The coffee shop was nice and warm as I went up to the counter and was handed a steaming cup of coffee. I walked over to one of the empty tables where Lily and Harry were beginning to sit down.
“So where are you living?” Lily asked. “You are on campus, right?”
“Yeah, I’m in Holloway Building,” I replied. “In a second floor flat with nine others.”
“So you have a room mate?”
“Yeah, she’s called Aislinn.”
“What’s she like?”
“She’s really nice, at least she is so far. I’m sure I’ll discover some of her annoying habits soon, but don’t we all have a few bad habits that we would rather other people don’t see?”
“I’m sure the good things will out weigh the bad,” Lily replied.
“What about you? Are you living on campus?”
“I’m living with Harry at the moment,” she replied, looking lovingly up at her boyfriend. “He’s another reason I decided to come here. It makes more sense to live with him where it’s cheaper than to pay for accommodation on campus.”
“I agree that does make sense,” I said, sipping on my coffee.
“If you ever want to come round to ours then you’re very welcome,” Harry said. “There’s always someone around, it’ll be nice to see a new face around the house.”
“Thanks,” I replied, “I might take you up on that.”
“Please do,” Lily insisted. “In fact we’re having a party at the weekend, you should come. Bring some of your friends from the flat. It’ll be fun.”
“I’m not sure if it’s really my scene, not after last night.”
“What happened last night?” Harry asked.
“Her flat mates got her drunk,” Lily explained with a dash of humour in her voice.
“Well I’m sure that you’ll be alright at our place,” Harry tried to persuade me. “You don’t have to drink if you don’t want to. We just do what we feel like and don’t judge others who choose to stay sober.”
“Come on Nessie,” Lily pleaded. “It’d be great to have another friendly face there. And we’re going to be in the same lecture hall for the next three years so we might as well get to know each other better. Just come for a chat if you want. And I’d love to meet Aislinn. I could do with recognizing a few more faces around campus.”
“If you’ll stop nagging me then yes, I’ll come,” I conceded.
“Brilliant,” Lily said, grinning wildly at me across the table. “I’ll expect to see you at our place on Saturday night. Will Aislinn come?”
“I don’t know, I can ask her.”
“Oh goodie,” Lily exclaimed with the excitement of a small child.
“So how long have you two been together?” I asked to turn the conversation away from me. “A long time?”
“Two and a half years next month,” Lily said, giving Harry another adoring look.
“And it still feels like I only met her yesterday,” Harry continued.
“How did you guys meet?”
“We went to the same school,” Lily told me. “He was in the year above me studying Psychology, Politics and English. I was taking Politics too so when I started to struggle with my work he suggested that Harry helped me out. He was the best at Politics in his year.”
“Hardly,” Harry interrupted, “I was just better at communicating my ideas than the rest of the class.”
“Anyway, he started tutoring me and soon we discovered that there was more to our relationship than a tutor and tutee.”
“I knew I shouldn’t have done it but I asked her out,” Harry continued. “I couldn’t believe my luck when she said yes.”
“Of course my father didn’t approve,” Lily said, rolling her eyes. “He thought that I should be more focused on my studies than on some boy who he thought was just messing around with me. Grades are more important than boys he used to tell me, still does tell me, I’ve just learnt to ignore him.”
“You two are clearly made for each other if you’ve managed to stay together through that and a year of separation when Harry was at university. That must have been tough.”
“The separation was difficult,” Lily admitted, “but I knew that Harry only had eyes for me. I came to visit him as often as I could; I only live a couple of hours away so the journey isn’t too hard and it was worth it just to see him.” She smiled up at Harry and ran her fingers through his dark hair. “But now we’re together again and there is nothing my father or anyone else can do to split us up again.”
“I’m so happy for you,” I replied, a familiar ache beginning to grow inside me as I saw Lily and Harry cuddling up together.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” Lily asked innocently. The dull ache turned into a sharp pain as I thought about Luke but I forced it away.
“I used to,” I replied, forcing the words out. “I was in love with my best friend, Luke, for as long as I can remember but it wasn’t until last year that I managed to tell him how I felt and even then it took us some time to finally start dating.”
“I’m so sorry,” Lily said, her face sad. “How did it end? If you don’t mind me asking.”
“I’m not quite sure how it ended, it just did. Luke decided that it would be better for us if we were single when we started university so that we wouldn’t feel guilty about anything that might happen while we were separated and like a fool I agreed.”
“Well if he’s stupid enough to let you go then he clearly isn’t worth it,” Lily said, reaching over the table to squeeze my hand comfortingly. “I’m sure you’ll find someone much better.”
“Let’s hope so,” I replied, not really meaning what I was saying but not wanting to run the risk of crying in front of two perfect strangers and a café full of students. “So which bit was it that you wanted me to go over?” I asked, changing the subject again.
“If you two are going to start talking History then I think I’ll make a move,” Harry said, downing the last of his coffee and standing up. “I’ll see you back at the house later,” he said to Lily, bending down to kiss her. “See you on Saturday,” he said to me, giving me a quick wave as he left.