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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ School & Sturt Quidditch Team Captain, Chaser & Dueling Club CaptainKirupachi
15 year old Halfblood Human ☆ She/Her

There had been a feeling of impatience in the air lately when it came to one Lisa Knotley, and the longer time went on, the thicker that aura felt, almost as if one could cut it with a knife. The break was approaching and the blonde waited for classes with bated breath, needing some sort of task or activity to keep herself from going insane after a few weeks of sitting on the sidelines. Although, despite her workaholic tendencies, not all was bad. Throughout the break, her schedule did find itself quite busy - that had been Aspen Clarke's full responsibility, and something the Sturt was quite grateful for. They had spent nearly every day of the break together, for hours on end; and, on occasion, multiple times in the same day. There had even been a day where she had gone to visit Lisa at night on her request, and the Sturt figured they could pull a second round of it all to bid goodbye at their little vacations.

Just like the last time, it had been quite the simple affair to sneak the girl in; unlike that time, however, the blonde had ideas unbecoming of teenagers like them - she took to alcohol to make the seconds more tolerable. It had taken a bit of convincing, but she eventually got Aspen to agree to that little activity (much to Lisa's surprise). The conversation flew back and forth easily during the first few swigs they shared from one of the few bottles she had found over the past year laying around the school premises. However, as time went on and a potent buzz solidified in each of the girls, things turned south and the room grew distinctly quiet, devoid of laughter and amusing conversations.

They sat against the headrest of Lisa's bed, dressed as if ready to go to sleep, leaning against each other in the somewhat uncomfortable silence. Not because of one another's presence or proximity, but because of what was going through their minds. At some point, the Sturt had handed the beverage to Aspen; to occupy her now idle hand, she pulled her friend's leg up to a bent position gently, if a bit clumsily, and found herself resting that hand on the top of her thigh, with a thumb running back and forth within its range. Despite her eyes being cast down towards the active finger, her gaze was anything but focused as the thoughts in her mind threatened to suffocate her at the drop of a hat.

"...This is the part where I tell you to stay away, I think..." She muttered, breaking the silence, gaze stuck to the perpetually moving finger. Despite her words, no part of her body made a move to get away and escape the personal bubble of the friend she had grown so fond of. "I've come to really care about you, so... I don't want to end up screwing you over too at some point." It was remarkable how easily Aspen had broken through every barrier Lisa had so carefully built for a little over two years; and in a way she had betrayed the Bourke already by her very inaction at nipping the friendship in the bud the moment she noticed it was blossoming. She had wanted to feel close to someone again, she realized, but ultimately she knew she had been setting both up for failure and dooming the Bourke to the pain Lisa always seemed to inevitably cause.

"That stuff you heard about me... From the Dueling Club. That's barely scratching the surface..." Her phrases dragged on as the alcohol took effect. She was conscious of the fact she was talking too much, but lacked the concern over what her words could end up doing to herself; the care for her friend dominated. "You already know I'm a lousy friend. I'm also, let's see... Lousy daughter, lousy sister, lousy girlfriend... S'just pick your poison at this point, really." She let out a deep exhalation. If only she knew how to stop herself. "I guess... I just don't want you to be next on the list." As her speech slowed to a halt, she decided to reach over with her free hand to take the bottle out of Aspen's hands, her head inadvertently pressing harder against the Bourke's with the leaning before she managed to return to her previous position; she then took a rather large swig in a vain attempt to forget her plights.

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Bourke ☆ Seventh Year ☆ Student, Quidditch Chaser, Paper GirlTecri
17 year old Halfblood Human ☆ she/her

 Aspen and Lisa had grown closer, as teammates they were as close as they could get and obviously hanging out only made them closer. Aspen considered Lisa a good friend, even after all the rumors she had heard about Lisa, it didn’t quite matter, they were in the past, people grow, people change and Aspen was sure that whatever Lisa had done she probably regrets it, or if she doesn’t, she might have learned something from it. She took the bottle from Lisa and took a sip from it, Aspen wasn’t drunk, but she was heading that way, she had started thinking about Vivian and all the things she could have done but didn’t.

“And what if I don’t listen and want to stay? I’m already screwed and broken, there’s not much to do there.” Whatever it was that Lisa was talking about, Aspen was willing to take a chance, she would rather fail than to never have tried. MJ had been the only one capable of lowering Aspen’s anger levels, but Aspen found out that being around Lisa it helped as well, even if not as much as MJ did.

The Bourke gave Lisa back the bottle. “Don’t be an idiot, you had a moment of weakness, you’re not a lousy friend, I can’t talk as a sister, daughter or girlfriend, but as a friend? You’re a pretty good one.” Whatever had happened in the Sturts life didn’t seem to be forgotten and she seemed to carry the weight of it on her shoulders, which meant that she actively regretted everything. “The past is the past, you gotta learn from it. I say this but I still baby MJ and Justice.” She let out a laugh. “I’m the one who’s a lousy sister … I rely on MJ for a lot of things, I can’t do anything right …”

“Just one more mess after another … I don’t seem to get anything right.”

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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ School & Sturt Quidditch Team Captain, Chaser & Dueling Club CaptainKirupachi
15 year old Halfblood Human ☆ She/Her

Screwed and broken? Whatever little warmth started bubbling up in Lisa's heart with the prospect of Aspen not wanting to leave anyway after that serious warning was greatly dwarfed by the confusion those two words brought about. Those two adjectives had never been ones to cross her mind as a descriptor for the girl; were they alike in the sense they had things to atone for? Were they living with the weight of their mistakes on their shoulders and having to put up a front to shield themselves from equivalent situations? Lisa hadn't expected to come to relate even further to Aspen that night, yet there they were. Mildly buzzed, morose and comforting each other. Perhaps it was one of the things that drew her so much to this girl.

She handed the older teen the bottle again for another sip, as she looked like she needed it. "Maybe it's out of not knowing you all that well, but... Honestly, all three of you come across as a really tight unit." Family dynamics wasn't something Lisa could relate to. With both her parents gone and her brother pretty much estranged, if it weren't for her economic ties to the man she could say she was all alone in the world. "And there's nothing wrong with relying on others, you know?"

Her eyes widened ever so slightly as she realized the hypocrisy of her own statement the moment it left her lips. She released the frustration with a deep exhalation, and her arm wrapped around the leg it had been previously caressing, pulling it close to them both. "...What I mean is, I haven't really seen you fail. Maybe I don't know much about it, but... From the little I've seen, those kids look like they look up to you. That's not what being a lousy sister is, as far as I'm concerned..."

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Bourke ☆ Seventh Year ☆ Student, Quidditch Chaser, Paper GirlTecri
17 year old Halfblood Human ☆ she/her

Aspen took the bottle, took another gulp at the liquid inside and that’s when she realized no one knew about Vivian, the thing that has been eating her alive for years, the fact that she had one job, and one job only and she failed. She shouldn’t have left muggle school if she hadn’t Vivian would still be with them.

“I suppose we’re tight enough . . .” Aspen said with a sarcastic chuckle. “They should be relying on me, not me on them . . . “ Aspen put the bottle down and looked at the ceiling. “My mother died when we were young . . . I was the one that should help dad take care of my siblings, but instead, when I joined Tally my sister Vivian went missing, I shouldn’t have  left muggle school.” Aspen confessed. No one knew about Vivian’s disappearance, except for family, and not even MJ knew how Aspen felt about their sister’s disappearance. “We don’t know what happened, if I had stayed with them like I always had I would have been able to do something, but I fail . . . I had one job and it’s like Vivian slipped through my fingers.” She took the bottle again only to take another gulp.

“I failed Vivian, I don’t want to fail Mary or Justice . . .” she put the bottle down again. She had to do everything to make sure everyone else was fine, that they were safe and alright, she wasn’t sure if she even wanted to go Pro anymore, just to watch over her siblings.

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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ School & Sturt Quidditch Team Captain, Chaser & Dueling Club CaptainKirupachi
15 year old Halfblood Human ☆ She/Her

Lisa's words had the unintended effect of making Aspen double down on her claim; but instead of the normal reaction of such a thing becoming a source of annoyance, it only served to deepen the concern in the younger teenager. What she could have never expected, however, was how far down the rabbit hole of the Bourke's self hatred could go. It had been a complete misjudgement on Lisa's part, and seeing the girl's agony so up close and personal, in such a raw display, made her feel physically ill.

Her first instinct was to take the alcoholic beverage from Aspen's hands. No amount of liquor could erase, or even dull, what she was feeling. She leaned over the girl to place the bottle away from them, bringing it to rest on the nightstand beside the bed. With the momentum she had of readjusting her seat immediately afterwards, she enabled her second instinct as well by embracing the fellow Chaser with a tight hug, despite her clumsiness to initially administer it.

"You didn't fail anyone..." She spoke, tightening up the hold. Lisa knew for in advance she wasn't going to let go for the rest of the night. She didn't want to. She wasn't the best at comforting, but she wasn't going to abandon the one that clearly needed her right that second. She refused to. She needed to stop running. "You were just a kid..." One that had seemingly grown to become a broken woman; one that was speaking to a very primal urge in Lisa's being, that of protecting. It was rare when such an appeal to that side of her could be made, but when it was successful, she knew that meant the person was part of her pack. She could number those people with a hand in her short life, and Aspen had just become one of them, hell or high water.

"It wasn't your responsibility. Don't deny yourself of your life over something you had no control over..."

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Bourke ☆ Seventh Year ☆ Student, Quidditch Chaser, Paper GirlTecri
17 year old Halfblood Human ☆ she/her

There was nothing else that could be said, Aspen had put everything out in the open, she wasn’t sure if she could even remember the event in the following day, she could only hope to remember, at least if Lisa stops talking to her Aspen will know and will understand why. Aspen didn’t struggle with anything, whatever Lisa did or tried to do Aspen was just numb, all the emotions were coming to the surface and most of them not even MJ knew, Aspen wouldn’t want to bother her little sister with such problems, they weren’t going to help anyone, it was better if Aspen kept them to herself.

She didn’t fail? It was her job, to take care of her siblings, she should have been there for them, but she wasn’t, she was getting excited about magic and quidditch when she should have been there for her siblings. Lisa’s embrace was somewhat calming Aspen down, it didn’t stop the tears from running down her cheeks as she continued to wonder what would have happened if she had stayed behind, if she hadn’t gone into Tally, or maybe, if she had told her father about the other school sooner, nothing like that would have happened.

“It was, it was my responsibility…” Aspen held onto Lisa, speaking was getting harder to do. Spilling everything out like that wasn’t what Aspen had in mind, she wasn’t thinking about telling all that to anyone, perhaps it was the alcohol that was clouding her judgment, but in a way, it felt good spitting it out, speaking about it freely, without worrying that it would worry MJ. “I can’t let MJ deal with everything on her own…” her sister was still her major concern, what if it was to happen again? What then? What would Aspen do? She could only blame herself.

As feelings and emotions began to settle, Aspen took a deep breath. “I can’t let it happen again.”

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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ School & Sturt Quidditch Team Captain, Chaser & Dueling Club CaptainKirupachi
15 year old Halfblood Human ☆ She/Her

Cheeks stained with tears and a face etched with pure agony wasn't a sight Lisa was particularly fond of when it came to the Bourke she was presently cradling in her arms. However, she realized that it was not something she should demand for to stop. The older girl had every right to work through what gnawed at her core, and in Lisa's perspective, the very need to do so. Crying it out was a part of the process. All she could do was to be there for Aspen the whole way - something she hadn't done for anyone in well over a year.

Within the embrace, the Sturt adjusted Aspen's posture to make it so her head was resting upon Lisa's shoulder, and the latter's arm wrapped gently around her frame, bending and curling up so to reach for the side of her head and hold her safely. On occasion, as Aspen spoke, her fingers gently ran through her hair. She didn't know how to lessen the pain, opting to act on her own protective instincts instead. They screamed at her to hold onto Aspen for dear life for the rest of the night.

"Just because you're moving on in your life... It doesn't mean she has to be alone, you know?" There was no point in tackling the fact Aspen wasn't to blame anymore. They were both inebriated; rationalization wouldn't be either girl's forte, even if Lisa could grasp at her own critical thinking to an extent. "You can still visit, and help... And since you don't wanna get rid of me despite my warnings, I can help too." That was something she could do - alleviate a portion of the burden Aspen carried. It was odd to have the notion in her head that it was something she'd be more than happy to do, but nevertheless she welcomed it.

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Bourke ☆ Seventh Year ☆ Student, Quidditch Chaser, Paper GirlTecri
17 year old Halfblood Human ☆ she/her

Aspen continued to feel Lisa’s embrace and as much as she didn’t want to feel comfortable in that situation, she found that the younger girl’s touch and embrace were enough to relax her, or at least relax her enough that she was no longer crying uncontrollably but was instead calmer than she was before. Aspen tried several times to remain calm and to keep it under control, but she wasn’t so sure if everything was working as it should, especially with Lisa holding her like that. She apparently didn’t know Lisa as well as she thought she did, she never considered the younger blonde to feel so overly protective, but it did feel nice.

Moving on with her life felt like leaving everyone else behind, everyone to fend for themselves and that thought was bothering Aspen, it had been bothering her for a while. She understood she had to live her own life, no one was going to live it for her, she also couldn’t leave everyone without a helping hand. MJ can take care of herself, she’s smart and resourceful, but how could Aspen live her behind? She didn’t want MJ’s studies to suffer because of her leaving.

She had stopped crying, she was calm and there was no point in tackling what Lisa had previously mentioned. Visiting wasn’t much help, unless it was financially, once Aspen starts earning her own money, she’s going to make sure everyone in that house got what they need, her father wouldn’t need to work the graveyard shift every day and MJ wouldn’t need to worry about money so much. “I can’t ask you to help … while … while it means more than I can possibly describe, I can’t ask you to.” Aspen looked at Lisa with a soft smile. No matter what others have said about Lisa, that moment proved Aspen that she was right about her, Lisa wasn’t a bad apple.

“I’m sorry for all this …” Aspen was being a burden to Lisa, just like she was one to MJ whenever she couldn’t control her anger. Instead of moving, Aspen simply grew comfortable in the position she found herself in. “Thank you.”

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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ School & Sturt Quidditch Team Captain, Chaser & Dueling Club CaptainKirupachi
15 year old Halfblood Human ☆ She/Her

"You're not asking, I'm offering." Lisa corrected the Bourke in her arms in an attempt to calm her down further. Whatever she had been doing, it seemed to be successful thus far - Aspen had all but melted into the embrace, and she wasn't crying anymore. Hell, she was smiling. Lisa had a hard time not mirroring it on reflex despite having no reason to, given the heaviness of the situation. Perhaps it was merely a side effect of the beverage that they had been consuming, although she hoped for the smile to be genuine at least.

She shook her head as Aspen apologized, tightening the hold she had on the older teenager subconsciously. As her fingers danced down the blonde's locks over and over, her gaze seemed distracted - she was looking at the girl, but she wasn't. Instead, she was deep in thought. Aspen had been horrified of Lisa leaving her over such insecurities, when she had never been at fault of such things to begin with; someone acted without Aspen's input and there was nothing anyone could have done to help the situation. Lisa's situation, however, was different. She was starting to feel a knot in the pit of her stomach.

"...I guess it's only fair if I elaborate on who you're dealing with." She finally spoke up after a deep breath, pressing her head back against the end of the headrest and closing her eyes. She had always been considered to be of the brave sort, but talking about her past was a wound too deep to tackle most of the time. Nevertheless, she owed it to Aspen to be forthcoming. Everything she was worried about, everything that stained her as a person, had actually been her own fault. And that was what caused the deeply uncomfortable feeling in her stomach. The fact that Aspen would be entirely justified in walking out, unlike herself.

"Let's start off easy, I suppose..." Like she herself said. Lousy daughter, lousy sister, lousy friend, lousy girlfriend. She fully intended on taking things on in such order - in her mind, it felt like it was framed from most to least forgivable of all her atrocious acts. "I've... never visited my parents' graves since they passed. Just... Never." She gave a light shrug of her shoulders, although it was mild enough not to disturb Aspen's resting position. "I don't know why. I feel like I have no reason to..."

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Bourke ☆ Seventh Year ☆ Student, Quidditch Chaser, Paper GirlTecri
17 year old Halfblood Human ☆ she/her

Offering? Lisa was offering to help? Aspen was grateful that the blonde was willing to go out of her way to offer her some help, but Aspen couldn’t say she felt comfortable with it. She trusted Lisa, even with a few people warning her. Aspen was slowly getting calmer, it wasn’t an easy task, luckily it wasn’t something that could potentially lead to something more violent and Lisa seemed to be able to keep Aspen under control.

Aspen was calm and she remained calm, her eyes still red from all the crying, but at least she wasn’t shedding any more tears. Aspen didn’t move, she was comfortable in the position that she was, that was until Lisa began talking. The older blonde straightened herself and looked at Lisa as the younger blonde talked. What Lisa was saying was indeed odd, there had to be a reason to why Lisa never visited her parents, there had to be one.

“Maybe you have a reason and don’t want to admit it to them?” Aspen asked Lisa with a smile. It was a stretch to tell the younger blonde to visit her parents’ graves, whatever the reason behind not going was, Aspen thought it wasn’t the right time to talk about it. “There’s a lot of people that don’t visit their loved ones’ graves. I can go with you one day. Ya know, my dad kinda works at the graveyard.” She tried to play it as a joke.

“It’s never too late to make amends you know?”

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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ School & Sturt Quidditch Team Captain, Chaser & Dueling Club CaptainKirupachi
15 year old Halfblood Human ☆ She/Her

Lisa shifted uncomfortably as she spoke - not because of her words, but because part of the warmth provided by the fellow Quidditch Captain left her as the girl changed her position. Even though she didn't want to admit it out loud, Lisa felt herself longing for that simple comfort, but ultimately she credited such a necessity to the liquid they both had been consuming through the early evening. Her hand finally left Aspen's locks, as well as her shoulders, and settled down around the girl's waist instead in a rather loose hold. At least not all was lost, or so she thought.

"You'd think that was the case." The younger one responded with a light nod. "But... Sometimes, I question myself on whether I've ever actually loved them or not, for as grim as that sounds. For example, take my mother. I've never met her... Well, actually no, I did, I was just too young to remember. She died of Dragon Pox when I was just a toddler, I don't really remember her face. Let alone how she was like." Lisa shrugged to herself. "I can't really miss what I technically never had, is how I feel about it. I just don't feel the need to visit."

Silence followed, along with a sigh. The Sturt ran her free hand through her hair as she tried to gather her thoughts - quite the feat, given their state of inebriation. "As for my father... He was never really present. A bit of a workaholic. Kinda like me, huh?" Despite the heaviness of the topic, the blonde chuckled at the realization that she was more alike her progenitor than she had previously realized. "There was no relationship there either. I saw him once per break if I was lucky."

Perhaps it was for the best, ultimately, or so she believed. If she had a track record of breaking everyone she came close to, it was a good thing that she never got the opportunity to cause pain to her father. "I suppose I don't visit him because... In a way, I'm mad. When he died I was forced to leave Penrose and come here, so... Leaving everything behind and having to start anew was pretty rough." In her mind, it was the catalyst. She wasn't blaming him in the least; rather, she didn't think she'd be aware of how horrible a person she had the potential to be if the man was still alive.

"On the other hand, me being here now means I get to hang out with you. Maybe it's not so bad." She threw in a joke of her own, accompanied with a small smile and a friendly wink. Despite it, however, she couldn't help but still be scared of how her own reckless actions and track record could impact Aspen in the future.

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Bourke ☆ Seventh Year ☆ Student, Quidditch Chaser, Paper GirlTecri
17 year old Halfblood Human ☆ she/her

People showed love differently, people weren’t always the same and while Aspen knew that it was hard for her to understand some forms of love, one of them was what Lisa was saying, although, people grieved differently, while Aspen barely had memories of her mother she did, and they might not have spent too much time with the woman but their father didn’t let them forget her, while he worked hard to feed everyone, the man always made sure he had time for all his kids. Aspen just sit there and listened, trying to be mature enough not argue, Lisa simply had a different way to view things, it wasn’t wrong, it was just different than what Aspen is used to. “I’m going to try to be mature here, so, we all look at things differently, it doesn’t make you a lousy daughter just because of that.” Aspen would probably have the same reaction if her father hadn’t told her more about her mother, along with the little that she could remember.

Aspen wasn’t going to go around pointing fingers, she couldn’t understand how someone could not visit, guilt? Anger? There were a lot of feelings that could play into it and cause a person to drift away from happy memories and delve deeper into the bad ones. Aspen had to accept Lisa’s view and actions, while she didn’t quite understand, acceptance was more important. “Why don’t you start by forgiving yourself?” Aspen looked at Lisa and smiled kindly. MJ was the one that was good with this sort of thing, Aspen was so bad at trying to read people and telling them what they should listen, she was so biased about certain things, her opinions were always the best and, in this case, she had to put that aside. “I’m not good at this but … it feels like you feel guilty for being mad at him and I do know one thing, parents usually work too much because either they want to give their kids the best or because memories are too painful.” That wasn’t Aspen’s territory, it was the first time walking on such terrain. What should she say or do? It was all a mystery to her.

She smiled at the joke, while she meant well Aspen thought she was avoiding something. “But … none of that makes you a lousy daughter, just makes you a person. Everyone makes mistakes and I suppose life isn’t one size fits all. As long as you want to get better and make emends, I don’t think you’re a bad daughter.” Aspen wrapped her arms around Lisa in a gentle embrace, the blonde had given her some comfort and while Lisa wasn’t crying like Aspen was, a hug never hurt anyone before.

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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ School & Sturt Quidditch Team Captain, Chaser & Dueling Club CaptainKirupachi
15 year old Halfblood Human ☆ She/Her

Lisa had half-expected Aspen to disagree with her, but was taken aback nonetheless. Why was the Bourke so hell bent on giving her a pass regarding her past sins, even if they were barely scratching the surface at that point? Was it because Aspen truly believed people's pasts didn't define them? It felt like a hypocritical belief to hold given the reason she had broken down in front of the Sturt not five minutes prior. What was it then? Was it a bias instilled on her due to the way she looked at Lisa? She hadn't been entirely oblivious to the fact the past couple days, the pieces of the puzzle having started to click in her head - there was no way Aspen would have started to hang out with her so much, so relentlessly, for so long, just because. There was an underlying reason. She could tell the girl was into women exclusively, and a couple glances caught thrown her way served to cement the suspicion. Was she being so understanding because of it?

The confusion was then replaced by bewilderment at the notion of forgiving herself - truth be told, the whole deal with her lineage was the least of her worries. Clashing with what she had just considered in her mind, Lisa couldn't help thinking that perhaps Aspen wasn't prepared for the knowledge that was to come if she was so readily preaching for the Sturt to forgive herself at what she personally deemed 'the lightest of her mistakes'.

"Pot, meet kettle." She couldn't resist pointing out the flaw in that logic, believing Aspen should forgive herself as well - at least, the Bourke had no fault in what had occurred to her sister. Lisa was entirely at fault for every single misstep in her life, in comparison. The saying applied more to the Bourke Captain than anybody else.

The arms she missed soon encircled her again, causing her body to relax involuntarily due to getting what it craved. Lisa returned the embrace in full, resulting in pulling the older girl's body closer to her own. Relishing in the warmth, it didn't look like she'd let go anytime soon. "I don't know which one of those it was. Both, none, either. I'm inclined to think of the second one..." As far as she knew, her father had been entirely absent from Eddie's life as well. It was a rough job, certainly, but she had heard of Aurors whom took pride in their family and went out of their way to be there for those they cared for. If she pursued such a job, which she was seriously considering, she'd likely do it herself - not that she had many people left to protect to begin with, but if Aspen still remained at her side after that night, she would certainly be worth the sacrifice.

"How do you make amends with someone who isn't here anymore? And no, they have no ghosts roaming around." She pressed her forehead to the side of her friend's head and closed her eyes, fairly certain that the (small) alcoholic intake was making her slow down.

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Bourke ☆ Seventh Year ☆ Student, Quidditch Chaser, Paper GirlTecri
17 year old Halfblood Human ☆ she/her

Aspen chuckled at Lisa’s words, the Sturt was right, Lisa was preaching something she couldn’t do herself. Perhaps it was the alcohol or perhaps Aspen was starting to see the irony in all of it. She wished the had the same sensitivity MJ had, her sister always knew what to say or do in every situation, right now, Aspen could only laugh. “I’m so sorry but … You’re right … I should be preaching something I don’t … I don’t do.” Aspen confessed still laughing about the situation, but she blamed herself so much for what happened that she didn’t want others to feel the same, perhaps it was the reason that led her to tell Lisa that in the first place, to tell the girl that she should first forgive herself. When it came to Aspen’s problem, she should probably follow her own advice. She stopped chuckled and gathered her composure.

Her arms remained wrapped around Lisa as the Sturt began to speak. “Maybe it was both, but whatever the reason was, you can’t blame him forever.” The same way that Aspen shouldn’t blame herself, perhaps Lisa shouldn’t blame her father, maybe he was as innocent as Lisa and everyone, just made a mistake thinking he could give them the world.

Making emends wasn’t easy, especially when the person wasn’t around, and in Lisa’s case, the ghost of her father wasn’t either. “Talk, it’s the only thing I can tell you. Whenever I need something without bothering Mary, I go to my mom’s grave and I talk to her. She might not be around, but it feels as she was.” Aspen smiled lightly at Lisa. It might not be Lisa’s thing, talk to a gravestone, and might not even help the young Sturt but if Lisa doesn’t try, she will never know. Aspen pressed her forehead against Lisa’s like the younger female had done. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a brief moment.

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