Sos for the wait! Stick with me, bambinis!
"Five minutes now, your highnesses," murmured the chauffeur.
"Thank you, Carl," replied Charles. Will closed his eyes and made a silent prayer. How was he going to survive this year? Dorm XVI was almost worse than the bullies. He didn't have any friends at school; Harry was a few years below him and they rarely met, except in staged photocalls, where Will had to smile a winning smile and Harry had to look naughty. His previous dorm room, Dorm V, was cold and lonely. The boys had gradually pushed him back into a shadowy corner, right underneath a constant leak that made him feel permanently cold and damp. He was on the other side of the only window, so he never got any light, and the atmosphere in the dorm was that of resentment. He hated it.
The car suddenly swept round the corner and into the cosy cocoon of trees that blocked off all the sounds of the main road. The sweeping and meandering drive of the school was laid out in front of them, about half a mile long. At the very end was Ludgrove. Even though Will hated the boys, he felt a swell of pride on seeing his school. "Ludgrove," he breathed.
"What's that?" said his dad.
"Oh. Are you looking forward to it?"
Will shifted uncomfortably. "S'pose."
Mrs Haitefirth was Will's matron. She was the Third Form matron, and a strict matriarch. "William!" she cried across the entrance hall. All the other boys bidding their parents farewell looked round. He blushed. As he walked through the resentfully parted crowd, a few people bowed to his dad. They stopped in front of the headmaster, Dr James Slater. "Your Royal Highnesses. I trust you arrived well?"
Charles stepped forward. "Yes. Quite well. Is the dormitory prepared?"
The silence in the room was unbearable.
The corridor that ran through the dorm was dark. Heads poked out of doors as Will moved down. "Good luck!" someone said.
"Yeah, good luck, Your Highness!"
Laughter and jeering followed him down the hall. He stopped outside Dorm XVI. He raised a fist. Nobody spoke. Nobody breathed. The boys shrank back into their dorms, but still peered at him. He knocked, three times. It sounded unbearably loud, like a cannon. The pause was only a few seconds long, but it felt like several minutes. Then, a little hatch at eye height opened and a trickle of smoke flew out. A pair of eyes squinted through the gloom of the corridor. "Yeah?" said a gruff voice.
"Th...this is my dorm. C...can I come in?"
"Whass'yer name, lad?"
"'Sat Prince William?"
"An' you're ach'ally 'im, yeah?"
"Y'd best come in, then."
The door opened and Will was pulled in. The door closed and darkness fell.
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