The Parting Of The Ways

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A Life Changing Meeting

Nick was helping Anthony and Athene heave their trunks into the boot of the range rover. The car was precariously packed, and Mark’s guitar was balanced on top of the trunks.

It was always like some strange kind of jigsaw puzzle, trying to get three or four sets of luggage into the boot without anything falling over or spilling out.

“Can you believe,” groaned Simon as they loaded the last bag, “that we’ve only got to do this another two times?”

“It’s hard to believe some days isn’t it?” chuckled Nick.

“Our little brothers are all grown up.”

“If Anthony and Athene decide to swan off to university though this isn’t going to be over anytime soon.”

“That can be dealt with if and when it happens,” said Mr Pennington, “but for now, we’ve got to get a move on or we’ll be late.”

Athene and Anthony were already in the car waiting to go.

“Marcus Arthur Pennington!” he shouted, “if you don’t get down here right now, we’re going to have to leave without you.”

“Is that an option?” asked Mark hopefully coming out of the house his tap shoes tied around his neck by the laces.

“I mean do I really need A-Levels?”

“Get in the car!” he said firmly.

“Yes sir,” smirked Mark pulling himself up into the car.

An hour later they were at the school, and it was chaotic as always people clamouring all over themselves to unpack their cars.

“Now you see Mark,” said Anthony, “if you had been ready om time, we could have missed the rush.”

“Yeah yeah whatever,” muttered Mark.

“Let’s go check the rooms,” said Athene ignoring Mark and Anthony’s usual arguments.

The sixth formers shared dorms with fewer people. Rather than one room for the girls and one for the boys in each house per year, there were only two to four people in each room. Mr Jones had the list of which room everyone was in, so Athene went over to check whilst the others unpacked the car.

“Good Afternoon Mr Jones,” beamed Athene.

“Ah Athene,” said Mr Jones smiling in relief that it wasn’t yet another anxious first year with their frantic parents.

“I’m hoping to see you and Anthony in my History A-Level class.”

“Less said about Mark the better?” laughed Athene remembering how Mark had liked to disturb the history class from sheer boredom.

“Yes,” laughed Mr Jones nodding.

“Now then, the sixth form rooms are on the top floor, you are in room four, and Mark and Anthony are in room three, they’re across the corridor from each other.”

“Thank you, sir,” beamed Athene.

“Right!” said Mr Pennington like a man on a mission, “to the top floor.”

Anthony and Mr Pennington got Athene’s trunk between them, and Mark and Athene followed with the suitcases, and Mark’s guitar.

“Why,” groaned Anthony as they climbed the last suitcase, “do we have to live on the fourth ruddy floor!”

“Tony is that you out there?” asked a disembodied voice from down the corridor.

Suddenly Julies's head came floating into view around the door of one of the girl’s dorms.

“Fred!” exclaimed Julie rushing out of her room and towards Mark.

“Ginger!” beamed Mark dropping his guitar and his suitcases and lifting Julie in the air.

“I’ve missed you,” they both said together.

“I’ve missed you two as well obviously,” laughed Julie as Mark put her back down on the ground.

“Just not as much as Mark?” supplied Athene.

“That’s about it,” laughed Julie.

“Come on,” said Julie pulling Athene, “wait till you see our room! It’s huge!”

Julie half pulled Athene who was still carrying her suitcases into their new dorm. Julie was right the room was huge, and it had big windows. There were two single beds with light pink floral sheets, one of each side of the room, and three wardrobes. There was also one bunk bed along one of the walls, and instead of their being another bed underneath, there was a desk.

Julie had already taken one of the two single beds for herself, and Charlie’s coat and hat had been thrown haphazardly on the other one. Athene had a suspicion that Charlie had dropped off her things and then run off to go and find Harry as quick as she could.

“We gave you the bunk bed, we thought you might want the desk. That way you can that huge bookcase next to your bed as well. Heavens knows Charlie and I don’t have enough books to fill it between us.”

“Thanks,” beamed Athene as she put her suitcases next to her trunk and started to unpack. It was as if her two best friends had read her mind, she didn’t mind having the bunk bed, because that way she got the desk and the bookcase.

“The boys are across the hall with Harry,” Julie jabbered quickly, as Julie unpacked all her clothes into her wardrobe.

Athene thought that Julie had owned fashionable and sophisticated clothes before, but the Fforbes Hamiltons had just gotten back from a Summer touring Europe. Beforehand her clothes had been from London, but now Julie’s home clothes were the latest fashions from Paris and Milan.

Julie was currently folding away a smart navy and cream two piece suit, with a matching skirt and blazer. Athene didn’t know why Julie had packed so much home clothes, they had to wear uniform apart from evenings and weekends.

“I wish we still didn’t have to wear these horrid uniforms,” sighed Julie looking at the red jumper and matching plaid skirt and blazer.

“Red and grey, it’s just so drab. It’s really not my colour.”

“It’s a school uniform Jules,” chuckled Athene as she finished her own unpacking, “it’s not supposed to be glamourous it’s practical.”

“It’s alright for you, red suits you with your auburn hair. It washes me out completely, I look simply ghastly.”

“You look fine Julie,” muttered Athene somewhat tonelessly. She had told Julie all this fifteen times before.

“You look wonderful whatever you’re wearing.

Julie smiled up at Athene.

“Thanks, Athy, you’re a gem!”

“Oh my god I forgot!” exclaimed Julie hitting her forehead with her hand.

“Old Mitch wants to see you and Tony in his office.”

“Oh we’re not in trouble or anything are we?” she asked frantically.

“You two in trouble with Mitch?” laughed Julie.

“Leave off!”

“I guess I’d best go find out what he wants,” shrugged Athene.

“Tons!” called Athene poking her head into the corridor.

“Yes Athy?” asked Anthony appearing in his own dorm doorway carrying a tower of History books.

“Mr Mitchell wants to see us.”

“Oh trouble with the head already Tony?” smirked Mark.

“Firstly it’s the deputy head,” said Anthony as he put his books down.

“And secondly, buzz off.”

“What strong language from one of our beloved prefects!” exclaimed Mark in mock outrage as Anthony and Athene left.

Anthony shook his head as he put his arm around Athene’s waist, and they walked down to the ground floor together.

Anthony knocked firmly on Mr Mitchell’s office door.

“Come!” he called somewhat tiredly.

“You wanted to see us sir?” asked Athene.

“Ah Anthony! Athene!” he exclaimed his face lighting up at seeing them.

“Good Summers? Didn’t study too much I hope?”

“No sir,” laughed Anthony, “I spent most of it with my niece, she’s a year and half old but clings onto me when I’m at home like a limpet.”

“That would be Simon’s daughter wouldn’t it?”

“Yes Nicole,” nodded Anthony.

“How are your brothers?”

“They’re both fine, Simon’s got two children, and Nick’s engaged.”

“How about you Athene?”

“Uncle Davy and I went back to Wales for a month, it rained the whole time which made it even better!”

“I’ll bet it did,” chuckled Mr Mitchell.

“But now to business. A-Levels.”

“Oh God,” muttered Anthony. He still had no idea what subjects he wanted to take.

“Now then I wouldn’t recommend taking any more than five each. That way if you’re struggling you can drop a subject. But some universities do require five.”

Anthony exhaled deeply, he remembered how much work Nick had put into four A Levels, and now here he was being told he’d need to take five.

“Before we discuss universities themselves, what degrees would you like to take? This will affect your subject choices for your A-Levels.”

Anthony and Athene looked at each other nonplussed; they still had no idea what they wanted to do as they were good at all of their subjects.

“Let’s start off with something easier,” chuckled Mr Mitchell.

“There is first of all the core sciences, that would mean four A Level’s maths, biology, chemistry and physics. A very popular option, especially if you want to go into medicine or engineering.”

“I was thinking about maybe taking Maths sir,” muttered Anthony, “I’ve always been good at it, but I don’t think I want to do the core sciences.”

“That’s alright you can still take maths without the other three. I thought the core sciences might not appeal, might I suggest a different approach then, the humanities or languages?”

“You’re the top of the class in French Athene, and you’re both top in Latin. If you would prefer there is the humanities, History, English Literature you know the thing.”

“Couldn’t I take a bit of both?” asked Athene.

“That’s what I would suggest for you’re Levels. But university, what would you like to study?”

“What’s your favourite subjects?”

Athene thought for a moment before beaming like mad

“Latin!” she laughed.

“Ah music to my ears,” beamed Mr Mitchell, “I hope you’d say that.”

“So, you should probably take Latin, and Classical Civilisations. In Clas Civ we study Greek and Roman literature, art and culture. If you want to study Classics at university it will be a good starting point.”

“The Latin and Clas Civ A Levels will be taught by myself and Miss Dobson who is new.”

“If you were to take Classical Studies at university, you would be furthering your Latin, you’d learn some Greek, and learn Greek and Roman history and of course get to study the greats, Homer, Vergil, Ovid.”

Athene face had lighted up like lightbulb.

"Don't you want to take Latin Tony?" asked Mr Mitchell.

"Um no sir," muttered Anthony somewhat awkwardly, "I'd love to take the two A-Levels, but you know I love reading. Could I take English Literature at University?"

Mr Mitchell smiled at Anthony slightly.

"I had a feeling you might say that. Are you still going to be in Latin and Clas Civ though?"

"Of course,' nodded Anthony.

"So that's three for Tony, and two for you Athene, I would probably recommend five."

“Could I take French?” asked Athene.

"I want to take Maths."

Mr Mitchell nodded and jotted that down.

“As for the last two Athene, Classics is a combination of History and Literature, so if you were to take History, and English Literature those skills will be invaluable later.”

“Sounds perfect,” beamed Athene.

"Can I take History too?" asked Anthony.

Mr Mitchell wrote down the five subject choices for them.

“We’ll be doing this with everyone else tomorrow, but I thought it might be less stressful for you two if we did this now.”

“Now we’ve done the boring part, universities!”

Mr Mitchell pulled out several glossy prospectuses.

“We’ve got all the normal ones, Exeter, Cambridge, Edenborough, and of course Oxford.”

“Please forgive me,” he chuckled handing Anthony and Athene a booklet on Oxford colleges, “I am more than slightly biased towards my own Alma Mater.”

“But these are the top universities in the country,” stammered Anthony as Athene flicked through a brochure for Exeter.

'All of these universities offer Classics and English."

“Anthony, you and Athene are two of the most gifted and hardworking students I have had the pleasure to teach. Whichever university you two decide to choose would find themselves privileged to have you.”

“So, which one do we apply for?” asked Athene.

“Well, you can apply for all of them, but you do have to choose between Cambridge and Oxford. The others would be ‘safety schools’ if you don’t get into Cambridge or Oxford. What I would suggest is you two take these and have a good old look through, we can have another talk tomorrow hmm?”

“Thank you, sir,” beamed Anthony collecting up the brochures.

Athene and Anthony headed back up to Athene’s dorm and plonked themselves down on her bunk.

Anthony found himself drawn to a brochure for Oxford and was flicking through looking at the black and white photographs of the old buildings.

“It’s strange isn’t it?” muttered Athene reading over his shoulder.

“What is?” he asked putting an arm around her.

“To think that we’re actually going to go!”

Anthony paused for a moment as suddenly his body was filled with a strange warmth as he looked at the spired buildings. In two years from now, he could actually be there. University was no longer a distant dream.

“Just promise me one thing?” asked Anthony.

“If we apply for oxford and one of us gets turned down neither of us will go. We’ll go to Exeter or Edenborough or one of the others, we’ll stick together.”

“I promise,” said Athene giving him a quick kiss before they started reading about the different colleges.

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