The Parting Of The Ways

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The Tolkien Appreciation Society

Anthony had been so excited for today that he had hardly slept all night.

It was only five o’clock in the morning, so he wasn’t going to have to get up for hours. But today, Major Llewelyn had taken the day off work and was going to drive Athene and Anthony up to Oxford to look around at the colleges they could be studying at.

He was looking forward to getting away from the house for a few days because no matter how much he loved Mark he could sometimes get on his nerves particularly at the moment.

Mark had met up with a Mr Schuller last week. Mr Schuller had flown in from Hollywood last week to see Mark in the musical and had offered him a film contract.

Mr Pennington only had one condition; Mark had to finish his A-Levels so had to wait a year.

Mark had had a more than slightly over-inflated head recently which meant he was flouncing around the house as if owned the place, telling anyone and everyone who would listen about how he was going to be a huge star.

But one of the only people who would listen for long, was Michael, firstly because he was a baby and so couldn’t run away very fast, and secondly because he liked Mark.

He got out of bed to go and read for a bit; he was so excited he couldn’t sleep. He got dressed in a pair of trousers and the jumper Athene had given for his last birthday without even turning on the light before picking up his copy of Fellowship of the Ring on his way out the door.

Anthony was on his way to the cupboard when he bumped into Simon in a dressing gown.

“Morning Tons,” muttered Simon drowsily who was carrying a very grumpy Michael.

“What you doing up so early?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” pointed out Anthony.

“Young sir here is having trouble sleeping, he is teething aren’t you little one?”

Michael merely glared at his father.

“He hasn’t been sleeping well, and we didn’t want to disturb Mummy. Mummy’s going to be having another baby in three months, isn’t she?”

Michael however was too busy biting his teething ring to care about what his father was talking about.

“Why are you up so early though Tons?”

“We’re going to Oxford today,” said Anthony blushing slightly.

“And you’re so excited that you can hardly sleep?”

Anthony chuckled and nodded.

“The question is though, are you excited to get away from Mark for the day, or to see to the magic that is Oxford?”

“Mark’s not that annoying,” Anthony started.

Simon gave him a meaningful look.

“He doesn’t mean it,” he flustered.

“And he’s your twin brother, and you love him, and you wouldn’t say anything against him. But Mark can sometimes be a pain in the ass.”

“Language,” muttered Anthony eyeing Michael.

“He doesn’t care, he’s not even one, still struggling with the difference between Uncle Marky and Uncle Tony.”

“Besides,” whispered Simon looking considerably relieved, “he’s fallen back to sleep.”

Anthony chuckled as Simon took Michael back to bed. Anthony headed through to the linen cupboard to try and get some reading done.

He realised as he climbed up onto his shelf, that he got too tall for his shelf. He now had to practically pull his long legs into his chest just to fit on. He had grown a lot in the last eight years since he had started hiding out here.

Clearly either he needed to find a way to shrink, or find somewhere different not to be disturbed in this madhouse.

Maybe he could try reading up in the attic instead, Mark and Julie didn’t practise their tap in the attic anywhere near as often as they used to.

Or maybe he could just read up in Athene’s room, the room always managed to smell of her even when she hadn’t been there for months, the scent of her light lavender perfume always lingered.

Just as he was thinking about moving up to her room, he heard a car pull up on the driveway outside.

“Athene!” he yelled scrambling down from his cramped reading shelf and rushing down the stairs.

Anthony made it downstairs and outside before Athene could even ring the doorbell.

“Somebodies a bit keen,” chortled Major Llewelyn as Anthony picked up Athene and swung her in the air.

“I’ve missed you,” he muttered softly putting her back down.

“I only saw you three days ago when you came to visit,” laughed Athene.

“Can I drive?” asked Anthony somewhat hopefully.

Major Llewelyn looked slightly reluctant. It was a three-hour drive to Oxford, and his leg never coped well with a long drive. But then again, he didn’t want the car to crash.

“I’ve passed my test,” said Anthony quickly, “with flying colours!”

He nodded as he passed Anthony the keys.

“But one mistake and we’re switching drivers,” he said firmly.

Anthony could hardly believe his luck, not only were they going to Oxford, but he got to drive!

Athene got in the back of the car, and Major Llewelyn unfolded the map and gave Anthony the instructions carefully on how to get to Oxford.

Three hours, and no accidents later and there they were. Oxford.

It was a Saturday so as they drove into the centre of the city where the colleges where it got more and more crowded.

Students cycling around on bikes to get to the library or to the shops. Lecturers and professors were wandering around in the academic gowns chatting to one another at leisure.

Anthony found somewhere to park the car, and they started to wander around, milling in with the other students.

Some people were running past on the way to rugby practise, there even seemed to be an impromptu cricket match in the middle of a small area of grass next to one of the buildings.

There also seemed to be several people reading under a tree.

Unless Anthony was much mistaken they were reading the Fellowship of the Ring. As they passed, Athene heard them talking in a strange language that she didn’t understand, it certainly wasn’t Latin.

“S Suilad,” said Anthony nervously in case he was mistaken.

“S Suilad S mellon,” said a girl with dark hair nodding at him.

“What?” asked Major Llewelyn.

“They’re speaking elvish,” said Athene hardly believing it herself. She had only heard Anthony talk like that when reading Tolkien.

“Welcome to the J. R. R. Tolkien Appreciation Society,” said a boy with blonde hair getting up from under the tree and shaking Anthony’s hand.

“You two students?”

“Prospective students,” shrugged Anthony, “we’re looking around, we’re in Lower Sixth.”

“I’m Anthony, and this is my girlfriend Athene, and her Uncle David.”

“I’m George,” said the one with the blonde hair, “that’s Kate, and the one with the elf ears is Sarah, although she prefers to go by Legolas.”

“Gimli and Gandalf would have been here,” shrugged Sarah, “but they’ve got a cricket match.”

“So, what do you think of Oxford so far?” asked a girl who seemed to be wearing a pair of pointy elf ears and had braided her brown hair into a half up.

“Well, we’ve only just got here,” giggled Athene, “but it’s beautiful!”

“And the Tolkien club is just an extra bonus,” chuckled Anthony.

“Fellow Tolkien appreciators,” said George, “may we have the honour of giving you the tour of our fair city?”

“He means do you want us to show you around,” laughed Kate.

“Wow that would be amazing!” said Athene.

They walked around the campus, being shown all the points of interest. The three students showed them their favourite parts of the campus.

George was keen to show them all the best trees to read under, and Sarah pointed out the best pubs, Kate on the other hand showed them where to find the library and the professors offices.

They had to stop fairly often, as Major Llewelyn couldn’t walk too far on his bad leg without needing to sit down, but that was alright because Anthony and Athene had endless questions.

Which college should they apply for, how did the admission process work, what would be a good back up choice?

“Well the first question is what do you want to study?” asked George.

“Classics,” said Athene without a seconds thought.

“We’ll hand over to you then Kate,” said Sarah.

“Well, I go to Brasenose college, it’s quite an old college, but the professors are really great and the buildings are magnificent.”

"I want to take English Literature," said Anthony.

"A man after my own heart," said George patting Anthony on the back.

“All the buildings are magnificent, of course,” George continued.

“I can show a bit of favouritism can’t I?”

“As for the admissions,” said George, “you’ll be asked for interviews in about November. If you pass that, you’ll get asked to come back for the entrance exam in December. If you pass that, you’ll get given an offer, and you have to get certain grades to be accepted.”

“Sometimes though you can get an unconditional offer,” said Sarah, “but those are exceptionally rare.”

“As for a backup option,” said George, “Exeter?”

“Or Lampeter!” said Kate.

“Lampeter’s awesome! It’s really tiny, so the classes are quite small, and you get loads of time with the lecturers.”

“That’s in Wales isn’t it?” asked Major Llewelyn glad to actually be able to offer something to the conversation.

“Ceredigion?”

“Yeah,” nodded Kate, “I would have gone there if I hadn’t got the offer from Oxford.”

“Now we’ve talked about all the boring stuff,” said Sarah, “let’s get down to business.”

“We’ve already got a Legolas, a Gimli, and a Gandalf, and an Arwen and Aragorn.”

“If you two join,” agreed George, “who would you want to be?”

“You haven’t a got a Bilbo?” asked Anthony confused.

“Or a Frodo?” agreed Athene.

“Who wants to be a Hobbit when you can be something cooler?” asked Sarah.

“Me,” said Anthony and Athene simultaneously.

“Welcome to our ranks, young hobbits, Bilbo and Frodo,” said George.

By the time they left to head home, Anthony felt more at home in Oxford amongst the huge libraries and his new friends than he ever felt he had at St Christopher’s.

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