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Shadowfeet; *Closed* Set at Ilvermorny
Topic Started: Jan 28 2017, 07:03 PM (326 Views)
Leah Mustard
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Studying | Pretty Chill | Fifth Year | Horned Serpent | Ilvermorny | Shaping Bright Futures

Leah bit her lip as she quietly watched her best friend from the end of a row of library books. Matthew was sitting at their usual study table, but he didn't look like he was working on anything from his classes. Instead he was holding some sort of note in his hand, and he was so focused on whatever it said that he hadn't even seen that she'd arrived yet. Which sort of made her feel like she was spying, but she just... couldn't help it. She was worried about him. Leah didn't know if anyone else around the school had noticed, but Matthew had begun acting a bit odd lately, like there was something really troubling him. He hadn't told her anything about it though, and she was torn between being just a little bit hurt by that, and reminding herself to mind her own business. Matthew didn't have to tell her everything, best friend or no. Still, she wished she knew a way to help him with whatever was going on, no matter how small that help might be. Letting out a quiet sigh, she began pretending to dig around in her bag as she walked up the aisle to their table, giving Matthew time to hide the note if he wanted. "Hey. Sorry I'm late again."
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Matthew Harper
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Matthew was completely lost in thought as he stared at the note in his hand. It seemed like nothing was on his mind lately but the information that he'd written down there after discovering it in his father's office. He had felt bad even as he went digging around, but he knew his father was doing something bad. Something illegal. He had taught Matthew enough about his business for him to figure that much out. He'd just gone looking for proof, though now he could hardly remember why it had been so important to him. Who cared if his father illegally used magic in the Muggle world and exploited Muggles for money?

Well, he cared.

But it was hard to remember that now. Now that he'd found something else in that office, something worse. He had a sister. Not Charlotte, a second sister. A secret sister. Half Sister a small part of his mind whispered to him, but that hardly mattered. Family was family. He had tried not to care, tried to forget, but her name kept popping up in his mind.

Odette.

In his imagination, she looked exactly like Charlotte. He had no basis for this, she could look like anything. He didn't know what her mother looked like. But he couldn't stop thinking of her as a slightly older Charlotte. She'd be twelve now, lived in New Zealand. That's all he knew, but it was enough to torment him. He didn't know what to do. Confront his father? Tell his mother? Write his sister? Odette. Odette, his twelve year old sister in New Zealand. What was she like? Did she know about him? From what he'd found, his father made payments to her mother but that didn't mean the girl knew. How awful it had to be, not knowing. Or maybe she did know and hated all of them, could he blame her for that? If his father had left him like that, he might hate him to.

He might hate him regardless.

He didn't notice Leah's approach until she was right next to him, and he jumped a bit. He quickly folded the note and put a book over it, though it felt weird to hide anything from his best friend. He and Leah had been as close as could be from their first year on. They told each other everything. Or at least, they had until now.

Matthew grinned up at her and shrugged casually. "I expected no different from you, Leah Ketchup." He teased her, and it felt natural. He'd been making fun of her last name as long as he had known her, and he knew she didn't mind. He pointed at a coffee cup. "I drank your coffee, though. It would have been cold otherwise." Another running joke between them, Leah hated coffee and Matthew pretended to forget every time. Seeing her made his worries ease slightly, it was so much easier to pretend everything was normal with Leah around. Though, he also knew it wouldn't be long until he told her. Matthew hated lies, he hated pretending and that's what he'd been doing since the term started. He just wasn't sure how to bring it up.
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Leah Mustard
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Studying | Pretty Chill | Fifth Year | Horned Serpent | Ilvermorny | Shaping Bright Futures

Leah pretended to roll her eyes at Matthew's joke as she pulled out a chair and sat down, but still ended up smiling at him anyway. "Wow, Ketchup? I know you're down on your game when you have to resort to that one." She felt a brief flicker of worry at the unexpected realness of her remark - Matthew was definitely preoccupied with something more serious than thinking up nicknames for her - but hoped it didn't show, and quickly moved on to respond to the next part of his greeting. Mock shuddering, she used a finger to push the coffee cup far away from her. "I'm terrified that one day you will actually bring me coffee, you know. Tea is far better, how many times do I have to tell you."

Leah accompanied this with another smile, busying herself with unpacking and organising her study things. She liked tea and Matthew liked coffee, and they would never agree otherwise. The light-hearted teasing of each other over the subject was constant, and to be honest she hoped it would never stop. She was glad that whatever was bothering him wasn't enough to dampen his sense of humour. Still... Leah found herself biting her lip again, obsessively straightening her books on the table. It was no good, she would have to at least broach the subject. If there was something she could do to help, she had to let him know that she was willing to do so. Leaving her books alone with a small sigh, Leah turned to face him. "Matthew? Can I ask... are you okay? Ever since we came back to school you've seemed like... like there's something bothering you. It's probably none of my business, but... if I can help you at all..."
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Matthew Harper
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Of course Leah could tell something was wrong. She was right, his pun game wasn't at it's best. He sighed a little, wondering why he even tried to hide anything from her. Why should he? If anyone would understand and keep his secret, it was his best friend. "I've brought you coffee loads of times." He said, giving her a smile that he hoped look casual. "I just tend to end up adopting it and calling it mine because you reject it so cruelly."

He could tell that she was going to say something serious before she did it. The way she bit her lip and put her books down straight told him that she wasn't going to let him stew in his own thoughts any longer. It made him feel oddly happy, knowing someone would always be there to ask what was on his mind. "I... I'm not really okay, Leah." He said, giving her a nervous look before glancing at the note he mostly tucked away underneath a book. "You're right, I don't know why I try to hide things from you. You can read me like a book, or a newspaper or whatever." He wavered for one last moment before just blurting it out. "I found something out. My dad... my dad had an affair. He has another kid. A girl." He let out a small, breathless laugh, it felt so unreal now that he said it out loud. "A girl. She lives in New Zealand, she's my sister. My sister, Leah. And I never knew."
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Leah Mustard
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Leah had wondered if what had been troubling Matthew might be something to do with his father, but the truth of the situation momentarily shocked her into silence. An affair? A... sister? Initially unable to think of something to say she raised her hand to hover over Matthew's before letting her fingers come to rest lightly atop his own, trying to search his eyes for a greater indication of how he might be feeling. Was he okay, or rather, how okay was he? Leah couldn't imagine what it must have been like for him to carry this secret around for so long. And how long had he been doing so? Exhaling shakily, she said, "That's such a shock. You're sure, aren't you." It wasn't a question; she didn't even think of doubting him. Matthew hated lies.

Which gave the news of an unknown sister even greater impact. Leah's eyes flicked quickly to the hidden note and back again, without her even realising. "Have you known long? How are you doing?" She swallowed, suddenly thinking of something else. "Do your mother and sister know...?" Matthew had told her quite a bit about his family, and Leah now felt concerned for his mother and Charlotte - the news could be highly upsetting for them. And the sister. Leah knew exactly how it felt to have family all the way across the world. Did the girl know? Was she okay? She opened her mouth to ask those very questions, but then closed it again, not wanting Matthew to feel like she was interrogating him.
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Matthew Harper
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The silence that fell after Matthew's words felt awkward and oppressive. For a moment, he wondered if Leah would even believe him. He barely believed it himself. But then she spoke and all his doubts left him at once. "I'm sure." He said softly. "Really sure, I ... I copied down the important things." He took the piece of parchment he had been looking at earlier and slid it over to her.

Her questions felt surreal, everything about this situation did. It was so much like Leah to instantly worry about everyone else, and him too. "I've known a few weeks. I'm doing..." He paused, trying to think of something to say. "I don't know." He said eventually, not willing to lie and say he was fine. "And no, Charlotte doesn't know. I don't think mother does either." His mother loved her husband very much, he couldn't imagine that she knew this about him. He could see Leah had more questions and was trying not to overwhelm him. It made him smile a little, despite the situation. "If there's more questions, please just ask. I don't know how much more I can talk about this at a later date."
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Leah Mustard
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Leah took the note almost hesitantly. She quickly read the information Matthew had scrawled down, although only really focused on one detail in particular. Her name - Odette. Matthew had another sister, and her name was Odette. It was a detail that made the news heavier, more real somehow. Leah swallowed a small lump in her throat and carefully placed the parchment back on the table in front of Matthew, treating it as if it were some sort of precious document... which she supposed in a way it was. It symbolised a whole life - one that had been hidden away and lied about. Looking back up at Matthew, Leah watched him trying to work out how to answer her questions. It was the wrestling face, the one he made whenever he was trying to tell her the truth without actually having to say anything that would cause her more worry. It was sort of endearing to see, despite the situation they were in. A sort of grounding point of familiarity.

As usual, Matthew's reply at the end of the wrestling face was never enough to completely rid Leah of her worries, but it was probably the most she could expect at this stage. This news was shocking enough for her to hear, what must it be like for him? "You know I'm always here if you need anything. I can't do much to help I guess, but... I'm here." She didn't know if she should be relieved or concerned that the rest of Matthew's family likely didn't know about Odette. She wouldn't wish undue stress and hurt feelings on anyone, but this was different. This was something that shouldn't have ever been lied about. Her hands tightened into fists on her knees. "Matthew, I don't know if I've ever told you this before, but I don't think I like your father very much." Leah hoped she wasn't overstepping by saying that to him, but she couldn't help herself. Family was one of the most important things in this world, and lying to them, lying about and hiding them, was something she didn't think she could ever be able to forgive. She was slightly embarrassed that Matthew had realised how eager she was to question him about the whole ordeal, but she just... had to know. "Is... is Odette okay? Do you know? I mean, does she know that..." Leah trailed off, she just couldn't bear to say it out loud. Does she know that your father has been keeping her a secret? "What are you going to do?"
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Matthew Harper
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Matthew watched Leah read the note, taking careful notice of her facial expressions. He could see how shocked she was and how upset by how the corners of her mouth tightened and pulled downward. It was one of his least favorite expressions on her face. He watched her put the note down carefully as if it was fragile, and that small moment gave him a warm feeling in his chest. She really understood how important this was, how big. He should have expected her to, but it was still nice, still surprising. Sharing this with someone else felt like a relief, a huge weight off his shoulders. Why had he tried to keep it from her at all? He should know by now that lies never helped any situation.

Leah didn't need to say she was there for him, of course he knew it. He smiled weakly and nodded. "I know, Leah. You're always here for me, I didn't doubt that for a second." It was odd to talk this formally to her, normally he would joke around and give her silly nicknames but it didn't feel right at this moment. Though part of him wished he could just do that and pretend nothing was happening. Her comment about his father made Matthew laugh shakily, it wasn't a happy sound. "I don't like him very much either, maybe we should start a club." He attempted a joke anyway but he could hear it was weak even as he said it. With a sigh, he looked down at the table in front of him, running his finger over some letters carved into the wood without reading them. Ever since he found out about this, it had felt like there was a fog in his mind that kept him separated from the rest of the world. Telling Leah seemed to be helping a little, but none of this still felt real.

He had told Leah questions were alright but he still felt unprepared when she started asking about Odette. He had to wrestle down his frustration before answering, because he desperately wished he knew the answers himself."I don't know. I have no idea what she knows or how she's doing or even what she looks like. She goes to Hogwarts there, that's all I know. She might be aware of us, she might hate us. But..." He trailed off. The thought that kept occurring to him was silly, he knew it. But if he couldn't tell it to Leah, he couldn't say it to anyone. "I keep thinking that I want to go to her, to meet her. To see if she is okay. I don't know how I'd do this, I don't want dad to know I know but... she could be all alone. She's my sister." For some reason this thought kept returning into his head. She was his sister. If Charlotte needed anything in the world he was there for her in a second, but Odette might not even be aware of his existence. It went against all his instincts, and it wouldn't leave him alone.

He wavered for a short moment, because what he was about to say now was even more personal and more important. If Leah discouraged him or told him it was a bad idea, he knew he would never have the courage to do it. He had no idea what would happen if he didn't, would it just eat at his mind until he snapped? Or would he slowly forget how urgent it was, with Odette living as a vague idea in the back of his mind as he lived his life? That wasn't acceptable.

"Look, Leah. Please tell me if this is stupid. But I sort of have this plan. Wait, scratch that, I know its stupid but hear me out anyway." He ran a hand through his hair, not meeting her eyes. "So, uh, you know how my dad has been bugging me to take semester or two abroad, right? He's still going on about it every time I see him. About 'making the right kind of connections' and 'broadening my view' and stuff like that?" Matthew had never even seriously considered it, he was at home here at Ilvermorny and didn't particularly love the idea of having to start over somewhere. And, if he was completely honest,the girl in front of him was a large part of the reason why. Why would he go to a school where she wasn't? "I mean, I know he meant Beauxbatons, maybe Durmstrang. Sons of business contacts of him go to those schools. But the last time he talked about it he said I could pretty much pick anywhere, as long as I made sure to make the right kind of friends there." It had hurt a little, it had felt like his father had wanted him out of the way. Wasn't Ilvermorny far away enough? But now it felt like an opportunity. "So what if I tell him I'll do it and pick Hogwarts in New Zealand? I doubt he'd be happy, he may even forbid it... but what reason could he give? He can't tell me why he wouldn't want me to go there, and I know he has business associates there too. I could even research their names and rattle them off if he wants to argue it. I could.. I could transfer there, Leah, just for a bit. Meet her, see if she's okay. And I could still pretend to be oblivious when I return. Harper is a common name, and ... and he wouldn't need to know." He was a little breathless as he finished talking. There were definite holes in this plan, he knew that, but he'd always been a bit of a dreamer and kept thinking it was possible. If Leah could see this happen and maybe help him, maybe it really was possible. She had family there too, he remembered her talking about her cousins. Could that be useful somehow? He met her eyes, hoping she wouldn't laugh at him or worse, pity him.
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Leah Mustard
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Leah was glad that Matthew already knew she would support him in anything. Ever since she'd first met him, she'd found herself feeling that way, and it comforted her to know that he truly did count on her the same way she counted on him. It made her doubly glad because it meant that he had someone to share the burden of this knowledge with; he didn't have to carry it all by himself. Thinking back on how out of sorts Matthew had been since the holidays, Leah wished they could have talked about this sooner if it would have spared him some of the worry he had been going through all by himself. It was his attempt at a joke that really underscored the depth of how this was affecting him - Matthew had always been able to cheer her up with even the worst of puns, but his shaky laugh almost made her feel like crying instead. She couldn't believe someone as admirable and wonderful as Matthew could have such a despicable man for a father.

Hearing the edge of frustration in his voice as he tried to answer her questions about Odette, Leah grimaced, regretting that she had asked them in the first place. It just seemed to have made Matthew more upset, and she should have realised that if he had known the answers he most likely would have told her them along with everything else. She just hadn't been able to help herself, she had already formed an attachment to Odette inside her mind. Matthew cared about her, which made her important to Leah too. It was hearing that he wanted to go and see Odette, however, that really reminded her why Matthew was her best friend in the first place. Even though she was all the way over in New Zealand, even though trying to see her could cause more problems with his father, the fact that Matthew had decided that he had to go check on his sister in person made Leah feel immensely proud of him, and caused a warm feeling to start flooding through her chest. "Going to see her sounds like a wonderful idea. I don't have any siblings, but I imagine that if I suddenly found out I did I wouldn't be able to stay away." Truthfully, Leah knew that if Matthew had decided to ignore Odette the same way their father had, she couldn't have continued to keep being friends with him. Just the thought of that scared her, even though it was clear Matthew would never have done such a thing in the first place. Knowing that made the warmth in her chest grow, and she was glad once again that she was lucky enough to call Matthew her friend.

As he explained his plan in more detail, Leah bit her lip. It might be difficult, but it definitely wasn't stupid. She didn't interrupt him while his idea poured out, and when he finally came to the end she looked at him for a moment while he caught his breath, considering. "I think you need to do it." Transferring was a perfect idea, and the fact that Matthew would be doing so under the pretense of what his father already wanted made the man less likely to challenge the trip at all. "Your plan isn't stupid at all Matthew, I really think it will work. To be completely honest, I'd even go so far as to say that if you didn't go you would be wasting the opportunity." She felt he owed it to his sister to at least try. Realising something suddenly, Leah smiled. "You know, it's fortunate that it's New Zealand you would be going to. You know I've told my mother all about you, so by extension my whole family is familiar with you too. I don't know if you'd really need them, but they'd be happy to be a kind of support system for you while you're living over there. They wouldn't have to know the true reason you've transferred."
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Matthew Harper
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Talking to Leah had a strangely calming effect on Matthew and he was really glad he had done it. She accepted him without question, just like she always had. Telling her also had the not as welcome effect of really making this situation real, though. The fact that she didn't think his plan was silly or bad made him almost feel worse than he thought he'd feel if she had. If she had dismissed it as a silly notion, then maybe he would have let go of it. Maybe a part of him had hoped for her to say that. But she hadn't, and he knew that she really meant what she said. Her words about how her family would support him made him feel a bit embarrassed but also relieved. He didn't know a lot about New Zealand or the school there, it was all pretty intimidating. "Thanks Leah, I think I'm going to try." He said softly. "I don't think I'll need your family's help, but... thanks for offering. Maybe your cousin could show me around the school or something? If she's not too busy." He knew Leah's cousin was new at the school herself but at least she would know more than Matthew.

There was one thing that bothered him a little about Leah's steady acceptance of his plan. She ... she didn't seem all that torn up about him leaving her behind here. It's one of the main reasons he was still so hesitant. He didn't have many close friends, but him and Leah had been inseparable since their first year. He hesitated for a short moment before bringing it up, it seemed selfish of him to expect her to be upset about him leaving, but he still couldn't help it. "Won't you miss me, though?" He tried to grin like it was a lighthearted joke but he searched her face as he did.
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Leah Mustard
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Leah felt her smile slipping slightly as she watched Matthew's reaction to her support of his plan. Before he had even told her he had said it sounded kind of silly - maybe he had wanted her to talk him out of it instead? Unconsciously biting at her lip again Leah wondered what she would do if that had actually been what he had intended, because she didn't really think she could take her support back now. Her worry was somewhat eased by his words, however, and she had to smile at the mention of her younger cousin. "I don't think so, Rory would love an excuse not to do her school work. She'd probably enjoy showing you around, I think. Likely talking the entire time about everything she's done there." Leah paused, remembering how excited her cousin had been at Christmas, despite her indignance at not being allowed to show anyone the spells she had learned in her lessons. Blinking she suddenly looked back up at Matthew, realising she had been ignoring him while she had been lost in thought. "Sorry, I distracted myself for a moment there," she said, giving him a lopsided smile.

Remembering what they had been talking about, however, her smile disappeared. She couldn't understand why Matthew suddenly seemed upset that she had agreed to support his plan. It was subtle, but by now Leah could recognise the little twitch at the corner of his mouth. She was in the middle of trying to think what she might have said when she noticed the twitch change slightly, pulling itself into a grin as Matthew asked the question that suddenly made everything make sense. A gush of air passed her lips and she relaxed, dropping her shoulders. "Of course I will, how could you even ask?" Leah began to smile back at him, but even though her mouth moved her eyes suddenly froze. If he went through with this, that meant Matthew was leaving. She'd been so caught up in the seriousness of the situation that she hadn't taken the time to sit back and think how this might affect her, and their friendship. But that was silly, she thought, averting her eyes to stare down at her hands. How could she think of herself at a time like this? She and Matthew were friends - best friends - but that didn't give her any right to suddenly ask him to stay... and where had that thought sprung from anyway? Desperate to push away the selfishness she could feel settling into her skin, she glanced back up. "You'll write, won't you?"
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Matthew Harper
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Matthew could always tell that Leah could read his emotions like no one else. It was unnerving sometimes, but wonderful other times. He could tell she wasn't fooled by his joking tone. She didn't say anything, but her expression was as clear to him as his was to her. He liked how she talked about her younger cousin, she clearly liked her a lot. With a jolt he realized she must be around Odette's age. That was an odd thought. "I'd appreciate it, if you're sure she wouldn't mind."

Watching Leah's smile drop made his own fall as well. He regretted his joke as soon as he saw the effect it had on her. It was clear that she hadn't really considered that he would be leavin. As nice as it was to see that she cared about him and wanted him to stay, he hated that he had just caused her some pain. He could tell she didn't want to show it, but he knew it had been stupid to ask. Of course, he would miss her too, terribly, she was his best friend. "Of course I'll write, as often as I can. I'll be needing your sage advice on how to navigate a new school. I'll be lost without you." He still tried to keep the tone light, but the seriousness of what he was saying could still be heard in his voice.
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