The studies had been changed again. Last year it had not seemed terrible at all, much the opposite, but Laurie found himself imitating the grim faces and lowering brows of yesteryear. It was shocking, the sense of permanence a single year could bestow upon any place. The furniture in the studies was arranged identically, it was a rude shock every time to remember the rooms were different, one floor up. Same school, same corridors, dorms, classrooms, only Laurie and his peers adrift, out of place, floating onwards and upwards.
Carter, putting his books away, had found carved into the wood, Grenville, J.T. Possibly Grenville had found R.R.L etched into the mantelpiece in the Head’s study. Nothing was the same. Stone had been harping on the theme since he came into their study, some—Laurie checked his watch surreptitiously, careful to avoid attention—two hours ago. He was saying it now again, adding new flourishes. Laurie leaned his head into the obscuring shadow of the bookcase, jaw clenching in irritation.
“Any lot Grenville’s the best of is too pitiful to consider, would be at any time, but after last year, sweet Jesus God. Last year we had Botham and Jonson and Briggs and Treviss Major.”
Last year we had Lanyon. That’s the name Stone hadn’t said, once in the twenty times he’d whinged about how pathetic the prefects are and how sorry a Head Somers is bound to be. Laurie’d counted, for the sake of something to do, to know every blow.
He stood abruptly, catching a glancing blow off the edge of the book-case. “I’m going to put the twirps to bed.”
Stone looked up at him, mouth slack in mid-sentence.
“Spud, that’s Harris’ job,” Carter said reproachfully. “You know that.”
“Don’t see him doing it, d’you?” Strains of Mozart had sounded from Harris’ study all evening—Stone had been driven to seek shelter, muttering indignantly about “bloody classical music, like to strangle him, stupid bloody...”
The corridor was antiseptic, echoing. Not everyone was back yet, of course, that was the trouble. By Monday it would all be normal—Stone would stop whining, Harris would stop playing his records, Grenville would grow a spine and stop listening to Jeepers. The trick was to keep carrying on till it all got back to the way it was supposed to be.
It would never be the same. Last year they’d had Lanyon.