Every Friendship has a Beginning

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The Chance of a Lifetime

The week got off to a great start. Matron had helped Athene figure out how to cable crochet stitch, so now the jumper was getting along splendidly. There were now thirteen girls in the school, as three more had joined into the Upper Third.

Lizzie and Lucy had spent the last few days trying to recruit the new girls so they could have a proper cheerleader’s group for the matches.

It was all going great, until Thursday afternoon when they had their first double Latin lesson.

“Right we’re starting off with a test.”

“Oh sir!” groaned Harry.

Julie rolled her eyes at him, and Mark was staring at him incredulously.

“No fair sir!” called Charlie in outrage.

Mr Mitchell coughed loudly, and the protests quietened down.

“I’m giving you a test so I can see what you all remember from last year, and what needs revising.”

There was a large amount of quiet muttering amongst the Upper Fourth students as he handed out the papers.

Athene and Anthony gave each other a quick smile as they looked up from the test papers. This was a piece of cake! They could do this in their sleep!

Anthony quickly scribbled out his answers for the test and then translated the passage at the end.

He put his hand in the air as he finished.

“Yes Anthony?” asked Mr Mitchell somewhat surprised.

They still had ten minutes left. Surely it wasn’t that Anthony was struggling with the paper.

“I’ve finished sir,” he said simply.

“Me too sir,” nodded Athene.

“Of course, you have,” sighed Mr Mitchell shaking his head.

Mr Mitchell collected their papers and marked Athene and Anthony’s tests whilst the rest of the class finished. Unsurprisingly, they both got full marks.

“Overall, not too shabby,” said Mr Mitchell as he flicked through the papers.

“But a lot of you are still struggling with your irregulars, we’re going to have to go over them, aren’t we?”

Mark looked like he’d rather die than revise irregular verb and noun endings, and Julie looked like she actually would die of boredom.

“Don’t worry we’re not going to start today,” he chuckled seeing the looks on half the class, “you’re all free to go.”

“Um not you Anthony, I need to talk to you.”

“What?” stammered Anthony as he looked up at Mr Mitchell. Anthony had been halfway through packing his bag. He and Athene were going to try and get some Shakespeare in before tea.

“Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble,” he chuckled.

Athene looked slightly confused. Did Mr Mitchell want her to stay too?

Usually, if Mr Mitchell wanted one of them to stay behind after class, he’d ask for both of them.

“We won’t be long Athene; Anthony will see at tea alright?”

“Alright,” muttered Athene taking her bag and leaving the classroom. She looked back over her shoulder at Anthony for a second before closing the classroom door.

“There is a reason why I’ve asked Athene to leave,” Mr Mitchell explained, “it’s because what we’re going to discuss concerns your future.”

“My future sir?” asked Anthony incredulously. He wasn’t even fourteen yet! He still had five years at St. Christopher’s!

“Let’s be honest Anthony,” said Mr Mitchell sitting down on his desk.

“The classes at St. Christopher’s have never been exactly intellectually stimulating for you, have they?”

“What do you mean sir?”

“I mean you might not be reaching your full potential, most of your classmates aren’t as academically inclined as you.”

“Athene is, and we do extra reading around all our subjects. We’re working our way through Shakespeare!” he said excitedly.

“By the way, why isn’t Athene here?”

“It’ll all make sense if you let me explain,” said Mr Mitchell smiling slightly.

“You want to go to university right?”

“Yes,” nodded Anthony keenly.

“Good! University life would suit you well. It shouldn’t be a challenge for you to get into, but if you want to be more intellectually challenged now, you’ll have to change schools.”

“What?” asked Anthony.

Why would he want to change schools? He was happy here. Wasn’t he?

“I was talking to one of my old university friends the other day, he’s a Latin master at Harrow. I told him about you, and he’d like to meet you.”

“Harrow!” exclaimed Anthony.

He’d heard of that, nearly everyone had. It was a public boys school, it was almost as famous as Eton! Then it suddenly hit him the reason that Athene hadn’t been invited to this meeting, Harrow didn’t take girls, he’d be leaving her behind if he went.

“You don’t have to make any decisions yet Anthony,” said Mr Mitchell, “just think about it.”

“Tell you what, why don’t I write to Mr Bates, and he can come and talk to you, if you don’t want to go after talking to him, you can stay here.”

Anthony nodded with a slight smile on his face.

He had missed tea and now couldn’t talk to Athene until after prep.

That evening after prep they all gathered in the girl's dorm.

“So what’s up Tony?” asked Mark.

“What do you mean what’s up?”

“Well you’ve been acting weird since Old Mitch kept you back after class,” said Charlie.

Anthony bit his lip slightly, there was no use denying it, he was going to have to tell them all some time.

“I’ve been offered a place at Harrow,” he muttered, “someone’s coming here for an interview next week.”

“Harrow!” exclaimed Harry.

“That’s one of the best schools in the country!”

“But why are they offering you a place?” asked Charlie.

“Well it seems that Mr Mitchell thinks I’m being held back here,” he muttered, “academically, I mean.”

Anthony looked very awkward as he said all this, these were his friends, and here he was basically calling them all thick.

“Well Mitch talked to one of his old mates, Mr Bates, the Classics teacher at Harrow, they think I’d be better suited there than I am here.”

“Anthony that’s amazing!” said Julie hugging him.

“Well done Tony!” beamed Mark patting his brother on the back.

“But why wasn’t Athene offered an interview too?” asked Charlie confused, “she’s just as bright as you are.”

“If not brighter,” added Julie.

“It’s an all-boys school,” explained Harry somewhat awkwardly.

“So are you going to take it then Tony?” asked Mark.

“I don’t know,” he muttered, “I want to go to university, and this could give me a good head start.”

“You guys don’t mind me leaving?” asked Anthony.

“Well I’d miss you,” said Mark, “but distance could never keep us apart.”

“Opportunities like this don’t come every day Tons,” said Harry.

“You can’t just throw this away,” agreed Charlie.

“It sounds like this place was made for boffins like you,” beamed Julie.

Anthony looked over at Athene, who had been very quiet for the whole discussion. She hadn’t said a word since they had sat down. They all turned to her expectantly, as if waiting for her to say something.

Athene jumped off the bed and ran from the room, without saying a word to any of them.

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