Merlin had given it to him for Christmas as a joke, and a rather tame one at that, by their usual standards. From this, Harry deduced it must have been an incredibly slow period in the tech department for Merlin to stoop to searching it out - he was more of a 'hand over a bottle of quality alcohol and be done with it' sort of present-giver. Not that Harry didn't enjoy the booze of course, and in this case, he certainly wished his friend had stuck to the tradition of whiskey or brandy in a tartan bottle bag, accompanied by a truly terrible Christmas card.
This year however, the bottle and card had been accompanied by something else. A calendar. Hardly an outrageous gift for the time of year, but this one... well. It was gaudy and kitsch and matched with absolutely nothing else in his office, yet Harry still planned to hang up the dreadful ‘Pin-Up Boys’ calendar purely so Merlin wouldn’t win. He could only bear to give it a cursory look over - noting the sultry gaze of Mr December, oiled up and wearing nothing but a Santa hat and a smile, sprawled out by an open fire and in possession of a very large *ahem* and strategically placed box, amongst other delights. But, come January, he determinedly hung up the bloody thing all the same.
As expected, Merlin did nothing more than roll his eyes when he first caught sight of Mr January pinned in pride of place above Harry’s desk, but it felt like a victory all the same. It wasn’t until that moment that Harry realised he had no choice but to keep the damn eyesore up all year now that Merlin had seen it, or he’d know Harry had relented and taken it down. And Merlin getting one up on him was most certainly not an option.
Harry had the distinct feeling it was going to be a terribly long year.
On the whole, Harry managed to ignore the simpering men reclining or leaning suggestively over various colourful props, and simply got on with things. He suffered under the watchful pouting of Mr January in nothing but his wellies and brandishing an umbrella, and Mr February in his hard hat putting up some shelves. Luckily he spent most of that month in Argentina, and didn't have to endure it overlong. Then came Mr March coyly covering himself with a cowboy hat, and Mr April, ridiculous in his bunny ears and a fluffy tail that raised a multitude of questions Harry wasn't sure he wanted answered. And so it went. Until May that was, when Harry flipped over the page to be faced with the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen.
The boy was holding a bunch of rather lurid flowers in front of himself, blues and pinks and purples stark against bare skin, his smooth body apparently nude. He looked ever so sweet and just a tiny bit naughty, eyebrow raised in a hopeful, shy look, as though offering up the bouquet and himself right along with it. Harry stared for much longer than was appropriate, feeling every inch the sad old man these things were marketed at. His hair was dark blond and golden in a way that surely must have been enhanced, and Harry would bet Mr Pickle that the boy’s lips weren’t naturally that charming shade of pink.
He gave himself a stern telling off for having such fancies whenever he caught sight of it throughout the month, but they did nothing to make Mr May any less attractive. Mostly, Harry was simply annoyed with himself for being so enamoured with a sodding photograph, a pin-up boy in a tacky calendar, whose path would never have cause to cross with his own.
When the month was through, Harry had gotten so unexpectedly attached, that he carefully removed Mr May’s picture from the rest of the pages, and furtively slid it into his desk drawer. Silly of him perhaps, but harmless enough - particularly compared to some of the quirks the other knights employed to keep them sane. Mr June, winking at him from under his fireman’s helmet and wielding a flatteringly large hose, was no competition.
Some weeks later, and it was a day like any other, unless you counted the fact that Harry was on the tube instead of in his lovely taxi. He was following a fairly low-threat mark across London, which unfortunately included forgoing the preferred Kingsman black cab in favour of the Underground. Things were going as smoothly as anticipated, until the train made it’s stop at Tottenham Court Road, admitting the crush of passengers typical for the time of day. As they boarded, someone stepped on Harry’s foot, and he was vividly reminded why he disliked the tube so much.
“Shit, sorry bruv.”
Harry’s curt reply never made it past his lips, as he looked up to find himself face to face with none other than Mr May himself. Now, Harry was no great believer of coincidence, but this rather took the biscuit. “Quite alright,” he managed to force out, after gaping at the man for several long seconds.
“Don’t ride the tube much, do you?” the young man said with a knowing smile, chin tilted up, and apparently his lips really were that charming shade of pink.
“How ever did you guess?” said Harry dryly, utilising every trick in the book to keep his pulse even.
Mr May smiled again but didn’t reply, instead pulling out his phone seemingly out of habit, huffing at the lack of signal. Harry was working up the balls to ask the eye-wateringly cliché question of “Excuse me, but you look familiar, have we met before?” when the young man beat him to it.
"So how come you's slumming it with us lot today then?" he asked, phone slid back into the pocket of his trackies and attention firmly back on Harry. "Wheels out of action, is it?" He was devastating. If Harry had found him attractive lit up by studio lights and polished to perfection, it was nothing compared to reality - though paler and younger-looking in the unforgiving lighting, his eyes were bright and full of good humour under the peak of his cap as he waited for an answer, both softer and sterner than the manufactured coyness of the photograph, bitten down fingernails and the charming smattering of freckles that must have been photo-shopped out. It took Harry a moment longer to find his tongue than he cared to admit.
"Not quite," he said, eventually, eye flicking quickly to where his mark was still lurking at the other end of the carriage. He cleared his throat. "I - fancied a change of scene."
"Is that right?" Mr May said, doubtfully eyeing the dingy carriage and bored passengers, "and how are you likin' the scenery so far?"
Harry blinked at him deliberately, let himself smile slowly in approval. "Better than expected."
The young man huffed in amusement, looking briefly down at his trainers before his gaze lifted back to Harry's, pinked up a little from his dreadfully on-the-nose flirting.
"Galahad," Merlin's voice came impatiently through the glasses comm, "I thought we agreed you'd let me know when you - " he cut himself off when he caught sight of what would be coming up on the video feed, the view of the cramped tube carriage. "Ah. Apologies, I see you're still in transit. Well, just buzz me when you - " he paused, and Harry could practically hear the smirk bloom across his face. "Is that Mr May?"
"Oh for heaven's sake - " Harry hissed under his breath.
"What was that?" The young man frowned at him in confusion.
"I've just caught sight of the time," Harry said quickly with displeasure only partly feigned, "I'm running rather late, it seems."
"Wouldn't be the first time," Merlin said lowly in his ear.
Due to the public setting, Harry was unable to give that comment the reply he would've liked to, and so was forced to endure Merlin's smug, suggestive comments about pretty calendar boys and professionalism until the train came to a stop at Holborn. Which was, apparently, Mr May's stop.
“See you around, yeah?” the man said with a wink and one last blindingly beautiful grin, before he ducked along with the wave of passengers to hop onto the platform, leaving Harry feeling more at a loss than he had any right to, and a little more guilty about the picture hidden in his desk drawer.
"Well that was hideously unprofessional," said Merlin cheerfully in his ear, "flirting with youths while on the clock Galahad, tut tut..."
"Not one more bloody word, Merlin," he said low enough that hopefully the other passengers wouldn't hear, and fixed his attention back on the mark.