Actions

Work Header

Raise My Sunken Ship

Chapter Text

Harry Hart had a lot of problems.

 

The one that should be circling through his brain, the one that should be the most important, was his current writer’s block. A twenty-some-year career being a spy, and nearly ten as an author of the famous Kingsman spy novels (albeit under a pseudonym)... here he was for the past six months twirling  his fingers and not knowing where to go.

 

The other problem he should be concerned about was his rented flat, located in this supposedly charming town where he came in a last ditch attempt to write without distractions or being reminded of the past, and its stupid leaky roof and termite infestation. Technically, he was currently homeless, or he would be if it were not for this very lovely inn, with its lovely attached tavern with the absolutely lovely bar he was currently drinking at.

 

Lastly, he was once again wretchedly single and not one step closer to fulfillment of his foolish daydreams of life with a husband and a child. He really had believed that David could have been the one, but of course that had fallen apart in a shambles when David cruelly informed Harry that he had no desire, after nearly three years, to stay.

 

These were important, life-altering problems that should have Harry’s full attention and be the center of his woes and complaints to Merlin, his editor and best friend, who had been the person to suggest this blasted ‘charming’ village in the first place..

 

But, no. What Harry considered to be his largest problem at the present moment was Eggsy, the bartender at said tavern, and holder of the most enchanting lovely smile Harry had ever seen in his entire life. And if Harry were truly being honest with himself, the entire reason that he found the tavern lovely in the first place.

 

The gods were cruel and unjust, and Harry was starting to worry he was in the throes of a midlife crisis.

 

“Can I get you another one, love?” Eggsy said, coming over to Harry’s table, and gesturing towards the empty pint glass.

 

Eggsy’s frequent and carefree use of endearments, such as love and darling, throughout the night were more of Harry’s problems but he didn’t wish to dwell on them at this point.

 

“Ah yes, cheers. That would be lovely,” he said, trying to smile at Eggsy but what came out felt more like a grimace. After all, it was a lie. It would not be lovely; lovely would be having Eggsy in his arms, their mouths pressing together, the heat of their bodies coming together and spiraling out into enormous bundles of pleasure. That what was what Harry wanted.

 

Yet, for the first time in his entire personal life, he was a dithering mess who could not bring himself to make the first move. It was a disaster. Where had the normally suave and charming Harry Hart gone to? Okay yes, he was a bit rusty since after meeting David he had thought that would be it for him, but still … Harry Hart had never had problems in this arena before.

 

It was enough to drive a man to drink, and then drink again because the object of his affections was the bartender.

 

The bar was busy enough for a weeknight; locals and a few tourists sitting on the stools, engaged in lively conversation, while Harry ignored them, attempting yet again to put his thoughts to paper. He was seated at a low table in the corner, warding off any attempts at awkward conversation by way of hopeful thoughts such as “Do not dare approach me, unless you are the handsome lad behind the bar.”

 

If he had any nerve, he’d be among them. After all, it’s impossible to woo the object of his affections without actually doing the wooing, but as it were Harry couldn’t shake the feeling that he didn’t deserve it. First, he couldn’t help but worry that maybe he was the reason that David had ultimately decided to leave and not David’s sudden dislike of children. Second, if he couldn’t figure out where his story was going, he wouldn’t allow himself to have any fun. “You have to say no to say yes to your work,” which was something Merlin, his editor, was always reminding him.

 

Merlin was actually a complete hedonist but that didn’t stop the man from normally having good advice. It was Merlin who had encouraged Harry to be honest in his writing, if it wasn’t for Merlin, Harry might never had plucked up the courage to write Jack as openly gay, and the world’s first homosexual spy character might have never have seen the light of day. And it was Merlin who had never liked David much in the first place, and really in retrospect maybe Harry should have paid more attention...

 

And speaking of Merlin, Harry owed him several of pages by the morning so it really was in his best interests to avoid Eggsy and get cracking.

 

Harry did his best to block out the thrum of noise surrounding him, including Eggsy’s delightful laugh, and hovered his fingers over the laptop’s keyboard. Now, what would Jack London do? And if Jack London had been betrayed by his now ex-boyfriend ...well, they always did say ‘write what you know.’ Harry was just upping the stakes a little. When you came down to it, there wasn’t that much difference between romantic betrayal and turning out to be a double agent.

 

It didn’t feel like any time had gone by, but it must have been several hours because suddenly the noise had faded away and Eggsy appeared at his table, collecting up the pint glasses.

 

“Last call, bruv,” he said cheerfully. “Anything else?”

 

Harry looked up from the screen, blinking owlishly at him. “Oh my, is it that time already?” He looked around the bar and didn’t see anyone else left; the last few stragglers were on their way out the door. .

 

“Aye, mate. You get lost in that head o’ yours?,” Eggsy asked, teasing and leaning against Harry’s table.

 

Harry looked down at his screen, where he seemed to have been writing a scene between Jack, infamous Kingsman spy with codename Galahad, talking to a foul-mouthed yet intriguing young man who just happened to have an accent a bit like Eggsy’s. He hadn’t even settled on a name yet, but he knew how the lad talked? Interesting.

 

“It doesn’t appear to be drivel,” he allowed. “Though whether it will go anywhere, I’ll let my editor sort that out in the morning.”

 

Glancing around, Eggsy seemed to decide that no other customers meant he could take a break, and he plunked himself down in the chair across from Harry’s.

 

“Editor? You a writer or something?”

 

“Or something. At least that’s how it feels right now; I’ve written a handful of books but I’m a bit at odds with the current direction of my character.”

 

“Yeah? You write anything I might have heard about? Bloke like you, you seem like you’d be writing something posh.” At first Harry isn’t sure how to take that, but Eggsy leans forward on his elbows and looks Harry up and down with a cheeky grin; hardly the behavior of an insult. He looks delectable in a black polo and dark jeans and far, far too young to be interested in Harry.

 

Harry sighs, closing the computer shut. “Hardly posh,” he drawls out, “unless you count trained snipers, underground spy rings, and clandestine meetings between gay ex-lovers who might or might be double crossing agents as posh, which then ...perhaps.”

 

If anything, Eggsy’s just grew wider. “I might do, I’ve always been a fan of that James Bond style shit...except, wait” he said as his eyes grew comically large, “that sounds like it could be Jack London, more or less.”

 

Harry smirked slightly, and gave a little nod in Eggsy’s direction. “Could be, more or less.” He inwardly preened at Eggsy’s admiring look and extended his hand. “James Westbury, to my publishers, or Harry Hart to my friends. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

 

Eggsy took his hand and gave it a firm shake. “Cheers, mate. Eggsy Unwin. Pleasure’s all mine.” He gave Harry a quick wink, before collecting his glasses and heading back to the bar. “Haven’t seen you around much before tonight, you staying in town long?”

 

“Most likely until the blasted book is finished. I’m afraid I’ve got a ways to go,” Harry said, injecting a bit of sadness into his voice.

 

“I’m sure it’ll be brill, love. But hey, if you’re ever looking for a test reader, I’m at your service. I’d love to find out what happens to good ol’ Jack after the last book. Now, before we officially close in oh, say ten minutes, anything else for ya?” Eggsy said, gesturing to the tap handles.

 

Your number, or better yet, your “service” in my bed. Egads. Harry was a bit ashamed of that thought; no matter how gorgeous Eggsy was, he was really too young to be interested in Harry.

 

“Thank you Eggsy, but I really must be off to bed,” Harry started but laughed at Eggsy’s joking pout. “Then again, perhaps a lager would be just the thing to close out the night. Would you mind?,” he asked, with a bit of mocking at the end. Once again, Harry fell closer to temptation. How Merlin would laugh when he told him about it later.

 

“Sure thing, darlin’. Anything for my favorite author.” Oh, how Harry wished that were true. Sigh.

 

As delightful as Eggsy’s presence is, he’s also a major distraction. Probably best not to stay at this inn much longer. In the morning, he’ll figure out a more permanent solution to at least one of his problems.

 

This is what Harry Hart tells himself, and tries not to feel like he’s running away.

 

***

 

It was the sound of the phone ringing that startled Harry awake. He blindly reached over for it, and answered with a groggy “hello?”

“Did you really just send me seven pages of Jack showing off and flirting with a lad half his age?”

 

“Good morning, Merlin. How are you doing today?”

 

“I was doing perfectly lovely until I opened up this email from one of my best-selling authors and find what appears to be his main character entertaining a bit of a midlife crisis. What’s this about, Harry?”

 

Harry blinked at the ceiling. “Honestly, I don’t remember. There were ....,” he trailed off.

 

What could Harry say? There was a this gorgeous lad with this amazing smile, and just looking at him made my hands itch, I wanted to just reach out and see how the skin would feel under my fingers … No, that would not go over very well, he was sure of it.

“There were a lot of drinks,” he finished lamely. Harry resolves to not drink that much again, for a very long time. “Is it really bad?”

 

Merlin snorted. “Even at your most pissed, you’ve apparently still got a stellar grip on the written word. It works, but I don’t know where you’re going with it. Read it over again, send me more. And call Emma, she’s got an address for your new house.” Emma was Merlin’s assistant; efficient and worth her weight in gold.

 

Then there was a heavy pause and Harry knew immediately he was not going to like what was coming next. “David called me, looking for you,” Merlin admitted. “Seems to think you were staying at my flat.”

 

“I don’t want to hear from him,” Harry responded, flatly.

 

“I figured as much; it’s what I told him as well. He says he’s got some things of yours and I told them to send them here. I’ll get it sorted out. Rotten luck, Harry.”

 

“I feel very certain that luck has left me long ago.”

 

“Things will look up, you know they will. You didn’t get where you are with that attitude. But I do have a question for you…”

 

“Hmm? Have at it, man. You’ve never been one to beat around the bush.”

 

“Have you happened to meet any ...how did you put it, ah here we go; handsome young lad with creamy skin, golden hair, and sea green eyes?” The laughter in Merlin’s voice was unbearable.

 

“I'm hanging up on you now. Goodbye.”

 

It was unbearably early for someone who normally favored a good lie-in, and while not exactly hungover, Harry’s head still wasn’t very happy with him. He had drank more last night than he had in a good while; it was just as well, it gave him reason enough to avoid the bar and thus, the bartender.

 

Harry rolled grumpily out of bed, called for room service of a simple breakfast, and proceeded to get on with the day. He got a hold of Emma and took down the address of his new lodgings, where he might end up staying for several months to a full year; however long it took to write this book, Harry was in no hurry to go back to London. Too many memories, both good and ill.

 

Merlin had sent Harry to Northumberland, the farthest north county in England, on the premise that “even Harry Hart cannot find trouble there.” Privately, Harry couldn’t help but agree. The countryside was gorgeous, of course, but aside from ogling young bartenders he didn’t feel that there was much to do. In essence, the perfect place to settle down and get some writing in.

 

Which is what he plans to do the second after he gets settled down in the new house; it looks a bit much for just himself (what is he going to do with three bedrooms?) but Emma assured him it was the best they could do on short notice, and he could always go back to the inn if he wanted to wait a bit longer for another prefurbished lodging.

 

It felt like the safe houses of Harry’s past; sparse but stocked with the bare necessities.  In the end, Harry had agreed that the house was more than suitable, but he was looking forward to the rest of his belongings arriving later in the week. It would take some doing but he would get this place feeling a bit more like home in well enough time.

 

By 2 o’clock in the afternoon, Harry had dragged the last bits of luggage up the front stoop. He’d order takeaway for dinner; he wasn’t feeling much up to a grocery run this afternoon. At least he always had a few packets of tea on himself and the kitchen had a kettle, as all good English kitchens should; he was in the middle of brewing himself a cuppa when he heard laughter coming from the back patio area.

 

He peeked out the window and stared; of all creatures he imagined to lay eyes on, it was not Eggsy Unwin, apparently his new next-door neighbor, enjoying the sunshine in his own backyard. He was laid out on a blanket, along with a pug beside him and what seemed to be a small baby girl crawling on top of him.

 

Bugger. Harry, how do you get yourself into these messes? He’d be delighted to tell Merlin that he was wrong, Harry Hart did manage to find trouble in Northumberland ...but that would involve telling Merlin about Eggsy in the first place, which was a big fat no.

 

Perhaps if Harry could hide ...no, rats. Eggsy had already seen him; he had smiled and waved, and was beginning to stand up. There was nothing to it.

 

Opening up the screen door, Harry stepped out into the sunlight.

 

“Eggsy.” He pauses searching for what to say. “Good afternoon.” He is inwardly face palming at his complete lack of charm. This is what the boy has reduced him to.

 

“Harry!” Eggsy’s smile is bright as the sunshine, and he hoists the wee babe onto his hip. “Didja follow me home?”

 

Harry falters at how to respond, but when in doubt he falls back on his manners. He gives Eggsy a small smile and gestures towards the baby. “Care to introduce us?”

 

Eggsy looks down at where the girl - Harry assumes it is a girl, as she is decked out in a white and pink onesie - is chewing on her fingers and gurgling to herself. The fond smile he gives her, plus a kiss on the top of her head, causes Harry’s breath to hitch. This, right here, looks like everything he’s ever wanted and was never able to have.

 

“This here is Daisy lass. Can you wave to Harry, love?” Eggsy takes her hand and helps Daisy form a small wave in Harry’s direction. She’s adorable. Harry cannot help the wide smile that takes over his face.

 

“Is this your house, Eggsy? And ...your daughter?” Harry nearly stumbles over that last bit. A daughter clearly means a mother, yes? He hadn’t noticed any ring on Eggsy’s finger to indicate that Eggsy was married, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t involved in a long-term relationship all the same. Once again, Harry is beginning to feel like an old fool.

 

But he’s not so blind that he can’t tell his questions made Eggsy uncomfortable. The boys shifts his weight a little, slightly squirming. Whatever it is, it’s apparently not as straightforward as Harry is thinking ...sometimes his old spy background still proves to be useful.

 

“Well, yeah,” Eggsy eventually bites out, as if he could read Harry’s thoughts. “I mean, Daisy is mine and same with the house, but it’s just us. And JB,” he adds with a grin, gesturing to the pug, who moved up next to Eggsy’s side.

 

“Pleasure to meet you, JB,” Harry says, bowing dramatically to JB and then one for Daisy as well, “And you too, Miss Daisy. I hope that we will be good friends.”

 

“Gah,” she mumbles back in response, then buries her face in Eggsy’s chest. He laughs, a bit more cheerful than he was a moment ago. “She’s still really shy when it comes to strangers,” he tells Harry. “So this your new digs?,” he asks, meaning the house behind Harry.

 

“Ah, yes. My publisher signed a year’s lease, though I hope it does not take me that long to complete my next book. It’s pretty bare right now, but I’ll have my things sent up from London in due time.”

 

Eggsy looks delighted by this news; it’s really not helping Harry’s libido. He thought he was escaping temptation only to find out it’s living next door. He needs an out.

 

“It’s lovely seeing you again, Eggsy, but I’m afraid I need to get unpacking.”  He gestures towards the open door.

 

“Oh right! Sure thing, bruv. See ya, Harry.”

 

Harry goes inside and bangs his head, albeit lightly against the wall. “Bugger bugger bugger, buggering shite.”

 

Fuck it, he needs to call Merlin.

 

It’s a few rings when the Scotsman answers. “Please don’t tell me you have more pages, cuz they’d be shit and you know they’d be shit, you can’t write well when you’re hungover.”

 

Harry bristles at the insinuation. “I can write circles around you , any day of the week, hungover or not.”

 

“I’m not hearing that’s a yes on more pages, though.”

 

Harry sighs. “No, this call is of a personal nature, not professional.”

 

“Aw, shite. Hold on, let me close my office door.”

 

Harry considers easing into the subject, but Merlin would spot that in a second and roast him for it as well. “So what it if I were to say that yes, I actually have met a gorgeous young man like the one I described, and he appears to be single, and also has a lovely baby girl to boot?”

 

“I’d say Emma owes me fifty quid. Didn’t foresee the part about the wee lass, however.”

 

“...You’re an awful friend.”

 

“I’ll give you half.”

 

“He lives next door.” Once he gets started, Harry starts babbling out the entire story, trying to ignore the whine in his voice. This is why he’s never gone to a therapist; Merlin knows enough of Harry’s history that there are certain boundaries and lines that cannot be crossed, questions that cannot be asked, but with enough prodding on his personal life, Harry’s likely to spill it all. He can withstand the hardest interrogation tactic from enemy spies, and he has , but none of them ever asked about his love life.

 

“He was the bartender at the inn last night, and now he’s the gorgeous Adonis tempting me from across the yard. I haven’t felt this bewildered about a man since. Well, you know.”

 

Unfortunately, Merlin does know, having been around for the entire David affair including its bewitching beginning and its bitter end.

 

“Harry. I know you, so right now I know you’re freaking out but you don’t need to. I have it on the good authority of my sisters, my ex wife, and all the female staff here that you are, as they put it ‘a dreamboat.’” He pauses and takes a deep breath, sounding a bit pained. “Please never let me say that again. Now, do you actually want to pursue this young man? Not just a one night stand, but a serious matter of the heart?”

 

Harry gives it some careful consideration. He doesn’t think this is just an infatuation ...he doesn’t know enough about Eggsy to say for sure, but there’s just something about him that makes Harry yearn to be closer. “I think so, yes.”

 

“Is he actually gay? Or bi? Whatever it is that you think he could be interested in you.”

 

Ah, there’s the rub. “I don’t actually know,” Harry admits. He used to be so good at reading intent, but he’s been out of the game far too long to feel like he can tell for certain.

 

Merlin sighed. “You’re Harry fucking Hart, you’ve handled dangerous situations that I would give me nightmares and you do it with a smile and a twinkle in your eye. You’re not some lovesick teenager that has his head stuck up his arse. Either you stop dithering about and do something about your attraction, or I’m coming up for a visit.”

 

“Like hell you are. I’ll never get any writing done with you hovering over my shoulder, and drinking all my liquor.”

 

“Fine. I give you one week.”

 

“One week for what?”

 

“One week to find out if he is gay and interested in your advances, or I’m coming up there and sussing it out for you. Either you get flirting or you start stocking up on good scotch.”

 

“Sometimes I forget what a right bastard you can be.”

 

“That’s your problem, not mine. I’ll see you in a week.”

 

Merlin hung up, leaving Harry alone with his thoughts. He supposed the other man was right. Harry had spent enough time in the past 24 hours feeling like a lecherous old windbag, and so far Eggsy didn’t seem to view him as anything other than a favored author. He could either sit back and do nothing, and waste precious time and mental energy bemoaning his current state, or he could figure a way out of this mess.

 

But first, he really did have to unpack.

 

***

 

The problem with Harry’s odd writing schedule was that he hadn’t run into Eggsy for about three days; it’s harder to flirt with someone when you don’t see them face to face. Possible, certainly, but a great deal harder if no phone numbers had been exchanged.

 

On the upside, Harry was beginning to flesh out exactly what he wanted the novel to be. In the last one, Jack London had been having serious misgivings about his career and future and the increasing loneliness of being a spy had started to creep in. It was something that Harry knew all too well and one of the reasons he had left the spy business in the first place. Granted, several bullets and an injured knee had helped that decision along; it had taken him years to recover.

 

Jack London’s future was about to change, however, with the introduction of a promising new protege. If Harry pictured Eggsy as a placeholder for this character, well. Only he - and Merlin, probably - would know.

 

Harry was in the middle of writing a dangerous car chase scene where the new protege - Harry was still undecided on a name, none of them had felt right - was demonstrating his prowess at backward driving, when his doorbell rang. That was curious enough in the first place, considering few individuals knew where he was and he hadn’t ordered any packages, and then the bell rang again a few seconds later.

 

“Well, someone certainly wants to speak to me,” Harry muttered as he rushed down the stairs. “Whomever could it - oh, hello Eggsy.”

 

Eggsy beamed back at him. “Evening, Harry. Brought you something,” he said as he held out a tupperware container towards Harry.

 

“Oh, thank you very much,” Harry said, feeling a bit bewildered but defaulting to his good manners all the same. “Would you like to come in? I could start a pot of tea.”

 

Eggsy’s eyes lit up, and Harry tried not to read into that, as enchanting as the young man looked. “Sure! That’d be great. Daisy’s at her godmum’s right now, so I’ve got a bit of a break.”

 

“How is Daisy?” Harry asked, as he guided Eggsy into the kitchen. He could tell that Eggsy was curious about Harry’s house, because he kept moving his head around as if looking for anything of interest, but sadly for him Harry had barely done anything with the place as of yet. He was still waiting for his boxes to arrive.

 

“She’s doing great, thanks for asking. Had a check up with the doctor this morning and everything’s just as it’s meant to be. Bit of a relief that.”

 

“Was there reason for concern?” Harry asked, frowning as he set down the container and reached over to fill the kettle with water.

 

“Nah, not really but it’s always good to know.” Eggsy took a seat at the table and tapped his fingers softly on the table in a staccato rhythm.

 

“Is it difficult, being a single father?” Harry had to admit that he was intensely curious about Eggsy’s situation. He didn’t pass any judgement for it, not knowing any details and even if he did it certainly wasn’t his place … but it was unusual, to say the least.

 

Eggsy shrugged, not bothered by the question, seemingly. Harry had brought two mugs to the table and handed one to Eggsy. “Ta,” the young man said as he took it. “It’s not so bad. It wasn’t expected so when Daisy was born it was harder, but we’re pretty settled in now.”

 

“Is working as a bartender conducive to your present situation?” Harry took a seat, relaxing as they waited for the water to boil, and then realized what he said. “I’m sorry, Eggsy, that was terribly rude of me.”

 

Eggsy laughed, the corners of his eyes crinkling up in a pleasant manner. “Harry, it’s fine. Nah, the inn’s just a side gig, ya know? Rox, my best mate, her family owns it, so I pitch it every now and then when they need me to, doing some odd and ends. Sometimes I just bring Daisy with me; Roxy’s mum is Daisy’s godmother and she dotes over her like nothing else. I’m actually a chef, so I’m normally cooking in the inn, not serving drinks.”

 

Now Harry’s interest is definitely piqued; for all that Harry possess a variety of skills, some more dangerous than others, he’s pants in the kitchen when it comes to anything beyond the basics. “Oh really?,” he asks. “That sounds lovely.”

 

Eggsy gestures towards the forgotten tupperware. “Go on, open. I made you some biscuits. I hear authors don’t get nearly enough to eat. Always tapping away at the keyboard and forgetting that food even exists.”

 

“I’m afraid you’re correct, more than you realize,” Harry replies with a wry smile, as he opens the container.”Oh lovely, brandy snaps. These are some of my favorites.”

 

Eggsy’s smile bloom wide again. “My gran taught me. She was wicked in the kitchen, could do all sorts of proper things.”

 

“Is that how you got into it?” Harry takes a bite of the brandy snap; they are incredible and bring forth all sorts of ideas about what he and Eggsy could get up to in a kitchen.

 

“Mm hmm,” Eggsy nods, reaching over and taking a brandy snap for himself. “Mum sent me to live with her when I was done with primary. School options were better up here.”

 

The spy in Harry can still detect notes of a lower class East London accent; it’s a likely enough story, considering what he knows of some of the London schools where Eggsy might have grown up, but there is a part of him that doesn’t quite believe Eggsy’s story. Still, it’s neither here nor there, and right now none of his business. He’s been nosy enough for one afternoon.

 

“Well, I must say that these are delicious, Eggsy, thank you. Much better than anything I could have whipped up for myself. I’m afraid that my skills in the kitchen are much to be desired.” If you want, I can make up for it in the bedroom came to the tip of Harry’s tongue; luckily he was not foolish enough to say that outloud...though the pleased blush that took over Eggsy’s face was more than enough temptation.

 

“I’m glad you like them; it’s a recipe I’m testing out for a cookbook that I’m working on with Rox. She’s got a gig in a publishing house and she’s managed to put in a good word for me. I’ve had a food blog since before uni, but having a real go at it feels pretty good, and it gives me more freedom to look after Dais.” Harry was enjoying how open and forward Eggsy seems to be about his life. It’s not something he’s used to, considering his background, and he’s a bit chagrined to admit that he and David took a great while at that.

 

The kettle whistled, indicating the water was ready. As he got up to set the tea to rights, Harry couldn’t help but testing the metaphorical waters, as it were. “Well if you ever need any taste testers, I’d be more than happy to oblige.”

 

“That’d be aces, mate. How’s about Friday night?”

 

“Hmm?” That was the day after tomorrow. Half of Harry was delighted at the notion of spending more time with Eggsy so soon, and the other half felt awkward and terrified.

 

Eggsy continued on, oblivious to Harry’s inner turmoil. “We could make a proper go of it, the whole thing. I’ve got a meal plan for a dinner I’d love to try out, if you wouldn’t mind joining me.” He blushed slightly, as if maybe realizing how that sounded. “And Dais, of course,” he added with a cheeky grin.

 

“Friday would be lovely,” Harry agreed as he smiled at Eggsy, enjoying the view as a pleased smile stretched out on Eggsy’s face. “I’ll be looking forward to it.”

 

“Excellent. Here, thanks for the tea but I should get going now and pick up Daisy. We’ve got a playdate, but ...you got a paper and pen? Oh wait, of course you do, look at who I’m asking.” Eggsy laughed at himself, softly, and Harry joined him with a small chuckle as he got what Eggsy asked for. “Here’s my number,” Eggsy scrawled it out across the page. “You’re new in town and stuff, so you need anything or just …” he trailed off, pausing for a second, “I dunno, but you can text me or whatever anytime. Let me know if there’s anything I can help out with, yeah?”

Harry was instantly charmed, both by Eggsy’s helpful attitude and friendliness. This was a good sign, yes? Or perhaps Eggsy was just being neighborly but ...well. Harry had lived in many places over the course of his lifetime, and he would easily admit that this was not his norm.

 

“You’ll definitely be hearing from me,” he assures Eggsy. He takes the pad of paper and writes his own number down on a new sheet, and handed it to Eggsy. “The same goes for you as well; I’ve enjoyed your company thus far. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more of you.”

 

Eggsy just beams in response.

 

***

 

The rest of Harry’s packages arrived Thursday morning. Unpacking was a good, mindless activity to focus on while his mind wandered about, here and there, picking out the details of his next chapter. He had settled on a nickname for his new character, feeling it was more appropriate that the younger fellow would prefer a self-created moniker rather than any typical name. It fit, and that was what mattered. Overthinking the matter was a surefire way to destroy his creative brainstorming.

 

As he opened one of the boxes, a wave of nostalgia and unease crept over it. It was Mr. Pickles. “Oh dear,” Harry breathed out. A childhood companion, who died of pancreatitis when Harry was a teenager, away at school. His mother, rest her soul, had Mr. Pickles stuffed and kept as a surprise for Harry when he came home at Christmas. Never having any idea of what to do with the thing, but not feeling it was appropriate to just toss out, Harry had ended up carting Mr. Pickles around with him to university before eventually putting him in storage when he became a spy.  There Mr Pickles remained until Harry ended that career and later, after having met and become infatuated with David ...well, Harry had shared several pieces of his childhood with his ex. As a joke, David had installed Mr. Pickles in their guest bathroom, enjoying the shock and shrieks that accompanied many guests when they visited.

 

Harry had forgot about Mr. Pickles when he left and now he felt ashamed to have done so. One did not betray a fallen comrade ...but where would he put him now? Harry thought it over, staring into Mr Pickles baleful eyes, before shrugging and deciding to place Mr. Pickles in the guest bathroom of this house as well. He was never one to fully break with a tradition.

 

Besides, it’s not as if he was likely to receive many guests up here anyway.

 

Having unpacked about half of the boxes, Harry decided to take a break and run a few errands. He stocked up on grocery items, grabbed lunch at the inn (but sadly did not run into Eggsy), and generally enjoyed driving about the countryside with no particular inclination to return home.

 

Harry found himself parking his car and taking a stroll along the moors, leaving his phone behind. The wind was brisk enough for a jacket, but the weather was still quite enjoyable. He felt a brief pang of loneliness, for company during such a walk would have been appreciated, but overall he found that he was enjoying living far away from the hustle and bustle of London. A year ago, he would have protested against such a thought. He had grown up in the busy city, and lived in them all his life and yet, now he felt his soul more at peace in this new landscape than ever before.

 

It was calming and reinvigorating at the same time, and it was also bolstered by knowing that David wouldn’t be caught dead out here.

 

Harry didn’t return home until quite after 7, with the sun beginning to drop heavy in the sky, painting it in hues of red and orange. He was unpacking his care with his daily purchases - luckily none of his groceries were perishable items - when a car rolled up to his driveway. It parked, piquing Harry’s interest ...until he saw that Merlin was in the driver’s seat.

 

His friend poked his head out of the window. “Care to take in any guests for the weekend?”

 

Harry rolled his eyes. Of course, Merlin was always welcome but it wouldn’t do to be obvious about it. Their friendship had lasted for several decades and not just because both of them were just enough crazy to understand each other.

 

As if reading Harry’s mind, Merlin added “I brought whisky.”

 

“Get out of the car, you crazy bastard.” Harry said. He enjoyed Merlin’s company no matter what, but he definitely enjoyed Merlin’s taste in spirits. The man always knew what to buy.

 

However ...Merlin showing up for the weekend might mean an alteration of his plans with Eggsy.  Well. Harry would worry about that later. Right now, obviously, he had a guest to entertain and whisky to drink. Needs must, manners maketh the man, and all that rubbish.

 

It was nearing to midnight when a drunk Merlin took himself to bed and a not-quite-as-soused Harry remembered he should text Eggsy.

 

A friend unexpectedly dropped in for the weekend, he typed, and I am required to play host. Should we raincheck?

 

He hauled himself off to bed, nearly passing out immediately on the cool sheets.

 

When he awoke in the morning, there was a reply.

 

Nah that’s cool, just bring them over :) Roxy is coming up for a visit so we’ll have a proper do of it. Dinner’s at 6 if that works for ya.

 

Excellent. While there was a significant part of Harry that definitely dreaded introducing Merlin and Eggsy this soon into his infatuation, he was relieved that he wouldn’t have to wait even longer before seeing Eggsy again. He’s not quite so certain he would have enjoyed Merlin’s visit as much if he had to put that off.

 

You’ve barely known the lad a week and already you’re head over heels, he internally chastised himself. Get a hold of yourself!

 

He texted Eggsy back, letting him know that the time was perfectly fine and if there was anything he could bring.

 

Could bring a bottle of wine if you want :) but otherwise don’t need nothing.

 

Harry was interrupted from replying by a bleary-eyed Merlin, poking his head in Harry’s room.

 

“Harry, why is Mr. Pickles in your bathroom? I thought we were done with that.”

 

“Mr. Pickles is a distinguished and much loved member of this household, Merlin.”

 

“Oh shut up and put the kettle on. I’m going to need some tea.”

 

***

 

Not knowing what Eggsy was cooking, Harry and Merlin eventually settled on two bottles of wine that they brought over to Eggsy’s. Telling Merlin about Eggsy was not something that Harry particularly enjoyed doing, but he was too stubborn (and infatuated) to cancel on the young man.

 

It didn’t meant that he enjoyed dealing with Merlin’s teasing, however. Though Merlin had promised to be on his best behavior once they were actually inside of their host’s home he had no qualms of mocking Harry’s nerves, even at the doorstep.

 

“Now contain yourself, that’s a good lad,” Merlin joked as they arrived. “Won’t do to start snogging him in the doorway.” Harry knocked twice on the door, sending Merlin a short-tempered glare. Harry could hear JB barking in the distance, the sound of small pug’s barks getting closer after he knocked.

 

“Why do I tell you anything? Next time I find someone attractive, I’ll - “ Harry was cut off by Merlin’s snort. “You haven’t been able to keep a secret from me in nearly a decade, Harry. I’d really like to see you try.”

 

Harry’s rebuttal was caught off by the door opening, and there Eggsy was, looking delectable. He was wearing a dark green button down that brought out the green in his eyes and once again, Daisy was at his hip. Seeing Harry, he grinned bright.

 

“You alright there, Harry?” He opened the door wider, gesturing for them to enter. Harry quickly introduced Eggsy to Merlin, trying to ignore the wide smile from the latter. He knew it had nothing to do with manners, and Harry would suffer for it when dinner was over.

 

“Thank you again for your invitation, Eggsy. Where should we put these?,” he asked as he held up the wine bottles. Eggsy smiled, bouncing Daisy on his hip. “In the kitchen, and then I’ll give you the grand tour.” Merlin and Harry followed Eggsy down the hall to a brightly lit kitchen that was connected to the dining room. Setting the table was a young lady that Harry would say was a bit older than Eggsy, but not by much. Harry could smell the aroma of cooked food in the air; whatever Eggsy had prepared smelled utterly divine.

 

“Here we go,” Eggsy said. “Right on the table, if you don’t mind. I’ve got a corkscrew around here somewhere.”

 

“I’ll look for it after this,” the young lady said.

 

“Thanks, Rox. Merlin, Harry, this is my best mate Roxy.” Roxy shook hands with Merlin and Harry; Harry gleefully noticed that Merlin seemed to swallow his tongue when he was introduced to Roxy. He supposed he could see the appeal; while Harry preferred men, he had a few dalliances with women in his youth and sometimes as a part of his career, when necessity called for it.

 

He knew that Merlin was saying something to Roxy and she laughed delighted in response, but it was a blur to Harry. He was too busy watching Eggsy set Daisy in her high chair, watching the young man fawn over his little girl. Eggsy was gentle and attentive, making silly faces at Daisy and trying to get her to smile. He succeeded easily, winning smiles from both Daisy and Harry.

 

“Right then,” Eggsy said, turning about. “I’ll just settle JB out on the patio, and then how’s about that tour?”

 

Merlin begged off, apparently volunteering to help Roxy search for the corkscrew; it was a transparent excuse Harry saw through immediately and so did Eggsy, by the parting look he gave Roxy. Still, Harry was not about to interrupt Merlin’s flirting if it meant more alone time with Eggsy. He quite looked forward to looking the house over and seeing what he could learn about Eggsy from it.

 

The entire house had a very open concept that Harry very much appreciated. He took note of how clean the place was, and the photos on the walls (there were many of a younger Eggsy and Roxy, and a good deal also of Eggsy and two older women, one of which was definitely his gran. Harry assumed the other was his mother, but noted there were very few photographs of men on the walls).  The decor was simple and classic, in a comfy homey style. Where David had decorated their house in a very sleek and modern approach (Harry couldn’t really bring himself to care about the decor, except for his writing office), Eggsy’s house was the epitome of cozy. Harry felt very at home there.

 

He told Eggsy as much, stating “You have a very lovely home, here. It seems very comfortable.” He noticed that whenever he paid Eggsy a compliment, the lad would develop a pleased blush and a comely half smile.

 

“Thanks, Harry. I’m glad you like it.” They shared a sweet, if somewhat awkward moment where they were both just standing in the foyer, smiling stupidly at each other. Harry didn’t quite know what he should say next, only he was certain he needed to say something , lest the moment draw out. Luckily, he was saved by Roxy calling them to dinner.

 

Dinner itself went over very well; Eggsy had cooked a scrumptious civet de canard, with a leek risotto, apple and sweet potato stuffing, and a mushroom side dish that was simply divine. Harry was heavy with his praise in a way that would have made him self conscious, were it not for Merlin and Roxy being equally so. Not to mention, the looks that Merlin and Roxy kept shooting each other made Harry felt quite smug. No doubt there wouldn’t be as much teasing after dinner as he had feared. Instead, he was looking forward to ribbing Merlin a good measure for his own.

 

Conversation flowed easily amongst the four, with most of it regarding the food and other recipes Eggsy was thinking of trying out. Merlin was particularly interested in editor Eggsy and Roxy were working with, and delighted to find out that it was within his own publishing house. He had promised to sing their praises further up the line, something that was met with heavy gratitude, particularly from Roxy. Harry noted that Eggsy had also observed the growing connection between their two friends, and they shared many amused looks as the night wore on.

 

After dessert, a fantastic creme brulee that even Daisy was able to share in, Harry took initiative to shoo Roxy and Merlin out onto the patio and offered Eggsy his assistance in cleaning up the dinner mess. He could tell that Eggsy wanted to put up a fight about a guest helping out, but it seemed that wanting to support Roxy in her interest of Merlin won out. Excellent; this gave Harry the time and privacy to ask Eggsy out to dinner the next week. After all, Eggsy had hosted Harry and good manners dictated that Harry return in kind, and the way Eggsy had been acting, and the looks he kept shooting Harry throughout the night gave Harry a good sense that Eggsy was interested, after all. What could have originally been written off as admiration for a favored author had settled into delight for Harry’s presence alone. This gave a Harry a bit of the confidence bolster he had needed earlier.

 

Eggsy was finishing washing up the dishes, with JB sniffing at his heels and hoping to catch any scraps, while Harry entertained and cleaned up a messy Daisy when he made his suggestion.

 

“Eggsy, since you were so good to host Merlin and I, I wondered if you would be interested in joining me for dinner sometime in the next week?”

 

“What were you thinking of cooking?” Eggsy asked, hesitance in his tone but he was clearly too polite to voice it. Harry smiled, fond.

 

“Oh heavens no, my dear boy. I would not dream of putting you through that.” Harry gave an easy chuckle, and wiped Daisy’s face with soft wet cloth. Eggsy finished up in the kitchen and came back to the table, watching Harry with a soft look on his face that Harry missed, too engaged with Daisy to notice. “I thought I would treat you to a nice restaurant, if you would like. Daisy too, of course.”

 

“Well, Daisy’s not really up for drives more than twenty minutes long just yet, she gets real cranky in her car seat, and there ain’t much in the way of nice places to eat around here...it would be nice to eat something good that I didn’t cook, though so I can get a sitter, no problem.”

 

Harry thought Eggsy’s rambling was adorable.

 

“I wouldn’t want to put you in a bind, my dear. If it’s inconvenient, I’m sure we could find something in town.”

 

Eggsy chewed on his bottom lip, before pursing his mouth slightly. “Dunno if you’ve noticed bruv, but the nicest place to eat is the inn and that’s cuz I’m doing most of the cooking. We’ve mostly got local chippies and pub food around here.”

 

Drat, Harry thought. That really would not do for his purposes at all. “Well, tell me what night would work best for you and we’ll figure it out. It would be a shame to exclude Miss Daisy from our company, however.”

 

Eggsy grinned, a bit cheeky. “We’ll just have to make it up to her later, won’t we Daisy love,” he said, cooing over his girl. Harry laughed, agreeing. “Indeed we will.” JB barked in happy agreement, as if the pug just wanted to be part of the conversation.

 

There was a hum of tension in the air, even though the conversation was light hearted. Harry took the risk, knowing it was in his best interest to make his intentions clear now, rather than much later down the line.

 

He cleared his throat, feeling a bit awkward but laughed again when Daisy tried to imitate the sound. “Eggsy,” he started out, watching as the young man pulled Daisy out of the high chair and settled her at his hip, dropping kisses on her cheeks. “I hope this would not be objectionable,” he faltered slightly at Eggsy’s questioning glance, but pressed on, “but when I invite you to dinner, I don’t mean it just in a good neighborly fashion. I would very much like to take you out to dinner, if you get my meaning.”

 

Again, he inwardly cringed. Was that really the best he could do? Years of suaveness gone, just when he would have appreciated it the most.

 

It didn’t seem to make a difference to Eggsy, however, as his face lit up like a Christmas tree.

 

“Yes, Harry,” he said beaming. “I would like that very much, I really really would.” He laughed, happily and seemingly amused by his own dorkiness. Harry joined in readily, relieved that his proposition was accepted and that Eggsy did not, as he had worried, think him a lecherous old man.

 

Rather than join Merlin and Roxy out on the patio, he and Eggsy opted to stay in the living room and play with Daisy. While their focus was on the little girl, every now and then they would share a glance and stay there looking at each other, transfixed. Eggsy was normally the first to look away, laughing and blushing slightly as he did. It was one of the most delightful evenings that Harry could ever recall having, even more so by the press of Eggsy’s lips on his cheek when it finally came time to part ways and say goodnight.

 

Harry went to bed that night, surrounded by visions of green eyes and shy smiles as he slept.

 

****

 

While he was not quite what he would call an ‘enthusiast’, Harry had picked up a yoga habit early on in his spy career. It was suggested to him by a colleague, and while at the time it had seem a ridiculous new age fad, Harry had stuck with throughout the years. The physical improvements he had noticed in his body were a welcome benefit, and the practice often gave him a deeper mental clarity.

 

While the James Bond fans viewed espionage as a game of thrills in which there was a great deal of action, womanizing, and even more booze, Harry had first hand experience that proved otherwise. To be a great spy involved patience, waiting, and a great deal of mental acuity. A drink in the hand was used simply as a prop to help one blend in; Harry had left the womanizing alone completely.

 

As a writer, he swore that yoga was necessary for developing new ideas and improving his posture, considering he spent a great deal of time at his desk. He was able to keep his level of physical fitness the same even after his ‘retirement,’ due to determination and what Merlin called ‘bloody stubbornness,’ though admittedly it was more for vanity on his part that any real necessity. It’s not like he was outrunning supervillians, except in the pages of his books.

 

Harry normally preferred his daily habit of yoga to be split up: forty five minutes before he started writing, and another session before bed. He much preferred to be left to his own devices, as he found most yoga instructors grating and too positive for their own good. Still, every once in awhile he would find himself in a difficult place in his writing, and he would seek out a yoga class to help him gain a different perspective. Or, in Merlin’s words, ‘get yer head outta yer ass.’

 

This was why Harry had left Merlin to sleep in, and was entering a small yoga studio near the inn at 8 o’clock, on Sunday morning. To his surprise, he saw Roxy talking closely to the instructor. He looked around briefly, hoping to see Eggsy had tagged along, but no such luck. It was probably for the best. Harry had no idea how he would handle watching Eggsy contort his body in the various poses without being able to touch, and in public no less. He would, however, take care to mention this to Merlin when he went back to the house.

 

Harry laid out his mat in the back corner of the room, and noticed that Roxy had done the same but on the other side. She gave a short wave in his direction, and he smiled at her. There was no time for chatting, however; Harry always liked to give himself a brief warm up before an instructor led class. It was a good idea, as one never knew what the instructor’s style would be.

 

After an invigorating ninety minute session, a sweaty Harry was rolling up his mat and changing back into his ‘street’ clothes. He stopped to purchase a bottle of water from the front of the shop, and Roxy came up behind him.

 

“Good morning, Harry,” she said, all smiles and sunshine.

 

“Hello, Roxy. Doing well, I hope?”

 

“Oh yes, definitely. Dublin’s nice enough and good for my career right now, but it’s always good to come home.”

 

Unfortunately, this was not something Harry could agree with. His former relationship with David aside, Harry hadn’t had a permanent place to call home since he was fifteen. His parents had died in a car accident, and he had been sent to live with a distant relative. From there he had went to university at Cambridge, and spent most of his youth traveling until he was recruited by the agency. It wasn’t until the past decade that he had reopened his family’s London home and stepped back inside, and it had been he that moved into David’s and not the other way around.

 

Home was a concept that Harry had been struggling with for a very long time, but that wasn’t something Roxy needed to be aware of.

 

“Quite,” he responded in agreement. They stepped out into the English weather, the sun shining for once. “Do you have any good plans for the day?” He was asking out of politeness, more than anything else. He meant well, as Roxy was a very likeable young woman, and clearly Eggsy’s best friend. He was also very curious about her relationship with Eggsy, as they seemed to go very far back, but there was something about her that rather unnerved him. While most individuals seemed to go about life as if they were engaged in a complicated dance with it, moving to and fro and spinning about, Roxy was the type of person who faced life head on and would rather, quite firmly, get to the point and not waste any of her time.

 

It was something that Harry definitely appreciated; it also made Roxy extremely intimidating.

 

Take now for example: the way she smiled and tilted her head, as if she were sizing him up as a potential target. “Let’s get brunch,” she declared as she grabbed Harry’s arm and guided him towards the inn. Clearly there was no room for argument.

 

It over a plate of pancakes that she made her attack. “So you’re taking our Eggsy out for dinner,” she stated calmly as if she were commenting on the weather.

 

Harry had sat down with dignitaries, con men, and some of the most notorious women the KGB ever produced. In most situations he had come out, fully unscathed. He had the uneasy feeling this would not go as smoothly.

 

Our Eggsy, she said, as if claiming a sort of ownership.

 

“Yes, I did. Is this the part where you ask me my intentions towards him?” Harry smiled; he had intended it as a joke. Roxy apparently did not.

 

“Yes,” she stated firmly.

 

“I see,” Harry said in a soft tone, as if she were an angry tiger he was attempting to placate. Not that he would admit to having experience in that area, but ...well. What happened as a spy stayed as a spy? He decided to cut to the chase. “Is there a way out of this conversation where I get to keep my vital organs?”

 

“Perhaps I’ll let you keep your liver. You only need one kidney,” she said primly, before breaking out into a wide smile. “But Harry, what are your intentions towards Eggsy?”

 

It was Harry’s understanding that this sort of thing was only asked when the person in question had already experienced significant heartbreak. He decided it was in his best interest to tread lightly.

 

“I admit that I find him exceptional, and would be very interested in getting to know him better,” he said with a soft smile. He kept a steady eye contact with her; it was best not to let her know how much she was scaring him, though he was tempted to sneak her his former recruiter’s card.

 

“Does this ‘getting to know each other’ involve getting to Eggsy’s pants?,” Roxy asked, arching her brow.

 

“I beg your pardon?”

 

“Harry, Eggsy likes you, a lot . In fact he won’t bloody shut up about you, so I’ll do everyone a favor and I’ll cut to the chase. I find it’s often best to be blunt,” she stated as if she hadn’t already been doing so, “Eggsy has never gone on a date with a man before.”

 

“Really?” Harry found this surprising, although he’s not sure why. Yes, of course the young man had a daughter but Eggsy was also ...well, gorgeous. If Eggsy did lean that way, as he apparently did, Harry can’t be the first man who has asked him out on a date. He expressed this to Roxy, who scoffed angrily.

 

“A few drunken fumbles in uni with closeted tosspots who barely looked him in the eye or acknowledged his existence after. That kind of leaves a bit of a sour taste in your mouth, and all the older men made it very clear they were more interested in his body than in him. But that won’t be you, will it?” There was a threatening edge to her voice that made Harry immediately wish to appease her..

 

“No, of course not.” True enough, he did mean it. Eggsy was delightful in many respects, not just because of his beauty. Harry had dipped his toes in the waters of meaningless affairs and entanglements in his youth; that’s not what he was looking for anymore, and certainly not with Eggsy. His main concern was that perhaps Eggsy wasn’t ready for the level of seriousness that Harry craved, and what Roxy told him only cemented his concerns. Still, that didn’t turn Harry away. It made him only more determined to treat Eggsy with the care that Harry firmly believed he deserved.

 

“I assure you that I am a gentleman, first and foremost, and will only treat Eggsy with the best of behaviors.”

 

She nodded, seemingly appeased. “See that you do.”

 

Intimidating though she was, Harry actually wasn’t all that afraid, not when it came right down to it. Not only was he highly capable of protecting his own person, but he understood where she was coming from. He would most likely do the same in her situation, although he certainly would put it in different words.

 

“And what of you and Merlin? Should I be asking you the same?”

 

He enjoyed watching her small choke on her pancakes.

 

All in all, it was a very pleasant morning.

 

***

 

Harry bid Merlin goodbye Sunday afternoon. The scotsman seemed relatively content with the progress Harry was making on his next book, but warned Harry that future trips could be warranted if he didn’t stick to it.

 

Harry sweetly asked if these trips would coincide with Roxy’s visits back home. He was polite enough to ignore the rude gesture from Merlin that followed.

 

With everything that was going on, Harry didn’t expect to hear from Eggsy until later in the week, so it was a pleasant surprise to receive a text from him Sunday evening.

 

I can get a sitter for Wednesday night, if that works out for ya bruv

 

Wednesday night would be just fine for Harry’s purposes; it would give him enough time to plan the perfect date that would sweep Eggsy off his feet.

 

****

 

In the end, Eggsy was right; there weren’t any nice restaurants that Harry would deem suitable for a first date, not in this village. He briefly debated dinner at the inn before giving that up for a lark; he had no idea how open Eggsy was in this small town and while accepting a date from Harry indicated a certain level of comfortableness with his sexuality ...Harry couldn’t stop thinking about what Roxy had said.

 

“Eggsy has never gone on a date with a man before.”

 

Gathering up his nerve, Harry set out to create the perfect date for Eggsy. He would spare no expense; he would give Eggsy the sort of first date he had wanted, when he was a younger man. Indeed, Harry’s first date with someone of his preferred sex, rather than the countless debutantes he had escorted in his teens, happened while on an undercover mission. Considering how that particular mission ended, Harry didn’t think Eggsy would approve.

 

Harry settled on something much more low key for his boy. It had involved spending most of Sunday on the phone and calling in a few favors, and a drive out to the seashore on Wednesday morning to iron out a few details, but he considered it to be well worth it and hoped Eggsy would as well. As lovely as this little hamlet was, it wasn’t London and there just weren’t enough options for a nice ‘night out on the town.’ Harry had to be creative, but he figured it would be well worth it in the long run.

 

As per their several texts in between Sunday and Wednesday, Harry rang Eggsy’s doorbell at 5 p.m., holding a bouquet which consisted of yellow roses and white daisies. The incessant nattering of the local florist that Harry endured while purchasing it was well worth it, judging by the look on Eggsy’s face when he opened the door.

 

“Oi, come off it, Harry. You didn’t have to do that,” he stammered out as he took the flowers, even though the blush on his face completely disagreed. Harry admitted to himself that he was willing to go a long way to keep that look of pleasure on Eggsy’s face; while a lot of his readers might not realize it, considering how much action and adventure was written into Harry’s novels, he was a diehard romantic at heart. It was one thing David and he often disagreed with, the former saying that Harry was all too likely to go over the top if left to his own devices.

 

“Nonsense, Eggsy. A gentleman always greets his date with flowers on the first date.” Harry smirked, taking in how delectable looked in a lightweight sweater of green coloring, and dark black jeans. Harry was wearing similar, having assured the lad earlier than the venue’s dress code wouldn’t be formal.

 

His appreciation of Eggsy didn’t go unnoticed, however. Eggsy had caught on; while the lad had stepped inside to put the flowers in a vase, he took notice of Harry’s view when he came back to the front door.

 

“Are you always a gentleman, Harry?” Eggsy laughed, winking at him.

 

“One does try,” Harry retorted with a mock dryness that sends Eggsy into a fit of laughter.

 

“I hope you don’t mind, darling, but the arrangements I’ve made involve a bit of a drive out of town.”

 

“You planning on murdering me and leaving me in a ditch, bruv?” Eggsy asked, arching an eyebrow at Harry in a joking manner.


“Don’t be absurd, I would never do that to Daisy.”

 

“Ouch, he cares for my daughter’s feelings more than mine, I see how it is,” Eggsy said a bit harshly, though the contented smile on his face disagreed with his words.

 

It was a comfortable half an hour drive northeast. Harry listened to Eggsy prattle on about Daisy and her development, asking a few questions here and there but mostly just enjoying the sound of the younger man’s voice and his enthusiasm for his daughter. But when Harry finally pulled up to their destination, his voiced trailed off and he looked over at Harry in curiosity.

 

“The Ship’s Inn? Didn’t know they were open for dinner on Wednesdays, mate. Most places around have shorter hours cuz it’s not tourist season.”

 

“They are not open for customers, Eggsy, you are correct. We won’t be eating at the inn, our dinner is still about a mile’s walk away. Come now,it’s probably best to remove our shoes since we’ll be walking on the sand.” Harry said as he got out of the car. He opened up the car’s boot, took off his shoes, and pulled out a few blankets. They were really “just in case”, but he felt mostly confident. The owners of the inn had assured Harry that everything would be set up perfectly, they would want for nothing, and have complete and total privacy.

 

When in doubt, go for the plan. Harry had survived countless of debacles and gotten out of nefarious schemes of others simply by the confidence that a well thought out plan can give. He felt his previous misgivings fade away. The weather was perfect, he had Eggsy at his side, and his confidence was beginning to grow.

 

At least, until he saw that rose petals were covering up the path they were supposed to walk down. That was specifically not part of the arrangements. It seemed the couple who owned the inn had been so charmed by Harry’s request that they took care to add a few extras. Oh, dear.

 

Eggsy just raised an eyebrow at him. “Okay, now I’m really curious. What’s going on, Harry?”

 

Not willing to give in, Harry gave him a slow smile. “And ruin the surprise? Heavens no, my dear boy.”

 

Eggsy flushed slightly at the endearment, a small smile taking over his face as he looked down at the petal-covered walkway. “Alright then,” he said softly. “Let’s be off, I want to see.” He shyly reached over and intertwined his fingers with Harry’s pulling him so that they walked down in close companionship.

 

Holding Eggsy’s hand meant that a rush of heat swept over Harry’s bloody and he felt a few butterflies in his stomach. It made him feel as if he was back in grammar school. It also meant that Harry had the delightful opportunity to hear Eggsy’s small gasp of awe when he saw the fruition of Harry’s planning.

 

“Do you like it?,” he murmured in the young man’s ear.

 

“Harry,” Eggsy breathed out, taking in the view. Harry had contracted the inn to set up a small canopy tent-like structure, with sheer netting around to protect them from the elements while still having a view of the sea. Lanterns hung from the tops of the canopy, the twinkling fairy lights twisted around the canopy posts. Inside, there were a plethora of pillows on top of a large, firm outdoor mattress. The food and drink were placed on a few trays in the center. Harry had asked for a variety of simple foods he hoped would please the young chef; there was caprese salad, smoked salmon and cream cheese finger sandwiches, blueberry and lemon hand pies, cold roast chicken, and an apricot tart for dessert along with a large fresh fruit platter. It looked perfectly divine, and Eggsy seemed to think so as well, as he looked up at Harry with wide eyes.

 

“Harry, this is really too much,” he said softly, with a bit of a sad edge to his voice. “I don’t deserve all this.”

 

“On the contrary. I would give you much more than this if I could,” Harry replied, with complete honesty. He knew he was falling in deep, but he couldn’t help it. Perhaps it was a bad idea, to indulge in such openly romantic gestures before really getting to know the boy further, but Harry felt it very difficult to hold back where Eggsy was concerned. He only hoped it wouldn’t scare him away.

 

Several bottles of wine and happy full stomachs later, Eggsy and Harry were reclining together on one of the large pillows. The sky was bathed in orange and pinks and twilight was beginning to set in. Harry and Eggsy had enjoyed an easy, flirty conversation during their meal but now were peacefully snuggling under one of the blankets, with Harry combing his fingers softly through Eggsy’s hair. The younger man laid across Harry’s chest, looking out onto the sea.

 

They settled in there, basking in the peace and quiet for a good long while before Eggsy broke it.

 

“Harry?” Eggsy called out softly.

 

“Hmm?” Harry was really too comfortable, at this rate he’d be falling off for a nap.

 

“Thank you for this. It was perfect.”

 

Harry leaned forward and kissed the top of Eggsy’s head. “I’m glad you liked it,” he simply said.  With nothing further to add, as he was content enough just to enjoy Eggsy’s company, they fell back into silence.

 

The sun was practically gone from the sky when Eggsy spoke up again, turning in Harry’s arms to face him.

 

“So Harry,” he started out, sounding a bit nervous.

 

“Yes, dear?”

 

“I couldn’t help but notice that this here is basically a bed. You got some idea of where you want this go?” He gave Harry a searching look.

 

Harry’s eyebrows shot up. For all his planning, he had never considered taking things further than this, not tonight. He had meant what he said to both Roxy and Eggsy; Harry would be a perfect gentleman.

 

Eggsy continued on, as if ignorant to Harry’s confusion. “Cuz just so you know, I ain’t the type to put out on the first date.”

 

“Eggsy,” Harry started out, hesitantly. “It was never my intention -” he broke off as Eggsy placed his palm on Harry’s chest, moving it up to his neck and leaning in.

 

“I’m totally the type to get frisky though, if you catch my meaning,” he told Harry with a smile, pressing his body close to Harry’s.

 

Harry felt taken aback and out of his element, but that wasn’t to say he wasn’t enjoying the change of pace.

 

“Are you now?” he asked, his voice coming off a bit calmer than he felt, and a lot huskier than it had previously been. With Eggsy being this much closer, all he could concentrate was on the warmth of their two bodies pressing together, and his own heartbeat thumping louder.

 

Eggsy smirked, tilting his head up towards Harry’s and bringing their lips close together.

 

“Why don’t I show you?”









Chapter Text

It was crying that startled Harry awake.

 

He had never been a very sound sleeper; it was better off that way, given his past. David had often teased him for being able to wake so easily in the night, sometimes less teasing and more mocking as if Harry a dainty, gentle creature who would stir and be afraid of shadows ...little did David ever truly know.

 

Pushing that thought out of his head, however, Harry did a mental calculation before realizing that the sound must be little Daisy; he and Eggsy had been cuddling on the couch watching a movie after the wee tyke had been put to bed. Now he looked down and saw that Eggsy was still entangled in his arms, but a soft snore indicated that Eggsy hadn’t yet heard his daughter.

 

Well, no need for him to wake up; Harry could see to her.

 

He extricated himself from Eggsy with ease and a nimbleness he hadn’t had to use in decades and softly padded up the stairs until he found Daisy’s nursery.

 

“Hello, darling,” he cooed down at her. She stared up at him, tears spotting her face. Her cries had ceased as soon as he entered the room and turned on the light, leaving only a soft hiccuping behind.

 

“Gah!,” she wailed, lifting up her arms.

 

“Are you hungry darling?” Harry asked, as he took her in his arms. “Or is it a wet nappie, hmm? Ah yes, I do believe that’s it. Poor little thing, let me take care of you.”

 

It was easy enough to find the nappies and the supplies to clean her up, as well a new onesie. Harry had been tasked with finding classified documents in less time, finding a child’s clothing was hardly a difficult concept. He had once had to pose as a new father for several months, along with fellow agent and her newborn infant; it was a long term undercover reconnaissance mission, away from the possibility of gunfire but one that involved a lot of infant caregiving on Harry’s part.

 

He tickled her tummy as he changed her, getting a happy little gurgle from Daisy. She caught his finger when he moved his hand, and tried to bite it, nomming on it gently.

 

“Well, aren’t you a delightful creature,” he gasped. “Such a strong girl!”

 

He finished up his task, fixed her clothing, and rocked her in his arms, trying to get her to go back to sleep. After that, he would have to wake up Eggsy and bid him farewell; he and the younger man were not quite yet at that level of their relationship or at least Harry did not think so. It had been several weeks since their first date, and Harry had been straddling the line of letting Eggsy set the pace and also trying to take things slowly. After all, Harry felt there was no need to rush anything and as delighted he would be to have Eggsy panting and moaning under him and in his bed … Harry couldn’t help but shake the feeling that something was holding Eggsy back.

 

There were no outward indications that whatever was on Eggsy’s mind was related specifically to Harry or anything Harry had done, so overall Harry was not too concerned. He had been enjoying their many dates so far with fervor, and he felt that he would continue to do so whether they became bedpartners soon or not. The important thing was that Eggsy felt comfortable and cherished, and Harry was doing his utmost to see that it was so. The frequent kisses they had shared and the more than just a bit of groping certainly seemed to indicate that Eggsy was still happy with dating Harry; really, that’s the only bit that truly mattered.

 

He was pacing back and forth in Daisy’s nursery, humming and singing a short lullaby to  Eggsy’s ‘little flower.’ Though not quite off to slumberland yet, he felt she wouldn’t be far away. Kissing the top of her head, he turned around slightly and caught a glimpse of Eggsy in the doorway, watching.

 

It was difficult to describe the expression on Eggsy’s face. It was part bewilderment, part longing, and part sheer joy. He blushed slightly when he noticed Harry had caught him staring, and softly walked into the room.

 

“She okay?” he whispered. “I woke up and you were gone, and I heard her sniffling so I came upstairs.”

 

He smiled down at Daisy, who had noticed his arrival but was now too tired to pay him much attention. Her eyelids were drooping and soon Harry would be able to place her back in her crib.

 

Harry hummed a bit more, before answering Eggsy. “She just had a wet nappie, is all. I took care of it.”

 

“Harry,” Eggsy gently scolded. “You didn’t have to, could have just woken me up to deal with it. She’s my responsibility.”

 

“It wasn’t any trouble, darling. Anyway, I didn’t have the heart to wake you.” Turning away from Eggsy, Harry took the now sleeping baby and placed her gently down in her crib and covered her with a soft blanket. She curled up happily, once again content and at peace.

 

Eggsy and Harry turned off the lights and walked out into the hall, practically tiptoeing as they tried not to make any sound which could wake Daisy up again.

 

“Now my dear, I think I should be heading home; can’t believe we fell asleep during the movie -” Harry was cut off, interrupted by Eggsy’s hand on his chest, grabbing his shirt tightly and pulling him close. “Oh my.”

 

“Harry,” Eggsy started, sounding a bit desperate and tense. “ Stay .”

 

Well. Okay, then.

 

***

 

The next month followed in a haze of fantastic sex and frenzied writing. Harry had never felt so inspired before in his life, not since the last disastrous mission of his career had compelled him to put his pen to paper in order to sort it all out.  When Harry wasn’t tasked with finding new and delightful ways of making Eggsy moan, he had progressed on his story’s timeline with a rapid clarity that had surprised even Merlin.

 

“Really, Harry, I’m impressed,” The Scotsman drawled over the phone. “This is some of your best work. I should always send you off to meet nubile young men you can press into your bed sheets.”

 

“Oh piss off, and tell me what you think of Jack’s decision to recruit Gary as a new agent,” Harry had good naturedly snarled back. He didn’t have much more time to work that day; he was due at Eggsy’s for dinner. He had spent so much time writing in the past three days before this next deadline that he had regrettably been ignoring his boy, and he had plans to make up for it that night. Eggsy had been more than a good sport, bringing care packages consisting of meals and goodies he knew Harry enjoyed and rewarding Harry’s word count with sweet kisses at Harry’s desk, and Harry felt it was time to pay him back in good measure.

 

Harry had been so focused on his book that he had been letting Eggsy call the shots in the bedroom and all the planning of what went on in there. It wasn’t anything that he minded, of course not; for all that Roxy had implied, Eggsy hadn’t been completely inexperienced before Harry and even if he had been … well, Harry would have insisted on taking things a bit slower, perhaps, but it wasn’t just Eggsy’s sexual favors that Harry was after. By now he was rather taken with the whole package, Daisy and JB as well.

 

Harry just wasn’t sure that Eggsy was aware of that, which worried him.

 

Harry got off the phone after letting Merlin tease him some more, got dressed and picked up the bottle of wine that had arrived earlier with his grocery delivery. He had added a few items on the more expensive scale to his list, ones that Eggsy had mentioned here and there as he discussed new recipes he wanted to try but lamented his meager budget. Harry figured that it was time for him to bring Eggsy a care package of his own and to show his appreciate of the lad.

 

His inner Merlin snorted at that, the voice implying that Harry certainly did have a package that Eggsy was interested in. More than interested, if the lad’s roving hands and curious fingers were anything to go by. Eggsy had spent a great deal of time in the past few weeks exploring every nook and cranny of Harry’s body, intent on seeing what gasps and moans he could pull out of the older man. The thought of it had stopped Harry in his writing more than once during the day time, and he would find himself staring off into the distance as his mind replayed the sensations of previous nights.

 

Right then, definitely time to return the favor. Harry grabbed the box he had put together and headed over to Eggsy’s, determination written across his face.

 

Eggsy had texted him earlier, letting Harry know the front door would be open and to just let himself in. It was uncharacteristically quiet when Harry arrived, no sounds of the telly on or murmurs from Daisy.

 

He found Eggsy in the kitchen, humming a tune to himself, with an apron tied around his waist as he bent over the slow cooker, checking on what was inside. He didn’t seem to notice that Harry had let himself in. With a measure of stealth his past self would have been envious of, Harry snuck over and wrapped his arms around Eggsy’s backside, pressing a kiss to Eggsy’s neck.

 

This drew a startled laugh from Eggsy, and he craned his neck to give Harry a proper ‘hello’ kiss, which Harry was happy to participate in.

“Hello darling,” Harry murmured against Eggsy’s lips. “I’ve missed you.”

 

“Oh really?” Eggsy asked, arching his eyebrow and pressing his hips against Harry’s. “Why don’t you show me how much?”

 

Harry smirked, and snaked his hand down to meet Eggsy’s hip, giving it a firm squeeze, before lowering to his knees. “It would be my pleasure.”

 

Dinner would have to wait.

 

Several hours later, which Harry spent trying to see just how many orgasms he could milk out of Eggsy, they were freshly showered and wrapped in bathrobes at the kitchen table as they finally got around to eating dinner.

 

“You really know how to work up a bloke’s appetite, bruv.” Eggsy said happily, and he cut up his chicken and munched on it with fervor.

 

Harry just looked over at him, smirking. “You were a more than happy participant, Eggsy. If I recall correctly, round four in the shower was completely because of you.” Eggsy responded simply by giving him an unrepentant grin and a wink, causing Harry to let out a deep chuckle.  

 

“Cheeky lad,” he mock admonished. “Completely incorrigible.”

 

“Mm, that’s me,” Eggsy agreed with a laugh. “But I think you like it, Haz.”

 

“I do,” Harry concurred, “and I like it even better when you’re not calling me that ridiculous moniker. I’ll put up with bruv but I simply must draw the line somewhere.”

 

“I bet you I can get you to like it,” Eggsy argued, as he moved his leg to rub against Harry’s, taking his foot and running it up and down Harry’s calf.

 

Harry gave him a fond, but exasperated look over the rim of his wine glass, as he took a hearty sip. “While I’m sure I would, at the very least, find your attempts delightful, you really are going to need to give me a bit of a respite, dear boy. Surely you can’t be ready go once more.” Ah, the benefits and trials of youth; Harry would admit that he did miss the stamina of his early 20s from time to time.

 

“Well, I suppose I can let you rest, old man” Eggsy grinned, rolling his eyes at Harry a bit. “Gotta make sure you don’t break a hip or summat.”

 

Well, that was just throwing down the gauntlet. There was no way Harry could let Eggsy get the upper hand now. “I’ll show you old,” Harry growled, yanking Eggsy up by his robe to meet him in a hungry kiss.

 

“Fuck yes , Harry.”

 

Much later, as Harry was covered in bite marks and his muscles feeling deliciously sore, they were happily snug under the duvet of Eggsy’s bed. Eggsy had insisted on being the big spoon, and Harry lay with his head and back across Eggsy’s chest, delighting in the comfortable peace they had together. Eggsy was combing his fingers through Harry’s hair, and Harry felt liable to fall asleep at any moment. Everything was perfect, except … “You know,” Harry mumbled out, barely aware of the words falling from his lips, “I do miss Daisy. Been awhile since I saw her, she’s doing well?”

 

As he could not see Eggsy, he was unaware of the incredulous and exceedingly fond look that passed over Eggsy’s face as he looked down at the older man. “Yeah, she’s doing great,” Eggsy said, softly. “Having a blast with her godmum tonight.”

 

“Wonderful.” Harry stretched out his body slightly, settling in as he curled up against Eggsy like a cat. “Hope to see her again soon.”

 

He felt Eggsy kiss the top of his head, and smiled, as he drifted off to sleep.

 

The next week passed by unremarkably; Harry continued to make headway on his novel, as the end was within his grasp. Merlin continued to praise him and send back edits for Harry to incorporate. Harry was so caught up in writing, and Eggsy was busy with various catering events and responsibilities, that their schedules didn’t line up for a night together. Not being able to see the boy, Harry felt restless and on edge. He found himself putting more energy into his yoga practice and when tired of being cooped up in his house, he took long drives along the coast. Unlike the busy atmosphere of London, he found this countryside calming and restorative.

 

His book was nearly done, but he wasn’t planning on returning to the city. Whether things with Eggsy continued along as they had been, which Harry very much hoped they would, still remained to be seen, but Harry would stay. Perhaps not in the same house, however; it was suitable enough for a short period of time but it wasn’t close enough to Harry’s tastes for a permanent dwelling.

 

One lazy afternoon, in between writing lines of dialogue, he found himself sending a quick email to Emma, Merlin’s amazing assistant, inquiring about property owners in the surrounding area. By the next morning, he had a list of over twenty properties to look at. A few Harry discarded immediately based on what appearances, but he felt himself drawn to several others and put them aside for future viewing. There was one in particular only a few miles north of where he was, much larger and with a glorious backyard that was at least three times of his current one. Room enough for a small playground or swing set, he mused, for Daisy to play on when she was older. Lots of space for a child to run around.

 

Embarrassed at his ridiculous daydreaming, he took himself away from his computer and went for a long run. As lovely as the notion was, Daisy hadn’t even been around the last several times Harry met up with Eggsy. Perhaps the young lad wasn’t as attached as Harry was; he had given no indication that his thoughts were lining up in any measure similar to Harry’s. Harry would keep these daydreams and hopeful speculations private going forward, as not to pressure the lad to entertain anything he wasn’t ready for, or willing to do.

 

Still, it was a difficult thought to put aside completely … Harry realized that he really did miss the both Eggsy and Daisy a great deal, even though it hadn’t been very long, objectively, since they last spent time together. One  lonely night in particular, he found himself penning a fairytale story about a little lass named Daisy and her hunt for a golden egg. Somewhere or another, he found the courage to sheepishly send it off to Merlin, who promptly rang him to mock him mercilessly, called him all sorts of variations on ‘hopeless romantic’ and ‘twitterpated moron’...but still agreed that the story was very good and he would send it off to an editor in the children’s department.

 

Harry had to bribe him with several kinds of whisky to keep knowledge of the story away from Roxy, but he really thought it was all worth it in the end.

 

Then one Friday night, Harry was startled from his writing by an insistent knocking on his front door. He went to open it and was surprised by what he saw, Eggsy holding up Daisy, her packnplay at his feet.

 

“Eggsy, what do I owe this pleasure? Hello, Daisy,” he said fondly at the little girl, who gurgled happily in response.

 

“Harry,” Eggsy scolded him, “You weren’t answering your phone. I called like, five times.”

 

Letting them both in, Harry apologized. “Forgive me, I was trying to work out a difficult scene. The dialogue for megalomaniacal characters doesn’t always come easy, if you want to avoid cliches.” he finished with a wry smile.

 

“What, no shitty movie dialogue for you Haz? Gotta be all class all the time, huh?” Eggsy teased, as he placed Daisy into Harry’s arms. Harry took her immediately into her arms, and gave Eggsy a questioning look. It’s not that he minded having them over, of course not, but this was a bit out of the ordinary.

 

“So uh,” Eggsy started off nervously, shifting his weight from side to side. “Think you could do me a huge favor and watch her for a few hours? I was supposed to have the night off, but one of the guys I cater with got majorly sick, yeah, and they need me to pitch in.”

 

“Roxy’s mother out of town, I take it?” Harry asked, curling his arm tighter around Daisy, almost possessively, and hoisted her up a bit higher. She was fascinated by the buttons on his shirt, and kept trying to bite them.

 

Eggsy smiled at Harry. “Nah, I mean, I thought about calling her but you said you missed seeing Daisy, yeah?” Harry felt certain that this was a test of some sort, but he couldn’t wrap his brain around the why.

 

“I did,” he said slowly. “And I’d be delighted to watch over her tonight.”

 

“Yeah?” Eggsy asked, delight creeping in from the edges of his eyes.

 

“For however long you need,” Harry assured Eggsy, walking over to kiss him softly on the cheek. Even after all they had been doing in the bedroom - and sometimes out of it as well - Eggsy still managed to blush under Harry’s affection.

 

“I might not be back until after midnight,” Eggsy warned Harry. “I mean, it shouldn’t take that long, but you never know sometimes.”

 

Harry nodded, and tried to move Daisy’s mouth away from his shirt. It didn’t work. “If you think you’ll be running that late, text or call me.” He walked over to the small end table in the living room and opened up the top drawer, pulling out a key.

 

“Here,” he said, handing it over to Eggsy. “My spare key.”

 

A fleeting array of emotions passed over Eggsy’s face, too quickly for Harry to decipher, before they seemed to settle on ‘well chuffed.’ “Thanks again Haz,” he mumbled as he pulled Harry into a soft kiss. “Keep a good eye on her for me?”

 

“Always,” Harry agreed. He watched as Eggsy bring in the rest of the things that Daisy would need for the night, and then kissed him goodbye at the door.

 

Then it was just him and lil’ Miss Daisy. “Well darling,” he said fondly, looking down at her. “Would you like to hear your story?”

 

“Gah!”

 

“Excellent, dear. Then we can practice your walking. And getting you to say my name,” Harry mused on. “It’s really about time, we’ve known each other for quite a while now, isn’t that right?”

 

Daisy responded by biting him.

 

Eggsy was correct; he was kept later than he had wanted, but Harry had no troubles with Daisy. He had practically raised his younger sister, after all, and always thought that he got on quite well with children. Entertaining a child as remarkable and interactive as Daisy was a delight, not a burden. Yet eventually play wore her out, he got her settled down into her packnplay to sleep, setting it up by his bedside in case she woke up in the night. However it was Harry that woke up in the middle of the night, as Eggsy crept into the bed beside him.

 

“Eggsy?” Harry whispered, conscious of Daisy. “Did everything go alright?”

 

Eggsy laughed softly. “I think that’s my line, Harry.” He curled up under Harry’s arms, and let out a content sigh. “She treat you okay?”

 

“Everything was perfect,” Harry assured him.

 

“Thanks, Harry. I owe you one.”

 

“Nonsense,” Harry declared. “Though if you must, I wouldn’t be opposed to pancakes in the morning.” Eggsy laughed again, and they shared a few soft kisses before drifting off to sleep, a happy little family in altogether in one room.

 

In the morning, after breakfast, Eggsy tried to hand back Harry’s key but Harry wouldn’t hear of it.

 

“Don’t be ridiculous, Eggsy. Keep it.”

 

“You sure?” Eggsy looked wary, as if worried about asking too much of Harry, as if he wasn’t already aware that this was not possible.

 

Harry rolled his eyes, and gathered Eggsy into his arms. “Darling,” he chided Eggsy fondly. “I wouldn’t give it to you if I wasn’t.” Eggsy smiled, seemingly mollified. “Yeah, okay then.”

 

They bade their goodbyes, with Eggsy promising to bring Daisy and himself over for lunch the following day.

 

Another month passed by happily, with Eggsy bringing Daisy over to Harry’s more often, and inviting Harry to Daisy’s birthday party as well where he got to meet more of Eggsy’s extended friends and “family,” including Roxy’s infamous mother.

 

“Call me Helene,” she insisted as handed him a piece of birthday cake.

 

“Of course, Mrs. Morton. I mean, Helene,” Harry stumbled out awkwardly, feeling more nervous under her gaze than any of the times he had been interrogated in his former career.

 

Regardless of his nerves, he seemed to pass muster under her scrutiny, as Eggsy informed him later when all the guests had left and Daisy was down for a nap.

 

“She said you seemed alright,” he laughed, pressing kisses into Harry’s skin. This was one of Harry’s favorite parts of the evening, coming in second only to Daisy’s delighted gasp at the presents he gave her, and the way she cried out his name in joy. Eggsy had given him a bit of a nudge after, seeing how delighted Harry had been. “Been working on that with her, ya know?” It had taken all that Harry had not to tumble him right there in the bushes.

“Oh, so I’ll do, you suppose?” Harry teased as he turned the tables on Eggsy, flipping him onto his back.

 

Eggsy looked up at him, eyes shining and bright. “Yeah, I think you will.”

 

The month finished with Harry completing his book, not even six months after he arrived in the cozy town. He kept expecting Merlin to raze him, saying it was horrible and send him back to the drawing board but instead his best friend was completely supportive and enthusiastic about where he was taking this story. Jack London was retiring from field work, and his young protege would be taking up his mantle. Merlin foresaw a lot of possibilities there, with a hip young agent who only had stretches of time for adventures, and a great deal of potential to step into.

“So are you coming home then?,” Merlin questioned. “Back to dreary London fog?”

 

Harry hesitated, not sure how he open he was ready to be about his secret planning. Apparently Emma had kept her knowledge of Harry’s housing needs to herself, and not shared them with her boss.

 

“No, I don’t think so...I have other ideas I want to work on while I’m here. It’s very quiet, you know. Definitely conducive for my writing, as you are well aware.”

 

Merlin hummed his agreement. “Still, we’ll need you down in a few months anyway, to look over the final product after it’s been to the pressing, and sign the contracts and all that boring shite, plus give me all the whisky you owe me.”

 

“And here I thought you’d wait until Roxy was back home, before you came to collect.”

 

“I haven’t decided.” Merlin insisted, loftily. Harry was still laughing at him when he ended the call. For once it seemed the tables were turned, where Harry had everything going right in his life and Merlin was dithering about.

 

Yes, he thought to himself as he packed his car for a picnic with Eggsy and Daisy, everything was perfect.

 

This was the life he had wanted for himself, that he had wanted David to share in. But now, Harry couldn’t bring himself to look back on that bitter time; that past was fading quickly in the future’s shining illumination. Harry was looking forward to all the pleasures the coming months, and possibly years, could bring.

 

Who would have thought that I would become so enamoured of a young chef and his little girl?, he mused to himself as he opened up a new Word document. He tapped his fingers idly on the desk, lost in thought for a long while before he began to type. Soon enough he realized he was creating the story of a teenage female spy, born into the upper echelon of British society. He named her Evangeline, for his younger sister. Her codename …. Hmm, Harry thought, staring impassively at the screen.

 

What about Daisy?

 

Oh hell. There was nothing more Merlin could mock him for anyway. Daisy it was.

 

And thus, Harry began a new book. He decided not tell anyone about it, however, not even Merlin until he felt confident about it. This was a completely new headspace for him; he had never written a main female character before, let alone a teenage one. He didn’t want to be one of those doddering male authors who thought they could take on how a woman would act or speak, and then have it fall completely on his face. Perhaps, at a later point in time, he would have Roxy read it over. For now, however, he would keep it to himself.

 

In fact, he didn’t even tell Eggsy his book was finished, even when the young man asked him over dinner one evening,

 

“Harry, I’ve been meaning to ask, how is the book coming along?”

 

Harry paused, using a drink of his wine to think on his response. “Fairly smoothly, actually. I think I’ll be done soon.”

 

“Oh?” Eggsy made a small face, looking down at his face. “That so?” Was it his imagination, or did Eggsy seem upset? Did he really think Harry would fuck off to nowhere once the book was done?

 

This would be the perfect moment for Harry to speak up and tell Eggsy of his plans, but his courage failed him. Harry, a veteran spy who had braved so many dangerous situations and came close to dying more than he would like to recall, completely chickened out.

 

“Uh, yes...but there are other ideas I’ve been playing around with and I like writing up here. It’s very quiet.” Not to mention, Harry scolded himself, you’re here. Why can’t I just say it? “I might be staying around longer than I had originally anticipated.”

 

Eggsy gave him a soft, happy smile. “That’s great, Haz!,” he exclaimed, putting some cheer into it.

 

Harry brightened up himself. “Yes? Would you be alright with that, seeing my old mug around here for a bit longer?”

 

Eggsy laughed at him, giving him a bit of a kick under the table. “Are you kidding?,” he teased. “What else would I do with my freetime?”

 

It wasn’t exactly the ringing endorsement Harry wanted, but he supposed he would take what he could get. It’s not like he was being quite open with his own feelings, after all.

 

“Perhaps work on your own book? Though, I must say, I think it’s coming along marvelously, considering how many dinners and test recipes I’ve demolished.”

 

“Too right, and you still manage to keep fit as fuck.”  Every once in awhile, the words coming out of Eggsy’s mouth would remind Harry of just how large their age gap was, but he refrained himself from grimacing or rolling his eyes at the lad.

 

“Thank you, Eggsy. I think. And, of course,” he continued on, “There’s always more play dates with your daughter. What did you do before me?” This was something Harry was curious about’ Eggsy talked a lot about growing up with his grandmother and a lot about uni, but very little about the few years preceding Harry’s arrival.

 

Eggsy just shrugged, not wanting to go into any details. “Not much, to be honest.”

 

Harry looked over at Daisy in her highchair, who was happily feeding herself  even if she was making a good deal of mess. He ruffled her hair and she gave him a beaming, if mostly toothless, grin. “I wouldn’t say that,” Harry said, indicating to Eggsy that he was talking about Daisy.

 

Once again, an endearing blush crept up over Eggsy’s face, but the young man seemed determined to ignore it. “I could ask the same of you, ya know. What did you do before me? You don’t talk much about yourself, if you didn’t notice.”

 

“Oh, that’s because I don’t think I’m that interesting,” Harry deflected, lying his face off. “Just a bumbling old writer, that’s me.”

 

There was a period of awkward silence, or at least Harry felt it was so, where he wondered if Eggsy would buy it. He avoided the other man’s gaze, and drew a relieved breath when Eggsy changed the subject to dessert recipes he had been thinking about working on next.

 

At the very least, maybe Eggsy wasn’t willing to push just yet. Harry wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad sign, only that it gave him a short reprieve. He honestly wasn’t sure how much of his past he could tell the young man. So much of it was still classified at the highest levels, and in all their years together, Harry had never once thought of telling David.

 

Then again, David had never asked. Harry had always been relieved at that, but looking back he recognized it for the giant sign that it was.

 

He would think on it more, and try to come up with a way to clue Eggsy in without actually telling him anything that could potentially endanger him. Later, he assured himself, as he was content at the moment to try and get Eggsy to smile as much as possible for the rest of the night, much later.

 

Except, life, as Harry should have known by now, would have completely different plans.

 

A phone call woke him up at 5 a.m., disrupting both him and Eggsy, though Daisy luckily continued to sleep on.

 

Harry reached blearily eyed for his phone, cursing it in his mind. “Hello?” he croaked out. “Who could be daft enough to call me at this hour?” He heard a small but agreeing groan come from Eggsy’s side of the bed.

 

“Hello, Henry.” The voice was crisp, clear, and somehow managed to convey all the judgment and disdain of every matriarch there ever was on the Hart side of the family. He had rather hoped to go much longer before he had to hear it again. Harry sat up immediately, startled into being wide awake.

 

“Ah. Good morning, Aunt Katherine. This is a surprise,” he did his best to match her tone, but was never quite as good at it as his mother had been. He felt Eggsy tense up, and reached over to pet Eggsy’s hair, as if in attempt to set him at ease.

 

“Quite. I won’t beat about the bush,” Katherine carried on, stating the obvious - she was always curt and direct to the point. “Your Uncle Albert is not faring well; the doctors are predicting he will pass within the next week.”

 

Harry felt tension seep into his body, his shoulders automatically hunching up closer to his ears. “And you would like me to come and pay my last respects,” he stated blandly.

 

“Naturally. This nonsense has gone on far too long; it is time to put that difficult time behind us and come together as a family.”

 

“Difficult time?” Harry was aware that his temper was rising, not that he particularly cared. “May I remind you, dear aunt, that Evie would still be alive if it wasn’t for him and his nonsense , as you say?” Yes, Eggsy was definitely awake and concerned now; he batted away Harry’s arm and climbed up into a seating position, watching Harry.

 

“I would you remind you not to take that tone with me, young man.” Only his aunt could have such an attitude with Harry and never lose her footing. “What’s done is done, and I expect that you will be on the next plane to Dublin. Cheerio,” she ended the call curtly, leaving Harry in a foul mood. And yet, Harry knew that he would do just as she ordered, no matter that he did not want to. Family , he thought bitterly, was complicated.

 

Heaving a sigh, he got up and started packing.

 

“Harry?” Eggsy said, quiet and concerned. “What’s going on?”

 

Harry looked up, deflating a good deal of his ire just by taking in the way Eggsy looked in his bed, the way the moonlight cast a glow over his young body and illuminated his wide eyes. He padded over back to the bed and gave Eggsy a slow kiss.

 

“I’m sorry, darling,” he began, “but it seems I must make a visit to the ancestral home. My uncle is on his deathbed, apparently.”

 

“...You don’t seem like you’re very sad about that,” Eggsy ventured, a bit cautiously.

 

Harry let out a choked laugh. “He was a sanctimonious prick, who never thought he could do any wrong and as a result a lot of people suffered for it in his lifetime. Particularly my immediate family, but that’s a sad story for another time, dear. Not for 5 am in the bloody morning, when we’re both barely awake.”

 

Eggsy nodded, but questioned him further. “But you will tell me?”

 

Harry hesitated, uncertain if he wanted to bring up those old ghosts. Still, it seemed like they were going to be brought up anyway, whether or not he liked it or not. “It’s not an easy story, but yes. I’ll tell you when I get back?” he offered. Eggsy seemed content enough with that answer, and Harry could tell that the early morning was trying to lull Eggsy back to sleep. The young man yawned ferociously, but tried to ignore it.

 

Harry leaned over and kissed him again. “Go back to sleep, Eggsy. I don’t even know when I’ll be able to catch a flight yet.”

 

Eggsy acquiesced to Harry’s suggestion, curling back up in his blankets and taking over the entirety of the bed. “Okay, love. But you’ll wake me up before you leave?”

 

“Yes, dear.”



Chapter Text

Packing for a family reunion had felt like preparing for war. As it were, especially with Harry’s family, there wasn’t much of a difference.

 

He had been avoiding this for so long; it had been over two decades since he last saw any members of his family and that was how Harry Hart preferred it. Now he was in a taxi heading back to the Hart estate, located just outside of Dublin proper. Harry always felt that the family manor was ridiculously oversized, as no one really needed twenty-two bedrooms anymore, but with his uncle dying, the thought of inheriting it weighed heavily on his mind. Unless the old man had changed his will, and Harry doubted he would so - the man was a staunch traditionalist, even if they had been at odds with each other for most of Harry’s life - the estate and its lands, and the care for it, would pass onto Harry’s responsibility as the his uncle never sired any children and his wife had inherited a country home on her family’s side, many years ago. Aunt Katherine had always maintained that she would have no interest in looking after the house after her husband had died, and Harry had no reason to believe that had changed.

 

He wanted the manor even less now that he was involved with Eggsy. Harry couldn’t imagine bringing the young man and his daughter there, though perhaps they could brighten it up with their good cheer. It had been a long time since the building had heard laughter. God knows his aunt and uncle weren’t the type to bring it about. But the house was so large and impersonal, it felt more like a sinking ship than a place to anchor one's soul. One could drown there, both literally and figuratively, and it would be ages before someone would notice.

 

Edwards, the butler greeted him with the customary courtesy given to a person of Harry’s rank and stature, which Harry had always hated, and sent Harry’s luggage off to his suite on the north side of the house. “Her ladyship is currently indisposed, Sir Henry, but I am to inform you that dinner will be held at 12 o’clock sharp in the north drawing room. Should you need any earlier refreshments, please let one of the maids know and they will pass it on to the cook.”

 

“Thank you, Edwards. And my uncle? How does he fare?”

 

“The doctors have been to see his lordship this morning, and their estimate is that he will pass any day now. He is currently resting at the moment and Lady Hart insisted that he should not be disturbed.” There was no emotion in Edwards’ voice, only a calm and impersonal stating of the facts. Harry reflected that it rather fit with the rest of the house.

 

It was half past eight now; Harry had left Eggsy less than three hours ago and he already missed the boy’s presence.

 

He wondered if it was too early to drink, but ignored that thought and made his way to the library, the one room he particularly enjoyed. Perhaps he would pass the morning away with some light reading, he thought, as he picked up a worn copy of Pride and Prejudice.

 

At a quarter past nine, his phone lit up with a message from Eggsy.

 

You okay? How’s everything going?xxx

Smiling at the lad’s fondness for those small x’s, Harry readily messaged him back.

 

I’m not sure yet. Haven’t seen my uncle, he and my aunt seem to be sleeping. Have holed up in the the west library before I have to meet her dragonship for the midday meal.

 

Harry watched the three dots come and go before Eggsy finally sent back a text.

 

How many libraries you got there, mate?

 

Embarrassingly, Harry had to count them out on his fingers. He had forgotten how many there were, but he decided Eggsy didn’t need to know that.

 

Seven, I think. It’s been awhile since I was here and they aren’t all large rooms. Small private collections that had belonged to members of the family. My aunt never throws anything out. Hopefully that made it seem less ...intense.

 

What, no beauty and the beast shit going on? Disappointed, man. Eggsy typed back, causing Harry to smile as he went back to his reading.

 

A few minutes later, Eggsy sent another text accompanied by a photo of Daisy in her highchair, her face covered with streaks of baby food. Harry sent back a selfie that showed a decent amount of the library in the background.

 

Wow, is that some kind of Downton Abbey shit you got there, bruv?

 

Harry wasn’t sure how to respond to that; he knew his family’s wealth could make some people feel uncomfortable and he didn’t want to introduce that sort of dynamic into his relationship with Eggsy. Before he could decide on what to say, however, Eggsy sent another photo of Daisy, a close up of her messy face that the girl obviously had assisted in taking.

 

Daisy wants to see more pics, I think. She keeps saying your name. Seems like she misses you ;)

 

You want the full tour? Harry wrote back, doubting that this was a good idea.

 

Yeah! Sure thing bruv, that sounds aces. Is there where you grew up?

 

Partially. I lived with my parents in London but events brought me and my younger sister to live with our aunt and uncle when I was a teenager. I never liked it here. This was the most Harry had told anyone of his childhood; it felt very odd and slightly uncomfortable.

Whoa, you got a sister? You’ve never mentioned her.

 

Harry paused, feeling awkward. He did have a sister, yes, once a upon a time. Evie had died when she was sixteen, Harry had been twenty-six and on an undercover mission in Morocco at the time.

 

He sighed, and decided to just bite the bullet. Writing back, he simply said, I had a sister. She passed away over twenty years ago.

 

Thinking it over a minute, he added an addendum. It’s complicated.   As in, the way Evie had died had been complicated, and not exactly something he thought he could explain to Eggsy without revealing more of his own classified past, and that of his family’s as well.

 

Nearly immediately his phone started to ring.

 

“Hello?” Harry asked, as he answered.

 

“God, Harry I am so sorry, I’m such a twit.” Eggsy breathed out in a rush. Harry laughed, glad to simply hear Eggsy’s voice.

 

“Eggsy, it’s quite alright. It’s been a long time.”

 

“Still, god. I’m just curious about your past and here I go, dragging out bad memories like such a loser .”

 

“I think bad memories are pretty much par for the course right now. I haven’t been in this house since then.” Let alone the ballroom where Evie had been dancing,  when the sniper’s bullet had struck her… he at least hoped his aunt had redecorated that room, even if she hadn’t seemed to touch the rest since he had left.  

 

That actually gave him a thought. “Eggsy, how would you like a tour of the house?”

 

“What, really? You want to show me where you grew up?”

 

The wonder and surprise in Eggsy’s voice made Harry pause. He carefully asked, “Have you really been that curious about my past?”

 

“Well, yeah,” Eggsy said, sounding a bit hesitant. “I mean, we’ve been dating for about five months now, Haz. I just figured it was time …” he slowly trailed off, and even Harry could tell that Eggsy was nervous about where their relationship stood. He supposed for someone of Eggsy’s age and experience, five months was a big deal. Harry decided the mood could use something a bit more light-hearted, to put Eggsy a bit out of his misery.

 

Using a rather teasing tone, he asked, “Eggsy, how many times must I tell you to stop calling me Haz? It’s taken five months so far, how many more months will I have to try?”

 

A chuckle broke out over the line. “I dunno, Haz , how many more months you got?”

 

Harry felt a softness creeping over him; he was certain it was the distance and sleep deprivation that made his next words possible.“It seems, darling, that for you I would have an endless supply.”

 

Eggsy’s breath hitched in response, and Harry wished he could see the younger man’s face and bring him in close. This wasn’t how he wanted to have a serious discussion about their relationship, but it seemed that very few things were going the way Harry wanted to them to lately.

 

Perhaps Eggsy felt similar, as his next words were “Harry, I think we should have a long talk when you get home. You know,” he said huffing out a bit of a laugh, “When you aren’t far away and when we’ve both had a decent night’s sleep.”

 

That didn’t sound foreboding; for all that the words weren’t exactly promising, Eggsy’s tone of voice was soft and coaxing, similar to when he was trying to get Daisy stop playing with her food and eat it.

 

“I agree,” Harry said, his tone matching Eggsy’s. “When I come home.”

 

“Right. When you come home.”  A moment of silence from both of them, until Eggsy cleared his throat and awkwardly said “So uh, bruv how’s that about that tour?”

 

“Ah! Yes, right away. Just let me get out my tablet so you can have a better view.”

 

Harry gave Eggsy a good tour of the total manor, excepting for the suite that housed his aunt and uncle. It was the first time he actually felt an appreciation for what he had always viewed as a dull household. Eggy’s exclamations, questions, and statements such as “That is sick, Haz” were highly enjoyable, and he felt particularly smug at the young man’s reaction to the kitchen. His tour seemed to amuse the servants as well, as he would stop to introduce them to Eggsy and listened to the boy ask them questions about working in the large estate. He was not surprised in the slightest that Eggsy had the largest amount of questions for the cook, and Mrs. O’Clery seemed to warm to Eggsy immediately. It seemed that chefs got along readily enough, provided that they were not attempting to work in the same kitchen.

 

Occasionally Harry’s commentary would get interrupted from coos from Daisy, at which times he would switch the phone back to his face so he could talk to her and listen to her attempts at responding. He briefly caught sight of Eggsy’s delighted smile in the upper corner of the frame, as the young man was holding her, and it did a great deal of good for his mood. It was easier to face the ballroom when he finally entered it, as he could pretend he was seeing it from Eggsy’s eyes and not, as he would be prone to do when left to his own devices, the place of a horrible crime. All in all, Eggsy and Daisy helped a great deal in disposing of Harry’s discomfort, as he really should have known they would in the first place. He felt totally indebted to them, these two lovely people who were quickly becoming his family.

 

Unfortunately, Harry’s good mood came crashing down when they ran into his aunt, and she took one narrow eyed look at the tablet, saw Eggsy’s face on the reverse window and asked “Who is this peasant?”

 

“Oi!” Eggsy cried out. “That is way harsh.”

 

“Indeed. My apologies, Eggsy.” Harry turned the tablet so that it was facing him and addressed his aunt, “Really madam, there is no need for such rudeness.”

 

His aunt sniffed haughtily, and refused to acknowledge that she had done any such thing. “It is nearly 12 o’clock, Henry. Tardiness is not acceptable manners when dining in this house, as you should do well to remember.” She turned on her heel and walked down the stairs towards the dining room.

 

Harry heaved a great sigh. He looked down at the tablet. “Now do you see why I am so often late? I swear it was a habit I developed simply to spite her.”

 

Eggsy laughed. “I think I see why you called her a dragon earlier. Saying goodbye then?”

Harry nodded. “I’m afraid so darling. I will call you later?” he asked.

 

“Count it on, Haz. We’ll be waiting.” Eggsy picked up Daisy’s hand and helped her wave goodbye to Harry.

 

Signing off, Harry was left with the task of marching to his doom. All the cheer of the morning’s activity vanished, and he felt once again a sullen teenager trapped in a house of dreary immobility and an endless amount of old-fashioned rules.

 

It was going to be hell of a day, and he wasn’t even the one dying. As he took to the stairs, all Harry could think of was that ‘Haz’ was a much better thing to be called than Henry ever was.

 

He somehow managed to survive both lunch and his aunt’s insistent questioning about ‘who that young man was’, and what he had been doing with himself since the last time they had talked which had been several years ago, before he had even started dating David.

 

He knew that she was mostly aware of what he was up to; his aunt’s web of connections and societal spies was even greater than his own network had been while he was on the job. There were very few members of the family that she didn’t keep tabs on; Harry just happened to be the unfortunate soul who was the next in line to the family fortune, and thus she kept tabs on him the most. It had taken a great deal of time and energy when he was younger to escape that web; it was half the reason he became a spy in the first place. His only regret was that he should have taken Evie with him, instead of leaving her here to be watched over by Atilla the Hun, but there was a decade of a difference in their ages and he didn’t have the fortune then, that he had now.

 

Back then, he couldn’t have raised a child. Now, he was fervently hoping that Eggsy wanted him to help raise Daisy.

 

Aunt Katherine showed him into his uncle’s room after lunch. This was not the master suite, but rather a room close by, with a good view of the stables and the lake. Of course, he thought with a curl of his lip, his aunt wouldn’t have wanted to sleep in a room with her husband while he was dying. That would be far too sentimental on her part.

 

The room held a great deal of hospital machinery and so many devices were hooked up to Albert that he seemed more of a science fiction project than a living, dying human being.

 

His uncle was sleeping; his aunt excused herself to make some phone calls.

 

Harry took a seat in one of the chairs by the window. Minutes went by where the only sounds in the room where the whirring and beeping of the machines and the ticking of the clock.

 

“Well, this is bloody useless,” he said outloud.

 

And so he waited, but Albert never woke up.

 

Uncle Albert passed away in the night; in the morning the coroner came for the body and his aunt’s luggage were placed into a moving truck.

 

“I have never been one to stay where I am not wanted,” she said plainly. “Come, the executor shall read the will in the east drawing room.”  He escorted her down the hall, where they were followed by staff and a few distant relatives who had shown up that morning to pay their respects.

 

The reading was still a rather small affair. There were no surprises; as expected the house and the grounds went to Harry along with several trusts and a good portion of the family money. About twenty percent had been set aside for his aunt, along with a few properties, so that she would live out the rest of her days in a comfortable fashion. Some of his uncle’s personal effects went to other relatives or members of the household staff, but Harry was unconcerned over this. He wouldn’t have wanted any of it in the first place, regardless of its worth. He wasn’t even quite sure what he would do with what he had been left.

 

Everyone paid their respects to Aunt Katherine and Harry, and bid their goodbyes. Soon, it was just the two of them. Harry remained seated, slumping a little bit on the extravagant sofa.

 

His aunt stood, looking out the window onto the grounds. “By any rights, this should have gone to my son, if I had been lucky enough to bear children. And now it has gone to you.” Her voice was etched in ice,  the very sound of it caused Harry’s hackles to rise.

 

“I assure you madam,” he said coolly, “that both of us would have been far happier if that were the outcome.”

 

She turned to face him and gave him a withering stare. “Be as that may, that is not the situation we have come to. You are no longer the indolent heir presumptive but now Lord of the manor himself. You’re a Baron now; you’ve been knighted. It’s time you started acting like it, Henry.”

 

"I beg your pardon," Harry asks, ice in his voice as he stood up. She ignored him, and walked over to a small desk in the corner of the room. Taking a set of keys from her pocket, she unlocked it and retrieved a small folder.

 

Handing it to him, she said “This is all the information I have on the man who killed Evangeline. This was Albert’s mess and he refused to take care of it. I know what you were; I’ve always known. Be a better man than he was, and deal with it. I despise loose ends. Good day, Lord Hart. I’ll expect an answer at the funeral.”

She left the room, and perhaps the house, before Harry’s brain was able to catch up with a response. All he could think of was ‘she would have made an excellent spy .’ The folder’s contents were the perfect mission dossier. Name, aliases, photos, addresses, a detailed history of the man and what he had been up to basically his entire life. It seemed that his aunt took her obsessive need to poke through all her relatives’ lives and turned it on this man; who knows how long she had her eye on him and how long she had been waiting for Albert to make a move.

 

If it were anyone else, Harry might have felt a bit of sympathy for her. But he knows better than to assume she did this in Evie’s memory, or because she felt saddened by what happened. It was, as his aunt said, because she despised loose ends.

Had it been ten years ago, he would have known exactly what to do and wouldn’t feel any sort of conflicted feelings about it. As it were now, well.

 

Harry was a different person now, wasn’t he?

 

Looking at the file, he honestly didn’t know.

 

He left the room, taking the file with him, and made his way up to the master suites where his aunt had arranged to have his things moved in, during the reading. There were no traces left of her or Albert, and yet Harry still felt as if he was in the presence of ghosts.

 

As least the bed was comfy, he thought, as he settled down into a nap.

 

He woke in the late afternoon, to the trill of his cell phone’s ringtone.

 

“Harry Hart,” he said promptly as he answered it, acting on auto pilot. He heard Eggsy laugh, and felt immediately better. “Is that you always answer your phone, Haz?”

 

“Sorry, dear. I didn’t see who was calling.”

 

There was a knock on his bedroom door and he walked over to answer it. It was Edwards, the butler.

 

“Hold on just a sec, Eggsy.” He moved the phone away from his ear, and nodded for Edwards to speak.

 

“Lord Hart, the cook has taken the liberty of putting together a small afternoon tea for you. If you would please, we can set it up for you in the blue dining room.”

 

Harry shook his head; there was no need for that since it was only him. “Just have it sent up here, Edwards.” The butler raised an eyebrow, as if to indicate that Harry’s order was improper, but he would never actually be so bold as to comment on it. “Very well, sir.” Edwards bowed and left, walking quickly down the hall.

 

“Eggsy,” Harry said as he lifted the phone back to his face. “How are you?”

 

“Yeah, no.” Eggsy said, his voice sounding confused. “How are you ? Dude, are you fucking Lord?”

 

“That seems to be the state of affairs at the moment, regrettably,” Harry replied, feeling a bit numb.

 

“Regrettably, he says,” Eggsy gave a bit of a hysterical laugh. “Wow, I knew you were posh but I didn’t know you were that fucking posh. Shit, am I supposed to not swear when talking to you now?”

“I’m still me,” Harry said, hoping that was still true. “Look, Eggsy” he started, acting on what he wanted for once instead of what he thought he should be doing, “Would you like to come to Ireland? You and Daisy? Make a weekend of it or something, and see the estate, maybe stop by and visit Roxy? I still have the funeral to arrange and attend, I won’t be able to come home for a while.”

 

There was a delay before Eggsy answered. “You want us there?” This was a big step, Harry was certain of it. No small hints, or subtle indications from Eggsy that it was time for Harry to share more. This was possibly the most important question in their entire relationship thus far.

 

“Yes,” Harry replied, firmly. “Absolutely.”

 

“Yeah, okay. We’ll be there.”

 

After fixing the travel arrangements with Edwards, and composing a rather long email to Merlin to tell his friend what was going on, Harry settled down to deal with the manners of the estate. At the very least, it was good to know that his relatives had been excellent stewards and this was one estate that would not have to be converted into a hotel to make up for lost revenue. On the other hand, could Harry picture himself living here permanently?

Would that be something Eggsy would be interested in, when they eventually got to that step? If they did?

 

There were too many questions revolving that particular bundle of issues, and not nearly enough time for answers. Harry wasn’t even sure if he felt he had the right to ask.

 

Eggsy and Daisy arrived before nightfall, owing to the fact that Harry was now the owner of a private plane. Ridiculous levels of wealth, he had cursed earlier, but he would appreciate its benefits in this instance.

 

He greeted Eggsy and Daisy at the front door, flagrantly ignoring the rules he had grown up with, to Edwards’ obvious disapproval.

 

“Darling,” Harry sighed out, relaxing immediately as he took Eggsy into his arms. Eggsy hugged him back hard, Daisy at his feet in her booster. Then, the young man took a step back and gave a deep bow, as he winked up at Harry and said “My Lord.”

 

“Oh shut up,” Harry growled, tugging the lad inside the house. “Edwards, Eggsy and Miss Daisy will be staying in the master suite, with me.”

 

“Very good sir,” Edwards said, giving a bow. “We’ll have everything set up shortly.” The butler turned on his heel and walked into the other room, seemingly to call for one of the maids or a footman.

 

“Thank you. Come, Eggsy,” he said as he unbuckled Daisy from her car seat and lifted the happy girl up into his arms. “I’ll give you two the real tour.”

 

“Sure thing, Harry. Hey, now that this is place is yours, does that mean we can have sex in every room? Give it a proper christening, eh?” Eggsy winked at him again and Harry couldn’t help but laugh.

 

“Well, I suppose if that’s what you want, we can accommodate you.” he teased as he walked away with Daisy. Eggsy trailed behind them, but not before Harry heard him mutter, “Very good, sir .”

 

Much later, after Harry showed Eggsy and Daisy all the rooms and a bit of the grounds but not yet the stables because Eggsy wasn’t sure how Daisy would react to the horses, and after a sumptuous dinner and putting Daisy down to bed in the adjoining room, Eggsy joined Harry in bed and gave the older man a hearty, thorough kiss.

 

“What on earth did I do to deserve that?,” Harry asked, bewildered but not at all upset.

 

“My Lord,” Eggsy said, his eyes twinkling with mischief, “I am here to serve you and all your desires.”

 

“You’re enjoying this,” Harry accused him, mock glaring.

 

“Oh fuck yeah, Harry,” Eggsy said, kissing him again. “In what universe would I not? Come on, let’s play the master and the stable boy, or even better I can be your valet and I need practice helping you get undressed.”

 

“How about you’re a naughty servant and I take you over my knee and give you a good spanking for your cheek, show you your proper place?” Harry was joking, but Eggsy’s body stilled and when the boy responded it was in a careful, thoughtful tone.

 

“Yeah, uh. I wouldn’t mind that either,” he said, blushing in a way that made Harry’s eyebrows raise and he suddenly was very, very interested in what the young man was suggesting.

 

He moved his arm down to Eggsy’s bum, groping it firmly. “Well, you’re just full of surprises,” he purred out, before giving Eggsy’s arse a firm smack.

 

“Yes, sir,” Eggsy gasped out, dropping to his hand and knees on the bed. He looked up at Harry, with those beautiful, trusting eyes. Harry was overcome with the urge to spoil this boy in so many delicious, decadent ways. To lavish him with gifts and wealth, and then tear him apart in the bedroom. Of all the ways he thought Eggsy could respond to Harry’s new title and wealth, he had not expected that Eggsy would get off on it.

 

He was not complaining.

 

“You little minx,” he growled out, positioning himself behind Eggsy, caressing his hands all over Eggsy’s lower body. “I’m going to teach you how to mind your betters, you’ll need to improve your manners if you want to stay in this house.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Eggsy agreed, readily and with a great deal of happiness in his voice, pushing his arse back into Harry’s hands and arching his back so that the view was more pronounced. It made Harry wonder just how long Eggsy had been thinking about this. “I’ll be so good for you, sir. Please, my lord, teach me.”

 

“We’ll start with your first lesson,” Harry said, making his voice deep and commanding. “See that you don’t disappoint me, young man.”

 

Eggsy never did.

 

***

Chapter Text

Harry yawned and rolled over, giving his arms a bit of a stretch, as he started to wake up.

 

Rubbing one hand over his eyes, his other hand groped on the nightstand for his phone; it was only 7:00 am. He was tempted to curl up and go back to sleep, but he wasn’t actually sleep, and he knew Daisy was an early riser. He was actually surprised she hadn’t woken him up earlier.

 

He made to get out of bed, but Eggsy threw out an arm stopping him. “No,” the young lad mumbled. “S’cozy. You stay here.”

 

Harry chuckled softly, gathering Eggsy up in his arms. He gazed down at Eggsy, completely enamoured, as he watched Eggsy try to burrow deeper into Harry’s side. “I was just going to check on Daisy, dear.”

 

“She’s sleeping,” Eggsy mumbled. “Cuz she’s smart, just like me. You could be smart too, Haz. Back to bed.”

 

“With logic like that, how could I refuse?” Harry asked, with a good deal of humor, as he reached over to run his fingers through Eggsy’s hair.

 

“It would be dumb if you did. Be smart like the Unwins,” Eggsy declared. Harry could tell by the way he spoke and his breathing that he was heading back to sleep. While Harry himself was now fairly wide awake, he had no desire to break the younger man out of his comfortable snooze. He simply laid his head back on the pillow, and run his hands up and down Eggsy’s neck and spine, enjoying the happy murmurs the action elicited.

 

“Love ya, Harry,” Eggsy mumbled.

 

Harry went still, his heart pounding. It was the first time Eggsy had said that to him, and he was floored. One one hand, he supposes he shouldn’t be surprised, as they had been dating for quite some time and often spent most of their time together. There was certainly nothing Eggsy had done that indicated that he wasn’t serious about Harry, even if he had said the words while half asleep and he might not even remember them upon waking.  And Harry himself was, he thought, quite clear and expressive about how he felt regarding both of the Unwins.

 

Yet the words still warmed Harry’s soul, and felt like rays of light spreading all over him.

 

“I love you, too,” he whispered back.

 

A loud snore was his only answer.

 

Laughing to himself, Harry gave Eggsy a kiss on the forehead before quietly, and very carefully, leaving the bed. He really couldn’t help himself; checking in on Daisy felt imperative.

 

True to Eggsy’s word, however, she was still sleeping when he looked in on her. He gazed lovingly down on her as he tucked her blanket tighter around her, and then he headed to the shower. While it would be nice to curl back into Eggsy’s arms, Harry had gotten enough sleep the day before; he really wasn’t tired. Rather, he felt rather buoyant, with oodles of energy coming to the surface.

 

Harry showered, brushed his teeth, and rather than get dressed for the day, he simply changed into a pair of dark black cuffed yoga sweats. One of the lovely things about the master suite, Harry had to admit, was the large balcony facing the lake. He grabbed his yoga mat and opened the balcony door, not bothering to shut it completely, in case he got locked out.

 

He rolled out his yoga mat, started in mountain pose, and began his practice.

 

It felt like over an hour later that he was coming out of savasana; he stretched his arms over his body, turned and curled up into a seating position. As he stood and turned around, he saw Eggsy seated on one of the lounge chairs by the door, looking freshly showered and wrapped in a fluffy bathrobe. And from what Harry could tell, absolutely nothing underneath.

 

“Looking good there, bruv,” he said, leering, as he raked his eyes up and down Harry’s form.

 

Harry smirked, walked over to the door and as he propped himself up on one arm, leaned over Eggsy.

 

“Enjoy the show?,” he said, smirking.

 

Eggsy nodded, giving Harry a cheeky smile. “Totally worth the flight over here.” He ran his hand up and down Harry’s free arm, saying softly “You know, it should be illegal for you to be so hot. Gives a bloke all sorts of ideas...”

 

Harry broke out into a wide smile, and sat down on the edge of the lounge chair. “You’re a bit ridiculously tempting yourself, you know.”

 

Eggsy laughed, moving his legs so that they encircled Harry’s waist, and he leaned forward. “Just a bit?”

 

Harry leaned forward as well, giving Eggsy a soft kiss that the other man happily sunk into.

 

Breaking away after a short while, Harry smiled and ran a hand through Eggsy’s hair. He looked softly at Eggsy’s face, and kissed him once more. “I love you,” he said.

 

Eggsy’s eyes grew wide and his whole frame seemed wooden, still. Harry had a split second of worry; perhaps this was actually not the right thing to say.

 

And then, Eggsy pounced.

 

***

 

“You sure you’re okay watching her, love?” Eggsy asked from where he sat on the bed, as he tied up his trainers and finished getting ready for a night out with Roxy.  

 

Harry rolled his eyes, and closed the book he was reading. “It won’t be the first time I’m watching Daisy by myself, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. Of course I’m okay. I think you’re just being overprotective.” Plus, Daisy was already settled in to sleep. It’s not like there was much ‘watching’ Harry would even have to do.

 

Eggsy looked over at him, grin on his face. “Jus’ checkin’. You’ve had a bit of a rough week, ya know.” He stood up and walked to Harry, brushing his lips against the older man’s.

 

Harry kissed back, pulling Eggsy in close. “You’ve made it very tolerable,” he murmured before sneaking in another kiss.

 

Laughing, Eggsy pushed  him away. “If we get started, then I’ll never get out of here in time.”

 

Harry wrapped an arm around Eggsy’s waist, kissing the curve where his neck and shoulder met. Eggsy breathed out a happy, contented sigh. “I don’t see how that’s an incentive for me to stop,” Harry said, before moving away “...but if you insist.”

“What? Oh no, you come back here,” Eggsy growled, pulling him over so that they both toppled onto the bed, Eggsy maneuvering himself on top. “Gotta leave you something to remember me by,” he said.

 

Harry laughed. “Thought you had to go?”

 

Eggsy shrugged, before diving in and starting to unbutton Harry’s shirt. “Roxy’ll wait.”

 

It was more than a half an hour before Eggsy finally peeled himself off the bed, looking deliciously ravish. It was all Harry could do not to drag him back.

 

“Love you,” Harry murmured, giving Eggsy one last sweet kiss.

 

“Love you back,” Eggsy said, smiling at Harry as he walked out of the door.

 

Harry grinned at the door, like an absolute dope, for longer than he was ever willing to admit.

 

Eventually, however, he got up and padded his way over to the adjoining room, which had once been his uncle’s office and private library. He hadn’t lied when he told Eggsy there were at least seven libraries in the house, this was actually one of the smaller ones.

 

Harry poured himself a small glass of whiskey and glanced over the books. Some seemed to be antiques and he would have to have an appraiser come and look them over before he removed them and replaced it with his own collection. The longer Eggsy and Daisy stayed, the more Harry was thinking about a future with all three of them living at the manor. It was a rather picturesque future, one he hoped he would be able to convince Eggsy of.

 

Perhaps he could use the kitchen as a bargaining piece …

 

Harry’s meandering thoughts came to a sudden halt when he came across a book with the title ‘Evangeline Hart’.

 

“What the devil,” he muttered to himself, as he attempted to pull it off the shelf. It wouldn’t budge; instead there was a creaking sound that came from behind him. He whirled around in time to see a door opening, where there had been no door previously.

 

A hidden room.

 

“Oh buggering fuck.”

 

Harry sighed and put down the whiskey glass. Sometimes he really hated his uncle. A private, secret room in his study? This could not be good.

 

His suspicions were confirmed when he walked in and there were several guns of all sizes and styles lining the walls. There was a light switch; he flicked it on and cursed at what the light illuminated. Rows of photos lined the walls, all but a few with red x’s drawn upon them. There were several file cabinets, boxes, and a computer covered in dust. It looked like this room had not been touched in a very long time, save for a nearly pristine envelope sitting near the keyboard.

 

It was addressed to him. He sighed as he opened it up.

 

Dear Henry, he read. If you are reading this then I have passed from this mortal coil, and I call upon you to finish what I could not. Though we have not spoken in a great long time, I know I can count on your good morals and sense of family duty. You will take up my mission and -

 

“Blah blah blah, fuck you” Harry burst out, as he finished reading the letter, which gave all sorts of directions of a holier-than-thou mission, as if his uncle felt he had been chosen by God himself to rid the earth of those who did not pass muster.

 

“Absolutely not, I will have none of this, you utter mad tit .” Harry went back to his whiskey glass and topped it up, downing it rather quick. “This family is absolutely ridiculous.”

 

What a week it had been. Orders from his aunt to “take care” of the man who murdered his sister, her meaning was obvious, and now a hidden office that exposed that his uncle was an vigilante himself. Harry felt as if he were stepping into one of his spy novels, or even taking a trip twenty years ago into the past. He sank down in an armchair and contemplated his predicament.

 

He knew what his character, Jack, would suggest but that was writing fiction and this was … his life. A life that he had taken a good while to build, happy and domestic and yet suddenly feeling so fragile.

 

He could never show that room to Eggsy; he couldn’t bear to think of how he would react.

 

He was startled out of his thoughts by a crying Daisy.

 

“Here now, darling,” he whispered into her ear as he tried to comfort her. “I’ve got you, I’m not letting you go.”

 

He looked down at her, where she was cuddling into his neck and sucking her thumb.

 

“I would never let any harm come to you,” he promised her gravely.

 

Something would have to be done about the room and the shooter, Harry knew that.  

 

It didn’t mean it had to be him.

 

He got Daisy settled down and sleeping again, kissing her on the forehead as he laid her gently back in the crib that had once belonged to Harry, as well as Harry’s father. Eggsy had been terribly amused when Harry had shown him it. Harry had just shrugged and explained that his family simply never threw things out. Many of the rooms of the house were filled to the brim with various bits of storage.

 

There were some numbers you never forget , Harry mused to himself as he picked up the phone. Unfortunately he was long past the days of using burners, but he hardly doubted it would matter now.

 

The line picked up. “Lancelot,” a voice said, gruffly, like it was out of breath.

 

“James,” Harry said. “I’m afraid I need a favor.”

 

“Arthur!” James sounded delighted. “How capital! Charming to hear your voice, old sport.”

 

“I’m long past the days where calling me Arthur was appropriate,” Harry noted, dryly. James was always a bit of a prat, he recalled.

 

“But even longer since we called you Galahad. But yes, I suppose you are right, as either way you’ve been replaced twice over.”

 

There was a sound of running, and doors opening and closing.

 

“Have I called at a bad time?” Harry asked.

 

He could almost hear James’ rolling his eyes. “Bad time, good time, doesn’t really matter. It’s nothing, don’t worry your pretty head about it. Now, what’s the favor?”

Harry looked down at his whiskey glass, feeling pensive. “I have some delicate items needing to be disposed off, and I find myself in a predicament where I cannot do it on my own. And it needs to be done as soon as possible.”

 

“Where are you?” James asked, curious.

 

“The family manor, if you remember it.”

 

“Oh do I ever,” James breathed out with wonder. “I thought you were never going back. Is Katherine still a giant bitch?”

 

Harry barked out a laugh. “Yes, only more so if you can believe it. My uncle passed away a few days ago; I’ve inherited everything and there are a bit of ...loose ends from the old man.”

 

“I can believe it. Right, let me wrap things up here and then I’m on my way.”

 

Harry paused, unsure how he would be able to explain James’ presence to Eggsy. Perhaps … well. He supposed he would cross that bridge when he came to it, if Eggsy even needed to know in the first place. The less people who knew about James, and Harry’s past, the better. What people didn’t know couldn’t get them kidnapped, as James always said.

 

“Call me when you’re in town,” he said eventually.

 

They said their goodbyes and then Harry tried to keep himself busy so he wouldn’t over think things. He closed the door to the secret room, and put away the whiskey; better to not be tempted. Instead, he pored over files that the solicitor had sent over. Harry would be meeting him in the morning and it was best to have a clear head. He had several changes he wanted to make and he knew it was not going to be any easy request. What he wanted was certain to raise eyebrows.

 

He glanced at the clock when he was done and was surprised by how little time seemed to have gone by.

 

Harry sighed, and then bit the bullet. He called Merlin.

 

“Harry, you miserable bastard, what took you so long?” Merlin’s voice sounded more amused than angry, but Harry detected a slight hint of worry.

 

Harry came right out with it. “Is there any chance you can come to Dublin tomorrow?”

 

Merlin scoffed. “I’ve already booked my flight. See you at four.”

 

The Scotsman hung up on him and Harry choked back a hysterical laugh, not wanting to wake Daisy again. He settled back on the bed, sitting up against several pillows, and picked up his book from earlier. He was hoping the written word would help calm enough that sleep would come easy.

 

It didn’t, thus he was still wide awake by the time Eggsy had returned.

 

“Aw, babe, did you wait up for me?” Eggsy said, slurring a bit. He was flushed and more than a bit sweaty, no doubt from both drinks and dancing.

 

“Of course,” Harry lied, smiling up at him. “How could I not?”

 

Eggsy took off most of his clothes, sans his boxers, and curled up at Harry’s waist. Harry reached over to run his fingers through Eggsy’s hair, smiling at the content hum that Eggsy let out.

 

“Did you have a good time?” he asked.

 

Eggsy nodded. “The best,” he said. “Haven’t had a night like that in ages .” He turned over, lying flat on his back so he could stare up at Harry. “I am so drunk,” he laughed.

 

Harry made to move. “I’ll get you some water.”

 

“Nah, no need. Drank like a litre of it in the kitchen before I came up here. I’ll be fine.” Eggsy wrapped his arms around Harry’s legs and nuzzled Harry’s thigh with his face.

 

Harry laughed. “You’re like a giant cat.”

 

“Yeah,” Eggsy agreed. “Hey! Can we get one?”

 

Harry raised his eyebrow. “You want to get a cat?”

Eggsy grinned, happily with agreement. “Deffo. Had one when I was a kid and I’d like to get another, but was given JB. He’s awesome, yeah, but I wanna kitty too. Didn’t think my house had enough space for both, but this place is huge. So, we get a cat.” He giggled a bit. “We could get like, five cats. An army of cats. A cat regiment.”

 

Harry smiled and leaned down for a kiss. As much as he knew not to trust everything a drunk man said, he was still very happy that Eggsy seemed to be thinking about making the manor his permanent home. “Would there be armor for these cats?” he asked.

 

Eggsy’s eyes went wide. “Yeah! Oh man, that’d be fucking awesome. They’d wear …” he trailed off, thinking hard. “Samurai shit. I want an army of samurai cats. Give it to me, Harry,” he said, implementing puppy dog eyes in Harry’s direction.

 

Arranging the pillows so that they were once again even, Harry settled down closer to Eggsy and drew him into his arms. “You’re going to get spoiled,” he chided, even as he was dropping kisses on Eggsy’s head.

 

“Maybe,” Eggsy said, not denying it in the least. “But I think you like spoiling me.”

 

“Possibly,” Harry agreed. “There are a lot of benefits to it.”

 

“Like what?”

 

Harry pressed a kiss into Eggsy’s neck. “If you remember this conversation in the morning, you can ask me then.”

 

“Aw! Come on Harry, not fair. I’m not that drunk, honest.”

 

“Samurai cats, darling.”

 

“That don’t mean nothing but that I got an active imagination. You like my imagination.” Eggsy’s hands had started to wander, as if trying to prove his point.

 

“I like everything about you,” Harry concurred. The words brought a brilliant smile from Eggsy, who twisted in Harry’s arms so that he was facing Harry.

 

“I like everything about you too,” Eggsy said softly, giving Harry a kiss.

 

Harry felt a brief moment of guilt at that; Eggsy didn’t even know everything about Harry. Couldn’t possibly even begin to imagine all the things in Harry’s past.

 

He reached up and caressed Eggsy’s cheek softly. “Even though I’m old with a much too big house, and completely unsure where we could even get samurai armor for an our legion of cats?,” he asked, attempting to push away his feelings.

 

“Ya ain’t old,’ Eggsy automatically argued. “And your house is fine, Daisy and I’ll fill it up if you want.” He looked up at Harry, not looking at all drunk now, just hesitant and unsure.

 

Harry gave in. “I want,” he assured Eggsy, his voice firm and confident.

 

“Yeah?” Eggsy’s voice was full of wonder.

 

“Definitely.” Harry leaned in to nip at Eggsy’s lips, teasing. “But you’re in charge of the cats.”

 

Fucking awesome .”

 

 

Chapter Text

Harry hated to leave a snug, cozy Eggsy alone in bed but needs must; he had an early appointment with the family solicitor - now his solicitor, should he choose to retain Everard’s services - and it was best to get it over with.

 

He had been here twice before; once when he was a young lad, right after his parents had died and the second after the death of his sister. Funny how he should associate these light, airy offices with death and desperation but there it was... Once again, after a death in the family, he had returned.

 

“Lord Hart,” Everard’s secretary greeted him, gesturing that he should make himself comfortable on the long chesterfield sofa, and went about making a pot of tea. Her name escaped him at the moment, but he recognized her from before. She was as old and ancient as Everard was himself, and had the air of a stern grandmother about her. He idly wondered if they were related and possibly vampires, before Sir Thomas Rupert Everard, Esq., came into the room.

 

Reaching out to shake Harry’s hand, he didn’t look a day older than the last time Harry had seen him. Then again, he had been rather ancient looking back then so perhaps there was nowhere else to go but to the grave.

 

“My lord,” Everard began, “I apologize for the ill-timing, but there several matters of the estate I feel we must take care of as soon as possible.”

 

“Understandable,” Harry agreed. “I am completely at your disposal.”

 

Everard gave him a wry smile, before sitting down at his desk and accepting the cup of tea from his secretary. “No sir,” he started, “I believe I am entirely at yours. Now, let’s begin.”

 

Over several pots of tea, they discussed the various holdings, accounts, trusts,  that had now come into Harry’s possession. Harry was beginning to regret that he had never bothered with it before; he had inherited a great deal upon his parents’ deaths and his sister’s trusts had been moved over his accounts as well, but aside from paying for university, he had never drawn on any of that income. There had never been any need; his salary as a spy had more than covered his needs, as meagre as they were, as he was always moving about and trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible. James’ was more of the flashy sort, but that had never been quite Harry’s style, aside from the well-tailored suit here and there.

 

“Well,” Everard drolled on, “That business is taken care of, and it leaves us with only one pressing matter, though perhaps the most important matter.”

 

“Oh, really?” Harry asked. “What do you mean?”

 

“Inheritance, my dear boy,” Everard stated; Harry had not been called ‘dear boy,’ by anyone since his mother’s departure, and it felt quite surreal to be called what he often endeared upon Eggsy. “You are the last remaining Hart, and you are not getting any younger.”

 

Everard raised a bushy eyebrow and Harry tried not to feel offended. While he was well aware of his age, he bristled inwardly at the implication that he was an old man, particularly from someone who was pushing into his early nineties.

 

Definitely a vampire, Harry thought crossly to himself.  

 

“What are you implying?” Harry asked.

 

“Whether there was anyone I should add to your will and trusts in the event of your demise,” Everard stated bluntly. “While we still have the usual charities and foundations listed, I have it under good authority that there is a young man and his daughter currently staying at the manor with you. From all intents, the relationship appears to be serious.”

 

“Good god, how do you know?” Harry blurted out. “No, wait. Don’t answer that, I don’t think I want to know.”

 

Everard calmly ignored Harry’s outburst, and coolly steepled his fingers in front of his face, looking down at Harry. His eyes were serious, and they narrowed in; Harry felt like one of the butterflies he used to collect and pin down.

 

“Will there be a marriage in the future? As you might be aware, same-sex marriage has been legal in Ireland since 2015, and adopting the child is only a matter of paperwork, should the father consent. It is rather important, and I am sure your aunt would agree, that the Hart legacy be continued. We must look on, at the coming years ahead.”

 

There was not enough tea in the world to have prepared Harry for this.

 

He hesitated, trying to draw his thoughts together coherently, before answering.

 

Was marriage really on the cards? Yes, of course Harry had wanted to merge his life together with Eggsy, but he had not really gone any further than cohabitation. He had never really thought of marriage as an option for most of his life, considering he was as queer as Sir Ian McKellen at the London gay pride festival. When you add in being a spy … it wasn’t something he entertained when he was younger, and he had never even discussed marriage with David. The topic had never crossed his mind. Marriage was something that other people did, on the whole.

 

And yet … Harry could not deny that the matter sounded rather appealing to him. He could picture it now, he and Eggsy in lovely suits, standing under a gazebo on the manor grounds. The young man would look quite ravishing, he was sure of it. Daisy could be the ring bearer, or perhaps the flower girl, if she was old enough. The little girl was still working on walking, though, but there was no need to even rush into things. Was there?

 

Harry shook his head a little, trying to pull himself together. They had just talked about moving in together, and that was while Eggsy was a bit soused. It was a conversation they would have to have again, with both of them completely sober, and as much as Harry realized that marriage could be a lovely possibility, perhaps that was taking things a step too far just then.

 

It didn’t mean that he would stop thinking about, now that Everard had lit the flame to the fire.

 

“I think,” he started out slowly, “that while marriage is not in the cards just yet, I would not want to rule it out altogether. Perhaps in the future … the relationship is serious, yes, but also still very new. I would not wish to push things quite at the moment.”

 

There. Let’s see how the old vampire would respond to that.

 

The old man broke into a wide smile. “Capital, my lord. It’s good to examine all matters at hand before coming to a decision; marriage, after all, is not to be taken lightly. Margot and I have been happily married these sixty some years, and I still believe the beginning counts for most it.”

 

His secretary came over and handed him another cup of tea. “Yes,” she said, “you certainly did take your time of it.”

Harry stifled a laugh, and kept his eye on his own saucer in an effort to keep merriment out of his expression.

 

Margot, or rather Mrs. Everard, took her leave of both of them, and Harry enjoyed the bemused expression on his solicitor’s face. It was good to see him rattled a bit for a change.

 

“Still,” Everard pressed on, “Though I encourage your current decision, I still must ask...in the event of your untimely demise, seeing as you have no selected heirs or close kin outside of the late Lord Hart’s wife, is there anyone you wish to add to your will? Your young man, perhaps?”

 

Well, that one was actually quite simple. “Yes,” Harry agreed. “And Merlin Greaves as well.”

 

“Excellent, I can get the paperwork started on that easily enough. Might I know the names, please?”

“Eggsy and Daisy Unwin,” Harry stated plainly, but knew it was a mistake as soon as he saw confusion on the other man’s face.

 

“Eggy?” Everard asked, as if questioning Harry’s taste in significant others. “Is that his actual name?”

“Eggsy,” Harry, emphasising the letter ‘s’. “And you know, I don’t actually know. I’ve honestly never thought about it before.”

 

Everard nodded, nonplussed. “If you would please find out for me, that will move the process along. Daisy, that you believe is accurate?”

Harry nodded, feeling now he was on more certain ground. “Yes, and I think I would like the accounts which had previously belonged to my sister transferred to her name immediately, with Merlin as a trustee on the account. If you need a secondary, I think Roxanne Morton would be suitable enough.”

 

“And the adoption?”

 

Harry hesitated, briefly, but on this he simply decided to follow his heart. “Yes, have the paperwork drawn up and sent to me.” Whether or not he brought it up with Eggsy any time soon was beyond him, but it would be good to have the paperwork settled, nonetheless.

 

“Yes sir. I’ll drop it off when I arrive for the funeral on Friday. I believe it’s to be held on the manor grounds?”

Harry nodded. “Yes, and there will be a wake and a public viewing beforehand, at 1 o’clock. It’s been posted in the newspaper and at their church bulletin and many people have been personally invited.” It was one of the arduous tasks Harry had to do himself, his aunt stating that her doing so would be unseemly.  “We’re expecting a rather large crowd. That, my aunt was insistent on.” Confident that business matters were at an end, he rose from his seat. Everard followed suit, reaching out to shake Harry’s hand once more.

 

“Yes, your aunt always has been, shall we say, scrupulous when it comes to doing things the proper way. Your companion will be attending the funeral, I presume?”

 

Somehow, Harry hadn’t even thought about that. In all the mess that was going on, it had slipped his mind that Eggsy would be around for the funeral. It wasn’t a problem, so much as he really did not think he was going to enjoy introducing Katherine to Eggsy. Well, he’d deal with that when it was time. Maybe he could avoid the whole thing and save Eggsy the significant amount of trouble his aunt was sure to give him.

 

“Ah, yes, I believe so.”

 

“Excellent, I will look forward to meeting him. Have a good day, my Lord.”

 

When Harry arrived back to the manor, after a brief delay at some of the local stores to pick up some treats for Eggsy and Daisy, he found that it was rather empty. Checking his phone, he realized he had missed a text from Eggsy while he was at the last store.

 

Roxy stopped by so we went into the city with Daisy. We’re gonna see the zoo!!!! Text me if you need me, yeah? Love you xxxx

 

He smiled to himself as he looked down at his phone, and texted an “ I love you too ,” back.  While he would have definitely enjoyed visiting the zoo with Eggsy and Daisy, he did not resent the younger man for making plans without him; Harry had had Eggsy to mostly himself for months now, Roxy was the lad’s best friend and practically family.

 

Family, as Harry hoped he would be too.

 

He had a bit until Merlin was due to arrive, and the house was very quiet; he settled down to work more on the latest chapter of what was turning into a heroine spy tale of epic proportions. He was quite pleased with the way it was going, but he could feel how bits of his life were seeping into the novel. Betrayed by her devious uncle, Evangeline was now on the hunt for him … oh yes, this was very cathartic.

 

He was interrupted a few hours in by Roxy and Eggsy coming into the room, with Roxy holding Daisy. The two adults were looking slightly pink, though Daisy had been spared. Eggsy had probably fussed over her skin the most, and forgotten about his own, Harry mused.

 

“Back already?” he asked, stepping away from the computer.

 

Roxy and Eggsy exchanged grins as Daisy reached out to Harry, demanding to be hugged.

 

“She kept asking where you were,” Eggsy said, with a fond look on his face. “She loved all the animals, but wanted you to see them too.”

 

“Did you now?” Harry asked, looking down at a beaming Daisy as he took her in his arms. “Thank you, darling. I missed you too.”

 

“Harry, zoo,” Daisy insisted. “We go?”

 

Having sat back down, he bounced her on his lap and enjoyed her giggles. “Another day, sweetling. I’m waiting for Merlin.”

 

“Merlin’s coming here?” Roxy asked, obviously interested. Harry raised an eyebrow, wondering at how that relationship was heading.

 

He nodded at her, as both she and Eggsy sat down in the chairs facing the large desk. Daisy was too busy enjoying the bouncing to care about the zoo anymore, though he bet she would bring it up later; bedtime was the most likely bet.

 

“Soon, his flight landed not too long ago, and I arranged for Thomas, the chauffeur to pick him up.”

 

“You have a chauffeur?” Roxy asked, and then shook her head. “Of course you do.” She reached over and poked Eggsy’s side. “Look at you, you have a chauffeur now.”

 

Eggsy swatted at her hand, rolling his eyes. “Not mine, Harry’s,” he insisted.

 

Roxy scoffed. “As if that even makes a difference.” She turned to face Harry. “Does it?,” she asked, coolly.

 

Harry smiled at her, straight on. “Not at all, as I hoped Eggsy would know by now.”

 

Ah, there was that delightful blush again. It really never got old.

 

“Harry …,” Eggsy started, looking a bit uncomfortable. As all best friends do, Roxy seemed to be communicating with him another wavelength and promptly stood up.

 

“I’ll just take Daisy in the other room and put her down for her nap, alright?” She asked, brightly. “Come on Daisy, love.”

 

“No!” Daisy said, vehemently. “Harry, I stay.” As Harry was not very inclined to let her go, he did not mind. But still, he threw Roxy a bone.

 

“Roxy, would you mind heading to the kitchen and informing the cook that we’ll have a larger party than usual for dinner? That is, I assume, that you’d like to stay.” She nodded, smiling, and left the room.

 

Eggsy looked slightly relieved at her absence, but he fidgeted in his seat. Harry took pity on him. “Eggsy, I meant what I said last night when I asked you to move in. Are you having second thoughts?”

 

“What? No!” Eggsy looked so outraged at the sheer notion that Harry thought he had changed his mind; it eased a lot of the tension that had been in the room after Roxy left.

 

“No, Harry,” Eggsy insisted. “I just … I guess I got nervous, is all. I don’t want people thinking that I’m with you for your money. I don’t want you thinking that. I mean … look, we’re not rushing things, right? I don’t feel rushed, and you don’t seem to be or you wouldn’t have suggested it, but I know to other people it’s gonna look like we moved really fast.” He stopped his rambling, looking embarrassed but defiant at the same time. Harry was truly besotted.

 

As usual, Eggsy proved himself to be utterly delightful. If it were not for Daisy in his lap, Harry would have thrown Eggsy over his head and proved to him just how much he wanted to keep the boy here.

 

“I don’t think that,” Harry answered, slowly and honestly. “If I thought about moving too fast, it was only with the worry that you might be uncomfortable, or not ready yet. But never did I ever think you were interested in my money. You’re far too decent of a sort for that, and at any rate, I know you’re with me for my excellent cooking skills.”

 

The last statement brought about the intended effect. Eggsy burst into laughter, looking far more himself. Harry joined in, allowing himself a slight chuckle and even though she had no idea what was going on, Daisy was laughing as well.

 

“Right, of course.” Eggsy said, sounded more than a bit relieved. “You know me, I love me a man in the kitchen.”

 

“I notice that you said ‘in the kitchen’ and not ‘doing the cooking,’” Harry stated with mock wryness.

 

Eggsy just shrugged. “I can’t help it, I know what I like. And I’m not uncomfortable, Haz. Really, it’s quite the opposite. I’ve never felt so at home before.”

 

The wave of fondness that overcame Harry at that moment nearly surprised him, and would have if not for the conversation he had earlier with his solicitor.

 

“Eggsy, come here,” Harry said, exasperated. Though his face belied some confusion, Eggsy did so without asking, and accepted Daisy from Harry as well.

 

Then, Harry was able to tug both of them into his lap, and give Eggsy a soft kiss besides.

 

“I don’t think I could live here, if you two weren’t coming with me,” Harry admitted. “I’d probably end up selling it, and incurring the wrath of my aunt forever.”

 

“Harry, you can’t sell this place. It’s amazing,” Eggsy scolded. “The kitchen is a masterpiece.”

 

Harry laughed, holding Eggsy and Daisy tight. Daisy gave a little bit of a squawk, but overall seemed unconcerned by Harry’s weird behavior.

 

“I had even started looking at homes for sale, close to where you lived,” Harry confessed. “I wasn’t planning on returning to London, if that’s what you were worried about.”

It was a pleasure to take in the surprise and awe on Eggsy’s face, and enjoy the way that Eggsy cupped Harry’s cheek in his palm before giving him a sure kiss. They were only interrupted by Daisy’s fussing, and insistence that they paid more attention to her.

 

“Since we’re moving in, we probably don’t need a cook anymore,” Eggsy suggested, as he played patty cake with his daughter. “I gotta admit, I do feel kind of weird about that.”

 

Shaking his head, Harry voiced his disagreement. “I can’t turn her out, she’s been here most of her life. Most of my life. I might as well fire Edwards, which we both know would be impossible.  And you really should try her roast chicken before you say that.”

 

“Hmm, if you say so.” Eggsy sounded unconvinced; Harry would have to drop hints to Mrs. O’Clery before long. “You know, Roxy is probably going to be here a lot now that I’m here. Just warning ya.”

 

“And then Merlin will move in as well, I can see it coming already; good thing the house is big enough. Any word on how that is going, by the way?”

Eggsy shrugged, noncommittally. “Roxy kinda doesn’t like to admit when she’s really interested in someone, so she hasn’t said much about him. That’s pretty much a big giant clue right there, but I ain’t got anything to really tell ya.”

 

Harry nodded, understanding. “Merlin is the same,” he said. “It’s quite irritating.” They shared a secretive smile, as Daisy let out a giant yawn.

 

“Oh hey there, sweet thing.” Eggsy chided. “It’s time for your nap, huh?”

“No!” Daisy said. “Wanna stay!”

 

“I swear, ever since she learned what ‘no’ meant, it’s become her favorite word,” Eggsy complained. “Come on Daisy, Daddy’ll put you in your crib and sing you a song, how about that?”

 

“Yes song, no sleep,” Daisy tried to argue, but Eggsy had stood up, holding her, and was heading over to their room with Daisy’s crib.

 

Harry followed suit, enjoying the pleasure of listening to Eggsy as he crooned out ‘My Girl’ by the Temptations. At the end, Daisy seemed like she was nodding off but then she burst up, as if she was wide awake.

 

“Story! Harry, want my story!”

 

Eggsy looked over at him, eyebrow raised. “What story is she talking about, Haz?”

 

“Ah,” Harry said, feeling awkward. “I may have ...written a story about a young girl named Daisy.”

 

“Oh really?” Eggsy asked, sounding far too amused. He looked down at Daisy. “What happens in the story, love?”

“Find egg!” Daisy told him, happily.

 

Harry sighed, and opened up the word doc on his ipad so he could read it to her. He was well aware of Eggsy’s watchful gaze throughout the entire tale, but he ignored it as much as he could. Soon enough, Daisy was happily nodding off, content that she had enough attention.

 

“You know,” Eggsy said, “you’re really good with her. I honestly wasn’t sure about it in the beginning, cuz you know, most people don’t want to date a bloke with a kid, but you really love her, don’t you?”

 

“I do,” Harry confirmed, his heart feeling quite too wide and open, as if Eggsy could see right through him. Wordlessly, Eggsy took his hand and pulled him to their bed, where they curled up next together.

 

Harry was content enough to lay there, enjoying the feeling of Eggsy pressed up against him and the soft texture of Eggsy’s hair as he woved his fingers through it.

 

They lay in silence for so long that Harry was startled when Eggsy spoke. “I wish she was yours,” he said, quietly. “You’d be a great father to her. Hell, you’re a great dad to her right now.”

 

“Eggsy,” Harry started, wondering if now would be the right time to bring up the adoption paperwork. “I think I should mention what I discussed this morning with my solicitor.”

 

“Yeah?” Eggsy asked, curious. “What’s that?”

 

“Well you see,” Harry wasn’t quite sure how to put this into words, and he was more than a little frustrated at the interruption of his thoughts by a ringing phone. “Oh blast,” he said, as he picked up the receiver.

 

“Hello?”

“Mister Greaves has arrived, my lord,” Edwards said. “I have shown him into the blue parlor, and arranged for his luggage to be taken up to one of the guest rooms. Will you be coming down to meet him, or should I escort him to his room before dinner?”

 

Harry sighed, knowing what was expected of him.  “Yes, of course. I’ll be down there promptly.”

 

Eggsy looked up at him, his face void of expression. Harry didn’t like to see his face that way, and wondered at it.

 

“Merlin’s here,” he said, feeling a bit like a coward.

 

“Ah,” Eggsy replied, getting off the bed. “I’ll stay up here and watch Daisy, call me when it’s time for dinner?”

 

Harry stood, a bit uncomfortably. “Yes,” he agreed, and kissed Eggsy on the forehead. “I will. I’ll send up Roxy, perhaps, if I see her.”

 

Eggsy smiled up at him, wanly, making Harry wish that he could ignore his friend and just stay, and fix whatever negative thoughts might be running through his lover’s head.

 

Well, perhaps it was best to jump into the frying pan.

 

“Eggsy, how would you feel if Daisy became Daisy Unwin-Hart?”

 

“What?” Eggsy asked, sounding shocked.

 

Harry resisted the urge to shrug. “My solicitor asked me about our relationship, and wondered if I had planned on adopting Daisy. I would very much like to, if you wouldn’t be opposed.”  Maybe this was a bad idea; maybe he should have waited until they were together longer, and talking about their future. The few conversations they had been having weren’t nearly enough preparation for this, he could see that now in Eggsy’s face.

 

“Uh,” Eggsy started, looking more that a bit lost. “Can I think about it?” he asked, finally.

 

Harry nodded. “Of course, dear. Take all the time you need.” Right. Not exactly the ringing endorsement he had hoped for, especially since only a few moments previously Eggsy had even confessed that he wanted Harry as a father to Daisy. Perhaps it really was too much, after all.

 

Trying his best to ignore the sinking feeling in his gut, Harry turned and left the room, putting the family he wanted behind closed doors.

 

He could only hope they would still be there for him later.

Chapter Text

“Christ, I need a drink,” Harry let out as he entered into the blue parlor.

 

Lounging on an ornate sofa, Merlin’s eyebrows rose up. “You can’t be that upset to see me,” he joked.

 

“I did something completely stupid, and I wish to remove it from my memory entirely.”

 

While Merlin was often a bastard, and enjoyed prodding at Harry more than what was reasonable, he was also a very good, and astute, friend.

 

He narrowed his eyes at Harry and pointed to one of the many armchairs in the room. “Sit, and spill. I can ring your obnoxious butler for drinks.”

 

“Ugh, somehow that makes it even worse.”

 

“Harry, if you’re not going to fire him, you might as well let him do his job.” Merlin ignored Harry’s protests as he picked up the handset of the phone, and pressed the button for the kitchen. “Send up the third best scotch,” he ordered over the line, “and possibly a pot of coffee. The master is looking peaky.”

 

“You and Eggsy are really taking this whole thing a bit too far.”

 

Merlin looked over at him, exasperated. “What is the point of you being a lord if I can’t make fun of you for it? Now, what is your stupid thing?”

 

Harry buried his face in his hands, and slumped back into the chair.

 

“I asked Eggsy if I could adopt Daisy.”

 

Harry was pretty sure that the entire house, even as big as it was, could hear Merlin’s loud cackle.

 

“I hate you so very much right now,” he muttered, removing his hands from his face.

 

“Of course you don’t. And really, that’s not half as bad as what I was expecting. It’s not like you proposed , or I don’t know, invited any of your ex boyfriends to the funeral.”

 

Harry shuddered, and glared at Merlin. “That is a horrible thought. Anyway, I learned that lesson from watching your sister Janine. What was that, 15 years ago?”

 

“Twelve, though to hear Mum gripe about it at family dinners, you’d swear it was last week.”

 

“Merlin, he brought his new girlfriend to her dad’s funeral. I really don’t blame Janine at all.”

 

“Neither do I, but according to Mum it’s not ladylike to punch someone during the homily.”

 

“According to your mum, you shouldn’t be drinking scotch,” Harry pointed out, just as Edwards arrived with the bottle and two glasses.

 

“Yes, well we all have to disappoint our family somehow,” Merlin said, as he took his glass. “Thank you, Edwards.”

 

“Will that be all, sirs?” Edwards asked, handing Harry his glass, his expression implying that he would really rather that it was.

 

“Yes, Edwards. Thank you.”

 

“Very good, sir.” Edwards gave a short bow, and left the room.

 

“He really is an odd fellow, isn’t he?” Merlin asked.

 

“I think he’s spying on me.”

 

“What? For whom?”

 

“My solicitor. He knew about Eggsy and Daisy before I mentioned them. And probably my aunt, of course.”

 

“The walls have ears, indeed. Perhaps your next book can be about a nosy butler.”

 

“And he committed the murder?”

 

“Dear god man, don’t be so dull.”

 

They drank their scotch in a brief moment of silence, before Merlin brought up the elephant in the room.  “Adoption? Really? What did he say?”

 

“He wanted to think about it,” Harry replied, trying not to sound like a sulky child. He didn’t think he did a very good job of it. “Probably trying to think of a way to let me down gently.” He let out an aggrieved sigh, and stared out the window.

 

“Well,” Merlin started, “It is rather fast, Harry.”

 

Harry just shrugged, not willing to give much of defense. “I love her. I love him. I want to do well by them.”

 

“Or you wish to keep them, so they can’t leave you.”

 

Harry started. He was used to Merlin’s cold bluntness, but this was something really altogether. “Merlin -” he began, but was cut off.

 

“No, I apologize. That was taking it a bit too far. I know you’re over David.”

 

“I am, very much so,” Harry agreed. “But,” he continued, slowly. “I do very much care for your opinion in this matter.”

 

Merlin nodded, staring into his glass.

 

“You’ve barely known the lad a year, and to him you look the very picture of Prince Charming. You’re handsome, experienced, well-mannered, were moderately wealthy until you became obscenely wealthy, and you dote on him and his family to the extreme, and now you’ve essentially offered to take care of his daughter for the rest of her life.”

 

“And you think that is wrong?” Harry was surprised by the odd amount of bitterness in Merlin’s voice.

“Not at all, because I know you and have for a very long time. But Eggsy doesn’t. Can you imagine what it could look like to him? You come swooping in and offering them the world. He’s waiting for the other shoe to drop, like most people would. You’re just too damn good to be real, Harry. Have you even told him about your past?”

 

Harry shook his head in the negative, trying not to feel guilty. “It’s a dangerous past, Merlin. I did many things that I don’t think he’d approve of.  I don’t want him to know and look at me differently.”

 

“Harry, he loves you for who you are now. I don’t see how knowing who you were decades ago would change that. Besides, he’s not an idiot. Your novels are too well written, and you said he was a fan. Your readers think they’re realistic, that’s why they love you so much. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t put two and two together by now.”

 

Harry scoffed, doubt written across his entire face. “No one ever looks at their boyfriend and wonders if they could be a secret spy,” he argued, pouring himself another glass.

 

“Well not with the sulk you’ve got going on now ,” Merlin countered. “But, you should tell him.”

 

“What?” Harry said, surprised. “You didn’t suggest that with David.”

 

“David was a tosspot, and I was clearly right. Eggsy is a good man, and I think he wants to do right by you too. He probably thinks that you’re besotted with Daisy now, because she’s small and cute and moderately well behaved. You told me yourself that you haven’t always spent a great deal of time with her; maybe he’s worried that you’ll regret your decision later on, when she’s older and more of a hassle, and want out.”

 

“I would never,” Harry said, adamant.

 

“People love babies,” Merlin argued. “Toddlers are a menace to society and utterly exhausting.” He said this with the conviction of a man who was uncle to twelve children, and godfather to many more.

 

“Yes, I remember,” Harry said, thinking fondly about his younger sister. “I want that, Merlin. I want Eggsy and Daisy forever, even on the bad days.”

 

“So tell him that. And tell him about your past. The boy deserves to know what he’s getting into.”

 

As much as he wanted to argue, Harry couldn’t help but feel that Merlin was right. He tended to be, irritatingly so.

 

“But how?” Harry asked. “It’s not exactly something I can bring up over dinner. Pass the peas, darling, and by the way did you know I used to be an international spy? I killed a lot of people, and had a marvelous time doing so, oh this roast is absolutely superb.”

 

Merlin snorted. “No, you daft twit. God, that would be awful. He’d think you were a loony and run far away. Just, I don’t know, do what you do best. Write him a letter, and in the meantime you act like you didn't ask at all and that everything is still perfectly normal.”

 

Harry nodded. “Alright,” he conceded. “But first,” he growled out, still feeling a bit worn around the edges, “we drink the whole damn bottle.”

 

Merlin swatted him away. “What?” Harry asked, staring at him. “You’ve never said no to that before.”

 

“You have dinner soon, and you just asked the man to adopt his bairn. You aren’t showing up soused, you moron. We only drink half the bottle.”

 

“I change my mind. You’re a lovely friend.”

 

“You only say that shit when I enable you.”

 

Harry waited until Merlin had two more drinks before pouncing on a topic he was very curious about. “So you and Roxy? How is that going.”

 

Merlin let out a long, aggrieved groan from where he was sprawled out on the couch. “Must you, really? And here I thought we were friends.”

 

Harry laughed. “Oh, I absolutely must. You’ve been avoiding the issue for months. Is there something, or isn’t there?”

 

There was a long pause and then Merlin admitted, “She is a lovely young woman. Very smart, very nice.”

 

“And?” Harry prodded.

 

“Harry, I’m an asshole. You’re my best friend and still, I’m an asshole. I am not nice, or lovely.”

 

“That’s never stopped you before.”

 

“Yes, well.” Merlin stopped, as if unwilling to go on.

 

“You care about her!” Harry crowed. “You’re absolutely mad for her, admit it.”

 

Brilliantly, Merlin caved. “We send emails, and we text. Sometimes we chat on the phone but neither of us really like phones. It’s like we’re dating but we’re not dating, we don’t live in the same city, I haven’t seen her in person since I stayed at your house, I spend my entire day wondering if I’ll hear from her and when I do, those are the best parts of my day. I haven’t felt this mad about someone since Nancy in sixth form, and this is ridiculous will you stop with that face?”

 

Harry couldn’t help it, he burst into laughter.

 

“I’m sorry,” he broke out between guffaws. “I really, really am. For laughing, I mean,” he continued, wiping tears from his eyes, “I’m not at all sorry for prodding you. Eggsy and I were going a bit spare, wondering about the two of you.”

 

Merlin looked exasperated. “I am not going to ask if he’s mentioned anything that she’s said about me, I am not .”

 

Harry shrugged, feeling a bit sorry for Merlin. “All I have is that Roxy has been pretty mum, which is what Eggsy says she does when she really fancies someone.” Harry took a brief moment to enjoy the hopeful look that passed over Merlin’s face. “As do you, I should mention. Though,” he paused for good measure here, until Merlin kicked his leg. “Ow, fine. She seemed very curious when I mentioned I was waiting for you. You didn’t tell her that, I see.”

 

Merlin shrugged, trying to look nonchalant. “I’m here for a funeral, to be your friend. Besides, I didn’t really know how to mention that I’d be in town, when I didn’t know how long I’d be here and also,” and here his voice dropped down a bit, “I may have chickened out.”

 

“You?” Harry asked, surprised.

 

“I didn’t want to pressure her into dinner, just because I was in town,” Merlin bit out. “Now give me the damn bottle, I’m finishing it.”

 

“You do that, not that there’s much left. I think I’m going to get us some water, since the coffee is cold now. And no,” Harry said firmly, “I will not call for Edwards. I don’t need this to get back to my aunt.”

 

“Harry, I doubt your aunt will be surprised by your drinking behaviors. It’s practically genetic.”

 

Harry rolled his eyes and left the room, heading towards the kitchen. He was halfway there when he came chest to chest with Eggsy, who came barrelling around the corner.

 

“Oof!” Eggsy exclaimed, obviously surprised to run into him.

 

“Darling,” Harry said when he regained his bearings. “Are you alright?”

“Am I alright - Harry,” Eggsy scolded, a bit sternly. “You have go to stop doing that.”

“Doing what?” Harry asked, blinking in confusion, and took advantage of the moment to wrap his arms around Eggsy’s waist. Weird feelings regarding the whole adoption situation or no, he really couldn’t help but want to touch Eggsy whenever he could chance it.

 

“Nevermind.” Eggsy rolled his eyes, but the bit of smile peeking out belied any real annoyance or irritation. “What are you up to?” He narrowed his eyes,  brought his hands on top of Harry’s arms and came in closer, examining Harry. “You’re not drunk, are you?”

 

“Hmm, I don’t think so.” Harry gave into temptation and pecked Eggsy on the lips. “A wee bit tipsy perhaps, but all in the good business of ferreting out Merlin’s feelings for Roxy.”

 

“Mmm,” Eggsy said, giving Harry another kiss. “So you’re a spy now, huh? What’d you find out?”

 

Harry blinked in surprise, and leaned down to whisper in Eggsy’s ear. “I’m an excellent spy, I’ll have you know. Always was, best in the field, and my data indicates that Merlin is definitely mad for Roxy.”

 

Eggsy’s arms wrapped around Harry, pulling him in closer. “That is some excellent intel gathering, Galahad. Now, your reward is a proper snogging and then I will drag both you and Merlin back to the dining room for dinner. Deal?”

 

Harry nodded, suddenly very much aware that he had drunk more whiskey than he had planned and it was about to hit him fast if he didn’t get food in his stomach and soon . But first, as Eggsy said, there were kisses to be had.

He backed Eggsy against the wall, and murmured, “If this is the type of reward I’d be getting, maybe I should come back out of retirement.”

 

“Hmm?” Eggsy asked. “What does that mean?”

 

“Huh?” Harry said, already forgetting. “What, darling?” He reached down and grabbed Eggsy’s ass.

 

“Shit, nevermind.” Eggsy grabbed him by the shirt collar and proceeded to make good on his promise.

 

It was only much later, after dinner spent watching Merlin and Roxy awkwardly interact with each other and while getting ready for bed, that Harry had sobered up enough to realize exactly what he had said.

 

“Oh, buggering fuck!” Harry burst out, causing Eggsy to look over at him from where he was getting undressed, understandably startled.

 

“Everything okay, love?” he asked, concern pouring out over his entire face.

 

Harry sat down on the bed, covering his hands with his face. “Of all the amateur, rookie mistakes,” he said, berating himself. “I am such an idiot.”

 

“Harry?” Eggsy was touching his shoulder, his other hand reaching for Harry’s hand.

 

Harry thought quickly, knowing he’d have to come up with an excuse. He leaned over, and gave Eggsy a short kiss. “I’m fine, darling.” At Eggsy’s skeptical look, he continued “I just realized a giant plot hole that I now have to fix, I’m afraid I won’t be going to bed just yet. Do you mind?”

Eggsy shook his head, smiling a bit. “Nah, I kind of figured this would happen eventually, ya know. The whole ‘dating a writer,’ thing.” He bent down to share another kiss with Harry. “Just don’t stay up too late, yeah? We have the whole funeral tomorrow.”

 

“Don’t worry, my dear. I know just what I have to write.”

 

Chapter Text

Harry stared down at the piece of paper in his hand.

 

He was more used to writing behind a keyboard; his thoughts came more quicker that way, more concise and fluid. But this? This required intimacy that only the physical could provide.

 

My dearest Eggsy, he wrote.

 

Then he paused, got up to pace, stared out the window, sighed heavily and then sat down to write again.

 

Although I have written many books and stories, this is perhaps the most difficult thing of all. I won’t lie and say that if I could get away with staying silent, that I would not take that opportunity. But it would not be fair to you, nor me, and definitely not for the future that I wish to have with you and Daisy.

 

You’ve asked about my past, and I’ve have to admit that there are many things that I have kept from you. Some, due to their own natural difficulty; as you have seen, I do not have a close relationship with any of my living relatives. This is partly due to my own stubbornness and distaste for them, and partly due to events of the past that have kept us apart.

 

I hardly know where to start.

 

First, I must ask that you never show anyone the contents of this letter, and destroy it as soon as you read it. I am not joking here; though it is unlikely that this letter would ever get into the wrong hands, there are matters which I will reveal to you that could put me in great danger should anyone else find out. I need this promise from you.

 

I was born into a happy and affluent family. My parents were lovely people who spared no expense at giving me the best of all things. I was very close with both my parents, though my father often traveled for work … years later I would understand exactly why, but my fondest memories are those of the entire family together, because it happened so rarely. Still, I always knew that my father cared a great deal for me; he was my ultimate ideal of the perfect man,  and I had hoped that one day I would be able to follow in his footsteps.

 

I also had a younger sister, Evangeline. We called her Evie. She was ten years younger than me, and a more precocious child you could never meet. She was the star that shone brightest in my family, and we doted on her extensively. She died when I was twenty-six, and I have missed her very much ever since. The fault of her death lies with my uncle, whose underhanded dealings with some of society’s less scrupulous individuals resulted in my family becoming a target, and Evie was killed as a matter of revenge. Since her death, I had not been able to come back to this house, and my contact with my aunt and uncle had been extremely limited.

 

I am getting ahead of myself; I apologize, darling, please forgive me.

 

When I was fifteen, my parents were killed in a car accident, though many years later I would discover that it was no accident at all. You know my character, Jack London, from my novels but I must admit that he is heavily based on the exploits of my father, as well as myself. He had been recruited to join MI-5, and when I was in university, I was contacted by people who knew and trained him, and I became an operative for MI-6.

 

There is a great deal of fiction in my novels, Eggsy, to protect and keep secret that which must remain secret, but the basis of it is wholly true. I am afraid that I cannot put any more details in writing, but should you come and find me I will be happy to tell you everything that I am able.

 

There will be many things that I will not be able to tell you. Not because I do not love you, nor trust you, but because this is a part of my life that was very dangerous and I wish to keep that danger from you. I put it behind me, and I don’t regret that decision. I have lived a new life now for the past decade, and although many parts of it have been difficult beyond measure, these past several months with you and Daisy have made everything worth it.

 

I will say that Merlin does know a great deal of these matters, as he is my best friend, and we met while I was undercover; I ended up saving his life, he continued to hound me about putting my exploits to paper. He continues to be a thorn in my side ever since, though I will admit that I welcome his company and appreciate his friendship. Should you have any questions that you are not ready to ask me, please seek him out. He will tell you what he is able to, of that I have no doubt. What’s more, he would not even consider asking my permission first, so you know he will be completely upfront and blunt with you, as is his nature.

 

I am sorry that I brought up adopting Daisy. Not because I do not still want it, because there is nothing more in this life that I do want besides you and her, but because I seem to have created a difficulty for you, and asked something that you are not ready for. I think I have been in love with you from the moment we met, and I have done my best to not rush into things or to overwhelm you with my feelings, and in this instance I clearly failed. I forget sometimes how much younger you are than I; you have a maturity beyond your years, in the places where it really counts, but I am nearly thirty years older than you. I have spent much of that thinking about the things I want most in my life: a peaceful, happy existence, with a family that I love and can care for.

 

I had recently gotten out of a serious relationship before you and I met, though looking back I cannot account that I ever considered it such, as my feelings for him are not even half of what I feel for you. His name was David, though that is of little consequence, and we were together a good number of years. Yet, I never thought him important enough to tell him what I have just told you, and perhaps my reluctance to discuss my past with him influenced our relationship in ways I did not see. I could not bear it if that happened with you. Please, I beg of you, know that from now on you can ask of me anything, and I will either answer you truthfully, or be honest if I am not yet ready.

 

In the end, David and I parted ways primarily because I wanted to be a father and he did not. As it turns out, I am very grateful for this, because if he had not ceased lying to me, you and I would have never met.

 

Do not think that my interest in you and Daisy lies solely in my fulfilling this dream; I hope I have done more than enough to indicate how truly crazy I am about the two of you; truly crazy, to the point of near stupidity, as I nearly let my past slip to you tonight in the midst of a drunken haze. Where others had interrogated me and miserably failed, I would have spilled all my secrets in your presence, the place where I feel safest and most at ease.

 

I must end this letter here, as I feel very much aware now of how open I have been in it, and I am afraid my ‘emotional constipation’, as I am sure you would put it, can handle no more.

 

I will only add in one more time how I dearly love and cherish you, and your daughter, and I pray that you will choose to remain in my life.

 

He left the letter on top of Eggsy’s night stand; he knew that if he kept it to himself until the ‘time was right’, he would definitely chicken out.

 

It was long after midnight by the time Harry was done composing his letter; he felt that he could not yet bear to turn in for sleep. Instead, he spent a great deal of time watching over Daisy in her cradle, anxious of what the next day might bring.

 

Unsurprisingly, he overslept; the combination of a good deal of alcohol plus a rather late night meant that his body had insisted on its sleep. When he awoke at last, it was after 10 o’clock in the morning. Eggsy and Daisy were nowhere in sight; neither was his letter.

 

Harry felt his mouth turn to ash, and was tempted to go back to bed and hide away for the rest of the day. Just as he was about to turn over, he saw his phone flash; he didn’t remember putting it on Eggsy’s nightstand; he didn’t even remember the last time he set it to charge, but there it was, plugged into the wall.

 

There were several messages; a few from James, several from Aunt Katherine, one from Merlin, and one from Eggsy.

 

Your phone should be charged by now. Woke up an hour ago, found your letter. Roxy is looking after Daisy so I’m talking to Merlin. Join us when you can?

 

The fact that there weren't any tiny x’s was no reason for him to freak out, Harry tried to tell himself. Surely it was a good sign that Eggsy was still in the manor in the first place, though he could hardly leave so early after just waking up...Eggsy could always come to that decision later, Harry decided.  

 

Harry’s mind raced through all the potential things that Eggsy could be asking Merlin, and worse , that Merlin could be telling him.

 

Was that a good idea? It had seemed so at the time, but granted what seemed like a good idea late at night rarely was the next morning.

 

Harry had fallen for Eggsy late in the night, however. He would never regret stopping in at the inn’s bar, not even if Eggsy decided to leave him now.

 

He checked his message from Merlin.

 

When I said ‘tell him’ I didn’t fucking mean right away, you daft moron. Jesus christ, he’s has a million questions and I’m still hungover. You owe me.

 

“Fuck fuck fuck, fuckity bugger shite fuck,” Harry swore. “I need to get down there, now ,” he muttered to himself. But first, he would need to shower and make himself presentable. As much as he wanted to race down there and find the two of them, and see if there was any kind of damage control he could do, he couldn’t help but think it would be best if he at least looked as handsome as he possibly can. Perhaps it was his vanity, but Eggsy had gone on about how ‘fit as fuck’ he was ...could he use that to his benefit right now?

 

He’d certainly damn well try.

 

It was over a quarter of an hour by the time he was freshly showered, dressed in a very nice suit, and feeling ready to tackle this emotional quagmire that he had created.

 

He had stopped terrorist attacks, assassinations, smugglers, trafficking rings, and defused more bombs than he could possibly keep track of. He had infiltrated the Italian mafia, as well as the IRA. He had survived in North Korea, for christ’s sakes. He could do this.

 

Right, just all he had to do was open the door and be on his way. Any minute now.

 

Harry stared the door down, willing it to open on its own. It remained, smugly, shut.

 

“Oh hell,” he muttered, and yanked it open. “Into the breach go I, and all that fucking rubbish.”

 

When he came into the front hall, Edwards was there to greet him. “Good morning, sir. You have a visitor in the green room, Mr. James Lance. He said that you were expecting him. Also, Lady Katherine has called the house; she will be arriving rather shortly.”

 

“Of course she will be,” Harry said as he pinched the bridge of his nose. “Any word on where Eggsy is? Or Merlin?”

“Mister Unwin and Mister Greaves are in Mister Greave’s suite. The young master came down about an hour ago, very flustered and seemed rather in a hurry to talk to Mister Greaves. They’ve been in there ever since and haven’t even had breakfast yet,” Edwards said, in a tone that completely conveyed his low opinion of those who miss out on their morning meal.

 

Harry blinked, a bit startled at the words ‘the young master.’ Well, he supposed it was accurate, or would be if Eggsy decided he was to stay. It seemed that the house staff saw that as a foregone conclusion.

 

“Where is Daisy?,” he asked.

 

“Mister Unwin handed her off to Miss Morton, who I believe has escorted the child to the kitchen for breakfast.” There, Edwards tone had switched into a much more fond, approving one.

 

“Right. Thank you Edwards.” The butler bowed, and left.

 

As much as he wanted to head in the direction of Merlin’s rooms, he knew that he had to see to James first. Blast, he had left his phone upstairs! He had completely forgotten about those missed messages.

 

He walked into the green room, where James was polishing off a cup of coffee and some toast. “Harry! Good man, you look excellent. Very sharp , I must say.” James was always quite keen on sartorial matters; it was one of the few things they had in common. Harry had slacked a great deal in the past few years; working from a home office often did that to a person. Still, the compliment was well received.

 

“James, you cad. What on the blazes are you doing here today? There’s a funeral soon.”

 

“I know,” James said easily. “It’s the best time to get the items out while everyone is distracted; the household staff will be too busy accommodating your aunt to pay me any mind.”

 

Harry rolled his eyes. “You’re not still afraid of Aunt Katherine? That was years ago.”

 

“Harry, I will never forget that mission. Pretending to be your boyfriend when she stumbled upon us in Paris wasn't so bad as it was funny, but the memory of escorting her around the city while you got to have fun still haunts my nightmares.”

 

Harry sat down and stole the rest of James’ coffee. “I hardly think that dismantling a bomb counts as fun.”

 

James smirked, splaying his arms open wide. “Ah, but see that is why you got out of the business, and I am still in it.”

 

“You’re also a decade younger than me, and have never wanted any attachments.”

 

“True!” James agreed. “This is the life for me, and I’ll go down fighting, I’m sure of it. Now, what am I removing and what is the best way to get there, with the least amount of exposure?”

 

Harry explained both the secret room and its location, including what was inside, and the matter of Evie's killer. James nodded, taking notes on his phone. “You Harts certainly are strange ones,” he muttered.

“I heard that.”

 

“You were meant to. Now, I hear a rumor you have a young man? I want to meet him.”

 

“Where’d you hear that?” Should Harry even be surprised? Spying and being a nosy bastard was what James did best.

 

“Edwards. He’s quite a gossipy chap.”

 

“Don’t I know it.” Harry sighed, resting his head in his hands. “Yes, I am seeing someone, and I am quite in love. But,” he wearily continued on, “he might not be mine much longer. I’ve had to tell him about my past, you see.”

 

“Ah.”

 

That one single, simple sound could convey so much.

 

‘Ah, indeed. I still don’t know what he thinks of me.”

 

“What do you mean?” James asked, standing up. Harry followed suit.

 

“I wrote it down in a letter, and left it for him to read this morning.”

 

James stared. “You really are an idiot.”

 

Harry glared at him, more than a little exasperated and not at all wanting to take criticism from James , of all people. “Oh, shut up. Come, maybe I can show you to the library before Aunt Katherine arrives.”

 

James shuddered. “The thought of her just cuts me in half. I can think of a million horrible things I would rather do instead.”

 

They walked out into the hall. Unfortunately for James, who immediately blanched upon seeing her, Aunt Katherine had just arrived, and was walking into the foyer.

 

Unfortunately for Harry, so were Merlin and Eggsy.

 

Aunt Katherine took one fierce look at Harry and James, and then one in Eggsy’s direction, and scowled.

 

“Harry, I am astounded.  Did you really invite your ex-boyfriend to the wake?”

 

Eggsy went still, and if Harry were not mistaken, his complexion seemed to pale a great deal.

 

Of all the buggering fucks. Eggsy must think this is David, Harry thought.

 

“Aunt Katherine,” he said, inflecting as much warmth into his voice as he could, though he very much wished to strangle her. “I see you remember James. He was just stopping by.”

 

Katherine sniffed, frowning. “I see he still has the most appalling manners. So anxious to skip my Bertie’s funeral, are you?” She stepped forward, in James’ direction, and unfortunately blocking Harry’s view of Eggsy.

 

“Yes ma’am. I mean, no ma’am,” James hurriedly said. “I was just in the city when I heard the news, and thought I would stop by for Harry’s sake, to offer my help with any of the matters. But it seems as if everything is under control?”

 

Katherine narrowed her eyes. “Are you asking me, or telling me?”

 

Harry was certain that Merlin was holding back a chuckle, at this point.

 

It was Eggsy who spoke up next, to Harry’s delight.  “Everything is fine, Lady Hart. Have you breakfasted yet? I’ve heard Mrs. O’Clery has makes a delicious fry up. There are scones, as well.” His tone was soft and gentle, and yet deferential as well. The perfect gentleman behavior to appease his dragon of an aunt.

 

Aunt Katherine turned on him, and to Harry’s surprise her gaze softened. “That sounds delightful, young man. Why don’t you show me the way?”

 

As if she hadn’t lived here most of her life, Harry inwardly scoffed. Still, he marveled at the way Eggsy held out his arm to his aunt to take, and Eggsy escorted her away. Before he left, Eggsy’s eyes sought out Harry, looking him up and down,  but Harry could not read the expression on his face.

 

“Well, that was - “ James started, but sounded too dumbfounded to finish.

 

“That was Eggsy,” Harry said, amused. “You said you wanted to meet him.”

 

“That was your man?” James sounded aghast, yet approvingly so. “You cradle robber.”

 

“Oh shut up. Merlin, I must know. How did he take it?”

 

Merlin gave Harry an encouraging smile. “You’ll have to talk to him yourself, but I think you’re in the clear? A bit. He’s got a lot of questions, Harry. He doesn’t seem as much upset as he wants to know everything. Honestly, he’s a bit of a wildcard, isn’t he?”

 

Harry nodded, agreeing. “Very much so. Right. Merlin, this is Lancelot. Lancelot, Merlin. Oh god that sounds horrendous.”

 

“At least my name is real,” Merlin argued.

 

“There’s nothing wrong with my codename,” James insisted. “At least I wasn’t known for being chaste.”

 

“Shut up, the both of you. Merlin, I need you to take James up to my suite. He’ll explain everything on the way.” Harry turned to James. “I don’t want to know the details of how you plan to do it, I just want you to do it and not get caught. Is that agreeable?”

James grinned. “Anything, as long as it keeps me away from your aunt.”

 

"You’re the idiot,” Harry said, walking away from them both.

 

He had his family to find.


Chapter Text

Everything was a disaster.

 

Harry wanted to shoot something. Or someone .

 

He hadn’t felt this way in a very long time, but he supposed present circumstances warranted it. He took solace in the knowledge that his aunt was obviously seething besides him.

 

“I cannot believe these women,” his aunt whispered furiously to him, after the thirteenth one had simpered up to them and insincerely exclaimed her condolences while at the same time raking her eyes over Harry’s form. “They couldn’t be more obvious if they tried, the blasted gold diggers.”

 

He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, desiring both to not be there as well as a good, stiff drink.

 

He also wanted Eggsy, but alas. That was not to be.

 

His current predicament wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for the damn catering screw up. Instead of being at his side, as was his proper place, Eggsy was working hard in the kitchen. The food had arrived far too early, and with only half the amount of staff the company had promised. Admittedly, the situation had been beyond Harry’s ken, but Eggsy had barely taken a deep breath before he was ordering people about and assuring Katherine that everything would go smoothly.

 

And so far it had, but it meant that Harry was without his boyfriend and these dreadful ladies kept trying to engage him in conversation. His only solace was that Merlin and James were just as troubled, and it was actually quite relieving to see how taken Katherine had been with Eggsy.

 

Harry was still trying to figure that one out, but he was willing to put it on the back burner in exchange for an escape route.

 

“Do you even know these women?,” he whispered to his aunt.

 

She scowled in response. “Some of them are from my club, others from the church. The others ...well. They clearly brought their daughters or other female relatives in hopes of getting their hands on you. God knows I had certainly complained enough about the lack of a proper heir, and they knew you were unmarried.”

 

“Perhaps you should have mentioned that I am also gay,” Harry retorted, rolling his eyes.

 

Katherine looked at him, exasperated. “I had . Apparently that doesn’t matter when a fortune is at risk. And here I had thought these women had class.”

 

“I’m surprised they didn’t bring their sons.”

Katherine slapped him on the arm, but with good humor. “Don’t say that so loud, they might just do and then Eggsy will never be able to get out here.”

 

Harry would admit that the nuances of catering and food preparation were lost to him, but he knew an out when he saw one.

 

“You know,” he started, rising up from his seat, “I do think I will go check on the kitchen. After all, I am the host.”

 

His aunt smiled and rolled her eyes. “Coward,” she said, nodding in the ladies’ direction.

 

“Indeed, madam.”

 

He was waylaid in his escape attempts by five more women, and by the time he arrived in the kitchen he was exasperated to the bone, and he supposed it showed.

 

“Harry!” Roxy exclaimed, holding Daisy. “You look ...not well.”  Eggsy was further off in the room, huddled with Mrs. O’Clery and some of the other staff, though Harry noticed that his head rose up fast when Roxy called out Harry’s name.

 

“Yes,” Harry agreed, turning his attention back to Roxy. "There is a bevy of fortune hunters out there, hounding us. My aunt is noticeably upset and Merlin ...well. I can’t say that I know how Merlin feels, considering we haven’t had a moment of peace to talk to each other.”

 

Roxy’s eyes narrowed. “There are women hitting on Merlin?”

 

Harry nodded, smirking, as the situation seemed amusing for the first time. “Aggressively.”

 

Roxy thrust Daisy into Harry’s arms. “Here, she’s yours now. Enjoy.” She had a determined expression on her face, and she strode out with confidence into the other room. The gold diggers wouldn’t know what hit them.

 

The downside of this was now Harry was alone; yes, he was in a room of kitchen staff and catering help and of course Daisy, but he could feel Eggsy’s eyes on him.

 

“Right,” Harry muttered to himself and straightened his shoulders, as if preparing for war. He looked down at Daisy, who was more than content to be in his arms. She smiled brightly at him and he couldn’t help but return it.

 

“Are you alright, darling?” He asked her. “You look splendid in your dress.” Roxy had picked out a deep purple dress for Daisy. Harry much preferred it to a boring black.

 

Daisy nodded at Harry, and giggled. “It fwooshes!” she exclaimed.

“Does it really?” Harry asked. “That’s incredible, can you show me?”

 

He placed her on the floor, crouching down himself, and marveled loudly at her as she attempted to twirl and show off her dress. It resulted in the both of them having large, dorky grins and laughing at each other. This small interaction with Daisy completely made up for Harry’s earlier misery; he’d take on a horde of gold diggers any day if it meant even just five minutes with this little princess.

 

“Having a good time?” Eggsy’s voice brought them both to a stop, though in Daisy’s case it was so she could fling herself at her father’s knees. He picked her up, kissing her on both cheeks, and turned to face Harry.

 

Harry gulped, nervously. There wasn’t anger in Eggsy’s eyes, or confusion. No, Eggsy just seemed like his normal, happy and cheerful self.

 

Harry had no idea what to do with that.

 

“Are you alright?” he asked. “I’m very sorry you’ve been put to work.”

 

Eggsy rolled his eyes. “Harry, stop that.”

 

“Stop what?”

“You do this thing, where you keep asking if I’m alright when you’re the one who is going through stuff. Don't think I haven't noticed how you keep your feelings bottled up, putting on the ol' stiff upper lip. It’s a bit annoying, really.”

 

“Well,” Harry started, but he honestly had no idea how to respond to that. “I’m sorry?”

 

“Right. Can you just stop being perfect for like, five seconds? That’d be great.”

 

Harry was completely flummoxed, and considered himself thoroughly lost. “...I really have no idea how to respond to that.”

 

Daisy looked between them. “Harry sad?” she asked.

 

“Of course not -” he began to say, but a stern look from Eggsy had him changing his mind. “Well. A little bit?” It was true, though really he was more antsy and nervous than sad.

 

Eggsy nodded, approvingly.  “We should talk,” he said.

 

“Yes,” Harry agreed. “With Daisy?” Eggsy shook his head, and gestured to the room where the guests were gathered.

 

“Let’s find Roxy.”

 

They walked back in, only to find that Merlin and Roxy were nowhere to be seen. The crowd, however, seemed to have doubled and James was hovering uneasily next to Aunt Katherine.

 

Harry raised his eyebrows high at that.

 

He walked over to them, conscious that Eggsy and Daisy followed behind him.

 

“This is a surprise,” he said, gesturing at them both. Aunt Katherine harrumphed, and James looked sheepish.

 

“It’s the only place they won’t attack,” he offered, causing Katherine to roll her eyes.

 

She turned, scoffing at him. “Were you this much of a coward when Harry dated you? No wonder things didn’t work out. The Harts are never cowards.”

 

Harry could hear Eggsy snickering behind him, though the boy did his best to cover it up with a cough.

 

“Have you seen Roxy anywhere?,” he asked James and Aunt Katherine. “Harry and I need to talk, and I was hoping she could watch Daisy while we did.”

 

Aunt Katherine’s eyes lit up. “I sent Roxy to take Merlin into the gardens, away from this horde. That poor man...at any rate, she didn’t seem to mind doing so. I can watch the little girl for you, dear.”

 

“That would be wonderful,” Eggsy enthused, handing Daisy over. Harry was surprised to see that Daisy seemed quite taken with Aunt Katherine, but he figured he’d worry about that later. Better to see them getting along, he supposed, than not at all. He just wasn’t used to seeing his aunt … so maternal.

 

He followed Eggsy into a nearby library, one of the several he had shown the boy when he had given him the video tour.


Harry closed the door behind them, and on more thought, locked it.

 

“So,” he started, turning to face Eggsy who had crossed his arms and glared at him.

 

“What the hell is your ex boyfriend doing here, Harry?” he spat out.

 

“He was never my boyfriend,” Harry assured Eggsy.

He was suddenly grateful for the timing of his letter, after all. It would have been a lot harder to explain James’ presence if Eggsy didn’t already know .

 

“Then why does your aunt think that?” Eggsy asked, confusion etched across his face.

 

Harry shrugged, shoving his pants in his pockets. “James is here to pick up some of my uncle’s ...more nefarious items. He was a former partner ... not the romantic kind,” he hastened to add.

 

Eggsy’s eyebrows rose up, and he took a step closer to Harry. “You mean, like, from when you was James Bond?”

 

Harry sighed at the comparison. “Must you really?”

 

Eggsy smirked. “I really, really must , Haz.” He closed the distance between them, bringing Harry close into a hug. “What, did you think I’d freak out on ya?”

 

Harry melted into the hug, holding Eggsy tight. “It was a distinct possibility,” he mumbled into Eggsy’s neck. “I thought you’d be at least a bit furious.”

 

Eggsy huffed a laugh, before pulling back. “Nah,” he said, shaking his head. “I mean, I guess I could be, but it’s kind of hard to be angry at ya for something I think it is really hot. Got my own Jack London now, don’t I?” he said, winking.

 

“Really, my dear, you continue to be full of surprises.” Harry brought his hands to cup Eggsy’s face, drawing the lad into a deep kiss.

 

“Mmm,” Eggsy hummed out. “I was really jealous of James,” he admitted, as they broke away from each other.

 

“What? Really?” Harry started, surprised.

 

Eggsy shrugged, blushing a bit. “He’s super fit and way posh. Just looking at him makes me feel outclassed.”

 

“Oh, darling.” Harry breathed out. “Nonsense, there’s no one better than you.” He lifted up his hand to cup Eggsy’s neck, stopping the boy’s protests. “You’ve enchanted me, that’s quite obvious, and you’re kind, and funny, and a fantastic father to Daisy. And somehow, I don’t know how you did it, you’ve completely charmed my aunt. And you take care of me,” he finished, feeling more than a little overwhelmed.

 

Eggsy’s hands were tight on Harry’s shoulders, gripping him hard. “You take care of me, Haz. Me and Daisy both, more than you should. You’re so good to me,” he said, as he leaned in to nuzzle at Harry’s neck. “And you’ve completely flipped my world upside down.”

 

He broke away, and looked at Harry with a very stern expression. “But you can’t adopt Daisy until after we’re married,” he said, decidedly.”

 

Harry was stunned. “Well, if that’s how you feel …” he trailed off, as Eggsy gave him a soft, sweet kiss.

 

“No marriage until we’ve been dating for at least a year, Harry.”

 

Harry nodded. “Right, of course. Any other demands you wish to make?” That was a dangerous question. He was feeling so light headed and happy, he was sure he’d agree to anything.

 

“A samurai cat,” Eggsy said, happily. “And no more secrets.”

 

Harry was more than happy to acquiesce. “No more secrets,” he agreed.

 

“Good,” Eggsy said, nodding his head. “Now, if that’s settled ...You locked the door, right?”

“I did...Eggsy, what are you planning?” Harry asked, as Eggsy pushed him into a chair, and got on his knees.

 

Eggsy looked up at him, smirking. “What, you think I didn’t see the way all those women looked at you? Yeah,” he huffed out, as he moved his hands to Harry’s thighs, “I really don’t think so. I’m just ...gonna stake my claim, is all.”

 

Harry’s hand came to the top of Eggsy’s head, winding his fingers through the short locks. “Oh my,” he breathed, heavy.

 

“Oh, mine, ” Eggsy concurred.

Chapter Text

“Shhh! Aidan, be quiet or they’ll hear us before we strike!”

 

From his position on the bed, Harry smiled as Daisy whispered fiercely (though not at all quiet) to her younger brother.

 

Drawing Eggsy closer into his arms, he murmured “I think we’re about to be ambushed.”

 

“We need to start locking the door,” Eggsy whispered back.

 

“They’d pick the locks,” Harry argued. Eggsy groaned softly, and tried to huddle deeper into his blankets, well aware that his children were about to pounce on him at any moment.

 

“They take after you,” he whispered crossly, blaming the ambush on his husband, which Harry thought was more than a little unfair. After all, Eggsy encouraged them as much as Harry did. Daisy might have been Eggsy’s precious, gentle flower and little Aiden had inherited both Harry’s curls and love of the written word, but the two children were both the most mischievous creatures Harry had ever encountered.

 

He absolutely adored it.

 

Even when they ambushed them, preventing him from enjoying a lie-in on his anniversary with Eggsy.

 

“Wake up, wake up!” Daisy and Aiden cried out, as they jumped on the bed. “Aunt Kitty is coming today!”

 

“Oomp!” Harry wheezed out, as Daisy’s knees all but landed on his kidneys.

 

“Wake up, Daddy,” Aiden whined as he prodded at Eggsy’s ribs with his small fingers, in a rather successful tickling attempt.

 

Harry couldn’t help it; he started to laugh as well. Sitting up, he grabbed Daisy and lifted her up in the air. It wasn’t as easy as when she was a baby, but ten year old Daisy still enjoyed it the same amount as she had when she was younger.

 

However, she would not be distracted. Between giggles she still told them they needed to get out of bed. “It’s zoo day, Papa! Aunt Kitty is coming, we need to go!”

 

Harry looked at the clock on his bedside table. “Darling, it’s not even 7:30. Aunt Katherine won’t be here until 9.”

 

Eggsy chimed in his agreement. “Let’s all go back to bed,” he said with the long suffering air of someone is tired, and knows his pleas will be ignored.

 

“Not sleepy!” Aiden cried out, the seven-year-old headbutting Eggsy in the chest.

 

“Yeah, I can tell,” Eggsy laughed, pulling his son in for a cuddle. “Alright, we’ll get moving. What do you want for breakfast?”

Daisy’s eyes lit up with joy. “Funnycakes, Daddy!” she exclaimed, wanting the silly shaped pancakes that Eggsy only made for special days.

 

“Yeah!” Aidan agreed. “With s’rup!”

 

Eggsy and Harry shared a fond look over their children’s heads. “You heard them, darling,” Harry said, as he got out of bed, Daisy clinging to his back like a small monkey. “Funnycakes.”

 

“Yeah, alright,” Eggsy agreed, as he picked Aiden up and walked over to his husband and daughter, giving Harry a quick kiss. “But you’re washing up.”

 

Harry just smiled at him, fond. “Happy anniversary, love.”

 

Eggsy beamed back. “Happy anniversary.”

 

***



Several hours later, a smug but exhausted Aunt Katherine said goodbye to them at the zoo exit. While she clearly adored her great-niece and nephew, and had an absurd amount of stamina considering her age. Harry was well aware of the type of energy his children had. Especially when they had a plethora of animals to gawk at, and plenty of sugar to eat. It was well within her character to have bought the children ice cream and candy floss, deliberately ignoring Harry and Eggsy’s protests.

 

Luckily, Eggsy and Harry were spared because tonight, Roxy and Merlin would be babysitting.

 

After all, they had an anniversary to celebrate.

 

Eggsy had insisted on making plans, wanting it to be a surprise for Harry. “After all the fabulous dates you’ve taken me on over the years, it’s my turn,” he had declared.

 

All Harry knew was he needed to wear a good suit; that certainly was never a problem for him.

 

They sent the children off to the west wing of the house, where Roxy and Merlin were living in newlywed happiness. Roxy had been living with them from the beginning, but it had taken longer to convince Merlin to transfer out of the London branch of the publishing house and take up residence at Hart manor. Once finally done, however, he and Roxy were inseparable. The two had just finally tied the knot a month before. Harry’s gift to them had been a renovated suite; after so many years of being a loner and a spy, he finally had all his family right where he wanted them.

 

It was really all thanks to Eggsy, he thought, as he wound his arms around his husband, coming up from behind.

 

“Oi!” Eggsy spluttered, as Harry pressed kisses into the curve of his neck. “Don’t you start, I didn’t make all these plans for nothing.”

 

“Really, dear, we don’t have to go anywhere. I’d be more than happy with ordering pizza and having you all to myself for a few hours.”

 

Shaking his head, Eggsy extricated himself from Harry’s embrace.

 

“None doing, bruv. I’ve been planning this for months.”

 

“Eggsy, how many times must I ask you not to call me bruv?” At this point it was more of an inside joke, worn with love. Knowing this, Eggsy just kissed his dimpled cheek before dragging Harry out to the car.

 

“Trust me, bruv, you’re going to love this.”

 

***

 

Harry was more than a little surprised when Eggsy pulled up in front of his own restaurant, Evangeline.

 

“Here?” He asked, cautiously. It’s not that he had any objections, but he didn’t think Eggsy would want to go to work on his night off.

 

Eggsy just shrugged, looking a bit bashful. “Yeah,” he said, pulling the car door open for Harry, “I thought of all the places we could go, I spent hours looking over the menus and talking to the chefs and then I realized ...well, I could just plan it all myself.”

 

Harry nodded, giving Eggsy a thorough kiss.

 

In the end, Eggsy had been correct in his assumption. With his own hired staff knowing how important this night was for him, everything was absolutely sublime. Eggsy had crafted an interesting, but delicious, tasting menu that had some of Harry’s favorite foods as well as some dishes that he never would have thought to try.

 

“You take such good care of me, darling,” Harry enthused when dessert was taken away.

 

“I still can’t believe I found you,” Eggsy said, reaching out to grasp Harry’s hand. “Every day, it’s like fairytale come to life, ya know?”

 

“I do,” Harry agreed, and he meant it.

 

Harry excused himself after dinner to use the restroom, and when he came out to the front of the restaurant, he saw a man talking rather enthusiastically to Eggsy.

 

Probably complimenting him on the food and his new cookbook, Harry thought with a smile. It had become rather commonplace; when they had met, Harry had been the ‘famous author’ but now the tables had turned and Eggsy was getting all the attention.

 

Harry really couldn’t have been prouder.

 

As he walked closer, however, he was startled to see that the man claiming Eggsy’s attention was David, of all people.

 

David, his ex boyfriend, whom Harry hadn’t thought about in years.

 

The time hadn’t been too kind to David, Harry thought with a small sense of smug pettiness. Whereas Eggsy kept insisting that Harry was only becoming more and more attractive with age, David had put on at least a stone and was balding.

 

He honestly couldn’t compare to Harry’s younger, and far more handsome, husband.

 

As he came closer, he saw the light of recognition in David’s eyes, and he heard Eggsy said “I’m sorry, what was your name again? I’m so awful, I forgot.”

 

Eggsy was sincere in his apologies, but Harry thought the timing was rather perfect.

 

He cleared his throat. “David,” he said, coming up to Eggsy and wrapping an arm around his husband’s waist. “His name is David. David, it’s been years.” He took Eggsy’s hand in his, giving it a squeeze.

 

David’s eyes moved quickly over the two of them, resting on where their fingers intertwined. No doubt he had noticed their wedding rings, Harry thought with a smirk.

 

“Harry,” David said slowly. “You look well. I hope things have been good for you?”

 

Eggsy butt in before Harry could even open his mouth. “Well, considering he got married to me , and we’ve got two fantastic sprogs, I think things are pretty fucking fantastic. ‘Course, I’m biased, but Harry,” he said, looking Harry in the eye, “wouldn’t you agree?’

 

“Of course, darling,” Harry leaned over and kissed Eggsy’s cheek. “Fucking fantastic is right.”