The ball bounced over the wall and the boy ran after it cursing his luck. With every step he took, he came closer to what every teen feared the most – embarrassing themselves in front of their crush. The situation was especially bad for Erin because he was a geek and everybody knows what the popular people think of geeks. Loser. Crazy. Nerd.
He shivered as his brain supplied him with all the ways the encounter could go horribly wrong. Standing in the front of the gate, he cleared away the scenarios running through his mind and forced himself to stay positive. He paused for a minute assuring himself that nothing bad would happen and was feeling almost confident, before he looked down and realized that he was wearing the nerdiest t-shirt he owned, which was saying something because he owned a lot of nerdy t-shirts.
Any confidence that he had managed to capture flew out of his grasp. The anxiety flooded his bloodstream again and he decided that his ball was not worth the clammy palms and racing heart, even though it was limited edition and featured a beautiful rendition of the throne room of Dragonstone.
Just as he was turning to leave, however, the gates opened and standing in front of him in all his crush-worthy glory was Arden.
“Oh hello! This is your ball right? I was just coming to return it,” he said, as if he did not just give Erin a heart attack.
“Meep,” Erin squeaked, internally screaming at himself for being so awkward.
“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that,” Arden replied with a confused smile and an utterly adorable tilt of his head.
“I, erm, yes. It’s mine. Sorry for bothering you. Thank you for bringing it to me. Or. Well. You know, wanting to, seeing as I’m on your doorstep. Oh. But, it’s not a door. So gate-step? Anyways I’m sorry for rambling. You’re probably busy. I’ll get out of your way. I’m sorry and thank you. Again.”
He started to walk away, blushing furiously but stopped when he felt a hand on his elbow. He turned to see Arden smiling at him hesitantly.
“Do you have to go just yet? I was just about to start watching the season finale of Game Of Thrones. If you’re free, we could maybe watch it together?” Arden questioned, lightly scratching the back of his neck.
Erin’s brain short-circuited.
“You want to what!? I mean, why would you want to do anything with me? Wait, is this a pity thing? I don’t want your pity. Or is it a dare? I refuse to be entertainment for yo–”
“Hey, slow down! This is not a dare or a joke or a pity thing! I promise you that asking you o– uh, that is, wanting to watch the greatest show ever with you is a purely selfish motive as, unfortunately, my friend circle would rather not deal with me screeching at a TV. However, that leaves me to watch it with you, so maybe I’m not so unfortunate after all.” He winks and gestures to his house invitingly.
“Well? What do you say?”
Erin hesitated. His self-esteem would never recover if this turned out to be a ploy to capture his shame. But Arden just asked him to watch a show together! His favorite show at that. He couldn’t not do this.
Which is how he came to the conclusion that he would. Purely out of loyalty to the Starks, of course. Not because he had a crush or because said crush winked at him. No, that would be stupid.
Eh. What was the worst thing that could happen.
Lots. Of. Things. So. Many. Embarrassing. Possibilities.