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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ Nature Reserve HelperKirupachi
16 year old Muggleborn Human ☆ She/Her

Chloe couldn't figure out why it was that her maternal grandparents had decided to make the trip down under in the middle of June, nowhere near any break period for either her parents, herself or her student, and demand that all give them attention. They had been over for a week, having arrived the previous Sunday; Chloe had managed to avoid them for most of that period with school, training and work as an excuse, but that Saturday, she had no choice - she was forced to put up with them as her mother begrudgingly ordered her to come home from Tallygarunga for the weekend.

The Sturt considered herself to be very tolerant of others in general, but in her book, her grandparents were absolutely insufferable. Her mother had told stories before about how strict and career-obsessed they were, but even her words couldn't do them any justice. Whenever the family visited Kagoshima she always made sure to drag her sister out of the house and avoid them as much as possible, but now that they had gone to her hometown instead, it proved to be too great a task. She was doomed to have her ears incessantly filled with interrogations pertaining her future, why she hadn't found a good man yet, what sort of education she intended to pursue in Muggle school (now that she thought about it, it was perhaps for the best they had no idea what magic was), how her hobbies were unbecoming of a young woman like her, so on and so forth. Near the end of the afternoon, however, she hit her limit.

As dinner was served, Chloe excused herself with the pretense of feeling unwell. She was allowed to retire to her bedroom. After a gentle pet to Frost's head and an uttered apology, the girl proceeded to put her plan to action. She shoved various pillows under the sheets of her bed, so if anyone were to come in, they'd think of her as asleep. She then put on a hoodie jacket for warmth during the upcoming warm night, shoved the few clothes she had brought along with her the previous day in a backpack along with her phone and wallet, and opened the window to greet the chilly night. The sun set early as the Winter approached, and she knew that she still had a couple hours to make it back to Tallygarunga on foot before she'd be considered to violate curfew. She believed it to be more than enough time for the trek, even if she took the long way around, and perhaps she could even grab something to eat on the way.

She hoisted herself up and over the window, hanging cleanly with a hand while the other held onto the backpack's strap. Her gaze met Frost's as the feline reclined in its temporary bedding for a nap - there was no point in bringing the cat along when her sister was around to watch for it, but she couldn't help being concerned over the fact he could also jump off the window she was about to leave open. Coupled with the fact that the sudden cold air would alert the inhabitants of the house that something was off, she made up her mind about alerting Lexi regarding the fact that she left. However, she had to escape first. Looking down from the first floor window, she lowered herself as much as she possibly could to minimize the length of the fall. Firstly, she threw her bag a ways away for it to fall on the grass of the backyard, mentally hoping to Merlin her phone would be in working condition afterwards.

The second one to fall would be her. With her feet lightly pressed against the side of the building, she pushed herself off of it to a free fall, tucking and rolling as her body reached ground level. The slickness of the grass from earlier rain stained her clothes, and she took notice as she stood back up on her feet, her hands haphazardly cleaning off as much as she could of the greenery now on her clothes. Once she deemed it sufficient, the Sturt reached for her fallen backpack to verify the state of her mobile device - finding it in working order, she sent a text message to her sister wherein she was honest about her intentions. It didn't take Chloe too long to spot said girl coming up to the window she had just jumped over, and waved at her as it was closed.

Escape successful.

She doubled back around the house to ensure she wasn't spotted through windows on accident by going along the side of the dining room; as she jumped the fence and reached the street, she let out a sigh in relief in the dead of night. At least, until the following day, she could rest easy...

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Flinders ☆ Sixth Year ★ Sadrienne
16 year old Halfblood Human ☆ He/Him

Adam liked everyone to be home for the weekend, and Aiden was always willing to oblige. Together they had cooked up something of a feast, shared it with the Belmonts, a comfortable evening with their unconventional but excellent family. Matt was getting stronger, Kate was visibly happier, and Hazel was blooming into the wild and adventurous child she always should have been. The night had been filled with awful puns, Adam's strangely good dance moves, and Cass drinking wine until her nose turned red and she giggled at everything

When he thought about what they had all come from, what they had come through, it seemed like an impossible level of happiness. And yet, it was here. He retired to his room after the Belmonts had left, his sides aching from laughter, and set himself up at his desk with the latest pile of textbooks to be examined. For once in his life, Aiden wasn't even sure he could focus on the book, much less take notes from it. It wasn't an urgent priority though, he was well ahead with his study---just not ready to wind down fully and go to sleep. He drummed his fingers against the pages instead, letting his mind wander back over all the questions that still plagued him, the miracles that he had seen happen and the things he wasn't sure he would ever understand.

Through his bedroom window, he saw a flutter of movement. 

That was... odd. Aiden frowned, leaning in against the glass to see better. And there it was again---but larger. A person. He squinted, watching as the shape moved away from the house across the street. He knew the family over there had kids that went to Tally, but he'd never really paid it much attention. This didn't seem right, and he soon found himself sliding his shoes back on and heading out through the living area.

"Something the matter, Aidey?" Adam called from his game of wizarding chess with a very tipsy Cass.

"Dunno... someone just jumped out of the house over the road." Aiden replied, ignoring whatever else Adam had to say as he closed the front door behind him and moved off in the direction he had seen the shape go. People didn't jump out of houses because good things were happening. It was also late. Very dark. And not the greatest of neighborhoods to be wandering about on your own. Not... that Aiden was thinking about that himself. 

"Oi," he said in a low voice as he got closer. "You alright? Need some help?"

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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ Nature Reserve HelperKirupachi
16 year old Muggleborn Human ☆ She/Her

The cloud of cool air released from Chloe's sigh reminded the Sturt that the temperature was less than ideal. She had been in a fairly warm house, and her little bout of physical strain made it so her body had warmed up just enough momentarily for her to forget about the borderline freezing temperatures that were sweeping the region. Halting her step before she even got a couple in, the girl reached behind her own head with both hands - first, she enclosed a fist around as much hair as possible, and second, her other hand moved her hood just enough out of the way for her to shove the mane down her clothing prior to having said hood properly cover her head. Various pointy ends of her hair, unfortunately, stabbed at the back of her neck as she did so; she subconsciously reached back again to scratch the general area through the fabric, which undid some of her work and had a few strands oddly stick out around her head and out front for a bit of a messy appearance. Deciding that there wasn't much more that she could do about it, the now suspicious looking figure decided to just bear with it and resume her stroll.

That pause had given Aiden more than enough time to make his approach. Just as the Sturt thought she was finally on her away and rid of her staggeringly annoying grandparents, she heard someone speaking in a bit of a low tone, indicating proximity. Given as she was alone and the streets were mostly empty, she wasn't so oblivious as to think it wasn't directed at her for a change, and fortunately still had enough polite bones in her body not to completely ignore the stranger.

Turning to spot a teenager around her age (or so she believed), she took a moment to mull over his question. Did she need some help? Not immediately assuming he had seen her jump off of a house, she instead believed that her getup made her look like she didn't belong in the area - it wasn't that far-fetched a thought, truth be told, as someone with that roughed up a hoodie would most likely belong in Koonyah instead of Lausler Park.

"I'm okay. Thank you, though." A subconscious bow of her head in gratitude at his concern followed, old habits of a traditional upbringing showing. She didn't recognize the boy in the least, reclusive as she always had been, and couldn't help but mentally note the fact he looked quite lanky. It was odd to think that she was likely safer out at that hour than her would-be rescuer. "Do you need help? It's quite late for you to be outside on your own." The irony of her words was lost as she appeased her own innate curiosity, something that served to distract her from the infernal itch at the back of her neck.

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Flinders ☆ Sixth Year ★ Sadrienne
16 year old Halfblood Human ☆ He/Him

Aiden had his hands shoved in the pockets of his own hoodie, though the hood itself wasn't up. He liked the cold. Winter meant more time to read without Adam demanding they go camping at every opportunity. It meant big hearty dinners and an appetite that wasn't smothered in the overwhelming heat of the summer months. Aiden was the sort of kid who wore shorts in the bitterest winter and never really seemed to get cold. Although, no doubt, Adam would by now be peeking out the front door in his direction---holding a pair of trousers and a beanie.

"Sure?" he wasn't convinced by her answer, either. Although the girl didn't look physically hurt, or even particularly distressed, she had just jumped out of a house. At least it was a clear night, and down the road a little way was a small playground that at least offered shelter from the bite of the wind. Perhaps that would be a better place to continue the conversation, where the windbreak of trees about the clearing could also obscure this perculiar girl from... whatever it was she was escaping.

"You did kinda just... fall out a window," Aiden shrugged one shoulder. "Jumped, whatever---I'm Aiden. I live across the road from you." 

He knew her face, had seen it about both on their street and at school---but didn't know her well enough to recall her name. Sturt, he thought. Possibly Bourke? No---Sturt seemed right. He didn't recall seeing much of her family around, though, which... was hardly surprising. When Adam and Cass had moved the family into the smallest house on a street where bigger was clearly considered better, they hadn't exactly been welcomed into the community. Their lack of flashy clothes, trinkets, and Adam's penchant for obscene garden gnomes had not helped. 

"And I came out here 'cause I saw you out here. I can go back inside any minute if I like... guessing that's not the case for you?" he raised an eyebrow with a half-frown. 

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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ Nature Reserve HelperKirupachi
16 year old Muggleborn Human ☆ She/Her

As Aiden spoke up, Chloe glanced over the aforementioned house. It seemed that she wouldn't be able to dodge the fact that her actions were perceived as odd (and they were indeed, she was able to recognize that much), but the more she thought about the whole situation, the more confounded she became over not being taken for a petty criminal. With the backpack hanging on her shoulder to add suspicion, it would be easy to conclude she was some sort of robber - at least, it's what she would likely have thought if she were in the boy's shoes. A sense of relief washed over her as she realized no such trouble or accusations were headed her way.

"I see." She spoke up once turning to meet Aiden's questioning gaze again. "I could go back in, but I'd rather avoid it. Visitors." She kept the explanation short and sweet. While Chloe had no problem going at length about her predicament if necessary, she felt that unloading her issues on the teenager she had just met without him asking would be nothing short of incredibly rude; ironically, she could mentally picture her sister slapping her upside the head precisely for not doing so.

"Oh, and, I'm Chloe." She momentarily closed her eyes in frustration, mentally chastising herself for forgetting to make a simple introduction. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to mirror the minimal facial recognition - being one to focus on her activities more than anything else and rarely visiting home for any extended period of time (save for the coming weekends, of course), one could argue her ability to recognize people she didn't regularly deal with was lacking. On the flip side, there wasn't a hint of hostility in her posture or voice: she didn't seem to care much about how Aiden dressed in comparison to every other inhabitant in the area, let alone judge him for it.

Glancing over at the house once again, she noticed only the dining room lights were open, indicative of the family having dinner still. While it let her know that nobody other than Lexi had noticed her departure, there was a sense of uneasiness crawling under her skin the longer she stayed in the vicinity; almost as if expecting one of the adults to walk near the window for any given reason and spot the pair near their front lawn, thus thwarting her adventure. She had time to kill but that certainly wasn't the place she should do it in.

"I'd rather not stay here, if that's alright." She voiced her concerns, unaware that the boy in front of her had considered similar issues long before her.

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Flinders ☆ Sixth Year ★ Sadrienne
16 year old Halfblood Human ☆ He/Him

"That bad, huh?" Aiden couldn't say he related to that. Sure, there were times where Adam's social extravaganzas were just too much, but he'd never felt the need to escape the house over it. Not in the dramatic manner that Chloe had, anyway. He could always count on his half-brother to understand that Aiden wasn't always keen on being at the party, and need a bit of space and time to breathe in his room. As long as he didn't make a habit of disappearing every time, it was fine. And Aiden didn't really want to disappear either. He enjoyed their visitors, whoever it was that Adam and Cass were entertaining. Their circle of friends was diverse and interesting, and family time was always special.

"Sure thing," he replied, gesturing with a hand still in his hoodie pocket, down to the end of the street where a cluster of trees hid the small children's playground from the view of the road. "When I was a kid, I used to come hide out over at the playground. Mum took us there once, and I think I just really liked the spaceship swing..." Aiden shrugged a shoulder. He didn't mention that Cass had found him easily, or that both Adam and Cass would sit just beyond the trees and wait while Aiden believed he was "run away". Aiden had never considered running further than the park.

He began to walk in that direction, lazily swinging one leg ahead of the other, aware that his lanky legs could make his walking pace uncomfortably fast for others. Besides, looking too much in a rush would be too noticeable for any stickybeaks nosing out of their windows, and this neighbourhood was full of whispers. While he knew that Adam would simply shrug and reply "So?" to any neighbour who knocked on their door to tell him that Aiden was out roaming at night, Chloe's situation sounded a bit different.

The spaceship swing was still there. Just as it had been when he was five. Hanging from a frame the paint had come off years ago, he vaguely remembered it being blue and peeling, the spaceship itself was red. A two-seater swing made for toddlers, Aiden could barely fit a shoe into the seats now, but it was comfortable enough to straddle the ship and swing gently backwards and forwards. He did so, a dumb grin of childish pleasure resting on his lips as he invited Chloe to take up one of the other novelty swings. 

"So, what's the plan then? Gonna sleep out tonight, or you got somewhere to go?"

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Sturt ☆ Sixth Year ☆ Nature Reserve HelperKirupachi
16 year old Muggleborn Human ☆ She/Her

"Spaceship swing?" Chloe parroted with sudden curiosity, as if a magical set of words had been uttered to awaken the child within. She had always had a fascination with space, astronomy, science fiction, and anything in between; one could certainly argue that her obsession with robotics was only part of those grander subjects. Momentarily forgetting her need to retreat to Tallygarunga, the Sturt followed Aiden along the empty road, street lights illuminating their way as they approached the equally barren park.

She blew hot hair into her hands, rubbing them together afterwards a few times before shoving them into her hoodie's pockets much like the Flinders beside her. She didn't seem to have much trouble keeping up with the boy despite him lagging behind purposefully - if anything, the movement served to fight the chill she felt down to her bones and forced her blood to pump and warm her frigid muscles. In no time flat they had arrived at their destination. Chloe took the sights in, poorly lit as they were, with a sense of childlike wonder that was hard to read through her expression. Even if she had lived just down that road all her life, she had never gone to that little pocket of youngster recreation; she had never been particularly motivated to, having plenty of indoor hobbies herself, and the fact her sister had been sickly through their childhood made it so they stayed away from danger by design whenever outside of their Muggle elementary school of choice.

After the initial feeling of wonder came the unpleasant realization of a broken promise. The year before she had told Tyson that she would do her best to explore the city, commit every corner of it to memory and do her best to climb the social ladder. Yet, there she was, unaware that such a pleasant location existed just a dozen steps from her house. Having gotten overwhelmed with work was no excuse, and the onset guilt formed a knot in the pit of her stomach.

Quietness followed the pair as they approached the swing in question. Chloe took her time to inspect every nook and cranny of the novelty seats, withdrawing a hand from its resting place to let fingertips run along the chains suspending them in mid-air. She was brought back to reality as Aiden motioned her to join in the silly activity, which she soon did, swinging back and forth with mindfulness of her own weight. The gentle rocking was amusing, she thought, and she briefly wondered what it would have been like to undergo that same experience as a toddler.

The silence was broken by a pertinent question. "I was thinking of going back to school." She spoke with honesty as per usual, not fearing being handed over to her parents over disclosing her plans. "I board it, actually. I was home at my parents' request, so I have a place to stay." There was a very long walk ahead of her, however. She needed to mentally keep time in check lest she violate curfew and cost her House points. She never understood the need for that sort of competition but that didn't mean she wanted to be the cause for her peers to lose out on the House Cup.

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