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Masha Babicheva

See the lightning in your eyes

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Masha Babicheva

Masha had been warned--by more than one person--that their champion configuration was going to be a problem. She wasn't blind to the possibility but chose to have more faith in her classmates (teammates, at least to an extent) and their ability to let bygones be bygones, to put behind whatever drama plagued their Durmstrang days and band together to bring home a win for their school. That was that they were there for: to compete, to win, to prove what they needed to prove, not to bicker or fuss among themselves.

 

What they needed, she swiftly decided, was some good, old-fashioned team bonding. Giggling over gossip and painting nails and falling asleep in a puddle; all of that TV movie stuff that Masha was not ashamed to admit she subscribed to. Her overly optimistic tendencies towards friendship hadn't failed her yet and she wasn't about to let it fail her now. Now, when it was more important than ever to share a solid bond with the people who could, quite possibly, have her life--all of their lives--on their collective shoulders. 

 

It was a simple start that she went with: a blanket spread out on the lawn in front of their ship (no one would have an excuse not to attend), away from sharp objects and precarious cliff-edges (to lessen temptation), when the sun was just setting and the air was cool (when no one could possibly find anything to complain about), with a grand feast pieced together with the help of some Hogwarts second years who snuck her into the kitchens (who could be sour when there was food?). 

 

Recipe for success.

 

Maybe she told Iskara that Nadeja wouldn't be there and maybe she bribed Deja into it with promises to train and maybe Claes had been threatened with a broom-side kidnapping if he didn't show up but. Still. Desperate times and all that. Masha wouldn't let them get away from her Mandatory Team Bonding without a fight.

 

"Have a seat and start to eat," she demanded when her fellow champions began to arrive. No preamble, no explanation, no room for argument. "We'll begin with idle chit-chat while we eat and then we'll move on to these conversational topics Kali wrote up for me." A wave of an incredibly thick stack of notecards. Masha hadn't had an opportunity to do more than give them a cursory glance, but they couldn't be much worse than anything she'd have come up with by herself.

 

The clipped professionalism left her voice and her features softened as she stared at each of them, almost pleading, "We're here for a good time, guys, so please try to enjoy yourselves."

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Nadeja Kysely

Nadeja was practically beside herself with the need to train. After realizing that the Beauxbatons’ team was already beginning with early morning workouts, the seventh year was nearly babbling to anyone that would listen about her intensive regime. There was only one way she was going to be able to restore herself to her former glory, and that meant she had to work harder than she ever had before. The biggest issue she found with the whole ordeal is that this was supposed to be a team effort.

At least, for the first part. Deja could have pushed through without complaints or whining for the good of the team if Lazuli’s idiot cousin wasn’t there lurking. It was bad enough she was chosen for the delegation, but the fact that the girl was her fellow champion? Somehow, they would have to work together – which, in the scheme of things, didn’t seem too bad to Nadeja. She was willing to go above and beyond for a win. If the situation demanded something of her, she would do it without questions in order to restore glory: to Durmstrang, to her family, but mostly, to herself.

When Masha proposed a training session to her earlier in the day, Nadeja almost jumped on the opportunity. Out of everyone in their ragtag group, Deja found herself tolerating Masha best. Of course, she was not without her share of flaws (as they all were – Nadeja would whip them all into shape soon enough), but the girl put a solid effort towards the cause that Deja appreciated.

Unlike Iskara who let her anger and hatred run rampant. The reason for her teammate’s disdain was more from secondhand stories than it was from Nadeja’s own actions.

Iskara would find out soon enough what happened when you crossed Nadeja Otilie Kysely.

As the time neared that she agreed to meet Masha, she dressed in her best work out gear, complete with sports bras and sweatbands because it was still rather warm in Scotland for November. The short seventh year exited the ship to find her co-champion… not prepared to begin their training at all. No, in fact, this all appeared to be a setup. Deja’s eyes raked the scene at hand and turned to gape at the girl in front of her. “What is the meaning of this?”

Not only had Masha intended on tricking her about training, she hadn’t included any of the odd foods Nadeja had been prescribed for her extremely strict diet. How was she going to win this tournament if she was taking in excess calories she could not afford?!

Someone must be trying to sabotage her.

She whipped her head towards her cohort with the intention to glare when she noticed the rest of her team was approaching at the exact same moment. Did Masha expect them all to be friends when they were each other’s competition? Nadeja would accept the fact that they needed to work together but forming an interpersonal relationship when they would ultimately need to destroy each other was idiotic at best.

It was icing on the cake when she learned that their team bonding activity was being dreamed up by a Beauxbatons’ champion. “You are letting her have that much influence on this meeting?” Nadeja hissed as an attempt to keep her voice low. “You never know when they are watching, when they are listening. They want to bring us down. How are we supposed to represent Durmstrang if we are friendly to them?”

Preparing her team for the future was going to be more difficult than she thought. Crossing her arms in front of her chest, she plopped down on a blanket but made no move to touch any of the food. She was here to win, and winners did not let their guards down.

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Iskara Levitsky

Growing up in a household where the Triwizard Tournament was the main focus of almost all of her bedtime stories, it was odd to be here, at Hogwarts, living her own championship. Throughout each step of these games, she had an image in her head of what once was, of the grand adventures her father had told her as her mind turned them into living paintings each time she closed her eyes. With every step that she took, she wondered if she was retracing the steps of her father took all those years ago.

 

With every fear she harbored, she wondered if her father shared the same sentiment, and if so, how had he overcome them?

 

In his stories, he never mentioned any self doubt. He hadn't expressed any fears until the very end, until Hogwarts cheated him out of a victory. As she walked through the ship, heading towards the exit to disembark, she wished she could be more like her father who had taught her everything that she knew. If this was him, she realized, fluffing up her hair and heading in the direction that Masha had indicated, he would approach this meeting without any malice. He'd agree with a smile on his face, but on the inside, his mind would be churning every little detail over, refusing to leave a single stone unturned.

 

He'd approach it as if it was a fountain of information he could possibly use later on in the completion, and Iskara planned to do the same. It was the only reason she didn't balk and turn on her heel at the sight of Deja and the realization hit that Masha had lied.

 

Well played, fellow Champion, she thought to herself, breezing past her enemy to settle herself on the blanket as if there was no problem in the world she couldn't face. Not even a small betrayal like this would be able to rattle her.

 

"Idle chit-chat isn't really my thing," Iskara shrugged. None of these people were Lapis, the only person she could bare to talk to for extended periods of time. Glancing at Deja, she watched the way she avoided all the food that had been artfully spread out before them, and with a shrug, she leaned forward, grabbed a sandwich and took a bite before turning her attention back to their host. "What did Kali say we should discuss? I'm sure she had good intentions and helpful insight. Perhaps this could be good for us." It was one thing to get an insight to her fellow teammates, but if Masha was going to talk about others that could potentially be an issue further down the line, then Iskara wanted to hear about it.

 

She just had to pray that Deja's nasty attitude and insults towards the other girl didn't sour Masha into silence.

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Claes Althaus

Claes had no problem with being the only boy chosen as the Durmstrang champion but what he did have a problem with was pettiness. He didn’t tolerate that from anyone unless it was in himself. He had a good idea of what was going to happen now that he was in the public eye. Claes knew more people would notice him, more would want to talk to him and more would want to know just who he was. He knew what he was but that didn’t mean he wanted everyone else to know about him. Claes was used to staying out of the spotlight and going under the radar. He knew many of the fellow students at Durmstrang knew him to be a terror in the chamber but outside of it? Nothing. He went under the radar for a reason but his name coming out of the Goblet of Fire had changed all that.

 

As he walked towards the designated area that he’d been ordered to seat in, Claes couldn’t help but cross his arms over his chest at the spectacle in front of him. It didn’t matter that he was the only boy Durmstrang champion. He didn’t have any qualms working with girls but what he did have problems with was the general cattiness and attitude they seemed to have over the littlest of things. He wanted to roll his eyes but at the risk of getting his head chewed off he decided not to.

 

Claes looked between all of the girls. Deja he had dueled a few times. He respected her prowess. Masha was apparently dating a Beauxbatons champion - not that it mattered to him unless it affected their performance as a team Claes didn’t care. Their personal lives was frankly none of his business much like his own wasn’t any of theirs. “It shouldn’t matter who she is fraternizing with unless it affects us as a team. Can we please stay on topic? I too do not like my time being wasted.” Claes made no move to get any of the food that was offered in front of him. The lanky boy had already eaten but he’d probably eat more soon. He just didn’t want to be bribed by food. That was a tactic his mother often used when she was about to deliver bad news.

 

He totally was not going to fall for this trap. He was better than that.

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Masha Babicheva

Totally awesome.

 

Masha was used to dealing with unruly children; her brothers were a handful on their best days and absolute terrors on their worst and not even they could step out of line when Masha made up her mind to handle them herself. These kids were nothing.

 

Despite the obvious…reservations, she’d still succeeded in gathering the four of them in one setting. The wands hadn’t made any appearances—yet—and there weren’t more than the to-be-expected glares exchanged.

 

In fact, the only real issue seemed to be her situation with Kalina. Masha couldn’t help but deflate learning that that was the topic of discourse.

 

“Inter-school relations are encouraged, Nadeja,” she muttered as she fumbled with her cards, the food, the frayed edges of her t-shirt—anything to keep herself from rising to the bait and ruining the evening herself. At least Claes and Iskara weren’t fueling the fire and Masha found her happy center with their special brand of encouragement.

 

There was a beat of awkward silence, careful calculation from all four corners. Tentatively, Masha flipped a thumb against the edge of the card stack and forced the edge from her voice.

 

“Look, they’re great! See here,” she pulled a card from the center of the stack, “’Discuss the mating rituals of the’—bozhe moi*, Kalochka.” And she petered off with pink-tinted cheeks, eyes narrowed as she flipped through the cards with growing dismay. The topics were all appropriate, sure, but only to be discussed at some summit for geriatric scholars. Not one of them would be in any way interesting to delve into during team bonding.

 

Damn Kalina and her brain.

 

Flustered, she continued shuffling through the cards until she found one that didn’t feel like it was meant to be a flashcard for exams. “Oh, wait. This one isn’t terrible!” She squinted in the dimming light to read the familiar handwriting, her gaze darting from the card to her schoolmates. “‘What are the mental or physical challenges you can work to overcome in a group setting?’” Smug, satisfied, Masha tossed the cards to the space beside her and scooped up a muffin from the spread.

 

“It’s a good one,” she insisted while long fingers tore the treat apart, the only outward sign of her growing anxiety. “Who’s first?”

 

*in exasperation, "my god"

Edited by Masha Babicheva

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