"It's finally not creepy! We love it," Lucy Hale said of Aria and Ezra being age-appropriate in the flash forward

By Michele Corriston
Updated October 11, 2015 09:25 PM
Credit: RW/MediaPunch

Just as it would be age-appropriate for Aria Montgomery to be hot for teacher, her romance with Mr. Fitz has definitively fizzled when Pretty Little Liars returns this winter.

Aria (Lucy Hale) and Ezra (Ian Harding) haven’t reconciled in the show’s 5-year time jump, the actress told PEOPLE on Sunday at Paleyfest in New York.

Still, she’s psyched that any Ezria reconciliation would be 100 percent legal, considering her character is now 23 years old.

“It’s finally not creepy!” she said, laughing. “We love it.”

So what is Aria up to? The first four minutes of PLL‘s season 6 were released this weekend, and they show Rosewood’s artsy brunette has entered the publishing world and is promoting her first book, though she also looks longingly at Ezra’s novel.

“Where they sort of left off, she’s going away to college,” Hale, 26, told PEOPLE. “That’s what happens, you break up with the person you love, you go in different directions, and so I don’t really know what their contact was in those five years. I want to say they probably didn’t talk at all, because there is a scene in an episode back where she realizes he’s back in town and you can tell there’s still that butterflies-in-her-stomach feeling. But she’s in a relationship, she’s very happy and in love.”

Hale didn’t offer details on this mystery man, though she promised “a lot” of her upcoming scenes are with Harding, 29.

“It’s sort of a different kind of a relationship,” she explained. “You’ve never seen them have a mature friendship like this, and they start working with each other.”

And during the panel at the Paley Center for Media, Hale defended Ezria after costar Troian Bellisario pointed out that off screen, people really don’t root for high school students to end up with their English teachers.

“It’s a beautiful relationship!” Hale exclaimed, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Pretty Little Liars returns for a special episode Nov. 24 and season 6 Jan. 12, both at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform (R.I.P. ABC Family, gone but not forgotten).