Chapter 1 : And the Winner is...
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I first performed magic, when I was eight.
I had been at the Little Miss Britain Beauty Pageant, and when I had not won the highest honor, Miss Supreme Miss, I lit the winner’s dress on fire. No one in the audience understood what happened. There Missy had been standing, in her glittery pink dress, as the crown I had coveted so much was being placed on her perfect blond head. The next thing the audience knew, her poofy pink dress was bursting into flames.
No one had suspected the runner up, Natasha Leigh Covington, capable of using her mind to cause the fire. But, I knew I had caused it, as the only thoughts that had flooded through my mind were of Missy burning to the ground. I guess you could say I was competitive when it came to beauty pageants.
But in all honesty, I had practiced my routines for months before this pageant. I deserved to be first place. I had never, ever become runner up before. Runner up was second best, and as my mum told me all the time, I was the best. How could I not win?
My mum, being a muggle, was unaware of the fact that I caused this commotion (she would not find out until I got my Hogwarts letter three years later), and once Missy was safely drenched from head to toe in order to put out the fire, my mother demanded the judges recalculate their votes.
“She has been Miss Supreme Miss every year,” My mum’s shouts could be heard throughout the room. The manager of the pageant who she had been speaking with looked scared. “I do not believe that my beautiful little Natasha is runner-up to a blonde haired, blue-eyed mistake.”
Ouch, that was harsh. All the other mums there knew that the winner, Missy, had been adopted, as her birth mum had been a pregnant teen. But, my mum was just as competitive as I was, if not more, and if there was anything she hated, it was losing.
“I’m sorry ma’am, but the judges have spoken,” the manager had responded in a shaky voice. There was nothing scarier than facing the wrath of Miranda Covington, and I think she knew it.
“The judges have spoken?” My mum snapped. “Let me meet these supposed judges. Just look at my beautiful daughter. She is unique, she is perfect, and she is Miss Supreme Miss material! The winner is flammable for Christ’s sake! She is a hazard!”
However, my mum’s yelling was unable to change the decision of the judges, and I went home in my glamorous blue Swarovski crystal dress with no crown, while Missy returned home with a charred pink dress and the Miss Supreme Miss title. Life had never seemed more unfair in my eight years of life.
So the next year, my mum had me enroll in every pageant available. She trained me nonstop for all of them and we kicked every other little girl’s arses, as I brought home all of the highest prizes. Little Missy, the girl who won Miss Supreme Miss, went unnoticed as I swept all of Britain with my beauty pageant wins.
That day was the only time I have ever lost a beauty pageant, and my mum made sure it was the last.
“And now,” the presenter said as he paused for a dramatic effect, inhaling slowly and causing a lull over the crowd, “the winner,” another pause and a deeper inhale, “of the,” another pause and an even deeper inhale. God, this guy took way to many pauses for my liking. Someone should tell him that if he did that in normal conversation people would think he had a brain disease. “Miss Teen Witch competition is….,” another pause, only this time even longer. There was a drum roll in the background and the audience remained silent. This guy really didn’t understand how much I hated pauses.
“Natasha Leigh Covington!” the presenter shouted. The whole audience erupted in applause as I gave a squeal of delight and a huge spotlight shone on me, feigning shock as I came down from my platform. But in truth, I wasn't surprised. I hadn't lost a beauty pageant since the ripe old age of eight.
I walked up the long runway to where the previous Miss Teen Witch, Saundra O’Connor, was standing with a sour look on her face. Me and Saundra never got along, ever since I beat her out in the Little Miss Witchington competition when I was twelve, so I knew she was annoyed that she would have to give her crown up to me.
When I stood in front of her, she gave me a tight smile, and placed the glittering Teen Witch tiara onto my mahogany ringlets. She then handed me a bouquet of bewitched flowers (that changed from lilies to roses to orchids, etc.), and I grinned at the audience as they continued to applaud.
“Congratulations,” Saundra said, her voice sugary sweet and all types of insincere. Her cherry red lips were parted in a forced smile, and her eyes told me that she would rather be anywhere but handing over her former crown to me. We exchanged a quick hug (which neither of us were really happy about) and I walked to the front of the stage, the glaringly white spotlight following me.
“Natasha Leigh has been the winner of forty-nine out of fifty pageants she has entered in, and this includes thirty muggle pageants,” The presenter informed the audience as I continued to wave. I let out a couple of fake tears, just as my mum had instructed me too once I won, and continued to let my perfectly glossed lips remain in a grateful smile. “She will be winning the two-thousand galleon scholarship promised to the Miss Teen Witch, and will get to tour all of the world next year, to educate young witches such as herself the power of confidence.”
By now, the audience started to throw flowers at the stage, their claps raising to an earsplitting decibel. I stood there in my evening gown (made out of glittering threads that faded into different colors of the rainbow) as I relished the victory.
You see, I was as my mom liked to say, a “certified beauty queen.” In muggle and magic, I was known for my winning streaks at everything I entered.
My mum, whenever she was interviewed by the Daily Prophet or Witch Weekly, always said it was because of my love for being a role model, but it was because I was too damn competitive for my own good.
I hated losing, even when I was eight I knew that.
Before my mum had found out I was magical, I had been enrolled in almost every muggle beauty pageant since I was three, when my dad had walked out on us. I think she liked to believe that every time I won a pageant, it was proof that my father was really missing out. That I was this perfect daughter not worthy of being left behind. But, my dad did not come back begging to return to our family, as I think mum had expected. Instead he held no contact with us, and refused to acknowledge that he had a daughter.
When I was eleven and got my Hogwarts letter, my mum had thought it was a joke or something. How could her beautifully perfect daughter, be magical? But then she started to put together every incident that happened in my life that was seemingly unexplainable (like poor Missy catching on fire) and it all made sense.
So, when my mum entered the magical world with me, she discovered the concept of beauty pageants for witches. With all the magical costumes, and incredible prizes, my mum had instantly enrolled me in all of the pageants she could get her hands on, and that resulted in our crossover into the magical world.
I, however, was not able to attend Hogwarts, as it would interfere with all the competitions my mum had planned for me. So my mum hired a private tutor instead and had me homeschooled. In her words, winning pageants was more important than anything an education could give me. I wished a lot of the time that my mum had just let me attend Hogwarts, and lead a normal life if only for a little. But, normalcy was not on my mothers to-do list.
“That’s my baby,” I heard my mother shout from the front row, as she clapped and wooped louder than the rest of the crowd. I could see tears forming in the corner of her eyes as she watched me onstage, in all my crowned glory. “That’s my beautiful baby girl!”
I cringed inwardly at the embarrassing display my mother was putting on, but continued to wave to the audience as fifteen crestfallen girls stood behind me, all done up with nothing to show.
I really hated the idea of beauty pageants. No matter how hosts tried to twist them into being about self-confidence, pageants were all about looking the best, and being the perfect model of perfection. I hated the idea that you could lose just because your smile faltered a bit, or you happened to loose your footing as you walked across the stage.
I then looked back at my mum, who caught my eye and gave me the thumbs up and mouthed ‘I’m so proud of you’. This was the moment of pageants that I lived for. Having my mother standing there, beaming up at me, proud to have me as a daughter. It’s moments like this that I hold close to me, whenever I compete.
Because in all actuality, I did them for her.
“Oh darling, you were just a vision,” my mum exclaimed when I walked out of the dressing rooms. We were in the back of the auditorium that the event had been held in and there was a huge crowd of parents waiting for their daughters to emerge. I had changed into my favorite pair of worn Brew Religion jeans, and a thin white t-shirt, happy to get out of the restricting gown I had worn throughout the night. There was nothing better than the feeling of taking off a really uncomfortable gown, and slipping into your most comfortable outfit.
“Thanks mum,” I said as she took the gown I had once been wearing (which had now turned a bright shade of violet) out of my hands and folded it delicately over her arm. Her newest husband, Winston Mackenroe, was standing a couple feet behind her, looking lost.
“Yeah, Kiddo,” Winston said about to ruffle my hair, but thinking better of it and just letting his arm hang there awkwardly. “You did good.”
Winston was the fourth, and most definitely not the last, of my mother’s husbands. My mother always seemed to fall hopelessly in love with every new man that entered her life, and threw huge weddings after a couple months of dating, really believing that each guy was ‘the one’. Shockingly, they never ended up being the one. They ended up being ‘the right at this moment’ or 'the never again'. In the end, they always did something to disappoint my mum, shattering her idea of a perfect happy family, and she’d demand a divorce. Then with each split, we were able to claim a huge sum of money to live off of, seeing as my mother didn’t work (being my manager was her job apparently), and then she would meet another new man, restarting the vicious cycle. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I was guessing that Winston would only last until the end of the year, if that, before getting chucked. He tried too hard to be buddy-buddy with me and didn’t quite understand the concept of pageants, which annoyed mum to no end. I was shocked that she had even ended up marrying him in the first place. He was totally different than her normal 'rich man with a purpose' and he reminded me of a turkey sandwich: boring with not much to him. He worked for Gringotts as one of the managing bankers, and he always used weird lingo like 'Vault her up' and 'Galleons Galore' which embarassed me to no end. But somehow, he had stolen Miranda Covington's heart, and had wound up with me as a daughter, as unwilling as I was.
“Honey, she did not just do good,” mum started to say, wrinkling her nose at the word. “She did outstanding! She won the most coveted title in all of England, in all of the world!”
Winston seemed to notice his mistake, and immediately apologized to me. It was almost sad how wrapped he was around my mother’s well-manicured finger. “Of course,” he started to sputter, as I looked around the room, scanning the crowd for that familiar head of blonde hair “a huge deal!”
As soon as he said this, I spotted the glimmering hair I came to recognize so well. I gave Winston a quick thanks, told my mum I’d be right back, and charged to the middle of the crowd.
“Doooom!” I shouted at the petite blonde. She turned her head around looking for the owner of the voice, and once she spotted me rushed over, squealing.
“YOU WON!” Dom- short for Dominique- shouted giving me a hug.
Dominique was my best, and probably only, real friend. I had met her when I entered my first ever magical beauty pageant, as she had been a contestant as well. We had hated each other at first, because I was threatened by the fact that Dom was so naturally beautiful (being part veela really had it’s advantages), and she had hated me because I was in her words ‘the most perfect pratty princess in all of Prattville’.
It didn’t help when I had ended up beating her in the competition, which had shocked her to no end, because before I arrived on the scene, magical pageants had been her territory. After competing against her several times, and beating her each time, she had eventually accepted me as an equal, and somehow we managed to become friends.
She quit doing pageants once she hit thirteen, because she didn’t like them anymore, and she preferred to play Quidditch instead. She also told me that it was always a shoe in that I would win, and it wasn’t worth it anymore to try and compete. So instead, she came to all of my competitions and cheered me on.
I was jealous that she had been able to quit, and even more jealous that she was able to attend Hogwarts. But how could I possibly go to a school full time, when I had a full time duty as a pageant queen?
“Yes I did win,” I said with a laugh, as Dom unwound her arms from around me. She gave me a toothy grin and I cracked a smile back at her.
“I knew you would. When you started using those firework batons, it was obvious you had it in the bag,” Dom said referring to the talent competition, in which I had twirled batons that shot fireworks out of each end, instead of flames. They were an invention my mother and I had worked very hard on, in order to wow the judges.
And yes, I was the typical pageant girl who twirled batons as a talent, but honestly it looked pretty bloody awesome with all the lights hitting me and then fireworks flying all over the stage. It was one of my favorite performances I’ve ever given, completely exhilarating in every sense of the word, and I don’t know how I’d ever top it at another competition.
“Hello Dominique,” my mother said walking over to the two of us, Winston in tow. “How lovely it is to see you!”
Here's a secret: when my mum says it’s lovely to see someone, she really means 'I wish you would leave'.
My mum didn’t actually like Dominique very much. Mostly because Dom and her mother, Mrs. Delacour-Weasley, had showed much animosity towards each other when we would compete. Their rivalry still went on, even though Dom and I were friends, and my mother always got super polite and snarky whenever she talked to Dom.
“Hello Mrs. Mackenroe. I was just congratulating Tasha here on her win. She was simply outstanding,” Dom said politely back. She was forever trying to get onto my mother’s good side, to no avail.
“Yes, well Nata,” My mother said turning to me and giving me ‘the look’, “You have a big day ahead of you tomorrow with this huge win under your belt, so we really should be getting home.”
I sighed. I had hoped that maybe I could go out with Dom to Florean’s and get a bit of ice cream or something, but mum did not want to let me celebrate I guess.
“But muuuum,” I said dragging her name out. “Dom came here just to see me compete, and I wanted to hang out with her for a bit as celebration.”
My mother, being the dramatic that she is, heaved a greater sigh than me. “It’s just so late, honey. And Winston needs to get home soon too as he has a meeting with the Minister early tomorrow morning about making another Gringotts. Maybe you can celebrate some other time.”
I looked at Dom, who looked just as put out as I did. I knew trying to argue with my mum was a lost cause, so I closed my mouth tightly ready to agree with her and head home.
“Oh I don’t mind,” Winston said, cutting into the conversation before I had a chance to respond. “Just let her celebrate, Miranda. She deserves it.”
I gave Winston a grateful look. Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all. Dom seemed to get excited as well. “Oh mum, can I please? I won’t get back late, I promise. You won’t have to wait up for me!”
“Well,” my mother said, sensing that she had lost the argument. “I guess that would be okay, but I want you home in an hour. And no eating anything unhealthy, you hear? You need to stay in shape. You’re a winner now.”
“Of course mum,” I lied. I knew there was an ice cream sundae just waiting for me at Floreans. “Bye mum, bye Winston.”
“Bye Mr. and Mrs. Mackenroe,” Dom said eagerly. “I’ll make sure she’s not out late.”
“I’m sure you will,” my mum said with a fake smile plastered on her face. Yup, my mum was not happy.
“I don’t understand how you do it,” Dom said to me as we sat at Florean’s, each of us eating our own sundae. “Your mum never let’s you do anything for the fear of it interfering with your ‘precious pageanting’. I mean you won, and she’s making it sound like a job! Why can’t she just let you celebrate your victory?”
I looked around the inside of Florean’s and noticed it was completely empty except for a young couple sitting in a corner right by the windows. I guess no one came to get ice cream once eleven o’ clock rolled around. I adjusted my legs so that they rested across the booth I was sitting in, and looked back at Dom.
Dom was expressing the exact feelings I felt, but I was defensive anyway. “She’s just doing what she thinks is best. She wants me to stay serious about this so that I don’t lose my crown.”
Dom gave an annoyed huff. “But you don’t even like competing!” she exclaimed as if to prove a point. This was a common conversation that happened between me and Dom. Dom always tried to get me to tell my mum that I hated competing, and I always refused.
“So what? It makes my mum happy!” I responded.
“You can’t just do it for her benefit. You practically give up your life just to make her happy,” Dom said giving me a disbelieving look.
“Dom, come on, I still have a life.” As I said these words though, I knew Dom was right. My life revolved around what pageant I was competing in next. And then, when I won the pageant, it revolved around sticking to the directions the pageant program gave me, in order to keep my crown.
Normally these involved typical things like not being seen at any parties, no swearing in public, and under no circumstances could I be seen near any type of alcoholic drinks. I needed to maintain my good image for the sake of the program, and could in no way disappoint the thousands of little girls who looked up to me as Miss Teen Witch. However, I did have a more uncommon contract this year, and that was part of the ‘normalcy agreement’.
The whole idea of the normalcy agreement was for me to do something that made me seem normal to the public. It would make me more relatable, therefore making the Teen Witch Enterprise more relatable, and in the end would bring in a lot of retail. Or so they hoped.
“But you don’t have a life, Tash,” Dom said softly. “Why can’t you just tell your mum you want to quit, and attend Hogwarts with me? Its so much fun there, I swear, and I have amazing friends, who I know would love you!”
This had not been the first time Dom had tried to convince me to attend school, but I knew it was not an option. My mother would never agree to it. And besides, I had just won Miss Teen Witch. As soon as January rolled around, I would be touring the world. Not to mention all the press junkets I would have to attend beforehand.
“Dom, you know I can’t,” I said as I took another bite of my sundae, savoring the sweetness as it melted on my tongue. Mum would kill me if she knew that I was eating all of these calories, but the ice cream was too good to pass up.
“Just think about it, okay, Tash?” Dom said widening her eyes at me. “I’m just worried about you is all.”
My face softened as she spoke these words. Dom really was just trying to take care of me. “Okay, I’ll think about it,” I responded, even though I knew I wouldn’t.
This seemed to placate Dom for the time being, and she grew back to her bubbly self once again. “So tell me,” Dom said leaning in, “how did it feel to see the look on Saundra’s face when you won?”
I laughed as I thought back to the sour face Saundra had, as she placed the crown on my head. “Pretty dang good.”
A/N: Hello to any of my lovely readers reading this! I've had this story written for quite a while, but since I didn't want to have too many things going on at once during the school year, I postponed posting it until summer started. And voila! Summer's here, and this story of mine has made it's way into the queue (imagine that!).
Well, I would love to know what you all think of this story. It's the one story that I think of as my baby, because I really love the characters so far and am having a bunch of fun writing this (not to mention I know exactly what I want to happen).
So please tell me if you like it or not, because feedback means the world to me!