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Chapter 5 : The Aftermath
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“What’s this?” I asked, picking up the brochure that had just been plopped in front of me and running my fingers over the shiny cover.
“It’s what you wanted. Isn’t it?” My mum responded in a clipped tone, her face an impassive mask as she walked to the kitchen counter and poured herself a cup of coffee. She picked up a sugar packet, and shook it a couple times, before tearing it open and emptying it into her cup. My mum loved coffee. She thought that because she drank it instead of tea, it made her appear more worldly.
“Uh,” I started, looking down at the pictures of the Hogwarts castle, glittering in the moonlit sky as the title emblazoned on it read ‘Hogwarts: The Chosen One’s Choice’. “I don’t know.”
“Well you better know,” my mother said again, blinking a couple of times as she looked down at her coffee cup and used a spoon to stir the contents, “you gave up the opportunity of a lifetime for it.”
This was the first actual conversation in which my mum had spoken to me directly since before the Gringotts meeting. After I refused to sign the contract and ran out of the meeting room, my mum had been furious and resorted to not speaking to me unless it was absolutely necessary. And now, here she was actually speaking to me while standing in the kitchen and avoiding all eye contact as if she didn’t even know me anymore. As if she didn’t even want to know me anymore.
I noticed that while she was trying to hold her composure, her eyes seemed to hold sadness, mixed with something else. Something I couldn’t quite figure out. And I found myself growing increasingly frustrated. I just wanted her to look at me and show me that everything was okay. I just wanted her to tell me that she still loved me despite my decision.
“Mum, I—” I started to say, but my mum turned away from me before I could get my words out.
“I told Georgiana about the change in plans, and she’s fine with it as long as you only stay until winter break. We’re going to meet with the Headmistress of Hogwarts to register you, get you sorted into a house, and discuss our schedule with her to make sure you’ll be able to attend all of your Teen Witch obligations.” While she spoke, she kept a clinical expression on her face, as if daring me to argue with her.
She began to walk across the kitchen with her coffee cup in hand, ready to leave. I opened my mouth again, wanting to say something to make my mum look at me, “I’m sorry, mum.”
My mum turned around on her heel, and she finally, finally looked at me. Only now I wish she hadn’t. Because I could finally figure out what else was held behind her eyes. Betrayal. I suddenly felt myself wanting to take everything back. Wanting to go back into the Gringotts meeting room and sign the contract, if only to take away the look in my mum’s eyes.
“I just don’t know what I did wrong,” my mum said, letting out a defeated sigh. “I thought you wanted it.”
“I did,” I responded, not sure whether or not I was lying. I had wanted it, for my mum’s sake. “I just think I might want this more.”
My mum sniffed at my words, before turning around and walking out of the room, while I was left alone in the kitchen. The silence left behind in her wake hung in a bloated mess above my head, a representation of the past week. I then sighed—if only to hear a noise— and picked up the brochure, opening it up to the page about transfer students. However, I couldn’t concentrate on it. The words could’ve been in another language, for all the good they did me. The only thing I could think about was how disappointed in me my mum had just been, how betrayed she’d looked.
I closed the brochure, scrunched it up into a ball, and threw it onto the ground.
I had finally done something for me, but why did I feel so awful?
“She’ll get over it,” Dom stated to me, nodding her head as if it was a sure thing. She then looked back down to her toenails, which she was painting a deep purple, keeping a focused expression on her face.
“I don’t know, Dom,” I responded, walking over to her brightly colored bed and sitting down next to her. “You didn’t see her face.”
Dom sighed as I said this, and put the nailbrush back into its bottle, screwing the cap on tight as she considered what she was about to say. “Natasha,” Dom started, turning towards me and putting her hands on both of my shoulders. “I’m speaking from experience when I say that while she may be mad and act like you’re the biggest disappointment since you’re older sister announced she was in love with ‘that hooligan with the blue hair’, she will eventually be okay with it… Okay?”
I decided not to mention the fact that I didn’t have any siblings, and instead considered Dom’s words. I thought about Fleur and the fact that, whenever I was over, she would sniff at Dom and tell her I obviously had my priorities in order. How she would mention that Dom ‘could’ve been great’ if she had just stuck with pageanting, instead of quitting when the going got tough. Was that what Dom meant by her mom being okay with it?
“Okay,” I said slowly, a large amount of doubt in my voice.
“Good,” Dom said taking her hands off of my shoulders excitedly and taking no notice of my trepidation. “Because this is something you should be happy about! We’re going to be at Hogwarts—together— and you’ll finally see what I’ve been telling you about these past years!”
“I guess you right,” I said tentatively, letting myself push the thoughts of my mother away.
“This year will be amazing,” Dom mused as she wiggled her toes in front of her, admiring the purple color. “So now all you have to do is quit pageanting, and then everything will be perfect!”
I felt myself instantly tense at her mention of quitting pageants. I already felt worse enough as it is refusing to become the face of Gringotts. If I quit pageanting, who knew how awful I’d feel. My mother would be so hurt… No. This was the only thing I was doing for myself. Pageants were something I could never quit. It would kill my mum.
“Mhmm,” I said back to Dom noncommittally, not wanting to burst whatever imaginative bubble she had about me quitting pageants.
I kept my eyes fixed on the wall as she started to talk again about everything we would be able to do once we got to Hogwarts. She started to mention something to me about sorting, but I tuned her out.
While she was happy enough for the both of us that I would be attending Hogwarts for the first half of my sixth year, I couldn’t help but feel a pit of guilt at the bottom of my stomach whenever it was mentioned. My mum had been significantly quieter after our conversation in the kitchen, only talking to me to remind me of events we had to attend or to let me know dinner was ready. She had thrown herself into her comfort zone: managing my schedule, and acted as if all of our Hogwarts plans were under her control.
Along with this new silent treatment/avoid all problems route my mum had now established between us, she had also become very lenient to when it came to me leaving the house. It used to be her always at my heels, asking me where I was going, who I’d be with, and for how long. Nowadays, I was lucky if she even gave me a second glance as I flooed away to Dom’s house.
While I had thought I wanted this, this type of freedom to come and go whenever I pleased, I felt totally disoriented. I felt myself wishing my mum would turn back into her usual self, telling me what to do, mapping everything out for me, if only because she would talk to me. I had wanted freedom, yes, but not this way.
“Hey, Dom?” I asked, interrupting her explanation on how the house points worked. She stopped midsentence and looked at me, seeming to sense the question in my eyes.
“Why didn’t you tell me your dad was on the Gringotts Board of Trustees?” I said, asking the question that I had been mulling over ever since the meeting. Dom was hardly the type to ever hold back information. In fact, she normally over-volunteered it. So, it completely baffled me that she wouldn’t have mentioned this detail.
“Because,” Dom said, giving me a serious look, “I knew if I told you, you would’ve signed the contract.”
“What?” I asked, suddenly very confused.
Dom seemed to sigh at my question, and readjusted herself onto the bed, so that her feet were propped up onto one of her brightly colored pillows. “Natasha,” she started locking her gaze with mine, “you didn’t want to be the face of Gringotts. I knew that, you knew that, your mum probably even knew that.”
I felt a voice in my head want to argue against her. My mum definitely didn’t know that, if the way she had been acting was any indication.
“So,” Dom continued, giving me a stern expression, “I knew all you needed was that small prod to get you to finally stand up to your mum and tell her what you wanted. My father simply asked a question, and you gave an answer.”
“Yeah,” I said, still not following. “But why couldn’t you tell me he would be there?”
“Because you would have made yourself prepare for facing him!” Dom explained. “You would have put all the fake walls you usually have around your self as high up as they would go, and you would have acted like it was all what you wanted!”
“No I wouldn’t have!” I shot back indignantly. Dom always acted as though she always knew my next move. Like she had all of my reactions mapped out. As if me standing up to my mum, had been her doing all along.
“Tash,” Dom said, her voice softening, “you would’ve. You would have instantly thought my father was trying to get you to not sign it, and you would’ve signed it because of that.”
“You don’t know that,” I said, even though in the back of my head I knew she was right. I was always defensive when it came to people asking about pageanting. If anyone, but myself told me I didn’t want it, I felt some strange need to prove them wrong. As if by doing so, it would make me like competing.
“If you say so,” Dom said holding up her hands in surrender. She obviously didn’t want to continue this conversation and I found myself becoming a bit annoyed. Dom never wanted to here what I had to say, unless it included me agreeing with her.
There was a long silence that floated between us as we thought over what the other had said. We were in a strange sort of limbo between an argument and peace, and neither of us knew how to react.
“So… when are you meeting with the Headmistress?” Dom asked after a long moment, breaking me out of my reverie and causing me to snap my eyes back to her. I knew she was saying this to avoid the subject, and I willingly welcomed it.
“Tomorrow,” I answered, a note of worry entering my voice. It would be the first time me and my mum had done a meeting since the Gringotts incident, and I wasn’t sure how my mum would act. “We’re going to talk to the Headmistress about seeing if I can get permission to floo out of school certain days throughout the week and on weekends so I can attend all of my Teen Witch events. And I need to get sorted.”
Dom rolled her eyes after I spoke, making it evident she wasn’t happy about me still having to do pageant duties, but she kept quiet, probably not wanting to start another argument.
“Well you’ll love the Headmistress,” Dom stated breezily. “She’s really cool. She like… understands us as students.”
“That’s good then,” I responded disinterestedly.
“You should come over after your meeting and let me know what house you’re sorted into,” Dom said, after a short pause. “I need my best friend to be in the same house as me, you know?”
I found my hostility sinking after Dom’s words. She was my best friend. I shouldn’t be holding a grudge at her for some stupid reason.
“Really?” I asked a playful tone entering my voice, arching an eyebrow. “Because I was hoping to be a Slytherin. The emerald green would really bring out my eyes and all that rot.”
Dom took this time to throw at me the bright red pillow she had been using to prop her feet up. “Take it back,” Dom announced dramatically her silver hair flying around her.
“You know what?” I said slowly, a smile playing at my lips. “I don’t think I will.”
“Slytherin has ambition—”
“And Gryffindor has courage!”
“Yes, but Slytherins think before they act—”
“They’re also conniving little b—”
“And they all end up with well-paying jobs…” I interrupted, enjoying the disgusted reactions of Dom. “Maybe I’ll ask the hat to place me there.”
“You better not,” Dom announced, throwing her head up in the air. “I won’t be able to associate with you if you do.”
“Oh pish posh,” I replied, rolling my eyes. “Since when did you get all House-ist?”
“What the hell is house-ist?”
“It’s like racist… only for houses.”
“That’s the stupidest term I’ve ever heard.”
“Yes well,” I said, eyeing Dom, “I learn only from the best.”
“Were you trying to insult me?”
“What would give you that idea?” I asked innocently, widening my green eyes.
“You were!” Dom exclaimed, pointing a finger at me. “You were totally trying to insult me.”
“You said it not me,” I said to Dom, shrugging my shoulders as if I couldn’t help it.
“Oi! I’ll show you not to insult me,” Dom said, picking up another one of her brightly colored pillows, and throwing it at me.
I dodged it and continued to laugh, happy to have a conversation with Dom that didn’t revolve around pageants or my mum. Suddenly, I had a flash of what it would feel like to go to Hogwarts. Always having your friends there, not having to worry about parents or jobs or stupid pageant duties.
And then, I realized that I should actually be happy. I was going to Hogwarts: the school I’d wanted to go to ever since I can remember. I was going to be thrown into the magical world, with other people my age. People that wouldn’t be competing against me, and that I could actually get to know.
So, while Dom chased me around the room, pillow in hand, I let myself smile. Because maybe things won’t be that bad after all.
“So from what I understand, you’re going to need floo access twenty-four seven?” The headmistress of Hogwarts, Headmistress Chang, asked. Her hair was pulled neatly back into a French plait, and her face was bare of makeup as she looked down her tortoise-shelled glasses at me. As her eyes narrowed slightly at me, I couldn’t help but feel she was very intimidating. So far I couldn’t understand what Dom meant by her being ‘cool’.
“Yes,” my mother said, putting a large smile on her face as she looked at the headmistress. Even though she had still yet to have an actual conversation with me, she was in her element, so she acted as though this whole thing was her choice. “She has other obligations as the face of Miss Teen Witch, so she has to be able to access the floo network to attend these events whenever she needs, especially on the weekends.”
“I see,” Headmistress Chang said, not taking her eyes away from me. “And you don’t think this will interfere with your school work?”
“Natasha is more than capable of doing a bit of homework,” My mother said with a sniff, as if school was the easiest thing in the world. “I’m sure she’ll do fine.”
“Mhmm,” Headmistress Chang said, looking at my mother and seeming a bit offended at her statement. “And she’s only staying until January as well?”
“Yes,” my mother answered. “She’s going to be doing a year long tour for Miss Teen Witch once the new year starts, and so she’ll finish out her sixth year with a tutor. Nata just really wanted to be able to attend school for a bit.”
Headmistress Chang snapped her attention back to me. Her eyes softened and she looked at me as if she was a bit proud. I found it weird considering the fact that I didn’t know her, but I just shook it off.
“Well, this won’t be too much trouble. We used to have a student that attended pageants also, and we were always able to manage things around her schedule.” I knew as Headmistress Chang said this that she was referring to Dom. I wondered curiously if she knew I was friends with her. “You can use the fireplace in your common room in order to floo, so long as you have floo powder, and it should be fine.”
“Thank you Miss…” my mother trailed off as her eyes slid to the nametag on the Headmistress’s desk. I noticed Headmistress Chang’s eyes get tight at the corners. “Chang.”
“Yes, thank you,” I said, speaking for the first time since I had entered the meeting.
“It’s no problem,” Headmistress Chang said, looking moreso at me than my mum. “Now let me just get the sorting hat and I’ll get you sorted so you’ll know where to go on the first day.”
I nodded my head as the headmistress stood up and hurried to a bookshelf in her office in which an old, sordid hat was resting. My mother, upon seeing Headmistress Chang pick up the hat, immediately tensed and wrinkled her nose.
“Is this hat really necessary?” My mother asked, as Headmistress Chang pulled it off the shelf. “It looks a bit… dirty, don’t you think?”
Headmistress Chang looked at my mother, her annoyance now clear. “The sorting hat is something very sacred to the sorting ceremony. It decides what house you’re going to be in. There is no other way.”
My mother sighed and looked at me, as if blaming me for the fact that the hat was dirty, but I just shrugged it off. I was finding myself becoming excited at the prospect of figuring out which house at Hogwarts I belonged in. I had heard Dom chat about them all enough times to wonder what I would be considered as.
Headmistress Chang rested the hat on my head and almost immediately I heard a voice whispering in my ear.
Well isn’t this an odd time to do a sorting? the hat whispered. I see this is the first time your going to attend an actual school this year… and what’s this I see? You’re excited about it? Definite Ravenclaw material if I do say so myself. But… something doesn’t sit quite right with me if I did that.
I found myself slightly relieved that the hat hadn’t mentioned a certain house that I didn’t want to be sorted into whatsoever (Slytherin).
Don’t want to be a Slytherin, I see? Sadly almost nobody wants to be one these days. It’s such a shame. The Slytherin house really does have some useful traits, although you don’t have many of them so you don’t have to worry about being sorted there… Wait! What is this I see? Definite courage...yes. Although you don’t really know how to use it now do you? You’ll need to learn how, kind of like you did to get here, eh? Well then better be….
“GRYFFINDOR!” The hat shouted, to which I found myself utterly shocked and at the same time, insanely please. Gryffindor was the house Dom was in! We’d be in the same house!
But at the same time, I found myself confused. I was most definitely not courageous. Not in the slightest. What had the hat meant by me having courage? I mean I know I pulled that stunt at Gringotts, but that was hardly bravery. It was more like desperation.
“So, Gryffindor will be your house,” Headmistress Chang said, taking the hat off of my head and offering me a smile. “I’m sure you’ll have fun there, and I’m sure you’re friend Dominique will be excited about it.”
I smiled back at her, not questioning how she knew I was friends with Dom. My mother gave me a tight smile as well, pretending she was happy about me attending school, but I could see worry lines appear in her forehead at the mention of Dominique.
“Yes well, we should be going Nata,” my mother said grabbing my hand and pulling me up off the seat. “We have a lot for you to do before school starts, I’m surprised if you’ll ever get all of your Teen Witch things done beforehand… But, this was your choice.”
She then turned back to the headmistress. “Thank you Miss Chang for letting Nata attend the school on such late notice, but we should really be going.”
Headmistress Chang nodded her head as if she understood, and then shot a sympathetic look at me. “Alright good luck. I’ll see you in a week, Natasha.”
I nodded my head and before I could say anything else— like a thank you for putting up with my mum or for even just being here— my mum pulled me out of the door to her office and shut it behind her. Once she did, she let go of my hand and continued to walk ahead of me, her mask of affection officially shot.
It had been nice, if only for a meeting, to have my mum act like I was her daughter again. To act like she was proud of me and my decisions. But I guess, just like so much else in my life, her happiness was just a façade. Something held together so delicately, that it could break at any moment.
A/N: Alright you amazingly wonderful readers, here's the next chapter. I'm not too fond of it, but I just decided to post it and get it over with, because the next chapter I like much better. (here's a hint: next chapter is her arriving at Hogwarts)
I'm sorry it took so long to get out. I've been dealing with some family issues so I've had a hard time writing lately.. but I'm getting back into the groove of things... I think.
Anyways, how did you like the chapter? What do you think about Nata's mum's reaction? What do you think about her talk with Dom? Did you like the sorting with Headmistress Chang?
Please review with your answers, and tell me what you think of the chapter. Or even just a one word response telling me if I should keep writing or not would be nice. If you'd like that is.
Okay well that's all I have to say except for thank you guys for being amazing. You're reviews literally have been cheering me up throughout this hideous time I'm going through. <3
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