okay but like, au where the lads have actual proper choice in where they go to uni + what they study:
- scripps does english and creative writing joint honours at leeds trinity; its far away enough that he’s independent but close enough to home that he can run back on the train if his family need him urgently, and there’s times when they do. he’s happy, mostly, and he takes an internship at the guardian after his third year that eventually turns into a job.
- posner does primary education at uni of, and in second and third year him and scripps get a house together. his mental health still isn’t 100%, but it’s a bit better. him and scripps go to each others graduations, and the grad balls that follow (they get together at scripps’s, when they’re walking down the headrow a bottle of champagne down, suits dishevelled and shirts untucked. when they kiss it tastes of bubbles and they nearly fall into a hedge in the city square)
- lockwood, after much deliberation and several offers from other places, goes to sheffield and studies law. he worries he’ll regret it, but his family are a bit strapped for cash and really it is an okay university, and it’s good for him to have a support network on hand. he has a good three years, in the end, and doesn’t join the army.
- dakin does law and english joint honours at goldsmiths. he’s happy there, and sometimes he sees irwin on the weekends. he likes being in the city, and he stays there after he graduates to do a masters. (scripps chunters at him all the time for defecting down south and never coming back)
- timms goes to newcastle and is happy (he does film and tv studies and is the president of the comedy soc in his third year, and generally has a whale of a time)
- akthar goes to manchester met and is the only one of them who actually chooses to study history. he likes it, likes the difference between sheffield and manchester, and ends up staying there after he graduates. the trams make him feel almost at home.
- rudge decides not to go to university, in the end; he has offers from a few places –sheff hallam, leeds, chester– but ultimately he decides it’s not for him. he starts working for a joiners in town and eventually sets up his own. he still sees a lot of jimmy, and some of the others when they’re in town.
- crowther does drama and theatre studies at edinburgh and ends up on the fringe a few years later. it’s not what he expected to be doing, but he likes it anyway, and the lads all drag their arses up to scotland to see him and make a right racket in the back of the stalls.
and a bonus:
- felix is apoplectic with rage that his best oxbridge prospects have all told him to shove it up his arse and gone to mets and polytechnics and northern universities