“Deanna, we need to leave now or else we’ll be late.”
“But Uncle Harry, JB is going to be sad if he’s left here all alone.”
Harry tried not to cringe, looking at the dog and wondering what had possessed him to tell Eggsy about having a dog as a boy, and what a great responsibility it was. Perhaps a puppy would keep Deanna company. So soon after their trip to Paris they’d found themselves the owners of a pug, a pug that was absolutely loyal to Eggsy and refused to sleep anywhere but at the foot of his bed. Their bed.
Plus he was a staring sort, so Harry could never quite get comfortable around him.
But Eggsy loved him and Deanna adored him, so they had a dog.
“We’re going to a culinary school,” Harry reminded her. “Dogs can’t be in the kitchens.”
“Don’t you have an office Uncle Harry? He could stay there for us! Please please please please please?”
He could already feel his resistance cracking, and if Eggsy were here he would never hear the end of it. Even without Eggsy being here he would probably never hear the end of it.
“Mr. Merlin won’t mind.” She had perfected a begging look and, with her eyes as wide as they were, he found himself agreeing.
Of course it was an utter nuisance to get the dog to the school. Deanna wanted to hold his leash but she was prone to dropping it when she got distracted, and if the dog truly wanted to he could pull away from her grip.
Thankfully they had discovered that when they were altogether, and Eggsy had had the privilege of chasing after the pup. It had actually been a rather amusing afternoon.
So he was the one holding the leash as the dog strained to sniff every single thing in their path, even though with Eggsy JB was fully capable of trotting along with no issues whatsoever.
It was a relief in more ways than one when they made it to Kingsman, Deanna’s eyes wide as this was only her third time going to the school, Michelle looking around appreciatively. It was odd that Merlin greeted them, it was a holiday and the school was closed for classes, but it was convenient enough to leave him with the dog as the made their way to Classroom One.
He had tried to convince Eggsy to use one of the other rooms, one of the places with a convenient table perhaps, but Eggsy had insisted on meeting in this room. He’d turned the center island into a makeshift table with an actual table cloth, and already there appeared to be an appetizer waiting for them. Macaroni and cheese by the looks of it.
“Sorry if we’re a bit late, we brought JB along and he tends to prefer his own pace.” It was an explanation and an excuse in one, and Eggsy just waved it off with one hand.
“Ain’t a big deal, just got this plated up, yeah? Come on Dee, I’ll help you get onto one of these stools. Had to take one from a different room to get one with a back on it.”
Eggsy got her settled in time to pull back the stool meant for Harry, leaning in to brush a kiss across his cheek before turning his attention to the table, a slightly more serious expression on his face.
“Well then, since I was making dinner for all of you I thought I’d make a course for each of you. So this one is Dee’s mac and cheese. Made it extra cheesy, just the way you like it. Bon appétit.”
He winked at his sister and she giggled, and perhaps it wasn’t the classiest of dishes for something as special as this, Eggsy cooking solo for all of them and apparently making a big deal out of it, but Harry couldn’t imagine having anything else. Or enjoying it half as much.
He’d made a salad with walnuts and bleu cheese for his mum and to keep the others occupied as he finished the main course, wanting to serve the food at the proper temperature. Still, Eggsy wasn’t even surprised when Merlin showed up in the doorway, apparently just to make sure everything was going okay, so he waved him in, revealing an additional ramekin of macaroni and cheese. “Thought you’d stop by,” he murmured before returning his attention to plating their entrées. “I’ve got extra if you want to pull up a seat.”
Which was how they ended up with one more at their table as he finished plating. Sautéed flounder on a bed of seasoned wild rice with currants and chopped almonds, topped with a spoon of a browned butter and lemon sauce. To the side was a medley of vegetables with a hint of spice to them, a good juxtaposition to the brightness of the lemon.
More importantly it was all cooked to perfection, and while it took a couple of trips to the table there was a soon an elegant plate in front of each oth them, Merlin barely containing his glee.
He waited to eat until the others had tried theirs, Merlin devouring his in quick bites, Dee half mangling the fish but determined to do it on her own, his mum closing her eyes in delight before smiling at him.
It was Harry’s reaction he was the most anxious for though, waiting with his plate untouched for the man to announce his verdict.
The older man met his eyes before giving a small nod. “Simply marvelous. The sauce has layered well, and the luscious, nutty flavour of the is perfectly paired with the acidity of the lemon.”
He found himself grinning at him as he finally took a bite, an edge of smugness to his expression that Harry caught on to, eyes narrowing slightly.
“You certainly seem satisfied,” he remarked before taking a sip of his wine.
“Ain’t nothing really. Just had something to prove to myself.”
There was a moment where everyone seemed busy eating, Deanna breaking the silence to ask Merlin if she would have good luck if she rubbed his head, and Eggsy had almost moved on when Harry spoke again.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with the time you cooked flounder in class, does it?”
There was enough exasperation in his voice that proved that Harry had assumed the connection and Eggsy wasn’t going to lie. He would have withheld the information, but he wouldn’t outright lie.
“Just told myself that the next time I put flounder in front of you, you wouldn’t be able to resist it.”
“You’re a bloody idiot,” Harry informed him, but there was a fondness in his voice that was mirrored by the expression in his eyes as he leaned in for a kiss.
Sitting there, surrounded by most of the people he cared about, his mum and sister both happy and safe and with a fucking incredible boyfriend sitting next to him, it was easy to imagine that this was some fairy tale happily ever after, the kind that wasn’t supposed to happen to real people.
What was hard to believe was that this was really all just the beginning, and that there was still so much more to come.