(1938-01-15) Ravenclaws vs. Bludgers
Details for Ravenclaws vs. Bludgers
Summary: Claire gets Elspeth and Hephaesta out on the pitch to practice Bludger evasion.
Date: January 15, 1938
Location: Quidditch Pitch, Hogwarts

Because of some incompatible schedules, this week's practice has been split into two groups. Claire wouldn't tell anyone what she's got planned, just that bludgers would be involved so be ready. Down on the pitch after dinner, she waits for the team to show up. Claire has one foot up on the ball locker, a sheaf of notes balanced on her knee as she waits.

Hephaesta always leaves early for Quidditch practice, as it takes her a bit longer to get there. But she arrives promptly, limping in with her broom over her shoulder. She gives Claire a wave as she crosses the pitch toward her. "Hello, Captain."

Elspeth carries her broom a bit more carefully today, since it's not one of the school brooms she usually uses. It's a bright, shiny, new broom, and she obviously wants to keep it that way. It's also not just any broom, it's a Cleansweep three, and she cracks a tiny bit of a smile as she approaches the pitch. "Maybe I should be using a school broom today, just in cases?" she asks Claire, giving a little wave for Hephaesta. "I am not wanting a bludger to be breaking my broom before I am even having a chance to be flying it in a game."

Claire smiles when the girls arrive. "Good afternoon!" Claire looks at the Cleansweep for a moment, unmistakable jealously on her face before nodding once. "Yes, that's a good idea. I want you to practice flying on it though, more than usual. Our first game is coming up and I want you familiar with its handling. Which reminds me," she says, putting the notes away and picking up her broom from the ground. "Phae, have you heard back from the ministry about the goggles yet?"

Hephaesta sighs, shaking her head dejectedly. "No. Not so much as an owl to say they're considering it. Father says that it probably isn't a high priority for them." Of course, she's still got her own pair, currently pushed up into her hair.

Elspeth nods. "I have been flying on it already," she replies, her eyes glowing as she goes over to the supply closet to get one of the school brooms. She listens to the conversation between Phae and Claire over her shoulder, and once she has the school broom secured, lays her new one very carefully at the edge of the pitch, hopefully out of the way.

"Right then," Claire says, nodding her approval at Elspeth and kicking open the box. "Don't use them in practice, then." She tosses a pair of regular goggles towards Phae, expecting the seeker to catch them. "Here's what we're going to do. Line up in front of the hoops over there, and your goal is to fly -through- the middle hoop on the other end. I'll be beating. Try not to fall off. Questions?" As she's speaking, Claire pulls on a pair of riding gloves. They're obviously new, and finer by an order of magnitude than any of her other quidditch gear.

Hephaesta frowns with disappointment at the order not to use her goggles. But Claire is large and muscular, and not to be argued with. So she puts on the regulation goggles, not bothering to remove the Site-Rite Goggles from the top of her head. She shakes her head, "No questions." Laying her broom down, she straddles it, then rather daringly commands it, "Up!" The broom launches up and she catches it before it can strike her most uncomfortably.

Elspeth's eyes widen a little bit, but then she gives a nods. "I am understanding," she replies. She glances sideways to the better broom, momentarily wishing it for it, but she instead mounts the school broom and flies up and around the hoops to warm up.

Claire waits until the girls are lined up before mounting her own broom. The bludgers rattle eagerly in their bonds. She blows a whistle for them to start for the other end and lets the bludgers free. A moment later she leans forward to race after them, chasing down one. Both have locked onto Phae, but Claire sends one off for Elspeth. Start them out easy, one a piece.

Hephaesta kicks off the ground with one leg, leaning into it to balance the lopsided launch. But once she's airborne, the crippled girl is as light and swift as a hummingbird. She lines up with Elspeth, and when the whistle blows, she's off like a shot. The seeker's sharp eyes spot the incoming Bludger, and she barrel-rolls to avoid it, quickly righting herself and continuing the push downfield.

Coming around the rings as the whistle blows, Elspeth leans forward and low over her broom. Noting a bludger that's been pushed her way, she gives a burst of speed to get ahead of it, glancing back at the straws of her broom when they get ruffled a bit.

"Good, good," Claire barks, already racing to the other side to catch up with the bludgers and volley them back. One has already boomeranged back for another go at Elspeth, so Claire hits hers towards Hephaesta.

Hephaesta squeaks as a Bludger comes hurtling toward her again! She's not used to this aspect of the game. Not really. She makes a quick assessment of the iron ball's trajectory. Downward arc, she muses, and jerks up on her broom handle, making a hard climb to get above the Bludger's course. A close shave, but she's still in the clear.

Elspeth's glance behind to check her broom also catches the return of the same bludger from the corner of her eye. She has enough time to duck her head, and bank a downwards curve to her left to avoid it, before she tries to get a little extra forward momentum towards the goal.

"Eyes forward!" Claire shouts as she swoops underneath Elspeth, which is undeserved, because she did dodge in time. Claire has to chase down one of the bludgers, because this time she wants both going after Phae. Immediately after hitting it towards the seeker, she's racing off to the other side of the pitch again to get ahead for the next round.

Thank Merlin for seeker training, for Phae spots both Bludgers coming her way. Clenching her teeth against the knot of anxiety forming in her throat, she banks hard to the left. WHOOSH! One cruel metal ball zips past. Then it's a sudden reversal to evade the other, leaving her pointed the wrong direction, but gratefully untouched.

Elspeth doesn't reply to Claire for her admonishment, only focuses on continueing forward. As she notes that both bludgers are now headed to Phae, she calls out a warning, flying wide to give the girl plenty of space to maneuver around them. She gives a cheer when the Seeker manages to evade both, but doesn't pause in her flight up the pitch.

Claire doesn't have the breath to congratulate her seeker, because all this flying back and forth seemed much easier on paper. She's caught the attention of one of the bludgers, and smacks it away wildly where it locks on to Elspeth as a target. With a more intentional hit, Claire beats the other bludger at Phae.

Hephaesta lets out another squeal of surprise when a Bludger is sent right back at her. "Not fair!" Yeah, that'll really convince the ball to lay off, Phae. She makes a wide arc to point herself toward her goal again, this time simply trying to outrun the thing, and provide it a more convenient target: Claire.

Elspeth chuckles to herself a little as Phae squeaks, but keeps her eye on the bludger that went wild. Since it's a school broom, she plays it conservatively, and dives steeply, then continues to buzz along closer to the ground towards the hoops.

"Good thinking!" Claire says. By Phae bringing the bludger to her, Claire's able to set up for a powerful hit away from the centerline of the pitch. It will buy them a bit of a reprieve while the ball works its way back. The other bludger gives up on Elspeth skimming along the ground in favor of Hephaesta heading right for it.

Just as she sheds one Bludger, here comes another. But the analytical Seeker knows precisely how maneuverable her broom is. So taking the Bludger head-on might seem suicidal, but some quick calculating, and a little instinct, and she zigs at just the right moment to brush past it. While it does catch her robes momentarily, it is only enough to wobble her course, but she maintains and leans in for a sudden burst of speed.

Elspeth's low profile plan has worked, for now, and she decides not to tempt fate with anything fancy. She keeps the good old, easy does it, attitude as she pushes the old broom for all the speed it has to move forward.

Claire makes sure she's out of the way, so when the bludger swings back from the edges of the pitch it has a clear path to Elspeth. Once she's sure that one is locked on, Claire knocks the other one back towards Phae, never giving her too long of a rest.

Speed is her strategy now. Phae spots the Bludger coming in from the side…all she has to do is go faster to get ahead of the point of collision. She hunkers down, hugging the broom to reduce drag as much as possible. But she misjudges the Bludger's velocity, and the iron ball catches her by the shoulder, sending her into a spin. "Ayee!"

As the bludger makes its way back around towards her, Elspeth pulls up and around to head back up towards the hoop. She almost doesn't catch sight of the bludger as she notices Hephaesta is closer and tries to catch up. It results in a hard braking turn that seems to turn her into the path of the bludger, but lets it whizz by along her knee. Hearing Phae, she glances up and gives a wince. "Are you being all right, Phae?"

Claire pulls up sharply when Phae is hit, which isn't actually all that helpful of a maneuver. She hovers in place, watching to see if she'll stabilize. With the seeker in the endzone, however, Claire blows two sharp blasts on the whistle for everyone to get back to the ground. The bludgers continue to buzz about the sky at normal playing height.

Hephaesta is going too fast to just stop, so she pushes on through the spin. Actually controlling the corkscrew movement now, she twirls through the center of the hoop like a dart hitting a bullseye. "Heeeeeee!" comes her thrilled cry of glee at the successful maneuver. She takes a nice, easy turn to bring herself back down to ground to meet Claire. "Captain! Did you see that? Did you see what I did?" She's positively glowing with excitement.

Apparently Phae is alright, because she spins through the hoop and gives a cheer as she does so. With no bludgers coming her way at the moment, Els sits up and gives an applause for the seeker before she answers the call of the whistle and turns to glide down towards the pitch.

Claire needs a moment to calm down from the dear-god-I-just-broke-my-seeker terror flooding her brain. Phae's excitement gets a shaky grin. "That was brilliant, Phae, really brilliant. Way to take a hit." She swings a leg over her broom to stand on the ground, breathing hard. Beaters don't usually fly that much for so long. And also, terror. "How's your shoulder feel? Move it for me?" Claire rolls her shoulder through a full range of motion, demonstrating. "Good work Els, nice flying. You'll be even faster on that Cleansweep and nothing with stop you."

Hephaesta beams happily at the praise from Claire. She gives her shoulder a roll. "I think it's oka-…ow…" She winces as she raises her arm too high, and slowly lowers it again.

"Yes, infirmary." Claire says, pointing up to the castle. "Go on, I have to clean up here." She tips the lip of the equipment box shut and sits on it, pulling out her captain's log to make notes on tonight's practice. One of which is "Phae is going to destroy everyone and it will be beautiful.

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