Ashley was unused to the large hall he now stood in, much different to the small classrooms he was accustomed to back at Exeter. A large lectern, adorned with an intricate pattern along its corner edges, stood imposingly upon its raised platform; overlooking the rows of seats arranged in a repeated semi-circle.
A few students littered the room, and an elderly man had taken position at the front of the hall, sorting through multiple stacks of paper and books; occasionally grabbing something of import. He turned to face the few students that had entered early, grunting quietly, scratching his scruff - His hair had greyed. Ashley wouldn't say the man was old, though he looked it from behind, having few wrinkles on his face, though creases adorned it in a permanent frown.
The man returned to facing away from the students, a few more filing in, and brought forward a large chalk board. Ashley internally groaned. He began writing, what assumedly was his name, in a rather refined handwriting.
As the minutes passed in tense silence, more students began to sift through the door. While the choice remained, the majority chose to seat themselves away from the others; though occasionally you'd find some coming in pairs or threes sitting together, their hushed whispers being the only present chatter. As remote seats became less available, students begrudgingly began to sit next to the strangers around them, remaining in uncomfortable silence. A boy sat next to Ashley, roughly his own age, and glanced over at him; placing his laptop on his desk.
Ash looked up and smiled slightly, "Hey, I'm Ashley." He stuck his hand out, which was reluctantly taken by the unsure grip of the youth.
"Chris." The boy's voice was a little raspy, his throat seemed dry. He quickly took his hand from Ashley's, and faced the front; his cheeks slightly pink.
Ashley decided to look forward too, the majority of the seats were filled, and those that weren't had students headed towards them. The lecturer would soon start, no doubt.
"Good morning class, I'm Professor Martin Hicks," The lecturer gestured to the board, "You may refer to me as Professor Hicks, or Sir." The lecturer wiped his name from the board, and faced the students yet again. "As your lecturer I am obliged to also carry out the role of mentor, should you have any questions about the course or University, you may direct them to myself or another member of faculty you deem more appropriate." A few students raised their hands, "I will take questions at the end. Some of yours may be covered within the next few minutes."
The lecture passed rather quickly. The first hour was used with the introductory talk and 'Q and A', though there were few questions considering the excruciating length of the talk. When they finally began the actual lecture, there'd been only a couple hours remaining, but Ashley at least had a positive impression of his lecturer. Despite his rather cold approach to the students, he certainly got the work done, and the lecture was pretty interactive. He'd encouraged discussions between students, and seemed to take pleasure in watching the students argue differing points about the topic.
Ashley had chatted to Chris a little during the lecture, getting to know each other a little, and exchanging numbers. Chris had come down from Manchester, along with his girlfriend Emma. Both had enrolled at Cambridge in the humanities department, her focus being environmental studies, his of course being the same as Ashley's. Once the lecture ended, they parted ways, Ashley heading back to the dorm.
Tom slowly cracked the door open, peeking inside. Ashley sat at the desk on his laptop, "Hey," Ashley turned his head, smiling at Tom.
"Hey. I'm all ready, so I'll just finish up while you prepare."
"Ok cool. What're you doing?" Ash glanced back at his screen.
"I'm getting a head start on my research for the dissertation, I quite fancy keeping on top of it from the start."
"Good idea," Tom headed into the bathroom, his voice a little raised, "how did your lecture go?"
"It was actually pretty good. The lecturer was good, and I made a friend. He's called Chris. He moved down from Manchester with his girlfriend."
"Nice. Will he be joining us tonight?"
"No, he's spending the evening with Emma."
"That his girlfriend," Tom walked back into the room, looking at Ashley quizzically.
"Yeah sorry, I wasn't thinking." Ashley had closed his laptop, and was sitting on his bed, waiting for Tom. "Tonight, while we're out, how're we playing this?"
Tom looked at Ashley, frowning a little, "As it is. I mean, Jenny pretty much had us figured out according to you, so she'll take it well. Besides that, most people these days are used to it, I doubt we'll receive a bad reception." Tom headed over to Ashley, kissing him gently on the cheek, "We'll be fine."
Ash looked up at him, smiling, "Yeah. Thanks." He kissed Tom back on the lips, the two locking together momentarily, until reluctantly forcing themselves to pull apart. "Shall we?"
Tom held the door open as Ashley stepped through. The two entered the restaurant that they'd agreed upon with Jenny, who'd announced that she'd be bringing along her new roommate. Ashley caught sight of the two and headed over, Tom following closely behind.
"Hey guys," Jenny hurried over to them, pulling them both into a tight hug, when she pulled back she stepped to the side, gesturing towards her friend, "this is-"
"-Grace," Tom had interrupted, "such a small world." He was smirking, but both Ashley and Jennifer shared a confused look.
"You two know each other?" Jenny now looked over at Grace, who was blushing furiously.
"Not really. We met yesterday at the café across from the University, and Grace here was flirting with me," she blushed an even darker shade of crimson, "I was forced to inform her that I was buying coffee for me and my boyfriend."
Jenny's eyes went wide as she whirled round to face Ashley, she practically leapt on him, embracing him in a back-breaking hug, "I told you so!" Tom stifled a slight chuckle.
"So this is..."
"Ashley," Tom finished for Grace. Ashley now turned to her, blushing slightly, but grinning.
"Sorry for stealing him, but who couldn't resist jumping head first for that." Ashley nodded his head towards Tom, causing both him and Grace to chuckle slightly.
"We should probably sit." Tom suggested, the four had begun to receive irritated looks from a number of customers.
Sorry, I've been away a couple days. I've had to take care of my younger cousin for a few days. I'm afraid writing will slow down for a while. I promise I won't be gone for 3 months like last time.
I hope you are liking the series so far. As always, all comments are welcome, both positive and negative. I hope to keep you all interested, and your opinions / ideas are valued.