Once upon a time, years and years ago, there was a little boy and his father, who was very sad, for his wife had died.
They had been a noble family. While returning from a trip abroad, their carriage crashed and was dashed to pieces over the side of a cliff.
Before the wreckage appeared a traveling gentleman that saved the father and the child. The father was amazed by his goodness.
This was all well and good, but…
So impressed was he by him, the father made a promise: as you have helped me, so too will I help you.
Perhaps the promise held gold and jewels. Perhaps the promise was one of love and support. Perhaps both.
But was that really such a good idea?
The manor had been eerily quiet for the past few days. Many of the inhabitants were mourning the loss of the much-beloved dog, Danny. Jonathan had barely left his room and, more concerningly, was eating less. Dio kept pacing from one end of the manor to the other without any tangible purpose. George Joestar kept tabs on them both with growing worry. He would soon have to take an extended leave from the mansion due to his work, and he didn't want to leave his sons in this state. Dio and Jonathan's last real interaction had been a brawl ending in tears and bloodshed. He didn't want a repeat of that clash in his absence.
The manor had also received a mysterious letter. The butler had set it upon his breakfast tray that morning, right beneath the toast and strawberry preserves. It was a thick envelope sealed with red wax embossed with a rose-shaped seal. He slit open the envelope with his butterknife and glanced over the contents.
He read the letter through once, and then again with closer attention. A smile grew on his face.
Perhaps this was the solution he had been looking for.
"Boarding school?" his sons questioned him simultaneously. Jonathan sounded surprised while Dio sounded vaguely affronted.
George Joestar nodded. "I think it would be a wonderful experience for you two. You'll get to study under highly accomplished scholars, participate in a wide range of sports, and make new friends. To be frank, many of the boys around here are just...un-gentlemanly. While I hold you both in the highest regard, I think spending more time with like-minded peers would help you develop as fine young men. Plus," he added with a frown, "I'm sure you're both still mourning the loss of Danny. A change of scenery would help assuage your grief."
"But, Father," Jonathan said with a pained expression, "wouldn't you be lonely without us here?"
"I'll be away from the manor, as well," he replied. "An upcoming work trip will waylay me for a month if it goes well and longer if it does not."
Dio was quiet and seemingly lost in thought. Jonathan glanced over at him and frowned. Going to a new place would be a way to make new friends, as all of his so-called friends had been easily pushed away by Dio. However, leaving would also make it harder for him to try mending his relationship with Erina.
Dio stared blankly at the table. He was pretty sure that George Joestar didn't suspect him at all for Danny's death, but perhaps sending him away was the first step towards excising him from the family. However, he would now have so many more opportunities to rebalance power in his favor after the absolute disruption of his fight with Jojo.
The following week was a whirlwind of packing, sending and receiving further confirmation letters, getting measured for uniforms ("when did you two get so tall?" commented a struggling butler), and strategizing. Jonathan mostly agonized over how to introduce himself to his new peers while shoving most of his belongings into his luggage. Dio tried to cover up his need to recalculate his plans with an affected anxiety over packing. He filled his suitcases, emptied them, rearranged them, and packed them again. He would have the school uniform to wear, but there were outfits for dinners or for evening walks or for cold days or rainy days or—
He turned on his heel. Jonathan was standing in the doorway. At first he looked sheepish, but once Dio glared at him he squared his shoulders.
"The carriage is here," Jonathan said. "So, don't take too long."
It was fortunate that George had already left for his work trip. Dio didn't know if he could stomach faking his way through a tearful goodbye. Dio and Jonathan entered the carriage and were waved off by the manor staff.
The carriage rattled along the road. Jonathan didn't seem to want to talk to him. He was sitting on the opposite seat and reading a book.
Reading would be a decent way to pass the time. Dio rummaged through his satchel and found a book on Roman history. While it was steadily growing darker outside from gathering rain clouds, there was still enough lingering light for him to see the pages. He read for a long time before a loud snore broke his concentration.
Jonathan had fallen asleep. His cheek was plastered against the carriage window.
Dio reached into his satchel, pulled out a spare piece of rose-emblazoned stationery, crumpled it up, and threw it. It bounced off Jojo's face uselessly and landed in his lap. He continued to snore.
Dio lifted the heavy book and prepared to throw it. The carriage passed over a pothole and jostled roughly. Jonathan woke up with a snort. He blinked at the crumpled up paper in his lap.
"How much longer, do you think?" Jonathan asked blearily. "Berkshire isn't all that far away." He un-crumpled the paper and looked it over.
"Berkshire?" Dio frowned. "I thought the school was in Cambridgeshire."
"Er." Jonathan stared at the unfolded paper. "This says Amsterdam."
"Amsterdam?" Dio reached over and snatched the paper from his hands.
Established (this was unreadable on the crumpled paper no matter how Dio tried to flatten it out.)
"That doesn't make sense," Dio said. "Nobody said anything about Amsterdam. Or about getting on a boat to go there." He pulled out a sheaf of paperwork from his bag. Acceptance letters, order forms, envelopes and seals—he searched through them for any more clues about their destination. Some did say Cambridgeshire. Many said Amsterdam. A few others listed places he had never heard of before.
"Wait," Jonathan said as Dio scattered paperwork all over the carriage. "Why don't we just ask the driver? He has to know where we're going."
"You're right." He loathed to admit it. Dio moved to knock on the wall at the driver's back, but the carriage must have moved on to a terribly cobbled street or it had gone off the road entirely. It was rattling as if it were trying to jostle his brain out of his skull.
Outside of the carriage window, the sky had gone stormy and dark. Rain lashed against the windows.
Dio and Jonathan shared a look.
"Do you think we're being kidnapped?" Jonathan asked.
Would George Joestar have been stupid enough to fall for an obviously fake boarding school invite? Or had he sent them on a fake kidnapping experience to teach some sort of lesson about brotherhood? Or were there multiple branches of the boarding school and the mismatch of addresses on the parchment was an honest mistake? Dio held on to his seat as the carriage continued to rattle.
Jonathan stood and struggled to keep his balance. He lurched forward and pounded on the driver's wall. "Hello? I think there's been a misunderstanding—"
Dio scowled. "He won't be able to hear you! It's storming and it already sounds like the carriage is going to fall to pieces."
Jonathan gave the carriage door a dubious glance. "I could climb out and get him if I'm careful."
While Dio wasn't opposed to Jonathan slipping off the rain-slicked door and dying in a freak carriage accident, it seemed unnecessary. "Just wait," Dio said. "We can—"
The carriage came to an abrupt stop. Jonathan fell forward and his elbow crushed into Dio's chest. Dio hacked, his breath knocked out of him, and he kicked at Jonathan until he slid off of him and fell to the carriage floor.
The carriage door opened. They both looked out with bewilderment. The driver held up an umbrella and gestured for them to exit.
Once Jonathan and Dio stood outside, the rain went from a torrent, to a mild drizzle, to just a light sporadic spattering. The driver shrugged and closed the umbrella. A group of men, presumably school staff as they had the familiar rose emblem embroidered upon their jackets, attended to their luggage.
"Whoa!" Jonathan looked off into the distance in awe. "This place—!"
The school campus spread out in front of them. The buildings were almost all of fine white marble embellished with spindly columns and thick green foliage. The structures grew larger as they dotted up the side of a large hill with grand archways and paths cutting through forests. The wet white stone glittered in the emerging sunlight. The very top of the hill had some large buildings, but the most impressive structure was a massive tower stretching up into the sky.
The attendants took their luggage to their dormitory. It was a large and imposing house carved from the same marble that every building on campus was seemingly hewn from. As the attendants scurried in and out of the building with their luggage, Dio investigated the well-manicured front lawn. There was a miniature monolith adjacent to the front gate. It sat upon a circular plinth engraved with astrological symbols.
Once the last of the luggage was moved in, Jonathan joined him. "Do you think that…" He trailed off, looked up at the stone building, and then looked at Dio. "Do you think that we've been spirited away somewhere? Like in a story? That carriage ride..."
Dio had been wondering the exact same thing. "No. This is a strange place, but the letters made it clear that it's very exclusive. So exclusive that I guess nobody has ever heard of it and nobody knows where it is. Do you think that this is plaster?" He kicked the monolith. It was as hard as a rock. He winced.
Jonathan wasn't thrilled about sharing a room with Dio, but being at a new school and having a fresh social slate to work with could make it tolerable. If all else failed, the dormitory they were staying in seemed to have excess empty rooms and he could retreat to one if Dio became too intolerable.
He had explored the halls briefly while the attendants were bringing in the luggage. The amount of unused rooms surprised him, and he had asked an attendant if other students would be arriving soon. The attendant claimed that there would not.
Their uniforms were delivered as they were busy unpacking. Dio opened the box and grimaced as he held up folded teal cloth. "These are the uniforms? What a hideous color."
Jonathan held up one of his shirts and tilted his head. "I don't think it's all that bad."
Night soon fell. Jonathan ventured outside and looked up at the clear night sky. He felt a little disappointed when the constellations were all the same ones that he was used to at home.
They must not have been spirited away, after all.
Once upon a time, years and years ago, there was a little boy and his father, who was not very sad, even though his wife had died...
As she was buried, her child remembered what she had told him nearly every night.
"Dio, no matter what happens, live nobly and with pride. If you do that, you'll surely be able to reach Heaven."
But was that really such a good idea?