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#1 – Swift

 

“EGGSY, NO!”

High-pitched giggles filled the air alongside the thumping of little feet as Merlin paused just outside his front door. He listened for a moment, then glanced down at his watch and noted the time, the corner of his mouth curving into a little grin.

7.35pm. Right on cue.

Letting himself in carefully, he bent just in time to capture a fast-moving little streak as it shot towards the entryway.

“Da!” an excited voice squealed into his ear, and he firmly gripped the tiny, wriggling, naked body of his slippery four-year-old son.

“Hello, Eggsy,” he greeted, planting a quick kiss on a pale, wet cheek as the little boy beamed up at him guilelessly. “Is it bath time, then?”

Eggsy nodded happily.

“Eggsy, you come back here right now – oh, Merlin, thank God. You’re back.”

Glancing up, Merlin was greeted with the familiar sight of his partner and husband, who had arrived and was now watching them with a fond, slightly resigned expression. The rest of Kingsman would probably have a laughing fit if they could see him now – the great Harry Hart, drenched from head to toe, clad in a now-transparent white T-shirt that had probably seen better days and a pair of soaked grey drawstring pants.

This was, actually, not an uncommon occurrence. 7.30pm in the Hart household was bath time for little Eggsy, and if Harry was the one doing the bathing, inevitably the little streaker would make his way out of the bath tub within minutes and then proceed to race cheerfully through the house in nothing more than his birthday suit.

It was a game, between Eggsy and Harry. The little boy loved it – and though Harry complained and fussed, Merlin knew that he too, enjoyed the chase. Once Eggsy was a little older and no longer had such inclinations, Harry would miss these times sorely.

Shaking his head, Merlin hefted his armful of wiggly child and headed towards the bathroom. Harry held out his arms for Eggsy, who twisted and reached for his Papa eagerly. While the little devil loved both of them, there was no denying that his favourite parent and hero was his Papa Harry.

“Did you see me?” the little boy crowed. “I was really fast!”

“You certainly were swift, my little squirrel,” Harry praised. “Though perhaps we should get you back in the tub and finish getting the shampoo out of your hair, shall we?”

Eggsy sighed a little, but nodded, little head flopping onto Harry’s shoulder.

Only one thing was missing from this picture.

“Speaking of squirrels,” Merlin said, as he followed his boys back to the warzone they occasionally called a bathroom, “I was under the impression that we had two. Where’s the other one?”

“Woxy’s done with baff time,” Eggsy informed him solemnly, before Harry could answer. He slid down into the cooling water and reached for his rubber ducky. “She’s waiting for our story.”

“Which we’ll get to, as soon as you’re done,” Harry promised. “Bend forward now, love, I need to rinse you.”

Chuckling, Merlin left them to it.


 

Chapter Text

#2 – Divided

 

Starsky and Hutch.

Arthur and Merlin.

Batman and Robin.

Sherlock and Watson.

Throughout history, there have been incredible partnerships which withstood the tests of time.

Merlin likes to think that he and Harry have one of those as well. They’re a lethal handler-knight duo when Harry’s in the field, and just as united off of it. The perfect combination. United.

Except when they’re not.

Stomping upstairs, Merlin only just managed to stop himself from slamming open the door to Harry’s office. At the desk, his husband startled – and only his quick reflexes had him recognizing who it was and lowering the gun before he shot the irritated Scot in the head.

“Goodness, love,” Harry said, even as he returned the gun to its safe behind his desk. “You gave me a bit of a fright.”

Merlin snorted. “If you’d shot me, Galahad, we’d likely be having a wee discussion about your qualifications at your next agent field evaluation. I don’t give a damn if I have to come back from the grave to do it.”

“I believe you would, too,” Harry stated dryly. Sitting straight and steepling his fingers, he asked, “Did you need something, my dear?”

Merlin straightened too, remembering why he was here. On this topic, he absolutely could not give Harry any ground.

“Harry, love,” he said, affecting his sternest expression, “Is there anything you’d like to tell me?”

Harry frowned in puzzlement. “Tell you? About what?”

“Oh, I don’t know...” Merlin moved closer to the desk, deceptively casual – earning him a raised eyebrow from his ever-perceptive super-spy husband. “Maybe about why Eggsy and Roxy both appear to have no appetite for dinner? Despite me making Eggsy’s favourite: fish and chips.”

Harry’s left eyebrow twitched. A clear sign of guilt, especially to those who knew him well.

“There’s also a missing pack of chocolate digestives in the pantry,” Merlin added, narrowing his gaze a little, just so his husband would know that he knew exactly what had gone down.

“Is there?” Harry kept his reply light and innocent. “Oh dear. I do hope we don’t have rats.”

“Possibly not, but we do have two little squirrels and one large mouse with a sweet tooth the size of Buckingham Palace.” Sighing explosively, Merlin turned and allowed himself to give his husband a proper stink-eyed glare. “We’ve talked about this, Harry. No snacks before dinner – and biscuits are not a fucking food group!”

“In my defense,” Harry answered, getting up from his desk with hands raised placatingly, “Merlin, you didn’t see his little face!”

Merlin paused. Eggsy did have the sad puppy dog eyes down to an art. He also had one Harry Hart wrapped firmly around his little finger - but that was neither here nor there.

Practically pouting now, Harry seized the advantage and moved even closer to his partner. “I really do apologize, love. But to be fair – it’s rather difficult to say no to the Big Eyes.” Wide brown eyes gazed pathetically up at him, simply begging for forgiveness. “You will forgive me, won’t you, dearest? Merlin?”

Damn the man. Harry yelped as Merlin rolled his eyes, placed his palm on Harry’s face, and shoved him back lightly before stalking out of the room.

The kids might have Harry wrapped around their little fingers… but in turn, Harry had Merlin similarly wrapped around his.


 

Chapter Text

#3 – Poison

 

The shopping mall was surprisingly crowded for a weekday afternoon. Roxy bounced happily on Merlin’s shoulders while Harry carried Eggsy, and the little family calmly navigated their way through the bustle. Their destination: a kids’ costume shop.

One of Roxy’s classmates had invited her and Eggsy to a Halloween party at her own home (an early celebration that was to be held the following week). The kids had been excited, since the invitation had said that the children were welcome to attend in costumes.

Halloween wasn’t quite as huge here as it was in the US, but as per usual, both children were definitely up for experiencing something new.

Unfortunately, neither Harry nor Merlin were skilled in the fine art of costume-making – which necessitated a trip to the shops with the kids on their day off. Still, Merlin mused as he set Roxy down and instructed her to go find herself a costume she liked, it would be worth it to see them smile.

Eggsy shot off right away towards an aisle full of various kid-sized superhero costumes. Roxy was more reserved, carefully looking around before darting off towards another part of the store, holding tightly to Harry’s hand.

Merlin supposed that meant he should follow Eggsy – but tracking the little imp was easier said than done. It took him a few minutes to finally catch up to him at the very end of the aisle, haphazardly pushing at the costumes on the rack as he searched for the perfect one.

“They don’t have it,” the little boy complained loudly, as soon as he spotted Merlin nearby. “They don’t have the one I want, Da.”

“Slow down, chook,” Merlin cautioned fondly. “Are ye even looking at them?”

“Yes!” Eggsy dragged out, making it sound like the word was spelled with at least twenty S’s.

“All right, all right, let’s try another aisle,” Merlin started to say, only to stop mid-word as a loud wail came from the other end of the store.

Eggsy went completely still – a first for the normally-energetic child. “Da,” he said worriedly. “Da, that’s Roxy!”

Without thinking, Merlin scooped up the boy and rushed towards the sound, coming to a halt in front of quite the scene.

His little princess was sobbing her heart out into Harry’s leg, clinging to his suit and face buried in his trousers. Meanwhile, Merlin’s husband looked about ready to kill someone, one arm protectively around Roxy’s shoulders and the other clenched in a tight grip on his Kingsman umbrella.

The shopgirl was with them, and both of them were glaring at a woman, who was shopping with another little girl.

Eggsy clung a little tighter to Merlin, perhaps sensing the tension in the air. In turn, the quartermaster gently adjusted his arms so that he was better supporting the boy, before striding forward to find out exactly what all the fuss was about.

“Hello, dear,” Harry said, still perfectly calm, though the flint in his eyes told Merlin that he was close to losing his temper. “You didn’t have to rush over. Mrs Watkins and her daughter were just leaving.”

“DA!” wailed Roxy, releasing Harry and rushing over to him. “Da, I don’t wanna be a Disney princess!”

Merlin had just placed the name ‘Mrs Watkins’ – ah yes, wasn’t that Eggsy and Roxy’s classmate Eugenia’s mother?

The children often regaled himself and Harry with tales of their most spoiled and unpleasant classmate over the dinner table. While not a bully, the child was apparently an entitled piece of work.

It would appear that her mother wasn’t much better.

“You don’t have to be a Disney princess if you don’t want to, little flower,” Merlin soothed, eyeing the woman, who was looking between him and Harry, and screwing up her face as if she’d swallowed a lemon. “But did you find any other costume that took your fancy?”

Roxy sniffled. “But she said I hafta be a Disney princess.”

“What she said,” Harry broke in quickly, “Was that Roxy should be shopping in the girls’ section of the store, when she was merely expressing an interest in dressing up as Batman or Luke Skywalker.”

Eggsy’s eyes widened. “Then I wanna be Chewbacca!” he declared, and Roxy looked up at him and managed a tearful little smile – only to scoot back behind Merlin again as Mrs Watkins cut in.

“Darling,” she cooed at Roxy, “You are a girl. Wouldn’t you rather be a pretty princess for Alexandra’s party? Girls should not wish to dress as superheroes – it’s simply not proper.”

Roxy’s eyes filled with fresh tears, and Merlin frowned. But before he could respond, Harry stepped forward smoothly, and quickly scooped their daughter into his arms.

“Madam,” he said politely, “I’ll thank you to keep that sort of poison out of my daughter’s ears. If she doesn’t wish to be a princess, she can dress up as whoever and whatever she wishes to – even if it may be Darth fucking Vader.”

“Papa!” Eggsy said in amazement, and even Roxy was apparently too stunned to cry. “Bad word, Papa!”

“I do apologize, Eggsy,” Harry told his son seriously. “My mistake.” Catching Merlin’s eye, they both exchanged glances, before Harry turned to the salesgirl and apologized quickly that they had to leave “this fine establishment”.

Which was all well and good, because Merlin did not want either of their babies in the presence of that toxic woman any longer.

“They didn’t have any nice costumes, anyway,” Eggsy declared, once they were in a Kingsman cab and on the way home.

Harry raised an eyebrow in the middle of dabbing at Roxy’s tear-stained face with his handkerchief. “Oh? What did you wish to wear, then? I was under the impression that you weren’t sure what you wanted to be.”

“Wanted to be you,” Eggsy answered, fidgeting with his shoes. “So did Roxy.”

The little girl nodded vehemently, her brown hair flying.

“Me?” Harry echoed, turning to the little boy. “What, a tailor?”

“Yah. In a proper suit.” Eggsy beamed. “Just like the ones you go to work in, Papa! With the glasses!”

“We wanted to be gentlemens,” Roxy agreed, her little eyes shining. “Please Da?”  

Again, his husband sent him a quick glance, but Merlin was smiling, already formulating some costume ideas in his mind.

“Certainly,” he agreed, looking gently at his little angels. “As Harry said, loves, you can dress up in whatever you want to – even if it is Darth fucking Vader.”

“Merlin!”


 

Chapter Text

#4 - Underwater

 

At the time, it had seemed like a good idea to teach both children how to swim.

There was a public pool in the city, and both children were excited for their lessons. Eggsy – ever a moving ball of energy – was practically vibrating in his booster seat. Roxy was sitting still and straight – a proper little lady to the end. But Harry could see her bright eyes and wide smile and knew she was just as excited as her brother.

Merlin had been unable to leave the office, needing to monitor Bedivere’s current mission in Norway, but Harry was recording everything through his glasses so his husband wouldn’t miss anything. (Improper use of Kingsman property be damned.)

Roxy was like a little doll in her sky blue one-piece bathing suit, while Eggsy looked every inch the handsome little rascal he was in a pair of grey and blue swim trunks. For a moment, Harry just stood there, lost in the cute.

Then Merlin’s voice came in his ear: “Well? Take a picture, we’re getting one for the fridge.”

Harry frowned. “We’re already recording, dearest.”

“Not with the glasses,” Merlin said, like Harry was an idiot. “With your phone. The resolution’s much better, and you won’t have to stand there blinking like you’ve lost the plot.”

Oh. Oh, right.

Harry quickly tugged his phone out of his pocket and had the children pose for some quick photos before taking them by the hand (with an especially firm grip on Eggsy) and leading them to where a young woman was leading a children’s group swimming lesson.

At first, everything seemed fine. Satisfied that the young lady who was leading the class had everything well in hand, Harry found himself a seat on a pool chair nearby and settled down to watch (and record, yes, Merlin, are you even paying attention to Bedivere??).

Later, though, he would be grateful that Merlin had been watching as well, and kicked himself for not paying attention.

One minute the kids were learning how to hold their breath underwater, the next Merlin was urgently hissing, “Harry, something’s wrong with Eggsy!”

And then Eggsy’s little head broke the water in a panic, and he let out a frightened little cry that had Harry at his side within seconds.

“Darling, what’s wrong?” he asked, alarmed at how pale and terrified the little boy seemed. His eyes were dazed, and he seemed confused. It took almost a full minute before blue eyes cleared and looked up at him.

Trembling, Eggsy whimpered, “Harry?”

The sound of his name sent Harry’s heart plummeting – Eggsy had started calling them “Papa” and “Da” about 6 months after coming to live with them. Before that, it had been “Mr Harry” and “Mr Merlin” because the boy hadn’t begun to trust them yet.

Roxy waded over to them, looking worried as well. “Eggsy, it’s Papa. Why’re you calling him ‘Harry’ again?”

Eggsy shivered, and Harry instinctively swept him up and moved to get him out of the water.

“It’s all right Roxy, I’ll take care of him,” he assured the little girl, but by now she was rather worked up and insisted on following them both back to Harry’s pool chair.

Harry ended up with both of them in his lap, wrapped snugly in fluffy bathrobes and towels. Eggsy was still trembling, but it appeared to have eased somewhat. Harry held him, murmuring nonsense, and eventually, the tiny body stilled.

Which, for Eggsy, wasn’t usually a good sign either. The boy had had two speeds for as long as Harry had known him – flat out and full stop. To have him so quiet and unmoving was frankly worrying.

“Baby,” he murmured softly. “Baby, are you all right?”

Eggsy shook his head and started to cry. Naturally, this set off Roxy, and about ten minutes later that was how Merlin found them – Harry gently rocking two sobbing children, ignoring all the concerned bystanders and small crowd which had gathered around them.

The quartermaster said nothing, simply reached out and lifted Roxy into his arms.

“Come along,” he said, helping to gather their belongings one-handed and nodding at his frazzled husband. “We’re going. Come now, Eggsy, there’s a brave lad.”

Eggsy sniffled, blinking away his tears, and buried his face in Harry’s neck. Merlin grimaced, but Harry clearly didn’t give two shits about the snot and mess.

Merlin had a car waiting for them, and Harry gratefully got in with Eggsy. The boy whined when Harry strapped him into his booster seat, but didn’t protest. He insisted on holding Harry’s hand though, and Harry obliged, letting the child cling to him all the way home.

While Merlin took a brief detour to the children’s room to settle a now-sleeping Roxy – they would worry about getting the children to shower the chlorine off later – Harry brought Eggsy straight to the living room, settling with him in the rocker by the fire.

When they’d first adopted the children, nightmares had been a recurring issue, especially for Eggsy. The bond Harry now shared with his little boy had largely been built over long nights shared in this very rocker, with Eggsy wrapped in a blanket and Harry gently rocking him back to sleep.

As time went by and Eggsy grew more secure with his new family, the nightmares had returned less and less, and he’d started sleeping through the night instead of waking the household with heart-wrenching screams. Harry had both loved and mourned the progress – while he was of course glad that Eggsy no longer had nightmares, he’d missed their time together in the rocker.

Now though, it seemed that it was needed once more. Harry rocked his baby boy gently, murmuring reassurances. Eggsy, for his part, cuddled close and sighed. Unlike Roxy, he didn’t seem sleepy, but at last the little heartbeat was calming down.

Merlin entered their living room just in time to hear the boy whisper, “I ‘membered before.”

“Before?” Harry acknowledged his husband with a quick nod, then turned his full attention to his boy.

“Before. After Daddy died, but before Mum.” The boy sighed. “I ‘membered Dean.”

The boy’s father, Lee Unwin, had been a Kingsman agent with Harry and Merlin. He had died during a mission, saving Harry’s life, and shortly after his wife had followed him – beaten to death by her abusive boyfriend. Eggsy’s stepfather, Dean Baker. The boy had barely been a toddler then – and both Harry and Merlin had quickly stepped in to take the child before he could be put into the system. Eggsy had been a shell of a child, silent and unresponsive. There had been signs of physical abuse, the doctors had said, but had been unable to tell them exactly what had been done.

The boy’s memories of that time had slowly faded as he learned to love and trust Harry and Merlin – but it would seem their little trip to the pool had unintentionally re-awoken some of Eggsy’s past.

Now, safe in Harry’s arms, Eggsy dared to tell them what he’d remembered in tiny whispers. How Dean had held his head beneath the water in bathroom sink, how Eggsy had been unable to breathe, how he’d once nearly drowned.

Harry held Eggsy closer and whispered back, promising all the love and safety he and Merlin could give.

To their surprise, Eggsy smiled shyly, patting Harry on the chest as if to console. “I know, Papa,” he whispered. He twisted to look at Merlin as well, who moved to kneel beside them both. “I know.”


 

Chapter Text

#5 – Long

 

“Da?”

“Yes, Eggsy?”

The little boy skipped along beside Merlin, expression serious as he made sure not to step on any cracks. Ever since his “Uncle Percy” had told him that was bad luck (“I was fucking joking, Merlin!”), Eggsy had been nearly obsessive about avoiding them.

Merlin was going to make sure Percival’s next mission was a nice long one, preferably in someplace like Antarctica.

“Jamal said tonight he’s gon’ have a babysitter because his mum and daddy are going out ta celebrate their ann’versorry,” the boy informed Merlin, who nodded – Jamal was one of Eggsy’s best mates in his nursery class, and the two were thick as thieves.

“Are they now? Well, congratulations to Jamal’s parents.”

Eggsy squinted up at Merlin. “Da, what’s an ann’versorry?”

“An anniversary,” Merlin corrected carefully, “is when you remember a specific date or event that has a special meaning. In this case, Jamal’s parents are celebrating the anniversary of their wedding, or the day they got married. Most couples do.”

Eggsy blinked up at Merlin. “Yeah?”

“Truly.”

The boy considered that, skipping forward a few more steps. Then, he asked, “So how comes you and Papa didn’t celebrate your ann’versorry?”

Completely ignoring Merlin’s attempt at teaching him proper diction, the little brat. Merlin hummed a little, then answered, “What makes you think we didn’t?”

A shrug. “Y’ain’t never told us. Jamal said his parents told them, and his gran took him and his sister to get his mum and dad a present. ‘Cause yer s’posed to get ann’versorry presents for people, ‘specially when they been married a long time like yous.”

Harry and Merlin did in fact celebrate their wedding anniversary each time it came around – though clearly the kids hadn’t noticed. Both men preferred to keep things low-key – dinner, perhaps a show, and a quiet night enjoying each other’s company. They got each other presents – usually small things that meant a lot to the both of them.

They’d been married going on six years now. It had been a very quiet affair – Bors was still miffed because he’d been the only member of the Round Table who hadn’t eventually found out on his own. The others had guessed along the way (and collected their winnings from the Kingsman pool accordingly).

Perhaps six years was a long time, for people in their profession. Or to Eggsy, who was much younger than Harry and Merlin’s entire relationship put together.

“Da?”

“Yes, Eggsy?”

“When’s your annver’sorry?”

“February 13th,” replied Merlin, amused. “I’m afraid it’s already passed by for this year, darling.”

Eggsy pouted. The quartermaster chuckled, reaching down to ruffle the silky-soft blond hair. “If you’d like, a bhobain, there’s always next year.”

The boy brightened at the thought. “Yeah! I’ll tell Roxy, she’ll ‘member.” He then turned a particularly cheeky little grin up at Merlin, blue eyes bright with mischief. “Da?”

“Yes, Eggsy?”

“Do people get cake at annver’sorries?”

“Well -“

“And chocolate biscuits?”

“I –“

“And pudding?”

“All right, you little monster,” Merlin said, snatching up the giggling boy and pretending to glare. “That’s enough of that. You and your sweeties – as bad as your Papa, you are.”


 

Chapter Text

#6 – Sword

 

“On guard!”

Harry glanced up just in time to prevent Roxy from tipping his mug of tea off the corner of his desk. The little girl had run into his office, brandishing – what was that, a broom? – and had enthusiastically thrust it towards Harry with a shout.

En garde, darling,” Harry corrected absently, hastily shifting his drink closer to the center of the table and (hopefully) well out of reach.

En garde,’ Roxy repeated dutifully. “Papa, I’m a musketeer!”

“That’s lovely, sweetheart. I’m sure you’re the best one in the corps.”

Roxy preened. “I’m better than all the boys!” She thrust the broom forward again, very skillfully taking out a brass paperweight on the corner of the desk.

Harry gave up all attempts at returning to work, lunging forward to catch the heavy object before it fell onto Roxy’s little foot.

“Where did your Da and Eggsy go, love?” he asked, neatly placing the paperweight back on the desk, right next to his tea.

A shrug. “They went for a walk. Eggsy got squirmy.”

“Ah.”

That tended to happen quite often, actually, especially with Eggsy being such a high-energy child. Today was slightly dreary and the children had been stuck inside since getting back from nursery – so it wasn’t surprising that Eggsy would have gotten “squirmy” and needed to walk off some of his energy.

What was surprising was that Roxy hadn’t gone along with them.

“You didn’t feel like a walk?” Harry asked, and the little girl shook her head.

“Da said Eggsy was getting mean because he was squirmy, an’ he thought we could use some time ‘part,” Roxy quoted seriously. She looked at Harry rather dolefully. “Papa, will you play musketeers with me?”

Harry translated that to mean that Eggsy had been irritable from being cooped up – which sometimes happened, no matter how sweet the boy could be – and so his husband had taken him out to prevent the kids from squabbling.

“Certainly,” he said, knowing that the little girl was likely bored without her Da or usual playmate around. “Now, who shall be d’Artagnan?”

Roxy gave a delighted squeal. “Me!”

“Excellent choice. Allow me to find myself a weapon… Now, en garde!”

 


 

Eggsy was absolutely thrilled when he and Merlin returned a little later to find the house a complete mess, and Harry and Roxy both flushed and panting, each still clutching their “swords”. While Roxy was armed with a broom, Harry was holding a feather duster.

“Well, well,” Merlin drawled, fighting the urge to roll his eyes. Glancing around at the aftermath, he bent and whispered conspiratorially to Eggsy, “There was a mighty duel here, Eggsy. It ranged all over. They were both masters.”

“But who won? How did it end?”

Harry raised an eyebrow at his husband. “Really, love? Quoting the Princess Bride?”

“Harry and I played musketeers!” Roxy sprang at Merlin eagerly, knowing he would catch her in a hug. “I’m d’Artagnan, and he was the Winter Lady – I mean M’lady de Winter!”

“I wanna be d’Artagnan!” Eggsy seized Harry’s umbrella from the stand and brandished it dramatically, and both men instantly froze when he pointed the tip at Roxy.

“All right!” Merlin said loudly, hurriedly confiscating the only actual weapon in the room and grabbing the boy before he could get into further trouble. “I’m getting started on dinner, and this house had better be immaculate by the time I’m done, Harry Hart!”

“Does that mean we gots to clean up?” Roxy asked innocently, as Merlin marched towards the kitchen with a wriggling Eggsy held firmly under an arm.

“I’m afraid so,” Harry whispered to his tiny partner-in-crime. “But we had fun, didn’t we?”

“Yeah!”

“I mean it, Hart! Spick and span, or no dinner for you!”

“Whatever you say, Hamish, my love.”

“Harry!”


 

Chapter Text

#7 – Shy

 

“Papa!”

Roxy and Eggsy both came pouring into the house, delighted grins on their faces as they spotted Harry waiting for them just beyond the entryway. It wasn’t often that either of the men were at home when they got back from nursery – usually their nanny, Elaine, picked them up and brought them home, then minded them until Harry or Merlin got back.

Roxy was in Harry’s arms within minutes, and Harry propped her on his hip as he made his way to the dining room, Eggsy clinging joyfully to his leg.

Elaine poked her head in, smiling at the picture they made. The young woman had gone from former Kingsman operative to the children’s nanny after some mission-related injuries had effectively ended her field career a couple of years back. Knowing that young agent was trustworthy – and had several nieces and nephews of her own – the men had offered her the position just as soon as she was done with her physical therapy, and she had graciously accepted.

“You need me to stay a spell, Mr Hart?” she asked, and Harry waved at her easily, shaking his head.

“No, don’t worry, my dear,” he assured her. “Take the day – I managed to get off early, so I can handle these two little sparrows.”

The children cheered. It was always a lot more fun when Papa was home.

Elaine just laughed and thanked Harry. “Ta, Mr Hart. I’ll see myself out.”

As soon as they were washed and seated at the dining table, Roxy was announcing the news. “Papa! Guess what? Eggsy’s got a girlllllfriend!”

Eggsy gaped at his sister’s betrayal, then turned a startlingly deep shade of pink. “Nuh-uh!”

“Yeah-huh!”

“NUH-UH!”

“Children!” Harry chided, turning from the kitchen counter with two plates of sandwiches in his hands. “Inside voices, please!”

Eggsy pouted, while Roxy sat demurely in her place, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.

“Roxy, it’s impolite to tease your brother, darling. And Eggsy, a gentleman does not shout at a lady. Apologize to each other, please.”

Both heaved highly put upon sighs, but obeyed. Satisfied, Harry set the Nutella sandwiches on the table along with two boxes of juice, before joining them.

“But Eggsy really does have a girlfriend,” Roxy insisted now, even as she began tucking in. “He said he likes her!”

“Nuh-uh!” Eggsy’s face was bright red now with embarrassed indignation.

“You told Jamal and Ryan that Mrs De Luca is really pretty!”

The boy fell silent, sending anxious glances at Harry.

“Hang on,” Harry interrupted. “Roxy, who’s Mrs De Luca?”

“She’s a nursery ‘sistant,” the little girl answered. Eggsy sighed, glumly starting to pick his sandwich apart as she continued, “She helps serve food during break an’ stuff. Eggsy likes her – like, like like.”

Harry processed that, then turned to his uncharacteristically quiet little boy. “Eggsy?”

Eggsy flushed again. “Nuh-uh,” he protested again, weakly. “I jus’ think she’s pretty, Papa! An’ she is. And she always gives me the biggest chocolate biscuits ‘cause she knows I like ‘em. She’s real nice.”

Roxy looked triumphant. “He gets all weird when Mrs De Luca comes in with the food trays,” she informed Harry. “His face gets all pink and he’ll be quiet and he won’t talk when the teacher asks him a question.”

Turning to Eggsy, Harry quietly snapped a quick picture of the flustered little boy with his glasses, sending it to Merlin with the caption: [Our baby has his first crush!]

Less than a few seconds later, Merlin shot back: [Full name, age, location? I’ll run a background check.]

[Stand down, dearest. It’s the nursery assistant.] Pausing thoughtfully, Harry added, [A background check, love? Really? What if it had been one of his little classmates?]

[Villains come in all shapes and sizes these days. Can’t be too careful. What’s this nursery assistant’s name?]

[… I do wonder what you’ll do when it’s Roxy’s turn, my love.]

Merlin’s only reply was a pistol emoji.

Shaking his head fondly, Harry was forced to return his attention to the table as the conversation devolved into squabbling again. Hopefully there wouldn’t be a need for a time-out before his husband got home.

 


 

Harry didn’t get the privilege of actually meeting Mrs De Luca until a couple of weeks later, when he relieved Elaine and went to pick the kids up from nursery.

Thankfully, by this time Roxy had tired of teasing her brother, and both were once again getting along.

Roxy ran to meet him at the gate, pretty as a picture in her nursery uniform and bright pink My Little Pony backpack. Harry scanned the schoolyard, but Eggsy was nowhere to be seen.

“Eggsy’s in the kitchen helping Mrs De Luca wash the plates,” Roxy informed him before he could ask, giggling a little. “He likes helping her after school sometimes – like with sorting the pencils and stuff.”

Ah. Smiling, Harry took Roxy’s hand and strode towards the back of the building, where he knew the kitchen was. 

True enough, Eggsy was there –and what a different Eggsy it was. As he and Roxy peeked in from the back door, they saw a perfect little gentleman, happily helping a sweet-faced young brunette to put away freshly dried dishes without complaint.

Even more shocking, he was absolutely quiet, answering each of the young lady’s questions with shy little smiles and nods, pure adoration shining from his eyes.

Harry couldn’t help but snap a couple more pictures of the starstruck child, before straightening and knocking lightly to announce his presence.

“Papa!” Eggsy beamed, almost dropping the plates he was carrying – thankfully, they were all made of plastic. “What’re you doing here?”

“Oh, are you Mr Unwin?” the young woman questioned as she noticed him, looking at him with a friendly smile.

“Harry Hart, madam,” Harry introduced himself. “I’m Eggsy and Roxy’s father.”

“Oh, I see. I’m Marcia De Luca,” she said, shaking his offered hand. “You must be so proud of these two - Roxy’s a sweetheart, and Eggsy is the cutest little gentleman I’ve ever met. I do see where he gets it from though,” she added, nodding at Harry’s fine suit. “Eggsy, love, best go fetch your things. You shouldn’t keep your father waiting.”

“Nonsense,” Harry interrupted. “I believe Eggsy was helping you out. A gentleman shouldn’t leave a lady hanging after he’s offered his assistance.”

Eggsy nodded seriously, apparently too shy to speak again. He carefully set the dishes on the nearest table, wiped his hands on his shorts, then scurried out of the room. Marcia laughed.

“He’s just about done – that was the last lot. I am sorry that he kept you waiting – but he is my favourite helper.” She turned to Harry again. “I’ve never met such a shy and polite little man in my life. You must be proud.”

Harry refrained from telling her how at home, Eggsy was like a whirling dervish, all noise and energy as he raced around the house. He didn’t mention that normally, Eggsy was animated and talkative, as chatty as a monkey and twice as cheeky. There was never a quiet moment with him around – and life was certainly never boring.

"Indeed, Miss Marcia," he said instead, smiling affectionately as Eggsy came running back with his school bag and cap, ready to head home with his family. "It is as you say: I've never been prouder."


 

Chapter Text

#8 – Crooked

 

Things were always a little more hectic around the house whenever Harry was away on missions. Thankfully, Merlin’s job allowed the flexibility of working from home – and he took full advantage of this whenever Harry wasn’t around. The children missed their Papa dearly whenever he was off “on business”, and the men had discovered that it comforted them to have Merlin home during the times Harry was not.

Still, managing both children by himself wasn’t always easy, even with Elaine’s help. Being young, they were bound to get themselves into trouble one way or another.

Merlin entered the kitchen after wrapping up his work for the day, took one look at the kitchen counter, and frowned. 

“Eggsy!”

Little feet came thumping downstairs and into the kitchen at the sound of Merlin’s stern shout.

“Yes, Da?” Eggsy answered, looking at Merlin inquiringly.

Merlin did his best to affect a strict posture and expression. “Your Papa and I have told you before, lad. No stealing cookies from the jar without permission. We warned you there’d be a time-out the next time you did.”

Eggsy’s eyes widened. “Huh – but I didn’t!”

The Scot raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure?” He nodded towards the bulldog-shaped jar on the kitchen counter – a cute, vintage thing that Harry had received as a gift, and which they now used for storing biscuits and other treats.

While usually kept well on the inner part of the counter, the jar had now been dragged to the very edge, and the cover (the dog’s head) was currently crooked. Further incriminating his main suspect, the stool that the men usually kept near the sink for the children – so they could stand on it to reach the tap for washing hands or helping with the dishes – was now conveniently placed right next to the jar’s position by the counter... meaning that someone short had used it to help them reach their favourite treats while Merlin had been upstairs working.

“It weren’t me, I didn’t take no cookies, Da!”

It wasn’t that Merlin didn’t believe the boy. Eggsy was usually honest. However, when it came to sweets, he could sometimes be a little light-fingered.

Shaking his head in disappointment, Merlin held out his hand, noticing that the boy was holding onto Harry’s tablet. He’d likely been playing one of the educational games Merlin had installed for the kids before running downstairs to answer his Da’s summons. “All right lad. You know the rules. Give me the tablet, and go sit in the time-out corner. Five minutes.”

Blue eyes widened further, then slowly started to fill with tears. “But – Da, that ain’t fair! I didn’t even do nuthin’!” Little hands clutched tighter to the tablet, and Merlin felt his stomach dip with guilt even as he forced himself to remain stoic. Harry and he had discussed discipline, and he couldn’t let this slide. Gently but firmly, he bent and removed the device from Eggsy’s grip and pointed to the time-out corner. They had it in the utility room nearby, so that the children wouldn’t be distracted while serving their time-out.

The tears were falling fast and furiously now. “Daaaaaaaa!”

“Go on – it’s only five minutes, lad.” Merlin pointed again, patient and unyielding.

Sobbing hard, the boy ran to the other room. Merlin heard him drag out the little chair that they kept there for that very purpose and plonk it down, crying the entire time.

For Eggsy, being forced to sit still and be silent was the worst punishment of all.

Merlin felt like he’d stepped on a puppy – a tiny, blond-haired and blue-eyed one. With a sigh, he checked the clock, then went to properly close the bulldog jar and push it back into its place.

Five minutes later, he returned to check on Eggsy – and was astounded to find that the bulldog was once again staring crookedly at him from the edge of the counter. A quick check revealed that a few more cookies had gone missing since he’d last looked inside it.

He could hear Eggsy in the utility room, still sniffling loudly and occasionally breaking into more quiet sobs. Merlin was quite sure that the boy hadn’t snuck out and stolen more cookies while he wasn’t looking – Merlin had only been in the sitting room nearby, so he would have seen it, especially with the connecting door between them.

“Eggsy?” Peering into the small room where they did their laundry, he spotted the little boy, still sitting facing the corner. His little face was all swollen and blotchy from crying, and he refused to meet Merlin’s eyes, staring forlornly at the floor.

It was the most fucking heartbreaking thing Merlin had ever seen in his life. He actually had to shake himself and clear his throat a little before he could speak again.

“Come on lad. You’ve done your time. Punishment’s over, come give Da a hug.”

Eggsy was up and off the tiny chair in a heartbeat, flinging himself into Merlin’s arms. He didn’t say anything, but the tears were starting afresh now that Merlin was back.

“I really didn’t do anything, Da,” he got out between heartbroken hiccups and little sobs. “I’s been good today!”

Confused now, and more than a little concerned, Merlin patted his back and shushed him, hugging him close as he went back to the kitchen –

“Roxanne Morton! What do you think you’re doing, young lady?”

Caught red-handed, the little girl teetered precariously on the edge of the stool, holding the bulldog’s head in one hand, a chocolate chip cookie in the other. Wide eyes glanced guiltily at Merlin, and she hurriedly dropped the sweet treat back into the jar and popped the head back on – again, crooked.

Merlin raised an eyebrow at the little girl and merely pointed to the time-out area. Hanging her head, Roxy dragged her feet into the utility room, casting mournful glances behind her as she went.

Wonderful. Now it felt like he'd stepped on two puppies. Merlin checked the time again, then carried the now-quiet Eggsy into the sitting room with him.

“Oh, my poor little sparrow,” he murmured as he sat Eggsy down on the sofa. “Da’s so sorry he didn’t listen to you.”

Eggsy looked absolutely miserable, but he nodded anyway. “That’s all right, Da.” He held out his arms, seeking comfort and reassurance, and Merlin gladly gave him a hug.

He let the boy cuddle for a moment, before asking, “Eggsy? Did you know it was Roxy that was sneaking cookies?”

There was a brief hesitation, and then a very tiny nod.

“Why didn’t you say so? I wouldn’t have punished you, then.”

The boy shrugged. “Papa said gentlemens don’t tell on a lady.”

Merlin was quite sure his husband had actually said something else, and in a very different context - and how had Eggsy even heard that? -  but right now, it didn’t matter.

“Well, I’m still sorry,” he said. Lifting his hand, he extended his pinky finger. “I was wrong, and I should have listened to you. Forgive me?”

Eggsy’s eyes lit up, and he reached out to link his own little pinky with his Da’s. “I love you, Da.”

Merlin tugged him into his arms again. “Love you, too, my sweet Eggsy.”


 

Chapter Text

#9 – Screech

 

“I’m gonnae kill Percival.”

Harry glanced at his husband, blinked twice, then reached up to remove the earplugs he’d been wearing. “Sorry - what was that, love?”

“Our children’s godfather. I’m gonna kill him.” Merlin turned a baleful gaze on Harry, as though it was all his fault.

“Now, dear,” Harry began, only to wince as a series of loud, screechy tones echoed from downstairs, in the vaguest approximation of a melody. Apparently, relegating the kids to the patio wasn’t quite enough to protect them from still being subjected to the cacaphony - even in Harry’s office upstairs.

Percival – currently the bane of Merlin’s existence - had dropped by to pay the kids a visit the day before. Ever the doting godfather, he’d come bearing gifts.

“I thought it’s about high time you two begin training yourselves in the musical arts,” he’d said almost-gleefully, as the kids eagerly took the two suspicious-looking packages from him (both oddly long and cylindrical in shape) and started tearing off the wrappers. “Ta-daa! What do you think?”

Recorders.

He’d bought each child a bloody recorder to play – and even provided some kids’ music books. The man had then proceeded to spend about an hour teaching both kids how to read the notes and play some simple songs.

Unfortunately, while both children were enthusiastic, neither of them were music prodigies just yet. If Harry and Merlin never heard another highly off-key rendition of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” again, it would be too soon.

“But they’re classics, Merlin!” Percival had insisted, when Merlin had voiced his complaints to the younger man the day before.

Merlin grumbled. Percival was going to die a slow, painful death.

“You can’t kill Percival, love,” Harry reminded his husband patiently. “He’s still the only living blood relative Roxy has left.”

Merlin grumbled a little louder. It sounded rather like a growl.

Roxy’s mother had been Percival’s sister – and also the previous Percival, as it happened. When she’d been killed in the line of duty, Roxy had been left to the care of her Uncle Percy. (Her father had not been in the picture, and the younger man had stone-facedly informed Harry and Merlin back then that he never would be - at least, not if Percival had anything to say about it.)

Still, after his sister’s death, Percival had struggled. He did love his niece, but it was rather quickly made obvious that he wasn’t ready to become a parent, no matter how hard he tried. 

In the end, when Harry and Merlin had offered to adopt Roxy, he’d been both regretful… and relieved.

He was still an active part of the children’s lives, visiting his niece and godson as often as he was able – even helping to babysit them every once in awhile when Elaine wasn’t available. The kids loved their Uncle Percy very much.

However, it didn’t change the fact that sometimes, Merlin wanted to strangle the younger man and then drown him in a well somewhere.

Reaching over, Harry chuckled as he lightly massaged his husband’s tense shoulders with one hand. “Don’t be like that, love. Remember, the children love their uncle’s gifts.”

There was something in Harry’s tone that made Merlin turn, arching an inquiring eyebrow.

“I was thinking,” the older man said, calmly. “This weekend is a long one. The kids have been wanting to go visit their godfather for some time. Why don’t we drop them off at Percival’s for a sleepover? They could bring their new toys along. I’m sure Percival would love to hear for himself exactly how much they’ve, ah, progressed.”

Merlin’s eyes widened, and he practically lunged over to peck his husband on the cheek. “I married a genius,” he declared, with equal parts pride and wonder. “That’s…. almost evil, love.”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, but thank you,” said Harry mildly. “It’s always nice to be appreciated.”

This time, as the next shrill tones echoed upstairs, Merlin was able to hum along happily, relaxing back into his seat with a slightly evil smile.


 

Chapter Text

#10 – Gigantic 

 

Eggsy Unwin heaved a huge sigh as he frowned down at the table. It had been a long day in class, and he was getting all squirmy – that’s what Da called it.

He knew this was important, and he wanted to finish the work that the teacher had given them – but he was also fidgety and somehow impatient. He itched to get up and run around the room, but knew that Mrs Downing would have quite a few disappointed words for him if he did so.

The other kids were all working hard on their projects. Even Roxy was focusing so hard that her tongue was poking out the side of her mouth.

Sighing, he turned back to the various materials scattered across the desk. He could do this. He just had to focus.

What had Mrs Downing said? Oh yeah.

Picking up a crayon, Eggsy selected a piece of white card material, which had been pre-folded in two by their teacher before class started and distributed to each little student.

Biting his lip, he began scrawling “Happy Father’s Day” across the front – as large as he could write it. It wasn’t too difficult – Mrs Downing had provided examples for them to copy, and Eggsy knew his letters thanks to his Papa’s diligent tutoring.

He got as far as “H-A-P-P-Y-F-A-T” before he ran out of space, and frowned. Raising his hand, he called, “Mrs Downing!”

The teacher, a kindly middle-aged woman with greying hair, quickly made her way over to the little boy.

“Yes, Eggsy?” she asked, kindly.

Eggsy showed her his card. “I need another card. There ain’t ‘nough space,” he explained. “Can I has more please? I need lots ‘cause I got two dads.”

Mrs Downing laughed a little, then said, “Oh, Eggsy. We don’t have that many of these left, I’m afraid. How about I give you one extra piece to start over, and you write your letters a little smaller? You can give the one card to both your dads.”

Eggsy frowned harder. “Na, I can’t do that ma’am.”

His teacher looked slightly puzzled. “Why not, sweetie?”

“I gotta write ‘em real big.” Eggsy flailed his arms out as wide as possible to show her. “Remember, you said that we should write it as big as how much we love our dads - an’ I love Papa and Da very, very, very, very, very, very much!”


 

Chapter Text

#11 – Run

 

Harry was just finishing up some paperwork in his office, when he heard his husband return. Glancing at the camera feed on his glasses – a security measure Merlin had taken care to set up for their home as well, especially once the children had come to live with them - he blinked, noting that his husband wasn’t alone. Young Gareth was with him, and each of them appeared to be carrying something in their arms. Were those… boxes?

“Papa, Da’s home!” he heard Eggsy call up the stairs – the kids had been downstairs watching TV in the sitting room. Harry smiled to himself at their enthusiasm, listening as little feet went thundering across the polished floors towards the entryway not a moment later. 

“Da!” Two little voices screamed, followed by Merlin’s answering greeting.

“What’s in the box, Da?”

“Hi, Mr Gareth!”

“Did you bring us presents?”

“OH! OH! Lookit Roxy - that’s a puppy!”

“PUPPIES, DA!”

Harry blinked, unsure he’d heard correctly. A second later, he heard a couple of muffled, distinctly canine yips and he was immediately out of his seat and heading downstairs.

“Papa!” Eggsy was the first one to notice him, even while sprawled on the floor beneath a very excited pug. “Papa, look! Da brought home puppies!”

“….and on that note, I’m off,” Gareth said, with a sympathetic grin at Merlin as they both took in the flabbergasted look on Harry’s face. “Good luck, Merlin, and I do hope I’ll still see you at work tomorrow…if Galahad doesn’t kill you first.”

Merlin rolled his eyes, keeping a tight hold on the other dog – a small black poodle who was very enthusiastically greeting Roxy, licking her all over her face and making her giggle. He glanced at Harry, who took a deep breath before meeting his husband’s eyes.

“I’m not angry, love, just a tiny bit confused,” the other man said, carefully. “I thought we’d decided that we’d hold off on pets until the children were a little older.”

“Yes, well…” Merlin shrugged. “To be fair, we said that when Eggsy was two and three quarters. None of us were particularly ready for a pet at the time… And well, two of the Lamorak candidates dropped out of the running today, and they didn’t want to take their dogs with them when they left.”

“And so you brought them home?”

“Thank you, Da!” Merlin oof’ed a little as Eggsy slammed into his midsection, hugging his leg tightly. “How’d you know I really wanted a puppy?”

“Thank you, Da!” Roxy hugged his other leg.

“You’re welcome, my doves,” he answered both. “Now, let me talk to your Papa for a little bit, yes?”

Eggsy’s blue eyes were bright and excited. “Can we name this one JB?” He was hugging the pug, and though it was tiny, the little thing was practically the size of Eggsy’s entire chest. Merlin paused, glanced at Harry, who sighed and gave a minute nod.

Looked like the pups were staying.

 


 

Over the next week, the men found themselves busy helping the children adjust to being pet owners. They sat both kids down, and carefully explained the responsibilities that came along with raising pups. Harry and Merlin would take care of most things, but the kids would be expected to help out as well.

Eggsy and Roxy were so ecstatic over having pets that they’d likely have agreed to anything to be allowed to keep them, really.

The little boy had claimed the pug as his own, and no amount of suggestions, pleading or bribery from the men could get him to name it anything other than “JB”. Roxy had dubbed her poodle “Scooby”, after one of the children’s favorite cartoons (never mind that it wasn’t a Great Dane).

Surprisingly, both kids did pay attention to their dads’ lectures, and took their responsibilities very seriously - even Eggsy, who was usually notorious for “forgetting” to do his chores unless prompted regularly. They fed the pups three times a day, cleaned up after them, and worked hard on house training them (with some help from Merlin and Harry).

But of course, their favourite new activity was taking the pups for their daily walkies.

Merlin did some research, and found a dog-friendly park that wasn’t too far from where they lived.

The first time they went there, it was immediately debatable whether the dogs were taking the kids for a walk, or whether Eggsy was taking his pug for a run.

“Think we should rescue JB?” Harry had murmured to his husband, who snorted fondly.

They really needn’t have worried. The pug, as it turned out, stubbornly refused to go any faster than a light trot. If Eggsy tried to pull him along, he would snort and sit down, completely refusing to move – no matter how much his small master cajoled, begged or threatened.

Until one day, Eggsy got tired of tugging on JB’s leash, and simply picked up the surprised pug, tucking it into his T-shirt. “Wait fer me, Roxy!” the little boy had cried, before he took off running after his sister and her poodle, who were further ahead – Scooby didn’t have any issue with running on the leash next to Roxy, unlike JB.

Merlin, in turn, had taken off running as well, worried that Eggsy would drop the pup. Harry still found himself chuckling whenever he remembered the look on his husband’s face – and after JB had thrown up in protest at being manhandled in such a manner, Eggsy had been forbidden to run with him or carry him in that way.

Eggsy had pouted adorably, but since JB had thrown up on his T-shirt, he’d agreed that it was for the best.

Yet despite the pug’s numerous quirks and eccentricities, there was no question that Eggsy adored the pup. Once they adjusted, the dogs never strayed far from their small master and mistress, trailing them everywhere around the house whenever the kids were home.

And despite Harry purchasing a pair of rather expensive dog beds, he would inevitably find both pups curled up on the children’s bed each night, loyally snuggled up to them as they slept.

Merlin merely snorted when he complained, and made some rather biting comments about where Mr Pickle (Harry’s previous dog) had slept when Harry had been competing for the Galahad position. Harry would roll his eyes but not argue – besides, he secretly thought it was all quite adorable, actually.

 


 

“Da?”

Merlin grunted, eyes flying open as a tiny hand patted at his arm, waking him from a deep sleep.

“Eggsy?” he blinked blearily. “Wha’s the matter, love?” Spotting Roxy behind him rubbing at her eyes, he guessed, “Had a bad dream?”

Eggsy nodded. “Can we sleep with you and Papa?”

This didn’t happen all that often anymore, but occasionally the children would come to their room seeking comfort during the night. Merlin nodded and carefully shifted, making space on the bed for them to join him and Harry – who was also awake, but letting his husband handle the situation. Eggsy clambered up first, followed quickly by Roxy, both children settling down between their fathers. Less than a few minutes later, both of them were asleep again, and the men allowed themselves to drift off as well…

“What the -”

Merlin startled back awake, jerking at the feeling of a cold nose and tiny body settling down right behind his neck. A little snuffling snort told him it was JB, while the presence of a slightly larger, furrier body flopping down against his back told him where Scooby had chosen to place himself.

Turning to glare at both dogs, he realized that Eggsy had managed to get turned around in his sleep as well, his little feet almost in Harry’s face, his body draped over Roxy, and one arm thrown out over Merlin’s thigh.

It was hot, it was uncomfortable… and yet, Merlin couldn’t complain, because he was surrounded by his family.

With a half sigh and a resigned yawn, the man reached out to grasp Harry’s hand, closing his eyes to return to sleep.


 

Chapter Text

#12 – Shattered

 

Eggsy knew, deep in his heart, that something was wrong.

He might only be four years old, but he was per-sep-tib – that was what Papa had said. It meant that he was good at noticing things.

Today, Elaine was staying with them much later than usual. Normally she went home for her dinner, but tonight she had told Eggsy and Roxy that she would be making dinner for them first.

Eggsy liked Elaine’s cooking – she’d made them toad in the hole with gravy and broccoli, which Roxy really loved – but he’d been curious about the change in the usual routine. Papa and Da sometimes did have to stay back at work late, but somehow this seemed different.

He started to get a funny feeling in his stomach after dinner, when Elaine got a call, then came back and told them that she would be putting them to bed as well.

Bedtime was supposed to be around 8pm on week nights, after bath time and a story – but usually Papa and Da would be back by then and would tuck them in.

Elaine didn’t do as good a job reading the story as Papa, but Eggsy appreciated that she at least tried to do the voices right. When she was done, he closed his eyes obediently as she bid them goodnight and turned off the light - but without Papa and Da there, it still felt like something was really wrong.

Somehow, he fell asleep, though he didn’t remember doing so. He woke up a little later that night, though he wasn’t exactly sure why. A quick glance to his side showed that Roxy was asleep, one arm draped over Scooby, so Eggsy carefully climbed off their bed and quietly made his way out of the room. There was a light thump as JB jumped down after him.

“Shh,” Eggsy told JB, and the pug obediently stayed silent as he trailed after his beloved little human.

There were voices downstairs. He could hear Elaine, and Da, who sounded tired. The little boy crept closer to the top of the stairs and tried to peek.

“… thanks for watching the wee ones,” Da was saying. “They give you any trouble?”

“Got them in bed around 8.30pm, and Roxy dropped off right away, she was that tired. Eggsy was awake when I shut the door, but I heard him and JB snoring a little later.”

Eggsy huffed a little – he did not snore! – but kept quiet, trying to hear more. Someone else was downstairs with Da and Elaine… but it wasn’t Papa. Uncle Percy?

Where was Papa?

His tummy now felt kind of like the inside of their washing machine – Eggsy sometimes liked to sit directly in front of it when they were doing the laundry and watch the clothes spin around. He didn’t like it as much now, though, when it made him feel like throwing up.

Getting to his feet, he called, “Da?” His voice came out a lot smaller and more frightened than he’d intended it to be. “Papa?”

JB whined, and then suddenly Da was there beside him and Eggsy was being lifted by a pair of sturdy arms. He sniffled, clinging tightly and burying his face in the familiar cashmere jumper, breathing in his Da’s comforting scent.

“Shhh, wee chook,” Da’s voice murmured into his ear, but there were now tears in Eggsy’s eyes and he couldn’t quite stop himself from crying.

“Where’s Papa, Da?” he asked, pulling back in distress. “I want Papa.”

Then he stopped. Even beneath the dim hallway lights, Da looked terrible.

Eggsy didn’t remember ever seeing Da like this before. He could tell that his Da was trying hard to smile in front of Eggsy, but he looked…. different. Eggsy couldn’t even begin to describe it. He just knew that right now, Da didn’t look like Da at all. His Da had never looked so sad and scared and... broken .

Before his Da could answer, Eggsy reached out one little hand and awkwardly patted the man on the cheek, babbling a little in his urge to comfort. “I’s sorry, Da. It’s okay.”

His Da kind of sighed. “I… Thank ye, Eggsy.”

Footsteps sounded on the stairs, and then Uncle Percy was there, too. He smiled at Eggsy gently. “Well, hey there, little man. Isn’t it past your bedtime?”

“It’s all right, Percival,” Da sighed again as Eggsy clung tighter to him, not wanting them to take him back to bed just yet. “He knows something’s up, don’t you, Eggsy?”

Eggsy nodded. Wasn’t it obvious? Da was home, and Papa still wasn’t.

“Eggsy,” Da said, and the little boy swiped at his tears and looked up at him. “Eggsy, love, Papa’s not going to be home for a few more days. He…. He got hurt while he was at work, and he needs to stay in the hospital for a bit. It’s nothing serious,” he was quick to add, probably spotting the fresh tears in Eggsy’s eyes. “The doctors just want to be sure he’s all right before they let him come home. I promise.”

Eggsy’s lower lip wobbled, but he studied Da’s face carefully, before nodding. Da wouldn’t lie to him.

“When’s Papa coming home, then?” he wanted to know.

Da hesitated, then said, “I’m not sure, Eggsy. The doctor said probably by the end of the week.”

“It all depends on how well your Papa behaves while he’s there,” Uncle Percy cut in cheerfully. “If he’s a good boy, he’ll probably be home by Friday.” He tickled Eggsy under the chin. “Don’t worry, all right? Your Papa’s a tough old thing.”

But Eggsy was worried. He bit his lip and looked at Da, who still looked sort of tired and sad. Heaving a sigh, he leaned his head on his Da’s shoulder and tried hard not to cry – because if Da wasn’t going to, then neither was Eggsy.

 


 

The days passed by slowly without Papa. He’d been away on business before, but this was different. Usually Da would stay home with them when Papa was on business – but he’d explained to Eggsy and Roxy that he needed to keep Papa company in the hospital. So Uncle Percy and Elaine stayed with them instead.

Eggsy had wanted to go see Papa, but Da had explained that children weren’t allowed in the hospital where Papa was. So Uncle Percy let them use his phone to video call with Da so they could speak with their dads – if Papa was awake. Da said he was on medicine for the pain and it made him sleep a lot – and thinking of Papa being in pain just made Eggsy sad.

Then on Saturday, while he and Roxy were helping Elaine clear up after lunch, Da finally came home – and Papa was with him.

“Eggsy, Roxy, wait!” Elaine called as both children started running to the door immediately. Eggsy listened, skidding to a halt as she hastily wiped her hands on a hand towel and bent to explain, “Your Papa’s still recovering, sweeties. You’ll need to be gentle with him, all right? You can hug him and kiss him and talk to him, but he may be tired and need lots of rest.”

Both children were disappointed, but they nodded seriously and promised to be careful.

“Where are my little squirrels?” Papa called, and Eggsy’s face lit up as he slowly jogged out to where the men were waiting in the entry hall. Papa was standing, but his left arm was in a cloth-thing that hung around his neck, and he was leaning a little on Da.

Roxy skidded to a stop in front of them, and uncertainly, Eggsy followed her lead, remembering what Elaine had told them. “Papa?” he asked cautiously, and was relieved when the man carefully knelt on one knee and held out his good arm so they could run to him for hugs.

“Papa, what happened to your arm?” Roxy asked, peering curiously at the cloth-thing.

“Well, it was injured,” Papa answered easily. “It’ll take a bit of time, but it’ll be better before you know it.”

“As long as Papa rests it well,” Da put in, sending Papa a warning glare. “Papa won’t be able to carry you for a bit, my doves.”

Papa opened his mouth, only to shut it again and look chastened as Da narrowed his eyes at him.

“Well, the good news is that I’m home now,” he said instead, turning to smile at both children. 

“I’m glad you’re home, Papa,” Roxy said, hugging him again carefully. "We missed you."

Eggsy’s throat felt too tight to speak, but he clung to Papa and kind-of nodded. Papa seemed to understand, merely giving him an extra squeeze before straightening.

“All right, what did you have for lunch?” he asked brightly. “And are there are any leftovers? I must say that the hospital food was absolutely abominable. I’m famished.”

“We had ‘pasghetti and meatballs!” Roxy informed him gleefully. Taking hold of his good hand, she slowly led Papa to the kitchen, leaving Eggsy with Da, explaining on the way about how they’d helped Elaine make the meatballs earlier that morning - and yes, they still had extras.

Eggsy didn’t follow, instead looking up at Da. He felt like he had a question, but he wasn’t sure what it was. Da however, took one look at him and seemed to know anyway.

“Come here, Eggsy, love,” he said, and Eggsy went, only to be lifted into one of Da’s strong hugs. “Papa wasn’t lying to you – he was hurt, yes, and it wasn’t good, but he’ll be better soon. You’ll see. He looks worse than he is – though he will have to rest a fair bit more than he usually does.”

Comforted, Eggsy nodded trustingly.

“Now come along, lad – how does ice cream sound? For after-lunch dessert,” Da suggested, smiling.

Eggsy gaped at him. “We’re not supposed to have too many sweeties!” he reminded Da.

“Well, I think we can, just this once. To celebrate your Papa coming home.” Da planted a quick kiss on Eggsy’s head and started walking to the dining room. “Let’s get in there before your Papa eats all the food in the fridge, yeah?”

Eggsy giggled. “Yeah.”

It wasn’t completely all right, not yet, but at least his family was together again. Resting his head contentedly on his Da’s shoulder, Eggsy finally allowed himself to relax and smile.


 

Chapter Text

#13 – Teeming

 

“Uncle Percy! Uncle Percy!”

Percy “Percival” Morton snapped awake. He could have sworn he’d only shut his eyes for a moment - when had he fallen asleep?

Blinking, he spotted two curious little faces peering at him from either side of his comfy armchair, and was immediately alert once again.

Harry and Merlin had brought the children over for a visit earlier that morning - both men had to work, and since Percival had the day off, he’d rather foolishly offered to watch his niece and godson for them.

It had been some time since they’d visited and he missed them, after all. What could go wrong?

Well….

For one, the day had started off dark and cloudy, and then it had begun teeming with rain just after the other men dropped the children at his door. The kids had been outfitted adorably in tiny Macs and wellies, with Roxy sporting a cute little umbrella that appeared to be a miniature version of Harry’s beloved Rainmaker (minus the deadly weaponization, of course).

Eggsy had one too, it seemed - “Just in case you decide to bring them out later, Percival” - but had refused to use it for now. He’d been in a slightly contrary mood all morning - probably due to the rain. Eggsy hated anything that forced him to stay cooped up indoors for long periods of time - Merlin had warned Percival accordingly that he would likely be irritable and “squirmy”.

Harry had slightly more productive advice regarding both children: “Give them something to do, Percival, there’s a good chap. You’ll find things much easier for yourself if you work all that energy out of their system.”

Sadly, the rain was much too heavy for Percival to even consider bringing them out - even as adorable as they were in their teeny-tiny rain gear.

Still, “Uncle Percy” was a Kingsman, and if there was a challenge, he would jolly well rise to meet it.

“Uncle Percy?” Roxy repeated, looking earnestly at him. “Are you awake?”

“We’re bored,” Eggsy whined, much less adorably. Percival ruffled the boy’s hair, and slowly got up, stretching the kinks out as he went.

Good Lord, what had the kids done to his sitting room while he’d been napping? He didn’t quite gape at the mess - it looked rather like a small tornado had escaped captivity and torn right through. Wincing, he turned to both children, who were looking at him with wide, hopeful eyes, and just like that, Percival lost the will to scold them.

“Bored, eh?” he repeated, with a valiant attempt at a smile. “Well, we’ll have to see what we can do about that!”

Assigning the children a quick chore (cleaning up the mess they’d made), Percival hastily turned to the modern-day savior of parents everywhere: Google. A couple of quick searches later, and he was properly prepared for his “mission”.

“Oh, well done,” he praised, upon looking up to find that the kids were done with their task. Most of the mess had been hastily shoved to one side, but that made it easier for him to clean up later on his own, so Percival thought that all in all, it was pretty good.

“Follow me then,” he commanded, and obediently, the kids fell in behind him as he led the way to his linen closet.

Eggsy, predictably, reared back once he realized what Percival was taking out of it.

“I ain’t taking a nap!” he protested. Roxy frowned as well - both children felt very firmly that naps were for babies, not themselves.

“Don’t worry, Eggsy,” Percival assured his godson patiently, gently dropping some of the pillows into the tiny arms to keep them busy, and plopping a blanket on Roxy’s head. “We won’t be using these for sleeping.”

Eggsy squinted at Percival suspiciously. “Then what’re we gonna do wif them?”

A pillow fort, that was what. Percival supervised, while the children scrambled around following his directions.Reassured that naps weren’t scheduled for the near-future, they happily threw themselves into the endeavour.

The man grinned to himself as he watched them play with the sheets, blankets and pillows - one mess cleared, only to create another, but it was entirely worth it to see happy, flushed faces and hear energetic yelling fill his home.

While the kids were occupied, he hurriedly ducked into his den to collect supplies for the next activity. Once the excited noises began to die down, he ducked back out and began spreading old newspapers across the floor.

“Uncle Percy,” Roxy said, sounding a little breathless - she’d been fighting the Dread Pirate Eggsy just a moment ago and had just finished wrestling him down to the floor. “What’s this for?”

In answer, Percival lifted the little girl onto his lap and spread out a piece of white art paper in front of them.

“Paints!” Eggsy cried - both children loved art. The messier, the better - which was why Percival kept a set of child-safe painting supplies on hand at his apartment at all times. The boy darted forward to get some paper of his own, while Percival set out the paint and palettes.

“Where are the brushes, Uncle Percy?” Roxy asked, trying to peek around her uncle curiously.

“Right here, darling,” Percival answered, and without further ado, he grabbed Roxy’s tiny hand in his, dipped it in the paint, and then gently stamped her fingers on the paper. The little girl gave a shriek, surprised, but then saw the novelty in the idea and went back to the palette on her own for more. Eggsy watched for a moment, then copied his sister eagerly, splatting a wet, colourful handprint in the middle of his own paper.

This time, Percival sat with them both, picking up his own sheet to create a masterpiece - encouraged happily by the kids, who offered ideas and suggestions, and later, requests.

“Draw a bunny, Uncle Percy!”

“Can you draw a Pokemon?”

By the end of it, both children (and their godfather) were covered in paint - thankfully, Percival knew that this paint was clothing-friendly and that everything would come out in the wash. He and the kids compared their finished artworks together with all the solemnity of art experts at a gallery, before storing them away safely in a folder for them to bring home later and pin to the fridge. His own art, naturally, would go on his own fridge.

After bundling both kids into the shower for a quick wash - thankfully, Harry and Merlin had had the forethought to pack extra clothing into the children’s backpacks - Percival moved them quickly onto the next activity.

As the rain poured down outside, Eggsy and Roxy happily sat with their godfather as he taught them how to play Happy Families. When they got tired of that, he moved on to blackjack (if Harry and Merlin asked later, Percival was fully planning to say that it was to improve their maths skills) and basic poker. Eggsy, surprisingly, showed some serious skills at both the latter games, while Roxy swept them both in Happy Families.

When the children’s attention began to flag, Percival quickly gathered up the cards and turned on some music, playing videos on his laptop. He introduced the kids to George Michael (whom Eggsy actually liked), Sam Smith, and John Denver. Roxy begged for some Paw Patrol - but instead, Percival did a quick search on YouTube and proceeded to teach his niece and nephew how to do the macarena.

By the end of it all, they ended up a sweaty, giggling mess on the sofa. Neither child had properly mastered the entire dance - but it honestly didn’t matter.

The rain still hadn’t let up, which was a shame, but since it was almost time for dinner, Percival engaged his little assistants to help him make some homemade pizza - which was a massive hit. Eggsy and Roxy engaged in a breadstick battle as they ate, with Percival joining in even against his better judgement.

Once their tummies were full, both children started flagging, and Percival fondly settled them to sleep on his sofa with blankets and pillows before heading back to take care of the leftovers. Both little monsters looked absolutely adorable in their sleep, with Eggsy emitting tiny snores not unlike his pug’s.

Percival popped a quick text off to Harry and Merlin, warning them not to ring the doorbell. They arrived around 8pm to pick up the kids, knocking gently to announce their arrival - and the younger man was really both relieved and sorry to see them.

Outside, the rain was finally starting to wind down as the older men came in to gently collect their kids, each cradling a child in their arms with an expert ease that Percival felt almost jealous of.

“Papa,” mumbled Eggsy, one tiny hand clutching to Harry’s suit as he was carried out.

“Shhh,” soothed Harry, smiling fondly down at the boy as he flopped back against him without fully waking.

“Were they any trouble?” Merlin asked the younger agent, who smiled, thinking of paint-stained clothing, happy laughter and playful smiles. Of his flour-covered kitchen floor, and the remnants of a blanket fort in his sitting room which he had yet to clear away.

“They were perfect angels,” he assured them. “No trouble at all.”


 

Chapter Text

#14 - Fierce

 

“Right, in you go, pumpkin.”

Roxy scampered into the homely little cafe as her Papa held the door for her, happily breathing in the delicious scent of meat pies and pastries as she went. Her Papa was right behind her with Scooby - the cafe was pet-friendly and didn’t mind at all - and together they made their way over to an empty table near the back.

“All right, you stay here with Scooby,” Papa instructed, handing her the poodle’s leash as Roxy clambered up onto one of the seats. “I’ll go order our food, and we’ll bring something back for Eggsy and Da. Stay, Scooby.”

“Okay, Papa,” Roxy nodded, not minding in the least. Scooby whined when he saw Papa leave to join the line at the counter, so Roxy absently dropped her hand to his fuzzy head and told him to shush.

Her Papa had lived in this area for years, and the staff at this cafe knew him pretty well by now. They knew Da, Roxy and Eggsy as well, and often stopped to chat with them whenever they dropped in to get food. Papa really liked their steak and kidney pie, while Da was a fan of the Cornish pasties.

Bessy, one of the waitresses, swung by the table to say hello and give Roxy a small glass of orange juice on the house. The cafe was slightly busy, so she had to head off again immediately after, but Roxy thanked her and sipped happily. Since she and Eggsy were familiar with most of the staff, it wasn’t uncommon for them to receive little treats like this when they came in. Bessy had even included a dog treat for Scooby, who had gobbled it up and was now lying down patiently at Roxy’s feet.

The poodle was usually a very good dog - after all, Papa had told him to stay, so he did.

At least, until he spotted the cat.

“Scooby!” Roxy cried as the dog jerked his leash out of her hand and then took off after the cat towards the back corner of the cafe, which was darker and had fewer people. “Scooby, come back!”

Sliding quickly off the seat, she abandoned her juice and ran after her beloved pet, who had stopped to bark and growl in the direction of a large crockery cabinet in the corner. As Roxy got nearer, he dipped his head and tried to crawl into the space underneath it… only to jerk back with a startled, high-pitched yelp.

“Scooby!” Roxy was horrified to see a thin line of red on Scooby’s dark muzzle. “Scooby, you’re bleeding!”

The commotion drew a small crowd of adults around her, and then Papa was suddenly there as well. Roxy turned and hurled herself at his leg, trembling. “Papa, Scooby’s got blood on his nose!”

The poodle was still growling, but no longer seemed inclined to go anywhere near the cupboard. Papa cast a quick look in that direction, but focused on seizing Scooby’s leash and yanking the dog away from the area, placing one gentle hand on Roxy’s shoulder in comfort and murmuring soothing nonsense.

“Oh, Roxy, love, what happened?”

Mrs Alice, one of the cafe owners, made her way towards them through the crowd, followed by her husband and co-owner, Mr Frank. They were both usually a very friendly, middle-aged couple who were always nice to Roxy and her brother, but right now they just looked concerned.

“Scooby chased your cat under there, Mrs Alice,” Roxy said, pointing at the cabinet. “The kitty scratched him!”

“Poor Scooby,” Mrs Alice sympathized, gently pulling Roxy into a hug. “He’ll be fine, love. I reckon he just found Moxie and her babies.”

Mr Frank and Mrs Alice’s grey cat was quite well known to those who were cafe regulars - an overly-affectionate British Shorthair named Moxie. The feline usually lived above the cafe with her owners, but could sometimes be found wandering downstairs as well. Of course, she normally stayed well away from any doggy patrons.

Roxy looked again at Scooby’s poor little nose and sniffled. “B-babies?”

“Aye,” Mrs Alice smiled at her and her Papa. “Moxie had kittens just last week. We did give her a lovely box to nest in, but she keeps moving them around. I’m betting they’re under the cupboard - Scooby’s a lovely dog, Roxy-love, but Moxie’s not about to let him or anyone else anywhere near her babies.”

Oh. Roxy nodded in understanding, but still felt sorry for poor Scooby. He wouldn’t have known about Moxie’s kittens!

“Well, since Moxie’s still under there,” said Mr Frank briskly, “Let’s bring Scooby upstairs. We can take a look at his little scratch.”

Papa protested. “Oh, no, we wouldn’t want to impose - we’ve caused enough trouble already,” he started, but Mrs Alice was already guiding Roxy towards the little staircase that led to their apartment above the shop, and so he and Scooby hadn’t much choice but to follow.

 


 

“An’ then Mr Frank cleaned up the blood and put some blue stuff on the cut,” Roxy told Eggsy later, once they were back home with a very subdued poodle and their food. “Papa kept saying sorry for taking up their time and bothering them, an’ I said ‘thank you’.”

“Poor Scooby,” Eggsy sympathized, and the poodle looked up at him hopefully from his doggy bed in the corner, wagging the very tip of his tail. “We should stick a plaster on his scratch. Cats are mean.”

“Moxie was jus’ per-tecting her kittens,” Roxy said, loyally. The cat had always been friendly before, and had let the children pet and play with her. “Mrs Alice said she didn’t know that Scooby wasn’t gonna hurt them.”

Eggsy swallowed his mouthful of pork pie, accepting the explanation. “So, did ya see the kittens?” he asked.

“Nah,” Roxy answered. She’d been more than a little disappointed. “Mrs Alice said they were too little.” Brightening, she added, “But she said maybe we can see them once they’re bigger, an’ maybe Moxie won’t be so fierce then!”

“That’d be ace!” The little boy grinned, and Roxy “ewww”ed in disgust as he sprayed crumbs all over. “I wanna go too!”

“Eggsy Unwin,” Papa broke in. “Do swallow your food properly before you speak, or there will be no kitten-visiting at all, I promise you that.”

“Aw, Papa.” Eggsy whined - though Roxy noticed that he stopped to swallow first, this time.

 


 

Days turned into weeks, and Roxy almost forgot about the incident entirely. Scooby’s scratch healed up just fine - but to be safe, they stopped bringing the dogs to the cafe with them whenever they went to visit, and kept an eye out for Moxie if she was around. The cat didn’t seem to hold any ill will towards them, and was happy to greet them if she happened to be in the cafe when they were there.

Mrs Alice would happily call both children over to show them photos and videos of Moxie and her kittens. Mr Frank had given them names: Rogue, Sasha, Sassy and Rumplestiltskin. (“I’m afraid Mr Frank has a rather odd sense of humor, my dears.”)

The kittens were all very fluffy, and grey like their mum. (Or “blue”, as Mr Frank called it.) They got bigger and bigger with each set of photos Mrs Alice showed them, until finally one day, she offered to bring the children upstairs to hold them for a bit.

“They’re about two months now, and have had their shots,” she informed them.

Roxy and Eggsy immediately turned pleading eyes on their Da, who chuckled lightly and agreed to let them go as long as they stayed out of trouble.

“And under no circumstances are you to bring one home in your pocket,” he warned, with a particular look towards Eggsy. “You know Papa isn’t terribly fond of cats.”

Eggsy sniffed indignantly, and Mrs Alice just laughed. Once again, she guided Roxy upstairs with her.

Moxie came to greet them at the door, purring loudly as the children stopped to say hello to the proud mum. After some petting, she arched her back and stalked away with tail held high, looking back at them as if to say: ‘Well? Come along then!’

“Ohhh,” breathed Roxy in delight, following Moxie’s path with her gaze and spotting a small, fenced-in area in the corner. Mrs Alice helped lift both of them over the pet fence and into the little enclosure which was lined with soft towels, and then she and Eggsy found themselves surrounded by tiny, curious grey balls of fluff.

“Hi, kittens!” Eggsy said eagerly, carefully lifting one into his lap. “Oh, is this Rumple?”

Moxie mewed as though affirming his guess - but Roxy had also spotted the red collar on the kitten and knew who it was. Rumple was also the littlest kitten, and the only one with blue eyes like his mum.

Sasha (who had a pink collar) came shyly up to Roxy, who held perfectly still as the little cat nudged her and began rubbing her face on Roxy’s jeans. The little girl giggled softly and began petting the kitten on her tiny head.

“You’re so soft,” she marveled.

“Ow! Watch the claws, Sassy, there’s a love,” Eggsy chided, gently removing a green-collared kitten from his leg. “You need ta be a lady like your Mum.”

Rogue mewed plaintively from a corner, refusing to come say hello. For all that his name implied bravado, Mrs Alice had said that he could be shy.

Though she could happily have stayed there for years, the visit did eventually come to an end as Mrs Alice put Moxie in and the kittens all swarmed towards their mum for feeding time. Then she whisked the kids away to her sitting room sofa and served them shortbread and chocolate milk, patiently answering all of their excited questions until Da came to get them.

“How was it?” Da asked, only to stop and narrow his eyes as he spotted Eggsy, who squirmed a little guiltily.

“What?”

“Put them back, Eggsy.”

Heaving a sigh, the little boy reluctantly removed a few pieces of shortbread from his pockets and put them back on the plate.

Giggling at her brother, Roxy grinned brightly up at her Da. “When can we come visit again?”


 

Chapter Text

#15 - Mysterious

 

Technically, Eggsy wasn’t really supposed to wander into Papa’s office when his dads weren’t around. Papa usually kept it locked anyway, so nobody could go in if he or Da weren’t there.

But then one particularly hectic evening, Roxy was running from the sitting room to the hall - and somehow she tripped over something and fell face-first on the floor. Both Papa and Da came rushing out of their office the minute she began to cry, practically leaping down the stairs in their haste to reach her.

Eggsy, who had been in his room playing with Legos, came out to the upper landing a little more cautiously, and was about to follow his dads downstairs when he happened to glance up and to his right. From where he was standing, he had a clear view into Papa’s office - and there was a door in the far corner, leading to a new room that he’d never seen before.

While he was concerned about Roxy, he was also curious - and both of his dads were currently occupied elsewhere. So, with a whispered command for JB to be quiet, the little boy silently began walking towards his Papa’s office…

“Eggsy?”

Eggsy jumped a little, not having heard Da coming back upstairs. The man quickly headed over to Papa’s office and pulled the door shut, then ducked across the hall into their bathroom to get the first aid kit from the cabinet. When he came back out, he stooped and picked Eggsy up with his free arm.

“Come on, rascal,” he murmured. “We’re taking Roxy to a doctor - our girl has a wee cut on her forehead and it’s gonnae need stitches.”

Eggsy nodded. He glanced at the closed office door as Da carried him down, and by the time they got back, he’d forgotten all about it.

 


 

There were two bathrooms and one water closet in their home, and both the bathrooms were located upstairs. Eggsy and Roxy usually bathed in the bathroom right opposite Papa’s office - the one in Da and Papa’s room was the master bathroom, and that was for their dads to use.

Then one night, at bathtime, Eggsy played his usual game with Papa and “escaped” the tub, giggling as he ran out into the hall. He usually ran downstairs, or into his and Roxy’s room if he felt like it, but today he paused on the upper landing.

Da was on a call in the master bedroom, and the door was slightly ajar. Eggsy considered this for one brief moment, then quickly darted over and squeezed through the gap as he heard Papa coming after him, calling his name.

Eggsy giggled as he streaked through the room, right past Da, who paused mid-word.

“Elyan, I’m going to need to call you back…”

Eggsy ran into the master bathroom and closed the door behind him, feeling very pleased with himself indeed. He was sure that he’d surprised his dads.

Papa and Da’s bathroom was long and white all over - not unlike the other bathroom, but that one had light blue walls. Eggsy had come in here before, but not often. Spotting the clawfoot tub, he grinned to himself - that would be perfect to hide in!

Da opened the door and came in, followed by Papa, just as Eggsy made himself comfortable. He beamed at his dads, who were both looking rather amused themselves.

“Darling,” Papa said, pretending to be cross. “There was a perfectly good tub in the other bathroom as well. I don’t see why you had to come all the way in here.”

Eggsy reached up and patted the side of the tub, knocking his little fist along the wall next to it. “But Papa, your tub’s really nice, too. See?” He tapped again, then suddenly stopped. “Huh. The wall sounds kinda funny, Papa.”

Papa and Da exchanged a long look that Eggsy didn’t quite understand. Getting up now, he curiously tapped again, a little harder. The wall sounded kind of… well, empty. On the other side.

“Right, well,” said Da. “It’s my turn to have a bath now, my wee bairn. If you and Papa could kindly head back and finish up with yours, love?”

Forgetting about the “empty” wall, Eggsy turned and beamed, holding out his arms for Papa to pick him up and start carrying him back.

 


 

Eggsy knew that his Papa and Da both had phones, but he rarely saw them using the devices for calls. Sometimes, he would hear them talking to someone - but not necessarily on their phones.

Once, Da had been sitting right there with them while they watched cartoons in the sitting room, and suddenly he’d brought up a hand to tap his glasses and started talking to someone called “Ector”. Another time, it had been “Gawain” and “Mordred”.

Other times, it was Papa who did the same thing.

“It’s that blue toof thingy that Uncle Percy told us about,” Roxy said wisely when Eggsy brought it up. He scowled, feeling pretty sure that Roxy didn’t even know what “blue toof” even was, and told her so.

“I do too!” Roxy shot back. “Uncle Percy said it lets you talk on the phone without having to pick it up or hold it. You just need ear… plug thingies and you talk into those.”

Huh. Eggsy thought about it, and Roxy huffed a little as she went back to where she was tying bows into Scooby’s fur.

“But I don’t see them wearing nuthin’ in their ears,” he mumbled at last, and Roxy just rolled her eyes.

 


 

Eggsy woke up suddenly, disoriented and afraid. At first, he wasn’t quite sure where he was, but a deep-seated instinct within him had him sliding off the edge of the bed and carefully making his way out of the room. He was aware that JB was following him, and he slowed to let the pug catch up,  dazedly making his way to his dads’ room almost on autopilot.

Da and Papa were just getting ready for bed, but Da came over to open the door and pick Eggsy up when he knocked.

“What’s wrong, a chuilein ?” Da asked, and Eggsy just shook his head, resting it on Da’s shoulder.

“Wanna sleep with you,” he whined. “Please, Da.”

“Very well,” Da said, and carried him to the bed where Papa was already waiting. He patted the space next to him, and Eggsy gladly crawled over and lay down under the covers, curling up along Papa’s side.

“Papa?” he mumbled sleepily, as Da joined them and lay on the other side of Eggsy, gently patting his back.

“Yes, Eggsy?”

“I had a weird dream.”

Papa nodded sagely. “Sometimes, love, it helps to talk about dreams that disturb us. Feel free to share it with us if you wish.”

Eggsy yawned. “Yeah?”

“Truly.”

“Well, okay.” Eggsy threw an arm over Papa’s chest and sighed.

“You and Da were secret spy agents - like James Bond,” he started, and was surprised when Papa went still beneath him and Da stopped patting him and made a sort of choking noise. “Wif secret spy weapons and stuff. An’ there was a secret room in your office, and when I went inside, it was dark and scary and a monster jumped out at me and ate me.” He looked up, frowning a little at his dads' non-reaction. “Papa? ‘S somethin’ wrong?”

“Ah,” Papa shook himself a little, and exchanged a glance with Da over Eggsy’s head before saying, “That… certainly sounds terrifying, love.”

Eggsy nodded. “Uh-huh. But it was jus’ a dream.” Yawning, he conceded, “Huh. Guess I do feel better. It worked!” Squeezing Papa happily, he rolled over and closed his eyes. “Night, Papa, night, Da. Love you.”

The men echoed the sentiment a little bit awkwardly - though Eggsy barely heard anything as he slowly slipped back into sleep.


 

Chapter Text

#16 - Fat

 

The children’s hospital was only slightly crowded when Merlin and Harry walked in, each man holding a child by the hand. Eggsy had a tight grip on Merlin’s fingers as they entered - the boy wasn’t fond of hospitals and was always a little bit nervous when they brought him in.

Harry led Roxy over to the counter first.

“Good afternoon, we’re here for the children’s checkup,” Merlin heard his husband say - they’d scheduled an appointment, but in typical Hart fashion, were also about 15 minutes late.

Thankfully, the nurse was able to shift their appointment to the next available slot, so they settled down to fill in the necessary forms while the kids waited in a small waiting room nearby that was filled with colourful furniture and toys.

The kids usually had a well-child checkup about once a year, but after a visit from Harry’s parents the previous weekend, they’d decided to bring them in again.

Harry’s mother, Eleanor, had been very happy to spend time with her grandchildren, but had expressed some concern over Eggsy towards the tail end of their visit.

“He’s getting a bit podgy, isn’t he, love?” she’d said to Harry. “Almost twice the size he was when we last saw him, I’m sure.”

For a man so completely cavalier about his own well-being, Harry took absolutely no chances when it came to his children’s health. And since Harry’s younger brother, Clive, had developed diabetes as a child due to being overweight… well, suffice it to say that they were here today because Harry Hart was a paranoid eejit (in Merlin’s humble opinion).

Merlin did not actually think that their son was actually overweight. He was a little on the chubby side, maybe - but he was still agile and fast and healthy as a horse.

Still, a doctor’s visit wouldn’t hurt the kids any, and while Merlin thought it rather a waste of time, it would at least set Harry’s mind at ease.

Together, they filled in the necessary details regarding the children’s overall health and development, then guided the kids’ into the doctor’s office when they were summoned. Dr Pavan was a friendly young chap, and was also the children’s regular doctor.

“Hello, Eggsy, Roxy,” the man greeted them warmly. “How are you both feeling today?”

“We ain’t even sick,” Eggsy announced, as Merlin sat down with the boy on his lap. “Papa said we’s here for a checkup.”

The young doctor grinned. “Well, it’s always good to have a checkup. Now, how about we start with you, Eggsy, and have a look at how much you’ve grown?”

Merlin and Harry both watched as the doctor efficiently performed a quick physical examination for both children, then directed them to take a seat by the side of the room while he presented the results to their dads.

“Well, as far as I can see, they’re both growing very well,” Dr Pavan said, bringing up the results on the screen for the men. “As you see here, Roxy in particular is ahead of her peers in most criteria. Her height and weight are in the 90th and 68th percentile respectively - so she’s a little tall for her age. She also has quite advanced cognitive and language skills, and socializes well.”

Harry shot a proud glance over at the little girl, who was currently giggling with Eggsy over something the boy had said.

“As for Eggsy,” the doctor continued, “He is 65th in terms of height, and 84th in terms of weight - a little on the short side, but not entirely surprising given his past.” Pausing, he added, “I know you were concerned that he was overweight, but I promise there’s nothing to worry about, Mr Hart. He is slightly chubby, compared to his peers - likely due to genetics, I’m afraid - but he’s also a healthy, active little boy. If anything, I’d say that his weight gain is normal, if we look at his previous growth patterns, and encouraging - given that he was seriously malnourished and underweight when you first brought him to me.”

Dr Pavan had been seeing Eggsy since they’d first adopted him, and Merlin remembered how skinny and frightened the little boy had been back then, recovering from his injuries and the neglect of his stepfather. Sending a quick look now at the happy, healthy little boy - who was starting to fidget impatiently where he was sitting - he couldn’t help but feel a rush of warmth and relief settling somewhere deep within his chest.

Yes, their boy had come a long way.

“If anything,” the doctor was now saying, “I’d be more concerned over how high-energy he is. You might want to consider helping him burn some of that off with something like gymnastics, or some type of sports. He’s four now, so it’d be good if he took up some type of activity once a week or so, and it’d help him learn more about teamwork, while letting him develop his fine and gross motor skills. So it should help.”

“We’ll definitely consider it,” Harry agreed, sending a fond look Eggsy’s way. “Thank you so much, doctor.”

“My pleasure,” smiled Dr Pavan. “Oh, and one last thing before you go - it’s about time to update Eggsy’s vaccinations. I know Roxy’s fine, but Eggsy -”

Eggsy let out a loud wail, proving he’d been listening. “I DON’T WANNA GET A SHOT!”

Damn, but the boy certainly had a healthy set of lungs on him - no need for any doctor to tell them that.

Harry moved over to him at once, picking up the little boy and giving him a hug. “Shh, darling,” he coaxed gently. “You can be brave for Papa, can’t you, love?”

Eggsy whined. “Nooooo!”

Roxy shot over to the far corner of the room and stayed there, probably worried that the doctor would change his mind and decide to give her a shot, too.

Merlin heaved a quiet sigh, exchanging glances with the doctor. The man probably had to deal with this every damn day, but it didn’t make it less frustrating.

“Look, Eggsy,” Dr Pavan said at last. “How about this? What if your Papa goes first?”

That got the boy’s attention - and Harry’s.

“First?” Harry echoed, eyes narrowing slightly. “Excuse me?”

The doctor nodded, reaching into the metal tray beside his desk and bringing up a small syringe. “Sometimes, when the kids get frightened, what we normally suggest is for the parent to get a shot first,” he explained. “That way, the children can see that there’s nothing to worry about. This is a vitamin shot - it won’t harm you, and Eggsy will see that if his Papa can do it, he can too… Right, Eggsy?”

Eggsy considered this, staring at the little syringe suspiciously. Then he nodded. “Papa goes first,” he decided, and looked at Harry expectantly.

Roxy cautiously moved out of her corner, edging over to Merlin and climbing into his lap. “Papa’s gonna get a shot?”

“Apparently,” said Merlin, who was doing his best not to smile or burst out laughing at the expression on Harry’s face.

Still, it was for Eggsy, so after a while, the man gave in. “Very well,” Harry sighed. “Me first.”

Eggsy cheered. "You can do it, Papa!"

‘Little devil’, Merlin thought affectionately.

With some assistance from his nurse, Dr Pavan rolled up Harry’s sleeve, and quickly administered the shot, explaining it step-by-step for Eggsy as he went. Harry gritted his teeth, but somehow managed to smile when Eggsy looked his way. “Fucking hurts,” he mouthed at Merlin, who shook his head and sent a meaningful glance towards the kids.

Thankfully, Eggsy didn’t notice. The boy stopped protesting after that, bravely submitting his arm for the shot when it was his turn.

“There’s my brave little soldier,” Merlin praised when it was over - even though the boy promptly burst into a fresh round of tears after the shot. The nurse quickly placed a cotton ball on the area and covered it with a Superman plaster, and Eggsy’s tears immediately dried as he studied it in fascination.

Both children also got yogurt drinks from the nurse as they left, further boosting their moods.  

“Can Papa have one, too?” Eggsy asked. “He did get a shot.”

“He was very brave,” Roxy agreed, and the nurse smiled as she handed one more drink to Harry as well - who accepted it almost regally, playing the posh upper class gentleman to the max.

Shaking his head, Merlin wondered how on earth he’d gotten himself stuck with three babies instead of two when he’d married the great agent Galahad.


 

Chapter Text

#17 - Graceful

 

Harry had noticed that both Eggsy and Roxy loved movement, albeit in different ways.

Eggsy was almost-constantly underfoot at home, rolling and crawling and bouncing and jumping all over the place. They often had to talk him down from climbing the staircase railings - if Merlin still had any hair, he’d have lost it all again given how many times they’d found the boy clinging to the balusters and scaring years off their lives.

The little imp was absolutely fearless, and would try anything from leaping off the back of the couch to attempting to scale their upstairs bookcase (which Harry had very firmly put a stop to, worried that he would one day come back to find the tiny boy squished under the massive antique).

Roxy, thankfully, was a lot calmer - though no less active. She loved running and sliding on the polished floors occasionally, and could often be found dancing to music in front of the TV. She enjoyed accompanying either of the men for walks or errands, skipping along beside them while holding onto their hands.

So, when Dr Pavan had so kindly suggested finding them a sport or hobby to engage in, Harry had given the matter plenty of consideration. Google had been exceedingly helpful when he’d turned to it for research - it seemed that once a child was 4 years of age, it was considered the perfect time for them to join a class or take up new activities.

Calling a Kingsman cab to bring them into the city, Harry summoned the children and got them ready for a day out. Both children clearly relished the idea of getting out of the house, and willingly agreed to go with him.

The cab dropped them at a large shopping centre, where Harry firmly took both children by the hand as they went.

Eggsy had been particularly notorious as a toddler, able to disappear into a crowd faster than David Copperfield. Roxy was a little better at staying close to her dads - but even she had a tendency to be easily distracted by interesting displays and shiny objects. Harry wryly remembered having to resort to putting Eggsy in one of those toddler harnesses when he’d been younger - despite the glares he and Merlin had received from a small percentage of other parents in their vicinity.

(“I don’t give a flying feck about what they think, Harry, I’d rather they complain about us treating our boy like a dog, than turn around one day and find Eggsy’s gone missing,” had been Merlin’s firm opinion on the subject, and Harry had agreed.)

Of course, both children were now old enough to mind their dads when they told them to stay close (and Merlin had made sure that both children had been implanted with undetectable, sub-dermal tracking devices just in case) - but still, Harry figured it was best not to leave anything to chance.

For now, the children tagged along obediently as he led the way into the shopping centre, though they did send curious, longing glances at the shops around them as they went. Normally Harry would let them browse, but today they had a different mission.

“The top floor of this shopping centre,” he informed both children, “is entirely dedicated to children's activities. Shall we see if there's anything you may be interested in trying?”

“Like what activities?” Roxy wanted to know, craning her little head back to look up at him.

“Well,” said Harry, as they emerged from the lift, “We’re about to find out. Here we are, my loves.”

Before they’d become parents, Harry and Merlin would hardly have had any particular reason to visit the uppermost floor of the shopping centre on their own. The place was a children’s paradise of sorts: there was a junior gym, a ballet centre, a music and arts centre, a small arcade with games, rides and bouncy castle-type structures, and even a kids’ rock-climbing and adventure gym. There were also some clothing stores that were dedicated to children, and a small children’s library.

Many parents milled around outside the various areas, either waiting for their children with bored expressions, or accompanying them to cheer them on.

Captivated by the crowds and activity, Eggsy and Roxy stopped for a moment to stare in wide-eyed awe. It must have been a little overwhelming, because Roxy turned to Harry after a moment and raised her arms to be carried, while Eggsy gripped Harry’s trousers with a particularly tight grip and stayed close.

Knowing from experience that his little angels needed some time to warm up, Harry settled Roxy on his hip and suggested that they have a look around.

At the moment, neither child was ready to try any of the rides or games at the arcade when Harry offered, though they were content to watch the other children playing there. Next, they watched the little rock-climbers through the glass walls - Eggsy was fascinated, though Harry was glad that he didn’t ask if he could try it out just yet. He wasn't quite ready to have his baby boy dangling from a harness against an artificial rock wall, thank you.

Roxy, meanwhile, spotted a group of little girls in frilly tutus (and even a few little boys in dark leotards), standing outside the ballet centre. She beamed when Harry asked if she wanted to go over and watch them. (“But not too close, Papa.”)

Percival had recently bought Roxy the movie Barbie of Swan Lake (he’d also bought Eggsy The Lego Movie to be fair to both kids). Roxy had been enchanted by the story, while Eggsy had quickly gotten bored - to be fair, the target audience was little girls.

Therefore, Harry wasn’t too surprised when Roxy agreed to join the other children for the trial ballet class. She didn’t have a ballet outfit just yet, but the instructor said that it wasn’t necessary - she would only need to purchase a uniform if Harry decided to enroll her for more classes.

The trial class lasted about half an hour, and consisted mostly of Roxy and a small group of enthusiastic little girls running, skipping and spinning around the room after the instructor in time to music. They weren’t exactly very graceful, but Harry dutifully recorded the entire thing for Merlin anyway while trying to wrangle a bored Eggsy. He was even slightly impressed that the instructor played a good mix of popular music and children’s songs, and not just the usual classical music that ballet was normally associated with.

Roxy was flushed and happy when the class ended, and Harry swept her into a proud hug when she shyly said that maybe she wouldn’t mind coming back for a few more classes. She’d even made a new friend - another little girl named Amelia, who was there with her dad as well while her mum was working in Berlin.

Harry had just completed the registration for Roxy’s follow-up classes when he realized that Eggsy was missing. Forcing himself not to panic, the seasoned agent quietly counted to ten, checked to make sure that Roxy was still chattering away to Amelia and the other girl’s dad, and then tapped lightly on his glasses to call Merlin.

“Eggsy’s gone,” he reported, as calmly as he could - though his husband knew him well enough to recognize when he was panicking.

“Hang on, Galahad,” Merlin answered, equally calm - and Harry knew his husband well enough to recognize that he was also mildly concerned. “Let me just check on his tracker…. hm.”

He could hear Merlin’s fingers flying over the keys. A moment later, Merlin chuckled and reported, “He didn’t go far, love. As far as I can tell, he wandered right next door from your current position.”

Harry ducked outside, scanning the crowd for Eggsy’s tiny body. The little boy wasn’t there, but Merlin had brought up the shopping centre’s map in his glasses, and Harry could see the blinking red dot.

“Next door’s the children’s gym,” Harry told Merlin. “I’m going in.”

Quickly retrieving Roxy and allowing her to bid her new friend goodbye, Harry brought her along as he strode towards the children’s gym, following the dot. Entering, he calmly asked the lady behind the counter if she’d seen a little boy, blond-haired and blue-eyed, who was wearing a Paw Patrol T-shirt and navy jeans with winged trainers.

“Oh, yes,” the lady said, smiling. “He followed some boys in earlier and joined them for the trial tumbling class. It’s right through that door.”

Harry thanked her, and picked up Roxy as they followed the directions and went to have a look. Peering through the square glass pane in the door, they saw a large group of excited little boys and girls happily rolling around and jumping up and down on mats and trampolines, assisted by various instructors and aides.

Eggsy was in a corner of the room having the time of his life - and Harry’s concerns immediately melted away the moment he saw the huge grin on the little boy’s face. An instructor was with him, patiently helping him bounce and play.

Pushing the door open, Harry went over to get his son. Eggsy saw him coming and immediately yelled, “Papa! Look what I can do!”

With more help from the instructor (who was apparently named Brian), Eggsy concentrated hard, then bent himself forward flexibly and executed a slightly wobbly forward roll. When he came back up, he was smiling so widely and proudly that Harry himself felt about to burst.

“Papa, did you see me?”

“I most certainly did,” Harry assured him. “That was wonderful, darling. Brilliantly done.”

Eggsy beamed, bouncing a little more in place. “Can we come back here again, Papa?”

In answer, Harry simply turned to the smiling instructor beside them and asked, “Where do we go to sign up?”

 


 

Later, Harry’s satisfaction at having completed his mission so successfully was only slightly diminished by Merlin’s reaction - especially when his husband found out exactly how much he’d had to pay for Roxy’s and Eggsy’s ballet and gym uniforms.

But that, as they say, is another story.

 


 

Chapter Text

#18 - Filthy

 

Once upon a time, waking up on a Saturday had meant lazy lie-ins with his husband, the two of them rolling around in bed together until almost-noon.

These days, though, it was far more likely that Harry would wake up to an empty bed and a glimmering sunrise sneaking in through the drapes, the scent of Scotch pancakes drifting into the bedroom via their partially-closed bedroom door.

Some days, this would be accompanied further by the patter of tiny feet racing up the stairs, followed by his door being slammed open and little bodies tumbling onto his on the bed, two beloved voices squealing in his ear for him to wake up and come down for breakfast.

Once upon a time, rainy days had been perfect for staying home with his husband and having a cuddle, or reading in bed while Merlin puttered around on his laptop or tablet beside him.

Now, rainy days were the days where twin echoes of the phrase “I’m bored!” would ring through the house from wherever the children were - and he and Merlin would have to find ways to not just occupy themselves, but also the two little imps they’d taken into their home and hearts.

Harry also remembered cold winter nights spent wrapped together in blankets in front of the fire, dinner dates to different restaurants throughout the city - and the one time he’d successfully surprised his husband with a trip to Paris for just the two of them. Merlin had scoffed and called him a “sappy old fool” and told him to stop watching so many romantic comedies. Harry had simply smiled, taken him by the hand and dragged him for a walk down the Champs-Élysées.

(Merlin still had the picture of them standing hand-in-hand in front of the Le Mur Des Je T’aime - or the Wall of "I Love You's. Harry knew for a fact that his husband had it framed and stood safely on the desk in his secret office, well-away from curious little eyes and sticky hands.)

Of course, it wasn’t that Harry didn’t adore his children beyond reason. (He did, and Merlin complained endlessly that if it were up to Harry, both Eggsy and Roxy would end up hopelessly coddled and spoiled rotten.)

Rather, it had simply been a long time since he’d had the freedom to be alone with just his husband, and he missed it.

And it would seem that Merlin felt the same, if the absolutely filthy smirk he’d given Harry after the children were both safely in bed for the night was any indication.

“Well, that’s the wee ones settled,” Merlin said carefully, tilting his gaze at Harry with a rather salacious little smile. “And there’s me, all done with work and absolutely no plans for the night. I’m not quite ready to go sleep just yet... Whatever shall we do to pass the time?”

Harry’s eyes widened, and he swallowed a little, finding his mouth suddenly dry.  Both men ended up retiring to bed much earlier than was normal.

Sadly, before things could progress beyond a hasty make-out session, there was a knock on their bedroom door.

“Papa? Da?” Roxy’s voice sounded from outside. “Eggsy and I went downstairs to get a drink, an’ he dropped the cup. There’s glass onna floor.”

Harry sighed, and Merlin let his head drop against their headboard with a light thunk. “We’re coming, tidbit,” Harry called, clearing his throat a little. “Give us a moment, please.”

“Tell Eggsy not to touch anything!” Merlin called, a little quicker to get off the bed and grab for his shirt.

There was a noticeable pause.

Sitting up in alarm, Harry asked, “Is there any blood, Roxy?”

“Only on his fingers,” came the timid reply. “Papa? Please hurry!”

They’d had to make a quick trip to the emergency room, where Harry had done his best to explain to the doctor exactly how their son had gotten glass bits stuck in his fingers and palms. Eggsy, meanwhile, had also gotten an impromptu lecture on why he shouldn’t ever try clearing up broken glass without the assistance of an adult.

By the time they’d gotten home, they’d both been beyond exhausted, and the mood had (needless to say) been broken. The men had pretty much looked at each other, shaken their heads and gotten back into bed.

Maybe next time.

 


 

To be fair, if it wasn’t the children getting in the way of intimacy, it was the dogs.

They’d dropped the children off for a rare weekend with Harry’s parents, and had returned home with every intention of having some private time, just the two of them.

Things had been going swimmingly, beginning with some quiet, undisturbed snuggle time on the sofa and ending with Merlin straddling Harry’s lap, about to exchange some sweet, tender kisses….

And then Harry had very nearly jumped out of his skin when something cold had pressed against his shin, and Merlin had muttered curses as he reached down and removed a dog toy from a rather unmentionable place.

They’d both looked down to find JB waiting hopefully by Harry’s foot, tongue out and lolling, and Scooby wagging his tail furiously as he stared fixedly at the yellow rubber ball that Merlin was holding in his hand.

“No,” Merlin said, sternly.

Scooby’s tail went between his legs and he whined, ears flat against his head. JB just stared, his eyes becoming huge and sad and wet as he whimpered.

Harry sighed.

“NO,” Merlin said again, a little louder, but Harry simply shoved his husband lightly to get him off his lap.

“Maybe next time, dearest,” he told Merlin, who absolutely was not pouting as Harry straightened his clothing and went to go get the dogs some treats.

They did still have some time left of the weekend, but for now Harry was not planning to do anything but wash the doggy slobber off his foot.

 


 

The next weekend, both men knew better than to try initiating anything, even when Percival offered to have both the kids and dogs over at his place for the night. With the way their luck had been recently, Harry wouldn’t have been surprised if the kids came rushing back through the front door the minute he so much as blinked lovingly in Merlin’s general direction.

Still, Harry did take the opportunity to bring his husband out for a lovely dinner at a Hungarian restaurant that they both liked, and when they got home, they both finished up some paperwork while cuddled together in bed, Harry on his tablet and Merlin on two separate laptops. They sat there in silence, enjoying the quiet and relishing the feeling of just being together… without their children or pets around to interrupt.

Rather sappily, Harry contemplated how extremely blessed he was to have Merlin by his side.

Merlin turned, blinked at him, and then frowned. “Everything all right, love?”

“Just being an ‘eejit’,” Harry answered in his best imitation of his husband’s brogue, reaching across the gap to hold Merlin’s hand. “Also… enjoying the peace and quiet for a bit.”

Merlin started to nod, before stopping with a frown. “A little too quiet, though. I’ve gotten used to Eggsy stomping around like a herd of ruptured elephants.”

“Or Roxy singing Baby Shark at the top of her lungs…”

“And doing the dance while JB and Scooby run around barking….”

“And then, Eggsy joining in.”

The men exchanged a long look with each other.

“Ironic, innit?” grunted Merlin at last. “Here I’ve been wanting nothing more than to get you alone in the house for weeks so we can cuddle and do unspeakable things to each other, and now all I want is to have the kids home, with Eggsy snoring his head off in their room.”

“And Roxy singing in her sleep,” agreed Harry, squeezing Merlin’s hand. “I know, love. I feel the same.”

Pausing, he then winked and started smiling a slow, sultry little smile. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of this opportunity we have to just be together, in bed…. doing unspeakable things to each other.”

Merlin laughed, and began to put away his laptops. “Now we’re talking, Hart. Lead on, love.” He leaned in, eyes twinkling with affection and laughter. “I’ll surely follow.”


 

Chapter Text

#19 - Cloud

 

Elaine met the men at the door as soon as they got back from work, face as dark as a thundercloud.

“Good luck,” she announced. “Roxy didn’t want to eat anything at lunchtime, and is upstairs in her room, moping. She won’t let anyone inside but Scooby. Eggsy’s offended because Roxy won’t talk to him, and he doesn’t want to do anything until she’s feeling better. He’s sulking in the sitting room with JB and his cartoons. Neither of them have been in any way cooperative or willing to negotiate with anything I have suggested… So I am going home for the day. Good evening, gentlemen!”

Harry and Merlin both watched wide-eyed as she not-quite-stormed out of the front door, letting it slam shut behind her with a quiet bang. They exchanged glances, before Merlin carefully reached for his phone and asked, “Shall I have the florist send her our usual bouquet?”

Nodding, Harry instructed, “Purple hyacinths, some bellflowers and peach roses. To be delivered to her home first thing tomorrow morning.”

Elaine was usually very level-headed, patient and capable - but everyone had their bad days, and apparently today had been especially trying, with both children in a mood.

Eggsy came flying out to greet Harry as the man went in to check on him, while Merlin placed the order.

“Roxy’s being mean!” the boy complained right away, as Harry bent to give him a quick hug. The man raised an eyebrow.

“Yes, I heard that both of you were giving Elaine some trouble,” Harry said sternly, and the boy had the grace to look mildly abashed. “What happened today?”

Eggsy dropped his gaze, fidgeting slightly, before answering, “I dunno. Charlie was saying some mean things in class, but Mrs Downing made him ‘pologize to Rox. But then she got sad.”

Charlie Hesketh was a recent addition to Eggsy and Roxy’s nursery class, and from the children’s accounts, he could sometimes be a mean-spirited bully. This was, however, the first time he’d gone after Roxy (and by extension, Eggsy, who would certainly not just stand quietly by while someone went after his sister).

Harry took a deep breath, and counted slowly back from ten. “Do you know what Charlie said to Roxy, Eggsy?”

The little boy shrugged, his expression clouding. “Nuh-uh. By the time I got there Rox was crying. She pushed Charlie, and he pushed her back. Mrs Downing made them break it up and ‘pologize to each other.”

Harry glanced at his husband, who was just about to enter the sitting room. By unspoken agreement, Merlin moved to pick up the little boy while Harry said, “Very well. You stay here with Da, Eggsy. Papa’s going to talk with Roxy, and we’ll sort this out, all right?”

“O-kay,” sniffed Eggsy, leaning his head against Merlin’s shoulder. “But she don’t wanna talk none.”

“We’ll see if she’ll make an exception for your Papa,” Merlin murmured as Harry headed up to the children’s room. He didn’t quite hear Eggsy’s answer, but it didn’t matter - Merlin would handle their boy.

Knocking on the door, he was met with silence, but it swung open easily when he tried the knob. The room was dark and quiet, and Roxy was lying on the bed with Scooby, silently staring at the wall.

“Roxy?”

The little girl sighed, slowly sitting up. “Yeah, Papa.” She sounded downcast, a little subdued. Harry moved slowly over to the bed, perching carefully on the edge.

“Hey sweetpea,” he greeted softly, like he was talking to a wild animal. “I heard from Elaine that you’re feeling a little out of sorts?”

Roxy sighed again, and shook her head. “I’m not sick, Papa.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” said Harry lightly. He waited, but when nothing else seemed forthcoming, he pushed, “Then why did Eggsy say that a classmate made you sad today?”

The little girl frowned, then shrugged. “Charlie was being mean,” she admitted.

“I’m sorry to hear that, sweet girl.” Harry shifted a little bit closer. “Would you tell me exactly what happened?”

Roxy was silent for a long moment, before looking up at him. “Is it okay if I don’t want to, Papa?”

“Of course it is,” Harry assured her. “As long as it’s not hurting you or anyone else, you can most certainly choose to keep it to yourself, my darling.”

Looking relieved, Roxy sidled forward a little and lifted her arms for a hug. Equally relieved, Harry was happy to oblige, drawing his baby girl in for a cuddle.

“Just remember,” he reminded her, “If you ever decide that you need to talk to someone about today, you can most certainly come to either me or Da, all right?”

Roxy nodded against his chest, but said nothing. Though Harry dearly wanted to know what happened, he didn’t want either of his children to feel that they couldn’t choose to keep their own secrets. Roxy would share once she was ready, until then, he and Merlin would simply need to be understanding and patient.

They stayed exactly where they were for an indeterminate amount of time - it could have been minutes, or hours. Harry wasn’t sure. Finally though, Roxy sighed and sat up.

“I should ‘pologize to Eggsy,” she said. “He got sad because I was being mean.”

Harry nodded, pleased that he didn’t have to prompt her.

“You can do that after dinner,” he said, getting up, lifting the little girl as he did so. “He was pretty worried about you.”

“Mrs Downing gave him a time-out because he was gonna fight Charlie,” Roxy stated, looking up at Harry solemnly. “It weren’t a real punishment, she just didn’t want him to get into trouble - and he was so mad at Charlie that he would’ve, too. An’ Charlie’s bigger’n both of us.”

Ah. That did explain a little about why Eggsy had been a little more upset than he should have been about the whole situation. Making a mental note to speak to the little boy separately as well, Harry started walking towards the door.

“Papa?” Roxy tucked her head under Harry’s chin.

“Yes, my little nightingale?”

“Charlie said I wasn’t a real girl. Because I have two dads and a brother and Uncle Percy, but I don’t have a mum.” Roxy’s voice wobbled slightly as she dumped everything out in a rush of words. “I told him to go ‘way, or I’d make him, and he called me a tomboy so I pushed him.”

Tiny tears threatened at the corners of her eyes, as she finished, “I didn’t mean to be bad, Papa, but he made me so mad!”

For a moment, Harry was stunned, but then Roxy’s words sank in and he felt a blinding flare of cold, white anger. How dare that little brat spew such nonsense about his princess? How dare he bring up her old grief and try to make her feel bad about not having a mum?

“Shh, sweetheart, don’t cry,” he cooed comfortingly, wiping at the tears with his thumb. “You weren’t bad at all. Thank you for telling me what happened, darling. Look, Charlie’s wrong: You are the sweetest, prettiest little lady and don’t you let anyone tell you otherwise.”

“Aye,” Merlin’s voice sounded as he met them at the base of the stairs, carrying Eggsy. “Your mum was living proof that a girl can be raised by a man and still end up a strong woman.”

Harry had almost forgotten - Percival and his sister had been raised by their dad. Their mother had left the family shortly after Percival’s birth, and Percy often recounted how his dad had taken on her role as well in order to bring up both of his kids.

Eggsy raised his head. “Roxy? You okay?”

Roxy nodded. “I’m sorry I was mean.”

“Is ‘kay,” Eggsy answered, reaching out. Obligingly, Harry and Merlin moved closer to each other so the children could hug.

“You feel better now?”

“Yeah.” Wiping at her eyes, Roxy managed a rather watery little smile. “An’ I’m kinda hungry.”

“Well, I’d best get started on dinner, then,” Merlin said briskly. “You lot work the rest of these feelings out in the sitting room, yes?”

Harry only just held back a delicate snort. Feelings, indeed. Glancing down at the children, he suggested, “Why don’t we play with the dogs for a bit while Da sorts out dinner?”

“I wanna help Da,” Eggsy said. Roxy nodded as well.

With both little ones helping, dinner was rather certain to be late. Still, Roxy’s smile was starting to become a little more genuine, and Harry found that he couldn’t quite think of a good reason to say “no”.

“Very well, then,” he said. “Let us adjourn to the kitchen, and we shall all make dinner together.”


 

Chapter Text

#20 - Deep

 

They might only be 4-years-old, but one thing that constantly amazed Harry about his children was how bright and intelligent both of them were. They soaked up new knowledge like little sponges, and Eggsy in particular had a near-eidetic memory when it came to learning. Teach the boy something just once, and he rarely forgot it once he understood.

Of course, his handwriting was atrocious, but Harry was confident that he could help the boy to remedy that with practice and time.

And Roxy? She loved when Harry would sit with them and teach them new things - from practicing their letters and numbers, to vocabulary and maths or even random trivia. However, she also had rather perfectionist tendencies, and often feared making mistakes.

“Roxy-love,” Harry finally said one day, when the little girl stumbled over some simple exercises he’d given her, reluctant to answer because she didn’t want to be wrong. “Sometimes, questions have no right or wrong answers. You just need to try your best. I promise that no one will ever get angry with you for that, my dear.”

The little girl had squinted up at him uncertainly, and then sighed and picked up her pencil to begin writing. Harry hadn’t been sure if he’d gotten through to her, but she finished the rest of the exercise without further issue and beamed at him when he told her that she was free to go and play.

He’d put the incident out of his mind until a few weeks later, when both himself and Merlin had to stay back late at the shop.

Since becoming parents, both men did everything they could to leave their work at the office and come home to their children as soon as humanly possible. However, work was work, and despite their best efforts, there were still times when they had to put duty over family-time.

Harry drew the short straw and made the call to Elaine, asking if she’d be willing to keep an eye on the kids for a little longer as he and Merlin had to work late.

“Certainly, Mr Hart,” Elaine had answered. “Take your time. I’ll feed them and put them to bed - we know how it is.”

“Is that Papa? Can I talk to him?” a little voice had asked from somewhere nearby.

Harry smiled. “Put her on, Elaine.”

A moment later, Roxy was happily greeting him. “Hi, Papa! It’s Roxy!”

“Hello, my little tulip,” Harry answered, putting her on speakerphone so that Merlin could hear as well. “I’m afraid your Da and I are going to be back well after you’re in bed tonight, love.”

There was a pause, before Roxy complained, “Awwwww!”

“Papa,” Eggsy’s voice sounded from somewhere beside Roxy, “Does that mean you’ll be back late?”

“I’m afraid so, love,” Harry replied, wincing. “We’ll come home as soon as we can.”

“What time will that be?”

Harry stopped, glancing at his husband as he tried to gather his words and think of some way to reply. He wasn’t exactly sure what time they’d be back, and he didn’t want to be made a liar by giving an exact time to the kids.

Apparently, he’d hesitated a little too long.

“Papa?” Roxy said, loud and clear through the speakers. “It’s okay, Papa. There are no right or wrong answers sometimes. Just try your best to come home soon. Don’t worry!”

“Yeah. Love you, Papa! Love you, too, Da!”

Stunned at hearing his own advice come floating back at him, Harry somehow echoed the sentiment back, and ended the call. He turned and met Merlin’s gaze, which was as shocked and slightly watery as his own.

Clearing his throat, his husband murmured, “That’s our girl. And you thought she wasn’t listening to ye the other day.”

Harry smiled, feeling rather choked. “I’ll be certain not to underestimate either of them next time.”


 

Chapter Text

#21 - Furious

 

Merlin and Harry were just getting ready for bed when there was a frantic knocking at their bedroom door. Having rather expected it, both men merely exchanged looks with each other before Harry went over to open the door, letting the children (and their dogs) in.

Roxy immediately ran over to the bed and clambered up onto it, crawling down under the covers, while Eggsy raised his arms to Harry in search of protection and comfort.

“Papa,” the boy whimpered. “Papa, the sky’s really loud and angry.”

It had been raining pretty much all evening, and outside, there was flashing lightning and booming thunder. The children weren’t usually afraid of rain, but storms were a whole different matter.

Merlin moved to their window and shifted the drapes a little, glancing outside. Lightning lit up the night for just a moment, before being accompanied by a ferocious clap of thunder. Behind him, he heard Eggsy whine and Roxy burrow deeper beneath the sheets.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he soothed, returning to the bed, where his family were waiting. A stern glare had JB whining and hopping off the bed - the damned pug liked to make himself comfortable in Merlin’s spot.

“Storms are beautiful things,” Harry backed him up, lifting the covers for Eggsy to slide underneath. “You know, my mother used to say that thunder is really just the sound of God rearranging his furniture.”

That got the children’s attention, both of them peeking up at Harry from beneath the sheets.

“Like spring cleaning?” Eggsy asked, chancing a quick glance at the windows in wonder. “God does that, too?”

“You never know,” Harry answered vaguely. “He might do.”

A particularly loud crash of thunder sounded just then, punctuating his words, and he quickly pointed out, “See? He’s just moving a cupboard or two.”

That got him a pair of delighted giggles. At the next crash, which was slightly softer, Eggsy ventured, “So is that a coffee table?”

“An’ that’s a dresser!” Roxy threw in, getting into the spirit of the game.

Merlin chuckled. “That’s the way, chooks. You know, I used to live on a farm. My mum used to tell me that if the cows were lying down outside, it meant that it was about to rain.”

Two little heads swung immediately over to Merlin.

“Really, Da?” Eggsy asked, slightly skeptical. “But then don’t they lie down when they sleep? It didn’t rain every night, did it?”

Merlin shrugged good-naturedly. “I don’t know, wee devil. They certainly don’t stand up to sleep like horses - but my mum believed it, and if she went out during the day and saw the cows lying down, she’d call for me to help bring in the laundry before it rained. Sometimes it did, and sometimes it didn’t.”

The kids thought about this, so engrossed that they barely even noticed the next big boom when it came. Roxy flinched a little, but that was it.

“Did you have cows, too, Papa?” Eggsy wanted to know instead. Harry laughed politely, while Merlin snorted out loud at the thought of Harry as a farmer.

“Papa lived in a mansion, Eggsy, not a farm,” he reminded the little boy. “You’ve been to visit your Grandfather and Nan - that was where Papa lived when he was your age.”

“Oh, that’s right, ages and ages ago when he was little like me! Nan showed us his old room,” Eggsy recalled, even as Harry rolled his eyes at his smirking husband over the children’s heads.

Outside, it sounded like the storm was finally about to wind down. Neither child seemed inclined to sleep just yet though, and somehow badgered Harry into telling them a story.

The man was surprisingly better than Merlin at making up short, ridiculous stories off the top of his head, so it was no trouble for him to softly tell the children a completely made-up story about a mouse and a duck, and then another about a brown dog and a little boy.

“One more please,” Eggsy mumbled sleepily, stubbornly doing his best to stay awake longer.

Harry chuckled. “I think two is more than enough, love. Go to sleep now.”

The boy turned to Merlin. “Please, Da? I’ll go to sleep right after.”

Merlin considered. On one hand, he knew he should back Harry up and be firm, but on the other…

Moving closer, he cleared his throat, and recited:

“Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads,
Great, hollow, bell-like flowers,
Rumbling in the wind,
Stretching clappers to strike our ears...
Full-lipped flowers,
Bitten by the sun,
Bleeding rain,
Dripping rain like golden honey - And the sweet earth flying from the thunder.”

To his surprise, Eggsy and Roxy both listened attentively to the entire poem. Roxy actually sighed when he was done.

“That’s real nice, Da,” she said, eyes drooping. “Thank you.”

“I liked it, too.” Eggsy yawned, asleep almost before he was done speaking.

Harry glanced up at Merlin, an eyebrow raised in question.

“It’s by Jean Toomer,” Merlin shrugged. “Seemed fitting.”

Carefully, he moved up behind Roxy and settled under the sheets as well. Sensing that their humans were about to sleep, JB and Scooby carefully crept out from under the bed and hopped onto their feet to join them.

Outside, the storm subsided into a light drizzle and a watchful silence. Tomorrow would be another day.


 

Chapter Text

#22 - Trail

 

With one final look towards the family farm where he’d grown up, Merlin turned and headed back to the rental car where his husband and kids were waiting.

Harry met his gaze as Merlin opened the door and settled into the passenger seat, but the quartermaster simply shook his head and shrugged. Yes, there were plenty of memories here, but he found himself a lot less bittersweet over selling off the last of his parents’ property than he’d thought. The farm had been sort of a money-sink in the end, left abandoned with nobody to maintain it. If he was honest, it was actually a bit of a relief to pass it on to new owners who would love and enjoy the place.

As Harry started the car, Merlin turned and smiled at the kids, who were fast asleep in their carseats. They’d just arrived in Scotland that morning, and were exhausted from the travelling.

Both Eggsy and Roxy had been extremely excited about this trip. Originally, Merlin had wanted to come alone and settle the last of his parents’ affairs by himself. Then Harry had pointed out that the children were on their term break, and had never been to Scotland… and wasn’t it about time for a family holiday?

Baffled, Merlin had questioned why the kids would even want to go to Scotland.

“Because their Da is Scottish,” Harry had answered, wryly and pointedly.

They’d posed the question to the children, and the answer had been a resounding “yes”.

“I wanna see where you grew up, Da,” Roxy had said, climbing into Merlin’s lap like a kitten and beaming up at him.  

(Merlin didn’t care what Harry said, he had absolutely not teared up at that, damn it.)

So here they were, looking forward to a few days of camping together as a family.

Turning back in front, Merlin took a deep breath, then leaned forward to help Harry set the GPS for Loch Lomond.

-------------------------------------------------

“I must admit,” Harry said, as they carried their luggage and the children into the chalet, “I”m curious, love. Why camping?”

Merlin shrugged. “Ye asked me to share my memories of Scotland with the kids. Well… some of my best childhood memories involving my Da were made right here on the banks of this loch.”

His Da had loved camping. Merlin couldn’t remember whether he’d loved it quite as much as the man had - but he’d certainly enjoyed spending time with his Da. And now that he was a Da, he found that he couldn’t wait to introduce Loch Lomond to Eggsy and Roxy, once they were awake and able to enjoy it.

Turning to Harry, he gave his surprised husband a quick peck on the cheek.

“Thank ye for agreeing to do this,” Merlin said, seriously. “I know ye’re not very fond of the great outdoors.”

Harry still looked somewhat startled, but slowly relaxed and smiled. “Well, to be very honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever been camping. My father was never the type to bring me on those sort of man-to-man trips. Who knows, though, I might end up liking it.” Leaning in, he gently ran his hand over Merlin’s cheek in a tender caress. “I’d follow you anywhere, love.”

“Ew,” complained a still-sleepy Eggsy from where they’d laid him next to Roxy on the sofa. “No kissin’!”

The men chuckled. “Go back to sleep, love,” Merlin murmured. “You’ll need your rest for tomorrow.”

----------------------------------

Since Merlin had been here before, Harry had willingly left the bulk of the planning to him. The man was clearly out of his element here, but he was being a good sport about it all - and Merlin had never loved him more.

Still, their first family activity - a hike through one of the Loch Ard Forest trails - was a huge hit, with both Harry and the kids. Roxy and Eggsy happily led the way (with instructions not to go too far out of sight), and would come running back every few moments to report wildlife sightings or discoveries to their dads.

“Da, lookit! A squirrel! Two squirrels!”

“Papa, I saw a fox! Quick, come see!”

The forest was resplendent in autumn colours, and offered a fine view of the loch as they walked. Harry and Merlin strolled along hand-in-hand, gamely indulging the kids and their excitement.

The route Merlin had picked was one of the easier ones - he and Harry ended up giving the kids piggy-back rides when they got tired near the end - which ended by a picnic area with an incredible panoramic view. They stopped to have sandwiches, while the children begged Merlin to tell them stories of how he’d done the same thing with his Da as a young lad.

“Da, is this the loch where Nessie lives?”

“No, Eggsy,” Merlin said, as Harry gamely tried to hide his laughter behind his hand. The boy gazed out over the loch with a frown - clearly, he’d been imagining prehistoric dinosaur-like creatures living somewhere far beneath the water.

After lunch, they returned to where they’d parked their car and got the kids bundled in for a drive to Doune Castle. Merlin had wanted his husband to feel included in the plans for the next few days - and since Harry was a huge Game of Thrones and Monty Python fan, he was bound to enjoy this. The castle had been used as a filming location for both of those shows, as well as Outlander , and featured an audio castle tour by Terry Jones.

Harry did indeed get a real kick out of the tour, and Merlin tried to hide his smug grin as he watched his husband “fanboy” over the place in his own way. The kids were a little less enthusiastic, though they did enjoy exploring the place as well. They hung back with Merlin as Harry went ahead taking pictures, going through at their own pace.

The second day was no less exciting - Merlin took them to Wellsfield Farm, where the kids went absolutely mad with excitement. There were animals, adventure parks and fishing lessons - and they even made friends with some of the families there.

Merlin was quite sure he wouldn’t forget Eggsy’s reaction to a Scottish family they’d met while fishing - it was perhaps the first time the boy had heard a Scottish brogue so thick that even Merlin had trouble understanding it.

“Da!” the boy shouted at the top of his voice, turning back to Merlin in pure excitement. “He talks just like you, Da!”

Merlin had nodded at the other dad, slightly embarrassed - but Eggsy had been thrilled. The boy had since been trying to imitate the accent on his own, which was somehow both extremely flattering and hilarious.

They’d also paid a visit to the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre - which was maybe a slight mistake, though both children loved it. Sadly, there were no activities the kids could try - but they had a ton of fun learning more about falconry and the birds.

And then, Eggsy discovered that a “merlin” was a bird of prey. He turned to his Da immediately, and Merlin cringed slightly in anticipation.

“Da! You’re a bird, Da!” Then, with a cheeky little grin, he added, “How comes you don’t got no feathers, Da? Are you an old bird?”

Merlin didn’t dignify that with an answer, instead scooping up his cheeky little son and flipping the giggling brat upside down.

“Harry,” he warned his husband with a sideways glare, “If ye don’t stop laughing right this instant, ye’ll be sleeping in the loch with Nessie .”

“My apologies, dearest,” Harry said, with one final snort, holding up his hands in surrender. “I’m done, I promise.”

On their last day, they took it easy and brought the kids for a walk by the loch side, not wanting to overdo things since they would be flying back the next day. As it was, the kids had so much fun fishing and canoeing with their dads that the men had trouble getting them to sleep. Roxy finally drifted off after Harry told her three stories, but Eggsy simply would not wind down.

Merlin finally gave up, and brought the boy out of the room so he wouldn’t disturb his sister. He carried Eggsy and rocked him, the same way he’d done when Eggsy had been a toddler and had trouble falling asleep. The boy rested his head on his Da’s shoulder, trusting and familiar.

Merlin almost didn’t realize when he started singing. But somehow, looking out the chalet windows to the dark waters of the loch, memory stirred within him, and he found himself softly crooning a tune that he’d almost forgotten.

“By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond,
Where me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

O ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland a'fore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond….”


 

Chapter Text

#23 - Juicy

 

Harry might not be the world’s best cook, but one thing he was good at was baking - cakes, pies, cookies, pastries, you name it.

Of course, as a father and a super-spy, he didn’t often have the time to indulge in his hobby, but when he did, his family and friends were always very appreciative.

Eggsy had declared that he only wanted “Papa birthday cakes” after his last birthday party, where Harry had presented him and his little nursery-mates with a beautifully-decorated rainbow cake (with an actual rainbow decoration on top).

(The boy had later asked if Da could also make cakes and cookies, to which Merlin had rolled his eyes and said that he would rather eat them.)

On Thursday, the children’s school had had a field trip to a strawberry farm just outside of London. It was one of those ‘pick-your-own’ places with a tabletop system for growing their fruits, and even included an adventure park  and other activities for families and children.

The kids had enjoyed it, if the way they’d been bursting to tell their fathers all about it when the men got back from work was any indication.

They’d also brought back quite the haul: a small jar of fresh honey each, and two punnets of strawberries that they’d picked themselves.

“The lady said they won’t ripen further, so we don’t have to keep them in the fridge,” Roxy recited as she handed them to Harry.

“What’re we gonna do with them, Papa?” Eggsy asked. “Roxy and me got lots!”

Harry thought the kids had done a pretty good job picking all of the fruits themselves. Most of them were nicely ripe, and they’d definitely aimed for the big ones. He smiled as he examined them.

“Well, I can make a sponge cake, with fresh cream, and we’ll put some of these on top,” he promised. The children - and Merlin - all lit up at the suggestion, and Harry chuckled. “It’ll have to be Saturday, loves. I’ll be free then.”

“Yayyyyy!” cried Eggsy, getting up and spinning in excited circles. “Cake cake cake cake cake!”

The two punnets the children had brought back actually held a lot of fruit though, and even after separating out what he would need for his cake, Harry wondered what on earth they could do with the remaining strawberries. The children had had their fill of “eating them raw” (as Eggsy put it) when they were at the farm, and no longer wanted them to eat them as they were.

“They made some into strawberry juice for us, too,” Roxy had informed them. “It was yummy. Can’t you cook these, Papa?”

Well…

Not quite knowing what else to do with such an abundance of fruit, Harry did a quick search for some suggestions. As always, the Internet had plenty of opinions and ideas, and Harry was happy to implement - because contrary to what the lady at the farm had told Roxy, the strawberries did continue to ripen, and he did want to use them up before they went bad.

He and Merlin froze some of the smaller berries, to add to wine and other drinks in lieu of ice cubes. Some more went into their salad for dinner, and Merlin made them some strawberry breakfast smoothies to have before work. A few more went into the children’s Nutella sandwiches (thank you, Google, he’d certainly never have thought of that on his own).

For dessert, they indulged and let the kids try out strawberries with whipped cream. And finally, in desperation, Harry gave in and looked up a recipe for a fruit pizza just to use up the rest - which was a huge hit. His husband was happy to mop up the stragglers, finishing off the few fruits that were left over and popping them into his mouth.

 


 

Saturday dawned at long last, and Harry woke up early to deliver on his promise to make the kids their sponge cake. It was a fairly simple recipe, and he chose to whip the fresh cream himself rather than buy the ready-made version from the store. Eggsy tried helping, but that particular task proved a little too labour-intensive for the boy and he quickly gave up in favor of watching his weekend cartoons.

Merlin, oddly, was nowhere to be seen - which just made Harry immediately suspicious. His beloved husband was normally a bloody nuisance whenever Harry was baking, sneaking in to steal bits of cookie dough or icing - and even all of the Kingsman agents combined couldn’t keep him away whenever Harry made anything with fresh cream, which was Merlin's favourite.

He watched the door suspiciously, but Merlin never appeared once. All seemed normal - until it was time for Harry to begin layering the strawberries on top of the cake.

He’d already washed, hulled and cut up the fruits and left them in a bowl on the counter…. a bowl which had now mysteriously disappeared.

There could be only one potential suspect.

“HAMISH!”

 


 

Looking up from the cartoon they’d been watching, Eggsy and Roxy hastily leapt off the sofa and padded quietly through the laundry room to peek into the kitchen. They knew what it meant when Papa shouted Da’s real name in that tone…

“Da’s been naughty again,” Roxy singsonged knowingly, and Eggsy grinned.

“Bet he don’t get no cake later,” he told his sister, who giggled. “More for us, then!”


 

Chapter Text

#24 - Blind

 

Harry handed the bag of sugar to his little assistant, who neatly deposited it in the back of the supermarket trolley, next to the milk and eggs.

“What’s next?” the man asked patiently as he wheeled the cart past another aisle.

Roxy bent her head, concentrating on the list which Harry had quickly typed down in his tablet before they’d left the house.

“Cheese,” she said, sounding out the word carefully. “And chocolate biscuits.”

Harry gave his daughter a look. “I don’t recall writing that down.”

Roxy turned an innocent smile up at him. “But it’s on the list, Papa!”

Harry made a show of taking the tablet, pretending to study it. “Why, so it is. Well, I suppose we’d better stick to it then…. even though ‘chocolate’ seems to be misspelled, my sneaky little squirrel.”

Roxy giggled, taking back the list.

“Oh, you’re both so charming,” a voice cooed unexpectedly from nearby, causing both father and daughter to look up at once - Roxy with curiosity, Harry with polite caution.

A young woman - well, young by Harry’s standards, anyway - was standing by the snacks aisle, beaming over at them. Roxy glanced up at Harry, uncertain how to react, and ever the gentleman, Harry simply replied with a polite “thank you”.

“Your daughter is simply adorable,” the woman continued gushing. Turning to Roxy, she went on, “Is Mummy here today, pet, or is it just you and Daddy doing the shopping?”

Roxy stiffened a little - an automatic reflex she still had sometimes whenever someone brought up a reminder of her mum. Glancing at Harry and receiving a nod, the little girl still answered politely, “I don’t have a Mummy, thank you. Papa and I are getting the groceries while Da took Eggsy for tumbling.”

Roxy’s ballet lessons were now on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while Eggsy had tumbling classes on Sunday evenings. This particular evening, Harry had noted they were low on groceries, and so he and Roxy were taking care of that while Merlin kept an eye on Eggsy.

However, Roxy’s reply - though polite and truthful - had instantly brought a look of shocked horror to the woman’s face. Harry’s guard went up instantly - though he did at least give the woman credit for quickly masking her expression and changing the subject before walking away.

Roxy, though, was frowning hard after the woman, the grocery list now quite forgotten.

“Roxy?” Harry questioned, concerned.

Though he and Merlin had dealt with their fair share of prejudice throughout their relationship - both minor and major incidences - usually, most people were nothing but accepting and supportive. There might be some initial awkwardness, but that usually faded after a bit - and thus far, never in front of the children, for which Harry was grateful.

But Roxy was four, and easily as perceptive as Eggsy. She’d have had to be blind to have missed the look on the woman’s face when she’d realized that Roxy had two dads.

The little girl looked up at Harry now, still frowning, before reaching up with both arms. Harry automatically picked her up, easing her into a comforting hug.

“Did the lady upset you, precious?” he murmured into her ear, feeling the tiny arms tightening around his neck.

“No,” Roxy replied, and to Harry’s surprise she pecked a quick kiss on his cheek, then pulled back to look at him. “But she upset you , Papa. I’m sorry.”

Struck speechless, Harry stared at his little girl in complete surprise, and she looked up at him with what he now recognized as worry. Giving her another hug, he smiled and placed her gently back in the trolley.

“Thank you, darling,” he said, still feeling touched. “That’s extremely sweet of you - but you don’t have to worry about me.”

“Yes, I do,” Roxy said, firmly. “You’re my Papa.”

Harry’s smile grew along with the warmth in his heart. “Yes, love, I am.” Bending, he pressed a gentle kiss to his daughter’s head. “And I always will be.”

“Promise?”

“Pinky promise,” Harry solemnly replied, and linked his pinky with Roxy’s.


 

Chapter Text

#25 - Ship

 

“Da! Papa!”

Merlin chuckled as he and Harry bent to greet their children, Harry tossing Eggsy into the air and catching him.

“Da, you and Papa got a package!” Roxy said, wrapping herself around Merlin’s leg in her excitement and refusing to let go. “Elaine said it’s from Austraya!”

“Australia,” Merlin corrected, before glancing over at his husband and smiling. “And I suppose this must be the package Ollie said he’d ship over.”

Ollie was an old friend of Harry’s from his college days - one of the rare few who’d kept in touch with him over the years. He’d flown over for their wedding, and Harry made sure to send him a Christmas card every year with the whole family on it - in July. Something about an old joke between him and his mate.

Of course, Ollie had no idea about the truth behind Harry and Merlin’s actual jobs - but he was still a good friend, and recently the Australian had sent word to Harry that he would be sending over a gift package for the family.

Harry brought the good-sized box into the sitting room after dinner, and the kids instantly gravitated towards it, curious.

(Merlin trusted Ollie, but had already scanned the parcel thoroughly just the same.)

His husband neatly opened the package, slitting through the packing tape with a Stanley knife. Eggsy helped him tug the flaps open, before eagerly peering inside.

The first item Harry removed from the box made him laugh out loud.

“What is it, Papa?” Eggsy asked, jumping on his toes a little to get a better look. From what Merlin could see, it was a little yellow jar wrapped carefully in bubble wrap.

“This, my darling,” Harry replied, lowering the item so the kids could see, “is Vegemite .”

“It’s meant to be spread on toast and butter,” Merlin supplied, with a grin of his own.

“Ollie knows I never quite acquired a taste for the stuff,” Harry said, rolling his eyes. He glanced fondly at the letter that was included in the box. “Well, seems it’s for the family, so perhaps we can all have it with toast for tea tomorrow.”

The children cheered - though Merlin wondered whether they would actually like it. He was perfectly fine with Vegemite, but they’d have to see how the children felt about its taste.

After the Vegemite, came some well-wrapped packs of what appeared to be various biscuits and snacks.

“Papa, what are Tim Tams ?” asked Eggsy, digging through the pile.

“Oh, you’ll love those,” Harry said immediately. “They’re like Penguins - but made by a different company.”

“Are they Australian?” Reaching for the nearest pack, Roxy carefully read out the flavors. “Chewy Caramel, Red Velvet, Choc Banana, Honeycomb and Dark Chocolate.”

“Well done,” Merlin praised. “Those sound delicious. We’ll have to try all of them.”

Ollie had really gone all out for the kids (and likely Harry as well, since he knew all about the man’s sweet tooth). There was a lovely mix of Australian snacks: assorted flavors of Shapes , Pods , Caramello Koalas, Killer Pythons (apparently gummy worms), Minties and Violet Crumbles .

The sheer amount of sugar was going to have the kids bouncing off the walls for months. And for the “big boys”, as Ollie put in his letter, there were also a couple of bottles of pure Tasmanian vodka and some different wines from Australian wineries.

The man had also thoughtfully included some non-food items for the family - some Australian T-shirts for Harry, Merlin and the children, and some Australian-themed jigsaw puzzles and story books which Harry promised to read with Eggsy and Roxy later.

Finally, Harry withdrew a large stuffed platypus (for Roxy) and a stuffed kangaroo (for Eggsy).

“Oh, Ollie, this is way too much,” Harry murmured.

“Generous as ever,” Merlin said. “We’ll definitely need to thank him.”

Roxy, who had promptly proceeded to battle her platypus against Eggsy’s kangaroo, piped up with: “Papa, we should send Uncle Ollie some English stuff!”

Eggsy nodded vehemently. “Yeah! Does he got kids like us? We can send them toys and stuff, can’t we?”

Harry and Merlin glanced at each other, and Harry smiled. “What a lovely idea, my doves. Yes, I believe we’ll do that. Ollie does have two children - a boy and a girl, though they’re slightly older than the two of you.”

“Six and seven years of age, if I remember the last Christmas card he sent us,” Merlin nodded.

The children were so enthusiastic about the idea of “sending stuff to Uncle Ollie”, that they insisted on going with Harry and Merlin to pick out the things themselves.

Since Ollie had sent them Aussie snacks, they wanted to send them English snacks in return. Harry helped them pick out chocolate Hobnobs , Jammie Dodgers , Jaffa Cakes , Walker’s crisps, and Harry’s personal favourite: Tunnock’s milk chocolate caramel wafers . Merlin added a couple packs of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolates, recalling that Ollie had mentioned before that these were much more expensive in Australia, and that his wife loved them.

Being English, of course, there was no way they weren’t sending some sort of tea. Ollie liked Yorkshire Tea , so they tossed in a box, as well as some fruit-flavoured teas for his wife Marge.

Finally, just to return the favour, they got some truly atrocious tourist-type T-shirts with the Union Jack on them for the entire family, and some books and a couple of Paddington Bear plushies for the kids.

To this day, Merlin had no idea how they managed to bubble wrap everything and fit it into the parcel, but with some “help” from the kids, they did.

“Is it enough?” Roxy fretted. “They sent us lots of things!”

Harry assured the little girl that it was the thought that counted - and they had packed in plenty as it was. Merlin took care of actually posting it off, and that, they thought, was that.

 


 

“Hey Harry, how are ya going?” Ollie beamed at them through the Skype window, his wife perched lightly on the arm of his computer chair.

“Oliver, you plonker,” Harry said, with great affection. “It’s good to see you - and Marge, my dear, you look lovely!”

Marge laughed. “Flattery will get you nowhere, Harry Hart.”

“How are the kids?” Ollie broke in. “By the way, we got the package you sent - thanks a lot, Harry, you really shouldn’t have. The kids loved opening it and going through the stuff.”

Harry grinned. “My kids were much the same. They loved the things you sent, and wanted to return the favour.”

“Are they asleep?” Marge asked, and Harry nodded.

“I’m afraid so,” he said, regretfully. “Merlin’s with them - Eggsy wouldn’t settle down. Bit of a sugar rush - they insisted on trying out some of the treats you sent. I know it's been a couple of weeks, but we're not even halfway through.”

“Well, I won’t apologize,” Ollie said with a grin, “Since I’ll likely be having the same trouble with mine once they get started on the stuff you sent us.”

All three adults laughed.

“Come visit us sometime,” Marge invited. “Bring the kids. You can stay with us, let us bring you around.”

“Only if you let me extend the same offer in return,” Harry countered.

“You’ve done it now, mate,” laughed Ollie. “Marge has always wanted to visit London.”

“One day,” said Marge, somewhat wistfully.

Harry smiled. “It’s a deal, then.”

Ollie raised his hand, grinning, and the two old friends shook on it through the video call.


 

Chapter Text

#26 - Squeak

 

Most of the children had gone home by the time Harry arrived at the school, stepping smoothly out of the Kingsman cab and moving to the main gates. Roxy was waiting inside with a nursery aide, while a sullen and somewhat-subdued Eggsy was scuffing his trainers next to Mrs Downing, his class teacher. Both children looked up when Harry approached - but it was Eggsy who instantly broke and ran to his Papa. Sniffling hard, he wrapped himself around Harry’s leg and buried his face in the material of his trousers.


Guessing that his son had had a pretty lousy day, Harry lifted him into his arms - school bag and all - and let him burrow into his suit before turning to the teacher.


“I’m so sorry to have to call you out of work today, Mr Hart,” Mrs Downing apologized, with a sympathetic smile for her little student. “But Eggsy wasn’t feeling well, and he really wanted his Papa.”


“Oh, it’s no trouble,” Harry answered. “Thank you for letting me know, Mrs Downing. I’ll just get these two home.” He extended a hand to Roxy, who moved to take it, looking up at Eggsy with open concern.


The ride back in the cab was pretty much silent, Eggsy dozing in his car seat next to his Papa. If Harry hadn’t already known he was feeling poorly, this would have been a large indication - the boy had weaned off his after-school naps long ago, insisting that he wasn’t a baby and did not need to sleep during the day.


When asked, Roxy explained that Eggsy had said his throat hurt, and his voice had sounded funny all day.


“It’s kinda rough, but squeaky,” the little girl tried to explain. “Everyone was laughing at him whenever he tried to talk.”


“Sounds like laryngitis,” Merlin’s voice sounded suddenly in Harry’s ears via the glasses-com. “From all the excitement yesterday, I’d wager.”

Percival had dropped by the day before with a Nintendo Switch for the kids, and introduced them to the wonders of Mario Kart. Eggsy had apparently been a little too excited - Harry certainly remembered a lot of happy, playful shouting on the boy’s part as he competed against Roxy and Percival.


Prior to this, Harry hadn’t actually known it was possible for someone to lose their voice from shouting or talking too much. However, a quick Google search confirmed that it was indeed possible - and very likely what had happened to Eggsy.


The boy had a mild fever when they got back, so Harry made them some chicken noodle soup for lunch and gave Eggsy a dose of children’s paracetamol. The pain in his throat was making him miserable and slightly irritable - but Harry didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was essentially his own fault that he was in this situation. Instead, he popped a Strepsils in the boy’s mouth and bundled him up in some blankets on the sofa.

Roxy elected to stay near her brother, watching TV from the other end of the sofa, while the dogs lay down nearby and watched their little master with concern.


“Keep an eye on him, please,” Harry said to the room in general, before heading back out to make a quick call to Dr Pavan.


The doctor laughed when Harry described his son’s symptoms, and quickly assured him that there was nothing to worry about.


“He’ll be just fine, Mr Hart. It certainly does sound like laryngitis - poor little fellow, his voice is probably going to stay that way for a day or two until the inflammation of his voice box goes down. But from what I can tell you’ve already done everything you can - just make sure he gets lots of rest and fluids, and try to get him not to use his voice as much. The fever’s probably due to the inflammation, and you’ve already given him paracetamol so that should help. Basically, just keep doing what you’ve already been doing, and he should be fine in a couple of days.”

Relieved, Harry thanked the doctor and ended the call. He’d suspected that it wasn’t serious - just irritating (and likely more than a little embarrassing) on Eggsy’s part.


Eggsy slept through most of the afternoon, and his fever was completely gone by the time Merlin got home with bags of takeaway for dinner. The sore throat, however, remained, as did his high-pitched, squeaky voice. Thankfully Merlin had anticipated that this might be the case, and had only bought soft foods and soup for the boy, who proceeded to prove to them all that his appetite had certainly not been affected.


As a treat, both children got yogurt and fruit for dessert, which further helped ease the soreness. Eggsy also got another Strepsils and a nice warm bath before the dads bundled him and Roxy off to bed. Both men tried not to wince when the boy croakily wished them both goodnight, then promptly clapped his hands over his mouth in horror.


“Good night, my darling,” Harry said, running a hand over the boy’s head, trying to ease his son’s embarrassment.


“Rest well,” Merlin put in. “And don’t ye worry, your voice should be back to normal by tomorrow morning.”


“Promise?” Eggsy rasped.


“It already sounds a bit better,” said Roxy loyally. Eggsy sighed, but fell back onto his pillow and nodded, reaching for JB as the pug came to cuddle.

 


 

“Ugh,” groaned Merlin two days later at the sound of excited whispering and little feet thumping “quietly” downstairs for Saturday morning cartoons. It was much too early for either man to be awake - but clearly not for the kids.


Eggsy’s voice had also returned to normal - and the relative peace of the past two days or so was unfortunately over and done with.


“If he yells for breakfast,” Harry grumbled from his side of the bed, “It’s your turn to make pancakes.”


Merlin sent a baleful glare towards their bedside clock, and turned to bury his face in his pillow, hoping to get at least another half hour of sleep.


“PAPA! DA! CAN WE HAVE PANCAKES?” 


 

Chapter Text

#27 - Climb

 

For as long as he could remember, Eggsy had always liked climbing things.

His dads had told him how he’d climbed right over the bed rail as a toddler, often tumbling right over to fall onto the floor. When he got a little older, he’d scaled the furniture, the staircase railings, even his dads - Eggsy sort of remembered pulling his way up their legs whenever he’d wanted cuddles, and large strong hands coming down to meet him halfway.

There was also that one time he’d tried to find out what was inside the upper kitchen cabinets and had made his way onto the kitchen counter without a stool - Papa had nearly had a heart attack when he’d walked in to find Eggsy up there. He wasn’t allowed to do that anymore, but that was okay - there wasn’t much interesting stuff up there anyway.  

Apparently when he was three, he’d also somehow made it up onto their roof. He sort of wished he could remember how he’d done that (not to mention how they’d gotten him down), but his dads had very firmly forbidden him to do it again.

It wasn’t that they didn’t want Eggsy to climb, they’d explained to him. It was that they wanted him to be safe. Which was why climbing and jumping off the sofa was okay - but him climbing the staircase balusters or going up on the roof was most definitely not.

Today though, Eggsy had stared wide-eyed as Da smiled at him and told him that here, he was free to climb to his heart’s content. Papa couldn’t quite bear to watch - but Da was here and there were a bunch of instructors nearby to watch over Eggsy and help him out.

Roxy hadn’t been interested when Da had suggested the activity earlier that morning - so Papa had taken her with him to run some errands instead. But Eggsy had wanted to try indoor rock climbing ever since he’d seen some kids his own age doing it (the first time he’d come here with Papa and Roxy), so after checking with Da that it really was okay, he’d eagerly said ‘yes’.

The instructor assigned to help him was a nice, friendly dark-haired man named Nick, who was almost as tall as Da and Papa. He helped Eggsy find a pair of proper climbing shoes from the selection available for rent, and got him to test them and make sure they were comfortable on his feet.

Next, Nick guided Eggsy through some simple warm-ups, before setting him loose on something he called a ‘bouldering wall’.

“You don’t need a harness for this one,” he explained, pointing out some older kids to Eggsy who were already making their way up. Eggsy watched in awe as the bigger boys easily hauled themselves up using the colourful rock-like grips, clambering over when they reached the top before running back down using the ramp that was hidden behind the structure.

“I wanna try,” he said to Nick immediately, and the man chuckled as he easily lifted Eggsy and set him on the wall. Instinctively, Eggsy set his feet on two of the ‘rocks’, and reached to grab two more just above him. Nick gave him a few pointers on his grip and advised him to keep his knees bent and arms straight as much as possible, then let go.

Eggsy was free.

Before he even realized it, he was halfway up the wall and beaming back down at his Da, who waved and called encouragement. Eggsy managed to pull himself a little further before admitting defeat and dropping back down - he’d started getting breathless, and Nick told him that was normal for a beginner, but that Eggsy had done very well.

“You need strength in your arms and upper body to be able to rock climb,” the instructor explained, and Eggsy nodded seriously - no wonder Nick’s arms were twice the size of Da’s. He looked down at his own shoulders and decided he was going to keep practicing on his own - he wanted to have muscles like Nick’s one day!

It turned out that they weren’t done, though. Nick brought him to another part of the gym and helped him put on a harness. Eggsy started getting excited again - and he was absolutely thrilled when Nick told him they needed to “test it out” and grabbed him by the belt, swinging him around with one arm. Even Papa couldn’t do that, and Papa was really strong!

Eggsy and Da both followed Nick to the climbing wall, Eggsy holding tightly to Da’s hand. He looked happily up at the man, and found Da smiling as well.

“You having fun, squirrel?” Da asked, and Eggsy nodded immediately.

“Can we come back sometime?”

“Well,” Da hesitated a bit, looking thoughtful, “Maybe we will, if you really enjoy doing this. We’ll even see if your Papa and Roxy want to come along, all right?”

“Yeah!”

At the wall, Nick helped hook him up and showed Eggsy how to climb… and then how to fall once he was ready to come back down. The idea of just dropping (even with the harness on) was a little bit scary - but Eggsy found that once he did it, it was really fun!

Nick said since Eggsy was just starting out, it might be a little difficult for him to climb all the way to the top of the wall - but if he felt he could do it, then go for it. If not, it was okay, too, and Eggsy just needed to climb as high as he could and have fun, and then tell Nick if he decided he wanted to come back down.

Eggsy turned and looked all the way to the top of the wall, and nodded determinedly. “Da,” he said, “If I can’t make it to the top today, can we keep coming back until I can?”

“Certainly,” his Da answered. “And when you do, we’ll find you a bigger wall to climb.”

Eggsy smiled, and started climbing.

He didn’t make it anywhere near the top… but Da and Nick said they were proud of him anyway.


 

Chapter Text

#28 - Fall

 

In hindsight, perhaps it hadn’t been the smartest of decisions for them to be watching a documentary on circus stunts while the children had been in the room… but in their defense, it had already been playing when they turned on the TV. Eggsy had almost-instantly been captivated, drawn by the sight of the wild, death-defying stunts on the screen, a glint in his eyes that had both men immediately taking the boy aside and cautioning him not to actually try any of the stunts he’d seen on his own.

Eggsy had given them both a look, but nodded.

“‘Course I wouldn’t,” he’d told them both, rolling his eyes a little. “I’m not stupid . Them stunts are dangerous, and you gotta be really, really old before you can try 'em.”

Merlin had rolled his eyes towards Harry at that, but had decided not to correct the boy.

Also in hindsight though, Merlin wasn’t quite sure why neither of them had thought to give their other child the same warning. He’d come downstairs the next morning and found Roxy of all people preparing to do a backflip off the back of the sofa, Scooby watching unhappily from the other side.

“Roxy!”

Surprised at Merlin’s sudden appearance and his startled bark of her name, Roxy had missed the timing and angle of her jump and landed hard on her left shoulder. Dazed, she’d just laid there quietly while Merlin rushed to her side.

“No, Da,” she’d answered, as Merlin gently manoeuvred her to a sitting position and asked if anything hurt. The worried father had insisted on checking anyway, applying an ice pack to the little girl’s shoulder while lecturing her sternly about the danger of the stunt she’d just tried to pull.

“We have enough trouble with your brother, lass,” he’d said, levelling a firm stare on the properly-chastened child. “Please don’t take another ten years off my lifespan.”

Roxy had seemed fine at the time, so he’d let her go without further admonishment.

A couple of days later though, and Merlin and Harry were having their Kingsman driver break several speed laws on the way to the hospital. They’d received a call from Elaine, who informed them that Roxy had been refusing to raise her left arm above her head, complaining that it hurt. They’d taken some x-rays, and it turned out that the little girl had a small fracture in her upper arm.

“The break didn’t go all the way through the bone, and it’s near her shoulder,” Elaine explained when the men finally arrived, to find Roxy and Eggsy both sipping at yogurt drinks and playing together in the children’s waiting area. Except for a sling - which Roxy had to wear for the next week and a half - you’d think both of them were just in for a regular checkup, with how normal they acted.

“Papa! Da!” Roxy came flying out to greet them. “My shoulder got a little bit broke!”

“Mine didn’t,” Eggsy informed them seriously, with just a hint of mischief in his grin - the little brat.

“Yes, well,” Merlin said, picking up the boy and propping him on a hip, “Let’s keep it to just the one family member with broken bones at a time, please.”

“Da,” said Roxy, beaming up at him from where she was now holding onto Harry with her uninjured hand. “Did you know that kids’ bones heal faster than adults'?”

“The doctor took a picture of Roxy’s shoulder an’ told us,” Eggsy explained.

Merlin had known that, actually, but he didn’t exactly want the children getting ideas in their heads. Eggsy was reckless enough as it was. Shaking his head, he simply started herding the kids towards home.

 


 

Harry found him in their bedroom a little later, contemplating new, softer flooring and carpet options, and debating the pros and cons of getting a lower-backed sofa.

“Love,” his husband said, after thoughtfully studying the tabs that Merlin had open on his laptop. “Do we need to talk about this?”

“Yes,” Merlin nodded. “Did you know they actually do make shock absorbing carpets? They’re for hospitals and indoor playground-type areas, but I’m certain they’d install it for private homes if we asked.”

Harry hummed in response, taking a seat next to him on the bed. Merlin squinted at him. “You’re not taking this seriously,” he accused.

The other man raised an eyebrow at him. “Am I concerned about our children’s safety, considering our son’s penchant for climbing and jumping and tumbling around the house and our daughter’s recent new interest in gymnastics and circus stunts? I most certainly am, and you know it, love. However - they’re children , darling, and I’m afraid that all this is par for the course.” He nodded pointedly at Merlin. “You were the one who told me how you once set up a makeshift bicycle ramp in your barn when you were a boy. And I once attempted sledding down the main staircase at my family home.”

“I was older!” Merlin grumbled.

“You still broke your leg - and I my collarbone. The point is,” his husband said patiently, “Children do these potentially-dangerous, ridiculous stunts from time to time. It’s part of growing up. If you install new carpets, they’ll find some other new thing to try - and as much as we would like to, it’s just not possible to bubble wrap our entire house.”

Merlin slanted a glare at Harry. He knew that, damnit. He just…. “Is it a crime to want them to stay safe?” he sighed at last.

“No,” Harry said, with a little smile. “But we can’t wrap them in bubble wrap either. We can only let them keep growing and playing, and try to provide them with as safe an environment as we can, while letting them know that they are loved and cherished.” Chuckling somewhat mirthlessly, he added, “One day, our Eggsy’s likely going to try building himself a bike ramp, too, and then what will we do?”

Straightening in mild horror, Merlin shook his head and muttered, “Oh, no, Hart - our boy’s not riding a bike until he’s at least 30.”

“Darling,” Harry chided. “You know we’re planning to get him one with training wheels for his next birthday.”

“Maybe 35,” Merlin amended, ignoring his husband. “And we’re not letting him drive until he’s 50.”

Harry simply rolled his eyes, leaning over to shut Merlin’s laptop and tug his husband into an affectionate kiss.

He didn’t care what Harry said though, Merlin was still getting those shock absorbent carpets installed.


 

Chapter Text

#29 - United

 

“Ohhhhh, aren’t you two just adorable!”

Merlin glanced over with an indulgent grin as Harry’s mother stopped right in the middle of the entry hall to gush over her grandchildren - both of whom were equally excited over seeing their Nan and Grandfather. He and Harry hadn’t quite finished getting the children ready just yet - but he knew that Eleanor and Alistair Hart would be more than happy to help.

Truth be told, they probably knew a lot more about this sort of thing than Merlin did. Harry kept insisting that he wasn’t “posh” - but his parents and most of his relatives on his father’s side were from a whole different class, really.

One of said relatives was getting married today, and had invited Harry and their family to the wedding. Merlin had already forgotten whether it was Harry’s first cousin or distant uncle (or something) who was getting married - but it was a real fancy-do, and even the children had had to get properly dressed up for it.

Thankfully, Eggsy liked wearing suits like his Papa - and he still had his little Kingsman suit and glasses from Halloween. The problem was convincing him to put on his bowtie, which the boy hated - he’d “lost” it twice already since Harry and Merlin had put it on for him, and even now as Merlin glanced over it appeared to have gone missing again .

“Eggsy!” he called, warningly, as he quickly knotted his own tie around his neck and flipped his shirt collar down. “Where’s your bowtie?”

The boy hugged his Nan around the waist and pretended not to hear. Rolling his eyes, Merlin strode over, plucked the tiny accessory from where the boy had hurriedly stuffed it behind the side table in the hall, and decided that he’d keep it in his pocket for now and hopefully get Eggsy to wear it once they reached the church. At this point, he was actually contemplating using super glue just so the boy wouldn’t be able to take it off - but with the way Eggsy wriggled, it would likely get all over him while they were trying to put it on.

Eleanor laughed. “Just like Harry was when he was that age.”

Merlin couldn’t quite picture a Harry Hart who wasn’t anything less than impeccably dressed at all times, really, but he chuckled along anyway as he greeted his in-laws with hugs and polite pecks on the cheek.

Harry appeared at the top of the stairs just then, making a noise of slight distress in the back of his throat as he spotted Roxy. The little girl was dressed like a mini-movie starlet, in a cream-coloured tulle dress with a matching cape, and a sweet little pair of white Mary Janes on her feet. She looked pretty damn perfect to Merlin, but apparently his husband had noticed something he hadn’t.

“Mother,” Harry begged, “Can you please do something about Roxy’s hair? I would really like to give cousin Artie a few less reasons to smirk annoyingly at us over the rim of his champagne glass.”

“Your mother certainly has more than a few words to say about your cousin Artie,” Harry’s father said rather dryly from where he was waiting by the door. “If we could please not get her started.”

“Alistair, please,” scoffed Eleanor, who had quickly moved over to Roxy to comb and tug her hair into a perfect little updo, pinning it in place with some hairpins. Merlin had no idea where she’d gotten them from, but had also learned that women - especially mothers and grandmothers - sometimes had magical powers when it came to things like these. The little girl now looked perfectly elegant and chic, following willingly after her Nan as they headed out to the car, while Eggsy clung to Alistair’s hand and skipped after them.

Merlin knew the exact moment that Harry properly looked at Eggsy, because the next words from his husband’s mouth were: “Eggsy, for the love of - where did you put your bowtie?”

“I’ve got it,” Merlin said, snagging Harry by the arm and dragging him along. “Stop fretting - he hates it, we’ll sneak it on him before we enter the church. Now come along - we’re already late.”

 


 

Though none of Harry’s relatives were particularly homophobic - thankfully, Merlin didn’t think he had the patience to deal with prejudice on top of all the snobbery - their family still drew a few raised eyebrows as they walked into the church together. The children, thankfully, went ahead with their grandparents and so didn’t notice - and most of the stares quickly died down after a few good glares from Eleanor “Mama Tiger” Whimsley-Hart.

Really, Merlin felt very glad that the woman was on their side. He felt Harry take hold of his hand, and was oddly comforted by the show of solidarity.

Unlike Harry, Merlin had been an only child. After his parents had passed on, it had been just him and Harry - and as far as he knew, he had no other living relatives. Harry though, had his siblings, parents and a rather large extended family, some of whom were very distinctly upper-class - and Merlin was well aware that many of them thought no more of him than the dirt on their shoes.

How fortunate then, that he gave the exact same consideration to their opinions. As long as nobody hurt Harry or his children with any snide remarks or sneering looks, he didn’t give a flying feck.

Nothing happened during the wedding itself though - but then, not even Harry’s posh relations would dare risk the scandal of starting trouble in a church.

The reception though - when most of them were filled with varying degrees of alcohol and bravado - that was a whole other story.

“Oh dear Lord,” one of Harry’s elderly aunts lamented as she passed by their table, “Would you look at those grubby little pond rats? So ill-mannered and poorly-behaved. Why on earth did Augustus even invite them ?”

Harry had to quickly place a firm hand on Merlin’s shoulder to stop him from getting up and going after the woman. Eggsy and Roxy, thankfully, were sandwiched safely between both their fathers and hadn’t heard - though Merlin failed to see exactly what was so “ill-mannered” about them sitting nicely with their hands in their laps while waiting for their food. Harry had prepared them well in anticipation of the reception lunch, even giving them proper formal dining etiquette lessons the day before. At this point, both children likely knew more than Merlin did about which fork and spoon to use and such - they were both being so good, too, even if Eggsy was starting to get a mite bit fidgety.

“Papa,” whispered Roxy, looking up at Harry, “When’s the food coming?”

“Soon, I hope,” Merlin muttered before Harry could answer. Roxy nodded as if this was a perfectly reasonable response, and reached past Eggsy to pat Merlin comfortingly on the knee.

“I’m hungry, too, Da,” she whispered. “It’s okay - we just gotta be patient.”

“Hm, yes,” murmured Harry, with a significant look at Merlin. “Patient, indeed.” Leaning in just a little bit closer, he reminded, “Manners. Maketh. Man.”

Merlin grumbled a little under his breath, and slid a protective arm over the back of Eggsy’s chair, contenting himself with sending little glares at anyone who so much as looked at his family funny.

Their table was mostly close family, the four of them with Harry’s parents, his siblings and their families - so things weren’t too terrible.

However, Merlin could hear whispering and gossip floating over from the table just behind them, and only his husband’s pleading stares kept him seated, gritting his teeth through every course as he tried to ignore the mildly contemptuous comments and thinly-veiled insults. He was doing quite well, too, or so he thought - until suddenly and unexpectedly, Eleanor was the first one to snap (likely, it was because one of them had just referred to Roxy as an “ugly, ill-bred little peasant”).

“Really,” she said loudly, “If some people would just spend their time focusing on eating and conversing with others instead of exchanging idle gossip and slander, I do believe the atmosphere here would feel a whole lot more decent.”

The chatter from their neighbours stopped almost immediately, and Merlin wished he could turn around and see their facial expressions as they were caught out. Harry snorted a little, hiding his grin with an ease born from long practice, while his younger brother actually clapped and said, “Well said, Mother, thank you - it was getting positively stifling .”

Merlin did not miss the smile and wink that Eleanor sent his way, nor the warm gazes of his father-in-law and Harry’s siblings. He nodded a little, feeling himself relax, even as his husband reached over discreetly and gently squeezed his hand - a silent reminder that he wasn’t alone, and that there were others here with him who had his (and their children’s) backs.

Maybe it wasn’t such a terrible thing to have family.


 

Chapter Text

#30 - Found

 

Eggsy stood on his tiptoes, staring around him in open-mouthed awe. The shopping centre looked so pretty and different during Christmastime, with all the decorations and Christmas displays and Christmas songs playing in the background.

“Eggsy!”

Uncle Percy darted over to him from somewhere, and Eggsy willingly let the man grab his hand. “Eggsy, please don’t wander off like that. There are too many people here, I don’t want to lose you or Roxy. Stay by our sides, okay?”

Glancing up at Uncle Percy, Eggsy nodded. He hadn’t meant to wander off, exactly, but he’d caught sight of the shiny displays in the windows - and the next thing he knew, he was over here looking at them.

But Uncle Percy had a point, and Eggsy wanted to be good because they were here on a mission and it was really, really important - and so he knew he had to try and ignore all the interesting things around him.

Uncle Percy had brought him and Roxy here to help them buy Christmas presents for their dads. They were supposed to finish shopping and meet up with Da and Papa in an hour for lunch (and maybe ice cream if they were good).

The only problem was… Eggsy wasn’t quite sure where to start.

“Uncle Percy,” he said, tugging on the man’s hand and waiting for him to bend down and offer Eggsy his ear. “Uncle Percy, what kind of presents would be good for Da and Papa?”

His godfather looked thoughtful for a moment. “Well, er, what do your Da and Papa like?”

“Kissing,” Roxy put in, rolling her eyes. “It’s kinda gross, but it’s what daddies do when they’s in love.”

Uncle Percy looked like he would rather have not asked. “Let’s try that again: What things do your fathers like? Not activities.”

Roxy looked at Eggsy, who looked right back at her with a shrug. He tried to think.

Mostly when they went shopping with their dads, they bought nice food, things for the house or stuff for Eggsy and Roxy. But of course Eggsy knew that didn’t mean his dads liked the stuff - it was just cause it was stuff they needed.

So he tried to remember what Papa and Da did when they weren’t working or taking care of Eggsy and Roxy.

“Papa likes baking,” offered Roxy, but then she realized that was an activity and amended, “I guess he likes cakes.”

“Da likes sitting in front of his laptop and watching TV shows,” Eggsy said. Then he brightened. “He also likes camping!”

Now Uncle Percy looked halfway between laughing and crying. “All right,” he said. “You two don’t really know much about your dads’ hobbies, do you?”

Eggsy thought about it, then shook his head. Next to him, Roxy was doing the same. It made him feel kind of… bad. Papa and Da knew everything about what Eggsy and Roxy liked. But Eggsy wasn’t really sure what Papa and Da liked.

Something must have shown on his face, because Uncle Percy gave him an awkward little pat on the head. “That’s all right,” he assured Eggsy. “We’ll think of something. Let’s walk around and see if anything catches your eye.”

Not feeling particularly comforted, Eggsy let his head droop a little as Uncle Percy took his hand and led them around. They walked an awful lot, and kept looking at a bunch of different stores.

Roxy suggested getting Papa and Da some ties for them to wear to work - but when Uncle Percy helped them check the prices, the really nice ones cost a whole lot. Da had given Eggsy some money to get Papa a present, and Papa had given Roxy some for Da’s present - and the ties, Uncle Percy said, cost more than twice what they had.

Scrapping the ties, they tried some other shops and gift ideas. Eggsy spotted a ‘World’s Best Dad’ mug, but Roxy said that Papa and Da already had mugs at home - the ones with the Kingsman symbol on them. Uncle Percy suggested scarves or shirts - but like the ties, those turned out to cost an awful lot.

By this point, Eggsy was starting to feel rather flat - like a balloon that had run out of air. Looking around almost-desperately, he contemplated his fathers again. Why was this so hard?

Papa liked old books and leather briefcases, and always had shiny, expensive-looking watches and accessories. Da called him a “hoarder”, which meant that he liked collecting things - like the butterflies on the wall in the water closet downstairs. He liked trinkets that were related to dogs and horses - like the bulldog-shaped cookie jar which sat on their kitchen counter, guarding the chocolate chip cookies from the kids (and from men with sweet tooths).

And Da - his tastes were more simple, but Da liked tech. He had two laptops which were top of the line, and his phone, and he liked tinkering around with gadgets sometimes - Papa had yelled and called him “Hamish” when he’d found Da taking apart their toaster oven one morning, though Da had somehow made it work better. Da also liked comfortable, soft stuff - like fleece blankets and really soft jumpers that smelled like home and safety to Eggsy.

See? Eggsy did know his dads. He loved them both more than anyone else in the world - even Roxy (who was his best friend as well as his sister), or JB.

And he knew that both his Da and his Papa loved him and Roxy more than anything or anyone else, too.

Determinedly, Eggsy kept walking, barely even noticing the crowd around him as he went. He scanned each shop carefully, taking in the contents and analyzing them, then walking away as each fell flat.

There had to be something here… the perfect gifts.

And then, right at the far end of the shopping centre, he found it.

About twenty minutes later, Eggsy happily began making his way back. He’d only taken a few steps out of the shop when he heard someone calling his name, and turned just in time to see both Da and Papa rushing towards him, looking worried. Startled, Eggsy froze, and Papa kind of dove at him and scooped him up.

“Are you all right?” Papa was demanding, looking Eggsy up and down as though checking for injuries. “Oh, Eggsy, you gave us such a fright.”

“Why didn’t you stay with Uncle Percy, lad?” Da was saying, and Eggsy immediately turned, realizing he’d forgotten.

“Where’s -?” he started to say, but Da shushed him and pointed to where Uncle Percy was standing nearby with a tearful Roxy, looking relieved.

“We thought you were lost!” Roxy wailed, and Uncle Percy carried her over so she could reach out and hug Eggsy. “Uncle Percy couldn’t find you, and then we had to call Papa and Da and they were all worried that maybe a bad person tooked you away somewhere!”

“I’m sorry,” said Eggsy, his lower lip wobbling a little in the face of his sister’s tears. “I forgot - I was thinking really hard about Papa and Da’s presents and I just forgot about you and Uncle Percy!”

Da plucked him from Papa’s arms just as he started to cry as well. It hadn’t been scary earlier - but then Eggsy hadn’t known that he was lost.

“Shhhh,” Da soothed, rubbing at Eggsy’s back. “Shhhh, easy now, laddie. We’ve got you - we’re here now. We found you. It’s all right.”

“We’re here, baby boy,” Papa crooned next to them. “Papa and Da are right here.”

“No need to cry, little man,” Uncle Percy put in then. Spotting the receipt that Eggsy was holding in his hand, he asked, “Hey, what’s that?”

Still sniffling, Eggsy handed it to him. “Papa and Da’s Christmas presents. I found a shop. They said to come back in an hour to collect them, Uncle Percy.” Calming down, he took a breath and said, “I was gonna come back and get you and Roxy, so she could make ‘em, too.”

Uncle Percy read the receipt, and his eyebrows went right up to his hairline. “Huh. I can’t believe it. You actually found something that’s within your budget. Good job, Eggsy - I’ll bring you and Roxy to collect them after lunch.”

Remembering his success, Eggsy preened a little in the safety of Da’s arms. “Don’t show Papa and Da,” he cautioned his uncle, who laughed and nodded.

“I’m sure we’ll love it, whatever it is,” Papa said, giving Eggsy that warm smile that always made Eggsy feel all proud and happy inside. Without thinking, he reached for Papa, who readily took him back from Da and hugged him tight.

A thought occurred to Eggsy.

“Can we still have ice cream? I didn’t mean to be bad,” Eggsy pleaded, looking sadly at Papa, who choked out a laugh.

“Yes, my little spider-monkey,” Da said affectionately. “But only after you’ve had some lunch, all right?”

Realizing that he was getting a little hungry, Eggsy nodded and decided that that was fair.

 


 

The men sat and waited patiently, keeping their eyes closed as requested as the children went and grabbed their gifts from underneath the tree. Eggsy had been waiting impatiently for Christmas Day to come along - though Papa had said that nobody was opening any gifts until they’d had some breakfast - and finally it was time.

He pressed the elegantly-wrapped box into Papa’s hand, while Roxy gave a similar one to Da.

“Okay, go!” said Eggsy, and he and Roxy waited for their dads to open their eyes before chanting, “Merry Christmas!”

“Well, what could this be?” Papa had that glint in his eye which meant that he was playing, and Eggsy just beamed, forgetting completely about his own gifts under the tree.

“Open it, Papa!” he urged, and Papa laughed. Next to him, Da had already torn into the wrapping, but Papa took his time to neatly undo the ribbon and peel away the cellophane tape before removing the paper. He paused when he saw the dark brown jewellery box beneath it, then carefully opened that as well.

Eggsy held his breath.

Papa’s mouth fell open and his eyes got really wide. “Why… are these dog tags?”

Eggsy danced happily in place. “Pick ‘em up, Papa! One’s for you and one’s for Da.” He watched his father carefully lift the metal tags, studying them with an expression of impressed wonder.

“See,” Eggsy pointed. “Each of them has mine and Roxy’s fingerprints on ‘em. So you and Da can wear ‘em and you won’t forget us.” He beamed up at Papa, who seemed unable to speak. “Do you like ‘em, Papa?”

Papa had to clear his throat. “I… I love them, darling. What a thoughtful gift - come here.” He held out his arms, and Eggsy eagerly clambered up for a hug.

On the other side, Da was holding up two silver photo frames. “I see these have your fingerprints on them, as well,” he was saying.

“Uh-huh,” Eggsy said.

“Uncle Percy paid a little extra for them to record our voices, too,” Roxy revealed, and reached out to press a little button on the side of the frame.

“Hi Papa,” their voices chimed out, “Hope you’re having a great day! We love you!”

“The other one’s th’ same, but for Da,” Eggsy nodded, and Da’s smile got so wide that his face looked like it would split in two.

“Well,” he cleared his throat as well, “These are the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received. Thank you, my thoughtful little turtle doves. Papa and I will treasure them.”

Roxy pounced on Da for a hug as well, giggling, and the man easily caught her, rolling her in close for a real snuggle. Papa leaned in as well, with Eggsy, and the boy started giggling too as they all got caught up together in a family hug.

Outside, snow was beginning to fall - but for Eggsy, it was already the best Christmas ever.


 

 

Chapter Text

#31 - Mask

 

Harry was working in his office when he heard the almost-timid little tap on the door. Glancing around quickly to make sure he hadn’t left anything particularly incriminating out, he called, “Come in!”

The door opened slowly - it was a little too heavy for the kids to push - and Roxy’s little head poked through the gap as soon as it was big enough to let her through. Harry turned to face her, and the little girl squeezed her way in and ran over, brandishing an envelope in her hands.

Harry’s first thought was that the little girl had received a teacher’s letter of some sort, and he frowned. But while Roxy looked a little uncertain, she didn’t look worried or sad - which told him that she probably hadn’t gotten into trouble.

“What’s that, love?” he asked, reaching out to take it from her.

“I won it in school,” Roxy announced, bouncing a little on her toes. “There was a colouring competition, and I got first place.”

Harry’s eyebrows shot up. “Did you now? Well done, darling! That’s lovely news!”

Roxy puffed up a little, but still didn’t look particularly thrilled. “But the prize is dumb, Papa. I can’t use it.”

“Oh? Why not?” Harry glanced at the envelope, his curiosity piqued. It was already opened - so Roxy had clearly already seen whatever was inside. He flipped open the flap and reached in -

“‘Cause,” Roxy’s lower lip wobbled a little, “It’s dumb ‘cause I can’t use it ‘cause I don’t got a Mummy to use it with.”

Harry removed two pieces of paper from inside the envelope, turning them quickly to see that they were vouchers for a “Mummy and Me” package at a local spa. There was one voucher for the parent, and the other was for the child, to be redeemed at any time before the end of next month at said spa. When he glanced over the text, he could see a list of activities printed that a mother and child could indulge in together.   

Normally, this would have been an exciting thing for a little girl to win… but Harry now understood why his little girl wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about it as she normally would have been.

Pressing close to Harry, Roxy placed one hand on his knee and looked sadly up at him. “Papa, do we gots to give ‘em back?”

Harry looked down at her, carefully considering his reply.

It wasn’t normally an issue for Roxy that she had two dads, instead of a mum and a dad. She loved her Papa and Da very much, and didn’t seem to care that her family was built a little bit differently from that of her friends and schoolmates.

However the fact remained that she was a little girl being raised by two men - and as much as Harry wanted to shield her from life and society, he couldn’t. Situations like this were all too likely to continue popping up in the future.

The last thing Harry wanted was for Roxy to be hurt - or worse, to have her feel that she couldn’t come to him and Merlin about something just because they were “dads” and not “mums”.

So whatever he said now, however he responded - it was important, because it would set a precedence for Roxy, and it would determine how she felt and responded whenever she encountered similar situations in the future.

Taking a moment to mentally review his calendar, Harry double-checked the expiry date on the vouchers before turning back to Roxy.

“I don’t see why we should have to give them back at all, darling. They only expire next month - your Da and I have a day off next week, so one of us can still go with you.”

Roxy’s expression went from hopeless and sad to flat-out stunned in seconds. “You, Papa? But - it’s for Mums and kids. You’re both dads.”

Harry flipped the voucher over again, then noted, “Well, actually, while the package is named ‘Mummy and Me’, it only states that the voucher is for a ‘parent’. I’m pretty sure that the spa would be perfectly able to accommodate a session for a father and daughter.”

Roxy didn’t look convinced, so Harry offered, “Would you like me to call and ask?”

The little girl considered this, hesitating long enough that it became clear to Harry that she really did want to go. Despite calling it a “dumb prize” and saying that it wasn’t applicable to her… Roxy was still a little girl, and was clearly drawn to the idea of getting all pretty and being pampered for a couple of hours.

That pretty much decided him. Doing a quick search for the spa’s contact details, Harry picked up his mobile phone and keyed in the number.

(Even if they said it wasn’t allowed, Harry was privately prepared to offer a large sum of money just to make it possible for Roxy to enjoy her prize, with or without him.)

Thankfully, it turned out they needn’t have worried.

The woman he spoke to over the phone was very helpful and accommodating, and assured Harry that it was perfectly fine for him to accompany his daughter to redeem the session. “We offer father-daughter packages, too,” she assured him.

One look at Roxy’s hopeful, excited little face and Harry found himself making an appointment for next Thursday, before hanging up and turning to exchange high-fives. Roxy threw herself at him and hugged him tight before running back out to share the news with Eggsy and Da.

 


 

In the end, though, they all ended up going. Merlin had grudgingly agreed to accompany them (more in support of Roxy than Harry), and Eggsy hadn’t wanted to be left on his own with Elaine or Uncle Percy. The boy was a little apprehensive as they entered the spa (“Papa, there ain’t any other boys here”), but was immediately interested when he realized that the “Welcome Pack” mentioned in the package that Roxy had won included food.

They were greeted at the door by two lovely ladies, Marta and Emma, who guided them to a room where they could change into fluffy bathrobes and slippers. Roxy went with Emma to a separate room for girls, but soon rejoined them, wrapped in a pink bathrobe with a little silver toy tiara on her head and a tiny champagne glass of pink lemonade in her hand.

“Hey! How comes I don’t got one of those?” Eggsy demanded indignantly, and it took Harry a moment to realize that he was talking about the drink and not the tiara. Marta laughed and went to get him one as well, while Emma winked at the men and gently silenced the boy’s further complaints by guiding him over to a tray of mini-scones.

They started off with a foot bath and accompanying foot massage, before leaning back to be treated to a facial massage as well. Emma and Marta provided them with a choice of facial masks to be applied after - made of all-natural, kid-friendly ingredients. Merlin entertained the kids by eating the cucumber slices that had been meant to refresh his eyes, and Eggsy laughed so hard that he almost fell out of the massage chair.

After that, came the mani-pedi session. To Harry’s surprise, Eggsy was just as interested in getting his nails painted as Roxy was - but then, the boy loved colour. Diligently studying the nail polish choices that were available, he picked something blue and sparkly, while Roxy chose pink with some glitzy nail art. Harry and Merlin glanced at each other and shrugged, picking their own colours too - the reactions at work were certain to be interesting tomorrow once they walked in sporting their prettified nails, but it was worth it to see Roxy’s joy that they were all doing it together.

Just to show that he really didn’t give a shit what others thought, Harry picked the same shade of pink that Roxy had, smiling widely when the little girl squealed, “Papa, that’s the same as me!”

They received a hot towel treatment and mani-pedi scrub before the ladies did their nails - after which they gathered together to compare the results, of course. Merlin snapped a couple of quick pictures with his glasses as the children giggled over Harry’s pristinely pink fingernails and toenails, which he wiggled obligingly for them, showing them off.

Yes, work tomorrow was likely to be… interesting, but Harry would do it all again just to see Roxy smile.

The finishing activity was something that Merlin couldn’t participate in, sadly: a hair care session. Roxy picked a princess updo with hair tinsel, while Eggsy went with colourful rainbow highlights (though Harry was relieved when Emma assured him that the colour was temporary and would come out after a few washes).

He himself decided to allow them to re-style his hair from the usual slicked back look he favoured - and Roxy helped him decide on silver glitter and some feather accessories to go with it.

Merlin, damn the man, sat in a corner trying hard not to laugh at Harry while recording the entire thing.

The kids were actually quite sorry when it was time to leave. Their dads helped them change back into their regular clothes (without messing up their new hairstyles) and brought the two tired but happy children back home.

Seeing how Roxy had enjoyed it so much, Harry made a mental note to seriously consider bringing her again in future.

“Thank you, Papa,” the little girl said when they got back, hugging him tight.

“You’re most welcome, my little fairy queen,” Harry answered, adjusting Roxy’s tiara - which she’d been allowed to wear home. “Did you have a good time?”

“It was aces,” she replied, using one of her brother’s favourite words, looking up with a bright, beaming smile. “Papa, you and Da and Eggsy were better than a mum.” Unexpectedly, she hugged him again. “I love you.”

“Hey,” Merlin protested, barging his way in between them and making Roxy giggle.

“I love you, too, Da,” she declared, grinning. “And Eggsy and Scooby and JB and Uncle Percy and Nan and Grandfather and Elaine.”

“Me, too!” demanded Eggsy, and Merlin scooped up the boy to be included in one big happy family hug.

As he held onto his husband, daughter and son, Harry had the thought that his heart had never before been quite this full or this happy.

It was a feeling that he would never, ever, get tired of.


END.