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Gold Medal

By Dolphelecat

McKayla Pond was a small, energetic young girl with chocolate brown hair and large, dark eyes. She had a beautiful smile, and any adult instantly labeled her as 'charming.' Most importantly though, McKayla was a gymnast.

It had started as lessons when she was a very small child. Her teacher had immediately confronted the parents about her talent, and the lessons had continued. Eventually she began to enter competitions. She won nearly every one. Even better, McKayla wasn't pushed or forced into anything: she loved everything about gymnastics. She was especially talented on the uneven bars. It was difficult, but there were moments when it felt like she was flying.

When she was nine, McKayla decided she wanted to win the gold medal in the Olympics. Her parents had several long talks with her to make sure that she was serious about it, but they finally decided to go on as if she was. They moved to a different city so that she could get the best lessons from the best teachers and coaches they could find. When McKayla was ten, her mother even began to talk about enrolling her for classical ballet training, to help McKayla's movements become more graceful. As far as the Pond family was concerned, McKayla was only a few short years away from her dream.

Then, one summer's day when McKayla was eleven, an odd lady came and asked to speak to McKayla and her parents. She said that her name was Professor McGonagall, that she was a witch, and that she taught at a magical school. Mr. Pond almost threw her out, but Professor McGonagall performed several tricks, including turning a teacup into a hedgehog, levitating a book, and conjuring a heat-less fire, that convinced the Ponds that she was telling the truth.

Furthermore, Professor McGonagall brought a letter that meant that McKayla was also a witch, and that invited her to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this September.

At first, McKayla was thrilled. She could learn magic! It was like something from a fairy tale. Of course she wanted to go!

Right as Professor McGonagall and Mr. and Mrs. Pond were arranging a time to buy school supplies, (was that a wand on the list?), she suddenly remembered.

"What about my gymnastics?" she asked, interrupting the adults.

"Your what?" the professor asked.

"Yes," Mrs. Pond took up, "how will this interfere with her schedule? Where will she train?"

Professor McGonagall seemed to have no idea what they were talking about. It was not encouraging. After the Ponds explained again, if somewhat haphazardly, Professor McGonagall seemed to realize what they were asking.

"There is no way that McKayla could continue training if she attends Hogwarts," the professor said, almost dismnissively. "There would not be time in her schedule, there is no Muggle gym nearby, and there are no wizard gymnastics."

"Not do gymnastics!" McKayla cried. "But I'm going to go to the Olympics!" She didn't mention the gold medal. She'd learned that it was seen as boastful and impractical to do so.

Now that the professor knew how serious she was about gymnastics she seemed a bit more sympathetic, but she still had a no-nonsense attitude. "I'm sorry, Miss Pond, but witches and wizards are not allowed to participate in official competitions for most Olympic sports, including gymnastics."

"What? Why?" Suddenly this didn't seem like a fairy tale.

"Accidental magic is done in high adrenaline situations," Professor Mconagall explained, not unkindly. "When a witch is competing in, say, swimming or gymnastics, she could unintentionally use magic to improve her performance. She could go a little higher, stay in the air a little longer, balance better, or land more surely. That would be an unfair advantage over the Muggles, or non-magic people. That is why there is a law saying that witches and wizards cannot compete in such events."

"Well, then, I won't go to Hogwarts," McKayla said confidently. "I'd rather be a gymnast than a witch."

"You are a witch, whether you are trained or not," the professor said relentlessly. "You were born a witch. The laws still apply to you. If you were to try and compete, our government would forcibly stop you."

McKayla couldn't believe this was happening. Her life's dream was unraveling with every word the older witch spoke.

"How about the magical alternative? Surely it wouldn't be cheating if McKayla competed against other magical girls," Mrs. Pond asked desperately.

"As I've already said, there is no wizarding equivalent. Many purebloods, or all-wizard families, would see it as a Muggle sport, and therefore inferior. Even if some wizards tried to create such a competition, there are not enough wizards in the world interested in gymnastics for such a thing to survive. I'm very sorry."

McKayla could feel tears begin to well in her eyes.

In an attempt to soften the blow, Professor McGonagall said, "It may be possible to petition the Ministry of Magic to allow you to compete once you have some training and can prove that you have complete control over your magic. By the time you're twenty or twenty-five..."

"Twenty or twenty-five?" McKayla screamed. That was unacceptable. Most of the time now gymnastics stars were anywhere from sixteen to eighteen years old. McKayla's hero, Nadia Comaneci, had been fourteen when she'd received a perfect score of 10.0. Twenty or twenty-five would be far too late.

McKayla began to cry in earnest. Mrs. Pond immediately hugged her daughter, while Mr. Pond explained the problem to Professor McGonagall.

There was some discussion as to whether McKayla's magic could be removed altogether, but the horrified professor declared it impossible. She did mention something called the 'Tri-Wizard Tournament,' but the only skills it tested were magical ones.

Finally, Mr. Pond asked if they could have a few days to consider whether to send McKayla to Hogwarts or not. The Hogwarts professor agreed, apologized again, and left.

McKayla continued to sob well after the professor left. Her parents began to fear that she would make herself sick. They reminded her that it was amazing that she could do magic. She might as well go to Hogwarts. She was young. Maybe she could find something else to do with her life. Besides, she could still practice gymnastics; she just couldn't compete.

As McKayla continued to weep nonstop for hours and hours, though, all she saw was the shining future as an Olympic Gold Medalist fading away. In its place came a future where a once happy, cheerful, friendly young girl became a serious, sullen, cynical witch. A witch who may be amazed by her first trip to Diagon Alley, but could not suppress a wave of bitterness towards every magical wonder she saw. A once intelligent witch who would only barely scrape by in her Hogwarts classes. A witch who would end up as a low-level Ministry lackey, if she even stayed in the magical world at all. Most especially, a witch who could never bring herself to even touch the uneven bars again.

McKayla cried.