The most annoying thing about Americans wasn't that they were all loud, obnoxious and speaking English with a horrible accent (while telling him his English sounded a 'little weird', thereby adding insult to injury). It wasn't even that half of them didn't even seem to be aware of the difference between England, Ireland and Scotland - Henry had, if truth be told, never felt that strongly about the country where he'd been born, but the sheer ignorance, as well as the casualness with which his corrections were met, vexed him more than he could say.
No, what annoyed him most about Americans was the fact that so many of them shared his last name. True, he supposed he might as well blame his great-great-great-great-great-great-etc.-grandfather for having picked the name, but since the man had been dead for centuries, this seemed rather fruitless.
Every time he went anywhere, he heard someone calling his name - although, of course, it wasn't really his name that was being called; it wasn't him who was supposed to look up or back or wherever the caller was calling for, and he felt foolish for doing so every time, regardless of this knowledge.
"Are you going deaf?" Brody sounded annoyed.
Henry sighed. "Sadly, no."
"Well, thanks awfully."
"I didn't mean - " Henry started, before he realized that Brody did, of course, know he hadn't meant his comment as any kind of insult. "I was just thinking."
"Deep thoughts, I'm sure." Brody was supposedly Irish, but he'd been born here, so he sounded almost like a native, although his voice grated less on Henry's nerves for some reason. Henry supposed it might simply be that he liked Brody - he disliked the idea of sentimentality clouding his judgment in such a way, yet no other logical explanation had presented itself to him so far. "About the switch again?"
"Yes, rather," Henry lied. The switch had been on his mind a lot recently - he'd picked out archaeology because it had seemed more interesting than history, more a discipline of discovery than one that had been around for centuries. Unfortunately, he'd quickly discovered that to most of his fellow-students, as well as a number of his professors, archaeology was far less of a discipline meant to uncover new material that might shed new light on what was known about history, and far more a term interchangeable with that of treasure-hunting.
"All I'll say about it is: if you're sure, do it." Brody shrugged. "Right now, you can probably still catch up, if you don't do anything but study for a few weeks and pull a few all-nighters."
"That's all I'm getting as your two pennies' worth of wisdom?" Brody did have a point though - the sooner he made the switch, the better his chances of not having this cost him an extra year. A compelling argument in favor of it; Henry'd have to be sure to mention it to his father.
"It's two cents' and that's hardly enough for much more, as I'm sure you're well aware." Brody grinned and slapped him on the shoulder. "I was looking forwards to having some classes with you, you know, but Literature's in the same building as History, so I guess it's not all bad. I'll live."
"A great relief, to be sure," Henry said dryly.
Brody chuckled. "Say, this doesn't have anything to do with Peterson, does it? Only, I know you have this ridiculous sensitivity about your name - sorry, but I really don't see what's so bad about it, and I think you're going on about it rather too much."
"As I have absolutely no idea who Peterson is, I can safely assure you he hasn't affected my decision in any way, shape or form."
"There's several around here, in fact - kind of like with your name, except less." Brody gave him a look and shook his head. "The one I was referring to's got several classes with you, aced an Egyptology test, and might that be a bell I'm hearing ringing?"
"I hardly know everyone I have classes with," Henry protested. He didn't think Brody did either, but he might; the number of people Brody knew had surprised him several times already, seeming not to be limited to students of the same discipline or even students who took their classes in the same building.
"Amend that to 'I hardly know anyone I have classes with' and I will concede your point."
"It's not at all as bad as that!" True, Henry rarely actually talked to any of the other students the way he talked to Brody, but that was hardly due to any fault of his. "And anyway, I'm going to switch, so what would be the point of getting to know people I'll most likely never see again in my life?"
"Some much-needed practice at making friends out of your fellow-students?" Brody suggested.
"But about Peterson - his first name's 'Peter' if you can believe it - he used to be just one of the crowd, blending in, getting average scores, no teacher's pet or anything, and then off he goes acing an Egyptology test. Instant fame."
"If there's supposed to be a morale to this little story, I'm afraid it requires pointing out, since it's far from obvious to me." Henry reflected on the burden of being named 'Peter Peterson' for a few seconds, before he added: "And I was named after my grandfather."
"Actually, I was yet to come to the end of my 'little story'," Brody said dryly. "And I know whom you were named after; you told me several times about the castle that used to be part of your family's property in Scotland."
Once too often, Brody's tone seemed to imply, although Henry could not remember having brought up the topic of Castle Malbrooke more than two or three times, not taking into account those few pleasant occasions when the two of them had gotten drunk together in Brody's room, which was located in a far more noisy neighborhood than Henry's, making it perfect for activities that might get Henry kicked out of his room but (in Henry's sober opinion) far less suitable for studying.
"More of a ruins than a castle, really," Henry said absently, his mind still lingering on Brody's room. On paper, it was bigger than his, although in reality, it was hard to tell what with the way Brody'd organized his possessions. "If I'd become an archaeologist, I could have gone on a dig there."
"That's what I love about you, Jones; that British modesty of yours." Brody chuckled. "Others dream of going to dig in Egypt, or Greece perhaps, but not so you; you dream of digging up fabulous treasures in your family's old backyard. Although I'll grant you, that new theory about some of the Knights Templar having packed up their bags and made it to Scotland isn't half bad. Might be something in it."
"Might be a lot of rubbish." Henry snorted. "Of all the treasures I hope to dig up - and I do use the word 'treasure' in the historical sense of the word here, not the vulgar one - the Grail is most definitely not one. Nor the Ark of the Covenant, or any of those other half-dozen legendary items the Knights supposedly had squirreled away somewhere, and much good has it done them, too."
"It's human nature to be jealous." Brody shrugged. "Why do you think I keep telling you to ease up on your studies a bit? Nobody likes the fellow who's forever at the top of his class."
"You seem to like me well enough," Henry pointed out. "And all of this is idle talk, anyway. I'm going to switch to Medieval Literature, and if my father doesn't approve, he can go soak his head in a bucket of water. As can anyone else who feels a need to comment on my choice."
"On the risk of sounding like one of those romantic poets you're going to be required to study: I don't merely like you, my dear Jones. I love and adore you, and if I thought for one moment that you meant to include me as well in that group of people you refused to allow to voice their opinion on your choice in study, it would be your head taking a soak."
Henry flushed slightly. For all that he claimed to be far more aware of what was 'done' and what wasn't, Brody could be uncomfortably affectionate in public, seemingly unaware that anyone passing by might overhear him. To be sure, he reserved his more ... physical demonstrations of affection for the times when they were assured of privacy, but Henry was still unused to someone voicing his feelings so unreservedly, for all that Brody claimed half the students used the word 'love' as freely as Henry used the word 'idiot'.
"I do believe the poets you refer to had yet to discover the suggestion for someone to go soak his head in a bucket as a declaration of the utmost and purest affection," Henry said. "In past days, the word 'romance' was generally reserved for feelings and expressions of a somewhat more tender nature."
" 'Shall I compare thee to a winter's day?' "
"A summer's day," Henry corrected him, realizing Brody had merely been baiting him the moment the words had left his mouth.
"With your personality, I'm rather afraid it's a winter's day. Don't take it too hard, old boy; we can't all be summer days. Switch to Literature, if you think it'll make you happy. You know you can always come to me if you need anything, or if your dad gives you a hard time over it."
"Just not when I need to find a certain classroom, or a specific section of the library, eh?"
Brody groaned. "Have a heart. I got lost once - once!"
"You've been here a year longer than me," Henry pointed out. "I'd have thought you'd know your way around by now."
"I do," Brody assured him. "And I've been toying with the idea of taking up Ancient Greek instead of Advanced Latin - which nearly everybody else does, in spite of MacGregor being a dreadful bore, and Caidin actually being a fairly decent teacher, for all that he's from Canada. What do you think?"
Henry grinned. "I think I sense a certain reluctance to further discuss the subject of your liability to get lost in a building you should know quite well. And I think that it doesn't matter which you pick; neither Ancient Greek nor Advanced Latin are going to be of any use to you the next time you get lost."
"Why, Jones, are you telling me your own skills in Latin and Greek are so poor as to not be up to the simple task of pointing a lost fellow-student to the nearest bathroom?"
"Non possum dicere latinum," Henry said. "Non possum dicere graecum quoque."
Brody shuddered. "Odi et amo."
"I never liked Catullus very much," Henry said.
"And I struggled with Shakespeare's 'A Winter's Tale' for three days and three nights before I decided it had the most unlikely plot I'd ever seen. Leave me Catullus, and I'll gladly leave you to the Bard."