8. ANATOMY

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Maria della Visitazione Church, 1524
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Knock knock.

     After returning to Eton on the earliest train, Josiah stood outside his biology teacher's door, waiting until he heard a faint "come in" before he opened it.

     "Good morning, Professor Taylor. Before I say anything, I'd like to give my sincerest apologies for interrupting you so early this Monday morning."

     "Don't worry about it, I wasn't busy anyways, just finalizing the class lesson for today. I can't believe it's already time to announce the end of the year excursion. Time flies by so fast these days."

     "Ah, that's just what I came to ask about, actually."

     "Perfect timing! Fire away, Beckett."

     "I've been informed that this year you're allowing everyone to choose their roommate."

     "As a matter of fact we are. It took a lot of critical thinking, but we've finally admit your year in particular is mature and well behaved enough to handle it. I don't why you guys are so much better than previous years. It's probably our choice of prefects, you all do a superb job at managing these kids."

     "Actually, that's the problem sir—I don't believe everyone is as well behaved as you think. I'm sure you know about Isaac Harley and the complete recklessness of the boy." Ensuring the door behind him was shut, Josiah wandered deeper into the office. "It might sound a bit harsh, but as a prefect I don't think he deserves to be treated as leniently as the rest of the students. A boy of such immoral and unpredictable nature needs constant surveillance. It's only fair for the other students who work hard to follow the rules."

"Then who would you suggest room with him? What do you propose?"

"Some form of supervisor, most likely a prefect since not a teacher. But seeing as they also don't deserve to have their freedom to choose taken away, it'd probably have to be chosen randomly, or a volunteer, or perhaps even me."

     "I understand where you're coming from but you need to understand that I can't just change the rules for one student. If one kid isn't allowed to room with who they choose, no one is."

     "But Professor...I think you can."

     "No, I really can't Josiah. I don't have the power." The man started to feign busy by searching through endless stacks of paper. It was clear he intended for this conversation to be over.

     Josiah explored the teacher's stationary, running his hand over a sleek stapler. "Let me rephrase what I just said then, since you don't seem to understand. I think you can and I think you will."

"What makes you think that?"

"Because that's how blackmailing works, Professor." He'd moved on to a tin of pens, settling on a black one with gold accents to twirl with slender fingers. "Unless, of course, you want the headmaster to know about your offer to poor, innocent Charlie Franz of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to blow you for a passing grade. You see, I happen to think you have plenty of power to spare, seeing the way you utilize it."

The teacher froze and his eyes darkened. "Who told you?"

"Sir, Charlie is one of my dearest friends. I absolutely hate the fact that he could've been taken advantage of. It irks me to no end."

     "That—it was merely an idea." Professor Taylor swallowed. "Nothing came out of it."

     "Yes, but all it takes is Charlie's experience in theatre and more money and status than you'll ever have to make people believe whatever story he creates—he's also easy on the eyes," he admit. "I'll give you one more chance because I pity pathetic people like you. Are you still sure you can't change the rules?"

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