Leaning back in his chair, Harry sighed.
“I envy you a bit, with the bookshop. You never know who’s going to walk in, but they’re bound to like books,” Harry said. “I have to fight with my students sometimes to get them interested. Mind you, I can blame them. I felt the same way when I was their age. Especially in history lessons.”
“I was more nerdy myself in school, but I know how it goes. Still, it can get a little too quiet at times,” Willow said.
“The most exciting my job really gets is when I see what they’ve chosen to write for their essays,” Harry said. “If it’s not A-level prep, then I give them fairly free range, as long as they can relate it to the course somehow. Of course, that leads to ‘Romeo and Juliet Should Have Texted’ and the like.”
“Shakespeare’s great, but sometimes... well you just need some Bridget Jones every once in a while,” Willow said.
“Ah, but where did that story come from? Pride and Predjudice. Classic literature,” Harry said with a grin.
“Hey, you’re preaching to the choir here. Own a book store, remember?”
Willow leaned forward with a mischievous look in her eyes.
“Besides, I seem to recall you hadn’t picked out the most literary book for yourself back at the store.”
“Guilty,” he laughed. “Just like you and your Bridget Jones, blokes need to read about footie. Makes us feel manly and all that.”
The boy working behind the restaurant counter walked over with a piping hot pizza.
“Half sweet corn, half meat feast,” he said.
Willow and Harry looked up, and Willow couldn’t help smiling at the Spamalot t-shirt he wore.
As he walked away, Willow whispered, “Someone in Monty Python read about King Arthur. Maybe not all those essays are reaching too far.”
“Eh, I’d rather not read about Merlin, frankly. And the Lady of the Lake delivering the sword—that part always gives me chills.”
“Ironically, it feels a little too real me. I’d rather not get into it right this moment,” Harry said.
They lapsed into silence for a few minutes as they ate. Willow watched as Harry prodded his pizza crust around the plate, lost in thought.
“You know, I’m sure the crust didn’t deserve unusual punishment,” she said with a grin.
“Hmm?” Harry said, looking up, a little dazed.
“Never mind. What do you do when you aren’t reading essays and coaxing teenagers to read?”
“Oh, I mostly keep to myself. A few of my old school friends keep telling me to get a hobby. One keeps coming over to show me the finer points of keeping a spice garden, and another wants me to join his local five a side football match every week.”
“And do you actually want to do those things?”
“I suppose having spice on hand wouldn’t be a bad thing, and I do like football, but I want to carve out something where I’m not leaning on my old friends, you know what I mean?”
“Moving out here was a big step for in growing up and being on my own. Without the geographic distance... I don’t know. I needed to be my own person, and if they were just around the corner, I might not have been strong enough to stay away.”
“Exactly. You do
“You know, if you don’t mind a new friend crutch, we could check out a few things together.”
Willow paused. Had she been too bold? That wasn’t usually her problem, but you never knew.
Harry looked at her and smiled.
“I think I’d like that.”
* * * *
It was nice to be normal, Willow decided. Pizza and conversation made for such a fun night. It was a good thing they hadn’t gone for Chinese — chopsticks always reminded her uncomfortably of stakes.
And Harry, he’d seemed pretty normal, apart from the King Arthur thing. He seemed to think his life as an English teacher quite boring, but Willow didn’t think so. After all, she’d known several teachers, and they’d been more than what you saw on the surface.