MJ Clarke earned a Medal Class Champion Level One
MJ was equally relieved to see that the student numbers had been cut down considerably as she stepped into the room, not carrying much in the way of supplies as none were necessary (a relief, given how tight her budget tended to be). She nodded her head politely to the teacher in greeting before looking around, and seeing a familiar Bourke motioning her over. She wasted no time in going to the seat that was claimed for her. While she didn't particularly enjoy fraternizing during class, there was something calming about the Dhampir's presence. MJ was aware enough to have noticed they suffered from the same issue, which gave birth to the ironic situation that was them helping each other get through class regularly. Smiling at her for a greeting, MJ slid into the reserved seat once the bag had been removed. "Hey." She spoke in a lower tone so not to disturb the class. "Did I miss anything?" Unlikely, as there was barely anyone present. The Bourke's shake of her head confirmed it. "No. Just started."
MJ Clarke earned a Medal School Superstar Level One
Aspen's excitement was certainly a sight to behold. It brought a wide grin to the otherwise mild mannered teen's face, and she found herself having to suppress a giggle. "You sound like you were looking forward to today way more than me." She couldn't resist the little joke, a small liberty she rarely took with anyone else - but the look on her sister's face was downright infectious. "Okay, okay." She reached for the smaller book first - at least, she could tell it was two books from the outline of the wrapping - and very carefully picked at the glue with her fingers, unable to use magic over being only fifteen years of age at that point; maybe, in her seventeenth birthday, she'd be able to open them without risking any paper tearing. They had grown up with the principle of saving and re-utilizing as much stuff as they could, and present wrapping was no exception. Once the two pieces of glue tape were safely pried off, the Flinders carefully squeezed the first book out of its container. It revealed a small, leather-bound notebook, of a dark rose color - a bit girly, she thought, but was in awe at seeing that color on leather nonetheless, as she couldn't remember for the life of her having seen such a thing before. There was some sort of symbol inscribed upon its surface, rather than the title, which led her to believe it was a school notebook rather than something for her to read. The insignia was that out of an arrowhead, a mountain, and crossed blades made with smooth curves; all things considered, all of those symbols greatly catered to her interests. Opening the book, she noticed that the paper looked like it had been aged artificially, and there were some markings along the edges of the page, mostly in black and white, to give it flavor. Mentally correcting herself, it didn't look like something she'd use in school. Rather, it looked like something deeply personal, something that no other eyes were meant to look at. Privacy was something that was a bit rare in the Clarke household - it was a big family living in a not so large house, and all her life she had shared a room with Aspen. She didn't mind it in itself, but having something to write down her own thoughts and projects in without having to bother anybody else about it sounded heavenly. She closed the book in silence, pondering if her sister even realized what sort of meaning that little book could have to her. Rendered speechless, she did the only thing she could do to display gratitude: she pulled the teen in for a very tight hug, burying her face at the side of her neck, the other gift going completely forgotten. She didn't need anything else.
A sigh of defeat escaped past MJ's lips at Aspen's insistence. She knew she wasn't winning that argument - the presents had already been purchased to begin with, and it would be downright rude and disrespectful to have them returned to their seller. Ultimately choosing to bask in the more happy connotation that they brought, as was their initial intent, the younger of the two scooted away towards the wall. After pulling the two gifts to her own lap, she pat the bed next to her instead of reaching to open. "I'm not doing this without you. Come here." She said, having given more than enough space for the Bourke to sit down. MJ valued her sister's presence more than she did a couple of materialistic gifts anyway. That would be the best way to bring her out of her sleepiness, as far as she was concerned.
Not only was it her birthday, it was also something MJ had grown to appreciate as workload increased over the years: school break. There was no need for an alarm to drag her away from her dreams, there was no crankiness in the mornings, there was no morning rush to get everything done for everyone. All that there was that morning was her head, the pillow it was resting on, and the two arms holding it close on reflex as she dozed. But, like all good things, that sleeping session had to come to an end. The blonde stirred with the sound of her sister's voice, coupled with the display of affection. An unintelligible groan escaped her as her brain struggled to remain asleep, although the scent of food reaching her nostrils provided ample motivation to regain consciousness. For a moment, one of her arms let go of the pillow to reach out to Aspen, an unconscious way to greet her. "...Morning..." She muttered before yawning into her pillow. She brought her arm back to rub her eyes clean, and took several seconds prior to opening them. A groggy smile stretched across her lips as her eyes met Aspen's, but that didn't last long; there were two objects obstructing her view, immediately next to her head. Turning it, she saw two wrapped objects. "What the...?" She muttered, pushing herself to a sitting position, careful not to hit her head on the wooden boards of her sister's bunk. Instead of reaching to open them, she looked at her sister for a second time. "You shouldn't have..." Not only one, but two gifts? They had a very slim amount of savings to begin with. MJ couldn't help but feel bad, even if part of her was very happy about Aspen caring for her to such an extent.
MJ Clarke earned a Medal Local Hero Level Two
As Aspen let go of her, MJ crossed her legs and turned in her 'seat', facing the Bourke and leaning her head on the wall beside them to rest. She looked quite exhausted, and missed her sister's warmth; but it was probably for the best, as it would've end up lulling her to sleep sooner or later. She needed to stay awake long enough for her favorite person in the world to be okay again. "A few fifth years. I didn't mind it though, really. Ian helped me out a bit, too, even if it wasn't his area." She couldn't complain about the boy's competence or lack thereof - the fact he promptly offered to help meant quite a bit, as he wasn't in that class to begin with. "It was more theoretical work than everything, a paper for Cruel & Unusual Geography. Just going in depth about the ecosystem of the Murrigal Bushland. It's my specialty, I guess, but it took a long time because there's a lot of stuff to mention and organize."
MJ had known Aspen all her life, and they grew up together, inseparable - she knew by heart when her sister was hiding or avoiding something, and she could tell from her face that such was the case. It felt like it was the right time to give the older girl some positive reinforcement. Quite ironic, since usually it was the reverse. "You work hard at everything. Why not this too? You always crush it, and this time'll be no different. I'm pretty sure she'll see you the same way sooner or later, and if she doesn't, she's not worth your time to begin with." If the prophecy's interpretation was correct, Lisa liked girls in some extent; and MJ couldn't comprehend how someone wouldn't like Aspen. The Sturt was very lucky, in her opinion. "But now, to answer your question... It was exhausting." She granted a little relief from the heavy topic. "Group work day. Had to do most of it. Got home late, and you know the rest..." She was fairly sure she was going to pass out the moment her head hit the pillow. However, for the time being, Aspen needed her. She wasn't going to let go of the embrace for a while, even if that meant passing out on the top bunk.
MJ tilted her head so slightly as her sister spoke, processing what she was saying. That wasn't what she had asked - she wanted to know what was going on with QuillBook - but prophecies were equally important. A sea of blue? It could mean a number of things. She looked away momentarily as she tried to decode what it could possibly mean. Perhaps it meant she would get into a pro Quidditch team in the future and had to fight for it? ...No. That didn't make sense. To get lost in it, in that context, would mean that she was already a fan to begin with. She had no clue of team colors when it came to the Australian Quidditch League, and she wasn't aware if her sister's favorite team had blue as a representative color or not; it would be a tremendous coincidence if that were the case. But what else was there? Inevitably, her mind drifted the same way Aspen's had - the girl she apparently liked. She was a Sturt, and its main color was blue. That made more sense. But, wasn't Lisa straight? Unless, like MJ, she wasn't but didn't let anyone in on that piece of information. Could it be that her sister actually had a chance? "...Weather the storm... Maybe whatever happened in there was the beginning?" The younger of the two motioned with her head towards the discarded book laying atop the pillow near them. "It's just conjecture, of course, we can't really know anything for sure in this field, but... Maybe it just means you have to be persistent and stick to her and she'll look back at you." 'Getting lost' carried a heavy connotation. She knew Aspen had had flings in the past, but nothing too serious; as for Lisa, she had never heard of her dating anyone other than going to important events accompanied by the 'flavor of the week' sort of escort. But 'getting lost' implied something of a more serious nature was taking place. Was her sister falling for this woman? "You could use that prophecy as a reason not to get upset, you know? A 'light in the darkness' sort of thing." And an excellent exercise in anger management, in MJ's opinion.
MJ sighed in frustration as Aspen wasn't entirely forthcoming about her issues. She knew the older girl was all too keen on downplaying her problems so not to bother the family; MJ did it herself, and could relate. But at the same time, she couldn't just stay there and watch her dear sister suffer like that and not do anything about it. That was something she was physically unable to do. It was quite fortunate that, little by little, Aspen was starting to open up. "I know her. I joined the Dueling Club this year... She's the leader of the Sturt team." She gave context to her situation, and tried to think back on her semi-regular encounters with the teenager. 'Nice' wasn't an accurate descriptor in MJ's experience, but it could be that Aspen got to see a different side to the girl due to being her teammate. "I wouldn't say she seems 'bad'... Reputations often don't do people justice. I'd use the word 'unapproachable' instead." She ultimately decided to comment, the Dueling Club incident story already having made the rounds with the newer crowd. It did make her feel a knot in her stomach that Aspen was befriending someone known to back stab her best friend; but at the same time, she knew that her sister wasn't stupid. "What happened for you to be like this now?" She decided to question. Something related to QuillBook. Perhaps Lisa had been flirtatious towards someone else? It was rare, but she had seen it happen before herself.
While her sister gave out a less than satisfactory reply, MJ decided to remove her shoes and toss them down to the floor before either feet could make contact with the linens covering Aspen's mattress. She then moved to sit against the wall, crossing her legs, and reaching to the back of the Bourke's neck so to provide some comfort and hopefully coax her into actually talking about what troubled her. It worked. The younger of the two clicked her tongue in displeasure. She really didn't want to see her sister suffer like that. Out of anyone, she easily ranked on the top of the list of those who least deserved it. "Come here." She took the QuillBook with her free hand and tossed it away from her sister and more towards the pillow before pulling her closer by the neck to properly embrace her. There was only one 'Knotley' that MJ knew, and that girl had never given someone of the same gender a glance, as far as she was aware; hell, she was pretty sure she made a bit of a splash in her male choice of date for the ball the year before, no less. She ran a hand through her sister's golden hair as means of trying to soothe her. "I hear talking about it makes it easier." There was no point in holding it in. Advice could wait.
That day had been a bit pressed for time on MJ's end. As per usual, the brunt of a group work had been dumped on her shoulders. It wasn't something she minded very much in itself, if not for the fact it made her be quite late to take Justice home for school, and to take Steve, their samoyed dog, out on its afternoon walk. By the time she got home she had to take him out, and by the time she got back it was already dinner and she hadn't managed to help out much with the chores around the house. Then their father had to go to work, and as usual she accompanied him; and since she hadn't done grocery shopping earlier, she had to take Steve all the way to Tallygarunga Road after dropping her father off to do what she had to do. After that, she had to make all the way back to Koonyah by herself in the dead of night, arriving by the time she should be resting alongside Aspen back in their room. It was well past 10 PM. She took Steve inside and gave him a treat before letting him free of his leash. She spotted Brian the cat snoozing atop its cat tower in the living room. Justice had passed out watching TV, and so she picked him up in her arms with some difficulty and took him to his room. It was quite fortunate that he had already changed into his pajamas - all she had to do was kiss his forehead for a goodnight and leave him be. As she came out of her brother's room and closed the door, she heard a loud slapping noise coming from her own room that made her jump lightly. She turned her head on reflex, seeing the light turned on under the door - was there something wrong with Aspen? She quickly turned off the TV before jogging towards their bedroom, unable to make out what she was saying but recognizing the familiar anger in her tone. 'Oh no.' "What's going on?" The younger of the two asked as soon as the door was opened, stepping inside and shutting it behind her. She looked up to see the irritated look on her face and quickly climbed to the top bunk of their shared bed to get within arm's reach. "Talk to me."
MJ Clarke earned a Trophy Prolific Poster Level Two
MJ got up soon after her older sister did, brushing the dirt off her clothes on reflex with light pats. She took a final glance at their mother's grave. Something deeply ironic crossed her mind as she did - if they hadn't lost her, as well as Vivian, there was a good chance the family wouldn't be as united as it was presently. Could it be that indicated there was room for minimally healing those old wounds? "Alright. Let's swing by our house first. I have some money leftover from my arts and crafts as well. Maybe we could make dad's favorite meal?" The younger girl suggested, hoping to send off the man to work with a smile on his face. It was the least they could do after all the sacrifices he made for all his children over the many years he had to endure the burden on his lonesome.
Despite of her own comforting words, as well as her older sister's smile with them, MJ couldn't bring herself to look anything other than absolutely defeated. There was a bit of a somber look to her face as her gaze fixated on the gravestone that paid homage to their mother. Like Aspen, MJ couldn't help but feel like it was her own fault. She had been the oldest sibling within that elementary school which they used to enroll, and as such she was expected to look after the twins. Not that she'd be able to do much against an assailant, of course, but she should have at least been there. Try something. Fight them off. Notice details to tell to the police. But nobody had anything. The girl just vanished. On occasion MJ would think if Apparition was involved, but that was unlikely, as it was quite the Muggle setting. Right? She was brought back down from her thought process with the display of affection from her older sister and wound up releasing a sigh. She then glanced at her without turning her head. "This is doing us no good. We should get out of here..." They had it particularly hard, but she couldn't even imagine what their father was going through; and their brother even less, whom effectively lost his twin. She felt like they should be spending the day with them, distracting them and themselves, rather than stay stuck in the past. Life went on without Vivian and their mother: a harsh reality, but one they had to face. "How about we two prepare a nice dinner for the family tonight? A bit earlier than usual too, since dad has to come to work."
As MJ felt the light pressure of her sister's head against her own, she inhaled deeply as means of steadying her emotions in that deeply unsettling anniversary. Tightening the embrace, she tried to ensure Aspen knew she'd never let go - nobody else was going anywhere. Neither of the two, nor Justice, nor their father. She wouldn't let the family break apart further. "...Me too..." She muttered eventually, having no comment regarding their mother. MJ had been only two years of age when she passed on, holding no memory whatsoever of the woman; she wouldn't even know how she looked like if it weren't for pictures. Instead, her only means of communication with their mother was to read the books and notes she left behind regarding magizoology. Vivian, however, was on a completely different league. They lived with her, grew up alongside her, and just like that she was gone. That day marked the sixth year since that soul-crushing day, and they were the ones left standing. MJ wished she could trade places with the little girl practically every day. There had been no conclusion on what happened to her from the police, but it was generally agreed upon that she had been kidnapped. She wasn't sure if she wanted to think Vivian was alive - she knew far too many horrendous things happened to kids in those situations. Child exploitation, slavery, sales, prostitution, and it got even worse from there. "...We'll know, one day." It was all she could say to offer comfort, even if she didn't believe in it herself. But on the other hand, there was no way someone could just disappear, right? Surely there was some sort of trail left to follow, even if it was six years old at that point...
MJ Clarke earned a Medal Local Hero Level One
It seemed that both Clarke sisters had similar ideas on how to spend that day. MJ had returned to the graveyard immediately after school hours, careful to avoid their father's work patterns which she had committed to memory. After a few pleasant chats with the local ghosts (when a Muggle wasn't around, of course), she decided to make her way to her mother's grave. In the distance, as she got to the correct row of tombstones, she saw Aspen sitting down in front of her target. The older girl said something MJ couldn't quite catch - an unfortunate sight, as she knew there was no response to be had. MJ considered it a good thing that their mother had passed on rather than being rooted to the mortal world, but times like those were particularly heartbreaking in retrospect. MJ didn't say a thing as she approached, leaning over the grave to place a pink carnation flower down as offering. She then sat down next to her sister and wordlessly wrapped an arm around her as comfort, gaze fixated on the picture of their long gone relative. She didn't remember their mother at all, but the whole thing never failed to make her feel poorly in the pit of her stomach.
MJ really hoped she wasn't late for the first scheduled Musician's Club meeting. The blonde had to dash all the way home to pick up her guitar after class - she didn't really like playing any guitar that hadn't belonged to Vivian - and then back to school and to the Musiciary room. It was tiring, but fortunately she had quite a bit of stamina. At a brisk pace she strolled through the Kookynie Halls, guitar case secured on her back, and finally reached the room she was headed towards. Opening the door silently and peeking in, she could see that someone was already trying his hand at the piano, and two others were present, watching. 'Shoot, I did get here late.' Momentarily she closed her eyes in defeat, before taking a deep breath and moving past the door. Closing it, she made her way to one of the many chairs of the room, sitting and opening her guitar case as silently as she possibly could so not to disturb the ones present.
- Fourth Grade - Fifth Grade: Whitlam Bilby
- 1st Year - Current: Tallygarunga, Flinders House
- Doesn't have a clue about what she wants to do with her life, despite multiple people frequently guessing it for her;
- Wants to look for a job to help around the house the moment she turns 15, as it greatly pains her to watch her father work so much to make a living;
- Really wants a friend or three and has no idea how to go about it, who to target, etc;
- Her younger sister, Vivian, has been missing for many years;
- Her cheap guitar once belonged to said sister;
- Has a little treehouse as her secret HQ somewhere in the Murrigal Bushland, near Korrowi Creek, equipped with immediate survival supplies. She's also tailored the immediate vicinity to her needs without damaging the local habitats, as instructed in her mother's notes, and often tends to injured animals in the area;
- On the rare occasions she actively seeks out advice, she visits the Graveyard to talk with the ghosts there - she'd rather draw information from their life experience than burden her father with her problems. Given that she knows his schedule by heart, she can easily avoid him there;
- Suffers from both generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety due to the combination of her early childhood ostracization and her sister going missing. Both undiagnosed, but she's done enough research to suspect something along those lines;
- Wants to have two daughters someday, with the purpose of naming them after the ones that have left the Clarke family one way or another - Janelle Chelsea, her mother, and Vivian Bailey, her younger sister.
- Daughter of the local graveyard keeper;
- Finds it easier to talk to ghosts than with living people;
- Doesn't really have much in the way of friends;
- Very resourceful, enough to earn the nickname 'Bootleg MacGyver';
- Knows about local fauna and flora beyond the school curriculum;
- Proclivity for pyrotechnics (much to her chagrin);
- Good at knitting and paper cutting, and sells her creations to fellow students for a bit extra change;
- Member of her House's Dueling Club roster, and not half bad at it;
- Enjoys puzzles and is a surprisingly decent strategist;
- Talented guitar player;
- Can't really escape the MJ nickname, so she's given up and just introduces herself as such;
- Capable team worker in school projects.
While MJ isn't a living beacon of positivity and energy, she's known to have an amiable and friendly disposition to those who approach her, albeit mildly cautious on occasion. She's mostly passive and harmless, making her an excellent target to walk on without consequence. Gentle in nature, she takes care of others when able in a variety of ways, even if her efforts are not immediately recognized; she's also anti-violence, and despite her demure composure, she steps up to people bullying others if need be (when the target is herself it's a whole different ball game, of course). She feels like it's her civil duty to ensure people don't harm each other, stemming from the disappearance of her sister at a young age. She doesn't want others to endure what the Clarke family did.
She works best as a cog in the machine rather than standing out on her own - despite her social awkwardness, she excels in school at group projects and people flock to her for them as a result. While she has the reputation for being 'out there', it couldn't be further from the truth - she's actually very down to earth and logical-minded, her reasoning and micromanaging skills being a saving grace for these projects most of the time; that, and the fact she's very good with her hands. With her resourcefulness backing her up, she's made a bit of a name for herself when it comes to teamwork in school.
MJ is quite solitary in nature, at least when it comes to living humans. She has a mild, unconscious fear of strangers out of the general agreement amongst family members that Vivian was kidnapped, and so she prefers to talk to ghosts since they can't harm her either way. This was made possible due to her father's position as the local graveyard keeper, and she spends a lot of time in the premises as a result, having made friends to the few that refused to pass on. They seem to urge her to get along with others, but most of the time she's too awkward to succeed of her own volition.
She is quite lacking in self confidence and very quiet, which in turn widens the gaping wound that is her social anxiety. She's never had any parental examples to follow, given that her mother passed away and her father was buried in work; other than her older sister, she's never had a soul in this world to boost her ego, and as a result she's of the belief she's someone whom should be looked over rather than looked at. This feeds the never ending cycle that continuously has her withdraw from company and either indulge in her solo hobbies or with creatures that can't speak, or ghosts.
MJ stands at a very comfortable 168 cm. Much like her mother, she has blonde hair down to her chest and blue eyes. Her mane is often found in a ponytail for the sake of practicality. Having never been taught how to use makeup, she doesn't really care for it; not that she actually cares much for her appearance to begin with, past what's healthy for her. Her face is very expressive and it's easy to tell what she's feeling from just looking at it as she doesn't have the mental tools to keep herself from showing particular emotions. While her hands are rough and calloused, she has a surprisingly clear skin everywhere else.
She is quite fit for someone not engaged in any recurring sport - this is due to her solo adventures in the Murrigal Bushland, having taken up survivalism as a hobby instead. This honed her compact physique, and as a result she's considerably heavier than what her seemingly slender frame would have you think. And for someone who spends so much time outdoors, she is surprisingly pale, indicating she takes good care of her own skin - a bit of a necessity, or else the sun would have boiled her skin a long time ago.
Due to the family's tight budgeting, she can most commonly be found wearing her uniform; when out in the woods, however, she always has old clothes on her that she doesn't mind having torn up (and most of which are, to an extent or another). She prefers shorts to skirts for movement, but wears pants at school instead.
Mary Joselyn Clarke was the second born of a grand total of four little tykes brought to the world by Maxwell, a Muggle, and Janelle Clarke, a magical wildlife keeper. She followed her oldest sister with roughly a two year difference, and was subsequently followed herself by fraternal twins Justice and Vivian just a few years later. Unfortunately, the family's happiness wasn't meant to fully flourish - unfortunately, Janelle perished shortly after giving birth to the twins after a prolonged coma, her body unable to withstand the strain it was forced to endure. Maxwell, a graveyard keeper, was forced to care for and nurture his family on a low salary ever since, as neither his parents nor Janelle's ever offered to help with the children
Maxwell's efforts seemed to pay off for a time - the children never lacked a thing despite the very tight budget, and fortunately they were all too young to remember the misfortune that had befallen them, so they were able to transition into their new lives without much trouble. Due to a lack of knowledge of the wizarding world in general, he enrolled his children in Muggle schools through Elementary education. It was here that Mary first got a taste of the ostracization that haunted her for the remainder of her Muggle academic career: it turns out being the child of the graveyard keeper automatically granted her the label of 'spooky', 'creepy', 'lunatic', among other things. The fact she was shy and soft-spoken didn't help her case, and thus she remained a very lonely child throughout that entire painful process.
A second turn of the worse expected the Clarke family around the corner: the less than ideal school ultimately cost them something very dear to them, in the form of Vivian's presence. The girl disappeared from school premises one day, never to be found. This affected the whole family, in particular Maxwell and Justice. Maxwell became overprotective of his children ever since and very present in their lives; Justice didn't seem to take so well to losing his twin, and while he remained on friendly terms with Mary, it hasn't been the same since despite the years going by.
Enraged with the event, Maxwell pulled his children from the school. It was perhaps a happy coincidence that his oldest child, Aspen, had just entered Tallygarunga to pursue an education in magic - she informed him of the existence of the Whitlam Bilby ward. Without thinking twice, he enrolled the two remaining kids in it. Mary finally got to experience the magical world, even if it was through loss - and with the exposure, she was finally able to start to read and understand the various books and notes their mother left behind before passing away, most of which pertaining to magical creatures and local flora, as well as survivalist skills. She became very attached to this treasure trove of information, as it was her way of being connected to the mother she never met. Seeking to do the same with her lost sister, MJ also took the pawn shop guitar their father had gotten her for the last birthday they enjoyed together. She's been playing it since by herself, and has become very proficient in it.
While nobody seemed to ostracize her that heavily in her years in Tallygarunga - the very campus had ghosts after all, it wasn't like she was out of place - it seemed that both the social exclusion and the disappearance of her sister had left a lasting mark. MJ was the quiet sort and never had any friends, and her reputation as a weird kid seemed to follow her even if she did nothing to gather attention on herself. She'd really like a friend or two, but she has no idea where to begin...