Notes: Hello all! Trying something a little different now! I made the terrible mistake of beginning to reread the Harry Potter series in the midst of all my final exams. These books are far too addicting. I don't know what I was thinking. Anyway, it resulted in some writing, as always unbeta'd and full of mistakes I'm sure. (Also, it's almost 4 am here, I should probably get to sleep.) As always, I hope you enjoy!

Story note: Just in case it's not clear, all of the bold writing implies that the speaker is speaking Bulgarian. I am also guilty of faking an Egyptian accent. Apologies! Now, on with the fic!

Thirty-Seven Galleons, Fifteen Sickles, Three Knuts ~ The Quidditch World Cup

Chapter 1: A Grumpy-Looking Genius

CRUNCH

Viktor Krum heard his opponent hit the ground hard behind him. His vision was blurred by the blood spilling from his nose, but he could still see the glint of gold in front of him. A moment more, his arm stretched just a little farther, and... Yes! He had the snitch!

He swerved upwards, away from the grass, his toes skimming the field as he held the snitch aloft.

The cheering began softly as most of the stands were preoccupied with the civil war occurring on the field. The veela, halfway transformed into birdlike creatures, stopped screeching at the leprechauns as the sound of Ludo Bagman's magically amplified voice rang out across the stadium.

"IRELAND WINS!"

Viktor slumped onto his broom, his arm still raised displaying the caught snitch.

"KRUM GETS THE SNITCH - BUT IRELAND WINS -"

The rest of the commentary was drowned out as Viktor reached the field, a team of mediwizards surrounding him at once.

"Mr. Krum, if you could stand still please-" began a female mediwitch. She had blonde hair, wore a mask over her nose and mouth and was followed by three stocky wizards. Two of the mediwizards placed a hand on either of his shoulders, while the third grabbed his broom.

Viktor turned away from her, batting the wand from her hand. "I am fine." Shaking off the mediwizards, he turned away from the giant scoreboard flashing BULGARIA: 160, IRELAND: 170 just as Zograf and Levski appeared.

"It was a good end." Viktor shrugged and said nothing, allowing himself to be slapped on the shoulder by Nikolai Zograf, their keeper, as Vulchanov and Volkov headed over, looking dejected.

Dimitrov landed beside the group, followed closely by Ivanova.

"You should have waited." Aleksandar Dimitrov, a chaser and captain, spoke directly to Viktor, his tone cold an authoritative.

Viktor's expression did not change beneath the layer of blood and sweat. "Why? So we could be beaten by another hundred points?"

Dimitrov's eyes narrowed, but he did not disagree.

His teammates nodded, dispirited but in agreeance with their young seeker. It would have been futile to attempt to catch up. They knew just as well as Viktor that their team did not have the effortless synchronism that the Irish had. It had been on Viktor's own shoulders to beat the opposing team. A trial which he had failed at.

Natasha Ivanova, a thin woman with short, dark hair and bright blue eyes, threw an arm around Viktor's shoulder. "Come, there will be many more Quidditch World Cups in your lifetime." The chaser smiled, displaying all her white teeth and one silver one, and began leading him towards the top box. "Let us celebrate your first defeat."

The others shrugged and began to follow them. Dimitrov was frowning deeply, but took the lead as they headed to accept their defeat. Zvetan Volkov and Vladimir Vulchanov, the two beaters, followed on either side of Viktor and Natasha.

"On the plus side, at least we got bit of gold." Volkov grinned impishly, showing Natasha the pile of galleons in his pocket.

"And here I thought we were getting paid for this." Vulchanov sighed. Viktor snorted at his teammates deadpan, before being jostled by Natasha as she elbowed Zvetan for asking whether he finally had enough galleons to buy himself a date with her.

The Bulgarian Quidditch team stomped up the steps all the way up to the top box.

"Hopefully with the winnings they'll be able to buy themselves a new seeker, Krum." Natasha whispered, hearing the whoops and cheers of the Irish team as they followed a few floors below, her arm still slung across Viktor's neck. She shot a pointed glance at Zvetan ahead her, who rubbed his ribcage woundedly where she'd jabbed him. She released Viktor as they reached the top box.

They all entered single file into the crowded box, just as Bagman called out to the stands, "Let's have it for the gallant losers - Bulgaria!"

He waited, last in line as Bagman called each of his teammates' names in turn. Four seats from the right, Viktor noticed a girl with long, curly brown hair and front teeth that were just a shy too large. She was clapping just as vigorously as the dark haired boy on her left and the red haired one on her right. Smiling, she turned her brown eyes on him as Bagman called his name, and he was surprised by how bright they were. Her chocolate curls reflected the gold light of the stadium and her cheeks were rosy with excitement. Her smile widened as the cheering in the stands reached deafening levels, and a soft humming began in the pit of his stomach.

Viktor began to smile back just as her gaze slipped past him and out the top box door as the Irish team entered.

He realized she was surrounded by a group all sporting green rosettes on their shirts (the red haired boy to her left had on a green top hat that clashed terribly with his hair) and felt doubly dejected, having for just a moment forgotten that his team had been so recently defeated.

The stadium crowds exploded with cheers as Bagman called out the names of the Irish team. Natasha kept Viktor's spirit up whispering things like "Yes, definitely a new seeker," at the sight of Aidan Lynch being supported by two of his teammates and "No wonder they work well together, they're cut from the same grass," this last comment directed at the spectacularly green cloth the Irish team's uniforms were made of.

Finally it was time to leave the box and the team headed out and back down to the field to their dressing room.

Zvetan collapsed onto a bench when they arrived, panting "Why couldn't we have just flown up there? Those stairs are murderous." Viktor threw off his gloves, sitting on the opposite bench as he began to undo his shoes.

Nikolai rolled his eyes at the beater and shoved Zvetan off the bench head first before sitting down himself. "Young men are so lazy these days." Their keeper was the oldest player of the team at thirty-five and had won seven Quidditch Cups in his career. Of the other six players on the team, he seemed the least put out.

Zvetan was rubbing his head as Vladimir helped him stand. "And old men are so grumpy."

Aleksandar entered the room before Nikolai could retort and slumped onto the bench beside Viktor, head in his hands. "So close. So close..." he muttered to himself. The team knew that he had been planning to retire once they'd won the Quidditch cup. It would have been his fifth cup on the team and he had a number of advertising deals lined up for once he'd left. Now he had a whole new Quidditch season and tournament to play through before he could consider retiring again.

Viktor, now unburden by his boots, leaned back against the wall, the weight of their loss hitting him again.

Aleksandar sighed and stood, nodding at Natasha as she entered through the divide to her private dressing room, still in uniform and her bag slung over her shoulder. He turned and looked over his team. Viktor thought he looked more defeated than usual. Ignoring Zvetan who was winking, halfway through the process of undressing, at their female chaser, the captain addressed his team.

"We fought hard out there, men." Natasha, who had been on the team for several years as the only female, slumped down on the bench beside Nikolai, nonplussed at being called a man. Aleksandar had been running the team long before Natasha joined and hadn't felt the need to revise his speeches at her arrival. Their captain looked like he wanted to say more, but defeat was heavy on him. He simply paused before ending with, "Next time, the cup will be ours!"

"Hear, hear!" Zvetan cheered in English, causing his teammates to smile and groan. Zvetan had been on the team only two years longer than Viktor had. He was twenty-two and stocky with dark brown hair and eyes and a boundless amount of energy.

The rest of the team followed Natasha's lead and gathered their things without changing.

Zvetan pulled his uniform back on ("Why'd you bother taking it off!" Natasha griped.) and the group headed out of the dressing room.

The stands were empty now but over the walls of the stadium, Viktor could hear the celebrating continuing among the fans.

Nikolai let out a whistle, staring across the bright green field and the golden hoops. "I wish our practice field was this beautiful." The others nodded at the comment, before the referee Mostafa spotted them and hurried over.

"You arr' almust late!" He cried in his thick Egyptian accent. He was carrying a rusted metal bucket and Viktor internally groaned. He disliked any form of travel that didn't involve a broom.

As though mirroring Viktor's thoughts, Svetan also groaned, looking longingly over the walls of the stadium. He evidently wanted to stay and party with the fans, regardless that they didn't win the match.

Aleksandar apologized to the referee in Bulgarian accented English and accepted the bucket.

"Everyone, together please."

Viktor placed a finger apprehensively on the bucket, focusing his thoughts on the things he would do when he got home. He still had all his school books to buy and Professor Karkaroff had mentioned wanting to meet with him prior to the school year starting.

His teammates assembled around him, and the group waited as Aleksandar watched the hands of his watch. Viktor noticed Svetan's eyes glancing back at the stands and the parties behind it.

Viktor wondered what kind of sensation it would be if they stayed to celebrate their defeat with their fans. Viktor grimaced at the idea of the frenzy their appearance would cause. The young seeker had not gotten used to the craze that ensued wherever he visited. The wizards who wanted him to sign anything for them, the witches who wanted him to sign any part of them...it was all a bit overwhelming.

The image of the girl in the box came back to him. She looked just a little younger than he was and while she wasn't dazzlingly pretty, the brightness in her eyes gave her a sort of quiet, intelligent beauty that caused his stomach to buzz slightly inside of him. The feeling sunk a bit as he remember the swath of Irish supporters around her, but as he concentrated on the memory of her, he realized she herself had not been bedecked in green.

"Ten, nine, eight..." Distantly, Viktor heard Aleksandar begin to countdown, still thinking of the pretty girl with the brown eyes and wide smile. Then, just as it occurred to him that she was most likely British and that he really had no chance of ever seeing her again, the captain reached "one" and Viktor was pulled forward as though a hook had snagged him by the navel and his thoughts of the mysterious girl scattered in a howl of wind and a swirl of color.