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Chapter 3 : Gotta Love that Romaine
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“So you just signed it?” Dom asked me her face disbelieving as she stopped looking in the mirror at the braid she was making, and looked at me instead. She then turned back to the mirror and made an unsatisfied face at the loose strands coming out of her braid, and immediately shook out her silver hair to start braiding again from scratch.
“Obviously,” I responded, causing Dom to turn back from the mirror and scowl at me. “I mean what was I supposed to do?”
“You were supposed to say you’d think about it,” Dom announced, walking straight towards the fireplace my head was currently talking to her from, and wagging her finger at me. “You were supposed to ask your mum to stop being a control freak. And you were supposed—”
“Dom,” I interrupted, immediately feeling my defensiveness kick in when it came to my mum being mentioned. “You knew I was going to sign it. I won Miss Teen Witch, it kind of comes with the package.”
Dom let out a sigh to calm herself, and then sunk down onto the carpet in front of the fireplace. “Sorry,” she said after a few seconds of silence. “I just hate seeing you do things that make you unhappy.”
“I’m not unhappy,” I responded automatically.
“Just like your not happy,” Dom pointed out.
“Dom,” I said not being able to stand the conversation anymore. “I’m happy. I’m living every girl’s fantasy.”
“And what load of shit told you that?” Dom asked. “Head of Teen Bitch: Georgiana?”
“Dom, come on. Can we just leave it?” I said, obviously annoyed.
I mean I know that Dom was trying to help and trying to make sure I was happy, but I could deal with this all myself. It’s not the first time I’ve ever won anything and had to sign a contract, I could deal with all of the restrictions just fine. Dom was just worried, and being overly protective of me as usual.
“Fine,” Dom said blowing a strand of hair out of her face as she stood back up again, her feet sinking into her starch white carpet as she did so. I could tell she was still a bit annoyed at me, and I felt a stream of guilt wash over me. Dom was just trying to be a good friend.
“Nata?! Naaataaa?!” I heard my mother call just as I was about to apologize for my snappiness. I heard the sound of her footsteps clacking across the hardwood floor coming closer to the room I was in. My mum didn’t like me using the fireplace to talk to friends, especially Dom, because it distracted me from concentrating on my pageant duties. So, I knew if she saw me using the only fireplace in the house without her permission, she would not be happy.
“I have to go,” I said to Dom who only nodded her head stiffly in response. I pulled my head out of the fireplace just in time for my mother to open the door and see me sitting cross-legged on the floor, pretending to flip through a Witch Weekly magazine.
“Oh Nata there you are,” my mother said letting out a breath she’d been holding.
“Yup, here I am,” I said as I flipped to the hairstyle pages of the magazine, and pretended to look interested in a particularly bee-hive like style.
“Well,” my mother said, eyeing the hairstyle I was supposedly admiring and wrinkling her nose. “Winston is going to be a bit late for dinner, so I was thinking we could discuss what to do for your normalcy campaign.”
As my mother said this though, I felt all the tiredness of today wash over me again. I had been running around nonstop: faking smiles, signing life-changing contracts, getting uncomfortable clothes fitted. All I wanted to do was rest.
“Now? I was kind of hoping to relax for a little, I mean we just got back from getting my clothes fitted and all days kind of been this big blur so…” I trailed off as I noticed my mum’s face morphing into an understanding look that I knew well.
“Honey, I understand what you’re saying. But really, this won’t be tiresome at all. It’ll be something fun for us to do,” My mother said, her voice soothing and her hand reaching out and smoothing down the back of my hair. I felt my eyelids close a little at her touch, and wished I could stay like that forever.
“It’s just..” I said to my mum, looking at her expectant face, “I’m really tired mum. I was kind of looking forward to—”
“Well how about this,” My mother said, her expert-like convincing coming in handy as always. “How about you wash your face, change into some comfortable clothes, and I’ll fix you a little snack to eat before Winston comes home, and then we work on the normalcy contract.”
My mum always seemed to be able to figure out any negotiation that would make following her rules seem reasonable. There was always another alternative, that while she made it seem like it was completely different and understanding, it was really the same. So, disagreeing just made me seem difficult.
I sighed. I really was in no mood to spend even more time than I already had thinking about pageants. “Do you think we could do this tomorrow?” I asked desperately, wishing that my mum would let the subject drop.
“Oh well… if you really are tired honey of course we can. I just thought it’d be fun to plan it with you but if you don’t want to….” My mum said softly, disappointment evident in her tone.
I pinched the bridge of my nose and let out a sigh before looking back up at her, “No mum. Never mind. It’s fine. I’ll be right out so we can get to planning.”
“Honey it’s fine if you don’t want to,” my mother responded unsure, although she was already looking a bit more cheerful at my change of heart. “It’s really no big deal if you want to relax.”
“No mum,” I said forcing a smile onto my face. “I want to. It’ll be fun!”
“Well then I’ll be right outside. I called up Georgiana to kind of clarify with her the whole idea of this campaign and it’s all about connecting with the whole wizarding community…” But I wasn’t really listening to her. Instead I was preparing myself for what was going to be a very long and excruciating conversation of my mother and I trying to figure out what could possibly make me seem more normal. My mother continued to blab while I got up and followed her out of the room. “—make people able to see past the pageant you and into the you that we all know and love…”
While my mum continued her big spiel about the entire campaign, I nodded my head in agreement even though I wasn’t listening. Her eyes were flushed with excitement, her cheeks glowing happily at the thought of yet another project to work on, that would make it all about me… And her. Always her.
She looked at me as she opened the door to leave the room, and she paused midsentence at whatever she was saying, “I’m just so proud of you honey. The best daughter I could’ve asked for.”
And as she said those words, I felt the anger in me start to dissipate, and my heart tug a little. No matter how overbearing my mum could be, I still loved her, and I knew that deep down all of the things she did were, in her eyes, done for me.
I don’t really know much about my father. Most of the things I know are what I’ve heard from my mum in passing, or from friends of my mum’s that she had back in secondary school. However, most of the things they told me were very watered down and not at all plausible, but there were a few things I did know for certain.
The first thing I knew was that my mother had been very wealthy. Her family had come from old money, passing down from hand to hand, child to child, and my mother had been promised the same trust fund. There were, of course, precautions that her parents had taken in order to ensure she didn’t get all the money without earning it, and these involved things like going to college, earning a degree, getting married to a wealthy man, and having children. In that order. No ifs, ands, or buts.
However, my mother met my dad in secondary school, and that whole order was thrown out the window. Apparently, my father had been quite the bad boy, loving and leaving every girl around, and being the lead singer of a heavy metal band just added to his allure. He had noticed my mum, with her beautiful looks, and glittering trust fund, and she had instantly captivated him.
So, he started to ask her out, pester her continually until, yes finally, she agreed to go out with him. It had taken quite a lot of convincing to do so, in fact, the only reason she had agreed was so that he would stop asking her. Apparently it had gotten quite annoying.
But, after their first date, everything changed. My mum fell for him, and as I remembered her saying to me when I was just a small child, with a smile playing at her lips, “I was a goner.” After that there was no separating them. They dated up until the end of secondary school, and then my dad had asked, no begged, her to join him in London while he and his band tried to make it big.
My mum’s side of the family didn’t like my dad. They thought of him as a useless young man, with ambitions that would never amount to anything. So, my mother was hesitant about joining my dad. She was supposed to go to college, get a degree, find that perfect wealthy man and have his children.
My mother didn’t listen to her parents though. She ran away with my father and she gave up her trust fund, trading it instead for an apartment above a pub, living off canned beans and warm beer that was so completely different than the lifestyle she had once had. My mum loved it at first, I think. The excitement of being on her own and not having her parents telling her what to do every second.
Eventually they got married. It wasn’t anything big, it was just a quick ceremony at some greasy bar that my dad’s band was always playing at. She didn’t wear a gown, only a simple white sheath that fell just above her knees, nothing special done to her hair or makeup. I knew this from the wedding photo I had seen of them, stashed away in one of the drawers in her room. She was beaming at the camera, my father’s arm snaked around her waist as he wore a leather jacket and stuck his tongue out at the camera. His band mates were in the background, making goofy faces and wearing jeans and a t-shirt, while my mother had had no one at the wedding to represent her.
I think my mum really expected my father to make it big. To become some famous rockstar that would prove to her family that they were wrong about him. However, that day never came. Instead, there were bills to pay, with my mom working some half-ass waitressing job, while my father refused to work unless it was doing gigs with his band, which, let’s face it, wasn’t much work.
My parents were exceedingly poor throughout there marriage, and the secondary school romance they had once had, started to deteriorate around them as they argued about everything from the bills to when my dad was going to find a real job. Then, my mum got pregnant with me. I think it was one of those last ditch attempts at making a failing marriage work.
It kind of worked, for a while. After I was born my parents did stick it out together, if only for my sake. But then, three years after my birth, my dad couldn’t take it anymore and he left. I don’t really remember much of him. It’s all just blurry edges around a face I’ve seen a couple of times in pictures. Nothing concrete.
It really hurt my mum when he left. They had been this totally in love couple that were supposed to be together forever. She gave up everything for him, her trust fund, her life, her parents. And all she got in return was me and a broken heart.
I think that’s why she loved the fact that I won pageants. It was proof that while my father had deemed me unworthy enough to stick around for, I was a perfect daughter. And after I started gaining more and more esteem in the pageanting world, my mother could hardly contain her excitement. She was this relentless force, entering me time and time again into every pageant she could, pushing me to win, to prove I was the best.
And I always was the best, no matter what she made sure of it. She was able to push and prod and make sure that, no matter what, I achieved everything I could hope for. My own personal fairytale, with the happy ending she never got.
Buzz. Buzz. I felt the pocket of my jeans continue to vibrate, as I ignored the noise and picked at the salad my mother had specifically chosen for me to eat for lunch. She had gone on and on about how it was made with this special Romaine lettuce that was imported from the winding mountains of Brazil. Whatever that means.
After taking another small bite of my salad, I pulled the cell phone out of my pocket to check what was making it buzz. The screen showed me that Dom had just sent me a text, which I quickly opened:
I just had the most brilliant idea on the face of the earth.
I found myself instantly rolling my eyes after reading the text. Dom always goes on about ideas she has, and they never turn out to be brilliant. Trust me. I deleted the text and shoved my phone back into my pocket, making sure my mother didn’t see.
The whole idea of getting a cell phone had been Dom’s idea. Since I was a muggleborn, I knew all about electronics and gadgets that never quite made its way into the magical world. When I had told Dom about cell phones once in passing, she had started looking into them, and decided that the both of us just had to have them. We’d be able to communicate whenever we wanted, which was something we were never able to do because of my mum.
My mother had been tentative when it came to getting me a cell phone. She saw it as a threat to my concentration, and did not want me to have one for fear of it becoming an interference in my life. However, after begging her for almost a year and making countless promises that it would be used only for contacting her (and Dom who had her uncle come up with a magical shield so that she could use hers at Hogwarts) she finally got me my own phone: pink and glittery and totally not my taste but it was a phone so I couldn’t complain.
“So honey,” my mother began to say, leaning over the new birch wood table and looking directly at me. “How is it?”
“How is what?” I asked confused, as I wondered if she had seen me looking at my phone.
“The salad,” my mother responded back rolling her eyes at my forgetfulness and gesturing to my plate. “With the Romaine lettuce.”
The pocket of my jeans buzzed again and I hoped more than anything that my mother didn’t hear. She didn’t seem to notice anything suspicious, and continued to look at me for an answer.
“Oh,” I said looking back at the plate of salad and forcing a smile, “it’s great! I really think the Romaine adds an extra kick to my taste buds.”
“It really does, doesn’t it?” my mother asked rhetorically, nodding her head as she admired the leaves of Romaine. I took this as my chance to check my phone again, and it was yet another text from Dom:
TASHA CALL ME ASAP! This idea is something that will cause a REVOLUTION.
I felt myself growing mildly curious as to what exactly Dom wanted to tell me, but another text popped up before I could think too hard:
Tashy! I know you’re reading these and refusing to respond because your probably eating some stupid fancy salad, but this is IMPORTANT. Call. Me. NOW.
It was almost scary how well Dom could predict my life. I finally decided that Dom had waited long enough and opened the keypad up to reply when—
“Nata, put that away, now. You know I have no tolerance for electronics at the dinner table!” my mother said, finally noticing that I was not in fact, admiring the new Parisian carpets, but was instead reading Dom’s texts.
“Sorry, mum,” I responded automatically, closing the keypad as my phone buzzed again, signaling Dom was sending me yet another text.
“Who are you talking to?” my mother asked, noticing that my phone was still going off.
“Oh no one,” I said shoving the phone deep into my pocket as it buzzed another time. “It’s just some stupid application download that I don’t know how to turn off.”
I heard my mother mutter something about not understanding why I needed a phone, but before she could suggest anything about taking it away I immediately took a couple more bites of my salad. “Mmmm, gotta love that Romaine.”
“You know you almost got my phone taken away!”
“Be more careful next time when you check your texts, you’re always awful at trying to pretend you’re not,” Dom responded easily, her voice crackling a little over the phone.
“I am not,” I shot back.
“Au contraire, I think your mother would like to disagree.”
I let out a huff and flopped myself face up onto my bed, my hair fanning out around me in a wave of mahogany curls. I kicked my feet up in the air to give myself something to do, and held my phone tighter to my ear to hear Dom.
“So,” I said growing serious, “what is this brilliant idea you’ve come up with?”
“It is not an idea, more as an epidemic,” Dom stated dramatically. I could just see her now in my minds eye, sitting in her room, spreading her hands out wide in excitement.
“An epidemic,” I echoed back, not sounding the least bit excited.
“Yes!” Dom shouted into the phone, a bit louder than necessary causing me to pull it away from my ear. “Something that will change your whole life!”
I looked at the pale blue walls of my room, and rolled my eyes, sincerely doubting Dom’s credibility. Now this is the girl that convinced me last year, that buying a new pair of jeans was going to change my life, whatever she was suggesting could hardly be enticing.
“So what is this life changing epidemic?” I asked Dom, knowing that she was waiting for me to ask just that.
“Well,” Dom said, immediately slowing down her telling of the idea, just to get me to want to know what she was about to say even more. “It’s really quite simple.”
“Mhmm,” I said back, not acting the least bit interested.
“So simple, in fact, that I’m surprised you didn’t think of it first…” Dom said again, still dragging out her revealing of said ‘epidemic’.
“Dom just cut the crap and tell me,” I said, calling her out on her way too dramatic revealing of her ‘idea’.
“Okay, fine,” Dom said, seeming a bit put out. “You always have to suck the fun out of everything though.”
“Do you want me to listen to the idea or not?” I commanded, putting my finger over the ‘end’ button as a threat, even though she couldn’t see me.
“Okay, okay!” Dom said panicking a bit. “It’s just... Do you remember the normalcy agreement that you told me about?”
I rolled my eyes again, “Yes, Dom, of course I remember. My mum’s been hounding me for the past three days trying to get me to come up with something.”
This was true. Ever since the day of my meeting with Miss Teen Witch Enterprise, my mother had been continually asking me what I wanted to do to make myself more relatable to the public. She had left countless pamphlets of things for me to do: join the Gobstones Group, get a job at Madam Malkins Robes for all Occasions, she had even suggested that I join the traveling magical circus, even though that would hardly make me be able to relate to many.
“Well then I have your solution!” Dom announced.
I felt myself growing mildly curious now at what exactly Dom was suggesting and pulled the phone back closer to my ear. “And what would that be?” I asked.
“You could attend Hogwarts!” Dom stated, her voice floating over the line in a symphony of excitement.
“Um, Dom, you do realize that’s impossible right?” I told her, immediately popping whatever pretend bubble she had around her that this could work.
“No but Tashy, I’ve really thought it out,” Dom exclaimed. I wrinkled my nose at her determination. “It’s perfect. I mean you’ll totally be able to relate to all teens your age by going to school with them. It’ll make you seem much more normal by integrating with the rest of us unworthy souls.”
“Oh shut up, Dom,” I said rolling my eyes at her exaggerated explanation. “It’s not going to happen.”
“And why not?” Dom asked, an edge appearing in her voice.
“Well for one, Dom,” I started with a this-is-so-obvious voice, “my mother.”
My mother would never let me attend Hogwarts. She had kept me away from that school her whole life and there was no way she would suddenly have a change of heart and let me go. Education was not on the top of her to-do list, or mine for that matter. It was about the pageants, always.
Dom seemed to sigh a little over the line as I said this. “Your mother has to let you go sometime.” As she said this, we both knew she wasn’t talking about going to Hogwarts. “I mean it’s not like you’ll be able to do this forever anyways.”
I considered Dom’s words before I spoke again, “Yeah but I think she hopes that I will be able to do this forever.”
I thought about my mum with her powerful presence and manipulating eyes. I knew for certain that I would do this forever too, if that’s what my mum wanted of me. I was all she had in the end, while her string of husbands were only temporary, I was permanent. If I let her down what kind of daughter would I be?
“Natasha, come on,” Dom said, her voice taking a no-nonsense tone. “Suggest the idea to your mother, in fact, suggest it to Georgiana: Miss Teen Bitch Head Executive. They’ll totally go for it if you spin it as a part of the normalcy agreement, I swear.”
Dom was always saying things like ‘I swear’ as if that would guarantee a happy ending. Like she could wave a wand and suddenly everything would be as cookie-cutter as could be: all sharp edges and straight lines. These words were all too familiar, as she forever tried to convince me to do anything: from sneaking out to sneaking in Dom was always the puppeteer pulling the strings. If my mum wasn’t pulling me one way, Dom was pulling me the other.
“Fine, Dom,” I said to her if only to quiet her. “I’ll suggest it, but I highly doubt—”
“Yay! You’ll totally love me for this later,” Dom exclaimed.
I felt the words I was going to say leave my lips and float away to wherever unsaid words go. I would just suggest it to my mum, she’d shut me down, and then the stupid idea that Dom had come up with would be over and done with. I could then chalk it up on my long list of things that could’ve been, like waterskiing or skydiving. A leap that fell short.
“I’m sure I will, Dom. I’m sure I will,” I said as she continued to chatter about how amazing Hogwarts would be if I joined. Her words were all hurried and jumbled and so overly excited that I couldn't help but roll my eyes.
I immediately pictured a wind up toy: the ones that you turned a million times and then a toy shoulder would start marching forward, to whatever destination he’s pointed in. I wondered then if this was how it felt like to be a toy soldier: having everyone around you point you in the direction that you were supposed to go, with no choice but to follow.
A/N: So there ya go! Another chapter :)
And now the inevitable questions: What did you think? Do you like Nata? Do you like Dom? What do you think about Dom's suggestion? What do you think about Nata's whole parents issue?
Let me know what you think in a review below because I'm really curious as to what you all are thinking! I'm really coming to love this story a lot and I'm super excited as to where it's going.
I guess that's all I've got to say, except R&R if you'd like!
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