Title: The Vanguard
Fandom: Criminal Minds/Harry Potter fusion
Characters/Pairing: Team – gen
Summary: Spencer Reid hadn't missed a snitch in his life, and he wasn't about to start.
'…odds are no surprise on this game, folks. The Vanguard have played well this year, but the Decimators have won the National Quidditch Championship four years running—'
Reid tried to block out the pre-game commentary. He didn't need to know the odds. He already knew the odds.
One didn't become a good Seeker by not paying attention to things. 'Silencio,' he muttered, pointing his wand to the speakers in the corner of the room. He wasn't sure who had set them to play the commentary, but he was sure that it wouldn't have been a member of the team.
'Getting cold feet?' Morgan asked. The older man was already dressed in his robes; dark blue, with a single white stripe running down the side. He twirled his Beater's club aimlessly. Across the room, Garcia was painting her toenails. Hotch was going over their game-plan wordlessly. Rossi, JJ and Prentiss were somewhere else entirely.
'I don't get cold feet,' Reid answered, plainly. He hadn't missed a snitch in his life, and he wasn't going to start now. So far this season, he'd had four contract offers – three from rival teams promising hundreds of thousands of galleons, and one from the United States international team. He had declined all of them.
It was the kind of sporting career that most Quidditch players could only dream of, but it wasn't what Reid wanted. He didn't want fame or fortune or any of those things. What he wanted, he already had – family.
The Vanguard had started with the small-time league, playing more for themselves, rather than anything else. After five years of playing together, they had gotten quite good – both at the sport itself, and at teamwork. Then, after an unfortunate accident that had given the entirety of the Virginia Vipers amnesia, a talent scout had approached them.
'Would you be interested in moving your team to the national level?' he'd asked Hotch – their team captain. Even though he'd been two rooms away, Reid had heard Garcia's squeals of excitement.
And that was how they'd made it to the grand final of the National Quidditch Championship.
'It's pouring outside,' Prentiss announced as she entered the room, dripping with water.
'No kidding,' Morgan said flatly. Prentiss pulled out her wand, and wordlessly dried herself. 'What's the crowd like?'
Prentiss shook her head. 'Fifty thousand, easily.'
Morgan swore. 'This was so much easier when we were playing small-time Quidditch.'
'But you didn't get half as many chicks playing small-time Quidditch,' Garcia pointed out.
'Or half as many fouls,' Prentiss added. A dark cloud settled over the team. This was the thing that they had argued about most before accepting the deal to go national. The teams at this level were aggressive, and none more so than the Decimators.
The last time they'd played the Decimators had been close, if only due to the fact that Reid had caught the snitch before their team could be dealt further humiliation. Of course, it wouldn't have been quite so bad if they'd had a full complement of players. Ten minutes in, one of the Decimators' Beaters had attempted to Blatch Reid, only to be intercepted by Prentiss. Tactically speaking, the loss of one Chaser was better than the loss of the Seeker, but that didn't mean that he hadn't felt tremendous guilt watching her fall from her broom. They'd done some creative shuffling with positions, but it hadn't been enough to win them the game.
'Don't go looking for revenge, Prentiss,' Morgan said, warningly. 'If we lose our cool…'
'Right,' Prentiss snorted. 'Says the guy that's nearly punched out a referee…what is it, four times now?'
'Five,' Garcia provided helpfully.
'It's not my fault they're being bribed,' he said, voice taking on a tone of anger. The anger was good, as long as he didn't get too out of control, Reid thought.
'There's nothing we can do about that,' Hotch said evenly. Reid looked over to where the other man was sitting. He hadn't even realized that their captain was listening to the conversation.
Of course, he thought to himself, Hotch was always listening.
'They might be able to ignore fouls, but they can't ignore goals,' he continued. 'All we can do is play better than them.'
'Of course,' Morgan said. 'Play better than the corrupt team that bribes the referees.'
'Logically speaking, if they're forced to bribe the referees in order to win, then it doesn't say much for their actual skill,' Reid pointed out. Morgan shot him a look.
'Bribes won't fix everything.'
There was a semi-awkward silence. That was another thing that had changed since the small-time – they'd never had fights like this.
Suddenly, the door swung open, and they all turned. JJ and Rossi stepped in, both of them look a considerable amount happier than the rest of the team.
'The Department of Magical Games and Sports is here,' Rossi announced. 'There is no way the Decimators will try anything.'
By the time they made it outside, the rain hadn't slowed. Reid tapped his goggles with his wand, muttering, 'Impervius.' The game would be difficult enough without taking the weather into account.
He mounted his Stormbolt – successor to the Firebolt, but not quite as good as the Shadowbolt. The rest of the team had Shadowbolts, but Reid was used to his Stormbolt – he didn't want to break in a new broom if he didn't have to.
Hotch was at the center of the pitch, JJ and Prentiss either side of him. Morgan and Rossi were about twelve feet above them, clubs at the ready. Garcia had already started towards the goalposts. Reid flew higher than all of them, giving himself a bird's eye view.
Lightning cracked the sky as the balls were released, and Reid circled the pitch from above. The D.C. Decimators were playing in robes of bright red. They weren't all entirely horrible, as far as he could tell, but they had some powerful backers. Their Seeker – Demetri Gibson, one hundred and four catches under his belt – gave Reid a nod.
In Reid's experience, Seeker tactics varied greatly depending on the rest of the team. Some Seekers chose to stay up out of the action. Others actively moved about the pitch, looking for hints of golden light. He'd heard stories of entire teams abandoning the Quaffle in search of the Snitch. That wasn't his style; as Chaser skill increased, the need for the Snitch decreased.
One match they'd played hadn't ended until the score was well into the thousands. Reid had finally caught the Snitch at the crack of dawn, and the team had patted his back wearily before retreating to the changing rooms and promptly passing out.
He hoped that it wouldn't be the case today, but the bad weather was an ominous sign. It was hard enough flying when the wind was this strong, let alone being able to see the Snitch.
Another bolt of lightning tore across black clouds.
It was going to be a long match.
JJ held onto the Quaffle like it was her only child.
The Decimators had a brutal trio of chasers whose defensive tactics were borderline warfare. If she so much as shifted her fingers, they'd knock it from her grip. Vaughn, McKenna and Bloom were all solidly built, as though they'd be better off as weight-lighters rather than Quidditch players.
But the Decimators weren't the only team with good chasers. There were advantages to having been a team for so long. You learned how your teammates played, how they thought, how they reacted. JJ knew that Hotch was a little weaker on his right side, and Emily could get a lot more aggressive than any of them would have expected.
They flew as a cohesive unit, barely straying more than a few feet from each other. JJ passed the Quaffle sideways to Hotch, and they shifted positions seamlessly, Emily still circling the edge. Any opposing chaser would have to deal with the three of them if they wanted to steal the Quaffle. Hotch passed back as a flash of red told her that one of them was going to try anyway, so JJ feinted left, before taking a steep dive. So intent on following her, Vaughn didn't seem to notice that she had passed the ball backwards to Emily, who soared upwards towards the goal, Hotch at her side.
The weather was so chaotic that JJ couldn't see anything, but she did hear the cheer from the crowd, and the faint, "Hotchner scores," from the commentator.
A single goal wouldn't win them the match, but it was a start.
An hour later, the score was tight. The Decimators were ahead by twenty points, and JJ couldn't stop her nose from bleeding. Hotch had called a time out, and really, she didn't blame him. The rain was still pelting down hard, and after several blatant fouls, they were all playing more aggressively, which had resulted in several missed goals, and at least half a dozen penalties on either side.
All things considered, though, JJ thought they were doing pretty well. It wasn't every day that a small time Quidditch team made it to the national finals.
Hotch and Emily had both taken as many hits as JJ – Morgan and Rossi might have been able to do something about the Bludgers, but they couldn't do all that much about everything else.
Reid looked just as bad as the rest of them; the problem with pitting two International Standard Seekers against each other meant that it wasn't as easy as just finding the Snitch. You had to get to it before the other guy. There had been three near catches, as well as a couple of Wronski Feints, but in spite of the bruising, the look on his face was still determined.
In a sport like Quidditch, luck was just as important as skill – you had to learn not to take the losses personally. Today, though, if they lost, JJ was sure she wouldn't be the only one drowning her spirits.
Emily flew against the wind.
If she were flying on a different broom, it would have been almost impossible to stay steady, but the Shadowbolt compensated quite well.
She ducked the Bludger that was aimed for her head, and threw the Quaffle towards the left goal. For half a second, she was almost positive that it was going to go through, but the Decimator's Keeper caught it by the tips of his fingers and passed it back out to the nearest Chaser.
'Fuck,' Emily muttered. The score was dead even – not that it would matter much if Gibson caught the Snitch. As much as it pained her to say it, everything was on Reid now. He didn't need that kind of pressure.
He was used to it, but he didn't need it.
The sound of the crowd suddenly cut into her consciousness. If you paid attention, you could tell how the game was going, just by listening. There was a kind of collective gasp, as though something exciting was happening. She scanned the pitch for the rest of her teammates; JJ was flying neck and neck with Vaughn, trying to wrestle the Quaffle from his grip. Hotch was directly underneath them. Another hundred feet below that was Reid.
He was diving.
Reid was neck and neck with Gibson, both of them pushing their brooms to the limit. Lightning tore the sky just feet in front of them. Any other time, Reid might have broken off, but today, he didn't. The Snitch shot downwards suddenly, and Reid dove vertically to follow. It wasn't the easiest maneuver to accomplish, but there was no way he was going to let himself be beaten to this Snitch.
He couldn't see Gibson, and didn't look back to find out what had happened. His blinders were on – the only thing that mattered was the Snitch.
He almost didn't see the Bludger.
He did, however, see Morgan hit it out of the way, with enough force to send it careening off in the other direction. The other man was yelling, and over the rain, Reid could quite make out the words, but he got the picture.
Get the damn Snitch, Pretty Boy.
He did not disappoint.
A rush of warmth shot through him as he grasped his fingers around the tiny ball. Wings itched against his gloves, but it didn't matter.
They had won.
The next half an hour was something of a blur. The screams were deafening, and the hugs were tight, and Emily's mind was so numb that she wasn't entirely sure it wasn't some ridiculous dream.
They took turns holding their trophy, as though it was some kind of precious artifact. 'Oh my God,' Garcia said, repeatedly. 'I can't believe this is happening.'
There were photos and autographs and even a few enterprising journalists hoping for interviews. Reid had snuck off by this point, but the rest of them said a few words.
'What's next for the Vanguard?' one of them asked.
'Drinking, I think,' Morgan answered, to general laughter. It wasn't entirely untrue. They did their fair share of partying, but nothing too excess, and nothing that would end up as tabloid news. Tonight, she didn't think that anyone would give them flak for partying too hard.
Emily Apparated home, and got changed. The bar they were meeting at was a local hotspot for the Wizarding community, but they'd been drinking there a lot longer than they'd been playing National Quidditch.
Morgan, Garcia and Reid were already there, Morgan being sweet-talked by a couple of girls wearing Vanguard t-shirts. She smirked at the possibility of how that one was going to turn out. She went to the bartender Eric, and ordered a Butterbeer.
'Hey,' he said, by way of greeting. 'Tell Spence I got half a dozen women wanting to buy him drinks.'
Emily grinned. 'Did you tell them he doesn't drink?'
'I don't think it matters,' the bartender admitted. 'Still good for business, though. You mind if we take a photo to put on the wall?'
The wall was covered in memorabilia – photos and articles and whatnot. To go up there was to go beside some of the sporting greats.
'I'll ask if everyone's okay with it, but I don't think it'll be a problem,' she told Eric. As predicted, no-one seemed to have any objections.
'To the Vanguard,' one patron called out, his voice making it fairly obvious that he had had one too many Firewhiskies. 'May they always fight for truth and justice and…whatever.'
'So…' JJ asked, once the hubbub had died down somewhat. 'What is next for the Vanguard?'
'Defending our honor?' Garcia suggested.
'Press tour?' Rossi deadpanned.
Reid gave a long yawn. 'I think…' he said. 'Sleep.'