she'd noticed them before. After a closer look, she was now certain.
"What?" he whined.
"What's that player's name again?"
Jimmy's eyes followed Luna's outstretched finger. "Manny Ramirez . . . who can't seem to get a hit with runners on base today."
"I believe I know why he's doing so poorly today."
"Yeah?" Jimmy responded in a hesitant tone.
Luna leaned over to him. "His hair is infested with nargles."
Jimmy's jaw dropped. He blinked, then slapped a hand on his forehead and rubbed it slowly. "Oh please. Not nargles again."
"Yes, I'm afraid it's true. Mistletoe isn't the only thing they inhabit. One time I had them in my hair and . . ."
"Yeah. Okay. Fine." Jimmy threw up his hands. "Manny's got nargles. That has to be it. Certainly not the fact he can't lay off those outside curveballs."
"Well, if nargles get in your hair, they can affect your hand-eye coordination."
"Well then do something to get rid of them." Jimmy shook his head and returned his attention to the pitch.
Luna checked over her shoulder. Her eyes followed the stone steps to the opening that led to the interior corridor of this stadium. She thought of all the stands selling food and drinks.
That's when the idea struck her.
"I'll be back."
She bolted out of her seat and up the steps.
Luna stood in line well over five minutes before reaching the counter. Then it took her two minutes of examining the drinks on hand before she decided on the right one.
"It is only six to four, Jimmy," Mireet said as Luna returned to her seat with a large cup of Sierra Mist. "They can still come back."
"Not the way they've been playing today," Jimmy grumbled.
Luna settled into her red plastic folding chair and scanned the pitch. The Red Sox had left, replaced by the Yankees. She rested her hand with the soda on her leg, waiting for the teams to switch off again.
"You gonna drink that, luv?" Dean nodded to her soda.
"Oh, I'm fine."
Dean shrugged and turned his attention back to the pitch.
The inning didn't last very long. As the Red Sox came back onto the field, Luna kept her focus on Manny Ramirez the entire time. She could see the nargles so clearly now. There looked to be more of them. She knew she had to act soon.
A Yankee Beater hit the ball high into the sky in Manny's direction. Luna held her breath as he raced toward the dividing line between the grass and the dirt. He stumbled a little. Oh those nargles.
Despite the presence of so many of the creatures, Manny reached up with his gloved hand and caught the ball just a few feet from Luna's seat.
The crowd applauded. Manny smiled, threw the ball into the stands, turned and jogged right past Luna.
She threw the entire cupful of Sierra Mist on Manny Ramirez's long dreadlocks.
Everyone around her gasped.
"Luna, what are you doing?" Dean blurted.
"Luna, what the hell?" Jimmy looked utterly shocked.
Manny shot her a look of incredulity mixed with anger.
"They're gone." Luna just smiled at him. "I remembered experimenting with soda with first time Dean gave me some. It can get rid of nargles."
"What the hell's wrong with you, lady?" one fan shouted.
"You're a freakin' nutcase!" said another.
"Oi!" Dean whipped around. "Don't go calling my wife a nutcase!"
"Luna, you can't throw soda on players, for cryin' out loud," Jimmy exclaimed. "You're gonna get us in . . ."
"Hey. You folks."
Luna turned around. A balding, middle-aged man with a t-shirt that read SECURITY stood by the entrance to their row.
"Let's go." He waved emphatically for them to come with him.
Luna looked away from the security Muggle and back to Manny, who still appeared perplexed.
"It's okay, Mister Ramirez. They're all gone. You'll be fine now."
Manny Ramirez's face contorted as Luna headed over to the security Muggle.
"I can't believe we got kicked out of Fenway."
Luna observed Jimmy as he walked on the sidewalk across from Fenway Park. He pressed his hands against his head. He slowly turned to the stadium with a distraught look, gazing over the cars streaming past and fixing his eyes on the exterior of the Green Creature.
"But you should be happy, Jimmy," she said. "I got the nargles out of Mister Ramirez's hair. He'll be fine now."
"Oh wonderful. Not that we'll be able to see it. Do you know how much those tickets cost? Do you know how hard it is to get Red Sox/Yankees tickets?"
"Seriously, luv." Dean squeezed her hand. "We could have gotten in serious trouble."
"Hell, you're lucky you weren't arrested," Jimmy snapped over his shoulder at her.
"But, Jimmy. You did tell me to do something to get rid of those nargles."
"I was being sarcastic!"
"I didn't mean to cause all this distress," said Luna. "But I had to get the nargles out of Mister Ramirez's hair."
"There are no nargles!"
"Not anymore. The soda got rid of them."
Jimmy grabbed a street light and pretended to bang his head against it.
"Jimmy, please. You're making a scene," Mireet said gently but firmly.
With a groan of discontent, Jimmy tore himself away from the light pole.
They walked a few more steps before coming upon a chubby dark-skinned Muggle behind a table covered in t-shirts. A small TV sat on the far left corner of the table.
"'Yankee Hatah' t-shirts! 'Yankee Hatah' t-shirts! Just twelve bucks! Get your . . . hey, I know you." The Muggle pointed to Luna.
"I don't think so. We've never met."
"No. I saw you on TV. You're the lady who threw that soda on Manny."
"Oh joy," grumbled Jimmy. "You're famous."
"Hey, good for you, Miss." The man smiled, showing off crocked, yellow teeth. "He deserved it, the crappy way he's playing today." He glanced at his TV. "Wouldn't you know it? He's up right now."
Luna leaned closer to the TV and watched Manny Ramirez come up to the home plate thing.
"Oh look, Jimmy. You can still see Mister Ramirez play."
"Whoopee. I could do this at home."
Luna swayed a bit from side-to-side, watching the TV and listening to the announcers.
"So Manny steps up to the plate wearing the collar, oh-for-three today. But he's got a chance to be a hero with two on, two out and the Sox down by two in the bottom of the ninth."
"Watch, he'll probably strike out," said the vendor.
"No he won't," Luna insisted. "He's all right now."
"Manny takes the first pitch at the knees for strike one."
"See what I mean?" The vendor frowned.
"Pitch from Rivera . . . fastball misses on the outside, one-and-one to Ramirez . . . Lugo the runner on third, Crisp at first. Two out . . . the pitch . . . swing and a miss! And Manny and the Red Sox are down to their last strike."
"Great. Just great." Jimmy gazed at the sky, shaking his head. "We get kicked out of Fenway, the Red Sox are gonna lose to the friggin' Yankees. This day sucks."
"Jimmy." Mireet folded her arms. "This day does not suck. We got to spend it with two of our dear friends."
"Yeah and one of our friends got us . . ."
"There's a long drive to left field! Way high . . . AND GONE!! MANNY RAMIREZ CLEARS THE GREEN MONSTER!! IT'S A WALK-OFF THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY MANNY!! BOSOX WIN 7-6!! WHAT A FINISH!! THANK YOU, MANNY RAMIREZ!!"
"YEAH!!" Jimmy jumped up and down and threw his arms around Mireet. "He did it! All right Man-"
A metallic thwack caught everyone's attention. Luna saw a round white object ricochet off the roof of a moving car, shoot behind Jimmy and hit the brick building next to them. He let go of Mireet and lunged after the object.
Jimmy gasped and held a white ball with red stitching in front of his face. His mouth dropped.
"I got it. I got Manny Ramirez's game-winning home run ball!" He held it over his head triumphantly. Several people around them applauded.
"Way to go, mate." Dean high-fived Jimmy.
"This is wonderful!" Mireet hugged Jimmy and kissed him on the cheek.
"Oh man, I can't believe I caught this. This is so wicked pissah awesome!"
"See." Luna smiled at him. "I told you once the nargles were gone, Mister Ramirez would be fine."
Jimmy chewed on his lower lip. He glanced at the ball in his hand, then to Luna, then again to the ball.
With a sigh and a smile, he handed the ball to her.
"Here. I think you really deserve this."
Luna's eyes widened. "Jimmy. I don't think I can take it. This has more meaning to you than me."
"I insist." He gently placed the ball in her hand. "After all, who knows what would have happened if you didn't get rid of those nargles."
Luna tilted her head and smiled. "Thank you, Jimmy. That's so kind of you."
A beaming Mireet placed her arms around Jimmy's shoulders and leaned against him.
"Pretty cool, huh?" Dean rubbed Luna's back. "You're very first baseball game and you come away with the winning ball."
Luna smiled at her husband, then held the ball in front of her, examining it carefully. She wondered if she could turn it into a necklace. After all, something like this would make a wonderful good luck charm.
- THE END -
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For those not familiar with this greatest of American baseball rivalries, yes, we Red Sox fans are that vehement in our hatred of the Yankees. As for the scene dealing with good luck charms and superstitions, trust me when I say athletes are some of the most superstitious people walking the planet. In my time as a sports reporter, I've encountered a soccer player who has to put on his socks a certain way before each game, a hockey player who had to have fettuccini alfredo at Olive Garden, then go home and take a nap before each game, and a couple baseball players who brought a lawn gnome to the dugout every game for good luck. The AHL is the American Hockey League, which is one step below the NHL.