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Idylls of the King

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By the time they saw the banner advertising the sword in the stone, Eggsy was exhausted.

He and Daisy had been at the faire all day – she'd been so excited that she'd woken up even before sunrise, so they'd caught the early train and arrived just as it opened. Over the course of the day they'd seen more than he ever thought possible: strolling musicians, knights in gleaming armor jousting on horseback, dancers in pairs or in groups all twirling and twisting around each other, beautiful women in elaborate dresses, beautiful men in tights that left Eggsy's eyes bulging, archers, yarn spinners, artists, jugglers (including three blokes juggling fire, which made Eggsy think he might like to give it a go, actually – it might impress the lads on a Friday night at the Black Prince, and impressing the lads was pretty much the only excitement he had left these days). The variety was endless; it was almost too much, too overwhelming, and several times he wished himself home again – but then again there was the warm weight of Daisy's hand in his own, the huge, delighted smile stretched across her little face, and that was enough to keep him where he was.

He loved her so fucking much, was the thing. As far as Eggsy was concerned, Dean Baker had only managed to do two good things in his life: 1) making Daisy, and 2) kicking off (along with about 6 million other people) back when the whole thing with the SIM cards went down a few years ago. He'd lost his mum then, too, and been left to raise Daisy on his own… but though he missed his mum and occasionally dreamed of a life more glamorous than working in a garage and playing tea party twice a week, he couldn't find it in himself to regret how things had turned out. Daisy was everything.

″Eggsy, look,″ she said, and he startled out of his tired thoughts. He barely had time to follow the line of her pointed finger before she was dragging him over in the direction of the tent.

Above the opening a banner read 'The Sword in the Stone' and then underneath, in smaller letters, 'You could be the chosen one!' It looked pretty slick, actually, like it'd been made by a professional instead of a bloke in a shed, and the tent was made out of some plush purple fabric that glinted as it moved in the wind. More to the point, the queue was lined with benches, and so it was a relief to join it, at least on Eggsy's part. He sat, and let Daisy chatter on as he rested his aching feet.

By the time they reached the head of the queue Daisy was well into proving her extensive knowledge of every single song from the Disney movie. The faire was clearly winding down – no one had joined the queue behind them, and Eggsy could see people beginning to move towards the way out as he heaved himself back to his feet and entered the tent.

Inside were two people – one a bald man dressed in a long robe of deep purple, even darker than the tent fabric, and the other a knight in gleaming armor, though the knight wore no helmet and had her hair drawn back into a long ponytail.

This wasn't the first female knight they'd seen, but the others had been all on horseback, jousting or performing demonstrations. Daisy stopped singing 'Mad Madam Mim' abruptly at the sight of her. ″A girl knight!″ she squealed, and dropped Eggsy's hand to run over to her; Eggsy lunged after, but he was tired and slow and she was hugging the knight around the knees before he could stop her.

″It's all right,″ the knight said to him, and then, to Daisy, ″You want to be a knight, sweetheart? I think you can do it. I mean, you look pretty strong. I bet you can even lift up your dad.″

Daisy giggled. ″He's my brother,″ she said. ″And I can't lift him. He weighs a billion tons!″

″Oh, ta,″ Eggsy said, under his breath. The bald man snorted.

″Well, maybe when you grow up a bit bigger,″ the knight said. ″What's your name, sweetheart?″

″Daisy.″

″We haven't had a knight called Daisy yet, so maybe you can be the first,″ said the knight. ″Do you want to try with the sword?″

Eggsy had almost forgotten about the sword. When he swung around to look at it, he found it was rather less glamorous than he might have imagined – the sword itself was tarnished silver, and though there were carvings across the hilt they'd been worn smooth with time. It looked like a sword someone might've actually used. The stone wasn't much to look at, either; it was basically just a lump of rock, almost the color of concrete. Still, the sword was taller than Daisy was, and Eggsy watched with a certain amount of alarm as she lifted her arms above her head, grabbed the hilt, and heaved.

Nothing happened. Eggsy wasn't quite sure what he had expected, but he still breathed a sigh of relief that turned into a hastily stifled laugh as Daisy frowned and whined in the back of her throat and yanked at it even harder. ″Daisy, luv,″ he said, ″I don't think that's gonna...″ He let the sentence trail off when she gave up, putting her hands on her hips and glaring at the thing like it was a naughty puppy.

″Stupid sword,″ she said.

″You know, luv, I think 'Sir Daisy' would'a sounded a bit silly anyway,″ Eggsy said.

Daisy gave him a look and promptly ignored the statement. ″Now you try,″ she said firmly.

″Ah,″ Eggsy said, and then, ″right, right.″ He crossed the three paces to the stone and dropped one hand to the hilt and tugged, fully prepared to enact a dramatic failure –

And with a defiant ring, the sword slid free from the stone.