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Chapter 2 : A Signature's Worth A Thousand Words
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“Nata, time to wake up,” my mother sang as she opened the door to my room. I kept my head buried under the covers of my bed, and pretended I was still asleep.
“Nata,” mum said louder, opening the curtains to my room and flooding it with light. “Up, honey!” She walked over to the edge of my bed and leaned over me, continuing on with her chatter, “We have too much to do today for you to sleep in, sweetie. There’s that interview with Witch Weekly this morning, since you’re going to be on the cover, again. And then we need to meet with the head of Miss Teen Witch Enterprise and talk to them about their plans for you. And after that we have to get your outfits fitted for the next couple of press junkets you’ll be attending, as you must look your best. “
I sighed inwardly as I listened to the long list of things that I had to do today. I almost wished it wasn’t the summer; because at least then I would be able to take a break from my pageant life-style and have my home-schooling professor educate me.
I might sound like a nerd when I say this, but I actually love learning about magic.
“Nata,” my mum said through gritted teeth, finally losing her patience. “I said UP!”
With that she tore the 800-thread count, unicorn-haired sheets off of my bed, causing me to open my eyes.
“I’m up,” I said, my voice drowsy, as I picked my head off of the insanely comfortable pillow it was leaning against, and pulled my body upwards.
“Good girl,” mum said kissing my forehead. Her flowery perfume filled my senses and I was instantly brought back to those times when I was little, and I would come crying to my mum about something or other, just to have her hold me tight and tell me everything was going to be okay. Oh how long it's been since those days. “Now I have your clothes already set out for you, so just get changed into those, and maybe throw on that really cute gold chunky necklace. I’ll be in, in a few to do you hair and makeup. Okay, sweetie?”
I nodded my head, still too tired to say much. My mum took that as enough of an acknowledgement, and started to head out of the room before stopping and giving me another look, “And honey, don’t forget to floss extra good.”
“I know, mum,” I called after her annoyed as she disappeared out of the room. I rolled my eyes when I knew she couldn’t see me, and languidly pushed myself out of the bed.
I walked over to the armchair in the corner of my room, and picked the white sundress off of it, holding it out in front of me to inspect it. The dress looked as if the swishy skirt would fall just above my knees, and it had thick straps, that resulted in a square neckline. I sighed to myself, wishing I could just wear a pair of jeans and a simple top, but knew that mum would not find that at all presentable.
So I walked into my private bathroom, showered, washed my face, brushed my teeth (yes, I did floss), and changed into the white sundress my mum had picked out for me. I found the chunky gold necklace my mum had been talking about, and put it on as well.
When I finished getting dressed, I walked over to the vanity table in my room, and sat down on the matching vanity chair, resting my palm on my hand waiting for my mother to come back in. I took in my mahogany curls and creamy complexion. My heart shape face was complimented by rosy pink lips, and I had long, thick eyelashes framing my forest green eyes. But as I continued to look in the mirror I managed to find my flaws. My lips weren’t as full as I wanted, seeing as the top lip was a bit thinner than the bottom. My nose, while straight, didn’t have a smooth slope like I wished. And I was sure I had a spot about to erupt right in the middle of my chin.
“Are you ready for me to do your makeup?” My mum said peeking her head into my room and breaking me out of my thoughts. She saw that I was sitting in front of the vanity, and took this as a yes, walking over to me.
My mum was actually quite the looker, even at her older age. She was tall (about 5’9) and candle slim, which is mostly thanks to her personal trainer. I had inherited her height, and also her mahogany hair, but whereas mine fell in perfectly coiled spirals, my mum’s was pin straight. My mum also had brown eyes, whereas I had inherited my green ones from my dad.
“So honey,” my mum said, as she pulled out my makeup and turned my chin from side to side, inspecting my face, “Do you remember the answers we practiced for the interview today?”
I sighed as she started to spread a thin layer of foundation over my face the makeup feeling cool and impossibly heavy against my skin. A painter creating the perfect mask. “Yes, mum.”
“Well then let’s here your platform,” My mum said clucking her tongue with impatience and then starting to put powder on my face. She always made me practice every possible answer to questions I could be asked when interviewed, as she never wanted me to have a moment of saying something without her having it planned out beforehand. Heaven forbid I give an answer that is not mum-approved.
I gave another sigh, but then recited the rehearsed lines I had practiced to death, “The cause that is always near to my heart is the Witches Without a Wand program. In this program, Witches Without a Wand help those less fortunate witches, who don’t have enough money, because of desolate situations they were left in, afford their own wand. A wand is a part of a witch, and its such a sad thought that almost fifteen percent of the world’s population doesn’t have enough money to afford one.”
While everything I was saying sounded overused and over-said, I really did believe in this cause. I had used it as my charity every time I won a pageant, and it really was an amazing program.
“Pretty good,” my mum said when I finished talking. She started to put a little mascara on my eyelashes as I held my breath waiting for her to finish her critique. “But say it with more feeling. Maybe start off with the fact that fifteen percent of wizards can’t afford wands, and then explain how Witches Without a Wand helps them, only be a little less wordy. And get a little choked up when you talk, interviewers love that.”
I just gave a grunt, and my mum finished off my makeup with a slick of gloss. Next, she pulled my hair into a low ponytail, and had me put on a white bow-headband to hold back any escaping curls. After this, she tilted my head from one side to the other, inspecting my face again for anything she had missed. I noticed her lips purse, which meant that she had found an imperfection. To fix it, she raised her hand and pulled out a clump that had formed from my mascara.
“Perfect,” my mum said giving a satisfied smile, moving her hands away from my face. I looked back in the mirror at my perfectly done makeup that brightened my eyes and made the spot on my chin look nonexistent. A camouflage of sorts.
I thought about my mum’s concept of perfection. The fact that it meant everything on the outside matching up and looking just as it was supposed to: my eyeliner straight and dark, my eyelashes long and separated, my hair smooth and glossy. Was this really what people thought of as perfect? Was I perfect? Hardly. Perfection was different than what my mother thought. It was about barreling through the put together outside, and making your way into the parts of you that nobody else saw.
As I thought this, I realized that my mother would never understand my idea of perfection. So instead, I gave her a weak smile back and remained silent.
“And for our last question,” the interviewer, Amy, started to say, “what do you think you’ll do after pageants?”
When I had first arrived at the Witch Weekly interview room, Amy had made it known she was there strictly for business. Her tight bun pulled at the top of her head and crisp navy suit showed she was a force to be reckoned with, and she had been shooting questions at me rapid fire throughout the entire interview, trying to get any juicy information she could out of me. She had gotten pretty pushy when asking about my family life, but I had expertly dodged those questions, and she had asked me multiple questions about my own person life, which I given short and sweet responses to. So, it was safe to say I was starting to really dislike Amy and her never-ending questions.
And now, here she was, asking me the one question that I hated the most. Because in all honesty, I had no clue what the answer was. What was I other than a pageant queen? What would I do once I got too old, and there was nothing left except my crowns and sashes?
“Well,” I said trying to buy some time as I looked at my mum who was sitting in the corner of the room. Amy had not been happy about my mum attending. She had tried to get me on my own, but my mother had insisted that since I was still a minor, I should be accompanied by an adult. So, after a lot of back and forth, Amy had reluctantly agreed, and forced my mother to sit as far away as possible. But now, my mum noticed I still hadn’t come up with a response and started to mouth something to me that either said ‘stay in the business’ or ‘work with rhinoceroses’. One could never be quite sure.
“I love competing so much, that there’s no way I could really imagine doing anything that doesn’t have to do with it,” I started. Merlin, I could taste the lie. “So, I’ll probably do something to stay in the business, maybe even start my own pageant scholarship program. It’s just such a great thing to pass on to young girls, that they can be beautiful and smart, and benefit from that.”
Amy seemed to give a disbelieving sniff, but she scribbled down my answer anyway in her dragon-hide notebook. I could tell she looked down on me for competing in pageants, as if I was nothing more than a silly girl that twirled batons and paraded around on stage like a prize. I wanted to tell her that I wasn’t that girl, and that I didn’t ever want to be her, but as usual I remained silent.
“That is such a great answer, no wonder you always win,” Amy said giving me a tight smile. I gave her my pageant smile in return and her mouth pulled itself even tighter. “That’s all the questions I have for you today. Thanks again for giving up so much of your time!”
Amy stood up and offered me her hand, and I gave it a quick shake. “The pleasure was all mine.”
Pageant Rule Number One: Even if you hate someone, you have to pretend to like them, because it can come back to you and bite you in the arse. So, as Amy started to pack up all the things she had brought with her I continued to smile at her and be my pageant-y self.
My mum came over, from her spot in the corner of the room and gave me a huge smile, grabbing my arms. “Oh honey, you gave the perfect answers! This article is really going to make the public love you even more.”
Public? Love me even more? I highly doubted that. It’s not like I was a celebrity in the wizarding world, I was more like a celebrity in the pageant wizarding world. Which was significantly smaller and very much unheard of. But, my mum seemed to not care about this little fact, and pretended I was some shining star anyway, glittering and twinkling for all to see.
“Now let’s get to that Teen Witch meeting okay, Nata? We can’t be late, it’ll look bad!” I followed my mum as she hurried over to the only fireplace in the interview room, which was up and running, just for us. We had informed the Witch Weekly magazine of our tight schedule, and they had made sure we had access to the Floo network so as not to be late. Since mum wasn’t magical, and I wasn’t old enough to apparate, this was the only form of travel we could really do.
My mum grabbed a handful of Floo powder, shouting “Miss Teen Witch Enterprise” into the fireplace and went spinning away.
I waited a few moments and composed myself, watching as Amy gave me one more tight smile before leaving the room, her heels clacking in a staccato rhythm as she dissappeared around a corner. I then prepared myself, closing my eyes and pinching the bridge of my nose in comfort, for yet another meeting of fake smiles and unsaid words. Merlin, I was just so tired.
Finally, I grabbed my own handful of Floo powder, and repeated what my mother said. I went swirling through the fireplace watching as rooms upon rooms appeared in front of me, none of them the one I needed to get to. Each place I passed was like a roulette wheel, spinning and spinning until slowing down on the one place I supposedly belonged.
As I fluttered pass another person’s dining room, in which the mother was having trouble getting one of her children to eat dinner, I shut my eyes so that I wouldn’t get dizzy. When I opened them, I was standing in a long white hallway and I instantly thought that of every place I pictured I belonged, this was not even close to it.
“There you are,” my mother said as she stood outside the fireplace looking anxious. She grabbed my arm and started to pull me with her down the long white hallway. The sound of her footsteps was the only thing I heard before she began to speak, “I was beginning to worry that you got lost and wound up somewhere else.”
I had only taken a minute to compose myself before going into the fireplace. Trust my mum to worry the entire time.
We continued to walk down the hallway, and then took a left and walked down another longer hallway with a huge brass door at the end of it. It had a large knocker in the shape of a phoenix on it, and my mother knocked on the door, smoothing her hair as she did so.
“Now let me do all the talking unless I say so, okay?” My mum commanded me.
“Okay, mum,” I responded, a bit annoyed. Before she could say anything else though, the large brass door began to open and reveal the office of the Miss Teen Witch CEO.
When I saw the room, I felt my stomach become a bit on the nauseous side, so I closed my eyes and opened them again, trying to make the vision that I saw change. When I opened them again I half expected to be in a different room or at least for the room to be a different color. But no, the room was still the same: brighteningly and glaringly pink.
It was everywhere I looked. The walls were hot pink, with huge windows framed in pink, and pink drapes hanging over them. The bookshelves were pink, the file cabinets were pink, even the desk was pink, not to mention all of the things covering the desk were also pink.
While I didn’t hate the color pink when I was suddenly overpowered with it, I found myself frantically searching and begging just to catch a glimpse of another color. As if maybe the color pink was the only thing I would see again for the rest of my life. So, I looked at the walls searching for another color, any color, to save me from my pink-induced reverie. So I looked at the wall, on which hung various pictures of previous Miss Teen Witch winners, hoping the difference in color would bring me comfort. However, when I looked at the wall behind the large pink desk in the middle of the room, I saw a blown up picture of my winking face. It was a bit creepy and not at all calming.
However, a clearing of the throat instantly interrupted any more of my own color freak-out, and I looked behind the desk to see who had made the noise. Sitting in the plushy pink swivel chair was what I guessed to be Georgiana Spectre: CEO of Miss Teen Witch Enterprise. She had a mass of blonde curls clipped onto the top of her head, and was wearing a pair of black cat-eyed glasses and a crisp black suit. Her nails were painted a shocking shade of pink and her lips were painted a bright red.
All in all, she was pretty intimidating.
“Well hello to the both of you!” Georgiana said getting up and stretching her lips into a smile. It reminded me of a smile a cat would give to its prey. She then walked over to me and offered her hand, which I gingerly shook, before turning to my mother and shaking her hand as well.
“It’s so good to meet you,” my mother said giving a charming smile to Georgiana.
“Well now, take a seat, take a seat,” Georgiana commanded, gesturing to two (you guessed it) pink chairs and then making her way back to her own seat.
My mother and I both sat down. I slouched a bit as I watched Georgiana shuffle through her desk, and my mother immediately shot me a disapproving look. I quickly straightened my back as Georgiana finally found what she was looking for and dropped a thick stack of papers onto her desk with a thud.
“So,” Georgiana said as she kept her smile intact, looking at me, “how does it feel to be the newest Miss Teen Witch?”
My mother looked at me, silently telling me to make sure I said what I practiced, and I responded in my peppiest voice, “It’s fantastic! I’m so truly honored that I was chosen!”
“Good,” Georgiana said nodding her head not really listening much to my answer, except for the fact that I was complimenting her company. “We’ve never been more sure of our Teen Witch winner!”
I nodded my head, my fake smile still in place.
“So,” my mother said cutting into the conversation and getting down to business, “we’re here to discuss Natasha’s schedule?”
“Yes,” Georgiana said turning from me and focusing her catlike eyes onto my mother. “We have a couple of things you need to sign first as part of the contract. You know, the usual minor details.” With that, Georgiana handed the thick stack of papers to my mom.
A couple my arse.
“It’s going to be so exciting,” Georgiana continued to say, her eyes drilling holes into my own as my mother immediately hunched over the papers, scrupulously reading them to make sure she didn’t miss a detail. “You’re going to be traveling all around the world, come January and staying at the best of the best hotels. You’ll be living every girl’s fantasy.”
Every girl’s fantasy. I was reminded of my grammar school days when my teacher, Mrs. Hogendecker, stood in front of the room mercilessly pounding into our minds that writing in absolutes was forbidden. To her, it was always about the wiggle room, the spaces in between.
“Fantasy,” I echoed back to her thinking about all the pageant girls in their glorious ball gowns, floating around the stage and worrying about every single step, holding their breath so they didn’t mess up. Is that what my life was? A fantasy?
“Well, this all seems to be in order,” my mother said once she finished scanning the last page and let out a satisfied smile. “I’m sure Natasha will be able to keep to the contract restrictions with ease, and will represent Teen Witch Enterprise perfectly.”
My mother was probably the only person in the world that could turn any conversation into a sales pitch. The prize being sold? Me. Always me. Wrapped up and complete with a pretty pink bow.
“Yes, well I didn’t think you’d find anything quite troublesome in the contract,” Georgiana responded easily as my mother signed her name with a flourish, dotting the i’s with extra vigor. “It’s just the usual precautions. No drinking, no smoking, no partying, no boys.”
“No boys?” I asked confused, not remembering hearing that as being part of the contract. I knew boyfriends wouldn’t really be an issue for me though, because I had absolutely no contact with guys… ever. My mother kept me on too tight a leash to let that happen. As she said, a girl as beautiful as me had to be protected from all the heartbreakers out there.
“Yes,” Georgiana responded her mouth tight. “We think it not to be safe to have our Miss Teen Witches in relationships or being seen with boys at all. They always add unnecessary trouble to the company, and the relationships never work out.”
“Well that will not be any trouble at all, right Nata?” My mother said looking at me, her smile so big that I wondered if her face could crack in half. I smiled back at her and nodded my head enthusiastically.
“Yes of course,” I responded, to my mother and Georgina’s pleasure.
“Good!” Georgiana said as my mother handed the contract over to me, gesturing for me to sign. “And also there’s that whole normalcy part of the contract that I’m sure you’ll figure something out for. We just want you to get involved in something that will make you more relatable to the public.”
“I’m sure we’ll figure something out,” my mother responded. I looked down at the contract, the words blurring together and swirling around in front of me. Georgiana seemed to notice that I had yet to sign the contract, and her smile pulled itself a bit tighter.
“Oh and Natasha, don’t forget about your photoshoot next week! You’ll be getting your first ever billboard in Diagon Alley!” Georgiana said, although I felt like she was saying it to me more as a bribe to get me to sign, as her eyes didn’t leave the fluffy pink quill in my hand.
The billboard was the one thing that excited my mum the most. It was probably the hugest prize I had ever gotten as a win, and my mother thought of this as a segway to get contracts with a bunch of different companies. What one company wants, they all want. Don’t they?
“Oh honey won’t that be so exciting?” My mother said clapping her hands together in happiness. She seemed to notice I hadn’t signed yet either, and gave me a look commanding me to do so.
I don’t know what was taking so long for me to sign the contract. I guess I was just so hesitant at the fact of signing all these rights away just with one scrawl of my name. It was like losing in exploding snap: Game over. Caput.
With my mother and Georgiana’s eyes now on me, I finally pressed my quill to the contract page and signed my name in my usual chicken scrawl. I never had the neatest handwriting, to my mother’s dismay, and it looked so tiny and jagged compared to my mothers loopy signature.
As soon as I handed the contract back to Georgiana, her catlike smile reappeared and I suddenly felt like I had just signed a deal with a devil.
“Natasha Lee,” Georgiana said, her red lips curving around each word, “Welcome to Miss Teen Witch Enterprise.”
A/N: Dun dun duuuuuuuun. She signed it, she signed it! Oh how could Natasha be so stupid?
Well, anyways, my lovely lovely readers, what did you think of this chapter!? More importantly, what do you think of Nata's mum? What do you think about Nata herself? What do you think about Georgiana?
I'm sorry for this chapter taking so long to come out but with the queue being closed, and me being away for two weeks it was hard for me to get internet access for long periods of time so I barely was able to answer your lovely reviews, let alone post this chapter. But hopefully it did not disappoint!
I have big plans for this story, so if you'd love to stick it out with me that'd be amazing!
Thank you all for being amazing readers and reviewers, and making me so incredibly happy:)
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