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Study of Life and Love

A Single Step


The Journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. – Chinese Proverb

The quote was perfect for the new students entering their first week at Willson University. The freshmen could be spotted easily. The nervous boy who glanced around while his parents proudly watched. The young girl who kept glancing down at her phone trying to hide the fact she was reading the campus map online, obviously lost.

Whoever decided to use those words for the quote of the week must have thought it would inspire students and comfort them. I doubted most people even read it. New students probably hadn’t noticed the electric sign sitting at the front of the student services building, blocking the Great Court from view.

“Alright kid, you okay to settle in?” I turned around at my parents’ voice, both smiling at me proudly. I smiled in return and pulled them in for a hug. Of course I would be okay, this was my third year and I was perfectly capable of settling in.

“I really wish you hadn’t done this sweetie. You had such lovely blonde hair.” My mother tugged on a piece of my pastel blue hair as I rolled my eyes and tried to get them to leave politely, promising that I would call as often as possible.

They finally drove away and a feeling of freedom swept through me. I loved them but being at home with them and having no siblings to take the brunt of their smothering was getting too much. I was glad to be back.

I grabbed my suitcase and duffel bag and walked through the front arch, my feet walking in the direction it knew by heart. I kept my eyes out but I didn’t see anyone I knew along the way, I hoped the other girls were already at the house by the time I got there.

I passed large buildings that would soon be full of people learning - and sleeping. The Great Court was filled with people finding seats in a trees shade or splayed out along the grass enjoying the sunny day. I kept walking past the few shops in the area before turning a corner and taking a shortcut behind a cluster of buildings. My suitcase got caught in a few ditches along the way but this was quicker then going along the roads set out. I entered a street with people everywhere, walking with bags and suitcases, some with parents still lingering, seeming unsure when to leave.

I smiled politely at the people I passed, walking by the large houses that made up the street. Kings and Cromwell sat across from each other, both fraternities and two of the three largest on campus. The building that broke up Cromwell from the fraternity of Emmanuel house was the gym that was shared by all the sororities and fraternities. Further down the road on the same side as Kings sat Mary’s sorority with Francis on their right. Lastly across from Francis sat the Grace sorority. My sorority.

“Thea!” I turned to see the familiar face of my house leader.

“Sidney.” I couldn’t help the smile that split across my face as I let her pull me into her arms, her long black hair filling my eyesight.

“I barely recognised you. You know you have blue hair right?” I laughed at her as she continuously tugged on a few pieces of hair.

“I needed something new.” I told her, pulling my hair out of her grip and moving towards the stairs. I liked having blue hair, my previous hair had had blonde hair my whole life and I knew I desperately needed this change.

Sidney didn’t press anymore but instead helped me carry my suitcase up the stairs to the front door.

“Missed it?” She asked me as we entered through the front door and the familiar smell of the house surrounded me. It was more familiar then my childhood home at times. The grand staircase was placed right in front of the door. It was an open design to the right where a large living room was set up. It was our main meeting area with a large white fireplace that was very rarely used and four white couches spread out into a square formation. It was large so it was able fit everyone together for meetings.

The door connected to that led to the more private living room that had a TV and most game consoles. Next to that and behind the stairs was the large kitchen and dining rooms that led to the back porch. To the left of the front door was a large wall that contained photos of every person who had ever been in the sorority. It was our family wall. One door in the center of that wall led to the hallway that connected the freshmen’s rooms to the rest of the house.

“Like you have no idea.” I told her honestly as she nodded in agreement before helping me take my stuff up the stairs to the third floor, the second highest floor of the whole house. The top floor was left for the seniors like Sydney.

“You finally get your own room this year too.” She smiled at me and opened the door to what I presumed was my room. I smiled widely and headed inside. The rooms all looked alike. A built in wardrobe on one side, a double bed placed in the middle of the room with a large desk in the far corner. It was plain but it was only this way so each girl could set up her own decorations.

“I would let you get settled and everything but the new sisters will be here in like half an hour.” She smiled at me innocently while I eyed her.

“You want me to help?” I asked already knowing the answer before she nodded eagerly.

“I’ve already roped Caydance in.” I laughed at that. Caydance Fairweather had been my ‘buddy’ in first year and we had stayed close but letting her look after freshman would be torture, she wasn’t good with people who she didn’t consider worthy of her time. “Just be ready in half an hour and meet us at the front door.” I waved her off and walked over to fall down on the bed. It felt great to be home.

I began to unpack some of my clothes into the large wardrobe, hanging up as much as I could fit before turning to fill the drawers sitting next to the wardrobe. I only got about halfway through my clothes before a knock was sounded in my doorway. I looked up at my red haired friend.

“I hear you got roped into helping out?” Caydance asked as a greeting before pulling me into a hug. “Honestly you’re too much of a pushover.” She stated; always blunt.

“I believe you got roped into it as well.” I raised an eyebrow at her as she fell down onto my bed.

“Blackmail. You know Sid can be evil when she really wants something.” She glowered at the floor while playing with her nose ring.

“Did you get more piercings?” I asked her noticing her left ear had suddenly earned three extra piercings that totaled to six on her left and only four on her right. She looked up and smiled.

“I’m not the one who dyed my hair blue.” I sighed and sat down next to her.

“No but you always dye your hair bright red.” I pulled on her long hair as she returned the favour and ruffled up my short blue strands.

“I like it, gives you a bit of an edge, makes you more, hmm what’s the word? Oh, noticeable. It definitely makes your more noticeable.” She smiled widely, almost knowingly while I laughed and shook her off.

“Come on, we better go help Sid before she sends someone for us.” I pulled a groaning Caydance off my bed and dragged her down the stairs. Two other girls were already standing with Sidney, waiting.

“Olivia, June!” I said happily, pulling both girls into hugs.

“Seriously Caydance? I didn’t believe Sidney when she said she roped you into this.” Caydance rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest in annoyance.

“Honestly guys? I’m not completely hopeless with people.” She grumbled. I patted her back comfortingly. “Just the one’s below me.”

“Come on, all the freshees are out front waiting.” Sid moved towards the door, Caydance perked up.

“Are they nervous?” She asked excitedly, trying to look through the blurred windows that were situated either side of the front door.

“Don’t scare them.” Sidney warned before opening the door and all of us piled out.

I watched all the new girls closely as they shuffled around and stared at us, wide eyed and scared. I remembered being in their position 2 years ago. I had been nervous but excited, having no idea what I would have to do to make it into this house but it was definitely all worth it. Worth it if not just for the people you meet while here.

“Welcome my new potential sisters!” Sidney called out getting everyone’s attention. “I’m sure you are all extremely excited to be here, so let’s hurry up and get you inside.” She motioned for everyone to follow and crowd into the meeting room. Some people on chairs, on the floor or standing, I stood up the front near the fireplace watching them all.

“Quickly take a seat, we don’t have all day. I’m Sidney and I’m your house leader. I will basically be your mother while you are here. You will come to me for anything you need. If you are having trouble with schooling I want to know, if you are having trouble with another student I want to know, if you are having family issues or any issue at all you are allowed to come to me.” I smiled at Caydance slightly; Sidney was using the same speech we had heard in our first year, practically word for word. I suppose she was taught all this when she was chosen as our mother last year.

“These other four are your seniors, there are more of them in the house and over the course of the next few days you will meet them all. For now these are: Olivia, June, Thea and Caydance. They will be helping me sort through you all.” She paused a moment and glanced around at them all.

“I am sure you are all aware that by being here today does not guarantee you a spot in this house. You are here as a maybe, a possibility but do not for one second think you have a promised place here. For the next month you will be tested, you will be pushed and we will then decide whether you are worthy to become apart of us. To become a Grace sister.” Caydance tugged on my hand slightly and I smiled at her. “If we believe you are not suited for us or you behave against our rules I have the right to dismiss you instantly. There are lodgings in the dorm rooms for people who do not make the month.”

“You all should know that the Grace house prides itself on hard work, dignity and of course on it’s grace. If we accept you, you will be representing us everyday even long after you graduate, you will be representing what we help create here. So take this seriously, you are not joining our house for fun and parties. You are joining this house to make connections, to work hard, to have a step up once you leave and to make friendships that will probably last a lifetime. Once you become a Grace you will always be a Grace.” Sidney stopped for what I assumed was dramatic pause as only the sound of breathing could be heard in the room.

As I looked around I could see that most of the girls were in awe of Sidney, a feeling I had had when being one of them and the house leader at the time was delivering this speech. Later I had been told that the one’s who weren’t in awe or seemed distracted normally didn’t make it. Standing here now I could see those people and I knew why. Those girls weren’t here to be a part of Grace they were here because they wanted the wild parties, they were here because they were either forced to or thought it would be fun. They weren’t the girls who would take this seriously, by the end of the day or by the end of the month, they would be cut.

Sidney then moved forward and with the help of Olivia and June they teamed girls up with one another. Explaining that the girl they were with was their buddy and if they both got chosen that buddy would be their lifeline, their best friend. I glanced towards Caydance who had been my buddy when we first started. She smiled at me as if reminiscing about it too.

“You know there is actually something I wanted to tell you.” Her eyes widened considerably and a spark lit up. I bit my lip and waited for her to carry on not sure that my excitement would match hers.

“I was talking to a certain someone this morning and well this certain someone is very special to you and he told me a special little something.” My stomach did a flip as I guessed whom she was talking about.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” I lied as she frowned and pretended to look upset. Sidney was talking again, explaining that you would need to rely on your buddy and know where they are of every moment of every day; they would be tested on this.

“So the name Louis Tomlinson does not make your stomach do flips, your heart swell up or your hands sweaty?” She asked innocently as I nervously felt all the actions she described. So I’d had a little crush on the boy, so what?

“I just thought you would like to know that the boy you’ve had a crush on for the last two years split up with his girlfriend over break.” I couldn’t help the way my neck snapped to glance towards her. Oh how I wish I didn’t look to eager, especially when she smiled so evilly.

“Yep, that’s right, he and Eleanor broke up. Happened at the start of break so the boy has had four months to get over her. He is definitely back on the market.” She winked at me as I flushed dangerously.

“I have no idea what that has to do with me.” I said stubbornly, turning back to the group and watching the young girls talk with their buddies.

“Oh come on Thea, this is your chance!” She wrapped her arm around my waist and pulled me in close.

“Chance for what?” I asked annoyed but I tried not to let it show. It’s not like Louis Tomlinson would just ask me out let alone like me enough for me to ask him out. “Louis doesn’t even know who I am.”

“Then wow him, flash your blue hair at him, hell flash him in general. Do something to get the boys’ attention since you’ve pined after him long enough.” She waved her hand around dramatically and I could see a few people staring at us, I grabbed her hands and dragged them to her side. “Weren’t you saying last year you would have a class with him this year?”

“Yeah! But that doesn’t mean I’m going to friend him in it. I don’t even know how well I will do. It’s an advanced course and Veterinary is hard enough without doing advanced courses.” I mumbled, I had been stressing out most of the holidays about this higher course. It wasn’t usual for a student to do this but my lecturer had recommended me to the board and they had offered the class to me. The comforting part was that they all had confidence in me.

“Come on, just talk to him and then before you know it you’ll be married and living together saving animals and having babies.” I shook my head at her serious face and focused back on the group. I knew Caydance wanted to be an Actress but sometimes she could be too excited about drama.

“You girls ready to take them around campus?” Sidney asked us, a large smile on her face. Caydance and I shared a look before we both glared at her.

“Why do we have to take them around?” Caydance whined instantly.

“Because all either of you have done is just stand around. Come on, we only need three of us.” She smiled at the girls in front of us and instructed them that they were about to get a tour.

“She’s going to start sprouting information about the buildings isn’t she?” Caydance groaned lowly before we fell into step beside Sidney and made our way out of the house.

“Willson University is a large campus and it gets pretty easy to get lost so try to pay attention and we’ll show you some shortcuts while we’re at it.” Sidney led the group of girls while Caydance and I walked behind them. She gestured to the other fraternities and sororities on the street. First gesturing to both sororities sitting across the street from Grace: Francis and Mary’s. “Sororities and Fraternities all have alliances with each other, it can be very political at some points but during the year our alliances will protect us from unnecessary pranks.” I flicked my glance to Caydance who was smirking at the few sisters who squirmed at the mention of pranks.

“Kings fraternity which is further down the street is our ally and have been for a long time. Our houses will tend to work with each other a lot and you will get to know many of its members fairly well. The Emmanuel fraternity and Mary’s are aligned with each other and thanks to many years of bickering boys Kings and Emmanuel have been rivals for a long time. So of course that makes both Emmanuel and Mary’s our rival as well. Francis and Cromwell tend to be mostly neutral, every new leader always seems to take different sides, choosing who’s stronger.” One of the younger sisters tentatively lifted her hand. Sidney nodded at her.

“Why do we need alliances other then pranks?” She asked timidly.

“There are house competitions that we take part of as well as fundraisers that we normally take part in together. On top of that, academically our connections that we have are shared with Kings and vice versa which benefits us with more opportunities and people to meet. And ultimately people here can be catty sometimes, I won’t hide that from you, and it’s good to have guaranteed friends that have your back.” Sidney turned around and finished walking down the rest of the street pointing out the pool, tennis courts, gym and indoor sports center that all six houses took care of together. Before heading out of the street to the main part of the University.

I pushed Sidney’s voice out of my mind and mindlessly walked beside her, my eyes glancing around the campus as we moved. There were students everywhere, greeting each other after four months away. Everyone seemed happy to be back. I waved at the people I knew along the way and we even ran into a few girls from the house that all greeted the new sisters.

“Oh look it’s the Kings boys.” Caydance voice slammed through my daydream as I looked up to see her smiling at me largely. “And their house leader, Louis Tomlinson.”

I looked over as a brown feather haired boy looked up, his smile spread across his face the moment he saw us, the cheekiness of it lighting up his eyes. I tried to swallow properly as he instantly instructed the group of boys behind him over to us.

“If it isn’t the lovely Gracelings. What are you all doing out on this fine day?” He asked politely, bowing his head slightly at Sidney who smiled fondly at him. They were pretty good friends as far as I knew, they had both started University in separate houses in the same year.

“Taking the new sisters for a walk.” Sidney responded easily and glanced behind him at the mass of boys standing awkwardly. ”Guess you’re doing the same?” She asked him. He turned and his eyes instantly glared at the boys behind him barking at them to straighten up before he turned back to us, a smile back on his face.

“Yes, boring task that it is, someone has to do it. Me being leader and all.” He puffed out his chest slightly and winked at Caydance who laughed lightly. I frowned and moved back trying not to pull any attention to myself. Louis was confident and funny and freaking gorgeous, I was just a bit too shy to fit in with him. I was beginning to realise that the blue hair wasn’t going to aid me in hiding.

“Girls, this is Louis Tomlinson, leader of the Kings boys. Take a good look at each other, you will probably be spending a lot of time together.” Sidney said to the girls as Louis stepped to the side of the boys. Both groups eyed each other curiously.

“You will pay the Grace girls the utmost respect. If I find one of these girls carrying heavy books while your arms are empty there will be consequences.” I stifled a laugh at Louis words. It was common for Kings boys to be offering their assistance to the girls.

“I thought we were showing these boys around Lou. Not chatting up beautiful women.” A voice sounded to the left, making everyone turn. Zayn, Louis’ best mate, had appeared with two bottles of water in his hand, he threw one at Louis who caught it with ease. I swear every girl within distance of both boys sighed dreamily.

Zayn and Louis came hand in hand, constantly, despite how different they were. Zayn did psychology and Louis was studying to become a Vet. Zayn was all dark skin and dark hair, Louis was tan but his hair was light. Louis was all smiles and Zayn liked to brood. Although they both had their fair share of tattoos, both seeming to have acquired some more over the holidays.

“Zaynie baby!” Louis called happily, wrapping an arm around his best mate. “I was just instructing our lads here how to treat these beautiful ladies.”

“Yes well, good to see you both. But if you don’t mind we’re going to continue with the tour.” Sidney gestured ahead and Louis instantly barked at his boys to clear the path for the girls. The twenty or so boys scrambled to either side, clearing the way. I could hear a few girls giggling behind us. I shared a look with Caydance; I couldn’t wait until they all found out about the no dating rule for the first semester.

I chanced a glance at Louis as we moved past, my eyes met his and a smile slid across his features before he winked. I quickly averted my eyes, feeling the blush rise up my cheeks. Louis was a chronic flirter, I knew by now never to think anything of it.

By the time we got back to the house it was getting late. The new sisters were served dinner before shown their rooms.

“I hate the thought of cutting some of them.” Sidney told us exhausted before sitting down in the seat next to mine. She smiled in thanks at the bowl of ice cream I pushed her way.

“Don’t worry Sid, we’ll all help out.” One of the older girls in Sidney’s year, Lisa, smiled at her comfortingly.

“Thanks girls. Head to bed soon though, tomorrow I want you up early so I can pair everyone up.” I shared a look with Caydance who groaned into her ice cream bowl. I patted her back and we left the bowls in the sink for the girls left on clean up duty tonight before we climbed the stairs towards our rooms.

“Weird huh? I never thought but this is our first year not sharing together.” I commented as we moved to separate at my door. She smiled at me.

“Any bad dreams and you can climb right into my bed.” She responded seriously, I laughed and said goodnight before moving into my room.

It looked empty and lonely from the lack of decoration. I wasn’t feeling two tired yet so I pulled out my patchwork quilt for my bed, the light pinks, blues and yellow patches brought a more comforting colour into my room. I only pulled out a few textbooks to set up on my desk along with my laptop and speakers before finally crashing onto my bed. Ready to let sleep claim me before tomorrow.


My alarm blasted talking on the radio through my room. Grumbling I rolled over to turn it off before glancing at the time. Apparently that had been my second alarm, yet I hadn’t really remembered turning off the first.

Sighing, I pulled myself out of bed and grabbed the bag full of toiletries and headed towards the closest empty bathroom. The same one that Caydance waltzed out of, looking perfect and well put together. I glared at her and pushed through to the bathroom, jumping straight into the shower after stripping and sighing once the warm water worked its way over my body. I allowed myself a few moments standing there before quickly washing my hair and body.

On normal days the bathrooms wouldn’t normally get so clogged as everyone had different schedules and different times of the day they had to be places. But in the first week when we almost always did everything as a house together especially waking up there was always a large line for bathrooms.

When I walked out of the bathroom, feeling wide-awake, Olivia was leaning against the wall next to the door, falling back asleep. I nudged her on my way past back to my bedroom to dump my stuff before heading down the stairs to the large dining room where everyone was beginning to congregate, slowly but surely. A lot of the new sisters were already here, tired, but here and ready for the day.

“Yoghurt? Fruit?” Caydance offered to me when I walked behind the counter to get to the cupboard.

“You’ve already been for a run this morning haven’t you?” I sighed, shaking my head at her grin. Sidney offered me some cereal that was coated with chocolate that I gratefully took; my morning already brightening up.

Eventually everyone was seated and chatting, tables practically full by the time Sidney stood up, a list in her hand that she had no doubt spent all night working on trying to pair girls with each other that would work well.

Caydance suddenly looked sour next to me and I nudged her trying to get her to smile, knowing that she could scare some of the younger ones off if she tried hard enough. Hopefully Sid had chosen not to give Caydance one this year since there wasn’t always enough for each sister.

Sidney started calling out names and each girl stood up so the new sister could join them at their table, chatter kept to a minimum so Sidney wouldn’t have to yell too loudly.

I was paired with a tall dark haired girl, she was almost confident as she walked straight towards me and smiled in return when I offered her a small one. Caydance grudgingly moved over when I slid across the seat to let Nina sit between Olivia and I. Straight after Nina a short perky girl with bright blond hair stood to the name of Riley which was immediately followed by Caydance’s name. I widened my eyes as the perky girl practically bounded towards where Caydance sat before she had even got out of the seat.

Caydance shot me a disbelieving look before making room for Riley to sit down beside her and beam brightly. Nina and her waved from across us making Caydance and I exchange looks. They already knew each other well.

When Sidney finally had everyone paired the dining room was filled with loud talking as everyone began introducing herself.

“You guys used to be buddies right?” Caydance and I looked at Riley and her bouncing happiness wide eyed. It seemed too early in the morning for someone to be that energetic, even Caydance who could run the whole campus didn’t have that much energy. “Me and Nina are buddies.” Nina nodded from next to me smiling widely.

“It’s so cool how you two are still friends.” She added in, leaning further towards me. I smiled politely.

“Well you definitely bond together when your buddies. That’s why we do it so you always have someone here.” I told her as Caydance continued to eye Riley like she was afraid her perkiness would be contagious.

“So what are you studying?” I asked Nina leaving Caydance to deal with the hyperactive one.

“Journalism.” She answered promptly, swinging her long black hair over her shoulder. I nodded waiting for her to elaborate at all. She didn’t.

“So like newspaper journalist? Magazine, on TV what type are you aiming for?” I questioned her further. Her face faltered and she frowned, hesitating.

“Uh I’m not actually sure…” She trailed off. I smiled at her reassuringly.

“Hey that’s cool, that’s what University is for, to work everything out.” She stopped frowning and thankfully smiled back, her happiness bleeding through her skin once again. I smiled back relieved.

“So how are your pairings going? Everything okay?” Sidney asked from behind us.

“Great.” I responded, Nina beamed in happiness while Caydance glanced between Riley and Sidney before shrugging and downing the rest of her juice.

“Fine, I suppose. Come on, I’ve got things to do today.” Caydance was up and gone leaving a frowning Riley in her seat before she quickly jumped up and bounded after Caydance. I turned back to Nina to see her frowning after her buddy, sharing a look with Sidney I rested a reassuring hand on Nina’s shoulder.

“Don’t worry Caydance saying that Riley is fine is like telling us that Sid made the best choice. If Caydance didn’t like her she would have not held back.” I reassured her, I had known Caydance for three years now, the first year we practically lived in each other’s pockets I could read her better then anyone else in this house. “Let Riley know, for me, that Caydance does like her have to give her a bit of time to show it.”

“Just a reminder to give them the rundown on everything coming up.” Sidney intervened between us. “The competitions and fundraisers and everything else.”

“Competitions?” Nina asked when Sidney walked away. I sighed and finished my drink before turning to face Nina, prepared to explain everything and answer a thousand questions.

“House competitions sort of thing. We have sports and quizzes and ridiculous competitions against each house as a sort of get together type thing as well as raising money for different charities or local areas. First up we play Kings house in a soccer match, are you any good?” I asked Nina who instantly shook her head.

“Nope but Riley has trophies for soccer. Kings is who we met yesterday right? What other competitions?”

“Yes Kings we met yesterday.” I thought briefly of Louis before pushing that though aside and focusing back on the task. “We haven’t been told the others yet, they are kind of kept secret, just between the heads of each house until we need to start preparing, a way to keep us on our toes or something. But as a warning pranks tend to happen pretty quickly.” Nina watched me patiently waiting for me to continue. “Normally the first week is spent cautiously waiting for the first person to strike and if it is like every year, Kings will strike first.”
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So new story! I've been planning this one for months! With a fair few chapters written all about the same length as this one! I'm so excited for this with plans galore so I hope all you guys enjoy it! I haven't seen many University AU's around and I've been dying to write one so I hope you all wanted one as much as I did!

Just a quick memo: Every chapter will be the point of view of a different girl!

Leave a comment and let me know what you think so far.