David Fraser was very much looking forward to the Quidditch world cup match; his friend Viktor Krumm had given him a ticket, as well as giving one each to Ron and Hermione. Ron and Hermione were newlyweds now; and if Hermione did not think that a Quidditch match was an ideal honeymoon she was wise enough not to say so!
They would all be travelling to Hungary, the host nation, on David's enchanted Catalina flying boat; as he said, muggles don't actually get upset about aeroplanes flying so it makes sense just to, well, tinker it a bit with magic. Severus and Krait and their family and wards were also going; Krait was finally feeling better – the blood group having convened to help her alter the chemical imbalances that were making this pregnancy hard – and she had purchased tickets for their extensive flock. Krait HAD however ticked off the goblin ticket tout who tried to charge her for her unborn child, pointing out with all the waspishness that she could summon that as the baby was scarcely going to be a spectator, since it would be a miraculous child who could see out of the womb, she considered that such spurious and fraudulent attempts to overcharge were quite unnecessary unless the tout would like to take it up with Kordach.
The tout backed down immediately at the casually mentioned name of the goblin underworld boss. The zig-zag scar blazing in irritation might have helped too; it was unwise to mess with those people who had been involved in the killing of Voldemort
The fame of David's Catalina had spread to the British Minister for Magical Games, a big Irish wizard called Murphy who had once played Beater for the Cork Corsairs. Arthur Weasley had helped David enchant the machine and he had spoken of David's theory about flying things that muggles expected to see; and consequently, Mr Murphy had come to see David to ask if he and the other officials might ride on his aeroplane and make it an official transport.
David was only too delighted to agree; Dumbledore had finally got the ministry to agree to a policy of concealment by obviousness over Hogwarts School, and it was now listed as a new very exclusive private school. Spreading this theory to other ministries seemed sensible.
The journey was mostly smooth – even though Arthur Weasley did want to take a turn at the controls, prompting the Minister to wistfully request a go too. David kept a close watch over their attempts from the dual controls; and took the machine back when a Hungarian Horntail Dragon recognised a magical flying thing and decided to see it out of its territory.
It was a shock to see several tons of flaming dragon appearing suddenly off the port bow, and David made the catalina do things it would not have been stressed for without the magical assist.
Lucius and Draco Malfoy, the Snapes and Harry took over discouraging the beast as David jinked and swerved; and Krait had the happy idea of confunding it to think it heard a mating call in the other direction.
"Thanks, Krait" said David.
"Well I didn't want to hurt the poor little thing" said Krait.
"She's been talking too much to Hagrid" said Severus dryly "Only Hagrid and his friends would ever refer to the most dangerous dragon in the world as a poor little thing."
"I would personally have said the Ukrainian Ironbelly was the most dangerous type of dragon myself" said Krait mildly "But you know I hate unnecessary killing or cruelty to dumb animals. I reserve my cruelty for Gryffindors and Deatheaters."
There was general laughter; though David had to explain to Mr Murphy that this was an old joke going back to when Krait was at school with Harry and co and made the traditional rivalry between Slytherin House and Gryffindor House into a joke more than a reality.
Over the mountains there was a lot of turbulence, and David explained to Arthur that he had not used magical dampers since he thought that as Arthur was fascinated by muggle flying he would like to experience for himself the various aerodynamic effects. Arthur was fascinated; but Mr Murphy requested that, since the demonstration was very er, graphic, might they employ the smooth flight charm effect please and in a hurry.
Looking at the minister's green face, David rapidly activated the spell. Mr Murphy started looking better almost immediately.
"He's never ridden winged horses or hippogriffs, has he?" murmured Lucius in David's ear. David grinned.
They landed smoothly on the reservoir lake near the chosen site of the match; and the minister and Lucius were both welcomed officially by the Host's Minister of Sport, who hurried them off to meet the ministers of the competing nations, Portugal and Bulgaria.
David, the pilot was only a minor employee in the eyes of such grandees; though there was some alteration in perception as he, Hermione and Ron were welcomed rapturously by Bulgaria's seeker, Viktor Krumm.
"My friends! I am so glad to see you!" he said, kissing Hermione on each cheek, and before Ron could expostulate, serving him the same "And my congratulations! I am so sorry I could not be at the wedding – but you will understand, when I tell you why…." He glanced over his shoulder and whispered "ODESSA!"
"Why not come aboard and look over the plane?" said David, slipping an arm in Viktor's. "Jem, Erwin, how's about you let the kids help you get the tent out?" he added, speaking to some of the older of the Snapes' wards.
In the plane Viktor was more relaxed.
"I have cultivated a friendship with Helmut Hesse at Durmstrang" he said "And he is fool enough to let much slip. And what he has said is that all the muggleborn or those with what they call 'unacceptable' levels of muggle blood in them are to die at the World Cup. And I can't see how they can do it" he added worried.
"I'd say it has to be something ingested" said Severus "Or maybe airborne. We have to remember that Odessa is and has always been associated with the muggle organisation of the same name and therefore may have a more advanced concept of genetics than our own rather bumbling Department of Mysteries ministers. Ethnic cleansing and therefore ethnic testing was always a priority for the Nazis."
"A Scarpin's revelaspell should show up any pathogens if we concentrate on it" said Krait "So everyone, wander around and quietly check every food stall and beer tent and so on. Let's get going; they're probably ahead of us and we need to be quick about this so we can get an antidote out."
It was fortunate that in such crowds the performance of underage magic was impossible to detect; and the young Snapes and David wandered around, looking exactly the same as any other child, sniffing delightful smells of cooking and peering curiously at stalls selling alcoholic beverages, and stopping to queue at stalls selling more innocuous drinks. Ices too were not neglected and the Blood group that was there reported back to the rest with an entirely negative results.
"I wish the rest of the Marauders were here" said Romulus "or even Willow. I work better with my co-conspirators."
"They either haven't introduced it yet, or it's too subtle to pick up or Viktor got it wrong" said Erich.
"Could it be…. Is it a silly idea to think about water?" said Grace, staring at a standpipe.
Several wands flashed out.
"Grace, you're brilliant!" Draco kissed his fiancée passionately. Grace blushed and snuggled at him.
"So now we need to analyse it" said Severus "David, lad, untangle my offspring and etceteras from the mess they are making of the tent and set up an analysis cauldron; we need to know the nature of this."
Had not Severus been talking to the muggle parent of one of the anticipated new girls he might not have been able to perform a full analysis.
Doctor Field was a biochemist and Severus had become sufficiently interested to read up several books on the subject.
"It's a three part weapon" Severus explained "The pathogen is coated magically with a substance that dissolves in the presence of adrenaline; excitement in other words. A normal emotion during a World class match, whether in joyous excitement or through urging one's team on. Once released, it bonds to such secondary blood types as are typical of muggles and rare in those of purer wizarding blood. It is what muggles call a staphylococcus I believe; it attacks and destroys the internal organs."
The looks on the faces of his bloodkin reflected the disgust and horror they were feeling.
"What can we do?" demanded Hermione "Obviously we shall have to drink only summoned water so we do not fall ill; because I can tell you, finding that out is an adrenaline stimulant."
"Eastern European hospitals use bacteriophages" said David "Tailored viruses to kill the bacterium. I think it'd be quicker than trying to find a magical antidote."
"We can do better than that" said Krait "We can get the phage into the water supply and I can also go unicorn and we can take blood to use in case anyone IS struck down with it. Unicorn blood cures anything. Only I can't produce enough to deal with every muggleborn and halfbreed here. Severus, you do a very good job of looking like a muggle professor, will you take a culture of this crap and find a hospital that can reproduce a phage?"
"On it" said Severus "I'll take Viktor – as he knows the area better than I – and David to tell me what it is I really want."
"Hermione, I want you to tap my blood as unicorn; you've got steadier hands than the boys and you know what you're doing."
Hermione gulped; but nodded.
Viktor took Severus to a muggle hospital in his native Bulgaria; where the 'nasty little problem' that Severus presented to them caused much concern lest it spread from his country to theirs. They were only too willing to help!
Severus and party returned with some cultures which he then multiplied extensively using magic before releasing them into the reservoir water source.
"After all, the water also feeds muggle towns" he said.
"You'd better let Lucius do government official and take some more of the phage to the nearest big town to prepare the medics there then" said Harry "Lucius is quite as good at bullying minor apparachik as any Nachalstvo. He'll make sure they're on the look out for it, and even let them think they found a reason for emotional stimulus increasing the effect."
Lucius, once apprised of the problem, was more than happy to help. His attitudes to muggles had undergone a significant modification since his love for muggle Charlotte had blossomed; and he had a son by her, Drogo, almost two, and she had just informed him that she thought she was pregnant again. He looked at Drogo, playing solemnly with his little half sister Lucasta – Narcissa's year old child – and blanched as he thought of losing people he loved so well. He willingly went to bully Hungarian authorities into accepting a report written – with Arthur's best forgery skills – by a 'reservoir water testing official'. He explained that an agent to kill the bacterium had been introduced to the water but that it could not be ruled out that some cases may have already occurred due to the delay between discovery and action.
As there had been some baffling outbreaks of a staphylococcus bacterium causing internal damage his words fell on relieved ears that something was being done about the problem; and the phage culture was gladly accepted.
"Naturally we have treated with antibiotics" said the chief medical officer "But to have a specific cure is excellent news."
Lucius returned to report that there might be some local muggle deaths caused by the bacterium but the muggle healers seemed to have some form of treatment and were likely to do better now but please not to try to explain how it worked.
"It's quite simple Uncle Lucius" said Krait "If you have a serious gnome problem you can introduce a jarvey to eat them. This is the same sort of thing only on a scale too small to be seen with the naked eye."
"What, like Fraser's atoms?" said Lucius.
"Larger than that" said Krait "But too small to see. And they breed awfully fast even without Severus encouraging them with magic. Now you need to alert our healers and tell them someone tried to sabotage the match and that we have a specific antitoxin if anyone falls ill. Let them think it's a deatheater who got away but who hasn't got away any longer – you know."
"I am the master of the implied word" he said smugly.
"Just as well, my slippery uncle" said Krait affectionately.
The medicine of unicorn blood was needed before the game started, the muggleborn guest of a local family being the first rushed to the healers' tent, followed in short order by several others; and Severus took the bottle along. The healer eyed it with horror.
"Professor Snape, is that what I think it is? Has England different laws to the rest of us?"
"The unicorn who freely donated the blood is tame and I was partly involved in her rearing" said Severus with perfect truth. "It is no dark magic nor stolen from one of those magnificent creatures. I assure you that you can use it without a qualm. I calculated that three drops should be sufficient in all but the worst cases."
"As you assure me of that I must take your word for it" said the healer "But I should like to know if you are able to corroborate or substantiate your words?"
"You can ask Professor Dumbledore if you wish" said Severus "Or the aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom whose cure was effected by this self same source; since they wished to personally thank the unicorn involved. I do not advertise it; she is as shy about strangers as any unicorn and I do not wish to have her upset."
"Oh er, quite" said the Healer "Your willingness to give me witnesses helps to dispel my misgivings."
"I'm so glad" said Severus with heavy irony lost on the healer. He waited until he got outside to add "wanker."
The snitch was released; and the game was under way!
Portugal took an early lead with Bulgaria absolutely nowhere, and soon the score stood at sixty to twenty in Portugal's favour. This seemed to wake the Bulgarian team up – unless it was the epithets being screamed at them by their supporters – and they clawed back some points to bring the score to an even eighty all. By close of the day's play Bulgaria had drawn ahead to one hundred and thirty points to one hundred and twenty.
Next day's play was better on both sides, Bulgaria looking like the holders of a world cup; but Portugal were playing like wild things, dragging back points to be at one hundred and eighty to Bulgaria's one hundred and seventy. David was on the edge of his seat and he knew he was one of thousands! If the adrenaline-operated disease had not been nullified, people would have been dropping like flies.
A few were still taken ill; but thanks to the unicorn blood there were no deaths, as the group heard later. They were too gripped by the play to notice much during the match!
Portugal seemed to be really on top, getting another two goals and the score stood at Portugal, two hundred, Bulgaria still on one hundred and seventy.
And then Krumm was on the move, suddenly, fast and purposefully, screaming something at his team's defence that David guessed was along the lines of 'hold them, keep the score down!"
"HE HAS THE SNITCH!" the roar went up; and Viktor Krumm, after a neat little jink to one side held up his hand with the feebly fluttering snitch in it.
There was a long drawn out sigh of either satisfaction of disappointment depending on who those sighing were supporting. Bulgaria won by three hundred and twenty to two hundred.
"And Krumm does it again!" the commentator was beside himself with excitement "Viktor Krumm, the greatest Seeker in the world! Mr Krumm, a word?"
"Thank you… thank you very much. But I am not the greatest seeker in the world" said Viktor Krumm "The greatest seeker in the world is lost to the world of sport because he has had to spend his childhood on something more important than quidditch."
"IS there anything more important than Quidditch?" quipped the commentator.
"But yes. Killing Voldemort" said Krumm "I want to dedicate this victory to my friend Harry Potter and his friends that are also my friends, Ron and Herm-o-ninny and David and the others. Our beloved game takes place in a free world because of them."
This was fairly sensational; but Viktor said 'excuse me' and hurried away.
"Well, that's something to hear, folks, and I bet we'd all have liked to have seen Harry Potter play international quidditch; but now he has time out from killing dark wizards maybe we shall yet see a new sensation on the England team."
"That'll be a no" said Harry to the others, listening to the commentary "Too busy being an auror to play quidditch. Besides, I fancy that soon Ginny's going to be keeping me rather busy!"
A house elf appeared.
"Please, the Hogwarts people, invited are to the victory party!" he piped. He was wrapped – rather proudly – in the flag of the Bulgarian team for his makeshift garment. "You will make haste, please!"
Ron grinned at Hermione.
"Well you can't accuse him of being downtrodden" he said.
Viktor Krumm had affectionate greetings for everyone.
"Because of you a disaster is averted!" he said "And the game could proceed without a hitch! And we have here too, I believe the great Lord Convolvumort?"
"Merlin's whitest whiskers, do you listen to that over here?" said Draco.
"But yes! It is of the funniest!" said Viktor "I laugh so much I almost wet myself!"
"Well if you like that sort of thing…." Draco lowered his voice "Your team; where do their loyalties lie?"
"Politically? Bah, most of them are only interested in game politics" said Viktor "But I would say they would all oppose Odessa if they could do so without too much risk to themselves."
"I have a new character" he said "ACH SO! I der great General Disorder am, der Fuhrer who is alvays Fuhrerious, although mine language sounds like zat anyvay! Zere is NO truth in der rotten rumour zat I am angry from der eating of der frankfurter sausage zat ve are all constipated. In fact ve are good at handing out der scheisser to everyone else, sig heil! As for der Harry Potter vat zink himself so great mid der scar, I haf myself had TWO scars burned in mine forehead each one ein sig rune, so there!" he grinned and added "And I'm writing a part for David here who did sterling service as Tuurd the troll; this time he will be my adjutant, Private Paartz."
David chuckled. He was looking forward to that.
The rest of the Bulgarian team and their support team were laughing uproariously.
"Hey, Harry Potter, how about a scratch game against you and your friends tomorrow before we go home?" suggested the keeper when they had finished laughing.
Harry looked around.
"Anyone game?" he said.
"I'll say mate" said Ron "They'll hammer us, but what a story to tell our kids when we have them!"
"That's my keeper sorted then" said Harry. "Draco and Ginny of course for chasers; Krait, are you too sick and bulky?"
"Oh I'll fly" said Krait "Just for shits and giggles; but only for a short while, just to say I have. Then you can swap the reserve in. Sev and David as beaters?"
"I was thinking of Sev as reserve chaser to relieve you" said Harry "But then I've no second beater."
"I can play beater" said Severus "And I suggest Rom as your reserve chaser. Only don't tell him he's going to be house quidditch captain next term."
"I am? WOW!" said Romulus, moved.
"He has grown up" said Harry "I was thinking of him as a kid still….right, if it's all right for you to let Krait swop out? She's had a rotten time with this baby."
"You are pregnant, Madam Snape? I do not wish to risk your health" Viktor was concerned.
"Oh I want to play a little, just to say I have…. I'll be careful Viktor" said Krait "And do call me Krait; you're not one of my first years after all!"
They got up early for the game, hoping to play it without too much notice being taken.
It was a forlorn hope; once one person up for an early morning piddle saw what was going on, they spread the word and rapidly the stadium filled again. Not that the protagonists were aware of this for a while!
Bulgaria took an early lead, going up by seventy to thirty; and Krait was hit a glancing blow on the side of the head by a bludger, and instead of going off as ordered by Harry, charged the beater who had sent it, driving straight past him with the quaffle for a decisive goal; and heartened, Draco and Ginny played up too and Hogwarts took a ten point advantage after several scores. Krait swopped out then, and Romulus was grimly determined not to let his beloved foster parents and bloodkin down. The score held fairly even for a while, one side scoring then the other; then Draco performed some spectacular bromnastics – as Krait described it – and scored several times in a row, fed by Ginny and Romulus.
The advantage did not hold; the skill and experience of the Bulgarian team began to show, and like a well oiled machine they passed and scored with precision, until the score stood at Bulgaria three hundred and eighty, a full hundred points above Hogwarts.
But then Viktor and Harry were diving, neck and neck, each trying to put the other off, dodging, feinting, now one with the advantage, now the other. And then Harry remembered what David had said about war flying; height was an advantage. He pulled upwards. Viktor, looking wildly for the snitch above its last known position, started to copy him; and Harry who had not lost sight of it, dived!
He had the snitch in his hand; and in some ways this was the sweetest victory ever because it was against an old rival who had become a friend; because it was a game played purely for the fun of it.
Only the collective gasp of the crowd and sudden roar of appreciation alerted the scratch players to the fact that they had an audience; and those who had stayed on to travel more sedately than those who had left right after the end of the match maintained for the rest of their lives that they had more than had their money's worth to see two of the greatest games of the century!
"Well done Hogwarts" said the Bulgarian captain with some chagrin.
"Well, your players were already tired" said Harry "And we surely appreciate you giving us a game after a gruelling match and a long season! If I hadn't got lucky with the snitch you would have given us a thorough trouncing tired or no!"
"He is modest" said Viktor ruefully "And it was not luck. He - how you English say it – suckered me. I told them he was the greatest seeker in the world!" and he draped an arm around Harry's shoulders.
The Bulgarian team and the Hogwarts scratch team were both carried off shoulder high by spectators who now invaded the pitch after having watched this extra match with remarkably good behaviour and decorum, perhaps somehow sensing that it was a friendly match and acting accordingly.
"Come and lay your hands on the cup and be photographed with it" suggested Viktor "After all, you have beaten the victors; that makes it a little bit yours too!"
David was overjoyed.
He knew that under normal circumstances he would never be quite good enough to play in international games, maybe not even local games; which was why he wanted to referee international games. But he had played an international team, and not just any team, but the best in the world! It was a moment of magic to savour for ever; and would have been so win or lose! And when one of the chasers complimented him on his steadfast defence as a beater, his cup ran over.
Naturally the various wizarding news services got hold of the story; and the 'Daily Prophet' – which David referred to as 'The Rag and Profit' – raised questions as to why the England team went out of the world cup in the second round and yet the World Champions were beaten by a scratch team made up of Hogwarts staff and pupils, one of them not yet sixteen.
David wrote in – as one of the Hogwarts players – pointing out that the Bulgarian team HAD just played a two day match against the second best team in the world and were also doubtless slightly hung over from the victory party. Professor Dumbledore wrote to say it was nice to see his pupils and staff keeping the end up, but that the 'Prophet' should be aware that though these particular players took their hobby seriously, most of them had more important day jobs than playing quidditch; since two of them were aurors, one had his OWLs to think of this year and another his NEWTs in a years time and two others were dedicated to the training of young minds. 'Of the other two' he wrote 'the Weasley family could field an excellent team for themselves but these siblings also have their own lives to lead."
Ron might have sighed and wished he could be a Quidditch star; but he knew, like David, his own limitations; and his own erratic play save where it was stimulated to greatness by the pounding of the Bloodgroup.
He was however moved to volunteer his services as a junior coach for the Chuddleigh Cannons, who accepted with alacrity.
There was one more thing that was to happen before the big flying boat took off.
Viktor led David aside.
"My friend, will you do me a favour?" he asked.
"Yes of course!" David said instantly, wondering what a successful man like Viktor Krumm might need as a favour, unless it was to stand by with the Catalina to rescue refugees from Odessa.
"It is a little difficult….embarrassing" said Viktor. "You see, recently my father has confided in me that for years he has had a muggle mistress; and that he has had to explain to her about magic because of the children" he paused "I have a sister and a brother, it seems. And my sister is now old enough for school. You can see of course, that she could not go to Durmstrang!"
"Quite" said David "And you think she should come to Hogwarts?"
"My father had made all the applications" said Viktor "And she is to come… and I teach her English quickly. But I will ask that you look out for her and see that she finds her feet? As a brother would do?"
"I most certainly shall!" said David "I'd be delighted to do so! What is her name?"
"Zvetelina" said Viktor "And Stoyan is a year younger. Thank you David; you are a real friend!"
"If she is not in my house I know people I can ask to keep an eye on her in house in two of the others" said David "Unless she is frighteningly intelligent and knows it, in which case she'll be a Ravenclaw; but then she'll probably not need much helping to settle anyway."
"She is not, such as I have seen of her, stupid; but I think she is a hard worker rather than brilliant" he said. "She is a nice little girl; her mother also is pleasant. I was much angered at first over how my mother could have been so treated; but my father's muggle mistress never knew he was married, so I cannot blame her. I will be glad too that they will learn English ways and hopefully get English jobs; then my mother need never know."
"That must be tough" said David "I'm sure you feel your loyalties are terribly divided."
"Even so" he said "For I love my father though this has made me angry with him. And the children are innocents in the matter, and I would wish to get to know them as they grow up, for they are my siblings however much I dislike the circumstances of their births, if this can be brought about without anyone suffering I shall be glad. And too, if I am spying on Odessa at all, I should like to think my brother and sister were safe. When I first agreed to find things out I did not even know they existed! And yet I am glad I did or we might not have averted a tragedy."
"And because we kept it all quiet, the Odessa will not even know how it occurred" he said "And the healers won't be willing to advertise using unicorn blood on the few cases there were, even if the source was declared safe for fear of people castigating them….Odessa may with luck think it was a fault in the use of muggle methods of germ warfare and abandon a synthesis of wizarding and muggle ways. We can hope so; I'd hate to think the damage they could cause by combining muggle knowledge with wizarding abilities!"
"Absolutely, if that is an example of it!" agreed Viktor, fervently!
A/N Yes the Russians did come up with the idea of bacteriophages which IMO is more effeicient than killing germs with things they can get resistant to. For the benefit of American readers Adrenaline = Epinephrine