The Parting Of The Ways

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Nick Needs Anthony's Advice Again

Anthony had spent the whole morning reading Tolkien to Niki, she seemed to be obsessed with elves and Hobbits and dwarves. He wasn’t complaining or anything, he just found it a little bit strange at such a young age.

He was lying on top of his bed and reading War and Peace because Niki was taking her nap in the nursery. He hadn't had much time to read it over the school year because of the exams, but he was enjoying it now.

“Hi Tony,” said Nick coming into the room.

He checked around the room shiftily before he began to say anything. Nick even checked under the two beds and behind the door for Mark.

“He’s in Horsham at the Stage school,” said Anthony not even asking why Nick was looking for Mark.

Nick sighed in relief as he shut the door and smiled at Anthony.

Something about this situation, Nick coming into his room to talk to him like this reminded Anthony of an event from a year ago, when Nick had talked to him about Isabelle.

“Anthony,” said Nick sighing awkwardly as he sat down at the end of the bed.

“There’s um something I need to talk to you about.”

“Well go then,” said Anthony putting his book away, “I’m all ears.”

“It’s Iz, I think I’m in love.”

“I know that,” sighed Anthony, “we all know that.”

Nick smiled foolishly as he looked down at his shoes.

“It’s um well. Well…”

Nick took a deep breath as if he wanted to get it over with.

“I’m going to ask her to marry me.”

“You’re what?” stammered Anthony.

“It’s too soon,” said Nick shaking his head, “I knew it!”

“No it’s not that,” said Anthony, “I just wasn’t expecting it.”

“You got a ring?”

“You bet,” beamed Nick pulling a small box out of his trouser pocket.

There was a silver band, with a large diamond circled by moonstones.

“I remember how pretty Athene’s moonstone necklace was,” said Nick, “so I went for moonstones.”

“It’s gorgeous,” said Anthony smiling.

“You have asked her parents, right?”

“What? Oh yeah, I’ve got permission, I got their reply this morning.”

“Then what are you waiting for?” asked Anthony shaking his head.

“What if she says no,” he mouthed.

“She won’t,” said Anthony, “she loves you.”

“I’d just die if she said no.”

“You have to ask her first,” Anthony pointed out.

“Right,” nodded Nick, putting the ring back in his pocket.

“Right,” he muttered.

“Wait you’re asking her right now?” asked Anthony frantically.

“Well yes,” said Nick confused.

“You’re not even taking her out first?”

“What does it matter when or how I ask her? If she loves me, she’ll say yes or no wherever I ask her.”

“If you come back up here in ten minutes in tears you’ve got a shoulder to cry on,” said Anthony getting his book back out.

“Thanks, little bro,” chuckled Nick leaving the room.

“Good luck!” called Anthony as Nick went downstairs.

Anthony was only a few pages into his book when he heard a huge scream from downstairs. Either Simon had seen a mouse, or Nick was proposing.

Anthony picked up his book and headed down the stairs and found Simon and Celia both standing outside the open kitchen door listening into the conversation in the kitchen.

“Did she say yes?” asked Anthony.

“Of course, she said yes,” gushed Celia.

“Wait you knew?” asked Simon.

Anthony shrugged before going into the kitchen where Nick and hugging a crying Isabelle.

“Tony!” exclaimed Nick.

“She said yes!”

“I can see that,” chuckled Anthony looking at Isabelle’s hand.

“That is beautiful Izzy.”

“Merci Tony.”

“You know what I’m surprised about though?” said Anthony, “that you agreed to be part of this family.”

“Well Mark may be a bit full-on, and Simon may sometimes be a bit annoying, but they both mean well. But most of all, there’s you who is the most wonderful person in the world, and I’d be happy to call you my brother.”

Anthony blushed slightly.

“You’ll be best man of course,” beamed Nick.

“Oi!” said Simon coming into the kitchen giving up the pretence that he hadn’t been listening to the whole conversation.

“Why aren’t I your best man? You were mine?”

“You can be Mark’s,” shrugged Nick.

“Yeah, like Mark’s going to be getting married anytime soon,” scoffed Simon slightly annoyed.

“I never actually said yes,” laughed Anthony.

“Why don’t you have Simon as your best man, and then Mark and I can do it for each other. This way we each get to be best man once.”

“You’re right Tony,” chuckled Nick, patting his brother on the back.

“I’ve got to go head to Horsham to pick up Mark and Dad I might get some champagne for tonight.”

“Why do we need champagne?” asked Isabelle.

“Because we’re celebrating!”

“I should go wake up the babies,” said Celia going up to the nursery with Anthony.

“Uncle Tony!” Niki was screaming from her cot as they went into the room.

“Hello darling,” he said picking up Niki from her crib.

“Are you wet?” he asked checking her nappy.

“No,” said Niki shaking her head.

“Bilby.”

“Bilby?”

“Bilby the hobbitses.”

“Oh Bilbo!” nodded Anthony in realisation.

“Lets go do some reading then.”

Anthony read to Niki in the sitting room, as Nick cradled baby Michael. Celia and Isabelle were sitting next to each other admiring Isabelle’s ring.

They got through several chapters, before Simon got back form Horsham with Mr Pennington, Mark and half a dozen bottles of champagne. Mr Pennington had been in London checking some things at the company, and Mark had been setting things up at the stage school with the teachers for when the summer classes started tomorrow.

“I hear we’ve got something to celebrate,” said Mr Pennington indicating the champagne.

Nick and Isabelle smiled at each other, and Isabelle blushed slightly.

“Isabelle and I are engaged.”

“Now why is it,” asked Mark, “that I have been cursed with such beautiful sisters in law?”

“Some people would call that a blessing, not a curse,” said Anthony as Niki helped her turn the page of the book.

“Yeah well, I call it a curse, because I unlike you don’t have a girlfriend.”

“If you don’t have a girlfriend then whats Julie?” asked Simon.

“That’s different,” blushed Mark.

“Have you or have you not kissed Julie multiple times?” asked Simon.

“On the stage when we’re acting yeah,” said Mark slightly flustered.

“Do you miss when shes away?” asked Nick.

“Maybe.”

“She’s your girlfriend,” said Celia.

“No she’s not!” protested Mark.

“I think he’s got a crush,” said Simon.

“No fighting tonight boys!” said Mr Pennington as Mark got red in the face.

“Tonight, we’re celebrating,” he said passing everyone glasses of champagne.

“To the Penningtons, and our ever-expanding family,” said Mr Pennington smiling at Isabelle.

“Merci,” she nodded.

“To the Pennington’s!” called Simon raising his glass.

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