Colin’s palms felt sweaty. He told himself it was just because he was holding drinks in his hands and wished he had one hand free to smooth out his hair.
He walked across the back garden. The cabin had a light peeking out from behind a partially closed curtain. That was good. It meant Amy was still awake. He trudged up the small hill and knocked lightly on the door. No answer immediately. He tried not to take it personally.
After a few knocks, the door creaked open. Amy peered out. Her hair was not in its usual ponytail, though there was a definite crease that showed where it was usually tied up. She gave him a curious look.
“Hi,” he said with what he hoped wasn’t an awkward smile.
“Hi,” she replied slowly. “Um… what are you doing here?”
He held up the drinks in his hand and shrugged.
“I thought I could pay you back the cider you gave me before,” he replied. “And I still have your watch.”
“Oh,” Amy said with a hesitation.
He was disappointed to hear a lack of enthusiasm in her voice. Maybe coming to see her was a bad move.
“Did you… wanna invite me in?” he asked. “Or I could just give you a drink and leave?”
“No, sorry, come in,” Amy said, shaking her head like she was snapping out of something.
She held the door open so he could squeeze in. She took a cider from him with a polite smile.
Colin glanced around. Contrary to what he thought it would look like, her room was messy. He saw clothes on the floor and a couple teacups lying around. There was a laptop on an unmade bed.
“Wait,” he said slowly, walking towards her laptop. “Is that—”
He picked it up and looked over at Amy, whose face had turned a bright shade of pink.
“You made such a fuss about your show,” she mumbled and then shrugged. “So I started trying to watch it. Emphasis on trying.”
He chuckled, and his heart did a little skip. Maybe that’s why she wasn’t excited to see him or invite him in, he thought. He sat on the bed and glanced at the episode.
“You’re only in the first season,” he noted.
“I only just started,” she replied, sitting next to him and taking her laptop back. “Be honest, does it get any better in later episodes? Because I can’t figure out why there was such a hype about this.”
“Season one is one of the best seasons,” Colin replied.
“I was afraid you’d say that,” she said with a sigh.
“You’re on the episode where I get poisoned,” he said. “This is where the season really gets interesting, you know.”
“Well, I already know your character doesn’t die,” she pointed out. “It really takes away all the stakes.”
“But you don’t know how I live.”
“Since Merlin said the only cure was a cave plant, I’m guessing someone will go to the caves, almost not find the plant, and then in the final hour find it and return just before you die.”
“You looked up spoilers!”
Amy laughed and put the laptop in front of them.
“I didn’t,” she said. “It’s just predictable writing.”
Colin huffed. He wasn’t sure why he was feeling offended. He always told the writers the same thing, and it’s not like he could choose the plot.
“Well, you just have to watch more,” he said, hitting the play button. “Then you’ll be a fan like everyone else.”
Amy leaned back so that she was resting against the wall. Colin was very aware that her leg was right next to his. If he moved, he would bump her. He tried to focus on the screen, but he kept glancing at her from the corner of his eye. Unfortunately, she was looking less impressed the longer she stared at the screen.
“Is it necessary for you to be shirtless in this scene?” she asked. “You’re supposedly on your deathbed, but the director just wants everyone to know you have a six pack?”
“It’s very necessary for the ratings,” he replied with a serious expression.
Amy rolled her eyes, but he noticed she wasn’t exactly looking away from the screen. He wondered if he should tell her he still had a six pack.
That was probably not a good idea.
The cider had been emptied for two episodes. Amy’s shoulder was resting against Colin’s, and she had re-tied her hair into a ponytail.
“I got food poisoning from this scene,” he said.
“Yeah, that food had been on set for a while under those lights. I was trying to just, you know, pretend to take a bite and then spit it out, but the director wanted authenticity.” He chuckled. “What he got was two days of lost production because all of us were stuck in bathrooms and couldn’t work.”
Amy giggled and tried to bite her lip.
“Sorry to hear that,” she said, miserably failing at not laughing.
“Yeah, you sound so sympathetic,” he retorted.
She returned her attention to the screen.
“Wait, so if Morgana is evil, why is she here?” she asked.
“In season one, we didn’t know she was evil.”
“She’s literally the only one who knew the knights were going on that quest last episode. Why wasn’t she even a suspect?”
“Arthur trusts her.”
“Well, I trust a lot of people, but if I just had three friends killed and only me and one other person knew where they were, I’d start getting a little suspicious,” she replied. “Is Arthur naive or just dumb?”
“He’s loyal,” Colin replied quickly with a hurt expression.
Her eyes softened as she looked at him. She sighed.
“I’m talking mess about the show, not the person,” she explained.
“I know,” he said with a smile, his expression changing immediately.
Amy rolled her eyes.
“And you thought I couldn’t act,” he said.
“I never said that.”
He smiled and leaned in closer.
“You’re not getting more than that,” she said, the corners of her mouth twitching up. “Stop fishing for compliments.”
“Fine,” he said. “But only because this next scene is really good. It sets up for next episode’s finale.”
“You mean we’re almost done?”
“Don’t sound so relieved.”
Amy was silent for the final episode of season one. Colin hoped that was a good thing. Not that he cared, he told himself. He wasn’t a fan of the show either. But still, his acting in season one was really good. He was nominated for, like, three teen awards and won one based on this performance.
Amy closed the laptop with a sigh.
“I need… a minute,” she said. “Before you try to talk me into watching season two.”
“What’d you think?” Colin asked.
Colin was afraid of answering that question. He had a feeling she wasn’t going to hold back her true thoughts.
“The costumes were terrible,” she said, without waiting for his reply. “It was like a teenager was given a vague description of period pieces and then tried to recreate them with a modern twist the night before they were due.”
“But the settings were really nice,” she said. “When the green screen wasn’t being used.”
“Agreed,” he said. “And I think the costume designer said she was going for a modern yet classic wardrobe.”
“Well, she missed on both accounts,” Amy replied.
“Well, if you can sew, I’m sure I could get you an interview to replace her,” Colin offered.
Amy shook her head.
“Or you could be a writer,” he added. “Or an actress.”
“I’m very good at criticizing,” Amy said. “Less good at… doing any of that stuff. I doubt I’ll go into the entertainment industry anytime soon. But I’ll add it to the list of my potential careers.”
“What’s on the top of that list?” he asked.
Amy looked away from him. She was focused on the closed laptop, but her eyes had a distant look to them.
“No idea,” she replied. “I tried chemistry in college.”
“That’s… an ambitious field,” Colin said slowly.
He wondered if he should mention that science was always his worst subject at school so he didn’t sound like he was judging her or anything.
“My mom studied chemistry,” Amy replied. “So that’s what she wanted for me too… I really tried to get into it, but it wasn’t my thing. And then things happened, so I guess even if she wanted me to keep studying, it wouldn’t work.”
“A lot,” Amy said. “Also, I’m traveling so can’t really study much now anyway.”
She scooted herself off the bed. Colin watched her dig around inside a large backpack on the floor.
“I tried getting into photography too,” she said. “But I guess you already know that.”
She grabbed a book and rejoined Colin on the bed. It was a photobook, he realized when she handed it to him.
“That’s my dad’s,” she said, opening it for him. “This is what he did for a living.”
There were lots of pictures of foreign places, Colin noted. Lots of marketplaces from far off, a desert tribe, a mountain range…
“They’re really nice,” he noted.
“Well, if he’s gonna abandon everyone in his life, at least it’s worth it,” Amy replied.
“Think you’ll be like him one day?”
“No,” she said with a shake of her head. “Photography is honestly quite exhausting.”
Colin looked up from the book. Amy’s eyes were resting on a picture of a mother and a baby surrounded by bowls stacked with spices.
“And I don’t want to end up like him,” she added softly.
“What do you want?”
Amy looked up at Colin. Her face was very close to his, he realized. Almost as close as when they were wrestling for her watch. He wondered what she would do if he leaned in closer. His eyes rested on her lips before catching her eyes. He never noticed how warm her brown eyes were. Probably because they hadn’t been this close to each other. Colin wanted to move in closer.
“Ummm… popcorn,” she said, leaning back and looking away quickly. “If I’m going to have to watch more of this show, I’ll need to stress eat.”
Colin smiled and closed the photobook.
“I’ll make some,” he offered. “Luckily for you, that’s one of the only things I know how to make.”
He stood up.
“I’ll be back soon,” he promised. “Do you want salt and butter?”
“Obviously,” she replied. “Do you want me to come help?”
“Nah, I can do it,” he said. “You can grab more ciders from the barn, though.”
She nodded and stood up.
Colin walked quickly back to the main house and slipped in the kitchen. There was a bottle of red wine on the counter. He thought he heard some laughter from the other room.
Odd, he thought. Guests weren’t allowed in the parlor after dinner service.
He grabbed the popcorn and butter and started making the popcorn.
“Oh, Colin!” Aunt Sophie exclaimed.
She had a wine glass in hand, and her cheeks were flushed as she stood in the entrance to the kitchen.
“I thought I heard someone in here,” she continued.
“Having company?” he asked with a raised brow.
“Feeling hungry?” she countered.
“Oh, I’m just watching Arthur with Amy,” he said. “And she wanted popcorn… What about you?”
“Oh, um, Ava dropped by for a visit,” Aunt Sophie replied. “We’re just having a chat in the parlor.”
“Sounds like a fun date,” Colin noted.
“Yours sounds nice too,” she countered.
Colin cleared his throat and poured popcorn into a bowl. He sprinkled salt over it and gave it a quick toss.
“Have fun with your new girlfriend,” Aunt Sophie said, grabbing the wine bottle off the counter and giving him a wink.
“Have fun with yours.”
They stuck their tongues at each other at the same time and then chuckled. Colin followed her out of the kitchen.
“Oh, and Colin,” Aunt Sophie said as he opened the front door. “I don’t think I said this yet, but I’m glad you’re here with me.”
“Thanks, Aunt Soph,” he said, feeling a smile spread across his face. “I’m glad I got to come see you too.”
She waved him away and turned towards the parlor. His smile stayed on his face even as he navigated the back garden in the dark. Surprisingly, he actually meant it. He was really glad he came to Kera.