As The University Returns After The Christmas Break, Emotions Run High At Foxbury!
Winter, Year 5
Arianna closed her eyes contentedly as she let the warmth of the hot spring wash over her. It was likely to be a rough term; her results from before Christmas hadn’t been brilliant and she knew she needed to up her game if she was going to have any chance of completing her degree.
The group had taken a little trip to Mt. Komorebi to relax before classes began again. Everyone was feeling the strain this term and they wanted to be at their best.
Rohan settled inside the Onsen and opened his book. The earlier he got started on his coursework, the better in his eyes. He had a lot of work to do this term and he wanted to get an early start.
The students returned to their dorm as a light snow began to fall in Britechester. Anna settled herself down in her room with her laptop and glanced at some of the work she already had for her course. She was determined to do well this year and, like several of the other students, she wanted to get a nice early start.
Across the hall, Nicola panicked when her phone rang. She cast her mind back to the week before, trying to work out what exactly she had done and been found out for but her brain wasn’t producing anything.
Then she heard maniacal laughter on the other end of the phone. Furiously, she hung up. She hated prank phone calls at the best of times but when she was already stressed about her uni work, it was the very last thing she needed.
Somebody out there had a very cruel sense of humour.
The group traipsed over to Larry’s Lagoon a few days later. Their first classes were over for the day and it was time to relax. Anna was showing Raúl some funny videos on her phone. The two got along very well and Anna was one of the few people who could tolerate Raúl after all his boasting last year about his relationship with Hayley. Anna felt quite bad for him for the way things had turned out; she suspected Hayley was a serial cheater and so far, she had yet to be proven wrong.
Determined to get ahead, Anna hung back that evening for the Cram for the Exam event. She’d participated last term and had found it incredibly helpful to be surrounded by other students who were determined to do well with their exams. They all managed to motivate each other and it was exactly what Anna needed.
Some of the other students got a head start on their presentations. Rohan and Nick also wanted to get ahead and started focusing their efforts on their presentations. It didn’t always work out and Nick found his nerves about the eventual presentation got the best of him on occasion.
Nick found that practicing to an empty dorm room did help him to overcome his nerves. He knew his presentation was good; he was putting a lot of effort into it.
On the first nice day that came along, Rohan got an invite from Zoe to spend some time at the bluffs. She was inviting a large group to a party on the clifftop and, having been cooped up in the dorm for days, Rohan was keen to get some fresh air. He even impressed everyone with his fire dance!
His relationship with Zoe was at least still going strong, in spite of the distance between them. Although they were both in Britechester, they were still at different Universities and didn’t get to see each other as much as they’d like. Rohan was also afraid sometimes that Zoe might be going off him. He was fairly traditional in his views of their relationship and he wondered whether Zoe really agreed or not. It worried him a lot.
Arianna was finding the term difficult. There were mornings when it was tough getting out of bed; the snow was raging again outside the window and she not only had several classes ahead of her, but football practice too. It was mornings like this that she regretted being a part of the team; but it was all tied in with her scholarship, so she couldn’t miss a session. Still, it played havoc on her study schedule.
She was behind with homework, she hadn’t started her presentation and her term paper was nonexistent. All were due very, very soon.
Rohan and Riccardo were feeling the strain this term. Everything seemed a lot harder and more complicated than it had before and tensions were flying in the dorm.
Rohan watched with interest as Riccardo and Anna got into a small argument. Anna seemed really nice and Rohan was convinced Riccardo was quite keen on her. Ricky was already casually dating Lucia but sometimes he wondered.
Football practice didn’t go that well. Arianna was furious, filthy and generally fed up. She dived for the showers before anybody saw her.
Once showered, she flopped down at one of the tables and cracked open her books. She still had a lot of work to do but Elliott had put some music on, which always helped lighten the mood.
Raúl was trying hard to focus on his studies. Even when Hayley persisted in visiting (much to the envy of his dormmates, of course) and trying to talk to him. He couldn’t understand why she was so bothered by him breaking up with her. He’d seen the pictures of her and Ryan last summer. She’d made a fool of him and he wasn’t about to accept her trying to win him back, however popular she might be.
Sometimes, Raúl felt like he was living in a dream. A very weird day dream.
Zoe called round to visit one evening while Rohan was at work.
“You looking for someone?” Nick asked as he spotted Zoe looking lost.
“Yeah. Is Rohan here?” She smiled. “I’m Zoe.”
“Nick.” He smiled back. “He’s at work at the moment, though. You’re welcome to stay.”
Zoe and Nick ended up sitting on the sofa and talking. They discovered they had a good bit in common and were getting along well.
Very well, as it turned out. Casual chatting led to some flirting from Nick, which Zoe eagerly responded to. Just as the heard the lift doors close.
Rohan saw Nick and Zoe on the sofa and panicked. He knew it. He’d been waiting too long to make any sort of move on Zoe and now it was too late. A thousand thoughts ran through his mind and suddenly, he settled on one.
As jealous and hurt as he felt right now…what if he asked Zoe to marry him?
On seeing Rohan return, Nick hastily made excuses and darted out to watch the football match. He felt a bit bad when he realised this Zoe was obviously Rohan’s girlfriend. He’d not met her before but she was incredibly pretty and Nick felt an instant attraction. All through the match, he fantasised about a date with Zoe. She was definitely the most beautiful woman he’d met; it was typical she was dating somebody else.
He briefly forgot about Zoe when he saw the Foxbury team claim a victory over UBrite.
The following day, Rohan felt quite dejected and very nervous. He was meeting Zoe that afternoon and he had a plan. It frightened him to think that Zoe was entertaining other offers and he was convinced it was his own fault. After all, they’d been seeing each other for almost a year and they still hadn’t slept together yet. Rohan didn’t have a lot of confidence and Zoe was the total opposite. He was terrified of disappointing her but he really didn’t want to risk losing her.
So, he set off for the pub. He needed all the Dutch courage he could muster.
After a few drinks, Rohan went back to his dorm to change, before setting off. He’d arranged to meet Zoe on the bridge. After Nick had left in a hurry the night before, Rohan had said nothing to Zoe about the flirting he’d witnessed. Instead, he planned to do what he felt he should have done months ago.
He was relieved to find Zoe waiting, already standing on the bridge and watching the ducks on the river.
“Zoe?” He said, nervously as he approached her.
“Rohan!” She smiled as he arrived. “Are you okay? You look a little nervous.”
“I am.” Trembling, he took her wrist. “Zoe, I’ve been awake all night trying to think of the right words to say and every time it comes out wrong, so…”
Rohan dropped to one knee. “Zoe. Will you marry me?”
“Oh. My. God.” Zoe’s mouth dropped open and she nodded. “Yes! Rohan, yes I will marry you!” She squealed.
Zoe jumped into Rohan’s arms. Surprised but also relieved, Rohan hugged her close.
“Zoe,” he whispered nervously in her ear. “Let’s go back to your dorm…”
Zoe didn’t need to be asked twice.
Rohan felt beads of sweat break out on his forehead as he entered Zoe’s dorm room with her. His heart pounded in his chest as she pulled him down onto the bed. They wrapped their arms around each other and locked lips.
Feeling a little giddy, Rohan returned to Foxbury much later that evening. To his surprise, he saw his grandfather in the hall.
“There you are! Your friends said you’d gone out and they didn’t know what time you’d be back!” Ekram wrapped his arms around his grandson.
“Sorry, Granddad. I was with Zoe.” Rohan gave a sheepish grin.
“With Zoe, eh? We still haven’t met her, have we?”
“Um…no.” Rohan bit his lip.
“Well I hope you’ve been behaving yourself, my lad.” Ekram said, sternly.
Rohan felt the guilt creep into his stomach again. The source of his traditional values were hardly a secret. He knew his grandparents disapproved of sex before marriage and his memories of the afternoon with Zoe came flooding back into his head. He was aware that the guilt must be showing on his face by now. He had to say something.
“Zoe and I are engaged!” he blurted.
Ekram stared at his grandson in disbelief. “What for?”
Rohan felt it was going to be a very long evening.
The end of term exams were approaching and the group had been really feeling the strain. Raúl decided it was time to celebrate everything with a little party. He even managed to persuade a very fed up Arianna to slow dance with him!
Ashley and Nicola preferred to spend their time studying instead. They could party later, once the exams were finished.
Exam day arrived and Arianna found herself red-faced with embarrassment. It was bad enough she hadn’t completed most of the course material; she’d been caught cheating on the exam and found herself in a lot of trouble. This year had turned out to be the absolute worst for her.
Zoe dropped round for a visit while Rohan was at an exam. Once again, she found herself in Nick’s company and they started chatting, laughing and flirting.
Nick couldn’t help it. He really felt something strong for Zoe. And it wasn’t going away.
Rohan returned from his exam, delighted to see Zoe. She never mentioned the flirting with Nick, so Nick kept quiet and watched the couple from a distance…his heart breaking.