Another day at the Wizolympics, and another day of Snudge– I mean snowball fighting! Hooray for witches and wizards using Muggle Sports to encourage magical camaraderie.
Fans may remember that yesterday during the preliminary round, Finland and Jamaica were disqualified, leaving Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Iceland, Peru, and Thailand to contend with each other in this round-robin snowball fighting tourney! I watched the teams march back into the chilly stadium as I sat snug in the stands with a warm butterbeer in my hand. I was happy to notice the Pogrebin had not made an appearance today at all – a fact I realized numerous competitors on the field observed as well, as they shakily turned their heads all around the place, cognizant of the horrifying aerial assault of the man-eating creatures just yesterday morning.
“Gather round, gather round!” screamed the heavily bearded Russian man who had judged the preliminary round. I had recently learned he was Vladimir Golubov – a two-time Wizolympic champion and dragon tamer. ”Last time, you all produced adequate snow forts. The other two teams were cheaters and weaklings. They deserved what the Pogrebin gave them!!”
There was a brief silence after this statement.
“In any case, congratulations on making it to the next round… we will now begin the next phase! All teams will return to their forts and collect snowballs. Be sure to mold them round and hard – just like Snudgebolls! Then, once you have all gathered an adequate stock, you will commence with throwing them at one another. Begin!”
The teams hurried back to their snow forts. In truth, each country’s snow-wall looked about the same, about a meter and a half tall and two meteres wide, (Peru’s a bit thicker at the top than the others and Brazil’s a smidgen longer upon closer inspection with my omnioculars). After about ten minutes of hurried snowball creation the Russian judge decided the teams had collected enough ammunition. “It is time to begin the match! Get behind your defenses and prepare for battle!”
I watched the players settle behind their walls and patiently waited for the action to begin. It was a strange thing indeed, this Snowball Fighting game! How unlike Snudgeboll, where young children merrily rolled around in the snow and jumped over one another, whilst variously grabbing their ears and quoting Tales From Beedle The Bard. Such curious people, Muggles.
At last, the first snowball was flung into the air. The Aussies threw it and it was making a beeline for Iceland! My dear readers – it was marvelous, the sun gleamed off the ball – such a perfect moment it was! … And then the snowball fell to the ground, twenty whole metres from where Iceland huddled for impact.
There was another silence. “What was that?” boomed Golubov. “I ought to disqualify your whole team for that throw!”
As Golubov continued to criticize the thrower from the Australian team, I began to question the poor organisation of this event, not to mention its bumptious judge. The teams were clearly spaced so far apart in that massive stadium that it was unlikely any of the players would be able to reach their opponents – much less incapacitate them – without the use of magic!
Another snowball launched into the air and swiftly fell to the ground, leaving none of the players any worse for wear. Now the judge launched into a verbal assault on Team Brazil.
“Give those players a break!” I involuntarily cried from the stands.
“Excuse me?” Golubov turned his eyes and beard on me in a rush.
“With all due respect, sir,” I began, doing my best to keep the anger out of my voice, “The expectations you have of these competitors is absurd. Who can throw a snowball 70 meters while crouching behind a snow wall? And yesterday, was it quite prudent to disqualify the Finnish team when one of their competitors was merely asking about the rules?”
“What? Shut your mouth or I will disqualify you!”
I was a bit taken aback by that, naturally, for I wasn’t even competing. “You can’t disqualify me, Mr. Golubov. I am Barnabass Cuffe, Editor-in-Chief at The Daily Prophet, which is a rather well-respected news source in the UK I might add.”
Suddenly an overpowering sense of dread came over me, and a large smile cracked across Golubov’s face.
The Pogrebin had returned.
“Oh, yes. You are disqualified Mr. Cuffe. Now, away with you!”
Dear readers, my sympathetic audience! With haste I ran from that stadium and later learned that Australia and Brazil had in fact been disqualified for their poor snowball tosses. But who was I to report, for I too was disqualified! And now a small group of Pogrebin have been following me around the grounds ever since, waiting, presumably, for me to collapse from my misery so that they might feast on me alive. Most terrible of all the Dementor among them floats overhead with what I can only assume is bated breath.
Professor Slughorn, you always used to say good ol’ Barnaby could overcome any challenge, any obstacle. Well, that might have been true at the Prophet where I conquered that rare batch of Wizard’s Writer’s-block, but not here. Gods, I wish you were here with me now…