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All Roads Lead Back to You

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The first thing Harry became truly aware of after Eggsy typed in Poppy’s passcode, was the sound of a plane hovering somewhere above them, clearly looking for a space to land. The second thing he became aware of was of a red light flashing bright, coming from Whiskey’s belt.

“Statesman sent a plane?” Eggsy asked, not really expecting an answer since he knew it was obvious.

Harry hummed in agreement and stood up slowly and carefully, feeling more sore than he had in many years. Going from being completely out of the field to a strenuous mission where he relied completely on his instincts and muscle memory was not exactly something his body seemed to appreciate - particularly now when he was so close to hitting fifty.

He walked towards the door in utter silence, the reality of Merlin’s death starting to hit him like if he had slammed into a brick wall. It was getting harder to breathe. He wasn’t sure what he needed to do right now; he wanted to have a good cry but the prospect of getting blackout drunk also seemed like a good idea.  

“Can we… Maybe there’s… If anything of him remains,” whispered Eggsy behind Harry, not able to bring himself to finish his sentence.

Harry looked to his side where Eggsy stood, noticing the young man’s wet eyes and trembling lips. He was barely holding it together and oh sometimes it was hard to remember Eggsy was still so very new at this, so very new at the pain that came with losing dear friends and colleagues in the field. Not only that, but, of what little Harry had seen, Merlin and the boy had grown very close while he had been in Kentucky with no recollection of who the hell he was.

Without thinking, Harry took Eggsy’s hand in his own and squeezed it softly, the warmth and strength of his hand acting as a much needed anchor for the young man. Eggsy looked up at Harry with a hint of surprise, before giving him a watery smile, allowing himself to lean heavily on the man as they walked hand in hand past the plane and back to the jungle. Eggsy forced himself to hold back tears, concentrating solely on the solid presence next to him, holding him together.

Before he could gather the courage to look up, however, he felt Harry freeze next to him, drawing a startled breath. The man suddenly let go of Eggsy’s hand, breaking into a run without giving a word of explanation.

Eggsy followed immediately, despite his surprise. “Harry?!” He asked loudly as they reached the edge of the forest. “Oh my god,” he breathed out as his eyes finally landed on what Harry had seen before; it was Merlin’s body.

Harry dropped to his knees next to his best friend, half bracketing the man’s head with his legs as he leaned down to check for a pulse. While both of his legs were gone from the knee down, and there was blood everywhere, Merlin still had a fucking body with little other visible damage which meant that the statesman suit the man had been wearing had taken the majority of the damage.

“There's a pulse!” Harry half screamed in astonished triumph, moving the man’s head slightly back to allow for easier breathing.

“His legs… he’s bleeding so much we hafta get him medical help,” Eggsy was quick to say, looking around him to see if there was anything close to a medical center in the blasted place Poppy had created.

“Get to the plane and contact Ginger Ale,” Harry barked out as he picked up Merlin with both hands and stood up without caring whether his suit got besmirched or not, adrenaline pumping through his veins.

Surely if the woman had been able to bring him back from a fucking headshot wound, she would be able to help Merlin. She had to.

They both broke into a run, thanking heavens that the back door opened as soon as they were in visible range. If Statesman was anything like kingsman - which it was - the plane would be well stocked with medicines and the like. There was still a chance they could save Merlin. Eggsy went ahead of Harry, walking straight to the cockpit to pick up a headset. “Ginger are ya there?”

“Yes, I’m here!” The woman immediately responded. “Oh my god, is Merlin okay? I saw the feed from the plane. His legs-”

“Ginger, we need to help him right now. He's lost a lot of blood.” Eggsy cut her off, watching as Harry stood in the middle of the plane with the bleeding man, clearly waiting for Ginger to tell him where the medical supplies were.

“Take him to the bedroom. There’s a type of cryochamber in there that will help his body endure longer.” Ginger must have activated something on her end because suddenly her voice was booming all around the plane, allowing Harry to follow her instructions immediately. “There's special gauzes on the dresser meant for type three burns and for mutilations. Put it all over his legs and torso just in case.”

Eggsy quickly snapped open the dresser, pulling everything he saw out and onto the table as Harry activated the cryochamber which sprung out of the ground next to the bed. He placed Merlin on the bed, quickly divesting him of his Jacket and shirt.

“Do I remove the trousers? I know you want the gauzes but I could potentially peel off his skin,” Harry said as he hesitated, hands on the man’s belt.

“The suit won’t stick to his skin, get it off. It’s better if you put him in the cryo nude. Also if you know his blood type we can start blood transfusion until you can get him to me.”

Harry quickly undid Merlin’s belt and took off the rest of the man’s clothes, his movements lighting quick and methodical. He picked up his friend again and put him inside the chamber where a viscous blue liquid was starting to fill up.

“O positive,” Harry responded just as Eggsy came to kneel next to him, passing him a set of gauzes so they could each work on a leg.

“Do I want to know why you know that?” Eggsy said in a strained voice, his nervousness leading him to attempt - and fail - to crack a joke.

Harry smiled fondly at him nonetheless, appreciating the boy’s attempt at humor despite the dire situation. “It’s not the first time this scottish git has saved my life,” Harry said, too much truth behind his light statement.

“There should be blood bags next to the bar in the mini fridge. They're categorically listed so you'll find them easily.” Ginger said, sounding urgent.

“That’s rank Ginger. Alcohol and blood shouldn't be placed near each other,” Eggsy commented as he ran out of the room, coming back with bags of blood and an IV needle ready for use. “Okay so how do we do this?”

Harry extended his hand, silently requesting Eggsy to hand everything over. He quickly set to work, first cleaning Merlin’s arm before inserting the needle with practiced ease. He could feel Eggsy’s worried eyes washing over him as he worked on Merlin as quickly as his hands allowed.

“What happened to him?” Ginger finally asked as Harry finished up and closed the chamber.

“I stepped on a landmine,” Eggsy said hollowly, his eyes looking tortured. “He used one of them freeze spray cans to save my life.”

Harry immediately put his hand on Eggsy’s shoulder, bringing his other hand to grab the younger man’s chin to hold his gaze. “Do not blame yourself, Eggsy. There was no way you could have known it was there. The radar didn’t detect it. It is not your fault.” It looked like Eggsy was ready to argue but Harry shook his head. “Merlin would never blame you, so don’t blame yourself.”

“You still blame yourself for what happened to me dad,” Eggsy pointed out. “And that wasn’t your fault either.”

Harry visibly flinched. “That’s not the same thing,” Harry said uneasily, releasing Eggsy’s shoulder as he looked back at Merlin, busying himself with placing the blood bag in such a way that the drip would not be interrupted. “I should have seen the bomb. I was trained to spot suicide bombers and I didn’t see it until it was too late. It’s-”

“I was trained to properly use radar detection to avoid being blown up in a landmine. I fucked up. So if it ain’t my fault, it sure as shit ain’t yours, Harry.”

Harry clicked his jaw shut, knowing there was no point in arguing. Neither was pliant enought to let the other win. 

“Where’s Whiskey?” Ginger asked quietly after a few seconds, not sure how to alleviate the tense silence.

“The prick tried to stop us - again,” Eggsy growled. “Fuck Harry, I’m sorry about that too. I should have trusted you, I-”

“It’s alright my dear boy. He’s dead,” Harry said easily.

“Yeah but he could have been fucking dead a long time ago, and then he wouldn’t have been able to” Eggsy closed his mouth, suddenly looking away as a light shudder ran through his body. “He could have killed you today,” he half whispered, clearly trying to control his raging emotions.  

Harry’s heart squeezed painfully then, feeling a pang of guilt for making the young man worry. Clearly his death had affected Eggsy - much more than Harry could have ever expected or thought possible.

He placed his hand under Eggsy’s chin again, this time coming just an inch closer, forcing all of Eggsy’s attention to rest on him. “I’m still here, my dear boy, and I’m not going anywhere.”

Eggsy swallowed hard, his eyes shining again with unshed tears, and the warm passionate relief and grief Harry found there momentarily dazed him.

God, Harry had forgotten just how beautiful Eggsy was. It was mesmerizing to see How authentic and untouched Eggsy was by the deep and bitter cynicism most Kingsmen had instilled deeply inside of themselves, despite the life he had had.  Harry had forgotten that silly flutter in his stomach he felt every time the boy smile, and how easy it was to talk and laugh and just enjoy himself whenever Eggsy was near.

Those strong and - unnamed -  feelings he had first felt a year ago suddenly came back as strong as a stab to the heart, stealing his breath.

And oh, perhaps his little “I have never loved speech” was a little too far off the mark .

“Please give my apologies to Champagne, Ginger,” Harry said suddenly as he released Eggsy’s face. “Unfortunately, we had to eliminate his agent.”

“Don’t be sorry. If he tried to stop you from saving millions of people then he did not deserve his title,” She said with a sigh, clearly hurt by the betrayal. "Anyway, you’ll be happy to know Merlin’s vitals are stable: somewhat weak, but he’s stable,” Ginger commented as the cryo suddenly began glowing as the solution began working on the surface of Merlin’s skin. “I’m going to lock him in there. It’s going to take at least twelve hours to get you here, so… try to relax. I’ll keep an eye on him. He’ll be alright, the suit took most of the damage thankfully.”

Harry hummed, relief washing over him at her words. He rubbed his eyes, feeling stupidly tired again.

“I need a fucking drink,” Eggsy suddenly announced, forcing himself to stand up and leave the room because if he kept looking at Merlin’s unconscious and injured body he would end up throwing up or worse sob his eyes out, and he figured Harry would appreciate neither.

Harry hummed in agreement, giving Merlin one last pained look before standing up and following Eggsy to the bar. He scrunched up his nose when he realized the boy was making himself a jack and coke. Eggsy quirked a smile at the man pointing a finger at him as he raised his drink “Hey, don’t you judge me bruv, they don’t have good scotch in this plane.”

Harry smiled despite himself as he perused the liquor shelf, finally picking up a bottle of gin. He poured himself a generous amount, not bothering to dilute the liquid as he took a long gulp.

“You know, your fancy cutlery lesson actually paid off,” Eggsy suddenly blurted as he made himself a second drink, feeling the need to fill the silence. He couldn't take silence right now. 

“Pardon?” Harry asked, sounding slightly confused, before picking up the gin bottle with his glass to go and sit on one of the comfortable reclining chairs.

“Remember when ya said I had to be able to eat like those posh gits?” Eggsy said as he followed Harry, sitting directly opposite to him.

“Ah, yes, you kept complaining it would never serve a purpose,” Harry said with a fond smile. “I gather you used your skills then?”

“Yeah, I had to meet me girlfriend’s parents,” Eggsy said as he sat back, remembering the king’s face. “Her dad kept tryin’ to trip me up by askin’ the most random shit, but Rox was the best bruv and fed me the info on the comms.” He suddenly looked broken again, as he remembered his best friend laughing quietly in his ear. “She was the best mate a bruv could ask for.”

Harry squeezed his knee, once again quietly providing the support Eggsy didn’t even know he needed. “She was a wonderful young woman, of what I remember. And she sounds like she was a good friend too. Although, I must say, using technical backup on a date doesn’t sound terribly gentlemanly,” Harry teased.

Eggsy chuckled. “Yes, well, I was meetin’ a fucking King, Harry. It’s not like I could fuck that up.”

Harry’s brows rose. “Did you just say a king?”

“Oh yeah, I’m dating Tilde - the princess of Sweden? We uh… met after the Valentine bullshit went down” Eggsy said quietly, smiling softly at the memory. “We, uh, well I actually hafta talk to her, cause she wanted us to get married and I would have had to leave Kingsman and we had a fight but… I don’t know, I don’t want to lose her you know? I mean I told her I’d leave it all for her after the blue shit Poppy released but... “ Eggsy suddenly stopped talking, not sure why he was sharing so much with Harry when the man probably didn’t want to hear it.

Harry pressed his fingers harder into the glass, feeling his stomach churn with anger and a jealousy he had never felt before. It was excruciating to hear Eggsy talk so lovingly about another human being. It was a bitter taste to know that no matter how much his heart could scream for him to just kiss Eggsy, to just try, there was not a single thing he could do for Eggsy’s heart belonged to another. There was nothing Harry had to offer to entice him to stay by his side.

It was excruciating to hear Eggsy admit that Kingsman - while important to him - was essentially not enough. It wasn’t satisfying to him. It felt, in a way, like a personal slap to the face, because Kingsman was all Harry knew. It was all Harry could offer him. Harry had, from his youth, set about destroying all traces of the youthful, free, warm and scared lepidopterist, leaving behind only a suave, smart, astute, and brutally lethal spy who had forgotten there was a man behind the mask, that there was a life beyond the next mission.

But Eggsy… Eggsy wasn’t like that. Eggsy was fire and passion and love and courage. Eggsy was good and kind and ready to live a life much different from the one Harry himself had walked. A life that would effectively keep him from Harry, and oh god it hurt.

Harry finished his drink in one go before saying “I am sure if you talk to her, you will be able to ease her anger. If you love her, and it sounds like you do, then your decision won’t be hard to make. Of course, Kingsman will miss one of their best agents… but it’s not a decision for Kingsman to make.”

Eggsy sighed and nodded, surprised, but appreciative, of Harry’s willingness to listen to him.. to care. It felt ridiculously good to know Harry thought he was good. That validation that he had been craving for over a year now tingling in satisfaction. He looked at the man and his eyes travelled unconsciously to Harry’s glistening lips, desire over a year old coiling in his stomach.

He slapped himself internally, because this was a really fucking piss poor time to revisit these feelings. One of his best friends was injured in the other room, his other best friend was fucking dead, Harry probably didn’t want to even fucking hear about the sexual shit he had thought about over the year he had been gone, and he was in love with Tilde so even looking at Harry funny would not fly.

Both men were snapped out of their thoughts by Ginger Ale, who suddenly piped in saying, “Gentlemen I’m picking up a signal from your former Kingsman headquarters. There’s someone that activated a Code Red distress signal. Is there anyone that could have survived the bombing there? Because if not then someone is trying to lure whoever might have survived into a trap.”

“Code Red can only be activated by either authorized Kingsman personnel such as Merlin or by the agents of the round table. It is not a trap,” Harry said immediately as Eggsy jumped to his feet.

“Rox,” he said immediately, looking back at Harry. “It has to be Rox, Harry. Lancelot was the only one there that would have had the clearance to activate the Code Red. Ginger you hafta get someone there. That’s Roxy! She might still be alive.”

“We already sent Tequila to check it out,” The woman assured him quickly. “I’ll keep you posted. If we find her, we’ll bring her to the US so you can see her.”

“Thank you,” Harry said immediately, before smiling as Eggsy let out a jubilant scream, all morose thoughts deserting him for the moment.

“Please oh please let it be Rox,” he whispered as he fell back down to his seat, his eyes shining with hope.

Chapter Text

“You are a sight for sore eyes,” Harry said as soon as he descended the plane, giving Ginger Ale a warm, but tired, smile.

The woman returned Harry’s smile, feeling a pang of sympathy at the raw desperation she could see in his eyes. His expression, and his body gave the appearance of calmness, as if they were talking of nothing more important than the weather, but his eyes revealed the storm brewing within. It was the same look she had seen in Merlin’s eyes when she had almost drowned Harry in their attempt to bring back his memories. It was a look of someone too stoic to reveal they were hurting inside. It was a look that revealed the years of friendship, of pain, of anger, of joy, and of utter reliance on the other person.

Of what Merlin had told her when they had been trying to find ways to help Harry, they were more than just comrades in arms; they were like brothers, and had been for years, since they had met by accident long before Kingsman.

“I have the medical team ready,” she assured him, her eyes traveling to Galahad junior, who seemed to be faring only a smidge better than his mentor. “He will be alright, I promise,” she said, feeling an absurd need to comfort the two agents.

It was probably a bad choice of words, however, considering she didn’t actually know if she would truly be able to save the Kingsmen’s quartermaster.  

“I’m going to get him inside. I’ll check in with you later,” she said with an apologetic smile, knowing the two were probably not wanting to leave their friend behind. “Tequila is waiting for you inside,” she informed them before finally stepping into the plane, half sure that the two men would follow her regardless.

“We can’t leave him,” Eggsy started as he watched the woman leave, turning to face Harry, as if waiting for the man’s permission to follow Ginger.

“We’ll only get in the way,” Harry said, suppressing a sigh as he turned to face Eggsy. “I think it’s best if we head inside. We might be more useful there, particularly since Tequila might be able to tell us more about Lancelot’s current status,” Harry reminded Eggsy gently, having an idea of just how much the young woman meant to Eggsy from their conversation in the plane.

That seemed to be enough to convince Eggsy, who immediately turned around and all but ran to the main doors, thanking heavens that it was already open. Harry followed him at a slower pace, a look of pure fondness in his eyes. He wasn’t sure whether or not it was right for him to accompany Eggsy to see Tequila, considering he had not really met Roxanne.

He knew her file backwards and forwards, since she had made it to the top two when he had nominated Eggsy. And they had had one brief encounter when she and Percival had joined him and Eggsy in the observation room to watch Charlie’s test, but the two had never had a proper conversation.

If she was indeed alive - and Harry prayed that she was, if only for Eggsy’s sake - he wasn’t sure Eggsy would want him there for their reunion. Still, there was a chance that she had not actually made it, and he’d be damned if he would leave Eggsy alone to face yet another loss.

With that thought in mind, he quickened his pace slightly, quietly falling into step with Eggsy, who looked ready to throw up. They reached the main conference room and Eggsy suddenly stopped in front of the doors, looking unsure as to whether or not he wanted to go in. Harry glanced at Eggsy discreetly, suppressing the need to hug the boy close to him and kiss his worries away. Instead, Harry placed his hand on Eggsy’s lower back, grounding him in the here and now, before he took a step forward, gently reaching with his free hand for the door.

He opened the door slowly, watching as Eggsy took a deep breath and squared his jaw, as if preparing for battle. Harry guided them in then, making sure to step half in front of Eggsy once they made their way inside, as if his body could actually shield Eggsy from the emotional onslaught that was sure to come if Roxy was not actually alive.

His worry was for naught, however, as there, standing next to the now recovered Tequila was Roxanne Morton, wearing not a Kingsman issued suit but rather a white blouse and baggy jeans. She had deep dark bags under her bloodshot eyes, and what seemed like a perfectly sculpted frown on her face, which told Harry all he needed to know about her current emotional state. She turned to look at the newcomers, her closed off stance suddenly morphing at the sight of her best friend.

“Fucking hell, Rox,” Eggsy breathed out, his voice breaking on her name. He rushed past Harry as he ran around the table, slamming into the petite woman with a joyful cry. He picked her up by her waist and twirled her around, feeling a huge weight lift off of his shoulders at the sound of her contagious laughter.

“Oh my god, Eggsy! Eggsy you’re alive!” She marvelled when he finally let her down. “Agent tequila said you were, but I couldn’t believe him, not until I saw you,” She said, her eyes swelling with tears. “He said… He said Merlin-”

That was enough to halt Eggsy’s bubbling happiness.

“Merlin is currently in the medical wing,” Harry said suddenly, knowing how much emotional stress Eggsy was under at the moment. “He was heavily injured in Cambodia.”

Roxy paled at that. “Is he… will he survive?” She whispered, looking much more affected than Harry had anticipated.

“We don’t know yet,” Harry admitted uneasily, half ready to jump in to catch her. “Ginger Ale believes he will be fine, though he did lose his legs, so he’ll be needing prosthetics.”

“Don't worry Rox, Ginger Ale will patch him up,” Eggsy said, whether to comfort himself or Roxanne, Harry wasn't sure. “She saved Harry, so she's already performed miracles before,” Eggsy said, his eyes shining as he turned to look at Harry.

That seemed to snap Roxanne out of her worried stupor for her eyes went wide and she did a double take on Harry. “Oh my god… Galahad, sir, it's so good to see you alive,” she said immediately, moving past Eggsy to offer Harry her hand. “You’ve been sorely missed at HQ.”

Harry accepted her hand gracefully, gracing her with one of his usual suave smiles that didn't quite reach his eyes. “It's good to be back, Lancelot. I am afraid I never had the chance to congratulate you on your appointment.”

She nodded in thanks. “If I may ask, sir, how come you didn't return sooner?” She asked, trying her hardest to keep any accusations off of her tone.

“The bullet did considerable damage,” Tequila suddenly piped up. “He had retrograde amnesia when he woke up and we knew Jack shit about ‘im so we couldn't exactly do much ya know? All he remembered was them butterflies.”

Harry smiled tightly, suppressing a violent shudder. If he never had to talk about the traumas of the past year, it would be too soon.

Roxanne, the brilliantly trained agent that she was, immediately noticed Harry's near flinch, his deep discomfort and the worried look he was giving Eggsy, and she slapped herself mentally for having doubted the man. Yes, she wanted to tear someone a new one for how much pain her best friend had had to endure after Harry's death, but if the man cared about Eggsy even slightly as much as Eggsy cared for Harry - and it was clear as the fucking day that the man cared - he would have returned to Eggsy immediately.

“It don't matter now, because he's back,” Eggsy said firmly, making his way back to Harry's side with a blooming smile.

Harry hummed, neither agreeing nor denying that statement. He didn't feel quite back yet, and the fear of losing himself again was disturbingly real.

“When can we see Merlin?” Roxy asked, unable to keep off the subject for long. She couldn’t bear the fucking wait.  

The pressing desperation in her voice awakened Harry’s curiosity, and so he tilted his head, and turned to stare deeply into her eyes, cataloging and analyzing every detail he could find there. She shuffled on her feet, clearly uncomfortable to be deconstructed piece by piece by Harry’s brilliantly intuitive gaze, but she did not back down. She knew it was useless to try to hide her feelings from Harry. If the stories her uncle had told her were to be believed, the man’s instincts were unlike anyone else’s, and trying to hide things from him was probably only a futile effort.

True to form, Harry’s eyes sparkled with understanding after a few minutes, his stance changing as he processed the information now laid bare before him.

So she was in love, and with Merlin, no less .

“Harry?” Eggsy asked after a few minutes, looking between Roxy and Harry who were still silently staring at each other. “You alright, mate? Are you seeing butterflies again?” He asked seriously, raising his hand halfway as he considered trying to touch Harry to anchor him just like the man had done for him a few minutes ago.

Harry glared at Eggsy, raising a brow at him. “I’m perfectly fine, Eggsy,” he said stiffly, hating the fact that Eggsy still thought he was going to lose his damn mind at any minute - something he was having enough trouble accepting himself. “I will make sure Ginger lets you in first, Roxanne,” Harry said kindly, changing subjects, giving her a genuine smile for the first time.

Roxy’s eyes widened at Harry's words, at his easy acceptance of something she had wrestled with for almost a year now, and she reached out, grabbing his hand as she whispered “Thank you, sir.”

“Just Harry is fine my dear girl,” he said with a smile. “You’re an agent in your own right now, so there’s no need for formalities.”

Her dazzling smile warmed Eggsy’s heart and he couldn’t help but say “Fuck am I glad to see you, babe. How did you even survive, mate?”

“Merlin had bunkers made in the mansion years ago. There was one directly connected to my room, so I jumped in there just as the missile was about to hit. It took me two days to be able to get out, because the entire mansion disintegrated” she admitted with a grimace. “And then I found out they had bombed everyone. My uncle… his home was gone, and so was yours.” She shuddered delicately. “I managed to get in contact with Merlin’s second, and she informed me that all the agents were dead, and Merlin was MIA. I sent out a distress signal and figured… well if Merlin was alive somewhere, he would be able to find me.”

Eggsy squeezed her hand, both taking and seeking comfort from that simple touch. “I’m sorry about Perce,” he whispered.

“Yeah, me too,” she whispered, sighing.

“They’ve stabilized your guy,” Tequila said suddenly as he pressed against the glasses he himself was wearing. “Ginger says he’ll live.”

“Oh, thank fuck,” Harry said as he let out a relieved sigh, turning around to leave the room. “Come along, Roxanne, it’s time we find Ginger Ale.”

Merlin woke up with a start, feeling a flaring pain run through his weakened body, starting from his knees all the way up to his head. He groaned then, trying hard to sit up only to find he didn’t have the strength to get himself up. He opened his eyes then, the blinding white light leaving him momentarily dazed as his eyes tried to adjust. He looked around, scrunching his nose in distaste as the pasty white walls told him everything he needed to know; he was in the blasted infirmary.

He turned to look to his side then, freezing when his eyes landed on a sleeping Roxy, whose head was resting on his bed, near his chest. His mind came to a screeching halt as the events of the past few weeks finally came back to mind, hitting him like a wall of bricks. Roxanne had died in the explosion. He had stepped off of the land mine to save Eggsy’s life.

So he had truly died, then. He had died and he was in some sort of afterlife where he blessedly got to be with the young woman who had managed to steal his heart during her first year at Kingsman.

“Oh fucking hell, Merlin!” Eggsy said excitedly from his right, making the man turn in confusion. Eggsy leaned in and grabbed his hand, his eyes shining with unshed tears.“Fuck mate, we was startin’ to get worried. You took your damn time waking up,” he commented as he leaned in to shake Roxy gently.

The woman woke up immediately, snapping her head up as her body tensed, ready for an attack. She relaxed visibly however, when she realized that no, there was no one coming to kill them, at least not right now, and Merlin was finally - finally - awake.

Without thinking, she all but threw herself on top of the injured man, kissing him soundly on the cheek with a blush. “Hey,” she whispered as casually as she could as she pulled away, her face as red as a tomato.

“Am I dead?” He asked, because while the answer seemed obvious to him - Roxanne would never have kissed him like that if he was alive - he was in too much bloody pain to not be alive.

“Wha’?” Eggsy said from his other side, giving Merlin a worried look. “Did ya hit your head too when the land mine blew up? You’re not dead, bruv.”

Merlin frowned at Eggsy then, once again trying to sit up, only to be hindered by the same flaring pain on his knees. He looked down at himself then, inhaling sharply at the sight. “Oh my god,” he said after a few seconds, feeling like he was going to throw up. “What the fuck happened to my legs, lad?”

Eggsy grimaced “Uh, well-”

Before Eggsy could finish his sentence, the door to the room flew open, to reveal a calm looking Harry Hart, umbrella firmly planted between his legs. The man looked at his friend, noticing immediately the man’s rising panic.

He took a deep breath, stepping into the room as he suddenly began singing. “ Almost heaven, West Virginia… Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River .”

Eggsy froze as his eyes glued themselves to Harry, the man’s soft yet melodious voice breaking something deep inside of him. He rubbed at his eyes, unable to keep himself together any longer. They had all lost too much during the past few weeks - Harry most of all, considering he had regained his self just as everything that was familiar to him was shattered to the ground.

Life is old there… older than the trees. Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze ,” Harry continued as he came to stand next to Eggsy, looking older than Eggsy had ever seen him. His eyes bore deeply into Merlin’s own, who could not stop a few tears from falling.

Country Roads, take me home, to the place, I belong, ” Merlin joined in, taking Harry’s offered hand as if it was a lifeline. “ West Virginia… mountain momma -”

Take me home, Country Road ,” Harry finished, giving Merlin a tight smile as he leaned down to place a gentle kiss on the man’s forehead. “I want you to know you have utterly ruined that song for me, you complete berk. We are never listening to it again.”

Merlin let out a startled laugh, Harry’s joke enough to abate the panic, even if just for a moment. “I guess I didn’t die then, eh?”

Harry hummed as he straightened, carefully schooling his features back into his usual calm mask. “Stateman’s suit saved your life - although I’m afraid it could not save your legs. I have already talked to Ginger, however, and she will be giving you new legs by the end of the day.”

Merlin sighed, burying his horror deep inside his heart. He was a Kingsman. These things happened and, more importantly, he did not delve into his emotions in public - at least not when he could help it. “Hopefully she can install some blades in them. Perhaps I’ll give the field a go then,” he joked, grimacing as he felt three sets of killer glares fall on him.

“If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to have a moment with our dear quartermaster,” Harry announced, looking neither at Roxy nor Eggsy directly, knowing very well neither wanted to move from the convalescent man’s side.

Roxy bit her lip but nodded, knowing that Harry wouldn’t kick them out unless it was something important. “I’ll… go call the nurse, so she can come check on Merlin since he’s awake now. Come on, Eggsy, you know this place better than I do. Let’s go find that nurse,” she said as she stood up, leaving her chair open for Harry.

Eggsy didn’t say anything, though he did give Harry an offended look, clearly not understanding what it was that Harry could possibly need to tell Merlin in private. Harry shot him an apologetic look before taking Eggsy’s chair, waiting for the door to close to turn his attention to Merlin.

“You should not have taken that grenade,” was the first thing that came out of Harry’s angry lips. “It should have been me, Merlin, and we both know it.”

The man rolled his eyes. “Don’t be daft, Harry. You’re a fucking field agent and so is Eggsy. It is much less dire to lose your tech support in a mission than the agents. Besides, Eggsy lost you once already, and I don’t think he would survive seeing you die a second time,” Merlin said quietly.

“He seems to have moved along just fine, Merlin,” Harry said dryly. “He’s become a magnificent agent, and has settled down with a princess, no less. I don’t think he’s exactly grieving me.”

“Jealousy doesn’t become you,” Merlin bit out harshly, not willing to deal with Harry’s bullshit. “Yes, he loves Tilde, and she’s a lovely young woman, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t grieved you Harry.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “I’m not jealous, Hamish, don’t be preposterous,” he lied easily, knowing deep down that Merlin could see through him regardless. “I’m just pointing out the fact that he doesn’t need me in his life. He has done just fine on his own. Besides, if anything, he has grown closer to you than he ever was with me, considering you’ve spent much more time with him than I ever did.”

Merlin bit his tongue, knowing there was no arguing with Harry when he became this stubborn. “If you’re hoping I will apologize for saving your scrawny arse, you’ll be waiting a long time, Hart,” Merlin said seriously.

Harry chuckled. “You apologizing? I wouldn’t dream of it.” Suddenly he turned serious. “All I ask is that you not do that again,” Harry said seriously. “I cannot bear to lose one of the last few people I care about in this world that is still alive.”

Merlin grimaced, but nodded, before asking “What happened after… well after.”

“Whiskey followed us,” Harry said, a tinge of annoyance in his voice. “He tried to kill us to stop us from releasing the antidote.”

Merlin raised a brow. “Remind me to never mistrust your instincts again,” Merlin groused.

Harry gave him a tight smile. “It’s fine, I realize you all are waiting for the other shoe to drop, when it comes to me.”

Merlin sighed, feeling a pang of guilt. “I’m sorry. It’s just… strange. I don’t know what we’re supposed to expect. You were gone for a year Harry.”

“Yes well neither do I,” Harry bit out, but reigned his emotions back in before he could truly snap at his friend. “Like I said, it’s fine. We have more pressing things to worry about, like rebuilding Kingsman.”

Merlin nodded. “Well, everyone in the tech department is alive, since Poppy only targeted our agents, but that still leaves a gaping hole in our roster. The good thing is that there’s three of you so-”

“Two of us,” Harry corrected quietly, not looking at Merlin.

Merlin frowned. “What the fuck are you on about, Harry?”

“Eggsy talked about… the possibility of marrying his princess,” Harry said slowly, every word feeling like a stab to the heart. “So, if he chooses to get married… he… well, like I said, there's two of us.”

“Fuck,” Merlin sighed, sparing a pitying look at his best friend. He had known Harry for almost thirty years now, and in that time the man had always taken great pains to never attach himself to someone too deeply. So to see the man fall in love now, with the one person that was out of reach, was not a pleasant sight.

He patted the man’s hand softly, before finally saying “ the heart has its reasons, which reason knows nothing of.”

Harry froze, his eyes widening as he turned to look at Merlin again, eyes wild. “Did you just fucking quote Pascal at me?”

It had taken almost a week for Merlin to be strong enough to be allowed out of the infirmary. Ginger Ale had also wanted to keep him under observation, to make sure his body adapted properly to the prosthetics, and so they had decided to hold off on the meeting regarding Kingsman’s future - until today that was.

“A’right, everybody shut the hell up,” Champagne said once he walked into the room, his usual boyish grin plastered on his face. “Good to see ya up and about, man,” he told Merlin as he moved towards his mini bar.

Harry held back a grimace, gearing himself up for the disgusting onslaught that was to come. He had spent an inordinate amount of time in Champagne’s presence for the past week, and so he had discovered that the man didn't actually drink. He enjoyed the smell of alcohol, and he went so far as to put it in his mouth every so often, but the man refused to swallow.

It was one of the strangest things Harry had seen, and he wasn't particularly fond of seeing the man spit out alcohol into basins everywhere they went, but there was little Harry could do to stop him, and, worse, he was actually growing fond of the man, so he was just learning to accept his behavior and move on.

“So, Harry and I have been talkin’ these past few days, and we’ve agreed that the best way to rebuild Kingsman is for you to diversify a little. You’ll keep that pretty shop y'all had in London, but instead of just cousins, we are gonna be brothers. Y’all are gonna go into the liquor business with us. We’ve purchased a distillery in Scotland that y’all can use as a secondary base of operations. And, since we’re brothers and all, y’all will have Statesman’s considerable resources at your disposal,” the man said with a kind smile. “Of what Harry here mentioned, Kingsman ain’t lacking people in the tech department but in the agent department - and funds for both.”

“Yes, sir, currently we only have three agents ready for combat - the two Galahads, and Lancelot, and, since Kinsman was destroyed, our funding took a direct hit,” Merlin said, fixing his glasses as he calmly regarder the head of Statesman.

Champagne nodded. “First things first: Y’all need a new leader that can take charge in the rebuilding process, and I think everyone know who I’m going to suggest,” the man said as his eyes fell on Harry. “You are the only senior field agent left alive, and, coincidentally, you need a new codename ‘cause it’s getting very confusing having two Galahads around,” he teased good-naturedly.  “I’ve been dealin’ with your ass for the past week, and I can tell ya from experience, you are more than well equipped to deal with the shit show that is gonna be rebuilding,” he said as he took a clipboard from Ginger’s hands.

He scribbled his signature on it, before sliding across the table so that Harry could grab it.

Harry red over the document, stilling as he took in the magnitude of what the document entailed. The contract would give Harry full control over Kingsman and all its remaining assets and data banks - on top of full access to anything and everything owned, produced, or operated by Statesman. It was a sign of trust, and friendship, unlike any Harry had seen before and the fact that Jeff - codename Champagne - was willing to trust him enough to put Harry essentially as his equal, considering the agencies were currently tied at the hip, was both incredibly touching and incredibly frightening.

“So what do you say, Harry?” The man said as he sat back, an expectant brow raised.

Harry swallowed hard, forcing his erratic heart to still. Becoming Arthur would be a nightmare, they both knew it. Not only was rebuilding extremely hard and would require every second of Harry’s attention, but Arthur’s position - while one of absolute power - was extremely taxing in nature, both physically and emotionally. He had to be everywhere, all the time. He had to be the face of Kingsman in a game of international politics that came with the territory, no matter how much they claimed to be an independent agency. Being Arthur meant keeping a mostly healthy distance between himself and his agents, as he would be lawmaker and judge.

Right, well For Queen and Country.

“If I accept this position,” Harry started, thankful that his voice showed none of his hesitancy. “I will have to make an immediate adjustment to the contract. I will not be a sedentary Arthur like my predecessors,” he said with finality. “We have too few agents for me not to be active in the field at the moment, and, even once we fill our table, I do not plan to retire from the field until I can’t perform on par with my agents.”

Champagne smiled. “Well, it’s a good sign that you’re already referring to them as your agents, Arthur, ” the man teased as he took another sip of his drink, spitting it out a few seconds later. “And I would expect nothing less from you, old chap. I don’t see why it would be a problem if you remain active, to be honest. I know you brits have this thing for followin’ tradition and whatnot, but sometimes traditions are meant to be changed.”

Harry nodded then as he signed the document, smiling tightly as the table - made up mostly of the numerous Statesman agents - erupted in applause.

Champagne raised his glass then, prompting everyone to do the same. “Long live the King!” The man exclaimed jovially, and was promptly joined by everyone at the table.

Harry grimaced, never having imagined that their usual tradition of welcoming a new Arthur would one day be used to welcome him.

“Thank you, champ,” Harry said softly, feeling the entire situation a little too surreal for his taste.

The man just laughed, seemingly delighted with Harry’s discomfort, the old hag. “Alright, let’s get back to business. I am willing to lend you two of my agents for a good long while - until you get your recruiting done at least,” Champagne piped in, looking at Harry.

“Uh, sir, I actually wanted to speak to you about that,” Ginger ale said suddenly, looking slightly nervous from where she stood. “Well since we have a position open at the moment… Well I was hoping to throw my hat in the ring.”

The man did not seem surprised by the request, as he merely answered with a nod and a smile. “Why don’t we put it to a vote then. All those in favor raise your hand,” he said as he raised his own hand. He looked around the room, his grin spreading as he noticed that not a single agent had voted her down this time. “Welcome to the table, Whiskey,” he groused, raising his glass for her then, his eyes sparkling. “Well, Arthur, it looks like you’ll be taking the brilliant Whiskey with you, since she can help you with the tech wing as well until your quartermaster is a little more healed, and I think I’m sendin’ Tequila with y’all as well,” he said as he turned to look at his agent, who looked like a deer caught in the headlights. “Maybe he’ll learn a thing or two about bein’ a proper gentleman if he sticks with you for a while.”

Tequila chuckled, shaking his head. “Well I ain’t opposed to looking nice and fit like Arthur over there in his bespoke suit,” the man teased, gearing up for the challenge presented by champ. His grin grew even wider when he noticed the murderous glare Galahad was sending his way.

Oh this would be fun.

“It will be a pleasure having them on board,” Harry said, unfazed by the man’s humor and unaware of Eggsy's burning glare. “We don’t have enough agents at the moment to go the traditional route of nomination,” Harry admitted. “However, I am hoping Lancelot, Galahad, and myself can find one recruit each, and Merlin will find the rest,” Harry explained, turning to look at Merlin, who gave him a quick nod.

“Wait, hold up, so yeh tellin’ me I hafta find a recruit?” Eggsy whined, earning a chuckle from the older man.

“Yes, Galahad, you will have to find a recruit,” Harry answered calmly, unable to keep the fondness off of his tone. He turned to be able to look at Eggsy as the boy was, as usual, sitting on his blind side. 

Eggsy sighed but nodded, saying “a’right but it’ll have to wait until after I’m back from Sweeden, mate, because I hafta be there tomorrow," he said with an apologetic look. 

That was enough to sour Harry’s mood immediately. He kept his smile in place, however, knowing now was certainly not the place nor the time to pity himself. “Of course, but do try to make it a short visit. I’d prefer it if Lancelot had you there to help her with the preparations for when the recruits arrive.”

“You’re not gonna be there?” Eggst asked, confused.

“No, Lancelot will be leaving tomorrow with Tequila to inspect our newly purchased headquarters. Edwin will go in once she gives him the all-clear to bring in the tech branch to begin installations. In the meantime, I will be working from here with Champ and Merlin, who hasn’t been cleared for travel yet.”

“Oh shit,” Eggsy said, as he realized that he was leaving at a really fucking shitty time for them all. “I mean I can talk to-”

“Nonsense. Go to Sweden,” Harry said firmly, not looking at Eggsy anymore. “We’ll survive until your return. No need to worry, Galahad. I think you've earned a few days vacation.”

Chapter Text

The flight to Sweden was proving to be… fucking terrible. It was the first break Eggsy had in days. He hadn’t been allowed to crash before this, hadn’t been allowed to process - or attempt to process - the cataclysmic events that had happened during the past few weeks. It was the first time he could sit and mourn.

And boy, was he mourning.

Guilt and shame were not new friends, but the bitterness with which they came now at the memory of his friend Brandon smiling at him when he had handed him JB, the young man promising not to forget to walk JB at night, was more than Eggsy could handle. His friend had had his whole life ahead of him, had been so determined to pull himself up by his bootstraps, and Eggsy had fucked it all up by getting him involved in his life. He had fucking Brandon’s blood in his hands.

An he knew, he knew , it wasn’t exactly his fault. He couldn’t have prevented or even imagined that a fucking missile would be making a friendly visit to his home. Well, Harry’s home. Their home? Fuck if he knew.

He still didn’t know why it was that he had stayed in Harry’s house. It wasn’t unusual for a new agent to take the residence of the previous name holder, but Merlin had also offered him a home near the house they had set up for his mother and his sister and had also given him the option to move closer to the shop. It had been the most logical choice to choose a flat or even a house near the shop, but he had turned those ideas down, instead begging Merlin to let him stay in Harry’s house - which the man had, strangely, painfully, left to Eggsy in his most updated will. He had left everything to Eggsy really, and Eggsy hadn’t known what the fuck to do with himself except cry harder as he buried himself in Harry’s covers, the man’s faint scent the only thing holding him tied to reality during those first few days after V-day.

He hadn’t stayed in Harry’s home for any logical reason. No, he had done it because he couldn’t bear the thought of the house being emptied out, the white covers drawn on the furniture, the personal items destroyed. He couldn’t bear the thought of Harry’s only fingerprint on the world to be torn to nothing, for it to become nothing more than a shadow, just like the rest of Harry’s life had been; a shadow meant for only Kingsman to see.

And so he had stayed in his mentor’s home, unwilling to move even the cutlery from its rightful place. Tilde, bless her soul, had never commented on it, only giving him sad, almost worried, glances whenever Eggsy lingered on something - often mr. pickles - for too long.

But now Mr. Pickles was truly gone. The fucking dead butterflies were gone. Harry’s old fine china was gone. His photograph collection was gone. His sgian dubhs - or, more accurately, the sgian dubhs he had stolen from Merlin in their youth - were all gone. Everything was gone and while it wasn’t Eggsy’s fault, it sure felt like it.

He couldn’t help but feel a stab of guilt at the fact that, perhaps if he hadn’t stayed in Harry’s home, if he hadn’t clung like he had, then Harry might still have a home to return to. Of course, all things considered, that was the least of his worries. They could rebuild Harry’s home. It wouldn’t be the same, but he would still have a home. Eggsy could help him rebuild it. Not everything was lost there.

They couldn’t bring back the dead, however, and most of the agents, his friends, were now dead. Percival, Bors, Gawain… all gone . Wiped off the face of the earth. All the people he had come to truly appreciate during the past year were now nothing more than dust. And yes, he had known from the beginning when he had signed up for Kingsman that stuff like this could happen - losing Harry had been proof enough of that - but nothing could quite prepare a person to lose nearly everyone they cherished in one day.

Eggsy took a deep breath, unable to hold back the tears as he swallowed down a generous glass of scotch. He wasn’t sure who he was drinking for at this point; for the agents or for those that remained alive, injured and a little more broken, but alive nonetheless.

He sighed as he poured himself another drink, this time his mind drifting to Merlin. He still couldn’t believe that the man had basically offered to off himself for Eggsy - to repay a debt to Lee that apparently both Harry and Merlin still had lording over their heads. Eggsy couldn’t fucking wrap his mind around it. Yes, he knew now that Harry and Merlin would both clearly die and spare him - but what the fuck . They didn’t owe anything to Lee, not anymore, and, even if they were doing it for Eggsy as just him, it was still not fucking okay because if they died Eggsy would have to deal with the aftermath.

And the worst part, the most selfish part, was that the most terrifying moment wasn’t when he had realized Merlin was the one on the landmine but when Harry had tried to take the can from Merlin to off himself. Eggsy had almost lost his shit at the sight, thanking heaven for small mercies when Merlin had told Harry that the can was empty.

Because Eggsy felt sick to his stomach to even think of Merlin dying, would need months and months to even be able to look at anything that reminded him of the man, but if Harry died… Eggsy had had to do that once already, and he knew deep inside of him that he wouldn’t survive a second time.

Tilde had been his rock, his love, she had kept him sane, but not even Tilde with all her goodness would be able to pull Eggsy back up from the abyss he would no doubt fall into if Harry died in front of him - again .

And perhaps that was the real reason why Merlin had done what he had done. Perhaps he had known that Eggsy wouldn’t survive Harry’s death, but that still didn’t answer the question of why they hadn’t allowed Eggsy to take the damn bomb. It wasn’t like both Merlin and Harry couldn’t live without him. The two friends had lost more agents than Eggsy even knew, and Eggsy would just be one more on a growing list.

“Sir, we’ll be landing in ten minutes,” The pilot’s voice piped in, breaking the now almost oppressive silence in the cabin.

“Thank you,” Eggsy said, his voice rough with emotion. He finished his glass of scotch and went back into the single room where he kept his clothes, firmly putting a lid once again on the dark thoughts plaguing his mind.

Eggsy made his way slowly up the staircase, half surprised that he hadn't come across the King and Queen yet - on whom he had unfortunately made a less than stellar impression after the fiasco that was their first meeting.

He knew he would have to see them again, particularly if he managed to get his princess back, but he wasn't looking forward to it.

He reach Tilde’s room, knocking softly before coming in - and wouldn't Harry be proud of that.

“Eggsy!” She screamed in relief as she all but threw herself into his arms, using enough strength to force Eggsy to stagger backwards a few steps to accommodate. “Oh I’m so glad you’re alright!” she said breathlessly, finally pulling slightly backwards to grab him by his cheeks.

Eggsy remained quiet for a few seconds, a little surprised by the warm reaction, before laughing softly, placing his hands on her hips. He kissed her forehead, giving her a dazzling smile before kissing her soundly on the lips. “I’m sorry,” Eggsy breathed out once he pulled away for air, staring deeply into her eyes. “Babe, I-”

She shook her head immediately, peppering kisses on his lips, his cheeks, and his nose. “I’m sorry too… I… fuck, I shouldn’t have made you feel even more guilty about your mission. I know you can’t choose your missions, but-”

“I didn’t sleep with her,” Eggsy said immediately. “I mean I did have to… I kinda… okay so I had to… I didn’t have sex with her but I did have to do a few things to get the tracking chip on her,” Eggsy said with a grimace, not sure whether he was making the situation better or worse.

Tilden chuckled at her lover’s atrocious attempt at making her feel better. “Well, like I said, it doesn’t matter. You did what you had to do, and you saved my life - again - so I think that more than makes up for anything I might have accused you off,” she teased, her eyes full of apologies and love. “I was so scared I wasn’t going to get to see you again after that woman delivered that video…” Tilde shook her head, blushing. “I… I’m sorry for worrying you. You had so much on your plate already and I… like I said I’m sorry too.”

Eggsy shook his head,before he kissed her again. “Forgiven and forgotten,” he assured her.

“So what happened? You never told me anything other than the shop had been blown up,” she said, grabbing him by the hands as she led them to the edge of the bed so they could both sit down. “Is everyone alright?”

That was enough to send Eggsy’s mood back down the drain. He squared his jaw, the pain still a little too raw. “No, Poppy… she fucking blew Kingsman to bits. She targeted every single active agent. We still have the tech department - and Rox and Merlin survived,” Eggsy said, his voice thick with both emotion and relief.

Tilde tilted her head to the side, worry clear in her eyes. “I’m so sorry, baby,” she whispered bringing him into a hug. “Is that… Does this mean Kingsman….” She pulled away, clearly not sure how to finish her sentence.

Luckily, she didn’t have to finish, for Eggsy knew what she meant. “Nah, the American equivalent of us is stepping in. We’re rebuilding Kingsman from the ground up, and Harry’s going to lead the effort.”

Tilde froze. “Harry? What do you mean Harry? Is he an American?”

Eggsy shook his head as he gave her a dazzling smile, unable to hold back a few tears now. “No, Kingsman’s own Harry Hart. My Harry, luv. My Harry’s back,” he informed her, his voice cracking as a full on sob threatened to escape him despite his happy smile.

Tilde sat frozen for a few seconds, clearly not able to process Eggsy’s words. “But… you said… didn’t he… Wasn’t he…”

Eggsy shook his head, cleaning his eyes as he did so. “Nah, their Merlin - she’s called Ginger Ale - saved his life. They found him outside the church after Valentine…” even after a year he couldn’t bring himself to say it. “The Americans, were able to save him.”

Tilde gaped, suddenly looking furious. “And he didn’t think it was important to come back home and at least let people know he was okay?!” She thundered, looking ready to march all the way to Kentucky to give Harry a few select words.

“No, no, babe it ain’t like that,” Eggsy was quick to assure her, grabbing her by the arm to prevent her from getting up. “They saved his life, but the… the shot still did a lot of fuckin’ damage. He had amnesia. He couldn’t remember jack shit, and since they found him in his mission gear, they found no form of identification on ‘im. They had no idea who the fuck he was, or what agency he belonged to.” Eggsy looked away then, getting up as he fisted his trembling hands.

He still couldn’t believe they had kept Harry from him for a year, that they had kept Harry, alone and scared, living in a lie for a whole fucking year.

“Eggsy?” Tilde asked softly, reaching out to grab his hand softly, her eyes unsure.

“When we got there he couldn’t remember us,” Eggsy continued, his voice full of quiet despair. “But it’s okay, I… we managed to jog his memories back into place.”

Tilde seemed impressed by this. “How’d you manage to do that?”

Eggsy grimaced. “I’d rather not talk about that,” he said, looking uncomfortable.

Merlin had shown him the footage of the three different things they’d done to Harry to try to jog his memories - including the one where they had almost fucking drowned him. It had made him sick to his stomach when they had shown it to him, but he hadn’t complained or asked them to stop because he had been just as desperate - if not more - to get Harry back. He wasn’t sure what that said about him. Not only that, but he had been the one that had actually pointed the - albeit blank - gun at the dog, and hadn’t that been the most ironic thing of all.

“Hey… stay with me, Eggsy, it’s okay,” she whispered softly, the way she always did whenever he had a nightmare about Harry dying.

He jolted back to reality, blushing a little out of embarrassment. “Sorry,” he mumbled as he sat back down.

She winked at him. “It’s fine Eggsy. Honestly, I’m just glad he’s back,” she said with a happy smile. “Perhaps now I can finally meet him.”

Eggsy chuckled and nodded. “I’m sure he’ll like that. Although, It might take awhile to get that to happen,” Eggsy admitted with a sigh.

She frowned. “Why?”

Eggsy bit his lip. “Listen… I was thinking about what you said… about us,” He started, knowing that the non sequitur would probably throw her off, but not knowing how else to bring this up. “And maybe you’re right.”

She looked puzzled at this. “Eggsy, love, what are you talking about?”

“When I was at the music festival you said you wanted us to get married,” Eggsy said, not looking directly at Tilde. “And I think you’re right. I’m sorry I haven’t gotten ya a ring yet, but-”

Tilde’s eyes widened and she took a deep breath. “Eggsy… I… You don’t have to feel obligated to marry me because-”

Eggsy shook his head, turning to face her immediately. “No, no, babe, I’m not… you’re not forcing me to do shit, don’t worry about that. I mean I love yeh, and the only way this is gonna end is we either get married or we end it. I mean you’s a princess, it ain’t like we got that many options,” Eggsy pointed out, though not unkindly. “I love ya, princess. So, If you’d have me-”

He didn’t get to finish his sentence for she immediately jumped onto his lap, a happy grin on her lips as she kissed him. “A thousand times yes,” she whispered in between kisses, giggling when Eggsy grabbed her behind to press her closer. “God, I’ve missed you,” she hummed happily.

“Wait, wait, there’s one more thing,” Eggsy said, forcing himself to pull away. “Well I guess technically two things. First, we gotta talk to your dad to make sure he’s cool with this - and fuck do you think he’ll be cool with this?”

Tilde threw her head back and laughed, nodding once she managed to stop. “Of course he will be. He quite likes you, you know?”

“Right… well there’s also the problem of… well I can’t leave kingsman yet,” he said, his voice making it clear this was not up for arguments. “After all the shit that happened during the past few weeks… they can’t afford to lose another agent right now. I need at least a year before we can make this official,” he admitted.

Tilde nodded, her eyes understanding. “Eggsy… When I said I wanted to marry you I didn’t mean we have to get married tomorrow. I meant I eventually do want us to get married. Besides, a Royal Wedding takes about a year to plan and I’m not planning on making the announcement at least for a few more months, so don’t worry you’ll have more than enough times to settle things there.”

Eggsy visibly relaxed. “Right… well then,” he said, in a sultry tone, playing with a loose hair of hers. “Perhaps we could celebrate my-”

She never got to hear the end of the sentence, however, as a prim knock at the door interrupted them.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Eggsy groaned resting his head against her shoulder for a moment as he gathered himself.

“That’s probably my dad,” she admitted with a soft chuckle as she got up, fixing her dress. “He promised he’d come by for a cup of tea.”

Eggsy froze. “Should I-”

“No you can stay,” she said with a wink. “We might as well talk to him now. He’s been asking a lot about you anyway.”

Oh, fucking hell.

“Mum!” Eggsy said excitedly as soon as the woman opened the door to her home. Eggsy jumped into her arms, hugging her tightly.

He didn’t see Michelle nearly as much as he wanted to - what with Kingsman always keeping him so busy and with Tilde occupying the rest of his time, but they still kept in touch by phone. They talked at least once a day when he wasn’t on missions, and she dutifully sent him pictures of their little - though fastly growing - Daisy.

“How are ya babe?” She said as she returned his massive hug, chuckling happily. “Come on in, I’ll put the kettle on.”

Eggsy did as instructed, looking around for his sister. “Hello little flower,” he said as he came to stand behind the couch where she was sitting.

She looked up from her coloring book, letting out an inhuman screech of happiness as she jumped into her brother’s arms, squeezing him tight enough to constrict his breathing.

Michelle regarded them fondly for a few seconds before heading to the kitchen. While she missed her son, she knew Daisy was the one that missed Eggsy the most, and while Michelle tried her best to give Daisy plausible excuses as to why her brother had to travel so much, it didn’t much placate the little girl.

She and Eggsy never talked about his job. He, because he couldn’t, and she, because she already knew. She knew that he wasn’t a tailor. She knew from the way he had cried and cried about his mentor - a man whose name she knew too well for comfort - that Eggsy didn’t exactly have a safe job. She knew that he had, despite her best efforts, followed in Lee’s footsteps.

She knew her son was probably doing now what her husband had done when he had been killed - because yes, she remembered Harry Hart. She hadn’t realized the connection at first. She had known Eggsy was lying of course, but she hadn’t truly known the truth until the day she had first gone to Eggsy’s “new” house.

She, without Eggsy’s strict permission, had had a bit of a lookabout, just to make sure Eggsy wasn’t lying to her and this was actually his house - because what the fuck was up with the damn dead dog - and she had found a single picture in the master bedroom. And that had been enough for her to know exactly what Eggsy was lying to her about.

It was a simple frame, and it was clear that neither person had been aware of the picture being taken at the time. It was a picture of Eggsy and an older gentleman - a gentleman she had met seventeen years ago on a cold, bleak, winter day. The man, who was probably in his mid to late forties when the picture had been taken, had looked, admittedly, good. He hadn’t aged much since she had seen him, and those intense eyes of his - those eyes that she could not forget for they came with the sure knowledge that her husband was gone - had been gazing upon her only son. Except that instead of the heavy and assured pain he had regarded her with, she had found only unbridled love in them as he gazed upon Eggsy.

She wasn’t sure if the man had been aware his love for her son was so obvious, but to her it was as clear as rain that the man was, if not in love already, pretty fucking close to it.

And Eggsy had looked no better.

That picture had frankly terrified her for a few days. But then she had seen the earnestness with which her son had mourned the late Harry Hart, and she had, for better or worse, remembered her own time of mourning. And so she had been unable to hate the man, for if he was capable of making Eggsy feel such pain, then clearly he had done something right with his miserable life.  

But then, amidst the lies and the silent agreement between mother and son to keep the peace by never talking about it, Eggsy had brought home his princess - and Michelle had felt both relieved and pained. She had felt relieved to see her son move on, to see him rebuild his life the right way, despite still being in obvious pain. She had been so fucking proud of her baby for making the right choice. But she had also felt pained and worried because she had known… she had known it was impossible to be with someone that was in love with a dead man.

Of course, she was pretty sure her son had never even realized he loved Harry Hart more than was strictly proper, but Michelle knew her boy. And while it wasn’t her place to say anything, she had worried. She had worried for both her son’s heart and for that poor girl’s heart, who had so clearly fallen for her boy.

“Mum, I’ve got big news,” Eggsy said as he barged into the kitchen, Daisy hanging on his hip.

She turned to face her son, a brow raised. “What happened babe?”

“Well first off, I’m… well I’m getting married,” he said, beaming at his mother while also managing to look nervous as hell.

She gaped at him, clearly surprised by the announcement. “You what ?”

Eggsy visibly swallowed. “I… well it was a bit of a spur of the moment decision but Tilde and I-”

“Oh my god, my baby’s gonna become a prince,” she said, half in horror half in awe. “Oh my gosh, well I wasn’t expecting that, babe, but that’s great news!”

Eggsy beamed, sagging once he realized that his mother wasn’t upset about the news. He stepped closer, allowing her to hug him tight. “Yeah, we’re planning for sometime late next year.”

“Oh good, ya still have some time to get cold feet,” she teased, earning a glare from her son which only managed to make her laugh. “Well what’s the second thing then?”

Eggsy bit his lip, looking even more nervous than before. “Well… I was in kentucky recently for work and… remember how I told ya about Harry?”

Michelle nodded, a sense of dread coming over her. “The man that offered ya yer job, right?”

Eggsy visibly swallowed and nodded. “We found him alive in Kentucky mum. They… a real good medical facility found ‘im alive after V-day and saved ‘im. He… he lost his memories and just recently recovered but… he’s alive, mum,” Eggsy breathed out, the level of almost naively youthful love in his words feeling like a bucket of cold water to Michelle.

“Oh my god.. He’s alive? That’s… how did that even… is he back in London?”

Eggsy shook his head. “Not yet, he's coming back in two days. He had… he’s coming back to head Kingsman, but he’s coming back with a few of my coworkers who went with me but stayed behind with Harry,” Eggsy said, not quite knowing how else to lie to his mother while also giving her enough of the truth for it to sound realistic.

Michelle’s brows rose. “He’s gonna be your new boss?”

Eggsy nodded. “Yeah, mum, but don’t worry, he’s the fucking best . He’s amazing.”

She hummed, neither agreeing or denying, as she turned to finish making their tea, worry once again gnawing at her soul. If the man was back… if the man who had fallen in love with her son was back… fucking hell, she didn’t even want to think about it.

She looked back at her son then, who was sitting at the table with Daisy, oblivious to his mother’s musings.

Oh, Fucking Hell.

Chapter Text

“Are we all ready?” Merlin asked as he put on his new pair of glasses, looking towards Harry - fuck and now this risk-taking ass whom he called his best friend was Arthur - so the man could start the meeting.

It was probably the most informal meeting Merlin had ever had in his, fucking long, time at Kingsman. He, Harry, Tequila, and Ginger Ale (turned Whiskey) were sitting around the rather small table inside of Merlin’s infirmary room. The table that sat right next to the long windows, allowing the soft afternoon sun to come in and illuminate the room.

That had been Merlin’s one request. He had wanted to be able to see the sunrise and the sundown. He needed to see the green waiting for him outside, the long outstretched farmable land that so characterized this part of America. That was one of the things he hated the most about being stuck in medical; not being able to tell time. It was like he wasn’t allowed to check whether or not the world was still spinning outside the constrictions of the four whitewashed walls he was confined in.

Still, more than his own annoyance, his thoughts often strayed to his best friend. He couldn’t imagine how Harry felt now that he was free to roam around again. Harry, who had spend an entire fucking year locked as if he was a mentally unstable patient, seemed more attuned to the light than ever before. Every minute he spent in Merlin’s room, he spent it near the double set of windows, keeping at least one of them open as he sat on a chair close enough to feel the light breeze on his face.

And so, because Merlin was still stuck in Medical, and Ginger - now Whisky or Whiskey as the Americans said- was driving Harry up the wall with all her last minute psych evals to make sure Harry was fit to travel across the pond, they had decided to meet in this most informal setting. Merlin was pretty sure the only reason his best friend was complying with the, frankly exhausting, process of being field approved, at least mentally, was because Champagne had personally asked him to cooperate.

“Yes, let’s get on with it,” Harry said, never one to waste time no matter how perpetually late he always was.

Merlin nodded and pressed a few things on his clipboard, his eyes softening considerably once the image of Roxy came to life on the holographic screen they had set up in the infirmary. His smile widened too when he noticed how comfortable she looked sitting behind his home desk, surrounded by his organized clutter of technology and reports.

It made his heart twist excitedly, heat pooling in his stomach as that feeling he didn't dare name made itself more present than usual. It wasn't good for his sanity to see Roxy in his home. It made his desires spring all too quickly to mind - desires that he knew could never come to pass for the simple reason that they were both Kingsman.

Harry, being the fucking observant spy that he was, regarded his friend with a knowing, almost empathetic look, and Merlin didn't need to think long to know why Harry looked like he knew exactly how Merlin felt. It was not a secret between them how Harry felt about Eggsy, and it was even less of a secret that Eggsy was, in fact, in love with someone else. Merlin moved his prosthetic leg underneath the table and pressed it softly against Harry’s own leg.  

While he himself couldn't feel the contact, the movement was practiced and natural. It was something the two generally did when one, or both, were not feeling their best. It was natural for them, after so many years of friendship, to just sit quietly, often with a drink in hand, and just press their legs or their arms together, stoically offering comfort. Although, this time, Merlin wasn’t sure whether he was offering or accepting comfort; either way, he didn’t think Harry would much mind.

“I trust ye got settled in with no problems?” Merlin asked Roxy quietly, a small smile still playing on her lips.

The young woman nodded, clearly happy to see Merlin. “Yes, thank you. And thank you for letting me stay here, Merlin. You have a beautiful home.”

Harry smiled sadly to himself, making a mental note to talk later to his best friend about this issue. It was clear as day that the young Roxanne felt the exact same way that Merlin did, and it was starting to grate on Harry’s nerves to see them do nothing like the good little agents they were.

“How are things in London, Lancelot?” Harry asked after a few seconds, knowing that if he didn’t actually start the meeting, Merlin and Roxanne would stay there sitting, trading quiet compliments all night.

That seemed to bring Rox back to the meeting at hand, for she pushed up her glasses and sat up a little straighter. “Statesman has begun clearing the debris and the destroyed tech back at the mansion. They will be destroying all evidence of our presence there and rebuilding a smaller home there so we can sell the property soon. I have found quite a few potential buyers, so we should have that done within the next week or two. We have already found a new location in Hertfordshire. The property is actually a little bigger than the one we currently own and our tech department has begun renovations and tech installment. It’s an old castle though, so they have to fully redo the interior.”

Harry hummed, surprised by how much Roxy had gotten done in the two days she had been there. “How long are they estimating it’ll take?”

“For it to be at the state of the art level the old mansion used to be? Probably five to six months,” Roxane admitted.

Harry grimaced. “I cannot hold recruitment for that long. We need to get that going as soon as possible,” he said immediately, looking at Merlin. “Is there any way they can work faster?”

Merlin shook his head. “Last time I talked to Tim, they were already workin’ around the clock Unfortunately we also depend on some outside contractors for certain structural renovations, so we can’t rush this more than that, Arthur.”

“Well, he told me that they will have the recruitment wing open for use in three weeks time,” Roxanne piped in helpfully. “There will be a few things we’ll be missing, of course, but they’ll continue to work on the rest of the project while the recruits are there, so the mansion should be done around the time we finish recruitment.”

That helped ease the tension building on Harry’s shoulders, albeit minutely. “What about the shop?”

“Debris has been fully cleared, and they’ve begun reconstructing it, but the problem is that part of the tube was destroyed and, since we’re switching our main building to Hertfordshire, we’ll need to basically completely re-do the underground system we currently have to connect the shuttle to the new location.”

Harry groaned. “That’s going to take ages.”

“Yeh that’s going to be a pain in the arse. We’ll need to find a way to keep the construction as out of public knowledge as possible,” Merlin said as he wrote notes on his pad impossibly fast, a frown already set on his face. He hated renovations, particularly of this magnitude. They took ridiculous amounts of money and effort - and the covert part of it all always fell on him.

He grimaced internally; while he knew the sale of the mansion would be enough to cover the new purchase they had just made in Hertfordshire, the repairs to the shop, shuttle, and other destroyed facilities would take quite a piece from Statesman’s annual profits. Of course, considering they had trillions of dollars ready for use, he figured they wouldn’t truly mind seeing a couple dozen of millions be funneled to all the new reparations. And, hopefully, once the distillery was up and running Kingsman would be able to support itself again.

It was strange, especially for Merlin, who had for so long managed the budget alongside whoever the sitting Arthur was, to now be heavily dependant on another organization for their budget and daily operations. He didn’t like having his hands this tied, but at least Statesman had the same basic principles as Kingsman, making it slightly less horrifying a prospect to be indebted to them for the next few decades - at least.  

“What about… the agents’ homes,” Harry asked after a few seconds, his voice sounding uncharacteristically hesitant. “Have you been able to send someone to inspect them?”

This time, it was Merlin who answered. “I asked Tim to go personally,” he said quietly, not meeting Harry’s eyes for fear of them both losing their composure.

They hadn’t really talked about Poppy’s bombing since Merlin and Eggsy had told him about it once he had regained his memories. They had been too busy then trying to stop her maniacal plan to sit down and discuss in detail just exactly what had happened both during the past year and on that fateful night. Of course, Harry had understood that every active agent had indeed been killed and that his home was gone, but, whether or not he had actually processed the information, Merlin wasn’t sure.

While Harry, and Merlin, hadn’t been particularly close to some of their now fallen comrades, there had been some amongst them who had been dear friends to both of them. Percival and Gawain stood out most notably.

Percival had entered Kingsman a few years before Harry and Merlin, and the man had been a warm light in an otherwise dark start - at least for Harry. The then young agent had come into Kingsman fresh off military training, with half his head and all his heart still fully devoted to lepidopterology. He had been young and full of dreams, his head filled with colors and butterflies and love and a naive hope to make the world a better, warmer, place. He had been, for all intents and purposes, a reformed classist prick - he had the army to thank for his drastic change of heart - who had found half of the Kingsman agents offensive to his newfound sensibilities.

Percival had been one of the few people Harry had been willing to be around at the time, what with the man’s high tendency for the use of explosives and his love for equality, at least between genders. He, with his “just get on with it” personality had been the one to help Harry get over his very first kill. He had also been the one to instruct Harry on how exactly to kill a man with an unsharpened pencil.

Gawain had been… quite the opposite from Percival, actually. He had been quiet and collected, only letting out his dark and uncensored humor when he was piss drunk. He had shown Harry the true meaning of improving oneself on the daily, and he had also shown Harry how to become a gentleman spy. The man had been a mentor to all three of them, as well as a good friend.

There had been many a night he had spent in the company of Percival, Gawain, and Merlin, each finding comfort in the only real relationships they were allowed to have due to the nature of their jobs. Their friendship had been… wild, not letting up even after Harry had locked his soft, hopeful dreams in a bathroom in his home in Stanhope Mews and had traded them for the cool, calculating hands of a trained and ridiculously successful killer.

It was hard to accept that they were both gone, defeated by a fucking bomb of all things. They had always joked that Harry would be the last to go, but the man had not actually expected those fateful words to come true.

“What did he say?” Harry asked just as quietly, keeping his eyes trained on the table.

“Anything that might have linked the agents to Kingsman has been taken from the remains of the properties. They will have to be sold as we can't afford to place a new agent in homes that have already been discovered,” Merlin explained with a sigh.

“We have started looking for buyers,” Roxy added meekly. “I will be meeting with two of them later this afternoon.”

“Speakin’ of buyers,” Merlin said, drumming his fingers nervously on the table, “I’m afraid we’ll have to sell your home too, Harry.”

Harry stilled unnaturally, slowly turning to look at Merlin after a few seconds. “Of course,” he half whispered, trying - and probably failing - to hide how much this affected him.

He had lived in that house for about twenty five years. That had been his first home after he had moved out from his parent’s luxurious abode. It had been his safe haven for years; the one place where he had entrusted his memories, his dreams, his tastes. And, while he had known from the day they had told him that it had been destroyed that the land would have to be sold, he hadn’t… accepted it, not truly. He had just ignored this piece of information, had tucked it away to concentrate on bigger problems at hand, but now the issue was staring at him right in the eye and he couldn’t ignore it.

“I assume you’ll rebuild the house and sell it?” He asked Merlin, his voice tighter than usual.

Merlin sighed and nodded. “Another two houses were destroyed alongside your own, so we were able to sweep Kingsman under the rug rather easily, as they’re assuming it was a terrorist attack. I have already began the process of switching the deeds of the house-”

“So it will look like I never lived there,” Harry finished, his voice holding a hint of sadness. “You will need to send someone to… talk to the neighbors.”

“Tim already took care of that,” Merlin admitted. “You’ve always been a bit of a hermit, Harry, so he didn’t run into much trouble, if I’m honest. They remembered Eggsy more than they remembered ye,” he teased, hoping to at least somewhat alleviate the taciturn air around Harry.  

“Ta, Merlin,” Harry said drily, rolling his eyes at his friend.

“We’re already looking for a new house for ya, Arthur,” Merlin assured him, though they both knew it would never be the same.

“Eggsy is actually checking one out right now,” Roxy contributed easily. “He’s seen a few, but I think he might have found the one he thinks you’ll like the best. He said, and I quote, his creepy butterfly collection will look aces in this gigantic bathroom.”

Harry let out a startled laugh, his heart skipping a beat at the mention of the boy’s name. He couldn’t help but find a bit of pleasure in the thought that Eggsy was the one looking for a home for him. Of course, he knew Eggsy was doing this because he felt partially responsible for the destruction of Harry’s home, but the man couldn’t help but wish the circumstances were different. A part of him wondered what it would be like, to look for their home.

He clenched his hands, swiftly clamping down on the thought. He had no idea what the hell was wrong with him. It was so very unlike Harry to let himself delve in inconvenient things such as feelings. He didn’t do relationships. He didn’t do the whole falling in love with other people - particularly not people that were already off the fucking market . He couldn’t. He wouldn’t.  

“He will be staying with ye once we go back to London,” Merlin informed him, figuring that he might as well just lay out all the cards right now.

Harry froze. “What do you mean?”

“It will take us a few months for us to find homes for all our agents, Harry, particularly since it’s not a priority. We also need to figure out new locations and the like. Ye are our priority since you’re arthur, but, until everyone has a home, Galahad will be staying with ya. Lancelot, Tequila, and Whisky will be staying with me since I have more rooms available and these two,” he said as he pointed with his head towards the two Americans, “will not be staying for longer than a year or two.”

Oh fucking hell, Harry wasn’t sure if this was the universe’s greatest gift to him or it’s greatest torture. To live with Eggsy for an indeterminate period of time… to go home with Eggsy… Christ, his sanity wasn’t going to make it out of this one untouched.

“I’ll be more than happy to host him,” Harry said, the words that he knew were expected of him out of his mouth before ha had to make the conscious effort to speak. It was times like these where he thanked heavens for his long career in bullshiting people for a living.

Merlin nodded, Harry’s efforts not going unnoticed, at least not by him. But, truth be told, he did not feel pity for him, not when he’d have to do the same thing with Roxanne.

“Yo, Rox, are ya around babe?” Eggsy asked, his voice travelling into Merlin’s home office with ease.

“In here, Eggsy,” she called, moving to the side to peek out the door. She raised her hand, smiling once she caught the young man’s attention.

Eggsy walked in, frowning when he realized Roxy was doing something in Merlin’s main terminal. He crossed over to greet her, his eyes trailing discreetly to the screen. “Oi! I didn’t know you were havin’ a meeting today,” he complained as he poked his best friend, leaning in to look at the impressive figure Harry cut, even in the middle of an infirmary, in a dangly chair not befitting of the man. “Hiya, Harry,” Eggsy said, his voice going soft.

“Hello dear boy,” Harry replied without much thought, his heart beating faster at the sight of Eggsy’s dazzling smile. The one that Harry liked to think the boy saved specifically for him. It was a delusional thought, granted, but Harry could not get rid of it, especially not now when his entire world seemed to be collapsing and the only good thing in this chaotic storm was Eggsy and his smile.

Eggsy had just been gone for four days, having taken a plane to Switzerland the day after Merlin’s surgery, and yet Harry felt his loss dearly already. He had just finally gotten his memories back, had just gotten Eggsy back and yet the boy had slipped through his fingers without anything more than a lingering goodbye.

“Merlin your house is aces, guv,” Eggsy commented as a way of greeting, sending a wink in Merlin’s direction which made Harry’s vision tinge red.

It wasn’t that the complement bothered him. He had been to Merlin’s house and yes, it was, in fact, a lovely home, but with everything going on, with his own house gone… it didn’t sit well with Harry.

For fuck’s sake he lived in your home for a year, get a grip.

Harry took a deep breath, forcing himself to be sensible. Eggsy had, indeed lived in his home. Eggsy had, just like himself, loved that home. He had probably changed the decorations and what not, but he had loved Harry’s home for some inane reason and that was enough for Harry’s heart to melt just a little bit more for the boy.

“Right on, Eggsy,” Merlin said happily, resting back against his chair, his brogue coming out a little thicker as he got more comfortable. “I’m glad ye two are enjoyin’ your stay, just don’t go near my liquor cabinet, lad. I don’t share.”

Eggsy chuckled at that. “I’ll do my best, guv.”

“Next order of business,” Harry called, hoping to finish quickly to maybe get in a few minutes to talk to Eggsy without having four people listening in. “Recruitment. If a wing of the new building is opened in three weeks time, then that gives us all more than enough time to bring in at least one recruit.” Harry turned to look at Merlin. “How do you want to do this?”

“Honestly? For the first twenty positions, I am hoping we can do two batches of twenty five to thirty, so we have ample selection for the numerous positions we have,” Merlin admitted, clicking something on his tablet. “Currently, I have ten potential candidates, and should have another ten or so in a few weeks time. If ye three bring one each we should have enough for the first round of selections. I don’t think we’ll be able to fill in twelve from a single batch, to be quite honest with ya.”

Harry sighed but nodded. “I think we need to concentrate on the top twelve first, before we start looking for-”

“Wait, what do you mean top twelve,” Eggsy cut in, forgetting the fact that this wasn’t just a conversation with Harry, but rather a meeting with Arthur. “ Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt, I just don’t understand why we need that many recruits,” Eggsy said, blushing a lovely shade of pink.

“That’s quite alright, Galahad,” Harry said, enjoying the taste of his prior codename on his lips as he stared at Eggsy. “While the round table is filled only by twelve knights, our most senior or outstanding agents, we do have more people working under the kingsman umbrella. There’s four different tiers, if you will, that are filled with agents that have varying levels of skill.”

Merlin nodded. “We generally have at the very least thirty to forty active agents, all of which serve Kingsman in different capacities. These forty agents are in turn are supported by my department,” he explained with a smile. “Now, Poppy did not take all of them out, thankfully. We still have ten of our agents alive; however, while they are very good agents, they are not at the level we need our Knights to be.”

Harry nodded in agreement. “Whenever we do recruiting, we recruit for the specific tiers. Our lowest tier is intact. However, we have to do some massive recruiting for the other three areas, one of which involves recruiting the ten Knights missing at my round table.”

“Fuck me, I’ve been here a year and I had never heard of there being more agents,” he said with surprise.

“You generally don’t hear about anyone outside our twelve senior agents,” Merlin explained with a shrug.

“What code names do you use for them?” Whisky asked suddenly, looking curiously at Merlin. “I had assumed all your code names had meaning, but if you have almost forty agents-”

“There’s more knights in Arthur’s table than just the twelve,” Harry said, amused. “Of course, only the main twelve made it into the popular lore, but Arthur had about forty to fifty knights, so we do not stray from tradition when choosing codenames.”

“We do reserve the twelve names for our top agents though,” he said conversationally looking back at Harry. “And, so far, most of our senior knights have lived up to at least part of the characteristics surrounding their names.”

Harry hummed, neither agreeing nor denying.

“So you were Galahad the pure then?” Whisky add, a twinkle in her eye as she teased kingsman’s king.

Harry’s brows shot up in surprise, before giving her a small smile. “I don’t know about pure, but I was certainly patient.”

“That’s bollocks and we both know it,” Merlin bit out. “The only thing you have lived up to is the fact that you were Arthur’s right hand from the minute you became Galahad.” He turned to look at Whiskey, a proud glint in his eye. “He’s too humble to say it, but this twat currently holds the record of number of most successful missions, as well as the highest kill count in Kingsman.”

“I still don’t know if that’s a good thing or not,” Harry groused, his eyes falling back on Eggsy. “Besides, it doesn’t really matter, considering we have a new Galahad - who has saved the bloody world twice in his mere first year at Kingsman. Truly if you expect greatness, you should look no further than him,” Harry praised warmly, happy to pass on the attention.

Eggsy’s countenance, much to Harry’s surprise, only fell at the man’s words. “Yeah, about that… I… Well, I talked to Tilde, Harry,” Eggsy said, swallowing hard.

Harry stilled for a second, his hands clenching on their own accord as his heart stuttered to a halt, feeling like he had been stabbed. “I see,” he said after what felt like ages, his tone sounding oddly distant and suddenly formal. “Well I suppose congratulations are in order, Galahad.”

Merlin looked between the two, clearly confused. “What are ye on about, Eggsy?”

“I asked Tilde to marry me, Merlin,” Eggsy said, holding back a grimace at the look of utter shock on his friend’s face. “I won’t be leaving yet. I mean, I’m definitely staying for at least a year. We already discussed it and-”

“You don’t have to explain yourself to us, Eggsy,” Harry cut in, unable to hear any more of this. It was painful enough like this. “I am sure everyone here wishes you a happy marriage. When you choose to, you can tender in your resignation to Merlin and you two can set up a date for your departure,” Harry said, his voice sounding more and more detached by the second, his mouth tasting like sandpaper.

He fixed his gaze on Roxanne as opposed to Eggsy, knowing that if he looked at the boy for even a second longer he’d say something he would probably end up regretting.

Eggsy felt a pang of pain at Harry’s sudden coldness. He had no idea what it was that he had done wrong. Harry had been the one to advise him to ask Tilde to marry him, for fuck’s sake! Surely the man wasn’t angry that he was leaving? Perhaps Harry hadn’t realized just how much work it would be, and now was angry that Eggsy was choosing love over duty. Perhaps - and Eggsy knew he was just being delusional at this point - Harry didn’t like the idea of Eggsy leaving him.

Either way, Eggsy wished, for a second too long, to be able to take that look off of Harry’s face.  

“If you need me for longer, I-”

“It’s fine lad,” Merlin said, recovering faster than his best friend who still looked like a fucking clammed up twat. “Like Harry said, we are all very happy for you,” he said, knowing his sentiment was a lot more honest than Harry’s. “But I am afraid I have to cut this meeting short. My leg is hurtin’ a lot, and I’d rather rest for a bit now that the major points have been covered.”

Harry nodded, shooting Merlin a grateful look. He stood up then, offering his hand to Merlin. “Come on, I will help you back to bed,” he said, the lie falling as easily off his lips as it had from Merlin’s.

Merlin took his friend’s hand without hesitancy, giving Roxy and Eggsy a wave goodbye before he ended the connection. The two Americans said nothing, only sharing a look that clearly said neither was fooled - even if neither understood fully what was going on.

Not that Merlin was going to be explaining anything. There was nothing to explain, not really. He loved his best friend, he always would, but he also cared for Eggsy. And if Tilde made Eggsy happy… then he’d just have to find a way to help Harry mend his broken heart in private, away from Eggsy’s watchful eyes. They didn’t need Eggsy feeling guilty about yet another thing.

Eggsy deserved to be happy, and they all knew it. So there was nothing Merlin could do, nothing except shield Eggsy from what he knew would be an unleashing of pain of epic proportions on Harry’s part, and at the same time keep Eggsy away just enough to protect whatever he could of Harry’s fragile heart.

It was going to be a long fucking year.

Chapter Text

Eggsy sat in the darkest corner of the black prince, looking out at the mostly empty room with unseeing eyes. While his training made him almost unconsciously track everyone’s movement to see if they were a threat or not, his mind was not really in it tonight, too preoccupied with thoughts of Harry.

The man had returned to London the night prior, accompanied by Merlin, Whiskey and Tequila. Unluckily for Eggsy, he hadn’t had the chance to see Harry just yet. He and Tequila had stayed at a hotel, since Merlin only had 3 extra rooms, and they had all agreed it was better to have Whiskey at home with Merlin, since she was the one that had installed the man’s prosthetics.

And so he had stayed up to at least see Merlin, to get every little bit of information he could to make sure that Harry was okay, that he was still himself, that he hadn’t forgotten everything again. And Merlin, bless him, had done his best to answer Eggy’s questions despite the severe jet lag and the cramping pain on his legs. Of course, it had helped that Roxy had volunteered to massage his legs, like Whiskey taught her there and then.

Eggsy smiled softly, wondering, not for the first time, if those two idiots would ever act on their feelings. It was as plain as day that they loved each other; they were just too chickenshit to do anything about it. Well, that and the fucking regulation.

He would have to talk to Harry about it. Now that the man was Arthur, perhaps they would be able to change the law. Harry, when compared to the last two Arthurs Eggsy had dealt with, was much more progressive - or at least Eggsy was pretty sure he was.

He sighed, feeling a pang of pain at the thought that he wasn’t actually sure. While he knew Harry, as he had spent every possible second he had free with the man while training, and had spent an almost unhealthy amount of time going over his file after his supposed death, there were still many things Eggsy didn’t know.

It was different to read a file and to know the story as told by the person who had lived it. It was different to spend a few stolen minutes here and there with the most mysterious, most interesting man he had met, only to then lose him for over a year, than to have an entire year to get to to know him. It was also different to first start a relationship with a mile wide crush and then have it develop into… well he wasn’t sure what it had developed into. All he knew was that he most definitely did not have a crush on Harry anymore, because he loved Tilde now and that was that. If anything, his relationship with Harry was on a bit more equal ground now, because they were both agents. Well, Harry was Arthur, but he was still his Harry, and Eggsy was now a gentleman spy and it felt like the chase to be better, to be more like the dashing man that had single handedly done a 180 with Eggsy’s life had finally ended.

Eggsy was going to be a fucking prince, after all. There was not much further up the ladder he could go than that.

“Eggsy!” Jamal called, his eyes lighting up as he walked into the bar. He walked quickly towards his friend, saying “Fuck, mate, I ‘eard about your house… and Brandon.” Jamal reached the table and leaned down to hug Eggsy tightly.

“Yeah, it’s been a shitty few days,” Eggsy said, more than welcoming the hug. “I should ‘ave never asked him to take care of-”

“Mate, ya can’t blame yourself. It was a freaky accident, and that’s that,” Jamal said seriously, sitting down in front of Eggsy. “Ye can’t let it eat at ya, ok? It ain’t healthy.”

Eggsy didn’t say anything, instead taking a long sip from his drink. “Thanks for comin’ out to meet with me.”

“Anytime, bruv, ye know I’m always here for ya,” Jamal said warmly, patting Eggsy’s hand. “Though I had to make up shit when Liam asked me where I was goin’. Ye shoulda invited him, mate.”

Eggsy gave Jamal an apologetic smile, knowing how much Jamal hated to lie to those closest to him. ‘Well, to be honest, bruv, this ain’t no social call. I didn’t invite him cuz this is between ye and me, ya get me?”

Jamal frowned. “What happened Eggsy? Is everything a’right?”

Eggsy sighed. “Well… not really, no, but everything will be fine - eventually,” Eggsy said, his eyes faraway. “Anyway, I ‘ave a question for ya, bruv. ‘Ave you kept up at all with the shit they made ye do for your military training?”

Jamal’s brows shot up, clearly surprised by the question. “What?”

“Trainin’. Do ye still remember the shit they taught us back in the day?” Eggsy said, his poker face clearly in place.

Jamal frowned. “Well… yeah I reckon I remember most of it. I still use some moves when we go parkouring with Brandon.” Suddenly his eyes began shining with unshed tears. “Well… we used to do it, anyway.”

Eggsy nodded, seemingly pleased at the answer. “Well, I… I guess I have a job proposition for ya, then.”

“Wait, what?” Jamal asked, looking more and more confused by the second. “A job proposition? What, at that tailor shop of yours?”

Eggsy nodded, smiling at Jamal’s obvious confusion.

“Why would my trainin’ be important? Mate, I don’t know fucking how to sow,” Jamal said, suddenly chuckling as he looked at Eggsy as if he was out of his mind.

“I’m afraid I ain’t no tailor, bruv,” Eggsy said in a low tone, taking his glasses off and holding them gently with his right hand.

“But.. yeh… I’ve been to that posh shop of yours, mate,” Jamal said, starting to look a little uncertain. “Are ye sure ye’s alright?”

“Put these on,” Eggsy commanded, handed Jamal his glasses. He rolled his eyes at the way Jamal looked at him like he had grown a third eye. “Mate, just trust me will ya? Put the damn glasses on.”

Jamal finally acquiesced, squinting at first before he suddenly jerked back on his seat as the glasses whirred to life. A blue light seemed to scan Eggsy’s body before turning green as a file opened on the right lens, the information going a little too fast for Jamal’s comfort. It felt like looking at two different computer screens up close, with far too much shit happening in each for him not to get a fucking headache.

“Eggsy what the shit is this?” He said once the shock had subsided. “This ain’t not posh taylor glasses.”

“No,” Eggsy confirmed, “They are a kingsman agent’s glasses,” Eggsy said as he sat back, a pleased look on his face.

He finally understandood Harry’s almost juvenile enjoyment of revealing the truth to him like the peacock the man was. Of course, this was a little different from the fucking beautiful show the man had put on when beating everyone to a literal pulp, but still, even just being able to show the glasses to Jamal was enough. His reaction was priceless.

“Fuck, Eggsy, is this like some James Bond shit?” Jamal whispered as he took the glasses off, blinking rapidly as he adjusted back to the normal colors.

“Kind of, yeah,” Eggsy said. “Kingsman is an independent international spy organization,” he explained, his voice as low as Jamal’s. “We work at the highest level of discretion and insure that there is as much global security as possible.”

Jamal whistled, looking at Eggsy as if he had never seen this side of him before. “So wait, the man ye talked about, the one that knew your dad, the one that offered ya the job. He was-”

Eggsy nodded. “He was an agent, yeah,” Eggsy confirmed, his eyes shining with barely contained excitement and pride. “And we’ve actually found ‘im again. He’s alive and back at it. He’s heading the organization now.”

“Shut up,” Jamal squeaked, brows shooting up. “Didn’t ya say he was killed during V-day?”

“Miracles happen,” Eggsy said, his voice rough with emotion.

Jamal smiled, clearly ecstatic about the news. “Do I get to meet this fuckin’ miracle worker then?”

Eggsy gave him a small smile. “Yeah, if you make it to the last two.”

Jamal frowned, confused again. “Whatcha mean, Eggsy?”

Eggsy rolled his eyes. “Do you remember Poppy, mate?”

Jamal nodded, his eyes filled with cold fury. “That bitch almost got Liam killed,” he revealed, shuddering slightly. “But they say she’s dead now.”

Eggsy nodded. “She is. Me and ‘arry stopped her and released the cure,” Eggsy said with a wink. “But not before she could take out most of our agents. We’re rebuilding mate, and I ‘afta nominate someone for one of the open positions.”

The man gaped at him. “ Me ? You wanna nominate me?”

Eggsy nodded, looking at Jamal like it was obvious. “Mate, I know you. Ye might be a little rough around the edges, but you’s a fast learner, and ye can keep a secret. There ain’t no one else I would rather nominate.”

“Wait but… how does this work? Do I just… what, become an agent just like that?”

Eggsy shook his head. “Nah, bruv, I nominate you and then you ‘afta go through trainin’. Yeh also ‘afta pass the tests. If ya don’t pass all the tests then you’s out. There ain’t nothing easy about this, and it’s a fuckin’ long process, but I think yeh can do it, mate.”

Jamal licked his lips, a little nervous as he considered his options. “If I say yes… when… when would this whole thing start?”

“We start training in four days. I’ll pick ya up and take you to our facilities” Eggsy said, sitting up straight again. “So, whatcha say Jamal? Ye interested, bruv?”

Jamal gave Eggsy a small smile, letting out a tense breath. “Well, I ain’t got nothin’ to lose.”

Eggsy smiled, feeling a pang of nostalgia as he remembered himself saying the same thing in a posh looking shop, to the most handsome, most deadly man he had ever met.

Harry walked down the long winded street, feeling - not for the first time - the loss of his left eye. He knew Merlin and Whiskey were already looking for ways to give him a new eye, however, he had asked them to share no details with him. He didn’t want to know until they had a sure answer for him. He would submit to whatever hell they wanted to put him through if it meant getting his left eye vision again, but he did not want to know or speculate with them.

They could come to him when they were ready. In the meantime, he would carry the hell on with life, because there was no other choice, not for him. He was a Kingsman, and this… mutilation of his body was unfortunately part of the job. Grieving over his lost eye would do him no good.

And so he carried on as best he could, his walk almost defensive as he sought to minimize the damage that could come from his now numerous blind spots. He breathed a sigh of relief when he finally reached the house, regarding the red door with a small trace of distaste.

He raised the hilt of his umbrella and used it to press the doorbell, bringing his umbrella down to rest near his right leg as he straightened to his full height, looking as proud as ever despite his weakened state.

The door opened a few seconds later, a beautiful, dark haired woman appearing on the other side. Her chocolate colored eyes widened as she took in Harry’s cutting figure, letting out an audible gasp as she covered her mouth, stumbling backwards. “Oh my god,” she said, her voice cracking, before she fainted, falling alarmingly quickly to the ground.

Harry jumped to action immediately, grabbing the woman by the arm and pulling hard to bring her up before she could hit the floor, pressing her against his own body.

“Margaret? Who- Bloody hell, Harry!” A greying man a good decade older than Harry  said as he came out of the kitchen, his eyes as wide as the woman’s had been a few moments ago. “Oh god, Margaret! What the hell happened?”

“She fainted, Edward,” Harry explained, a tinge of exasperation in his voice as he picked her up bridal style as if she weighed nothing. He walked deeper into the house, walking into the living room without needing to be guided. He deposited her gently on the couch, checking her pulse quickly to make sure she was actually okay. He propped her legs up on a pillow and then moved back up to her head to check that her air flow wasn't constricted. “She'll be alright in a few minutes,” Harry said as he stood up straight again.

“We thought you were bloody dead,” Edward growled, looking nauseous.

“Yes, well, clearly news of my death were greatly exaggerated,” Harry said dryly, giving the man a half-apologetic look. “I’m sorry, I was not expecting her to faint.”

The man rolled his eyes, before moving past Harry, coming to sit next to his wife. “You're bloody lucky she doesn't have a heart condition like your father.”

Harry chuckled. “Father did not have a heart condition Edward. He was shot.”

“So you always say, but that's not what the medical report said,” the man replied calmly, his worried eyes never leaving his wife.

“I think I’m proof enough that reports aren't always correct,” Harry teased, wondering if perhaps it was too soon to pretend nothing had happened.

His suspicion was confirmed when the man turned his thunderous eyes to regard Harry. “You could have at least called, you absolute bastard. You’ve been dead for a year, Harry . I know we don’t see each other much, since you’re as elusive as a snow leopard, but a year? I’m sorry but even a distant acquaintance deserves better than that.”

Before Harry could answer to the man’s accusations, the woman lying on the couch stirred, moaning half in pain as she came to her senses, sitting up with a little difficulty.

“No, darling, don’t sit up,” he husband said, even as he helped her sit up.

“What-” she started, looking a little dazed, before her eyes landed on Harry, and a cold fury swept over her. “How dare you?!” She sneered, getting up with trembling hands. “How dare you let us believe you were dead,” she said as she dug her perfectly manicured finger into Harry’s chest, her eyes welling up with tears. “ We buried you , Harry. We buried an empty casket because they told us you were dead.”

Harry grimaced taking a slight step back. “Margaret, please be sensible, I-”

“Be sensible?!” She screamed, scandalized. “My only brother dies and then suddenly shows up at my doorstep - a year later - and I’m supposed to be sensible? I know you don’t care Harry, but to be so cruel as to not-”

“Do you think the past year and change was a bed of roses for me?!” Harry finally snapped, rising to his full height as he screamed back at her. “I was shot in the fucking head, Margaret. I had brain damage!” He ran a hand through his hair, his feathers ruffled. “I couldn’t let you know I was alive, because I had no clue who I was. I’ve been kept locked up in America like a fucking demented patient,” he sneered, the pain and the hurt he’d been bottling up for over a year finally bursting. “Bloody hell, Margaret, stop jumping to your own perverse conclusions. We’re not all out to hurt you.”

She rolled her eyes, though Harry’s outburst clearly dashed her own. “Alright, I’m sorry… I just… you’re alive,” she said, half in wonder, half in pain.

Harry sighed, deflating immediately. He sat down on one of the armchairs, not bothering to ask for permission.

“If you would be so kind as to tell us the whole story,” Edward requested, a hint of an apology in his eyes.

“I arrived in Kentucky a little before V-day, as I’ve been told we call it now, and I was shot during that dreadful day,” Harry said, the lie well rehearsed. “Since the shop did not hear back from me, they assumed I had been killed amongst countless others who lost their life that day.”

His sister nodded, sitting down next to her husband. “You said you were shot. Is that... “ she swallowed hard. “Is that why your glasses are-”

“Yes,” Harry said in a clipped tone. “I was found alive and, by some miracle, they managed to keep me alive. However, the bullet did enough damage that I could not remember who I was and, since I had no identification with me as I had left all my possessions at the hotel, they marked me as a John Doe.”

His sister let out a small breath, her eyes filled with worry as she regarded his covered eye. “How did you… how did they realize-”

“Kingsman found me recently,” Harry said with a tense smile. “They had a business offer they virtually dropped after my supposed death. While they were there one of our tailors became acquainted with one of the doctors that happened to be working with me,” Harry lied, grateful that he had his glasses on record, because he was pretty sure he’d end up forgetting one of the details he was making up - eventually.

It was close enough to the truth that it would not be terribly hard to remember, but he did not like risking things like this.

“But how did they jog your memory?” Edward asked, looking confused.

“One of our younger tailors - a protege of mine - managed to… give me the right incentives,” Harry said, unable to keep a warm look off his face as he remembered Eggsy’s daring performance. It was ironic really that he had been able to scare Harry back to normal by threatening to shoot a dog.

His sister’s brows rose. “I did not know you were seeing someone,” she said, a hint of an accusation in her voice.

Harry froze, wanting to slap himself for having mentioned Eggsy. He might be a brilliant spy able to trick even the most seasoned of interrogators, but getting his feelings past his sister was near damn impossible.

God, she probably thought he was shagging Eggsy now too.

“Don’t be silly, Margaret. He’s my protege, nothing more,” Harry said quickly, perhaps too quickly because  she looked like she clearly did not believe him.

“When did you come back?” She asked, because, while she could see there was more to the story that Harry was clearly not telling her, she also knew there was no power in the world that could make Harry speak what he didn’t want others to know.

“Yesterday night,” Harry said, resting his chin on his hand. “It took a few weeks to get the Americans to clear me for travel, and they wouldn’t give me a phone so I couldn’t very well call. And, well, Kingsman was under some structural trouble so we had to solve that before I could come talk to you.”

She raised a brow at him. “You’re already working again?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Margaret, I lost an eye, not my brain. I might not be as effective as I once was, but I sure as hell am not going to stop working just because of a wound,” Harry bristled, hating the fact that even his sister thought him incompetent. “Besides, the shop is in dire need at the moment, and with the plans laid out by my predecessor for expansion, I’m afraid I-”

“Your predecessor?” She asked, leaning forward. “Hold on a minute, did you take over the company?”

Harry hummed in agreement. “Quite a lot has happened in the past year, dear sister,” Harry said with a faint smile. “And it seems that, since I’m almost at the the ripe old age of fifty, I get the stuffiest job available.”

Margaret shook her head, disapproval clear on her face. “You’re going to burn yourself out. If you’re injured-”

Edward placed his hand atop his wife’s, shaking his head. “Margaret, we both know you trying to convince him is going to do nothing. He’s as stubborn as-”

“Mother,” Margaret finished with a sigh. She looked over at her brother again, a hint of resignation in her eyes. “Will you at least promise to come by more often?”

“I… am afraid I don’t know what my schedule will look like, but I promise to try,” Harry said in an appeasing tone. “Now, is George around? I want to make up for that lunch I had to cancel a year and a half ago.”

Margaret seemed surprised by the question. “Ah, yes, he should be arriving soon. He’s set to leave for America in a few weeks, since he’s been hired there. I don’t think he has anything on tonight, so-” She turned to her husband, giving him a look. “Would you mind calling him, darling? I don’t want him to get a scare when he gets here.”

Her husband nodded, kissing the top of her head before getting up, leaving the two siblings alone. She turned back to Harry, hesitating for a second before getting up, sitting on the armrest on Harry’s chair. She leaned in slightly, extending her trembling hand towards her younger brother. Harry clasped her hand tight, bringing it to his mouth to gently place a kiss on the back of her hand, sliding his fingers in between hers. He squeezed her hand and brought it down to rest on his lap, running his thumb in comforting circles on the skin between her index and her thumb.

They remained silent for a moment, just enjoying what little desperate contact they allowed themselves to have. It had been many years since they had been physically affectionate with one another, their well established english roots keeping them both stiff and aloof. The fact that they were here, sitting in the dark holding hands while sitting next to each other, was already more physical contact shared between the two than what they’d shared for the past five to seven years combined.

“I’ve missed you,” Margaret whispered, her voice almost too quiet to hear. “I missed getting the occasional poem.”

Harry smiled despite himself. “Well, you’ve always been the most dramatic and artistic out of the two of us. I’m sure you could have written some in my stead.”

She rolled her eyes. “I wasn’t the one that insisted on being on the stage at age five,” she teased sharply, squeezing his hand. “I might like painting, but you’re the one that has the dramatic flair, dear brother.” She looked down a sly smile on her lips. “After all, this last little stunt you pulled really does take the cake in terms of dramatics. Coming over unannounced after a year of being presumed dead.”

Harry laughed. “Father would have been so proud,” Harry mused, a bitter look in his eyes.

His sister laughed, neither agreeing nor denying. They lapsed back into silence, for the moment not needing to needle one another for more information. There would be time to catch up later, when his sister finally processed the fact that he was, indeed, alive, and he had time to feel like himself again.

“Uncle Harry!” George said as soon as he walked into the living room, all but throwing himself into the man’s arms.

While he had never been affectionate with his uncle - or anyone in his family really - he felt the occasion called for it. Harry was the only one of his uncles he actually enjoyed spending time with. The man was full on weird, what with his bug collection and his seemingly boring tailoring job that took him out of the country a ridiculous amount of times per year. But despite this, and despite the fact that Harry himself could be very boring (he had once had to endure an entire evening of getting ready for the Opera because the man and his mother had literally been too overexcited to just fucking get on with it), he was also kind.

Harry had taught him much over the years, despite how little he actually saw of his uncle. He had taught George how to tell the time by looking at the sky. He had taught him different constellations and the proper way to do his tie. He had helped him with his homework more times than he dared admit and he had been the only person who had given him a good and thorough bollocking after he had dared insult someone from a lower class than himself.

He had never seen his uncle as angry as he had been that day, and, for better or worse, he had learned that underneath the veneer of decorum and posh politeness his uncle could be as terrifying as the bloodiest villains in a scary film. He had learned his lesson well, but, in truth, it had only made him love his uncle more, because, once he realized just how right the man was about how everyone was indeed the same, it was hard not to be thankful for the fact that his uncle had cared enough about George to force him to get his head out of his arse.

“Fuck am I glad to see you,” he said happily as he pulled away, grinning up at the man.

Harry gave him a small smile, a brow raised. “Language, George.”

The young man chuckled, moving to the side slightly to greet his parents. “Sorry, I came as soon as I could.”

“It’s quite alright, darling. We actually called you because your uncle was hoping to take you out for dinner. He tells me he has a business proposition for you,” she said, looking back at Harry. “Now, I already told him you already found a job but-”

“But George is going to indulge me and at least listen to my offer,” Harry finished swiftly as he walked towards the door, a brow raised. “So, George, are you coming?”

The young man gaped at his uncle, thrown off by the whole thing, before nodding slowly, a curious glint in his eyes. “Are we leaving right now?”

“There is no time like the present,” Harry said simply, “and I do have a meeting to attend to later tonight.”

“Later tonight? Why would tailors meet that late?” George asked as he kissed his parents again, this time as a goodbye.

“Because we’ve expanded. We know own a distillery and I need to get that moving,” Harry replied as he held the door open for his nephew.

“I still can’t believe you’re alive!” George said as he walked alongside his uncle, surprised to see a cab already waiting for them at the end of the street.

“Well, you better believe it, because I’m not planning on dying anytime soon,” Harry replied drily, his steps as precise and graceful as ever. He opened the door for his nephew, indicating with his hand for the boy to get in.

George did so without complain, noticing that there was something… different about his uncle, today. He wasn’t sure if it was a by-product of the wound, but it felt like the man had decided to lift a veil, revealing something dark and dangerous that seemed to have been hiding just underneath the surface. He didn’t comment or ask any questions, his training kicking into gear. There definitely was something off, but he couldn’t place his finger on the what.

The taxi stopped in front of a small, elegant looking bistro, the curtains closed and the lights inside seemingly off. Harry did not seem bothered by this, however, as he merely leaned forward to open an almost invisible compartment. He pulled out a Manilla folder from there, not looking at George as he opened the door.

George got out slowly, eyeing the folder. “Don't we have to pay for the cab?”

“It's owned by Kingsman,” Harry said simply before closing the door and it was in that moment that George realized Harry had never lowered the partition between the front and back seat.

He had not greeted the driver or said goodbye or even given his thanks, which, by his uncle's standards of politeness, it was nearly a sacrilege. “What is this place, Uncle?”

“It's a place where we can talk freely,” Harry said, which wasn't actually an explanation but it didn't seem like he was going to say much more.

He walked ahead of George, holding the doorknob for longer than was normal, before the door made a clicking sound and it gave way, letting the two of them in. Harry held the door open, motioning with his hand for George to go in first. The young man did as he was told, looking around for possible exits and hazards. The lights were dim enough to make him uneasy, but at least the place was empty with the exception of a young woman who was standing by the bar, a wet rag in her hand.

She stepped away from the bar, coming to stand in front of Harry. She gave him a polite nod as a way of greeting before saying “Good evening, sir. Could I get you something?”

“Good evening,” Harry said, giving the young woman a polite smile. He turned to look at his nephew. “It should be a fast meeting, so I don't think we'll have time for food, but would like something to drink, George?”

“No I’m good,” the young man said immediately, for the first time feeling apprehensive about his uncle.

Harry nodded, turning back to the woman. “I think I'll have some scotch, thank you,” Harry said before throwing his umbrella slightly up in the air, catching it by the middle as he walked towards one of the corner tables, clearly expecting George to follow.

Once seated Harry fixed his glasses, regarding his nephew with that penetrating gaze of his. “You know what I don't understand? Why a British National with top marks in both basic training and advanced Intel gathering would ever agree to go work for the CIA when the MI6 would not only pay you more, but would actually allow one to remain loyal to one’s country.”

George gaped at him. “How do you even… not even my parents know!”

Harry hummed. “And that's a good thing too because, knowing my sister, she would disown you for such a ridiculous choice.”

“How do you know this?” George pressed again, starting to look flustered. “My file is sealed.”

“You should know by now that no file is truly sealed if you have the right clearance,” Harry half sneered, looking bored. “You’re missing the point here, George. While I would very much want to reprimand you for even thinking of joining the Americans, I have something better to talk to you about: I have a business proposition - similar to the one I was going to offer you a little over a year ago.”

Harry smiled as the memory hit him in full. He had asked George for lunch to offer him a nomination for the Lancelot position, but, as soon as he had ended the call with his nephew he had gotten a different call - a call from the office, informing him that the Unwins had finally used the medal and that his package was waiting for him at the Holbrook Police Station.  

He had gone to get the boy out immediately, reading his file on the way to the station, anger welling up inside him as it became clear to him that Eggsy was a classic case of wasted potential. What he hadn’t expected, however, was the young man to be so bright and warm and loyal underneath that veneer of toughness and sullenness. Even then, when his interest in Eggsy had not gone beyond that of him being the - rather attractive - son of the man that had saved Harry’s life once, Harry had not been able to pull away.

He had gone ahead and punched his way through the entire bar, knowing even then that he had been showing off in ways he never allowed himself, because he had known Eggsy was watching.

He had cancelled the lunch with his nephew that very morning, knowing deep inside him that he needed to keep Eggsy in his life and that it would have been ridiculous not to nominate someone with as much potential as Eggsy exhibited.

He did not regret a single one of his actions. Although, in retrospect, he should have realized that Eggsy would wrap him around his little finger in mere days. Perhaps, if he would have allowed himself to admit the fluttering in his stomach and the galloping of his heart he would have been able to keep himself from actually falling in love with Eggsy before it was too late.

Not that it mattered much now; He was irrevocably in love with the young man like the old fool he was and Eggsy… Eggsy was in love with the fucking crown princess of Sweden.

“Uncle Harry?” George asked after a  minute or two, when Harry did not continue talking.

Harry was snapped out of his reverie and he looked up, giving his nephew an apologetic smile. “Apologies, I got lost in thought,” Harry explained, sitting up straight then to regard George more closely. “I would like to nominate you for a position at Kingsman.”

“At your tailor shop,” George said slowly, frowning. “I am not a tailor uncle Harry - though I have the feeling you’re not either.”

Harry smiled at him. “The Kingsman agency is an independent international intelligence agency that operates at the highest level of discretion,” Harry explained, a proud glint on his eye. “What I’m offering you is the nomination for a position as a kingsman agent.”

His nephew swallowed hard. “So you’re a… you’ve always been a spy.”

“Of sorts,” Harry replied calmly, smiling at the woman as she came back with his drink. “Thank you, dear,” he said, taking a small sip of his glass.

“Does mom know?” He asked, wanting to slap himself as soon as the question left his lips for he already knew the answer.

“No one knows,” Harry replied, looking at his nephew like he was being purposefully thick.

“I have never heard of your organization,” his nephew said, still not sounding convinced.

“That’s because we’re bloody good at what we do,” Harry said without missing a beat. “Do you remember the ploys designed by Valentine and Poppy?” At his nephew’s nod he continued. “They were both taken down by one of the finest agents our agency has ever seen - the latter mission with a bit of my help.”

The young man gaped at his uncle, not looking impressed enough in Harry’s opinion. He would have to show him some of the footage they had of Eggsy’s missions. It was Harry’s new favorite pass time. While Eggsy was still new at this, and had much left to learn, it was a pleasure to watch him fight, to watch him develop his own technique as he took more and more missions.

“Prove it,” George breathed out, because while yeah it was clear now to him that he had been living in a lie his entire life, he couldn’t exactly picture his uncle - his bug collecting, tea loving, Sun reading uncle - as a fucking Bond-type spy.

Harry blinked once, whether or not he was surprised by the request, George couldn’t tell. Harry sighed softly, before reaching into his suit, whipping out his gun with practiced precision. He held it outwards, never taking his eyes off of his nephew as he fired, hitting the inner bullseye of the dart board hanging on the opposite end of the restaurant, a good thirty to forty feet away. George jumped backwards at the sound, his eyes as wide as saucers.

“Fucking hell,” the young man breathed out as his world was virtually shattered around him. It was hard to grasp that the same uncle whose gentle hands had taught him how to properly trim a rose were actually the hands of a well-trained killer.

Harry hummed, his face giving nothing away. “So, George, are you interested or not?”

“I… what about my… well you see I have-”

“Kingsman protocol dictates that no agent is allowed to be romantically involved with a civilian,” Harry said, his tone leaving no room for argument. “If you say yes, you will have to end your relationship with your american sweetheart,” Harry said, his eyes knowing.

George bit his lip. “But what if I… I love her, uncle.”

“The life of a Kingsman is that of sacrifice for the greater good,” Harry said solemnly. “It is not a choice I can make for you. You can choose to go and work for the Americans and keep your job a secret from her, or you can work with us - in which case you will be forced to terminate your relationship. The choice is yours and no, I won’t judge you if you say no to me today.”

The young man looked down at the table, more indecisive than ever. He had always looked up to Harry. No matter how weird, or boring the man seemed to be sometimes, George had always thought that, if he became like his uncle, his mother would be proud. But now… the man was not what his mother thought Harry was - he was everything George actually wanted to be.

“Okay,” he said eventually, still not looking completely convinced. “I… yeah, alright, I’ll give this a shot.”

Harry nodded, giving his nephew a small smile. “I will see you in two days time then, to take you to our facility.”

George nodded, watching as his uncle stood up, gingerly picking up his umbrella. “Wait is that it?”

Harry nodded blandly. “I was not lying when I said I have another meeting,” Harry said sounding amused. “I shall see you soon, George. In the meantime… I would recommend talking to your girlfriend. Once training begins, you won’t have a phone with you,” Harry warned before turning around and leaving, as cool and aloof as ever.

Fucking hell. This was going to come back and bite him in the ass, he just knew it.  

Harry woke up with a start, the sound of his phone buzzing against his night table enough to wake him up. He groaned as he rolled to his stomach, blinking open his one good eye. He grabbed his phone and brought it closer, resting on his elbows as he looked down at the number, his heart skipping a beat as he noticed it was Eggsy.

He brought the phone to his ear immediately, clearing his voice before answer. “Good morning Eggsy,” he greeted warmly, checking the time to see, much to his surprise, that it was not even seven in the morning yet. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this early call?”

“Harry I found it!” Eggsy half screamed, excited.

“You found what Eggsy?” Harry asked, blushing at his uncharacteristic slowness - but what exactly could be expected of him at fucking arse o’clock in the morning.

“Our house! Well, your house,” he amended, suddenly a little self conscious. “I mean, Merlin told me that I’d be staying with ye at your place, so-”

“Eggsy, any house of mine will always be yours as well,” Harry said fervently, knowing there was far too much truth in those simple words.

Eggsy smiled, thankful that Harry wasn’t there to see him blush like a fucking schoolgirl. God, he had thought he was over the man being overtly sweet with him.

“So, when can I see our house,” Harry asked before the silence could become awkward. Perhaps he shouldn’t have said that after all. He hoped Eggsy hadn’t heard the fervent passion in his voice, the longing in his heart.

God, he needed to get ahold of himself.

“Well, Merlin just approved the purchase, and I talked to the previous owner, and he said we can start moving in today, so maybe tonight? I’m gonna ask Roxy and Merlin to come give us a hand so we can start settin’ it up all nice and proper.”

Harry smiled, his spirits elevating at the thought of spending his evening with Eggsy - guests or no guests. “That sounds wonderful, Eggsy. I look forward to seeing the house - and you, of course.”

Eggsy grinned at that, feeling a pang of longing. He hadn’t seen Harry in almost a week now, what with the delays in America and the subsequent busy days once he had arrived in London. It wasn’t like he couldn’t live without the man, it was just that now that he had finally gotten his mentor back, it felt like tempting fate to stay away from him for too long. “Shall I bring take-out?” He asked, trying to distract himself.

The last thing he needed was to think of Harry dying, specially since the man was on the bloody line with him.

Harry hummed, laying back down and closing his eyes, letting the traces of Eggsy’s voice engulf him. “Yes, please do.”

“What do you feel like havin’? I’ve been cravin’ a good curry, if I’m honest with ya,” Eggsy prattled off as he read over the document Harry was meant to sign for the house. “Also do ya mind if I falsify your signature? Merlin said ye ain’t around until tonight and I need to hand these documents in, in like an hour.”

Harry chuckled, covering his good eye. “I can’t believe I’m being forced to encourage forgery,” he teased.

“I’ll take that as a yes, Harry,” Eggsy informed him as he signed the document, smiling as he heard Harry laugh again. “Oh, and guess what?”

“I’m afraid I can’t make a guess without at least some clues,” Harry said dryly.

Eggsy burst out laughing, shaking his head. “Ye’s a wanker,” he informed the man, before saying “I found myself a recruit, Arthur,” Eggsy said, using the poshest accent he could think of.

“Well aren’t you the queen of the ball,” Harry teased, chuckling again. “Well done, Eggsy. I assume it’s one of your friends from the army?”

“Yeah, he’s one of my best mates. He’s aces,” Eggsy assured him, the excitement clear in his voice.

“Well if he’s anything like you, I’m sure he’ll do very well,” Harry assured him warmly.

Eggsy blushed again, almost on instinct. “You’re gonna ‘ave two chavs in your ranks now.”

Harry hummed. “Chester’s probably rolling in his grave.”

“Ain’t that a pretty thought,” Eggsy said with a happy sigh. “Anyway, I’ll pick us up some food later. I’m meeting with Tilde this afternoon, so I might get there a little late but-”

Harry’s spirits crashed into the ground as fast as they had soared. “Right, of course,” he said, curtting Eggsy off. “Well I hope you have a pleasant afternoon with her,” Harry said cheerfully, doing his best to keep his tone light despite the fact that the pain in his chest was making it uncomfortable to breathe. “I’ll talk to Merlin in a minute, to coordinate with him, as I’m sure he’ll want to install the Kingsman security system today. In fact, I’ll have him inform you of our progress, because we might not actually need you there tonight. I’m sure between the two of us - and perhaps Roxanne if she wants to join us - we can make a dent on the whole moving process.”

“What?” Eggsy asked, thrown off. “No, I’ll definitely be there, Harry. I mean I ‘aven’t seen ya in a week and-”

“Eggsy, missions will resume soon, and you’ll have considerable less time to see your fiancée , ” Harry reasoned, the words tasting bitter in his mouth. “I really don’t mind setting up on my own. The house will be there whenever you need rest.”

“No that’s not-” Eggsy said again, unsure as to why Harry was suddenly being difficult. “I might get there late, but I’ll be there , okay?”

“As you wish Eggsy,” Harry said, suddenly feeling very tired. “I’m afraid I must go. I have a meeting in five minutes. I… we’ll talk later.”

“Yeah, okay, have a good day, Harry,” Eggsy said, feeling at a loss for the sudden change. He had no idea what he had done wrong - or even if he had done something wrong. “Harry are you-”

“Gotta run, have a good day, Galahad.” Harry said in a hurry, hanging up then. He rubbed his eyes, throwing the phone carelessly on the bed.

He needed to stop running away every time Eggsy mentioned his soon to be wife. It did not matter if every time she was mentioned he felt like someone was cutting his heart into a million pieces; this wasn’t Eggsy’s fault. It wasn’t his fault that Harry had fallen in love with him, and it certainly wasn’t his fault that he was in love with a princess.

He needed Harry now that he was here. He needed him to be supportive, and he needed him to be a guide - and damn it all he was not doing a very good job at that.

Harry got up then, and walked to the bathroom, meeting his steely gaze head on in the mirror. This was getting ridiculous. Eggsy’s happiness came first. He just had to be there, supportive and seemingly happy, until the boy got married and left for Sweden. He could deal with the blowout after, when there were no witnesses other than Merlin to watch him break.

He was, after all, extremely skilled at putting the pieces together every time he shattered. It was part of the job. He just had to accept this as another part of the job.

Chapter Text

Harry opened the blue wooden door with tentative fingers, taking a deep breath as he did so. He didn't feel even remotely ready to go in, but in he had to go - one way or another.

The first thing that hit him was the smell of cedar wood and musty air that often came when things had been unused for too long. It wasn't a particularly poignant smell, but he’d have to air out the house regardless. He touched the wall to his right softly, feeling around for the light switch. It took him almost a minute to find the blasted thing for it was much further than he had expected.

He blinked his eye rapidly once the warm yellow light blasted him square in the eye. He looked around once his eye adjusted to the brightness, walking through the long hallway and into the house. He stopped short at the end of it, for from there the hall divided into two rooms, both with closed doors. Harry turned to his left and opened the double set of white doors, grimacing at the slight creaking noise. He’d have to have everything well oiled and soon.

He stepped in, once again looking for the light switch to be able to see his new home. He found it more easily than the first, turning to look as soon as the light was on. The door had led him into what seemed to be a rather narrow yet spacious drawing room, accompanied by what seemed to be a fully equipped chimney for guests.

Harry turned to look to his left, smiling softly at the three panel window facing the street. He was sure that, during the day, the house was probably very light and warm, considering the light white tones of the wall and the numerous windows. Before, it wouldn't have made  that much of a difference to him, but after the hell he had endured for the past year, he more than welcomed the prospect of being able to just feel more sunlight on his skin in the mornings.

He turned to his right then, making his way around the living room to get himself acquainted with the space. He noticed the door leading to the garden, and he made a mental note to check it in the morning, once he had enough outdoor light to see and analyze the space, to find its weak points and its strongholds.

He regarded the numerous shelves on the walls near the chimney with a pang of nostalgia. A year ago, he would have been over the moon to see more shelves for his books. However, Merlin had informed him that his books had not been moved from his storage closet and thus had been burnt away by the bomb - sans a few lucky exceptions.

Of course, he would rebuild his collection, but many of the now lost books had been first editions of tomes of manuscripts he has brought back with him from obscure missions. Some were not replaceable - much like the majority of his possessions, unfortunately.

He sighed and looked away, not wanting to dwell on such thoughts. It was incredibly draining to have to remind himself that his past was not recoverable. It was one of the problems with assigning so much emotional meaning to things in an effort to escape leaving those feelings within himself. He had made shrines to the past, to his youth, to the romantic in him, all for the sake of the next kill and to lose it all… in a way it felt like a macabre foreshadowing. He had lost, in a way, the very objects that had held his essence and now, in a year’s time, he’d be losing the boy that had stolen his heart.

Harry sighed again, forcing himself to open the door on the opposite wall to the chimney, clamping down on his morbid thoughts. He hummed when he noticed that the door led back to hallway; or rather, to the portion of the hallway that was past the second door Harry had not yet gone through. He turned on the light and walked past the stairs, heading directly to what he assumed would be the studio.

His suspicions were proven correct, though the room was not what Harry had been expecting. It was, for one, much smaller than his old studio, and the walls were a ghastly shade of green he would have to change immediately. He was also not overtly pleased with the built in desk and shelves. He preferred the minimalism of his old studio, where everything - aka his guns - had been hidden within the walls.

Harry knew already he would not be using this particular room as his studio. He could not bear it. Even if they painted it red, and took down at least a part of the long desk, it just didn’t… it didn’t feel right.

But, truth be told, he had been somewhat expecting it. Eggsy had given him few details, but he had disclosed the studio would not be to his liking. He had expected it to need a few colorful touches, however, not an entire do-over due to the blasted built in desk and shelves. Fortunately, Eggsy had also informed him that this new house had a ridiculous amount of rooms - 4 in total - so turning one of them into his studio did not sound like a terrible idea.

Harry closed the door firmly behind him after turning off the light, half of him ready to use this room as storage or some similarly obscure thing. He walked gingerly down the stairs to the lower floor, noticing with a small amount of trepidation that the stairs felt steeper than those of his old home. He wasn’t sure if they were actually steeper or if it was just his lack of depth perception acting up. It was a toss up at this point. Whatever it was, he was just happy to reach the landing, surprised to find a spacious floating Island made of black marble - just like the rest of the countertops.

Harry walked around the kitchen slowly, his fingers tracing straight patterns on the surface of the counters as he checked the different cabinets, a little unsure of himself. Everything was so different. These cabinets were not the same as his old ones. These ones didn’t have his fingerprints encoded to reveal the beautiful stash of weapons he had kept in his last kitchen.

Of course, Merlin would fix it. He would probably put them all in the floating island, but until the man was done with renovations… Harry would wallow in paranoia.

Still, despite his reservations, he couldn’t deny how beautiful and big the space was. Yes, it would take a few months to adjust to the changes, to understand where the blind spots were and where his strongholds could be, but there was nothing substantially negative that he could say about the house. So far, the house was open and bright and, while different from his previous home, he could see why Eggsy had so liked the home. And that, above all, made Harry more than willing to accept this home as his own.

His thoughts were interrupted by the doorbell ring, which prompted him to quickly shut off the lights and run upstairs, a small part of him hoping to see Eggsy standing there. Of course, he knew it wasn’t the boy, but still, it was hard not to let his imagination get the best of him.

“Good evening, Merlin,” Harry said pleasantly as soon as he opened the door, not letting even a hint of his disappointment show. “I see Roxanne agreed to come along,” Harry said with a head nod and a warm smile when the young woman came into the light. “Please come in,” he said as he moved to the side, eyeing curiously the large suitcases Roxanne had with her.

“What’s all this?” Harry asked as he followed her to the currently empty living room.

“These are the few things that did not perish with your house,” she explained with a small smile, leaving one of the suitcases down by Harry’s feet. “This other one is the first set of Merlin’s tech he wants to install tonight. We have more stuff in the trucks.”

Harry raised a brow. “The trucks?”

“The movin’ trucks ya nob,” Merlin groused as he stepped in right behind Roxy, moving the wheelchair with a grimace. The man was more than tired of having to rely on the blasted thing, but he wasn’t steady enough on his new legs yet, and so the damn thing was necessary for mobilization at the moment. “I took the liberty of buying most of yer furniture with Eggsy two nights ago, and we had an overnight delivery so we have everything here. There’s a few things that still need to be bought, but the major things - like yer damn bed - are all here.”

Harry blinked a few times as he turned to look at his friend. “You really were not kidding when you said you wanted to set up tonight, were you?”

Merlin cracked a smile. “If we really put our minds to it, we should have the security system and the weapons system fully set up in a little over seventy-two hours. While I do that, ye Eggsy and Roxy can get this house properly set up with furniture, decorations and shite like that.”

“Merlin that’s three days worth of time,” Harry said slowly, as if that explanation was necessary.

Merlin raised a brow. “Yer point?”

“Merlin… recruits arrive at the state tomorrow, even if we want to get it done in 72 hours, we also need to rest. We also need to get there and check what the tech wing has managed to set up for the recruits” Harry said, holding back the urge to facepalm.

Merlin rolled his eyes. “We don’t need to be there till the afternoon, Harry. Calm down. It’s seven o’clock right now. We have at least twelve hours to work.”

“And how many days do you want us to go without sleep, exactly?” Harry said, sounding unimpressed.

“We can sleep for a few hours tomorrow morning, before we go to the mansion,” Merlin said calmly, as if Harry was just being purposefully thick in the face of such a brilliant plan.

“You’re impossible,” Harry declared, but stopped arguing, knowing it was useless to do so. “How exactly do you want us to carry the furniture?”

Merlin rolled his eyes. “There’s two of ya, and you’re both trained agents. If ye cannae carry a damn bed up the stairs then ye don’t deserve to be approved in yer physical.”

Roxy chuckled but shook her head. “There’s no point in arguing with him, Harry. Let’s just get on with it.”

Harry hummed, neither agreeing nor denying, before he crouched on the floor to open the suitcase to examine the contents. He let out a soft gasp and his eye widened as he came face to face with his newspaper clips. His head whipped up to look at Roxy as he whispered “How-”

“Well, I don’t know if Eggsy told you, but he didn’t move most of your stuff out of the house. One of the few things he did remove were those newspaper clips since he put up his own and then he also gave me these books that you kept in your room as well as a few albums filled with pictures. I’m not sure why he moved those, but he asked me to keep them safe,” she said with a shrug.

Harry swallowed hard, his hands trembling slightly as he ran a hand through the numerous sun covers. His heart fluttered both at the thought that Eggsy had not moved his things and at the thought that Eggsy had been considerate enough to not throw away the things the young man had no use for, instead giving them to his best friend for safekeeping.  He got up then, taking a step closer to Roxy to envelop her in a tight hug. “Thank you,” he whispered, not sure whether he meant it for her or for the boy currently not present.

Either way, she seemed to understand, for she smiled softly into his sweater as she hugged back, patting Harry softly on the back.

“Alright, enough with the sentimentalities,” Merlin barked out, hating himself for feeling jealous at the fact that Harry could be so tactile with the woman he loved and he couldn’t.

Harry gave him a knowing look when he pulled away, nodding softly in solidarity as he brushed past Merlin. “Alright, Merlin, don’t get your knickers in a twist. We’re heading to the truck now.”

Roxy smiled at the two of them, greatly enjoying the banter. It was lovely to see Merlin smile so easily again, to see him so at ease. It was incredible how much of a difference having Harry alive made to Merlin’s personality. Roxy still didn’t know the man well enough, but based on how much Merlin cared for him, and based on how deeply Eggsy had mourned Harry, she could already tell he would soon become a great friend to her as well.

“Are you coming, Roxanne?” Harry asked gently, his smile never losing its tinge of sadness.

Eggsy all but ran to the front door of the house, take out bags in hand - as well as other bags - and house keys trapped in his mouth. He had told Harry he’d be late, but, last Roxy had texted him, Merlin and her had arrived almost an hour ago, which made his lateness fucking unacceptable - at least to him.

If it would have been a mission debrief, or even a dinner date, he would have tried his best to be on time, and he would have hated himself if he didn’t, but he wouldn’t have felt the bone deep shame he was feeling right now. Because it was one thing to be late for life, and another very different to be late for Harry Hart.

And yes, Harry was always fucking late. That was a trademark of his, but he was never late for Eggsy, and he did appreciate punctuality in others. Not only that, but he had already sounded off in the morning at the idea of Eggsy being late in the first place. And, despite the man not saying it aloud, Eggsy knew today was a big day for him, because this was a new house, a new beginning, and he knew Harry didn’t feel fully ready.

It was his job to be there, and he felt like the biggest of fuck ups for not having been there for what probably had been the most important hour of the whole damn thing. Still, he pushed all thoughts of guilt aside as he hurriedly opened the door with the spare keys he owned barreling down the hallway only to freeze by the door to the living room at the sight.

There in the still mostly empty room sat Harry and Roxy on the floor, both laughing at something Eggsy had come too late to hear as they put together the base of the coffee table, passing a drink between them as they worked. Merlin sat quietly behind Roxy on a chair from the dining room set, the young woman half resting on his prosthetics as the man worked on a laptop, not looking up to find the source of the noise.

Eggsy forced himself not to gape as two pairs of eyes turned to look at him, not sure whether to be angry at himself for the sudden rage he felt as the image of Harry passing a bear bottle to his best friend seared into his mind. For fuck’s sake, he had never been the possessive type, not even with people he had been in actual relationships with, but for some reason the thought of Roxy even being friendly with Harry made him see red. Harry was his , not Roxy’s. She didn’t get to do that, not even when everyone knew neither meant anything by it.

“Eggsy are you alright?” Harry asked after a few seconds, the warmth happiness in his eye at seeing his boy suddenly turning to worry.

Eggsy shook himself, putting on his best smile as he snuffed out the idiotic anger he was feeling. “Yeah, m’fine. I’m sorry I’m so late.”

“It’s fine, you haven’t missed much,” Roxy said easily, as she rested a bit more of her weight against Merlin, only allowing herself to do so because she knew the man could not feel his prosthetics and so her stolen moment would be noticed by no one - well no one except Harry. “We brought in the dining room table and set it up downstairs, as well as the chairs. We haven’t brought in the fridge yet - we were waiting for you - and we’ve set up the initial wiring for Merlin’s security system downstairs.”

“We also set up newspaper sheets all over one of the bedrooms to paint it,” Harry added as he turned to look at Eggsy, his mouth drying when the young man came to stand next to him, leaning down slightly to squeeze Harry’s shoulder possessively as a way of greeting. “We got bored so we decided to change the scenery a bit,” Harry added drily, a small smile on his lips as he continued to drink in the sight of Eggsy,

“Well it’s gettin’ late, don’t y’all want a little break for food?” He asked innocently, dangling the bags in front of them. “Oh I also brought you a little somethin’ Harry,” He said, smiling bashfully as he sat on the floor next to the man, the bags of food all but forgotten as he handed Harry a heavier looking bag.

Harry frowned, opening the bag he had been handed with careful fingers, his eye widening once he saw the contents. “Oh, Eggsy,” Harry said as his eye shining with unshed tears as his voice roughened with emotions.

Eggsy’s jealousy fell to the wayside then, as his heart all but flew out of his mouth at the sight of Harry’s poorly concealed emotions. “Do you like them?” Eggsy asked softly, inching closer.

Harry reached out and squeezed Eggsy’s hand, smiling when the younger man immediately grabbed on, not letting Harry retreat his hand. “I love them,” Hary confirmed, finally pulling out the seven frames of pinned butterflies with his free hand. “Where did you even get these?” He asked, holding the frames delicately, as if the simplest of touches would break them.

Eggsy winked. “I called in a few favors from Tilde,” He said with a smile.

Harry stiffened for a second, before forcing a smile on his face. “Ah, I see. Well that’s awfully kind of her. Do give her my thanks,” Harry said, looking down at the frames with a bitter hate against himself.

It was utterly ridiculous that he felt so uneasy about a wonderful gift the princess had played a large part in obtaining. If anything this showed Harry just how much she cared about Eggsy and those the boy was close to.

It should have made him happy - and in a way it did, but the happiness he felt for Eggsy could not drown out the sorrow born out of his own selfish desires. And so he hated himself. He hated himself for being too weak to keep himself from disliking a woman he didn't even know and who had so far been nothing but kind to him.

“Sure will, guv,” Eggsy replied easily, hunching lower as his back began protesting the fact that there was no backrest. “So, you wanna hang them up now or later?”

“Probably later when we finish doing everything upstairs. I think we should finish bringing in the furniture for the drawing room and then we can take a quick break to eat,” Harry said, turning to Merlin for confirmation, slowly extricating his hand from Eggsy’s.

While he was technically now Merlin’s boss, this whole moving-in thing was not Harry's show and he did not want to deal with the man's fury if he messed up Merlin's meticulous plans.

The bald man nodded, once his eyes landed on his friend. “There's three of ye now so bringing in the furniture for this room should be pretty straightforward.”

Harry nodded and stood up, all sleek elegance and decor, before turning to Eggsy to offer him his hand again. It reminded him for a second to the eventful day at poppyland where he had similarly held out his hand for his boy, their hands lingering together for longer than necessary as Harry hadn’t been able to bring himself to let go immediately and Eggsy hadn’t seemed to mind. It felt like it had been years since that day that, while horrible, had been more exhilarating than anything he had done in year.

He had forgotten how good it felt to fight someone whom you didn’t need to communicate to be in complete sink. He had forgotten what it felt like to feel as if he had an extension of himself in the field.

Eggsy took Harry’s hand without a trace of hesitance, secretly marvelling, as always, at the level of strength Harry actually possessed. The man was a little over twenty years his senior, and yet, despite the soft cardigans and the warm cups of tea and the sinfully popped-pen buttons, Harry still embodied every bit of the legend surrounding him as the most successful kingsman agent. He was still all strength and concealed ruthless skill. And if that wasn’t a turn on for everyone - fiancée or no fiancée - then they were lying to themselves.

“Are you two gonna stand there all day or are we gonna go get the furniture?” Roxy asked, half amused, as she walked past the pair.

Of course, by now she knew Harry was in love with her best friend. It wasn’t that hard to tell, honestly, and she was pretty sure Eggsy felt something too, perhaps not quite as strongly as Harry and probably Eggsy’s feelings had been sparked due to Harry’s return. They were most likely something fleeting, an old crush fanning it’s last few flames, hence why Roxy had decided not to say anything, especially after hearing of Eggsy’s upcoming nuptials.

The boy, whether knowingly or not, had already chosen - and he hadn’t chosen Harry. Harry and Roxy both knew that. And so Roxy stayed out of it, because while she knew that if she made Eggsy see that Harry loved him, if she made Harry see that there was something there - a spark - in Eggsy’s heart, perhaps Harry would try to woo him and the younger man would break off his engagement. However, she also knew Harry would do no such thing and she also knew it wasn’t what her best friend wanted and she couldn’t risk hurting Arthur in the process. She couldn’t get a clear read on Eggsy, probably because the boy couldn’t get a clear read on himself, and if she stepped in to try to clean up his act, she would end up hurting more people than the ones she’d be helping.

“Of course, let’s go,” Harry said finally, letting go of Eggsy’s hand to walk to the door, leaving the two friends behind.

Whether it had been Roxy’s words, or the look they had shared, Harry did not touch Eggsy again until they had finished setting up all the couches and the coffee table, and had finally laid out dinner. And, even then, it hadn’t been Harry that had initiated the contact, but rather Eggsy when he had plopped down next to Harry on the love couch, sitting close to the man - closer than Harry would ever allow anyone but Eggsy to sit.

Harry smiled at the young man, passing him his food slowly, their fingers brushing every time. They talked quietly, all but forgetting about Merlin and Roxy who, thankfully, were both engrossed in their own conversation on the other couch and so were equally ignorant of the pair of agents currently sitting together, their thighs pressed together as they laughed and laughed about silly nothings.

Harry watched as Eggsy took a happy bite out of his food, and he leaned back against the sofa, his own food still untouched. He fought the urge to reach out and kiss the younger man, to taste some of the easy happiness Eggsy was sporting. He wanted so desperately to frame this moment, to take a picture of the boy to keep it both in his mind and in his home. He wanted to find a safe place, any place, where he could love him freely, where this terrible love he felt could be accepted, could be returned.

And he knew that not even in his house was he free to love this lovely young thing that was all but draped on his lap. He knew it wasn’t his right, for he already belonged to another, and no matter how many laughs Harry managed to elicit out of him, it was probably nothing to what he felt - what he could feel - with the woman Eggsy loved.

And so he snuffed out his hope, his light, and concentrated on Eggsy’s laugh, on his happiness. Because for some blessed reason, he at least had this. He had the young man’s favor as a close friend and confidant. And if this was all he could have, then he would treasure it, every second of it.

“Harry are we going to put up any frames?” Roxy asked after a few minutes, when she forced herself to burst her own bubble with Merlin. “Because if we are, we should probably decide where they’re going to see if we need to put them up later after we paint - if we’re painting anything.”

Harry looked back at her, hesitating for a second, before saying “Well I have never been one for pictures, to be honest, but I think I’d like one of the three of you, just to give some human warmth to this house now that Mr. Pickles is gone.”

“So we’re yer dog’s replacement? Lovely” Merlin said drily as he beckoned Eggsy and Harry closer. “Come over here ya wankers, I’m not getting up for ye lot.”

Harry pulled out his phone, ready to ask Eggsy to join the two, when Eggsy grabbed him by the arm and dragged him over to the other side of the livingroom. “Mate, you’re takin’ the damn picture with us,” he said as he took the phone from Harry’s hand.

They all leaned down to Merlin’s level, Roxy resting on Merlin’s shoulder with a happy smile as Eggsy leaned against Harry’s, all closing in for the close up. “There we go, perfect, now people will think ye’s not a creep keepin’ dead dogs,” Eggsy said teasingly as he passed the phone to Harry, leaving Harry standing there as he went back to his seat, happily digging into his food. “Send it to me and I’ll print it out and bring it home tomorrow.”

Harry looked down at the picture, his heart twisting with longing, before he slapped a smile on his face and thanked the younger man, sitting back down, his food still untouched.

“Again,” said Harry, his tone relentless as he offered his hand to his best friend, clear that he would not take no for an answer.

Merlin clenched his jaw, a hint of pain in his eyes, before relenting. He stood up with Harry's help, and walked back to the two bars, letting go of Harry's hand as he walked back and forth between the two lines, occasionally reaching out to one or both to steady himself. He picked up his pace after a few minutes, not quite jogging but going a little faster than a mere speedwalk. He kept at it for ten minutes, before he grabbed onto the bars again, turning to look at Harry.

Harry gave him a questioning look, as if asking for permission to continue pushing Merlin further. The man gave Harry a subtle node before letting go of the bars again, this time walking past Harry to the walking machine. Harry stepped to the side of the machine, setting it's speed and incline. Merlin did not look at it, trusting Harry's judgement.

Harry pulled out his timer and clicked the small button on the silver watch, the sound a familiar one to Merlin. The man began to jog distracting himself by listening to the John Denver songs Harry put on the sound system for him every time they did his therapy.

He did not stop like he usually did, overcome by the cramping pain in his legs. Instead, he pushed himself to keep going, Harry's soft encouraging words helping more than he cared to admit.

“That's twenty minutes,” Harry said as he looked up at his friend’s slightly sweaty face. “We can stop and start again in a few minutes with a higher intensity or we can keep going without the break for another twenty minutes - it's your choice.”

Merlin looked torn for a second, before that steely resolve of his kicked in and he nodded. “May as well keep going,” he grunted, closing his eyes as Harry increased the speed.

“If at any point you need to stop hit the red button,” Harry reminded him, his voice free of judgment - as always.

Merlin nodded, forcing himself to tune out the world again, his mind turning to Roxy as it often did when he needed to disconnect. He pictures her face, her smile, that silky laughter of hers that always somehow managed to light up a room. Her very presence was magnetic, dragging not only Merlin but everyone around her in.

She was brilliant and cunning and beautiful. She was a breath of fresh air in the staleness that had become his life, and, above all, she was sweet and gentle - a sharp contrast to both their jobs.

“Bloody well done, Hamish,” Harry said once the man reached the 40 min mark, never once having spoken to him for he had seen Merlin retreat deep into his mind.

Merlin's eyes snapped up at his given name, blushing slightly at having let himself go so deeply that he had forgotten what they were doing. “Are we done?” He asked once the machine finally stopped moving and he could finally just stand there.

Harry nodded. “You did very well today. I know we’ve been pushing you hard this past month, especially when we were in the US, but it's starting to pay off. You’re progressing a lot faster than expected.”

Merlin grinned at him. “Does this mean I can finally get off the damn wheelchair?”

Harry chuckled but nodded, stepping away only to come back with a slick black cane in hand with an elegantly curved black handle. “Whiskey had this made for you. She'll probably want to examine you soon, but I don't see why you can't start using it,” Harry said handing it to Merlin so the man could examine it.

“I don't know if this makes me feel better or worse,” Merlin admitted, for once feeling his age.

Harry rolled his eye. “The cane is temporary, Merlin. You will be able to walk without any help in a few months time once you finish your therapy. Besides, that cane has something inside it I think you will appreciate.”

Merlin frowned, twirling the item in his hand before he found a small intricate button on the back of the silver ring that decorated the junction between the cane and its handle. As soon as he pressed the button, the handle twisted to the side, allowing him to pull it out of the cane, revealing a sharp blade.

“Now, we’re talkin’,” Merlin said appreciatively, examining the blade closely, before Harry cleared his throat, making Merlin look up. “What is it?” He asked, his eyes narrowing.

“There’s a matter I need to discuss with you,” Harry groused, nodding with his head towards the two chairs in the corner of the room.

Merlin didn’t comment, instead enclosing the blade again, to use the cane as it was meant to be used. He tested it for a few steps, adjusting his gait to accommodate to the new instrument. They reached their seats soon enough, and Harry sat first, the two unconsciously adjusting to the tradition of having Arthur always sit first.

“Is this a personal matter or an official matter?” Merlin asked quietly, still unsure as to what was going through his friend’s head.

“Both, actually,” Harry said, as ambiguous as ever. “I wanted to talk to you about Roxanne - No, wait, stop tensing Merlin you haven’t even heard what I have to say,” Harry said with a sigh.

“I don’t see any reason why we must talk about her,” Merlin replied stiffly, not quite looking at Harry.

“Because you love her, and she loves you, and we need to talk about it,” Harry replied, turning his non-bulshit gaze on his friend. “Don’t try to tell me you don’t. I know you as well as I know myself, Merlin.”

Merlin sighed. “Where are you going with this, Arthur? I already know the regulation. I’m not-”

“No you don’t,”Harry cut him off, giving him a small smile. “I have updated the regulations, Merlin.”

Merlin froze for a minute before turning to look at Harry. “What?”

“As Arthur I am entitled to edit and change the regulations as I see fit. I thought it was high time some of them were updated. I have put it all in the registry, by the way, so they have officially been amended,” Harry said conversationally, intertwining his hands atop his crossed legs.

“And what exactly did you change?” Merlin asked, still looking surprised.  

“Kingsman personnel has never been allowed to partake in romantic relationships with civilians - a rule I think you'll agree is well placed. However there was a second regulation that was added several decades ago that I thought needed to be amended. While I understand why they decided to implement a no-relationships-within-the-organization rule once we started admitting women, I don't believe it is quite useful.”

“Would you think the same if I didn’t have feelings for an agent?” Merlin asked clinically. “You do know that if you open the door to agents engaging with each other in sexual-”

“Sleeping around with colleagues will still be strictly prohibited. I am talking about actual meaningful long term relationships,” Harry corrected gently. “And even that I don't believe every agent should have the privilege to have.”

“So then why are you adjusting the regulation? You know why that rule was implemented Harry,” Merlin told him severely.

“Relationships between agents will be reviewed on a case by case basis by the acting Arthur and only after getting his or her blessing will the agent or personnel be allowed to pursue a relationship,” Harry informed him.

“Not everyone will like it if Arthur allows one person and not the other to partake in a relationship. That will create unnecessary resentments,” Merlin pointed out.

“I would hope that every agent in our roster will have the mental and emotional maturity to understand that if they are not allowed to partake in a relationship it is because they are either not ready to put Kingsman before their relationship or their being in a relationship will negatively affect their performance,” Harry replied sharply. “If they cannot see this simple reality then perhaps they should not be Kingsmen.”

Merlin hummed, unable to contradict Harry’s point. “I think, since Kingsman was wiped out, it will be easier to make the new agents understand this slightly more relaxed regulation than the one we previously had in place,” Merlin conceded after a few moments.

Harry nodded, happy to see his friend surrender. “Now, back to the topic of Roxanne-”

“Harry, even if you give us your blessing, I don’t think-”

“Stop being an idiot Merlin, it is very unbecoming,” Harry snapped at him, his eye as serious as ever. “You have given your entire life to this organization and now you have the unique opportunity to actually man up and take the woman you love on a date. You have a privilege few agents have had before you - don’t waste it.”

Merlin swallowed hard. “I’m much older than her,” he pointed out. “And if we have children-”

“Merlin, she might die tomorrow on a mission, for all we know, or you might get blown up again,” Harry said curtly, hating to even think about them dead, but knowing it was a reality they could not escape. “Answer me this, Merlin: What is the point of going about life, if you can’t wake up next to the one you love?”

Merlin nodded, Harry’s words hitting home. “I… I will talk to her later today,” he promised.

Harry smiled, reaching out to squeeze his friend’s hand. “Good, then my job here is done-”

Before either man could say anything else, the doors banged open, making both gentlemen look back.

“Hiya boys,” Eggsy said with a wink, as uncaring for properness as ever.

Harry couldn’t help but smile, a small smile that held equal parts happiness and sadness. “Hello, Eggsy. What brings you here this morning?”

“Well the recruits are picking their dogs today, and since Rox is off on a mission at the moment, I’ll be helpin’ them choose.” Eggsy said excitedly looking between the two friends. “So I figured, well if yeh two had a minute, we could go say hi to them.”

“I’m afraid I have a meeting with champ,” Harry said as he stood up, holding back the urge to move a stray hair on Eggsy’s forehead. “But I’m sure Merlin will be happy to accompany you.”

Eggsy bit his lip, looking slightly disappointed. “Maybe you can join us later?” He asked softly, taking a step closer to his mentor.

At Eggsy’s pleading look, Harry was incapable of holding back completely and so he reached over and squeezed Eggsy’s hand. “Of course, I will do my best to at least make a five minute appearance,” he said with a wink, before letting go of Eggsy’s hand.

Eggsy shifted on his feet, fighting the urge to snap at the recruit currently staring at him. This particular little git was Charlie 2.0, and Eggsy already fucking hated him.

Since Roxy had admitted the recruits in the night prior and had administered the water test, Merlin did the introductions for the two of them and, at first, everyone had looked excitedly at Eggsy because it was one thing to have the head of the tech department as your instructor and another very different to have an actual active agent there.

Of course, Eggsy knew very well from experience that having Merlin as their instructor was a thousand times better than having any agent, but explaining that to fresh recruits would be just a waste of time.

And so he had just smiled back at the excited prospects. Charlie 2.0 had been the most excited, in fact, until he had heard Eggsy speak and Eggsy had known then and there that the idiot was a classist prick. His perception had been further cemented when the idiot had made it a point to stand away from Jamal.

Fucking dick.

“Do ye just enjoy havin’ idiots like that one as part of the recruits?” Eggsy asked quietly to Merlin, making sure to keep his voice low.

The man chuckled, clearly sharing Eggsy's sentiment. “No, I don’t, and I actually made sure to have a diverse group  of recruits,” he informed Eggsy. “but unfortunately ye will always have people like him around.”

Eggsy sighed, muttering under his breath as the recruits finally finished picking and began lining themselves up. “'m gonna enjoy watching him fail,” Eggsy admitted, finally stepping up again to talk to the recruits. “A’right ducklings, ye will be trainin’ these dogs as we train ye. Ye will feed them, love them, bathe them, pick up their shit and make sure they answer to commands. Got it?”

“Maybe I’ll pay you to take care of my dog. I’m sure you're used to picking up shit, Jamal,” Charlie 2.0 half whispered, assuming that Eggsy was far enough away to not hear.

Unfortunately for him, Eggsy was particularly attuned to his idiot ass and the comment was enough to make Eggsy see red. He turned on his heel, his eyes zeroing in on the boy.

“Ye 'ave a lot of nerve to speak like that about yer fellow recruit, Liam,” Eggsy seethed, his eyes narrowing.

The young man was either very stupid or very suicidal for he scoffed, his feathers ruffled. “It was just a joke, sir.”

“A classist joke ain’t a joke, not here,” Eggsy replied, still very much unamused. He noticed Merlin stilling somewhere behind him, not intervening to help, but not stopping Eggsy either which meant he either thought Eggsy had this under control or he didn’t approve.

Eggsy hoped it was the former.

“It’s just a damn joke, why are you getting your knickers in a twist. Look, I don’t have anything against plebs like you, or him, but you can’t take everything so per-”

“Manners maketh man,” Harry said suddenly from behind Eggsy, having arrived a few seconds earlier, thanks to the emergency ping Merlin had sent him. His eye looked thunderous as he stepped forward, coming to stand right next to Eggsy. “Do you know what that means?”

Eggsy swallowed hard, feeling himself grow a bit hot under the collar at that. He could still remember the day Harry had first uttered those words to him. He was pretty sure Harry’s little display had been the whole reason Eggsy had developed a crush on the man in the first place - a crush now gone thank you very fucking much.

But fuck he couldn’t deny the fact that even now he felt a little thrill at seeing the man quietly enraged and ready to kick some ass.

“I’m sorry who are you?” The young man asked, his tone a little too disrespectful for Eggsy’s liking but not enough for him to be able to scream at the idiot for it.

“Careful Mr. Waford, my patience is wearing thin and I will not accept any insolence,” Harry said in that silky voice of his which meant he was really fucking mad. “You disrespected a fellow recruit, and then disrespected an active agent of this organization - who also happens to be your superior - and all due to a misplaced idea of superiority.” Harry stepped closer, his eye narrowing as he stepped closer. “Make no mistake, you are not superior to anyone here. Your breeding is worth nothing, not when you have a gun pointed at your head and the only thing between you and death might be backup - backup that might be a “pleb”, as you call people.”

“And when exactly did this organization start allowing plebs? My uncle never mentioned any of these shits. Perhaps that’s why he’s dead. You lot no longer have capable people at the helm,” the younger man sneered, lashing out due to a hurt ego, no doubt.

Harry rose to his full height, for a second missing his umbrella, before he lunged forward, picking up the young man by his neck. He squeezed hard enough to hurt but not hard enough to actually choke him. However, Harry knew he did not need to choke him when the younger man was high enough above the ground that he could not found his footing, forcing him to cling to Harry’s extended arm. “Listen to me and listen to me carefully, Mr. Waford. One more idiotic comment from you and I will have you shot in the main lawn for insolence,” Harry said in a low tone, cheerfully lying because there was no one around to call him out on it. “You are dismissed and disqualified. Any information you might have received about this organization is confidential and if we hear about you breathing a word outside of this compound, I will personally come and collect your head. Are we clear?” Harry asked sweetly, his head tilted to the side.

The younger man gaped, a hint of fear in his eyes. “You can’t do that.”

“He’s Arthur. He can do whatever the fuck he wants,” Eggsy said happily, unsure whether or not it was his job to stop Harry.

Harry finally let Liam go, all but throwing the younger man to the ground. “I will give you,” Harry raised his arm to check his watch, taking a pause before saying “twenty minutes to vacate the premises. And do remember, I will be watching,” Harry said, as sweet as before, before turning to the rest of the group. “A word to the wise, in this organization we are first and foremost, ladies and gentleman. If you cannot bring yourself to have an equal level of respect for all human beings despite your personal feelings then you do not belong here and I ask you that you leave now, so that neither you nor us waste our time.” Harry leveled each and every one of them a cold, calculating stare, analyzing their reactions and filing them in the back of his mind for careful examination.

Eggsy’s recruit looked a little too pleased, and his nephew a little too proud, but all in all he didn’t see any extreme reactions, which, honestly, was less of a headache for him. He would not have another asshole in his organization, never again, especially not someone like Charlie. They had seen already what that could do. He would not standby and let Kingsman create another monster.

No other recruit moved, all looking both mesmerized and terrified by the cutting figure Harry made standing there in his three piece suit. He looked like a gentleman and yet had the hands of a killer.

“As you were,” Harry said giving them a curt nod before turning around and walking back up the stairs, not bothering to say anything else.

“That’s Arthur huh?” Jamal asked no one in particular though his eyes were on his friend. “Man, that bruv is somethin’ else, isn’t he?”

Eggsy hummed, neither agreeing nor denying as he watched Harry leave, a part of him wanting to follow. “A’right, well, like I was saying, ye lot are my ducklings, and these dogs are yours. We will begin training with low stakes, so today we’re just gonna work on yer resistance. So, yeh will be running laps around the property - and your dog has to keep up.”

“How many?” A young woman asked, her intelligent eyes at the ready.

Eggsy shurgged. “I dunno yet, once you reach fifty I’ll consider a number,” He said, his sadistic smile eliciting a few groans from the recruits as they picked up the leashes, no one wanting to piss Galahad off again, for fear the agent’s fury would summon Arthur again.

Chapter Text

Harry looked between Merlin and the hologram of Champagne, rubbing his temples as he felt the onset of a migraine settling in.

He had never had migraines before V-Day, but ever since waking up he had come to get them at least once a week, each coming with a varying degree of intensity. Generally, he didn't know what triggered them, but today he was pretty sure he knew the answer. He had been Arthur for almost two months now and, while some of that time he had spent in America and some of it had also been wasted due to having to wait for the major areas of the Mansion to be habilitated as well as HQ, he was now in full throttle.

He had had to read years’ worth of information available only to Arthur in the span of weeks. He had had to work closely with Merlin to finish the purchase of the distillery in Scotland. Merlin, bless him, had gone there himself with Ginger and the business was finally up and running - hence why they were having a meeting today.

But, despite all of Merlin's help, it was still up to Harry to rebuild Kingsman, and it was truly bone breaking. It felt like a never ending cycle of problems, long-term solutions that required waiting, and a hellish amount of paperwork.

So, yes, he was quite sure why he had the migraine.

“You a’right there, Arthur?” Champagne asked as he cut Merlin off, his eyes having darted to his right.

Harry nodded soflty. “I’m fine, Champ, nothing a little Excedrin won't cure,” Harry said before bringing his hands to his knees. “Now, back to the point; the distillery will take about ten years to truly start producing. We need to build a name, and scotch needs to be aged. So, even if we enter the business with certain batches aging less than ten years, we won't see actual returns for many years.”

Champagne nodded. “I know, we’ve already run the numbers and the prediction charts. It will take time to get off the ground, but once it does it will help greatly increase the Kingsman budget.”

“Are you truly alright with supporting Kingsman for that long?” Harry asked dubiously.

The man smiled. “Well, we both know Kingsman still has many resources so you won't need us forever. Besides, we have trillions saved, Arthur, and getting Kingsman back on its feet is a top priority for me. I have looked at your mission logins. Kingsman took care of more than I realized, and Statesman won't be able to cover everything you used to do.”

Harry nodded, feeling a swell of pride. “We have reinstated missions, though, as you might imagine, we have had to scale them down to just the most pressing ones.”

“Are both your active agents on the field at the moment?” Champagne asked curiously.

Harry shook his head. “Lancelot is on an active mission, and Galahad is meant to leave later today,” Harry informed the man as he looked at his watch. “But Galahad won't be staying with us much longer. Has he tended his resignation in yet, Merlin?”

The quartermaster nodded. “He will be leaving next spring. I have also reached out to Tilde and she agreed to keep the engagement under wraps for another four months.”

Harry nodded, making sure to keep his countenance blank. “And his file?”

“Measures have been  set in so that any history between him and Kingsman are sealed and erased to anyone other than us three.  His  is ready and has been set in place in case the media starts prying early” Merlin answered, as professional as ever, despite the fact that he knew this hurt Harry deeply.

Harry made sure to keep his expression blank while Champagne frowned deeply. “You sure he will be usable until spring? I mean I know nothing about the Scandinavian royalty, but I would assume his face will become pretty well known 'round there, right?”

Merlin nodded. “They’re not as well known around the world as the British royalty, but yes after the announcement is made, it will very difficult to send him in any high profile case. There's a few diplomatic missions he will be very useful for, but we can fully use him for the next four months. There's also prosthetics if we really need him,” Merlin assured the American.

Champagne didn't seem entirely convinced, but nodded, turning to look at Harry. “And you?”

Harry sighed, not needing the man to elaborate to know what he was asking. “I am not back on active duty, yet. There's far too much I need to take care of here, and I don't know if I'm ready to go out without my eye. I did it once because we were in a dire situation but the more I think about it…” Harry shook his head, clearly hating his weakness.

“I might actually have a solution ready for ya,” Merlin said with a small smile as he picked up his clipboard.

Before he could say anything else, however, the door opened and in barged Eggsy, as heedless as ever of knocking first.

“Harry, do you- oh, shit, sorry,” Eggsy babbled as he realized that Harry was very much not alone and that he was probably barging into a meeting.

“It's quite alright, Eggsy,” Harry said with an indulgent smile, forgetting to address Eggsy by his code name. “Though I hoped your knocking skills had improved in my absence,” he teased.

“They have, just not with ya,” Eggsy said with a wink, for a second forgetting that he had barged in and that that was a very not good thing. Harry didn't seem

“Did you come looking for something specific, Galahad, or-” started Merlin, because as much as he enjoyed the lad’s presence, they had pressing matters to review - mainly Harry's eye.

Eggsy blushed, remembering that this was not exactly the greatest time to be bothering Harry. “I - well yeah, I did, but honestly it can wait. I didn't know yeh guys were in a meetin’. I’m sorry I interrupted Harry,” Eggsy blurted out as he bit his lip, his cheeks still colored red.

Harry’s felt his stomach flutter at the utterly adorable look Eggsy was sporting but he settled his features into a bemused smile and detached eyes. Or so he hoped. “It's quite alright, Eggsy. I think we all could do with a quick break anyway. So, please, come and sit down. What can I do for you, my boy?”

Eggsy continued biting his lip, his eyes quickly traveling between Merlin and Champagne, as if making sure they were okay with Harry's decision. If they were upset, they did not show it, the two men falling in line with Harry's wishes with no visible effort.

Damn, they would make a bloody good team

Eggsy cleared his throat, sitting down on the last open chair around Harry's personal conference table. “Um, well, to be quite honest this isn't a work related matter. It's more of a… personal matter. I was kinda freaking out about it so I figured I’d ask now but it's not like-”

“Eggsy I will use a sleeping dart on ya if you don't stop circumventing. Get to the point, lad. It's not like Harry cares whether it's personal or professional. They're both equally important to him,” Merlin bit out, albeit good-naturedly.

Harry shot him a glare, feeling more than a bit betrayed at his best friend talking so openly about how much he cared for Eggsy. Merlin met his glare straight on, however, and raised a brow.

It wasn't like Harry's affections were a secret. Yes, Eggsy thought they were strictly platonic and Merlin wasn't going to correct that erroneous assumption, but he wasn't going to pretend like Harry didn't give a fuck either. The boy wasn't stupid. He knew Harry cared about him.

“Right, well, I wanted to see if you're willing to come to the state dinner Tilde’s parents hold every year. They throw this sort of posh party and then hold dinner and… yeah. I’ve mentioned ya a lot, so she want to meet yeh and so do her parents. I mean yeh don't hafta say yes but I still find that shit pretty boring and it’d be nice to have a friend there. Also, her parents are proper posh and yeh are like proper posh too, so,” Eggsy shrugged, still blushing slightly.

Harry's hands tensed against the chair’s armrests without much conscious thought, his heart clenching painfully at the image. It was painful enough that he had to let Eggsy go, but now the boy was asking him to meet the girl and her parents too.

And of course, that meant Eggsy would be expecting Harry to lay his seal of approval on the young woman. Because as much as Harry loved Eggsy in a very non-platonic way, Eggsy saw him as a good friend and his mentor. He obviously wanted Harry's approval and damn it all, Harry wanted nothing more than to withhold it, if only to be able to hate the young princess without also hating himself for his pettiness.

Because he knew once he met her it would be hard to hate her. He had heard it from Merlin and Roxy that the girl was extremely charming and, more importantly, she made Eggsy very happy. So, logically, Harry knew that, no matter how choked with envy he was, he would love her all the same the minute he met her. And for now, he didn't need to hate himself even more for hating the woman that made Eggsy happy.  

And, really, were he a lesser man he probably would have already debased himself into thinking that this was actually unfair.

“Of course I will go, Eggsy. Just name the date, and I’ll be there,” he heard himself say, though his mouth felt like led.

Eggsy lit up at that, grinning at his boss like he had just told Eggsy Christmas was coming early this year. “Thank you so much, Harry. You're aces!” Eggsy gushed as he all but threw himself into the man's unsuspecting arms, smiling against Harry's suit when the man finally hugged him back.

Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath, taking a small sense of comfort as the young man’s familiar scent engulfed him. For a second, Harry wished he could hold onto him forever and never let go, but he also knew they had been hugging for a little longer than what was proper at this point and he was likely the one to blame. And so he pulled away, not wanting to make Eggsy uncomfortable and offered him a smile.

“When exactly is the dinner?” Harry asked once Eggsy straightened up, pulling out his calendar.

“It’s in like, three months,” Eggsy admitted with a little blush. “I mean I figured it was best if I asked yeh early, because since yeh are Arthur and all, I didn’t want to ask ya too late. I mean they also told me recently but I’ve been kinda freakin’ out about it,”

Harry reached out, squeezing Eggsy’s hand softly, which immediately made the boy go mute as he held onto Harry like a lifeline. “I am glad you told me early, Eggsy. And don’t worry so much, I am sure you will do brilliantly - as always.”

Eggsy’s breath hitched at that, weak - as always - for Harry’s praises. It was like a pavlovian response at this point to have his heartrate go dramatically up every time Harry said something even remotely near to Well done . And it was just with Harry too, which was a little strange, when Eggsy thought about it. Merlin and Roxy and Tilde could wax poetic about him and he would do little more than smile and be pleased but when Harry praised him… it was like a shot of heroin straight to the vein.

“Thank you, Harry,” he said eventually, his eyes impossibly soft as he looked into Harry’s own.

The older gentleman swallowed hard, before finally letting go of Eggsy’s hand, fearing for a second he had revealed too much. “Yes, well, as nice as this all is, I’m afraid I can’t delay the meeting any longer, Eggsy.”

The young man nodded and retreated to the door. “Of course, Harry. Sorry again about intruding. I will see you when I come back from Italy!”

Champagne hummed once the young man closed the door, shaking his head softly. “Ya know, I don’t know if things are different on this side of the pond, but where I come from it ain’t exactly nice to ask a fella that is after ya to the weddin’”

“It’s not the wedding, it’s a state dinner,” Harry said softly, not bothering to correct the first part of the sentence.

“Ya, but I’m sure as shit your ass is goin’, as the best man no less, probably,” Champagne said drily, as if daring Harry to contradict him.

He didn’t. “What else do you expect him to do? He looks up to me. He respects me, and nothing more,” Harry said, his words tasting like bile. “What I… might or might not feel is completely inconsequential and is also not something he’s aware of.”

Champagne narrowed his eyes. “Well then you should reconsider what you teach your spies, Harry, because, as much as you might want to hide it, it's as clear as day to me. You're gone for that boy.”

Harry gave him a brittle smile. “You have had decades in the field. He’s had but a year. Also, he does not know how to read me well. He never has,” Harry said, his tone showing just how grateful he was for small mercies.

Champagne shook his head. “Have you ever thought about just telling him? I mean it's obvious that he feels something too.”

Harry scoffed. “Yes he feels respect. I am a friend, a dear friend even, but let's not delude ourselves into thinking more please. Now, we have actually important matters to attend, so let's leave my personal life alone for a while.”

Champagne sighed but said nothing more, knowing deep down that if Harry didn't want to tell Eggsy, then that was not his business to  meddle with.

Harry turned to look at Merlin. “You said you have a possible solution.”

The man nodded, not commenting on the prior conversation. “Whiskey and I have finished developing your new eye,” Merlin confirmed before clicking something on his clipboard to bring up a holographic image of an eye. “We’ve coded it specifically to you based on the sample tissue we got.”

Harry leaned forward, reading through some of the more prominent notes. “I'm assuming this is not just a regular eye?”

Merlin smirked. “Of course not. I made it,” he said as if that was enough of an explanation.

Harry hummed. “What exactly will it be capable of doing?”

“It will be a direct connection to our Kingsman database, so in a way it will act as an enhanced version of your glasses. It will also give you long range distance vision, infra red, heat and motion detectors, etc.”

“That seems pretty useful,” Champagne said as he took a sip of his drink, spitting it out after a few seconds.

“It will also be part of your biometrics. You will have a specific passcode and it will sense your heart rate so that if you are being blackmailed, the key code will not worked. That way, we can fully seal Kingsman’s files to you and me. No personal record will be accessible without your key and my key.”

“Will it send a distress signal if it recognizes that I’ve been compromised?” Harry asked curiously.

Merlin shook his head. “If the eye is either removed from your face or used against your will, it will self destruct.”

Harry blinked rapidly a few times, before finally saying “so you are essentially putting a bomb in my face.”

Merlin hummed. “think of it as your own version of a poisoned pill,” Merlin said, completely nonplussed.

“And here I was thinking the cold war ended over thirty years ago,” Harry said drily, but offered no resistance to Merlin's plan. “When do you want to have this procedure done?”

“Two weeks from now. We’ll remove some of the scar tissue and insert the new eye into your socket. You will have to stay here for a while since I’ll have to have you under observation to make sure your body doesn't reject it.”

“I can't leave the Arthur position open for too long, Merlin. We're already spread thin as it is,” Harry warned, still feeling nauseous at the very idea of the surgery.

“I will cover all Arthur related matters until you begin rehab,” Champagne offered immediately, giving Harry a reassuring smile.

“And with this procedure… how long until I can go back out on the field?”

Merlin sighed. “Well I can't give you an exact date, but with rigorous training, I would say we’ll be able to give you clearance for low level missions in about three months. I would say you’ll have to wait at least six months to a year to be ready to efficiently take on the type of missions you used to do before your accident.”

Harry sighed, rubbing his eyes softly. He wasn't sure what made him feel more sick; the idea of going under for the surgery, the fact that a foreign object would permanently be lodged in his face, or the fact that even after all that it would still take him a fucking year to get back to what he used to be.

It was the most frustrating thing he had experienced, and that was including the year long undercover mission he had had to take as a masseur.

“Make the preparations,” Harry said, feeling like he was signing an agreement for his own doom. “I’ll do whatever is necessary to get back on the field.”

Harry sat in the infirmary, feeling overtly exposed in the flimsy medical sheet that left his entire back uncovered and his ass bare for the world to see.

He would have felt humiliated had he not been as comfortable as he was with his body after almost 5 decades of having it. It didn't hurt either that he had stayed fit throughout his entire life. Though, sadly he had lost much of his muscle mass in his year of amnesiac inactivity - muscle mass he hadn't yet fully recovered although he was certainly pushing his body to its limits to get there in record time. The worst of the soft lines that had overcome his body during the past year were blessedly gone, leaving behind some more inconspicuous roundness he still needed to shed.

Though, honestly, any thought about his self image was currently eclipsed by a more pressing matter; his impending surgery. He had never before been afraid of surgery. He had had enough of them due to injuries in the field to be comfortably uncomfortable about the pain, and the smell of antiseptic, and the damn long recoveries.

But, while he was no stranger to surgery, he had never had surgery performed near his face or brain before, and, more importantly, he had never been operated on after a lethal brain injury that had rendered him useless for a year.

So, perhaps it wasn’t that he was afraid of the surgery itself. He was afraid of losing himself in the process. Anesthesia caused a significant amount of patients to have memory and cognitive deficits; add to that the fact that he was almost fifty and had had amnesia already… well Harry didn’t particularly like his chances.

And it was a terrifying prospect to know he might lose himself again. T

He had already lost all his possessions and his friends and his old life; his reality, as he knew it was gone, but to not even know what reality truly was again… he was sure that not having an eye was preferable.

But it didn’t matter what he himself would have preferred; this wasn’t about him. This was about becoming a real asset for kingsman again, and damn his own personal feelings about the matter.

“Arthur?” Roxy said softly as she opened the door to the room, looking worried as the man had not answered after she had knocked.

Harry’s attention was sharply brought back to focus and he opened his eyes to look at his new guest.

“Ah, Lancelot. Please come in,” Harry said, his good breeding kicking in almost immediately despite his surprise. “Is something the matter?”

The young woman took a minute to really look at Harry as she came to sit on the chair next to him. She noticed the faint twitch of his fingers and his dilated pupils, as well as the almost sickly pale color of his skin and the slight tightness around his eyes.

Harry was afraid.

“No, there’s no problem, I just came to… well, I wanted to see how you were doing,” she ended awkwardly, not quite meeting Harry’s eyes.

She, unlike Merlin, wasn’t close to Harry, not yet anyway. She respected the world out of the man, and, after everything he had done to ensure her and his best friend’s happiness, she also had more than just a soft spot for him, but they had not yet had very many conversations. She was aware just how much of a stiff upper lip Harry was, especially around those he didn’t know well, and she knew she definitely fell into that “not quite friends but more than acquaintances category” that made this a hard thing to do.

Because she wanted to be here for the man, but she knew it would be very hard for him to let her help.

“I’m quite alright, thank you,” Harry said stiffly, still trying to figure out why the young woman was in his room. He sure as hell hope it wasn’t because of some misplaced idea of weakness; he wasn’t sure he could handle yet another person treating him like he was going to break at any minute. He had enough of that in his own head.

Roxy rolled her eyes. “You know, it’s alright not to be okay, right? I mean… look, Harry, you’ve been through hell and back this past year,” She started, very deliberately addressing him by his given name. “You have lost so much… so it would be ridiculous to expect you to be alright.”

Harry sighed, unsure what the best way to answer was. He could pretend to brush it off, but that would only make him seem heartless, or he could admit how hard everything had been and appear to seem weak.

And, as his father had always taught him, that simply would not do.

“Well, yes, the past year has been anything but pleasant but... I’ll be fine,” Harry amended. “I'm Arthur, my dear. I can't afford weakness.”

Roxy shook her head. “But it's not weakness,” she insisted. “Not being okay, or feeling fear, is not a sign of weakness. You are the strongest man I know, Harry,” she said honestly, finally looking up at him. “I can see how terrified you are - I would be too if I had to have a surgery like this after everything that has happened - and yet here you are, ready to let Kingsman’s medic team and Merlin perform surgery on you. You put your duties to Kingsman and to saving human life so far above yourself that you are submitting yourself to something you clearly don't want to do. And, to me, that's real strength. That's an admirable thing, so stop being so harsh on yourself.”

Harry stared at her for a few moments, feeling temporarily dumbfounded both at her brazen words and at the genuine care he found in her eyes. “Roxanne, I need you to promise me something,” Harry said quietly after a few quiet seconds.

“Of course, Harry,” she said readily, happy to see the man opening up slightly.

“If I lose my memory again… If… If I don’t come back the same from this surgery, or if I start attacking people… promise me you’ll terminate me before I can actually hurt anybody,” Harry breathed out, grabbing her hard like a lifeline.

Roxy paled, Harry’s words punching the air out of her. As horrifying as his request was, She could see just how much effort it was taking for the man to show her his more vulnerable side. He was placing his trust on her. And it was a terrifying prospect all around.

“I will make sure you harm no one,” Roxy assured him, though she did not promise she would end his life. She would find a different way. There was no way in hell Harry Hart would die by her hand. Eggsy would never forgive her.

Harry nodded, looking slightly more calm, and then she patted her hand. “So, I take it you and Merlin finally talked?” Harry asked, both our of curiosity and out of necessity - he didn’t want to think anymore about the blasted surgery.

Roxy smiled and nodded. “He asked me out two weeks ago. We’ve gone out a few times now,” she said softly, her eyes shining with a sparkle that looked a lot more like love than just a crush. “He’s amazing.”

Harry chuckled. “Don’t tell him that, he doesn’t need the ego boost,” Harry teased easily, before sobering up. “I’m very glad you’re both happy. Just remember, your duties come first.”

She nodded and smiled. “Of course, Harry, and thank you for… well for everything.”

Harry nodded, before frowning. “I thought you had a mission today, Lancelot.”

She shook her head. “I leave tomorrow night. Though Merlin’s have me spend my entire morning reading briefs,” she said with a chuckle. “I’ll be ready by tomorrow morning.”

“You don’t have to stay here for my benefit,” he assured her. “I’m sure Merlin would rather have you ready yourself for tomorrow. Your safety is our top priority.”

She shook her head. “I’ve read most of it, and I can read while you’re being operated on. I’d… well I’d like to be here when you wake up… if that’s alright,” Roxy half whispered, blushing slightly.

She wasn’t sure why she felt so personally responsible to ensure Harry’s well being. Perhaps it was because the man was Merlin’s best friend, or perhaps it was because Eggsy wasn’t here to help Harry through it. Truth be told, she didn’t even know if he knew the surgery was happening today or if he even knew Harry was meant to have surgery. He had been on a mission for the past week, and, as far as she knew, he wasn’t scheduled to come back for another four days.  The surgery had been decided before he left, but Eggsy hadn’t mentioned anything, and it wasn’t like him to not talk with her about Harry-related things. So, Roxy assumed he didn’t know, which meant Harry had decided not to tell him.

Which also meant he had made the conscious decision to not allow himself to rely on Eggsy, even though he needed the boy now more than ever. And so, as silly as it was, Roxy hoped to at least be able to provide some comfort to Harry in his time of need.

“Thank you, Roxanne,” Harry said gently as he patted their still linked hands, looking up when Merlin walked in with Whiskey and two doctors in tow. If the man was surprised to find Roxy there with Harry, holding his hand, he didn’t show it. Instead he nodded at his friend as he stood to the side with Whiskey as they waited for the doctors  to prepare the IV.

Harry watched them, once again feeling the trepidation crawl up his skin. He did not complain, however, instead greeting all the newcomers before offering his left arm to the anesthesiologist. He closed his eyes as the man finally used the needle to pierce Harry’s skin, taking a few more moment to properly set up the IV.

Merlin stepped up then, Whiskey remaining by the door as they waited for Harry to be knocked out unconscious by the clear liquid currently dripping from the IV.

“You’ll wake up a new man,” Merlin said, half teasing half serious.

“I’ll be a true cyborg, like yourself,” Harry quipped, his body feeling heavier and heavier by the second. He closed his eyes, concentrating on Roxy’s hand, which was still grasping his own. He squeezed it one last time before letting his mind drift off into nothingness.

Eggsy walked tiredly, down the main medical wing, his shoulder still throbbing from where he had been stabbed. He had been on an undercover mission for a week and, even though he only had three more days left to wait to make his move, they had been forced to move the plans as his cover had been blown.

He still had no fucking clue how his cover had been blown, but he was sure Merlin would make him sit down and watch the entire footage multiple times as penance. He was also sure he would have to write a long report and both Harry and Merlin would chew him out later.

But, at the moment, he couldn’t be arsed to care. He had landed less than twenty minutes ago, and Merlin’s second had already screamed at him to get his ass to Medical - which was exactly what he was doing now.

Honestly, all he needed was a stiff drink and a good night’s rest. It wasn’t a bad injury, no more than a nasty cut. But, it was still somewhat bleeding, so he figured the most sensible thing to do was, well, take care of it.

He was stopped dead in his tracks, however, when he saw Roxy walking out of one of their recovery rooms, the bags under her eyes darker than usual, which meant the young woman hadn’t had a wink to sleep in a while.

“Rox? What are yeh doin’ here are ya alright?” Eggsy was quick to stay, all but running to her. “Were yeh injured? Are yeh allowed to leave Medical?!”

Roxy suddenly looked up, clearly surprised to see her best friend. “Eggsy!” She exclaimed as she smiled, all but running to her friend’s side to hug him. “What are you doing here? You weren’t supposed to be back for another, what, 3 days?”

“My cover got blown to shit, so I had to improvise,” he said with a grin. “Got me a brand new wound,” he said as he showed her his shoulder. So Helena sent me to medical.”

“Shit, yeah you should get that checked out,” Roxy said as she leaned in to look at it. “I’m glad you’re alright, though.”

“Always,” Eggsy said with a wink. “Anyway yeh didn’t answer my question, babe. Yeh a’right?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I was just here for Harry. I-”

Eggsy froze, feeling his heart drop to the floor. “Harry?! He’s here? What the fuck happened? He hasn’t even been cleared for missions! Is he alright? Rox, he-”

She grabbed him by the lapels of his suit to stop him from barging into the room. “Eggsy, he’s fine! Breathe! He had eye surgery yesterday evening because they had to implant the eye Merlin made for him. He woke up about two hours ago.”

“Eye surgery? What? Wait hold up when was this decided?” Eggsy said, his heart and mind still going a mile a minute. “Why the fuck wasn't I informed?!”

Roxy had no good answer for that. “Uh, they decided it two weeks ago, I think? Eggsy are you alright?”

“is he in that room?” Eggsy seethed, not sure whether he was more mad at or worried about Harry.

“yes, but wait, Eggsy,” Roxy said as she stepped in front of the door. “He just came out of surgery. His body didn't take particularly well to the anesthesia and he's got a really bad migraine,” she spouted, both her hands on his chest to prevent him from moving. “I can see that you're angry, but try to stay calm okay? He can't handle loud noises right now.”

Eggsy closed his eyes and took a deep breath, not sure whether or not her words were helping to make him angrier. Why the hell hadn't Harry told him? They could have scheduled the surgery for after Eggsy came back. He should have been the one next to Harry, not Roxy.

“I won't scream,” he said eventually, through clenched teeth. “Now, move, Rox. I need to see him.”

She sighed but complied, moving to the side to let Eggsy walk in, the young man not bothering to knock.

Eggsy's heart clenched painfully as he walked in, the sight almost enough to send him tumbling to his knees. The room lay in almost complete darkness, with the curtains drawn and the lights off, though a few rays of sunshine filtered through the bottom of the curtains regardless. Harry was in the bed, eye closed, with half of his face firmly bandaged. He seemed to be paler than usual, and it was clear from the tight fists his hands were in he was trying not to show just how bad the migraine was.

“Harry,” Eggsy breathed out, the instinct to fight leaving him almost completely as he was overcome by worry. He all by ran to the man’s side, not bothering to ask for permission to sit as the man’s eyes snapped open. He reached over and grasped Harry’s hand, his elbows coming to rest on the bed.  

“Eggsy,” Harry rasped out, surprised to see the young man there but welcoming his touch nonetheless. “What are you doing here?”

“A better question is why didn’t ya fucking tell me yeh had surgery comin’ up, you fuckin’ wanker,” Eggsy said, a hint of his rage in his voice. He shook his head, gently rubbing Harry’s hand. “I could have been here for yeh, Harry.”

Harry shook his head. “You had a scheduled mission, and telling you would only have worried you.”

“Yeh could have scheduled it for after my mission. I have a whole week of downtime to teach the recruits while Rox goes on her mission. We could have had it done then,” Eggsy pointed out, still feeling hurt as fuck that the man hadn’t depended on him like Eggsy would have on Harry.

“Yes, and as you told me just last week, Tilde is coming to visit you while you train the recruits since it might be your only free week for a month due to another mission you have coming up,” Harry reminded him, suppressing a grimace as the throbbing in his head only intensified.

“So? I would have told her not to come, then,” Eggsy said, finding it very hard not to raise his voice. “Yeh are a priority for me, Harry.”

“I think we both know she’s a much higher priority than I’ll ever be,” Harry said, not meeting Eggsy’s eyes for fear the pain the reality of that brought him would be visible.

It wasn’t something they had talked about before, but that didn’t make it any less true. Yes, Eggsy cared about him, and yes, Eggsy was loyal to him more than he would ever be loyal to anyone. But that didn’t mean Eggsy loved him, not with the burning passion Harry loved Eggsy, not in that all-encompassing manner that made Harry feel like he was being suckered punched every time he so much as glanced in Eggsy’s direction and he remembered that his boy be forever out of reach.

So yes, Harry was one of Eggsy’s many priorities, but he would never be his main priority. If he was, the boy wouldn’t have handed in his resignation in the first place. He would have never considered leaving it all behind. But he had considered it, and he had chosen.

And Harry hated that he had to say it out loud, that he had to use it as a justification, but what else was he supposed to do? They couldn’t ignore reality.

Before Eggsy could answer, there was a knock at the door and in walked Merlin, his unimpressed eyes landing on Eggsy. “Yeh need to go get that wound cleaned, now,” Merlin barked out. “And we need to have your debriefing.”

“Merlin, yeh can’t be serious. I need to stay with Harry,” Eggsy said, looking furious.

“You can come back once you finish performing your duties,” Merlin said, as unyielding as ever, his eyes giving away nothing. “Now get movin’, lad, or both you and I won’t be able to get on with our days.”

Eggsy gaped, looking ready to murder Merlin on the spot before finally nodding, looking back at Harry with soft, worried eyes. "I'll be bak later, okay? I promise." 

"Don't worry lad, he's not going anywhere," Merlin said, faintly bemused as he walked deeper into the room, rummaging through one of the drawers. 

Eggsy frowned as he approached the door, a part of him still not wanting to leave Harry alone. "Aren't ya comin' with me, Merlin?" 

The man shook his head. "I'll join you in our makeshift board room in about half an hour. I need to check Harry's new eye first." 

Eggsy hesitated again. "Can't I stay at least for that." 

"Eggsy, go get that damn wound checked now," Merlin said, his tone making it clear he wasn't joking. "Or I won't let you see Harry until he's out of this room." 

The man smiled as he watched Eggsy leave furiously, clearly still worried about Harry. He shook his head fondly, for a second wondering if Eggsy could ever see Harry as more than a mentor. It sometimes felt that way, what with the way the young man clung to Harry, with the way he looked at him.

Chapter Text

“I really like this maroon one,” Roxy said as she placed her glass of scotch on Harry’s dresser, walking back to the closet to extricate a vest that she then placed against her chest to show it to the two men in the room.

Merlin hummed appreciatively, resting his back against the bed to reach for the box of bow ties Harry owned. Once he grabbed it, he straightened up again, quickly shuffling through them as Harry finished fixing his hair.

The man walked over to Roxanne, looking over her picking, before giving her an approving nod and an amused smile. “Were this not a state dinner, I would agree with your picking. Unfortunately, I have to follow protocol,” Harry informed her with a rueful smile.

“Since when do you care about clothing protocol?” Merlin asked curiously.

Harry rolled his eyes. “I have always stuck to proper etiquette when at formal events, you know that. I just often refuse to attend them,” Harry said stiffly, which earned him a laugh from Merlin.

“Yes, I do remember Chester’s face the first time you informed him you would not be attending the state dinner after the royal house started issuing them to you,” Merlin said with a chuckle, earning a curious glance from Roxy.

“Do you always get invited?” She asked Harry, putting back the maroon vest and bringing out the white one.

“Since my father passed away and I inherited his title,” Harry said with a sigh. “Most of the time they coincide with my missions, so I have had legitimate reasons to miss it.”

“Chester forced him to go five years in a row. I don’t believe Harry’s gone since then,” Merlin said, still smiling.

“I went three years ago, Merlin,” Harry said with a roll of his eyes. “Honestly, it’s not like I am needed there. I have better things to waste my time on.”

Roxy frowned. “But didn't you say you have an older sister? Why do they issue them to you?”

Harry nodded, and smiled sadly. “I do, but titles are inherited by the oldest male heir of the family, meaning that she never got ahold of my father’s titles.”

Roxy gaped at him for a few seconds, a look of rage passing through her before she settled down. “My father's title went to me. I didn't have siblings though so I didn't really think… I guess that never hit home.”

Harry nodded, understanding. “Nowadays they are a little more lenient with who exactly inherits the titles, but my father was a Duke, and when he died a woman would have never been allowed to inherit that title - not if there were make children around.”

“Long live the nobility,” Roxy bit out sarcastically before taking the white vest off the hanger to help Harry put it on. “I’m sure Chester would be happy to see another Duke holding the Arthur position.”

Merlin snorted. “Bloody bastard is probably dancing in his grave,” he agreed. “I don’t think we’ve ever had an Arthur that wasn’t a Duke, to be completely honest with you.”

“That’s because we haven’t had that many Arthurs,” Harry argued as he allowed Roxanne to fix his bow tie, mostly because even though it had been two and a half months since the surgery, he was still getting adjusted back to having his depth perception back.

More importantly, Merlin’s eye was a lot more to handle than a regular human eye. The man had included in it everything possible under the sun, and two months was not nearly enough time to adjust to all the controls.

More than once in the past two months he had accidentally switched on infrared and various other vision filters, he had sent a distress signal to HQ, had unlocked various files at random which he hadn't known how to turn off, and had locked everyone but himself from the main Kingsman database (twice so far). It was a pain in the ass, if he was perfectly honest, but he was spending an inordinate amount of time learning how to use it probably, and even he could admit that once he was done retraining with his new eye, he would be more lethal than ever.

It was also nice to have Eggsy around more, if only because the young man felt the strong need to nag at Harry to make sure the man was taking care of himself. Harry wasn't sure if Eggsy was making up for not being there for Harry's surgery - a fact that wasn't actually the boy’s fault - or if it was because a part of Eggsy still needed to heal from having seen his mentor get shot in the face, and this was his way of dealing with it.

Either way, Harry was just happy to steal as many moments as was humanly possible. Every meal shared, every afternoon tea and training routine helped Harry fall deeper and deeper in love with the young man. As for Eggsy, he seemed genuinely happy every time they met, so Harry could at least comfort himself with the fact that the young man wasn't completely doing it out of a misplaced sense of guilt or, god forbid, pity.

Of course, he hadn't seen Eggsy in a week, as he had been forced to go back to Sweden, to prepare for the upcoming state dinner. They would be announcing the wedding between Tilde and Eggsy in less than a month, and they needed the public to be more well acquainted with Eggsy before the actual announcement. Which, all in all, only made this visit all the more complicated for Harry, for it would be almost impossible to simply blend completely into the background - not when Tilde's parents would no doubt be looking for him and when he himself was attending as a bloody Duke of a foreign country.

He just hoped he could keep himself in the quiet, darkened, unnoticeable spots in the room to avoid as many cameras as possible. That way he would avoid the attention, and he would be able to sulk in peace. The last thing he wanted was to meet Tilde and her parents. He didn’t want to know more of that cruel new world that was taking his boy away from him. He didn’t want to have to give his approval, and he certainly didn’t want to have a glimpse at the life that would soon be Eggsy’s - full time.

“How is recruitment going?” Harry asked Roxanne, searching for a distraction.

Roxy stepped away from Harry, moving towards the bed to pickup a silver case, which she brought to Harry to open with a scan of his eye. “Not bad. We let go of two after the first physical test, since they were not up to par, and we let three more go when they didn’t pass two consecutive tests at the shooting range. After the first major test with the parashoot, we let six more go. So, from the original thirty five - well thirty four with the one you kicked out on the first day - We are down to twenty three recruits.”

Harry opened the case, revealing a number of weapons, from handguns to small blades laced with poison, which he pulled out carefully and began placing them in their proper place on his body. “Anyone showing particular promise?”

“Well, your nephew is an incredibly sharp shooter, and he also excels in hand to hand combat. Eggsy’s recruit is also doing really well. He surpasses your nephew in hand to hand, and is a close second in shooting. There’s a girl named Chloe who is particularly good with covert exercises, and she thinks five steps ahead, so she can be a real asset to Kingsman. Jason is very good at intel gathering, so far and is incredible with a blade, and my recruit, Emilie, is also doing great in that department. She’s also a great marksman. Leo is not particularly good with guns, but he excels at pyrotechnics and he is extremely efficient at breaking and entering. He is also good at bomb disarmament. Oh and the youngest recruit, Horace, he is really shy and would probably fail at covert operations, but you might want to consider him for the tech department. That boy can apparently hack into anything, and is extremely efficient at reading body language.”

Harry hummed in appreciation. “So seven out of thirty five? That is an impressively high number. Let’s hope all six make it and we will keep Horace in tech if he fails his training.”

“If we manage to get all six of them, that will mean we just have to recruit five more,” Merlin said, almost looking relieved.

“I… about that,” Harry started, feeling two pairs of eyes fall on him. “I… for the recruiting of the Galahad position, I would rather wait until Eggsy’s truly gone to start recruiting. Also, I have been thinking about it and-” Harry suddenly stopped talking, not sure whether to continue or not. He knew exactly what he wanted to do, but he was Arthur, and Kingsman came before his own personal feelings.

“What, bench the name?” Merlin asked quietly, his knowing eyes dissecting his best friend.

“Well considering I don’t think we’ll ever find a Galahad that will save the world twice again - once from total annihilation and once from genocide - it feels a bit hollow to pass on the name,” Harry said defensively, feeling the need to shrug.

Merlin’s eyes turned sad. “If you truly want to discontinue the name… the decision is yours, Arthur. We can keep the table at eleven for a while, but, eventually you will have to pick a new name to enter as the twelfth.”

Harry rubbed his eyes, hating himself yet again for his weakness. It was times like these where he wished he had never fallen in love. He knew he was being ridiculous. It might feel horribly wrong to have someone else take over the codename he himself had used for decades, but that was part of the job. He had lost so much already, it was really silly this was something that was actually bothering him.

“I… we will keep the name unoccupied for a while. It will be reinstated eventually, I promise,” Harry said, reaching a compromise with himself, to ease his conscience.  

Merlin nodded, smiling as he saw Roxy squeeze Harry’s hand softly. Harry was distracted from his thoughts, however, by the ringing of the bell.

“I’ll get it,” Roxy offered, quickly leaving the room to get the door.

Harry didn't have to wonder who it was, for he had known Eggsy would be coming to pick him up. Harry had told him they could just meet there, considering he didn't want Eggsy to fly all the way to England just for him, but the young man had insisted. His excuse had been that staying active would help him deal with the nerves. Harry thought Eggsy simply was looking for an excuse to get away from the blasted protocol and planning, which, again, wasn't exactly the most stellar of signs.

But, taking all opportunities by the head and all that.

“Good Afternoon, Eggsy” Harry said primly once Eggsy walked into the room, unknowing of the fact that they had just been discussing his departure. Harry turned around and picked up the small white golden cufflinks from his dresser that bore his family’s crest, feeling the need to keep his hands occupied.

Eggsy smiled sweetly at the man, his eyes straying to Harry's hands for a few seconds before he approached the man. He hesitated for a second, clearly deciding between propriety and familiarity, before finally giving Harry a small hug as a way of greeting.

“Lookin’ good, Harry,” he said happily as he pulled away.

“You don't look so bad yourself,” Harry said, taking that as his opportunity to let his eyes quickly roam over the younger man’s delicious body.

Eggsy laughed and shook his head, thinking Harry's ogling as a mere jest - and wasn't Harry thankful for that. Eggsy stepped back then, only then realizing he had stayed far too close to Harry's person and would probably start making the man uncomfortable soon. He hid his awkward step back rather nicely, or so he thought, as he moved to greet Merlin.

The movement, however, wasn’t lost on Harry’s, whose look became unreadable.

“How come you and Rox are here?” Eggsy asked curiously as he plopped down on Harry's bed, next to Merlin.

“I had to go over a few things regarding an upcoming mission we are sending Tequila on,” Merlin said simply. “Which reminds me, now that you are dressed, can we get back to the matter at hand?” Merlin asked a little impatiently.

Harry picked up his drink and smiled, looking at the tail coat still hanging from a lamp by his bed, at the cologne still waiting to be used, and finally to his shoes resting by Merlin’s side. “I guess the fact that you’ve allowed me to get this far in getting ready means I should let you at least rant for a little while,” Harry conceded, resting his behind against his dresser.

Merlin smiled. “Alright, so let's get this thing going,” Merlin said as he clicked on his clipboard, a hologram springing to life. “We need Tequila to get intel on a gang that is illegally selling arms. They are using a strip club as part of their cover, so we are going to have Tequila infiltrate the place.”

“I am assuming he will be going as a patron?” Harry asked as he began reading the file they had on the joint which Merlin had handed him a few hours ago.

“No, he’s going as a dancer,” Merlin said easily, pulling up a video of the club itself. “He’s not bad with accents, but he has a lot of trouble with English dialects, and so it’s better if he concentrates less on the talking and more on the listening.” Merlin then pulled up a picture of an angry looking man, with a jagged scar down the side of his face. “This is James Clerk, also known as Scar in his circles. We believe he is the liaison between the dealers and the buyers, so Tequila will be tracking him.”

“Do we know which way he swings?” Harry asked, his tone almost clinical.

“Considering he’s a regular attender of a club where both men and women strip themselves, I would assume both, or, at the very least, he has no problem having a dick shoved in his face,” Merlin said bluntly, pulling up yet another file, this one of tequila himself.

“When are you sending him in?” Roxy asked curiously.

“The best window is tomorrow, as we have intel that they will close a new deal tomorrow, so Tequila can gather evidence, both audio and photographic. If all goes well, we might be able to close this case within a few weeks,” Merlin hit play then, the video showing Tequila moving flawlessly around the pole as he began to strip.

Harry watched attentively, unable to deny the sheer beauty of the man as his shirt clung to his well defined muscles. There was a hint of mischief in the man’s eyes that told of dirty secrets and delicious promises.

“He’s done this before,” Harry noted as he tore his gaze away to regard Merlin.

“He wouldn’t tell me where he learned, but yes, going from his performance he has done this before. He will be able to perform satisfactorily,” Merlin said, an amused smile on his lips.

Eggsy stiffened as he regarded Harry while churning the man’s comment in his mind. He most certainly did not like the way Harry had looked at Tequila’s admittedly well sculpted body. He also didn’t know how he felt about the fact that, going by Harry’s comment, the man had watched multiple men strip presumably at a club before.

He didn’t know if the man had done so due to his job, or during his personal time, but either way it made Eggsy ridiculously irritated and he couldn’t sensibly explain why. What Harry did with his free time was none of his business, and, more importantly, it was fucked up of him to get angry at Harry for merely watching some of the video of Tequila performing a striptease. He had no claim over Harry and, more importantly, the man wasn’t even paying attention to the video anymore.

Eggsy was pretty sure something was wrong with him.

“He will come by in the morning, Harry, to debrief with you and to discuss a few other matters, so remember to keep yourself presentable,” Merlin said with a twitch of his lips.

“Or not, I mean I don't think he’d mind either way. He’ll probably even prefer you being… comfortable in your own house” Roxy said, holding back her laughter - a feat Merlin didn't quite accomplish.

“Honestly, he flirts with me once and you two begin acting like this is the next big thing,” Harry complained, looking slightly annoyed.

Merlin shrugged as Roxy came to sit on Merlin’s lap. “My job as your best friend is to make sure you’re healthy and relaxed and maybe-”

“If you finish that sentence I will drop you from my bed faster than you can say Tequila,” Harry warned, looking entirely unamused, which just made Roxy and Merlin laugh harder. “Honestly, you two are children.”

Eggsy was inclined to agree, Merlin’s and Roxy’s comments not making it any easier for him to reign in his temper. He quite liked Tequila, he was a fun bloke who partied a little too much but who always tried to be polite and tried to get people comfortable. However, no matter how nice the asshole was, Eggsy was feeling a strong need to go find the man right this second and wipe the floor with his ass for a few rounds in the training room.

Yeah there was something definitely wrong with him.

“Eggsy you alright there?” Roxy asked as she frowned, noticing the tightening expression on Eggsy’s face and his clenched fists.

That snapped Eggsy out of his increasingly angry thoughts. “What? Yeah, no I’m fine. Oi, since when are yeh and Merlin a thing? I thought that wasn’t allowed in Kingsman,” Eggsy said, grasping at anything to divert attention from himself.

“It wasn’t up until a few months ago,” Roxy admitted. “Harry changed the regulation. Dating within the agency is now allowed, so long as Arthur first approved of it.”

Eggsy’s brows shot up. “For real? That’s great mate! I’m so happy for you guys. I can’t believe you ‘aven’t said anythin’ about it! We shoulda gone to celebrate.”

Roxy shrugged. “Well, with how hectic things have been, we didn’t really think much about telling people. Also, you’re never around anymore,” Roxy ribbed Eggsy, half good-naturedly, half seriously. “Whenever you have a break you are generally in Sweden, so there’s actually a lot that’s right in front of you that you no longer see.”

Harry froze, the double meaning in her words loud and clear to him, as they clearly referred to Harry’s increasingly notorious love for Eggsy. Honestly, he had expected the young woman to have a little more sense than to mention it now, in front of the boy. All three of them had silently agreed that it wasn’t something that they would ever mention to Eggsy, mostly because none of them wanted to see Eggsy reject Harry, nor did they want to make things unnecessarily awkward.

And yes, Harry could admit that the comment would probably fly over Eggsy’s head, but it was still an unnecessary risk, and Harry would certainly be giving her a piece of his mind later.

“I think I am almost done getting ready, so if you’d like to wait for me downstairs, that is fine, Eggsy,” Harry said with a small smile, pushing himself away from the dresser. “I will be there in a few minutes. In fact, if you could contact dagonet, that would be great. That way he can start making his way here. It’s early enough that we should avoid most of the traffic, but still, I would rather get to the airport early. It’s one thing for me to be fashionably late. You can’t afford to be late.”

Merlin snorted. “Fashionably late my ass. You have shown up an hour late to a yearly meeting before. Disgustingly late is more like it.”

“Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to,” Harry said with a smirk, knowing full well Merlin found personal offense every time someone dared use the word po-tay-to when near him.

Eggsy chuckled at the friends’ antics. “Alright, Harry, I will wait for you downstairs,” he agreed as he stood up, walking towards Harry to softly take up his hand. “Thank you, by the way, for coming with me.”

Harry’s eyes softened. “Of course, dear, boy, anything for you.”

Chapter Text

Harry fixed his suit as he waited for the car to come to a stop in front of the palace. He kept his face free of any emotions as Eggsy all but bounced beside him, clearly nervous. Whether he was nervous because this was his first state dinner as a soon to be member of the royal family, or because he had to introduce Harry to Tilde, Harry wasn’t quite sure. He assumed it was a combination of both.

He took a deep breath and extended his hand, half interlacing his fingers with Eggsy as a means to offer his silent comfort. He did not turn to look at Eggsy, afraid that if he looked at him now, with the yellow lights dimly illuminating the car, the close quarters, and Eggsy beautifully rouge face looking up at him, Harry would forget himself and do something they would both surely regret it later.

Eggsy leaned in closer, taking a few calming breaths as Harry rubbed the top of his hand in soothing circles. The young man couldn’t help a small smile from gracing his lips, feeling infinitely grateful for having Harry by his side, always knowing what he needed to keep Eggsy tied to reality. Every since the man had returned and had his memories jogged, he had been a constant, calming, perfect presence in Eggsy’s life. The man had become his rock, becoming a lot more tactile that he had been mostly for Eggsy’s benefit, and, truth be told, Eggsy was happiest in the man’s presence.

Yes, he adored spending time with his soon to be wife, and his mum, and his sis, and his friends, and whoever else he could think of, but there was nothing quite like spending time with Harry. With Harry… he felt safe, which was something he couldn’t say for anyone else. Harry made him feel fully and utterly safe, warm, and appreciated. There was no one, or at least no one Eggsy knew, that could actually best Harry in hand to hand combat or even on marksmanship. Harry was still the top agent Kingsman had ever produced, which meant that there was no way anything was gonna happen to Eggsy while with the man.

Add to that the calm and warmth the man radiated, just to Eggsy, it truly made the young man cherish their time together. If it were up to him, he would have Harry spend all the day near him, but of course he knew that was impossible. The man had many duties, and Eggsy was about to get married. They would see a lot less of each other soon - a thought Eggsy was avoiding with all his might - but Eggsy hoped they would be able to remain as connected as now.

He would call every day if allowed. He would find a way to keep Harry in his life. He had to.

“Your mind is off somewhere not particularly pleasant,” Harry noted, when he finally gathered up the mental fortitude to face the young man.

Eggsy turned to face Harry, surprised by how quickly the man had picked that up. He smiled at Harry, enjoying the way Harry’s eyes softened ever so slightly at Eggsy’s smile. “I’m a’right. Thanks again for comin’ tonight. I’m really glad yeh are gonna get to meet Tilde.”

Harry smiled at the boy, forcing a genial smile on his face. He dropped Eggsy’s hand, looking out the window just as the car came to a halt - much to Harry’s gratefulness. He didn’t offer Eggsy any response as he promptly made his way out of the car, coming around the back to reach Eggsy’s side just when the young man was closing the door to the car.

Harry gave him a polite nod and motioned with his head so that Eggsy could walk in front of him, considering Eggsy was the important guest here. The boy did as asked, looking back a few times despite the fact that he was absolutely sure Harry was walking right behind him.

Harry kept his eyes on the room, quickly and methodically storing away every piece of useful information, such as all possible exits - unorthodox and otherwise - the weak points of the building’s structure,  the number of wards and their resting points, as well as any and all objects that could be used as weapons should he need to kill anyone.

Once he was done cataloguing all said information, he turned his eyes to the front, just as Eggsy half ran forward to meet his princess halfway. Harry held back a sigh as he followed at a more moderate pace, offering the princess a tight smile as she approached him, grinning.

Harry bowed his head politely as he said. “Your royal highness, it is a pleasure to meet you at last,” Harry said, his breeding kicking in as he rose to his full height, allowing his accent to sound as posh as it used to be before he had decided, some ten years ago, to dial it down a little.

By the widening of Eggsy’s eyes, he assumed he had truly done a good job of not sounding so much like the queen before today.

Tilde smiled at him as she offered Harry her hand, which he took on queue, delicately and politely, . “The pleasure is all mine, your grace,” she said, not for a second forgetting she was the crown princess and as such had to address Harry based on his own foreign title. “Eggsy has told me quite a lot of wonderful things about you.”

“I am sure he must have exaggerated, ma’am,” Harry said, nevertheless looking warmly at the boy, who looked a little appalled.

“Must we do the whole formal shit?” Eggsy asked as he looked between them. “I mean… I know Tilde will be Queen but she’s gonna be my wife, and Harry you’re… well you’re family. Can’t we, I dunno, deal with each other like normal people?”

“Perhaps when it’s just us, but we’re at a state dinner, darling,” Tilde said, giving a sweet smile to her fiancé. “Protocol must be followed.”

Eggsy sighed but said nothing else, giving Tilde a tight smile when she squeezed his hand in understanding.

“Don’t worry, dear boy, you learn to deal with these stuffy events eventually,” Harry assured him, stepping just a smidge closer to Eggsy.

Eggsy snorted and gave Harry a wicked smiled. “Says the man that ignores all of the Queen’s invitations.”

Harry rolled his eyes, but was unable to keep a smile off his face. “I have a duty to Queen and country that I think she would much prefer I attend to.”

Tilde chuckled. “I’m sure she does. I certainly would be very grateful to have someone like you and your men in my service,” she said gently. “Anyway, how has it been, getting back into the swing of things?”

“Long, tiring, and slow, but eventually all will be sorted, ma’am,” Harry said, feeling how stifled the conversation was between them, but not knowing how to fix it or even if he wanted to fix it. “And is everything well here?”

“Yes! I have to make a few more arrangements for the press conference coming up next month. My parents wanted him to come live in Sweden now, but I managed to convince them to let Eggsy finish out his contract at the tailor shop. Still, If you can spare him for two or three weeks, that would be really helpful. That way we can pack our schedule for two weeks and get as many events done as possible, as he still has about half a year left where he won’t really be able to come and show his face much.”

If Harry was at all surprised by her request, he didn’t show it. “Of course, just have your people coordinate with Merlin so that any missions can be rescheduled or re-assigned.”

Eggsy didn’t seem to happy at her announcement. “Three weeks? Bit much innit?”

She gave him an apologetic look. “Well, the problem is that you won’t be living here in Sweden, and you really won’t have much of a public image for six months, so it’s important to show you around now, so that people know you are happy and excited to serve as their prince, but that you have other duties you have to attend to for a while.”

Eggsy did not fight her on it, but merely nodded and looked a little sullen about it.

Tilde turned her attention back to Harry, as any good hostess would do. She could deal with personal problems later. “Now, sir, I have heard you like butterflies quite a bit,” she said conversationally.

Harry nodded, tearing his eyes away from Eggsy to focus on the task at hand. “Yes, ma’am. I used to study them in my youth, and I remain an avid aficionado. Thank you, by the way, for the present you helped Eggsy obtain. It was quite thoughtful.”

She beamed at him. “I am so glad you liked them! I have a friend that collects them and my parents know a woman that has written a few books on butterflies. I will see what I can do so you can meet them one of these days. I am sure they would love to meet you.”

Harry smiled and gave her a polite nod in thanks but said “Unfortunately with my schedule I doubt we’ll find the time for such pleasantries, but I appreciate the thought.”

“Nonsense, I am sure we can find some time. Like they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If worse comes to worse, you can meet them when you come visit Eggsy after the wedding,” she said, giving him another smile.

Before Harry could answer, Tilde’s attention was torn away as her private secretary approached her to lead her to other swedish nobles, politicians and the like whom she definitely needed to talk to before the night was out.

The two men watched her leave quietly, neither feeling quite comfortable in the room and now feeling even more uncomfortable as the one person from this world that they knew was now busy. Eggsy turned to face Harry then, a question in his eyes.

“I don’t know if we’ll have much time for yeh two to get to know each other, but we’ll have to come back some other time so yeh can get to know her. This place is real stuffy, but she’s aces, I promise.”

“I’m sure she is, Eggsy. Either way, all that really matters is that she makes you happy,” Harry told him as he turned back to check the room.

“Oh look, there’s her parents. We should go say hi now. They made me promise I’d introduce ya, and they’ll definitely get real busy later.”

Harry didn’t respond, merely following the younger man who was once again vibrating with nervous energy. Harry wasn’t quite sure why. It wasn’t like Eggsy would want his approval of her parents, and he couldn’t fathom why it would be important for them to like Harry either. Still, feeling the boy’s nervous energy, he made sure to slick his hair back and straighten up, looking the part of nobility as they approached.

Harry watched with a small smile as Eggsy himself took a deep breath and finally approached Tilde’s parents, seemingly drawing up a persona as he confidently approached them and talked to them, keeping up his flare and charming swagger. Once he had managed to get the king to smile to him he turned back and looked at Harry, clearly ready to introduce Harry.

Harry, who had gotten distracted watching Eggsy perform flawlessly in front of Tilde’s parents to impress them, missed exactly what Eggsy said to introduce him, but at the expectant look from the King he stepped forward and bowed to the two royals.

“Your Majesties, it is an honor to make your acquaintance,” Harry said as he straightened up again, taking the man’s hand once it was offered.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Duke Hart. It is always wonderful to receive the Queen’s emissaries,” The man joked.

Harry gave him a dry smile. “Well I certainly hope I can do her Majesty’s name justice while here,” he replied calmly, feeling a little unsettled by how closely the queen was watching him.

The king seemed to notice his wife’s curiosity too, for he subtly turn to look at her, a brow raised. She smiled at the two men, a small, barely there smile, before saying “This might sound very strange, but I feel like we have met before. Doesn’t he look familiar, darling?”

Harry froze, cursing internally. He had really hoped they would not be able to recognize him. He had not told Eggsy this before coming, but he had actually met the King and Queen almost a decade ago, while on a mission. He had been sent by Kingsman for two missions that both luckily conveyed in the same place - Spain.

One of the Spanish noblewomen had been secretly engaging in an extra-marital affair with a british arms dealer who happened to be on Kingsman’s radar. She had decided to meet with the bastard after a fancy dinner party held by the Spanish King and so Harry, whose job was to catch him, stop him, and avoid the woman from causing a royal panic, had been sent to the dinner. There, he had met the Swedish royals, right as he single handedly incapacitated the arms dealer and mortally wounded four of the man’s henchmen.

He had not had the time to shoot them with an amnesia dart, as the royals had accidentally walked themselves into a trap laid out for Harry - whom the dealers had heard was coming, or more accurately they’d heard someone knew of their operation.

And so Harry’s mission had turned into a bit of a rescue-the-royal-and-hope-they-don’t-see-your-face game. Harry had managed to place them on a secure location, but his mission hadn’t been done, so he had been forced to return to the fray. By the time he had gotten everything sorted out, the royals were long gone - having been rescued from the sound-proof office Harry had left them in by their guards. He had considered going after them to use the dart, but Merlin had given him orders to hold. They first had to determine how much they had seen, to see if the risk of Harry going in was necessary.  

The royals had kept their silence on the events that presided and had never once said to anyone what they had witnessed, mostly because they had understood that the spy had been there to save people not to harm them; however, Chester had still been absolutely furious at Harry for not having administered the amnesia dart before letting them leave. Harry, of course, argued that there hadn’t been time, but he couldn’t deny it had been a bit of a slip up on his part. A slip up that had now come back to bite him in the ass, apparently.

“I… yes he does,” the king admitted after a few moments, frowning.

“I am sure you are mistaking me for someone else. I have never been invited to any Swedish royal event,” Harry said nicely enough, giving them an amused smiled.

The Queen did not seem convinced as she continued to stare at Harry, before a small gasp left her lips. “It was you! We met you in Spain, I am sure of it!”

Fucking buggering hell.

“Harry hasn’t been to Spain, not recently anyway,” Eggsy said, looking extremely confused.

“She’s not going to let this go, Arthur,” Merlin suddenly piped in, as always a presence in the man’s ear. “Roxy’s met the blasted woman. She is incredibly intelligent, has a horribly good memory, and is obssessive to a fault.”

Harry wanted to brain himself against a wall. “I think this is not a conversation we should be having when in the company of over one hundred dignitaries, wouldn’t you agree?” Harry said sweetly, though his eyes had a steel edge to them, which made the Queen think twice about contradicting Harry.

The king gave Harry an assessing look, before subtly nodding. “Why don’t we take this conversation to my study?”

Harry’s brows shot in surprise. “Now? Surely his majesty cannot leave the state dinner just like that.”

The man gave Harry a small smile. “I assure you, I can. I don’t expect to be gone for long, and I am sure my daughter can make my excuses. I believe this matter is a little more important.”

“Then do lead the way,” Harry said, never one to back down from a challenge.

The man nodded and began walking to the back of the room, thankfully uninterrupted by anyone. It was still rather early, and since no phones were allowed in the main hall, there was no way for Harry to be pictured with the royals. He had to thank his luck for small mercies.

“What the fuck are they on about, Harry?” Eggsy whispered as he walked right next to Harry, looking worriedly ahead.

“They had the misfortune of coming across me while on a mission in Spain,” Harry said in a hushed tone, to avoid having the royals hear them. “I saved their lives and completed my missions, but was unable to administer an amnesia dart. I had hoped it was dark enough that day for them not to recognize me, but alas it seems I have no such luck.”

Eggsy gaped at Harry, before his look turned furious. “And you didn’t think of mentioning this before now? Christ, Harry, if I’d known I wouldn’t have asked you to come!”

Harry kept his face free of emotions, not letting it show that Eggsy’s comment actually stung. “Calm down, Galahad. It isn’t as big as you’re making it out to be. Besides, it is better for them to recognize me now that at your bloody wedding,” Harry replied, leaving Eggsy looking properly chastised.

They reached the King’s study quickly enough, not having been disturbed on their way there, and Harry felt himself relax and enter into combat mode as soon as the door was closed.

“You saved our life once, but you also hurt many people that day. We were told they were nor particularly… good people. However, we were never able to find out who you were. You were a blank. Not a single security camera managed to get a glimpse of you. And yet here you are again, this time in our country, plotting to do who knows what and using my daughter’s fiance to get in.” The King began circling Harry, looking ready to pounce.

“Wait, hold up, Your Majesty he’s not using me. And he’s not-”

“Eggsy,” Harry called, giving Eggsy a single, warning glance to stop talking.

Eggsy looked frustrated but he stopped speaking as soon as their eyes met, much to the King’s surprise.

“Care to explain who you truly are, sir? Are you even a Duke?” The Queen asked disdainfully.

“Yes, I am,” Harry said, standing in the middle of the room as the King circled him. He felt a smile tug at his lips at the Queen’s comment. Of course his social standing would be one of the things that was first questioned. Chester would have liked this pair of royals. “And I assure you, there is no nefarious plan behind my being here.”

Harry brought up his arm, clicking a few things on his watch as he said “However, I am afraid this meeting between us should have never happened in the first place. So-” with that Harry raised his hand, pointing his watch directly at the king.

“What the fuck!” Tilde exclaimed as she walked in, freezing at the door.

Everyone but Harry turned to look at the young woman, who seemed ready to tear Harry a new one. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

Eggsy jumped up, grabbing Tilde gently by her arms as he diverted her attention to him. “Babe, he’s not trying to hurt them. It’s Harry we’re talking about, for fuck’s sake. It’s just an amnesia dart.”

“And why the hell does he want to use one on my parents?” She asked furiously, looking at the two royals who were pinned down by Harry’s steel eyes.

“Because apparently they have met before, and they recognized him,” Eggsy said with a sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Well can’t you just tell them the truth? You told me, after all,” she reasoned, her eyes still on Harry.

“I am afraid the fact he told you is a problem in it of itself,” Harry said, unmoved.

“Told her what?” The king said impatiently, not taking his eyes off of the damned watch.

Before Harry could answer, Merlin chimed in, saying “Arthur, you’ll have to bench this conversation for later. Apparently there’s a plot to assassinate the princess. A group of purity aficionados. They’re in the castle as we speak.”

Harry and Eggsy froze, turning to look at each other.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Harry said with a sigh as he put his watch down.  

“I’ll go,” Eggsy said immediately, confusing the three royals.

“You will do no such thing, Galahad,” Harry said immediately, his voice a clear command that was not to be disobeyed.

“But, Harry-”

“Galahad, you will stay behind. This is not up for debate,” Harry said as he walked towards the door. “We don’t know what we’re dealing with, and your fiance and her family need you to be their last line of defense in case i don’t make it back.”

“What the hell are you two on about?” Tilde said, eyes wide.

“One of our… handlers has just discovered that there is a plan by a crazed group of blood purists to eliminate you tonight,” Harry said as he regarded the woman. “Obviously, we are not going to let that happen, hence why I’m going to go deal with it. Now, if you don’t mind I need you to keep your family in this study, for their own safety, while I deal with this mess.”

“What in the world is-”

“You can ask for an explanation later,” Harry said, trying to remain polite despite his annoyance as he regarded the king.

Before he could leave, Eggsy stepped up, closing the space between them. He grabbed Harry’s chin, and made the man look down at him, their faces inches apart. “You come back, Harry. You hear me? You come back to me in one piece, you prick,” Eggsy said, his voice trembling slightly.

Harry’s eyes softened involuntarily, and he brought his hand up to hold the very hand holding his chin. He rubbed two circles on Eggsy’s skin, squeezing the young man’s hand softly as he nodded. He did not dare to look back at the princess, knowing that his eyes were currently betraying hiam and he did not need her to know how much of a fool in love Harry was.

The head of Kingsman turned around and walked out then, blinking twice to patch a private signal through to Merlin. “Let’s get this over with, shall we Merlin?”

“With pleasure, Arthur,” The man answered, a comforting voice in his ear.

Eggsy sighed, turning to look at the royals. He clicked something on his glass, opening a new channel with Merlin. “Patch me through to Harry’s line, will you? I wanna see this.”

“Galahad, that’s not a good idea, not with the Swedish royals still there,” Merlin said.

“Merlin, they’ve already seen Harry in action. At this point it will be just easier to tell them. They can keep a secret, a’right? If not we can just use amnesia darts. Just patch me through please.”

Merlin sighed, but acquiesced, the video opening up on Eggsy’s right lens. The young man hit the side of the glass again, the image turning into a large video as his glasses projected on the wall.

The King and Queen half gaped at the image, turning to look at Eggsy with assessing looks as the young man took off his comm unit and turned on his cufflink, which served as a speaker.

“Who the hell are you?” The king demanded from Eggsy.

“We’re kingsman agents - an independent spy organization that aims to protect as many people around the world as possible,” Eggsy said without looking at the king. “And Harry is the head of our organization, so please stop sounding so indignant, because there ain’t a better man in this world than Harry Hart.”

Chapter Text

“Alright, Merlin, where am I heading, and what am I looking for,” Harry asked, a hint of annoyance in his tight voice. He couldn’t believe how utterly shit his night was shaping up to be. It was going even beyond his own expectations of how badly this night would go - which, considering he was in love with the groom to be, they had already been pretty low.

“I am not quite sure yet, Arthur, we just stumbled upon this information by accident when doing a control check on the palace and came across an off piece of sound recording. We had no reason to believe the princess would be attacked prior to that,” Merlin explained, sounding as annoyed as Harry. “

“Have you done a full scan of the building?” Harry asked as he rejoined the party, quietly slipping past guards to pick up a glass of champagne, which he didn’t drink of, but was enough of a prop to make it seem like he had been there the entire time.

“Currently processing that,” Merlin said under his breath as he typed as fast as his hands would let him. “I have a team checking all possible zealot groups that might be behind this. It could give us a clue as to what - and who - to expect.”

“The king is currently in his study alongside Galahad and his family. Is there a safer location we could move them to?” Harry asked as he raised his glass of champagne towards his lips to avoid them being seen.

“Not without raising suspicion and, considering we currently have no information on who is behind this shitshow, I would recommend against it,” Merlin said with a sigh.

“Then I suggest you work your magic and find them fast my dear Merlin, an agent’s life is on the line - alongside the Swedish royal family.” Harry did not need to tell Merlin which one he would be saving if it came to choosing one or the other as the answer was obvious to both of them.

It took another six minutes - which felt like six years - for Merlin to let out a small clicking sound which Harry knew meant the man had found something. “It’s a small fringe group of nationalists. If the information here is correct their plan is messy and rather dumb. However, it will lead to a number of casualties if we don’t act fast.”

“Point me in their direction, Merlin,” Harry said, his annoyance growing by the second.

“They are in the cellars, underneath the ballroom, and they are carrying an armed bomb with them. Take the farthest door to the right and go to the library, there is a secret passage there we can use to get you to the cellar faster,” Merlin said quickly, smiling to himself when Harry began moving before he could even finish his sentence.

“Do you have eyes on the cellar?” Harry asked as he made his way to the library, aware that one of the guards had followed him in. Harry brought up his watch and switched the settings to an amnesia dart.

“Sir you can’t-” before the man could finish his sentence, Harry whipped around and shot at him, letting out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding when the dart hit the mark exactly where he had wanted.

His aim was finally back full force.

Harry closed the library door then, using the man’s body as a door stopper.

“I have some visibility of it, yes,” Merlin said, not bothered by the use of the currently fallen guard. “There’s eight men, all heavily armed, who went into the deeper parts of the cellar with the bomb. I don’t have eyes there, so you have to exercise extreme caution once you get there. The passage should connect you directly to where they are.”

“Where’s the passage, Merlin?” Harry said, not feeling the need to acknowledge the warning.

“Top right hand bookshelf, black cover, it says “the road to happiness” on it’s spine.”

Harry walked towards where he had been pointed and looked through the titles, his eyes scanning the wall incredibly fast. “Ah there it is,” Harry said, picking up a chair and placing it against the bookshelf before climbing atop it. He placed one foot on the cushion and another at the top of the backrest, essentially holding his balance, and that of the chair, solely on his toes. He pulled the book out delicately, hummin appreciatively when a set of double bookshelves suddenly opened, letting a gush of dust and air into the room.

He jumped down, bending his knees as he landed to avoid any heavy impact. He was very much aware he wasn’t as young as he once was, and taking unnecessary impact on his joints was merely foolish. “Can you hack into their databases, or must I bring one in for interrogation?” Harry asked in a hushed tone, not sure whether the sound would carry or not.

“Preferably leave their boss alive. He might prove to be useful,” Merlin suggested. “You can dispatch the rest if you so wish, sir.”

Harry did not respond, for, after a few minutes of walking, he finally arrived to the semi covered entrance to the dark cellar. Harry pressed himself against the wall, taking a quick peek to get a feel for the room. He took a body count, and tried to take stock of the situation, immediately noticing the bomb was nowhere to be seen.

He did recon three times, thanking heavens that, while he had not been allowed to bring his rainmaker, he had enough weapons on himself to end this quickly and, hopefully, painlessly for himself.

He pulled out his two pistols and checked the cartridges, loading them quietly as he took a deep breath.

“Cheers, Arthur,” Merlin said, his voice calm, almost detached, despite the fact that he was clutching at his armrests like his life depended on it.

This was Harry’s first real mission since the stint in Poppyland five months prior. The man was back in top shape, every test said so; thus Merlin logically knew he was at little risk considering how deathly Harry was. Still, this was his best friend he was watching go back into the field after a complicated eye surgery and, more importantly, after thinking him dead for a year. It wasn’t exactly Merlin’s top choice to watch Harry walk back into a life where he could be ripped away from Merlin’s side again, but the man had chosen to stay on as Arthur, so there was little Merlin could do to keep Harry from what he did best.

If Harry was at all nervous to be back in the field, he did not show it one bit. He walked into the room with his usual gentlemanly finesse, shooting down the first two men without uttering a word, before using the box he had spotted before coming in for cover. Harry stepped away from the box just as the men finally started reacting to seeing his two comrades fall down to the floor with headshot wounds.

Before they could shoot Harry down, however, the man shot down another two, forcing his breath to even out and his body to relax as he took the shots, knowing that his rising adrenaline wasn’t necessarily going to help him get a clean shot.

Harry rushed forward as the bodies fell, grabbing one of them by the arm and bringing it up to cover himself. He shot their leader, or who he assumed was the leader based on position  and body language, on both his legs, forcing the man to fall down with a painful scream.

He closed the distance somewhat between him and his closest shooter who kept putting bullets into his former comrade - bullets that were penetrating the skin and thus hitting Harry as well though at lesser speed and, more importantly, they were hitting his bulletproof suit.

Still, each bullets stung more than the last, which is why he grabbed the man's arm particularly hard, twisting it in such a way to give it a messy break before using the man's weight against him to bring him crushing to the floor thus knocking him unconscious.

He used his momentum to reach for the other goon, jumping against the wall and reaching over with his arms to break the man's neck before shooting the last one in the eye.

Once they were all down he pulled at the lapels of the suit, a few bullets falling to the ground where they had gotten stuck against the thick material. He was pretty sure he was going to be bruised in the morning.

“Two of them are still alive, Merlin, as per your request. Have an extraction team ready, we need to get them out of here quickly and quietly,” Harry ordered, bending down to check on the man whose kneecaps he had blown off.

The man tried to attack Harry, but, with a quick blow to the head with the butt of the gun, Harry had him down cold.

“I have a team en route right now, be gentle with them, Arthur, this is one of the new teams of the Delta squad,” Merlin indicated gently, the sound of his typing faint in Harry's ear. “The bomb is still active, you need to shut it down. We have less than five minutes before it goes off, if my signal is right.”

Harry cursed. “Where the bloody hell is it?” He blinked with his left eye a few times in the specific pattern he knew would give him night vision. He closed his human eye and began looking around, letting out a breath  of relief when he saw the bomb.

“I see it, Merlin,” he said as he ran past the dead bodies  to force open a small side of the wall in the cellar, coming face to face with the bomb.

“Fuck me, you won't be able to disable that model from where you are. I need to hack into their system as it's being operated remotely,” Merlin said, his voice taking a panicky edge. "Arthur, you must evacuate the building.”

“Merlin, this thing is going off in less than four minutes there is not enough time. There has to be another way,” Harry pleaded, a part of him already imagining how angry Eggsy  would be if were to die again.

“Are there any biometric requirements in the box? If there are, I might be able to hack it to function manually through you.”

Harry pulled out the bomb from the small cubicle, bringing it next to the knocked out man. “There's two sets of biometrics. Fingerprints and eye scan.”

“Fucking wonderful, get his hand read and place your eye. I will have to use your eye, Harry, and the connection might heat it up and it will definitely give you a headache when I process the information.”

“Merlin just bloody do it, we don't have time!” Harry said as he brought the man's hand to the box kneeling over so that his bionic eye would be visible to the scan.

Suddenly, his brown bionic eye lit up green and blue as numbers began running, the light of the scan making it all a little macabre. Harry grimaced, feeling the onset of a major headache settling in.

“It's manual again, disable it Arthur!” Merlin spit out as he furiously worked on his computer to keep it manual as its failsafes tried to kick him out of the system.

Harry quickly did as told, feeling like he was able to breathe properly again, when the numbers on the box suddenly stopped counting  down - stopping at 58 seconds.

“Done, fuck me, I thought I was going to lose you again,” Merlin revealed, his voice sounding terribly shaky. “Get that bomb out of the palace. We need to examine it to see who is behind this. The Delta team will get there in a little over an hour as there was a slight miscalculation.”

“I thought we had also found a team for Charlie and Bravo? Why not send one of those? They are higher up in rank, Merlin,” Harry said, none too pleased.

“We believe we have  one  team for  each, yes but testing hasn't been finished yet. More importantly, the 10 remaining agents were divided into two groups: 5 to Delta and 5 to Charlie. Two of the five I sent you today are seasoned agents. They were also the closest on call.”

Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. “Right, well, we need to get the bomb off the premises before that. We can't risk it going live again.”

“Talk to the King, I am sure he'll let you borrow a car. Finish your conversation with them  and get yourself to a safe location we will pick you up in an hour. The packages will be coming with you on the plane so you can monitor them,” Merlin warned him.

“Merlin, this one,” Harry said as he turned to look at the man whose hand he had just used, “this one won't last an hour. He needs immediate medical attention if we want to question him within the next forty eight hours, as I blew off his kneecaps.”

“Why must you always make my life more difficult,” Merlin said with a long suffering sigh. “I have a Swiss Kingsman med team en-route. They can take the bomb to the safe house as well while you clean up the mess upstairs. ETA ten minutes.’

“I don't see what there is to clean,” Harry said dryly as he handcuffed the two still breathing men together, putting them close to the bomb. “I must administer the amnesia dart to the two royals. End of story.”

“They have been watching this at Eggsy's request,” Merlin revealed, grimacing as he imagined just how hard Harry was going to chew him out for that. “Unfortunately, they already know too much, and it's better if they have some understanding so that they can keep quiet. Eggsy will be part of their family now, and his time as a Kingsman is something they can help us conceal if they know what it is and what they're looking to hide. Otherwise, the risk of exposure will be too high,” Merlin said, knowing that Harry would give no fucks about his reasoning.

“Spare me the logical bullshit. They are civilians, Merlin, and the fact that you gave in to an agent's whims is highly inappropriate. I assure you, we will have a talk later,” Harry said, his voice ice cold.

Merlin did not respond again, and Harry wasn't sure if that made him even more angry. Still he quickly made his way back up to the study, careful to leave everything looking exactly how it had before. He did not look inside as he stepped into the study, not turning to face his expectators until the door was closed behind him.

“Right, so as you know, there's two teams coming to clean up the cellar. I need you to have your guards steer clear of the entire area as my team works,” Harry said, all his politesse gone. “The med team will clear the bodies and the wounded ones will be taken as well. They will also be taking the now disarmed bomb for further study.”

If the King and Queen were going to remain alive with the knowledge of Kingsman's existence then Harry was not about to pass on the opportunity to make his life easier, at least for the clean up of this one job. 

“Who… I… yes of course, I’ll go make sure no one bothers them,” offered Tilde as an olive branch, knowing she hadn't exactly been polite to Harry before he had left.

But, really, could she be faulted for that if she saw a trained spy pointing a gadget at her parents?

Harry watched her go before taking a deep breath, turning to face her parents again. “I assume you have questions. I won't answer all of them as most information I handle is classified. As you probably already heard, my head handler believes you should be somewhat informed of our existence in order to aid us keep this all under wraps. It is solely for this reason that I am slightly willing to talk about my work,” Harry explained, his voice sharp and prim.

There was not a hint there of the man Eggsy loved spending time with. No half smiles, and fondly resigned looks. There was no heat, no mischievousness that made Eggsy's heart skip a beat. No, there was just Arthur, at the moment, the no-nonsense head of Kingsman who happened to also be their best field agent.

It was… a little disconcerting to Eggsy to see Harry so businesslike, but he couldn't avoid but feel a little aroused at the display. It never failed to do something to Eggsy to see Harry display such a dominant disposition around others.

And, honestly, he couldn't help but hate himself a little bit because, for fuck's sake, he was about to get married, and yet here he was, still a little tilted by Harry’s looks and his flair for the dramatic. It was honestly a mess, not that he was going to be announcing to the world any of this.

The king sighed. “You saved my daughter, my family, and our guests tonight. Your handler is right, it is clear to me that you are not… well a terrorist, so I will do my best to help you. But first, I must ask, is the young Mr. Unwin part of your organization?”

“I am,” Eggsy replied, a little miffed that the man was asking Harry and not himself.

“Then you can't marry my daughter,” the man said with a harsh look just as Tilde walked back in. “I will not have a spy marrying the crown princess. That is too risky, and, more importantly, even I can't prevent you from getting caught. Your face will be known, boy.”

“Which is why I am leaving my job,” Eggsy replied, biting the inside of his cheek to stop himself from snapping at the king. “I love your daughter, and, well, we have talked about it and we decided to get married. I know that means I have to stop being an agent. That's not the issue here.”

“Is this true?” The king asked, once again referring to Harry.

Harry raised a brow. "Why would the boy lie to you? Galahad will be leaving his post in six months. He…” Harry stopped for a second, his eyes falling on Eggsy. “He is one of my most capable agents, and his loss will be a great cost for the agency, but…” he paused again, trying not to look at Eggsy like he hung the moon and yet knowing he was failing at it. “I want him to be happy, and he loves your daughter. Ergo, Kingsman will let him go without question and without judgement.”

“Because you decreed so,” the king finished, Harry's enamoured look not escaping his cunning gaze. “That's rather generous of you.”

Harry froze, forcing himself to meet the King’s challenging gaze straight on. “I am not the master of his life. It is not up to me what he does with it,” Harry said, his tone turning vitriolic. “It's not about generosity, rather basic human decency. Like I said, he is in love with your daughter and they make each other happy. I assure you, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to Kingsman coming back to knock on your door. Furthermore, I can also assure you this boy will make a damn fine prince consort. He is loyal to a fault, and he fully devotes himself to everything he does.”

The man hummed, giving Harry a half knowing, half understanding look before nodding. “Very well, we will make sure to keep the media far away from his past.”

Tilde rushed to hug her dad. “Thank you, papa,” the young woman said, before she walked over to Eggsy and gave him a kiss, both of them looking happy by the King’s consent.

Harry held back a sigh, the sight feeling like a stab to the heart. It was wonderful to see his boy so happy, and yet this was a little too painful for Harry. He wasn't quite sure how he would manage to do this for the entire night.

“You should ask him,” Tilde said, loud enough for everyone to hear.

Eggsy froze. “Now?”

“What better time than now?” She said cryptically, pushing Eggsy towards Harry.

“Uh, well, right, I… well, I wasn't planning on doing this here, but, well, I… I want you to be my best man, if you're up for it?” Eggsy asked hopefully, biting his bottom lip as he stood closer to Harry.

In truth, he hadn't been sure whether it was a good idea to ask. Eggsy had other male friends, that was true, but no one meant as much to him as Harry did. Furthermore, by being his best man it would mean he could use virtually any excuse to spend more time with the man before the wedding and, while he knew Harry was busy, he also knew them man needed a break from time to time.

Still, there was the possibility that Harry would not want to do it, and he didn't want to bother the man - hence why he had put off asking for so long.

Harry placed his hands behind his back, wrapping a wrist with his other hand and holding it tight enough to bruise. If he had thought the image of Eggsy kissing Tilde was a stab in the heart, then this was like another shot to the head. It was torture to hear those words come out of Eggsy's mouth, because by saying yes he would be signing on to multiple hours of planning the best way to give his heart away.

If he said yes he would have a front row seat at the wedding to watch the love of his life marry someone else. If he said yes he would have to be the one cheering Eggsy on every step of the way at the same time as he tried to seal the open wounds this wedding was inflicting on him.

But if he said no he would disappoint and sadden the man whose smile was the reason Harry had come to this blasted palace in the first place.

“It would be my honor, Eggsy,” Harry said fighting against the sandpaper taste and blood on his lips caused by how hard he had bit the inside of his cheek.

He did not deny the boy the hug he so obviously wanted, nor did he complain when Tilde came and gave him one as well. He did not cringe away from the happy couple, nor did he grab Eggsy by the hand and kissed him on the lips when he felt that irrational possessivity he often felt when near Eggsy.

He also didn't run out of the room or act rudely towards the royals, rather he quickly said his goodbyes to everyone in the room once Champagne called him for their scheduled evening meeting. He apologized profusely before leaving, explaining that the bomb had created unexpected problems he now personally had to deal with - hence causing him to miss the state dinner. He did not tell them Merlin could probably take care of everything remotely nor did he tell them he had specifically asked Champagne to call that night.

His job was to create an image to keep Eggsy happy. Any self preservation techniques Harry employed were not the boy's concern. Heck, Harry's feelings for Eggsy were not the boy's concern in the first place. To Eggsy they were mentor and protège, and Harry had a role to play to keep that image intact. He would not ruin what he had with Eggsy, not until the boy was safely married and living in a different country.

“I trust I called at the right time?” Champagne asked, sounding innocent.

Harry snorted as he walked back to the main gates, making sure to keep himself away from video cameras. “There was an attempted murder I had to stop and a dirty bomb to diffuse. The royals recognized me from a past mission. Oh, and Eggsy asked me to be his best man after we calmed the King down,” Harry listed, his voice becoming more acidic as he went on. “So yes actually, perfect timing. You saved me from finding more feeble excuses to escape that shitshow.”

The man chuckled. “I told you he would ask you,” he reminded Harry. “He doesn't know how you feel about him, and he wants to keep you close.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Telling him would solve nothing, Champ.”

“Never said it would. I just said to be ready for when he asked,” the man said with an understanding sigh.

“I agreed to do it,” Harry revealed, not able to hold back his grimace this time.

“Of course you did,” Champ said with another sigh, rubbing his temples slightly. “Well, I’ll make sure to have some nice whisky with me that that for you.”

“This is why I so enjoy your company,” Harry said with a small smile as he came to stand at the front steps, waiting for his car to be brought out.

He did not need to indicate to the valet which one was his car, for he had already sent a signal with his eye to Dagonet, who was on driving duty for the night. It was only a matter of waiting now.

The man laughed. “Alright, Arthur. I will let you go handle this mess with the bomb as I assume you still have to have a post-case debrief. Keep me updated on Tequila's mission. Ginger mentioned he’s going undercover tomorrow.”

“Of course, I’ll have Merlin keep you on his feed so you can watch if you wish. I have to debrief with him in the morning. Shall I say hi for you?”

The car came to a stop in front of Harry then, and the man walked towards it. He saw from the corner of his eye  the valet rushing down  the steps down to try to open the car door for Harry. However, Harry stopped in his tracks and dismissed the young man with a polite nod and a generous tip, before opening the back door by himself.

“No, tell him to behave for me, would ya?” The man said, chuckling to himself. He had always had a bit of a soft spot for the younger man.

Harry smiled and nodded to himself. “Goodnight Champ,” Harry said as he closed the door to the car, which promptly took off, allowing him to leave behind the swedish castle and all the pain it caused him.

“Goodnight, Arthur.”

Harry half dragged his feet down to the front door to open it. He gave Tequila a nod as he moved out of the way for the younger man to walk into his home. He fixed the nod on his - new - red robe and scrubbed his face once with his hand.

“Rough night, Arthur?” Tequila asked, a teasing smile playing on his lips.

“I had a little difficulty falling asleep,” Harry said vaguely, not revealing that he had had a terrible migraine due to Merlin’s use of his eye.

That, on top of his idiotic woes of the heart had made it impossible to fall asleep until four or five in the morning. In all truth, Harry had considered just getting blackout drunk and getting the night over with, but he had known doing so would mean an even worse migraine in the morning.

There was a reason why he had drastically cut back on drinking since his injury. Well, more accurately since regaining his memories as Ginger had kept him bone dry for the entire year they had held him at the Statesman’s facility.

“Well, if it makes you feel better, you still look like fine wine,” Tequila said with a wink, laughing at Harry's surprised expression.

“Come, we’ll debrief in my study,” Harry said after a few seconds when he realized he could come up with no work appropriate comebacks. He motioned with his hand so that Tequila would follow him upstairs.

Harry placed his thumb underneath the doorknob, waiting for a second for the metrics to read his fingerprints before opening the door.

“Well that's a bit intense,” Tequila commented good-naturedly before stepping in after Harry.

“After what happened with Poppy, Merlin decided each agent's home would have a panic room. Since I spend most of my time in my study when at home, due to work, and this room is rather close to my bedroom, he deemed this the best room to serve as the panic room,” Harry explained, waving a hand to the right wall as he blinked twice, this revealing a holographic screen that showed all activity happening in a fifty mile radius of the house.

Tequila whistled before saying “impressive, boss. It seems Merlin is really keen to keep you all alive this time around.”

“He’s always been keen on that, Tequila,” Harry replied sharply, knowing the boy was merely jesting but still.

Tequila raised both his hands, in an universal sign of defeat. Harry gave him a half sign and a long suffering sigh before sitting down on his armchair, motioning for Tequila to sit on the opposite side. The young man did so immediately, resting back slightly inelegantly as he quickly spread his legs.

Harry briefly wondered if this was why Champ had sent the boy to Harry: to properly teach him how to be a gentleman. “I assume you have read the Intel and are ready to go in tonight?”

The young man nodded, giving Harry a small wink. “I know I might not look it, Arthur, but I always do my homework.”

“So I’ve heard,” Harry conceded. “Remember, try to speak as little as possible and stick close to James Clerk. Helena, Merlin’s second, will be supervising your mission personally. If you see an opening to get photographic evidence of the actual trades, take it, but do not endanger yourself or your cover as we might have to send you in again. You are fresh blood, so they might be particularly interested in you. Make sure the right targets remain interested.”

Tequila nodded, his usually mischievous eyes turning very serious. "If I find a trader there, should I attempt to bug him?”

“If possible, yes. I believe Merlin gave you all the necessary equipment?”

Tequila grinned and nodded. “Ya know, I thought we had some dirty things back at Statesman, but y’all have some pretty handy stuff.”

“We have the necessary equipment to perform honeypot missions, yes,” Harry said, half amused, “not that we use them all that often.”

“I’d have figured you used them personally,” Tequila teased, and laughed even harder when Harry didn't budge. “A’right, I got it, I have a mission today. I gotta behave and all that.”

Harry rolled his eyes but nodded. “Everything else you might need is in this folder,” Harry said as he passed him a manilla envelope. “You will have backup on standby, just in case, though I hope it won't be necessary.”

Tequila nodded and rose then, walking towards the door then. “I know this is technically none of my business, but you're a friend of Champ’s so… if you ever need to let some steam off, Harry, and need a training buddy or a drinkin’ partner or whatever, I’m around,” he said, giving Harry an amicable smile. “I ain't gonna pry, but I can see you are dealin’ with some personal shit, and I know how that can be so - yeah.”

“Thank you… Chris, I appreciate that,” Harry said, finally seeing what Champ had told him about the boy: Tequila was rough around the edges, and he hid behind a veneer of flirtation and carelessness to protect a golden heart.

Harry could appreciate that, and he could certainly appreciate the boy’s attempt to offer a helping hand when needed.

Tequila nodded, clearly happy at the use of his real name which, to him, was tacit approval to continue calling Harry by his first name off-field. He, after hearing about Harry from Champ himself, had a great deal of respect for the head of Kingsman. He also knew the man had sacrificed more than most agents did in a lifetime. And, more importantly, he knew Champ thought Harry could be a good influence on him, which then meant Champ thought the world of Harry.

All of that combined made Tequila extremely curious to get to know Harry a little better. He, like most agents, did not have a lot of friends, and always more than welcomed the opportunity to have a new person in his otherwise rather lonely life.

Tequila just hoped he could also prove to be a bit of a respite of sunshine in what seemed to be a, currently, very stormy existence for Harry.

Chapter Text

“You did not come in running, so I am assuming it’s not a life or death situation, but you didn’t knock,” Harry noted absentmindedly as he rubbed his temples.

Roxy froze where she stood at the entrance of his office, surprised by the utter darkness. She remained still for a few seconds, allowing her eyes to adjust to the darkness. She felt even more surprised then, as she found Harry lying down on his sofa, his head propped up slightly by one of the cushions. “Sir, are you alright?”

“Yes, Lancelot, I’m fine, just a migraine,” Harry said, forcing himself to keep his voice steady even though he felt like his brain was on fire. “I thought it would pass quickly, but it’s proving to be a stubborn little shit.”

Roxy tried to smile, though it did not ease the worry in her eyes. She walked in and closed the door behind her, swallowing the room into pitch black darkness once more. She walked slowly towards Harry, hoping not to run into any tables or chairs on her way to the sofa because it would not do right now if Harry was the one that had to help her.

“Have you taken your medicine?” She asked quietly, knowing that the last thing Harry needed right now was harsh lights or sounds.

The man hummed in agreement. “It has not kicked in just yet” Harry said, once again pressing his fingers against his temples.

Roxy nodded, walking to Harry’s desk. She passed it quickly and reached the small cabinet Merlin had recently installed in the corner of the room. She opened it quickly and pulled out a small instant-cold compress as well as an ointment. With her newfound materials she walked back to where Harry was sitting and said “alright, sit up for a second.”

“Roxanne, you don’t have to-”

“Shush, and sit up, Harry,” the young woman tutted, sitting right where his head had been before easing him back down. She turned slightly towards him and placed his head on her lap. She pressed the cold compress against Harry’s neck, before unwinding the cap of the ointment and squirting some of the contents on her fingers.

She rubbed her fingers together quickly to heat them up, before bringing her hands down to massage Harry’s temples and forehead with the minty-smelling ointment. Harry let out a small groan of relief as the young woman continued her ministrations.

She smiled to herself as Harry became pliant under her touch. It was a true testament to their friendship that he had not only allowed her to see him in such a weakened state without turning her away, but that he was allowing her to help. She assumed in part it was because she and Merlin were together, and, if there was one person Harry trusted, it was Merlin. Another part, she assumed, was because she had been there for this particular problem from the start as she had been next to him for the surgery. 

Harry had started getting migraines since getting shot, that was true, but the migraines had gotten ten times worse after the surgery, as his body was still not used to the sheer amount of visual information the new eye gave Harry. It was much more tasking to process it all, and, to make matters worse, Harry had to use the tech constantly, as it was his easiest way to access Kingsman’s database when away from his desk.

Roxanne knew the man was pushing himself hard, everyone knew, but no one had the ability to stop him because everyone knew there was no choice for Harry but to use the damn bionic eye. There was too much to do, and the man’s eye was both a blessing and a curse. But Roxy hated standing by and doing nothing, hence why she had poured hours of her life on researching migraines and ways to ease them.

Hence why she had stared giving Harry these massages whenever she caught him having a migraine.

The relief of seeing Harry relaxing was short-lived, however, as, not five minutes after she had sat down, Eggsy came barging in, file in hand. He stopped short just like Roxy had when she had come in a few minutes ago.

“Wha- Harry? Are you alright?” He asked, sounding very distressed. He stepped fully into the room, dropping the folder on the coffee table. “Roxy? What is happening?"

“Eggsy lower your voice. Harry has a migraine,” she explained, her whisper a sharp command, as she stopped her hands.

“Why did you call Rox? Harry you could’ve called me,” Eggsy said sounding genuinely hurt as he came to kneel next to Harry.

“He didn’t call me, I came by,” she said, forcing herself not to roll her eyes. For just being friends, Eggsy sure was jealous of whom Harry spent his time with.

Harry forced himself to get up, pressing against his temples before turning to look at Eggsy in the darkness. “How can I help you, dear boy?”  

“I just had a report to go over with you for a mission. It’s not coming up for like a week, it can wait,” Eggsy assured him, reaching out to grasp the older man’s hand. “Is there anything I can do to help?” he whispered, a tinge of desperation in his voice.

“No, it’s alright, I am sure you have a full schedule,” Harry said with a half smile.

It would not do to ask Eggsy to take over Roxy’s abandoned massage. It was one, inappropriate considering his feelings and, two, it was selfish of him to abuse of the young man’s goodness due to his own desires. He could want to touch Eggsy, and be touched in return, all he wanted, it didn’t mean it was right for him to use their friendship to get what he wanted. So, it was infinitely better - for his own sanity - to try his best to keep a semblance of a distance from Eggsy.

“You don’t have to push me away,” Eggsy said with a sigh, clearly frustrated. “I don't… I ain’t ever gonna judge ya. I just wanna help, Harry.”

Harry let out a small sigh, feeling a pang of guilt for making the boy feel like Harry didn't trust him to help. But what was he to do?

Harry reached out and softly cupped Eggsy's cheek, biting down on his own feelings. Before he could assure the young man that his thoughts were misplaced, Harry's door opened once again, this time to reveal Tequila.

“Must I put a sign at my door that says knock first?” Harry asked dryly, raising a brow to face the newcomer.

Tequila chuckled, his dimples showing as he walked in without a care in the world. “What's the matter Arthur, migraine?” He asked lightly, though there was genuine worry in his eyes.

Harry hummed in agreement. “What can I do for you, Tequila?”   

“I just oversaw the second to last test for the recruits. We are down to ten of them. Merlin sent me to fetch you, since he’s not sure how you wanna handle it. I mean he said something about y’all having one-on-one twenty for hours with them - which is a lot of time for fucking if you ask me - but there’s way too many of them for that.”

“We do not sleep with our recruits, Tequila,” Harry said with a pointed look but a half smile.

“Please, as if you’ve never thought about it before,” the man snorted.

And, thinking about it, Harry realized he couldn’t even disagree. After all, he had had far too many inappropriate thoughts about Eggsy while the boy had been a recruit, particularly after seeing his deliciously toned body dripping wet after their first trial.

Tequila just laughed at Harry’s silence while Eggsy’s eyes flashed with an emotion Harry couldn’t quite place - he just hoped it wasn’t disgust.

“Can we get back to the subject at hand?” Roxy asked while rolling her eyes at the american. “I don’t think one on one will be possible with ten people, Harry.”

“I told Merlin we could possibly do somethin’ like a pajama party with all ten. That way they can meet all of us and we can have some bondin’ time and shit where they can learn a thing or two,” Tequila said with an easy smile. “It’ll also be a good way for us all to check their strength and weaknesses to better asses them out there.”

“That's not a bad idea,” Harry admitted hating the fact that his migraine was not giving an inch. He was starting to feel nauseous. “I assume you want to do this tonight?”

“Nah Merlin was sayin’ it’ll be better tomorrow night so we can prepare it. Anyway you ain't feelin’ well, Harry. I don't think it's a good idea to push it,” the man said, his tone more a command than a suggestion.

“I assume all of us have to be here?” Roxy asked, making a mental note to add it to her calendar.

“That's what Merlin wants,” Tequila confirmed, eyeing Eggsy who suddenly looked a little worried. “What's the matter, ya got somethin’ better planned for tomorrow night than doin’ your job?” The man asked not too politely.

While he didn't have a problem with Eggsy per se, and, in fact, respected the boy’s work a great deal, it did not seat well with Tequila that he was leaving Kingsman. It was unimaginable to Tequila to leave his job to marry. While it was all well and good, cute even, to think of love and relationships that lasted a lifetime, their job was of vital importance. They made an oath when taking up the Kingsman and Stateman mantle. It was a life calling - and Eggsy was throwing that away as if it were worth nothing.

So Tequila had a bit of a hard time being kind to the conflicted young man  - or so Whiskey said.

“Tequila,” Harry admonished, giving him a sharp look.

The man raised his hands. “It’s an innocent question, Arthur,” he assured the man, as usual ignoring the glare Eggsy was sending his way.

“I will be there,” Eggsy said biting his tongue, not revealing that he had in fact had plans with Tilde to go out on a date as it was his only night off for two weeks and she was about to embark on a long trip as crown princess.

He had had it with Tequila looking down on him for his decision. Yes, he loved his job, and yes it made him sick to even think of leaving, but he also cared for his soon to be wife, and Harry had given him his blessing.

He didn’t need someone else questioning his decisions. He did enough of that on his own.

“Do you have anything prepared for them tomorrow night?” Roxy asked, getting up from the couch. It was clear to her she wouldn’t be finishing the massage. Harry would have to suffer through his migraine.

Tequila walked towards the door and gave them a quirky smile. “We’ll be playing strip poker, of course.”

“Absolutely not,” Harry said, giving the young man a long suffering look.

“Rox, I seriously think you are overthinkin’ this,” Eggsy said while trying to hold back a laugh as the young woman held up a fourth bra to examine it. “Harry ain’t ever lettin’ Tequila get away with playing strip poker. I mean c’mon.”

“I think you underestimate how good Tequila is at getting what frhe wants,” Roxy said honestly as she pulled out another pair of black panties. “I would honestly preferred to be prepared, in case we do end up playing. I am missing date night with Merlin to be there tomorrow so I might as well put on a show for him.”

Eggsy sighed, suddenly remembering he hadn’t yet told Tilde he was going to be ditching her the following evening her. “You’re so lucky yeh both work together and yeh still get to see him. Tilde is gonna have me balls for this. She has been plannin’ this date for like, a month, and I hafta blow her off.”

Roxy gave him an understanding look. “You should probably call her soon. The more you delay it, the more angry she’ll get. Or you can talk to Harry and see if he will let you miss it - though I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Nah, bruv, I mean I don’t wanna miss tomorrow night. I hafta leave soon and I wanna spend as much time with Harry as I can, yeh know? I just… I mean it’s not like I miss spending time with you guys on purpose and Tequila just-”

“Eggsy you can’t let his comment get to ya,” Roxy said with a small sigh. “He doesn’t know you and, if he wants to judge you, then that’s his fucking loss.”

“Yeah but this fuckin’ asshole is actin’ all high and mighty, tryin’ to cosy up with Harry while busting my balls-”

“You’re letting him get under your skin,” Roxy tutted. “Look, he is actually really nice when you get to know him. I don’t know why you two haven’t been able to hit it off but-”

“Oh I don’t know it might have something to do with the fact he wanted to blow harry’s fucking brains out when we met just to be a fucking dick,” Eggsy seethed.

“He was doing his job, Eggsy,” Roxy reminded him gently.

“I don’t fuckin’ care. He threatened Harry, and now he wants to act all warm and cozy and look down on the rest of us, well then he can go fuck himself,” Eggsy finished, clearly furious.

Roxy’s answer was cutoff by Eggsy’s phone, which started ringing. Eggsy took it out and looked at it, holding back a groan as he realized it was Tilde.

“Hey babe,” Eggsy said, mustering up as much excitement as possible. “How are ya?”

“Missing you, but otherwise good,” she answered with a chuckle, sounding like she had the phone on the other side of the room. “I wasn’t sure if you were still at work, since I haven’t heard from you since this morning, but I was actually booking our hotel for tomorrow and I wanted to ask if you’d like me to book us a spa night as well. I know we’ll leave my parent’s home late, since they want to have dinner and all that, but-”

Eggsy bit the inside of his cheek when he heard her excitement. “Ah, about that babe, I… I won’t be able to make it tomorrow.”

She immediately stopped speaking and took in a sharp breath. “ What?

“I won’t be able to make it tomorrow,” Eggsy repeated, rubbing his eyes. “We finished all but one of the recruitment tests and all agents are needed tomorrow night to spend with the recruits preparing them,” Eggsy explained.

“Eggsy, we’ve been planning this dinner for a month,” Tilde reproached, trying her best not to let her temper get to her. “I specifically asked you to ask this one night-”

“I know and I did ask for the night off, but we weren’t expecting to finish recruiting this fast. It’s not anyone’s fault that things had to be moved.”

“But why must it be tomorrow? Can’t they wait a day?” Tilde asked, pleadingly. “Surely twenty four hours won’t hinder anything.”

“Babe it doesn’t work like that, I can’t ask them to change everything for me, just because I have something to do,” Eggsy groaned, annoyed. “Besides, Kingsman is spread thin as it is, we can’t afford to keep delaying recruiting. Besides, this is just the first batch of recruiting. Harry still won’t have a full table after this.”

Tilde sighed. “Do they really need you tomorrow? You said there were two American agents. Can’t they prepare the recruits?”

“Tilde I can’t just not do my job,” Eggsy said, this time more firmly. “Yeah, I don’t like it either that I hafta miss our dinner, and I am sorry I have to ditch your parents, but I am still a Kingsman. I am already leavin’ all this in less than five months - for you. Can you please be reasonable for this one night?”

“Oh so now I am always unreasonable because I get mad when you call to cancel something we’ve been planning for over a month” She asked, her tone rising.

“You know I didn’t mean it like that, for fuck’s sake,” Eggsy said, rubbing his temples.

“Whatever, Eggsy, have a good night,” she said, her voice a mix of anger and sadness.

She did not wait for him to say goodbye to hang up and Eggsy, for once, didn’t mind. He didn’t really feel like saying goodnight at the moment anyway. He approached Roxy and groaned, hiding his face on her shoulder. “Why is everything so fuckin’ complicated?”

“You’re in a relationship with a civilian while still being an active agent - of course it is complicated,” Roxy answered, her voice not holding a drop of pity. “Now c’mon help me pick the lingerie.”  

Chapter Text

Harry walked into the room which they had prepared for the night expecting to find the ten remaining recruits a little bit intimidated at the prospect of spending a night in the company of not one but four active agents, their quartermaster, and Arthur himself. Instead, he found ten prospective agents sitting on a circle on the floor around Eggsy and Roxy who were regaling them with some tale or other, no doubt about a mission from their past year.

Harry had to hold himself back from following the recruits and sitting at Eggsy’s feet to watch the beautiful boy speak animatedly for as long as he wished. Thankfully, Harry did not even have time to feel guilty about his love for the boy because one of the recruits, a young woman, had looked up and had thus seen Harry - and now Merlin who had come in to stand slightly behind Harry. She scrambled to her feet, standing in attention as she no doubt remembered Harry’s little display the day he had kicked out the little cretin that had insulted Eggsy.

Every recruit followed suit, the air in the room going from fully comfortable to nail-biting in seconds. Harry was pretty sure he had never had such an effect on a room. Roxy and Eggsy turned then, a little confused, before they spotted Harry. They stood too, then, though neither of them tensed. Instead, they smiled at Harry, Eggsy having the biggest smile of the two as he approached Harry with a saunter to his hips that Harry was sure the boy was unaware he had. 

“Hiya, Arthur,” Eggsy chirped happily, stepping into Harry’s personal space as easily as breathing, without actually touching the man.

“Hello dear boy,” Harry said, knowing that he had used those words a million times, and yet, when it came to Eggsy, it felt like every time was like a revelation, like a little more of his heart was opened to the boy. “I see you started without us,” he teased.

Eggsy grinned mischievously. “Nah, bruv, we was just gettin’ a little better acquainted. I haven’t been able to train them much, so I wanted to get a feel, ya know?”

Before Harry could answer, Tequila and Whisky walked in, the woman looking as unfailingly professional as ever in her kingsman suit and Tequila looking like the flirtatious ass that he was, with his suit jacket open and his first three buttons undone.

“Ah, arthur, you came! I thought we’d have to drag you out of your office kickin’ and screamin’” Tequila said with a smile and a wink as he came to stand close to Harry, still finding it amusing to no end to see Eggsy tense up and glare daggers at him.

Harry gave the man a small, albeit amused, smile and a resigned look. “Well, Merlin did say this was mandatory though I might have to pop out later tonight to finish up some paperwork.”

“Man, you’re worse than Champ. At least I manage to convince him to take a break every few days to do somethin’ fun,” Tequila said, leaning closer into Harry’s space. “So are you gonna have some fun tonight with us, Arthur?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “I am still not saying yes to bloody strip poker, Tequila,” Harry warned, not thrown at all by how close the man was.

Tequila threw his head back and laughed then, taking a few steps back to give Harry some space. Eggsy, on the other hand, took a step closer to Harry, almost seeing red. How dare Tequila invade Harry’s space like that? Who the hell did the man think he was talking to? This was Harry for goodness sake, their leader and, more importantly, a man that didn’t exactly like people hovering over him. There were a select few whom the man allowed close, and the fact that Tequila kept assuming he could just do that was starting to grate at Eggsy’s sanity.

“Oh are we playing strip poker?” Whisky said, her eyes suddenly brightening. “You should have said something earlier, I would have brought an extra pair of underwear.”

“Hey, y’ain’t allowed to cheat,” Tequila said with a raised brow as he leaned into her now. “What would champ say?”

“He would tell me to bring same colored underwear to see if anyone fails to notice I’m wearing two,” she said, dead serious.

Harry scrubbed his face, not sure whether to laugh or hit himself against the nearest surface. He turned to look at the recruits who were still standing at attention, though they looked a lot less mesmerized and a lot more comfortable than they did not ten minutes ago. The conversation, it seemed, had helped make them realize that the agents, while impressive on paper, were still human beings with lives outside the mission.

Something tug at Harry’s heart at the thought of that. A life outside the mission… such a luxury he still had not been afforded in life.

He cleared his throat and stepped closer to the recruits. “Right, so, first I suppose a congratulations is in order, as you all have made it this far. You will be receiving your last test tomorrow. Now, not all of of you will make it, obviously, but to have gotten yourselves this far means you have a wealth of skill and you should thus be proud of yourselves. Generally, the last twenty four hours are a little more relaxed than the rest of training, as you get to spend them with the person that nominated you - whom you presumably know well enough for them to want to nominate you. Since this year nominations were a little different, we will be staying with you for the night, to answer any questions you  might have and-”

“And to play strip poker because it is our one night off in a very long time, and what better way to set us all at ease than to watch us make a fool of ourselves by stripping ourselves naked as we drink a few rounds,” Tequila interrupted smoothly, stepping once again close to Harry to give him puppy eyes.

Harry took a pause to look back at Tequila, and then at Whisky and Roxy, who both had hopeful looks on their faces. He then turned to look at Merlin, who had his poker face on and was thus unreadable, and Eggsy, who looked ready to light the room on fire for reasons unknown to Harry. The recruits seemed equally interested in the idea that kept being thrown in Harry’s face, though no one dared to voice their support or their distaste.


“Very well, Tequila, set up the table” Harry said with a sigh, shaking his head when the man gave a small whoop in victory before high fiving Whisky who only snorted.

Tequila shot a look at Whisky who moved quickly, grabbing Roxy on the way as she went out of the room to get cards and the like.

“C’mon Galahad, don’t be so grumpy and come help me get the liquor,” Tequila said, unbothered by Eggsy’s glare. “I might even let you take an early peak under this shirt if you carry enough bottles.”

“Must you flirt with anythin’ that moves?” Eggsy snarked at him as he grudgingly began walking with the man out of the room.

“Why? Feelin’ a little jealous that I’m not givin’ ya enough attention?” the man teased, chuckling at Eggsy’s eye roll. “Please, yeh are the same, so you don’t get to say shit, Mr. “Gentlemen like it a bit rough,”” Tequila said, imitating Eggsy’s accent on that last sentence.

He wasn’t sure whether he was trying to get Eggsy to hit him or not, but he was pretty sure the boy was considering it, which made this whole thing even funnier. Still, for the sake of keeping things civil, he stopped prodding the boy, and instead focused on getting himself to the cellar where they kept the stacks of whisky.

He passed a three bottles to Eggsy and took another four with him, giving Eggsy a wink when the boy shot him a look of surprise. While he was sure Eggsy would have generally approved of the amount of alcohol he was carrying, he also knew the boy knew Harry very well, and the man would probably not be very pleased at the fact that Tequila was clearly trying to get everyone roaring drunk and all that.

Still, this was their night off, so he was sure with a little wrangling, he would be able to convince Harry to look the other way while they all got shit faced. He was under no illusions that he was going to get Arthur drunk; the man was too proper to do that in front of the recruits.

They walked back into the room just in time to see Harry and Merlin sit down, side by side, while Whiskey took Harry’s right. Roxy sat to Whiskey’s right, leaving her right in front of Merlin. The recruits began moving towards the two tables that had been pushed together for the purpose of the game, all of them looking like they were unsure of where to sit.

“Just pick a spot and plop down your ass,” Tequila said with a wink as he himself took a seat next to Merlin, which left him on the periphery of Harry’s former blind side.  

While Eggsy longed to sit close to Harry, if only because this reminded him of his own twenty four hours where he had had Harry all to himself in close quarters, he decided to play nice and sat down next to Jamal at the other end of the table. Funnily enough, that left him facing Harry who was sitting at the other end of the table, regarding him with a look Eggsy couldn’t quite make out.

“Right, so does everyone here know how to play poker?” Tequila asked, his eyes sweeping quickly through the room. As everyone nodded, he gave a little smile. “Good, now, I do believe in fairness, so I think he should all be wearing the same amount of clothin’, yeah?”

“Most of us should have a similar amount, but in the spirit of fairness, the recruits can place chips until they have lost the same number of accessories we possess.”

“Care to count yer clothin’ ladies and gents?” Tequila said, picking up a toothpick from his suit pocket and placing it in his mouth.

“Will accessories count as clothing tonight?” Ginger asked, tilting her head to the side as she turned to look at Harry.

“Well, we do have all night, so they may as well,” Harry said with a sigh, still not believing he was allowing this to happen.

“Good, then start countin’ people, in the meantime-” Tequila grunted as he began passing around shot glasses and cracked open the first bottle of Whisky. “Let’s get comfy.”

“eighteen items,” Harry said after a few seconds, looking back at Tequila.

The man raised a brow, clearly surprised by the high number. “I guess we’ll all need chips to keep up with you. Why are you wearing that many things?” The man said, genuinely curious.

Harry rolled his eyes. “I carry a number of weapons as you well know.”

“And he’s a diva,” Merlin said dryly, earning a chuckle from Eggsy and Roxy and an eyeroll from Harry.

“Deal the cards and state the first piece you’ll be putting on the table,” Harry said, leaning back on his chair as Whisky began shuffling the cards, her eyes lit up with a bit of mischief.

This was going to be a long game.

Harry looked around the room, holding back a smile at the last minute. It had been a few hours since they had started playing, and the table had dwindled considerably in number. Of the recruits, only three were still in the game - Jamal, Jason, and Chloe -  as the others had folded when they had all come dangerously close to losing all their garments.

Tequila still had three pieces of garment left - his pants, trousers, and one sock. Of course, unlike most of the recruits, he did not show even an ounce of shyness about his admittedly well defined chest. Harry was half sure the man had lost on purpose to be half naked for the remainder of the game while trying to break down their one extremely shy recruit by flirting with poor Horace like there was no tomorrow.

Harry couldn’t wait until the recruiting was over and he could pair send Horace to their tech department. He was sure the boy would be both mortified and elated to be paired with Tequila on the field.

Roxy, Harry presumed amusedly, had done something similar to Tequila in playing to lose, for the girl was left with her underwear, her jacket, and her trousers. She was leaning back with a taunting smile, forcing her jacket to fall half to the side, thus revealing her tantalizing silk bra. Harry could feel Merlin twitching in the seat next to him, both ready to pounce on her and ready to take down anyone who dared look at her lovely form for longer than a few seconds. Harry was pretty sure Roxy’s current state of undress was the reason for Merlin’s own losses, as the man had begun slipping when her shirt had come off.

He still had his shirt, glasses, tie and pants on, but the rest of his clothing was gone, though, unlike the others, Merlin had preferred to get rid of the lower portion of his clothing first, as he did have a table covering his now exposed legs. Decorum and all that, Harry figured.

Still, he could understand Merlin’s distraction, as he himself was struggling with Eggsy’s own slow unveiling. Watching Eggsy take off his clothes piece by piece had not been good for Harry’s mental sanity. Everytime something came off and new skin was revealed, Harry felt himself lose another neuron in his struggle to not jump across the table and kiss every inch of skin that was revealed to him. The boy was gorgeous, every muscle a new expanse of land that Harry wanted to kiss and suck until his marks could cover the entire expanse of pale skin. Watching Eggsy take his shirt off had been the hardest, his pink perked nipples igniting the heat in Harry’s groin. It had been just as hard to take his eyes off of him long enough to concentrate.

Still, despite the distraction, Harry was still fairing rather well. Really, the only real competition he had left was Whisky, who had lost only two pieces more than Harry. The man had only lost his two shoes, one sock, his glasses, and his jacket. Whiskey had lost her glasses, three chips, and her sweater.

She seemed to realize as well that, in an hour or so, the game would come down to them two. She shot him a little amused smile and tilted her drink in his direction in acknowledgment, before she kicked it back in one go. Harry returned her smile, a vicious glint in his own, though he did not raise his glass to mirror her. He had already had a few shots and, while he had built quite the tolerance over the years, he did not drink as much anymore. His year in America, plus the time in recovery in Britain and the new eye had made him less willing to get piss drunk, mostly because the migraine that would surely come was not worth it.

He was still fairly certain he could drink at least half the people present under the table, but he certainly would not dare to challenge, say, Merlin - not anymore.

Harry let his gaze wander around the table again as they passed around the cards, his eyes finding Eggsy mere seconds later. It was impossible for Harry to look away for too long; he was inexorably drawn to the boy and his breathtaking smile. Not only that but he was so physically far from Harry at the moment, it was actually painful. Harry wanted nothing more than to touch, to have a little taste, but the boy was sitting a table away from him; it was ironic how closely it resembled to their life situation.

He wanted and wanted and wanted… and he could never have him. Doomed to watch but not touch, desire but not have, love but from afar.

“You alright?” Merlin whispered in his ear as he leaned in close, a worried frown adorning his features.

Harry gave him a stiff smile and nodded, picking up his shot glass and kicking back the amber liquid, trying to distract himself with the burning sensation.

Eggsy brought his drink up to his lips for the upteenth time, feeling his throat dry up in a way no drink could quench at the sight of Harry slowly unbuttoning his shirt. Eggsy pressed himself a little closer to the table, feeling a tingling heat at the bottom of his stomach.

The game had been fine, fun even, before, when Harry had still been winning like the master of poker he was. It had been a good four hours since they had started playing, counting the few bathroom and food breaks they had taken, and only Harry and Whisky were left in the game. Eggsy had known it would come down to the two of them, what with them losing barely any clothing for the first three hours of the game, but he had never actually thought it would get this heated.

They were both clearly playing to win and, while Harry had been holding the upper hand for the past few rounds - leading to Whiskey losing her tie, vest, and shirt, she was now retaliating. Eggsy was pretty sure it had something to do with her being embarrassed by the very obvious ogling from most men in the room once her shirt had come off. Eggsy himself could admit it; the woman was gorgeous and her delicate bra made her even more desirable. He had a fiance, and even he could admit to finding it slightly hard to not look at least once. Harry, being the gentleman that he was, had been completely unfazed, not even sparing a glance at the very near, very unravelled body of his agent.

Well, Eggsy had assumed it was him being a gentleman, until the man had chuckled at Tequila’s insinuation that he was getting too old to appreciate beauty when he hadn’t looked at Whisky and Harry had snarked back “On the contrary, I’m afraid every year that passes just strengthens my conviction that I much prefer dick.”

Eggsy had not been the only one to choke on his drink at that pronouncement, but he had been the only one to force himself to hold back a wanton whimper. He did not have a crush on Harry anymore, but could he really be blamed when the man went and said something like that? Honestly, to hear such coarse language coming out of such a prim and proper man without him batting an eyelash still did things to him.

Which was why watching this game was getting increasingly harder for Eggsy, in all honesty. Harry had decided to shed his shirt, watch and belt, in the last three rounds, and the increasing state of undress the man was in was starting to make Eggsy warm inside, and that really wasn’t something he wanted to touch with a ten foot pole.

Still, the man was wearing an undershirt which meant his chest was still fully covered even if his arms were not, so, small mercies and all that. Eggsy wasn’t sure he was ready to see the more than the man’s perfectly sculpted arms. Harry had lost a lot of muscle during his year in America but, after almost seven grueling months of rehab, he was back to his old figure - all straight lines and taught muscle. Eggsy hadn’t been there to watch much of the man’s training, but Roxy had told him it had been brutal to watch.

Eggsy shook his head, forcing himself to clear his mind by getting his phone out and text his fiancee as he technically didn’t have to watch anymore, considering he had folded long ago. He smiled to himself at her antics as she quickly answered his initial greeting, their conversation continuing from before where she had been telling him about a stuffy meeting she had had to attend. In his placid amusement he missed the way Harry looked back at him as he had periodically throughout the night, the man’s eyes turning sad and drawn when he noticed Eggsy absorbed in his phone.

The older gentleman did not comment, instead purposefully losing the next two rounds - thus losing his undershirt and his remaining holster - in order to be able to fold without drawing suspicion as to why he was folding. It was perfectly acceptable for the head of Kingsman to fold once he was left without a shirt - after all, that was more of an eyeful he was usually comfortable giving his recruits.

As he conceded he stood up and extended his hand to grasp Whisky’s own, bringing her delicate hand up to kiss her knuckles. “I look forward to a rematch, my dear, though perhaps next time we can try it with our clothes on,” Harry drawled out.

Eggsy looked up then, surprised that the match was ending already. He sucked in a small breath when he noticed Harry was no longer wearing a shirt, leaving his handsome frame out for everyone to perview. The man had a lovely, well defined chest, with salt and pepper hair and more than a few scars adorning his muscles. Still, no scar was overtly gruesome, and, truly, they only added to Harry’s dark allure.

“Surely you’re not giving up now, Arthur?” Tequila drawled out, a flirtatious smile plastered on his life. “The show was just starting to get interesting.”

Harry smirked. “As much as I’d love to put your body to shame by disrobing, Tequila, I do have a meeting with Champ I cannot ignore.” Harry smiled at the disappointed looks from his agents. “Cheer up, I will be back in about an hour. I am sure you can continue entertaining one another in the meantime,” Harry said nonchalantly as he picked up his clothing with one hand, walking out of the room with one last longing look at the beautiful boy that had stolen his heart a long time ago.

True to his word, Harry returned - fully dressed though without his jacket - about an hour later, feeling weary to the bone. Chatting with Champ was always enjoyable, but when they had to discuss budgets, preventative crisis measures, and other long and complicated topics, it always left Harry feeling a little tired at the mere thought of all he had yet to do.

Kingsman was just getting its foundations rebuilt again, and yet he and Champ already had to discuss the 10 year plan, because as the heads of their respective agencies, they had a duty to see to the future of their networks. It was a marathon, not a sprint, but Harry wasn’t exactly thrilled for the road ahead, if he was completely honest.

At least he had Champ on his side; otherwise, the prospect of a rather isolated, lonely, and grueling rest of his existence was not very appetizing.

Harry walked to where the recruits and his agents had relocated, to be near the chimney in the room. They were all either sprawled on cushions on the floor or on some chairs they had bought from who knows where. Harry picked one of the comfy chairs nearest to the fire, which coincidentally placed him rather close to his former protege. Eggsy smiled at him as he saw the man approach him, making Harry’s heart stutter in his chest.

Harry returned the smile and extended his hand, squeezing Eggsy’s knee as he went to sit down, relishing the moment of contact more than what was proper. “What did I miss?” Harry asked, looking for a distraction.

“Well, you did say that their 24 hours had to be at least somewhat productive, so we were just answering questions,” Eggsy explained, leaning back in his seat as he looked to his right to look at Harry.

Harry nodded, laying both his hands on the respective armrests, leaving his hands hanging lax in the air. He was more than aware that he only needed to reach slightly further to be able to touch Eggsy’s forearm, but he did nothing of the sort. Instead he looked down at where the recruits were sitting and waved his hands. “Well then don’t let me interrupt you. Do continue asking your questions.”

Jamal looked back at Eggsy. “How often do you tend to lose people? And… well how do you handle it?” He asked, a shadow of a personal story Harry wasn’t sure he wanted to hear crossing the young man’s eyes.

Understanding shot through Eggsy’s eyes and he sighed as he turned to look at his friend. “There’s no set rate. I mean there’s been times Kingsman has kept the same decades for years, and then there’s been times when... “ Eggsy struggled to finish his sentence. “Everyone of us has lost people,” He said after a minute of trying to gather his thoughts. “Some have lost more than others. I think to me the worst was when Arthur-” Eggsy started, forgetting for a second he was with other people other than his friend as the memories washed inside of him.

He turned to look at his mentor, his breath all but leaving him at the sight of Harry’s gleaming bionic eye. The reminder of the loss of Harry’s eye was enough to send Eggsy down memory lane, when he had thought the man dead. He could still remember how utterly cold he had felt every moment of every miserable day. No matter what he did, no matter how often he went out with his friends, or how often he curled up happily with his lover, he always felt cold - like a piece of himself was missing.

He had felt so lost for the first month, unable to let go of even the smallest thing, because Harry dead meant that Eggsy himself could not go on.

“Galahad?” Harry asked, sitting up straight as the boy sat frozen, his breaths becoming erratic. The boy shook his head, clearly trying to claw out of whatever it was that was accosting him, but with no success.

Eggsy stood up on unsteady feet then, shaking hard as he all but ran out of the room, his vision blurring as he forgot how to breathe. Harry jumped to his feet immediately, following the young man out of the room without looking back. He did not notice that the door had been left open, nor did he notice that the recruits were still watching them, for all he cared about was the boy in front of him, who was clearly not holding up.

He grabbed Eggsy by the hand and whirled him around, before placing both of his hands on Eggsy’s shoulders. “Eggsy, darling, please you need to breathe,” Harry said in a soothing voice, keeping his hands on the boy’s shoulders to keep him grounded.

“You died,” Eggsy choked out, letting out the truth for the first time in front of the man. “You died and I… You died.” He repeated as a sob escaped him, and he tried to turn away, but Harry wouldn’t let him.

Harry looked horrified for a second, before sadness and guilt swept through him. He had heard his death had affected the boy, of course - Merlin had said so himself - but he had honestly believed the boy was over it. He had shown every sign of moving on. Harry hadn’t thought they needed to have a conversation about this because… well, because he had never been an essential part of Eggsy’s life. He still wasn’t, but he could understand that, being the first person to believe in the boy in a long time had left a mark, and thus losing Harry had been hard for Eggsy.

Harry brought Eggsy closer, easily engulfing the young man in a tight hug. Eggsy buried his head in Harry’s neck, the man’s cologne a comforting scent. Harry ran one hand up and down Eggsy’s back, while he buried the other in Eggsy’s luscious hair, petting him softly. “I’m sorry I did not come home, Eggsy,” He started, his voice barely above a whisper. “You know if I could have I would have. I am especially sorry for having hurt you with my words before I left you.” He said, feeling Eggsy sagging against him after a few minutes as the boy finally began calming down, though he was clearly still unwilling to let go. “I.. I am here now, though, and I am not planning on going anywhere.”

Even if you are Harry thought, though he did not voice it, knowing was not the time to bring up the fact that in just a few short months Eggsy would be leaving, destroying the one relationship Harry cared for most in the world. And Harry would have a front row ticket for the whole show.

Harry sighed, leaning slightly back to kiss Eggsy’s forehead, allowing himself to steal the moment mostly because he knew this would likely be the last time he was given something so precious.

Eggsy nodded and sighed, finally getting a grip on himself. “I… thanks, Harry. And sorry about that, I don’t know what came over me,” the boy admitted, blushing slightly. He could not believe he had just cried on Harry hart.

Harry stepped back then, seeing the budding discomfort in the young man’s face. “There’s nothing to apologize for, Eggsy. You have lost much in the past two years. It is normal that occasionally the memories overwhelm you. I am sure you might have an episode similar to this one day when remembering other colleagues we’ve lost,” Harry said goodnaturedly, almost as if to test whether Eggsy’s outburst was really about him or just accumulated grief.

It was no wonder then that Harry felt a bit of him break when the boy nodded, happy with the explanation - with the out - Harry had provided. “Yeah, I lost my shit the other day at the range when I remembered Perce,” Eggsy said with a wince, rubbing the back of his neck. “Still… I try not to burst out like that in public.”

Harry nodded, placing a mask firmly in place to avoid showing the hurt accosting him at yet another piece of evidence showing him that he was indeed alone in his feelings. “I do believe we should return, though if you prefer to take the rest of the evening off, perhaps even go home to your fiancee, that would be acceptable too.”

“Nah, It’s okay, I’ll see her tomorrow,” Eggsy said with a wink, still looking awkward, before he gave Harry a small nod and all but ran into the room. He had not wanted Harry to see him as weak, and now he had gone ahead and fucking cried on the man.

What a mess.

Harry remained where he stood, frozen, for a few more seconds, before taking a deep breath. He closed his eyes and pushed the hurt away, locking it in the piling dark room of his heart he had labelled Eggsy that he would not touch until the boy was gone. When he was done compartmentalizing, he whipped up a charming smile and walked back into the room, ignoring the worried glances Merlin kept throwing his way.

Chapter Text

Harry reviewed the files one more time, picking up his now lukewarm cup of tea as he also picked up the next report with the other hand. They had finally finished the selection process. Out of the last ten candidates, six had made it past the final test. As Roxy had predicted, Horace had made it to the end but, when given the option, the boy had jumped at the opportunity to join Merlin’s department. He wasn’t truly comfortable with the idea of being an agent and, after a chat with Merlin and Harry in Harry’s office, the young man had made his choice to join the tech branch.

Merlin had decided to personally oversee Horace’s new training and subsequent placement. He showed great promise, and it wasn’t often that Merlin found such potential. He already had one second in command, Tim, but it didn’t hurt to start training someone else to be Tim’s right hand in, say, twenty to thirty years time. It was vital to have the next quartermaster ready to step up to the plate.

Since recruiting had been so different from usual this time around, none of the candidates had been going for a specific position. Thus, it was now Harry’s and Merlin’s job to sort them into positions to formally welcome them into Kingsman as agents. They also had to clear them all individually to enter into different areas of expertise based on their testing. That meant their training was far from over - in fact, a Kingsman never really stopped training - but at least they could now be secure they were part of one of the most prestigious spy agencies in the world. It was turning out to be a lot harder than Harry had expected, as he had known all the previous agents rather well. It was strange to be sitting in Arthur’s place at the head of the table, trying his best to ignore the ghosts of his friends and colleagues to select half of the new generation of Kingsman agents that would serve not alongside him but rather under his command.

Merlin walked into the conference room then, clipboard in hand as well as a bottle of scotch and two glasses. Harry gave him a long suffering yet fond look as the man poured the drinks and sat next to Harry using the clipboard to pull up the agents’ files on the screen. Neither needed to say anything to know that Merlin wasn’t only there because this was his job but rather to give Harry some moral support.

He adjusted his glasses slightly as he turned to the side to half face the screen. “If we finish this today, we can have them inducted and get their measurements so we can start making their new suits tomorrow. We can also formally introduce them to the table tonight. Galahad, Lancelot, Tequila and Whisky have been notified that their presence is required tonight, and their schedules have been cleared.”

Harry nodded, taking a small sip of his drink. “I have made a preliminary list of which name should go to which agent, but I’d prefer if you review it.”

Merlin nodded, opening his palm for Harry to pass him the papers. The man had to reach over to do so but Harry, as usual, moved with the same grace that had been browbeaten into him since childhood. Merlin looked over the documents, smiling softly as he noticed Harry had picked Emilie - Roxy’s recruit - to be the new Percival. He knew their friend would have been happy with that choice. Not only was it a woman, something Charles - now the late Percival - had wanted more of in the agency, but the girl was also Roxy’s friend, which meant that the title would still be held by someone that cared about the young woman. Merlin noticed too that Harry had assigned the codename Gawain to his own nephew and, for a moment, he wondered if it was a good idea. Harry had looked up a hell of a lot to Elliot, especially when he had first become an agent, and the dead man was leaving behind quite big shoes to fill. It wasn’t necessarily that Merlin thought Harry’s nephew was incapable, but he was afraid Harry’s subconscious expectations of the person filling in the role of the new Gawain would create a strain in his relationship with his nephew.

Still, he knew no one would be able to be Elliot, so really who he picked mattered only up to a certain point. They would let go with time, and they would accept the new generation as they were. They all just needed time.

Merlin looked over the rest of the list then, humming quietly to himself as he read over the different names Harry was setting out in his proposal. His lips twitched involuntarily when he noticed that he has set Jamal to be the new lamorak. That would surely have the man rolling in his grave, which made the decision infinitely more appealing to Merlin.

“I don’t have a problem with any of your selections. In fact, I am sure Bors will appreciate the fact that you have selected a fellow pyrotechnician to take over his name.”

Harry chuckled softly. “I am getting sentimental in my old age,” he said, a current of bitterness in his voice.

“No, you are just exhibiting human traits,” Merlin said in a dry tone.

Before Harry could respond Eggsy walked into the conference room, wearing loose sweatpants and a tight undershirt that made Harry’s mouth go instantly dry. He had clearly just come back from working out - if the sweat covering his body was anything to go by.

“Harry!” He exclaimed excitedly, all but running towards to the man only to stop at the last second as he remembered he was sweaty and disgusting.

Harry gave him a warm smile, restraining himself at the last second from just pulling Eggsy down for a hungry kiss. He crossed his legs as he moved the side to face Eggsy head on, willing the spike of arousal to go down by sheer force of will. “Eggsy, my dear boy, what can I do for you?”

“Well, I actually left my phone here,” he said with a shy grin as he moved past Harry, placing his hand softly on the man’s left shoulder. He reached past the man to his seat and grabbed the black device Harry hadn’t even noticed was there. “Since the weddin’ is gettin’ closer, I ‘ave people callin’ me like crazy. It’s getting really annoying. Oh that reminds me! Harry, are ya busy this Saturday?”

Harry raised a brow, slightly thrown off by the question. “Why do you ask?” He asked instead of answering, having the sinking feeling that Eggsy was about to asking to break even more of his own heart for him - and Harry would most likely be unable to refuse him, if he knew himself at all.

“I have to go cake testing,” Eggsy said with a half groan. “I mean, I volunteered, because I thought it would be fun ya know? I mean it’s eatin’ cake all day, for fuck’s sake, it shouldn’t be complicated. But I was video chattin’ with my princess yesterday and they have so many fuckin’ rules…” Eggsy groaned, rubbing hsi face. “I mean I grew up in the states, yeah? I don’t know what the fuck is considered to be good cake for people with spoon up their asses.”

“And I do, so you want my help choosing,” Harry finished, not sure whether to feel insulted or not.

Eggsy gave him an apologetic smile. “I love ya, Harry, but I mean yeh are posh. So… will you help me?” He asked, giving Harry his best puppy dog eyes.

“Of course, Eggsy,” Harry said after a few hesitant seconds, plastering a smile on his face.

While he had no desire to be more involved in Eggsy’s wedding that he already was, he also couldn’t deny the fact that he missed spending time with the young man. He also couldn’t deny the appeal in being able to steal this private moment. The thought of teaching Eggsy something new, of sitting close and having the young man’s undivided attention, was heady indeed.

Eggsy beamed. “You’re aces, Harry. So, we can go to the tastin’ place from home. It’s here in London so it shouldn’t take us long to get there.”

Harry held back a smile, unable to show just how pleased it made him to know Eggsy still considered Harry house to be his home. Between the quickly approaching wedding and his job, Eggsy was barely around the house now, making the large space look a lot less lived in as his things weren’t thrown haphazardly around as per usual. In fact, Harry had, for the past month, only seen Eggsy at the table meetings and in the hallway on occasion when the boy was running from one meeting to the next. At one point he had even wondered if the boy was avoiding him, only to realize that no, it wasn’t so much that Eggsy was avoiding him as it was that Eggsy didn’t have time for him because Harry wasn’t a priority.

Harry didn’t know what he hated more, the fact that his love was so clearly unrequited or the fact that he felt these terrible feelings in the first place. Life had been so much simpler when he had been an uncaring bastard, with no personal attachments to speak of.

“Of course, Eggsy. Just tell me the time, and I’ll make sure my schedule is cleared.”

Eggsy gave him a horrified look. “Oh come on Harry, you ain’t workin’ this Saturday too, are ya? Rox told me you was workin’ last week while I was in Sweden. You need to take some time off, mate.”

Harry gave him a tense smile. “Unfortunately, Kingsman doesn’t run itself, Eggsy, and there’s much that still needs to be done.”

Eggsy shook his head but did not argue, knowing it would do no good. The man’s work ethic was stricter than anyone else’s and, alte or no, Harry’s sense of duty would probably not allow the man to rest until Kingsman was back to its former glory. It made Eggsy both incredibly proud and incredibly worried. He didn’t want Harry to fall sick because he was overworking himself. He had lost Harry once; he was absolutely sure he could not go through that again.

“Can you take tonight off then? We can have some dinner, maybe, watch a movie? You need to rest, Harry,” Eggsy stressed, holding onto the man’s wrist.

Harry swallowed audibly. “The recruits are being introduced to the table tonight,” Harry reminded him. “But… perhaps, if it’s not too late, we can have a drink at home.”

Eggsy smiled, feeling slightly better that, at least for him, Harry was willing to listen. “That sounds wonderful.”

Harry ignored the way his heart skipped a beat.

Harry walked into the store with Eggsy trailing behind, an unstoppable bounce on the young man’s step due to his nervousness. Harry held back a sigh and placed his hand on the small of Eggsy’s back to ground him.

“You have nothing to worry about, my dear boy. The cake will be perfect, I shall make sure of it,” Harry assured him in a low voice.

Eggsy bit his lip but nodded, squeezing Harry’s free hand. “I’m sorry I just… her dad scares me a bit still, and if he doesn’t like it.”

Harry stepped slightly closer, feeling Eggsy’s breath ghost over his face as the young man looked up to gaze at Harry. The older man was unable to keep his eyes from wandering to Eggsy’s lips for a few seconds before finally saying “Eggsy, I have had tea with her Majesty herself. The King of Sweden will eat the cake I choose happily, and will not dare complain if he knows anything about good food.”

Eggsy couldn’t help but chuckle at that, grinning at Harry.

Before he could say anything, however, a young woman approached them, looking a little over eager to help them - probably because she was new at the job, or so Harry thought based on his assessment of her.

“Good afternoon, sirs, can I help you?”

“We have a degustation at two pm under the name Unwin,” Eggsy said with a small polite smile, keeping his accent all proper.

She went back to the registry and checked a long thick, black notebook before nodding to herself. “If you could please follow me, I will show you inside,” she said politely, opening a side door to let them go in first.

Harry, ever the gentleman, offered his arm to Eggsy, who gave him a slightly surprised look which quickly turned into a smile before he graciously accepted the man’s offer. As per usual, a wave of gratefulness washed over him at Harry’s intuitiveness. The man knew exactly what Eggsy needed before even he himself knew. He was absolutely certain he could count on no one like he could count on Harry. The man was above and beyond everyone when it came to observation.

Harry only let go of Eggsy’s arm when they reached their seats, moving to the side to move Eggsy’s seat so the young man could sit first.

“Thank you,” Eggsy said as he took the offered sit, watching with that faint smile as Harry himself took a seat, all smooth lines and graceful movements. Honestly, he had no idea how the man was that fucking sly.

The woman brought the first tray with a set of different cakes a few minutes later, bringing with her a book as well for them to peruse the different models they could choose from. Harry only half paid attention to her as she recited the different ingredients contained in each cake. He was honest to god trying to listen to her, but it was rather difficult for her to hold his attention when he  had Eggsy sitting close enough to brush their elbows together.

Harry wasn’t sure how long she spoke, but, eventually, the young woman left to let them try the first batch of cakes, much to Harry’s relief. He had received enough lessons throughout his life to be able to discern ingredients quite easily, so he hadn’t really required her explanation. Thus, he preferred having the time to quietly observe Eggsy, without outside spectators.

The young man brought a small piece of a chocolate filled cake and sighed in delight, cutting a small piece and dangling in front of Harry’s mouth. “You have got to try this, it’s the shit,” he said immediately, his lips smudged with chocolate.

Harry hesitated for a second before leaning forward and opening his mouth, closing his lips slowly around the fork. He retreated a second later, letting the taste of the fluffy milk chocolate and hazelnut stay on his tongue for a few seconds.

“I doubt a royal house would be caught dead serving milk chocolate, “Harry said after a few seconds. “If they serve chocolate at all, it will be a rich, dark chocolate.”

Eggsy sighed, scrunching up his nose. “I ain’t a fan of it.”

Harry couldn’t help but smile. “Then we can steer clear from chocolate. There’s plenty of other enticing flavours.”

“This would be a lot simpler if they’d just let me make a speculoos cake or some shit,” Eggsy mumbled under his breath as he stabbed the next cake.

Harry couldn’t help but laugh, his eyes shining with fondness. “I am sure it would be quite good too,” he said before Eggsy brought the fork back to lip level for Harry to taste. The man grimaced slightly once he had the cake in his mouth. “Too orangey.”

Eggsy grinned at that and stabbed a piece of the next one. He waited for Harry to have a sip of water before bringing the cake back up for him to try. The man tried not to think too much into Eggsy’s innocent actions, knowing that while this could be misconstrued as romantic, it was nothing more than an expression of how close Eggsy was to him.

He took the offered piece of cake then, closing his eyes to force himself to concentrate on the flavour. “Hmmm, well it’s subtle, but I am not a fan of rosemary,” Harry admitted.

Eggsy scrunched up his nose, not even bothering to try it. If Harry didn’t like it, then there was no point anyway. He was the spoon-up-the arse expert in the room - not that Harry acted like the regular spoon-up-the-arse posh people Eggsy had been meeting by the dozen these past few months. No, if anything, these past months had helped reinforce the idea that Harry really was an incredible, polished diamond amongst a pile of trash that made up the majority of his societal bracket. It made Eggsy incredibly thankful to have the man in his life, if only because Harry gave him hope that people could change, that they could become more like Harry.

When they were done with the first tray the woman came back, giving them an expectant smile. “Were any of those to your liking?”

Harry crossed his legs and leaned back slightly to regard her more levelly. “We are looking for something slightly… different. Perhaps you have something along the lines of lemon and mint? We don’t want overwhelming flavors, mind you, and the mint should just give it a touch, but I think lemon would be a nice touch considering the date for the wedding. What do you think, dear boy?”

Eggsy’s heart skipped a beat when Harry turned to look at him, giving Eggsy his undivided attention. It was always nice that, even when Eggsy had no idea what Harry was talking about, the man still tried to make him feel included. He always made Eggsy feel like his opinion mattered. “I… will try anything you think is a good option, you know that, and, I do love lemon, so why not?”

The young woman’s smile half melted at that. “We do have some citrus options, I will bring them right away,” she assured them. Before she turned away however, she bit her lip and said “Sorry if this is too forward, but you and your fiance make a lovely couple. I… I haven’t been working here for long, but we don’t often get couples that look so in love, especially when there’s a big age gap. Not that there’s a problem with that!” She was quick to add at the look of surprise on Eggsy’s face. “It’s clear he loves you very much, and not just for your looks,” she said to Eggsy.

Eggsy gaped for a second, both surprised by her words and by how much honesty there was in them. Before he could correct her, or ask for an explanation, or say much of anything really, Harry leaned forward with a dazzling smile. “Why thank you very much, dear. That is lovely to hear. Though, we are running on a bit of a tight schedule, so could we possibly get those citrus cakes?”

She blushed slightly, but nodded. “Of course, sir, I’ll bring them right away.”

Harry leaned back then, keeping the genial smile plastered on his face despite the fact that his heart was going a mile a minute. How the hell had the girl noticed? Clearly she had thought them a couple because of the way Harry looked at Eggsy - not that Eggsy feeding him had helped matters much. He didn’t think Eggsy knew of his feelings or, if he did, he was kind enough not to mention them. But this would probably lead to questions from the boy. Would he look back on today and notice just how ridiculously hard Harry’s heart beat for the young man?

It was unforgivable that a spy of his caliber had let his emotions show to the point than an untrained civilian had actually picked up on it. Worse, he hadn’t corrected her. No, he had in fact played right along, forcing the both of them into a false narrative, all because he wasn’t sure he was ready to hear Eggsy negate any form of romantic entanglements.

For a second, for a selfish, stupid, second, Harry had enjoyed the fact that he thought them a couple. It felt a bit like stealing a moment. Someone involved in this wretched wedding now thought Eggsy to be his. It was pathetic, and it was ridiculous, but Harry had done it all the same. He had fed into her lie, and Eggsy was now looking at him with confusion in his eyes, and, heavens help him, he was actually starting to feel nervous.

“It would have been detrimental to make her feel embarrassed. After all, we’ll be working with her for another hour or so. Also, if we don’t find a cake we like here, it’s best if she thinks it’s for us. We don’t want to involve the Swedish royal family name until we have to,” Harry finally said after a few seconds, surprised by how steady his voice was.

Eggsy opened and closed his mouth once more before nodding, as usual trusting Harry. It made the older man feel like he was taking advantage of the situation. Before he could apologize, or do anything else really, the young woman walked back out, and Eggsy smiled leaning into Harry seemingly without a care in the world as he chuckled as if Harry had said something funny. He rested his hand atop Harry’s just as the woman reached the table. He thanked her for the cake and once again began feeding the older spy, winking playfully at the girl before she walked away, a small smile on her lips.

“Well since you’re my fiance for the afternoon, we might as well play along. I mean we don’t want her thinkin’ love’s dead and all that,” Eggsy teased happily, taking it all in stride. “Maybe we can even get a blush outta ya so she gives us shit for free.”  

Harry stiffened slightly but played along, feeling like a bucket of cold water had been dumped on him. He wasn’t sure what was worse, that the young woman had been able to see so clearly through him or that Eggsy was treating this as a joke when his love for the boy was anything but.

Harry forced himself to smile and keep his hand still, allowing Eggsy to continue feeding him while his touch seared itself into Harry’s brain. After the second try of citrus cake, Harry picked up his fork and offered a bite to Eggsy.

“I quite like this one,” Harry explained as Eggsy closed his sinful lips around the fork. “I think the taste is quite subtle, though perhaps it could be interesting adding almonds or raspberries.”

Eggsy tilted his head to the side, licking his lips clean as he considered Harry’s words. “I think raspberries might be nice. Daisy loves ‘em.”

Harry smiled, forgetting to stop himself as he reached over and wiped a small smudge of frosting away from Eggsy’s lips. He swallowed hard as their eyes met, Eggsy’s smile as blinding as usual, though there was a bit of confusion in his eyes that made Harry’s heart come to a painful halt. He had probably just overstepped his boundaries.

“I should go tell her of our choice then,” Harry said after a few seconds, not sure whether he could keep playing this lie for a minute longer. He wanted the real thing too much to play games, and he wasn’t going to risk Eggsy’s friendship, not when he had such precious few months left of it. “I trust Tilde is choosing the layout of the cake?”

Eggsy nodded, leaning back, his lip still burning from where Harry had touched him, the thrumming of his heart a bit disconcerting. Yes, he had had a crush on Harry from the minute the man had beat everyone into a bloody pulp, but he knew he was over it. He was with his princess now, so, really, now was not the time to start feeling all hot and bothered again over Harry.

“Good, then I’ll go inform then to contact your wedding planner so that they can get those details. Would you like to wait for me by the front?”

Eggsy nodded and got up, his heart still beating too fast for comfort. “I ‘afta go see my mum for a bit after this. Daisy has a recital tonight that I won’t be able to go to, so I wanna give her a little present so she won’t cut me balls next time I see her. Would you… I mean you can come with me, if you want of course. Daisy has been wanting to meet you for a while.”

Harry got up and nodded, thankful as usual for the years of training he had that allowed him to keep his indifferent mask on regardless of the circumstances. “I would love to. Let me just get this sorted, and we can leave.”

Harry had heard quite a bit about Daisy. He knew that she had grown up to be quite shy - courtesy of her time with Dean. It was hard for the young girl to trust strangers, and she took a long time to speak to them, particularly if they were men. Eggsy had warned him that she might not say a single word to him today, but the boy was hoping Harry could meet her a few times before the wedding to warm her up to him.

Thus, Harry was particularly surprised when the young girl immediately ran to hug Harry the minute Eggsy introduced him to her and her mother. He was not the only one surprised, if the gaping looks were anything to go by.

Harry petted her hair softly as she continued to hold onto his leg, looking down at her with wonder in his eyes. He had no idea what it was that he had done to receive such a warm welcome. “Hello miss Daisy,” he said politely when she looked up with a grin on her lips.

“You smell nice,” she informed him, before raising her arms as Harry assumed she did when she was younger for the man to pick her up and carry her.

Before Michelle could tell her that perhaps she was too heavy to be carried, Harry picked her up without hesitation like she weighted nothing, placing her securely on his hip as he held her with one hand to be able to offer the other one to Michelle.

“Mrs. Unwin, it is a pleasure to meet you,” Harry said, tensing slightly at the look of recognition the woman gave him.

“Hello, Mr. Hart,” she said finally, feeling an overwhelming rage, pain, and, dare she say it, fondness for the bastard standing in front of her. It was still hard for her to look at him and not think of that fateful night when he had told her her husband was dead. It was also hard to ignore the fact that he had taken her only son and had offered him the same job that had gotten Lee killed.

It was equally as hard to forget the many stories Eggsy had told her of the man, of the happy look Eggsy got every time he remembered Harry was back. It was hard to ignore the fact that Daisy had come to love a man she didn’t know just because her brother talked so much about him. She had hugged him for crying out loud. The girl that refused to go near most people until months and months had passed was currently snuggly sitting on the older man’s hip looking at him like he was her very own knight in shining armor.

Eggsy looked between Harry and his mother, noticing the tension but not being able to quite pinpoint what was causing it. He was pretty sure his mother didn’t remember Harry, or at least he hoped she didn’t, because otherwise today was going to go quite differently from what he had been expecting. The last thing he wanted to do was for her to point out the fact he had been lying to her for almost two years now about what exactly was his job.

“Eggsy tells me you are now running the shop he works at,” Michelle said eventually, forcing a genial smile on her face.

Harry just tensed even more. “Yes, I have been tasked with running it,” he admitted, still giving her an assessing look.

“Well, why are we all standing here? We ought to go in and have tea,” she said with a half sigh as she extended her hand to her daughter. “C’mon Daisy girl, you’re not a feather babe, Mr. Hart can’t carry you around all day.”

Daisy pouted.

“I can carry you for a little while longer, miss Daisy,” Harry assured her, afraid to go against her mother’s wishes but also not wanting so see that heartbreaking pout on her lips again. “At least let me carry you to the living room. If you’re having tea with your mother, then you should probably poise yourself like the little lady you are.”

Daisy grinned and turned to look at Eggsy. “Eggsy why’s he comin’ around just now? Ya know Mr. Hart, Eggsy said you were like a knight that protects people and that I could go to sleep without bein’ afraid, cause yeh would protect me from the monsters,” she chatted happily as Harry carried her to the sofa.

Harry’s step faltered for a second before he caught himself and continued walking as if nothing had happened, as if the girls’ words had not been a punch to the solar plexus that made him burn with want. At least he had this; there was no one Eggsy respected more, trusted more, in the field. He did not have the boy’s love, but he had his undying trust.

It was likely more than Harry deserved.

“I would like to think that, if there is ever anything you must be protected from, I will be counted among those lucky enough to do so my dear,” Harry replied when he placed her down on the couch. “Though I imagine your brother will be first in line to protect you, darling girl,” Harry said as he looked back to where Eggsy was standing, giving the young man a fond look.

“Are ya comin’ to the weddin’ Mr. Hart? I think Eggsy’s marryin’ the princess, but I don’t want him to move away,” she admitted in a failed attempt at a hushed whisper. “Are ya gonna marry him too? Maybe then he’ll stay near.”

Harry’s mouth went dry at that and he had to clench his hands to keep himself from showing any emotion on his face. “No, Miss Daisy, I am not marrying your brother. He’s not in love with me. He is in love with his princess,” Harry said quietly to the young girl, both for her sake and his own. He could not forget reality, no matter how much he wished it was different.

Harry got up then, wanting and failing to find, a distraction, that is until his phone buzzed and a report popped up on his bionic eye. He immediately picked up his phone, not needing to even say hello before Merlin was saying “I need you in AQ, right now.”

Harry closed the phone with a grimace, feeling both elated for the accidental decoy and dreading the reason why Merlin had decided to call him on a Saturday afternoon to get into the office sounding irate.

“I am afraid I will have to skip tea today,” he told Eggsy with an apologetic smile, noticing Michelle coming out of the kitchen just out of the corner of his eye as he approached Eggsy.

Eggsy was chewing on his lip, looking worried. He grasped Harry’s hand, looking at him with those doe eyes that made Harry melt. “Should I come with you?”

Harry shook his head, squeezing the hand that was grasping his own. “No, dear boy, you should stay here and spend some time with your family. I am sure Merlin and I can handle whatever problem has arisen.”

“Harry... “Eggsy sighed, knowing he couldn’t say more with his mother and sister there. “Please keep me informed? If you need anything at all, just text me and I’ll come, yeah?”

Harry smiled softly at his boy, bringing a hand up to caress his cheek softly, stealing yet another moment. It seemed like today he had traded his profession for that of master burglar.

“I will see you tonight at home,” Harry said with a wink, his heart filling at the sound of that. How he wished Eggsy would stay in his home forever - but that was impossible. The weeks were ticking down on them. In less than two months, the boy would move out.

“Mr. Hart,” Michelle called once Harry was done saying his goodbyes to a very sad looking Daisy. “Let me walk you to the door.”

If Harry was surprised by her request, he didn’t show it. He merely nodded and followed Michelle down the hall of her home and to the door. “I… there’s a few things I want to discuss with you. I know you’re a busy man, but, I’d like you to come over one of these days so we can have lunch and have a proper chat.”

Harry swallowed hard, not sure whether to dread those words or not. “Of course, Mrs. Unwin, I will have my secretary contact you and we can figure out a weekend where you are free and I can drop by.”

Michelle nodded, seemingly content with those arrangements, before she opened the door and waved the genteel man with the sad eyes goodbye.

Chapter Text

Harry had no bloody clue why he had actually agreed to this. What's more, he had no bloody clue why he had gone out of his way to contact Michelle Unwin to arrange a lunch date two days before the wedding. It was honestly ill advised to spend more time than necessary with her. She was bound to remember him if she kept seeing his face up close - that is if she didn't remember already. Harry had the prickling feeling that she already did.  

Perhaps it had been the surprise of the woman asking him over for lunch, or perhaps it had been his own guilt making him accept the invitation, but regardless of the why, he was now standing in front of Michelle Unwin’s door, largely aware of the fatal mistake he had made.

He just hoped it didn't blow up in his face.

“Mr. Hart, I am so glad ya made it!” Michelle chirped happily as she opened the door for the man, snapping him out of his morose thoughts.

“Mrs. Unwin,” he said cordially as he offered her his hand in greeting. Once he stepped over her threshold he offered her the bag he had been carrying with him for an hour now.

“Oh thank you very much,” she said with a kind smile as she took a hold of the expensive bottle of wine and the Belgian chocolates. “Daisy is gonna love these chocolates.”

Harry smiled softly at the thought of the young girl whom Eggsy so thoroughly loved. “I very much hope so.”

“Please, make yourself comfortable,” Michelle said as she showed him to the dining room. “Daisy is at school right now, so it's just yeh and me.”

Harry nodded absently, as always noting quickly all his exits and entry points, as well as every available object that could be used as a makeshift weapon in case of attack. It took him less than half a minute, his eyes not needing to rest over anything for more than a few seconds after so many years of training himself to do this.

Michelle, who had by this point left the dining room to go get the food, did not even notice. Harry approached Michelle as the woman came back in, taking from one of her hands the heavy looking casserole to place it on the table. It was hotter than expected and, without the gloves she was wearing, the heat permeated Harry’s skin immediately, but the man had been tortured with burning coal before, so he did not drop the pot nor did he make a single sound, instead placing it gently on the table.

Michelle did not fail to notice Harry's seeming lack of reaction to holding a scalding hot object. She thanked the man quietly before turning back to the kitchen to bring out the salad, bread, and a bottle of wine. She motioned for Harry to sit down facing her on the other side of the table. Harry moved her chair back for her to sit before finally moving back to his own side, seating slowly as he tried to figure out what exactly it was that they were doing here.

Michelle gave him a tight smile. “I guess yeh’s wondering why I invited you here today.”

“I was sure you would let me be privy to that information in due time,” Harry said politely, subtly offering her a non-answer as he half covered his mouth with his index finger and the side of his hand .

Michelle nodded. “Right, well, I guess first thing’s first; I know who you are,” she said as she served both their food. She did not look up immediately, letting the man process her words in his own time.

“I see,” Harry said eventually, his tone slightly subdued. “Is there a reason why you haven’t told Eggsy you know?”

She shrugged. “I found a picture of you and him in his room. I was real angry at the time but I couldn’t… you was dead, and he was grievin’. I couldn’t do nothin’ then. And I knew even if I asked him to stop he wouldn’t. He always was a hero, my Eggsy… always tryin’ to look out for people, ya know?” She smiled sadly. “I had already ruined his chances with the Marines, I couldn’t do that again, even if it meant…” her voice broke and she had to take a minute to compose herself. “He’s a grown man - old enough to make his own decisions. I… I have made many mistakes, Mr. Hart, but I ain’t making any more with Eggsy. I want him to be happy, and he loves his job.”

“Yes, well.. If it is any consolation, he will be leaving his current job very soon,” Harry said with a tight smile that did not reach his eyes. “As soon as he becomes a prince, he will be safe - and happy.”

Michelle smiled and nodded. “That’s actually kinda what I wanted to talk to ya about.”

“Oh?” Harry said as he finally picked up his fork and knife, aware that despite being too wary to feel hunger at the moment, he needed to eat to not insult his host.  

“I… wanted to thank yeh, I guess,” Michelle quietly, mirroring Harry’s movements.

Harry frowned. “Whatever for?”

“Well… “ she shook her head slightly, unsure as to how to proceed. “I don’t know if Lee ever told ya this, but we met when we was real young, yeah? We were still in school then, not even eighteen yet.” She smiled softly at the memory. “And he… he was the handsomest boy I had ever seen in my life. He was real polite too, and I just… I fell for ‘im without even realizin’ it. But he didn’t fall for me - not back then anyway.” Michelle leaned back on her chair, her eyes slightly glassy. “There was a girl - Amy - who had caught his eye back then. She was real pretty, but she was a real piece of work, or so I thought. It probably was just me being jealous,” Michelle admitted with a chuckle.

Harry shifted on his seat, confused as to where the story was going but not daring to interrupt Michelle out of respect for the woman. Whatever the point was to this, he was sure she would eventually tell him.

“They dated for a few years, and he was real happy with her for a while. He was a good friend of mine, so when he thought of proposin’ he told me first,” she sighed softly, the memory clearly still a little painful. “It was… one of the worst days of my life, to be honest. He was my best friend, and I knew I was supposed to be ‘appy for ‘im but all I could feel was my heart breakin’. I honestly thought I wasn’t gonna be able to survive goin’ to his wedding,” she admitted with a soft shudder. “But I didn’t say anythin’ to him, because I loved him and I wanted ‘im to be happy, ya know?”

Harry swallowed hard, her story striking a little too close to home. “I gather he eventually left her?” Harry said, his voice slightly rougher than usual.

Michelle gave him a half smile. “She cheated on ‘im, so they broke up before he could propose. I didn’t date ‘im right away though. I mighta been in love, but I sure as hell was gonna be nobody’s rebound.”

Harry smiled, happy to see that feisty fire still burning brightly in her eyes. “That is certainly a good attitude to have,” he commended.

She chuckled and nodded in thanks. “Anyway, my point was that I know how it feels to let go of the person yeh love to let ‘em be happy. I know how much it hurts,” she leaned forward, grasping the shocked man’s hand. “So thank you… for letting him be happy with her.”

Harry couldn’t swallow around the lump in his throat. He wasn’t even sure he could return the comforting squeeze the woman had just offered him. “Mrs. Unwin, I-” Harry shook his head and stood up, suddenly feeling a little too claustrophobic. “I think I should go.”

Her eyes turned sad, but she did not contradict him, nor did she attempt to stop him. “If ya ever need to talk, or anythin’ like that, my door is always open, yeah? That’s all I wanted to offer.”

Harry smiled stiffly at her, both loving her and hating her in that instant. “I thank you for your hospitality, Mrs. Unwin, but please do not worry about me, I am perfectly fine. I shall see you at the wedding.”

With that Harry all but ran out the door, feeling more jarred than he had in a long time.

“Honestly, one would think they were dogs by the way they move,” Harry snided, his lip half curling into a snarl.

Eggsy giggled from beside him while Merlin grunted in agreement, bringing up a new glass of scotch up to his lips. He took a long drag, almost falling off his seat as he leaned back despite the fact there was no back to his chair. Merlin frowned, looking behind him with accusatory eyes, as if someone had dared remove the non-existent object.

Not one of them would admit to being drunk, but, after over five hours of drinking hard alcohol in various bars whose order Merlin couldn’t even remember anymore, the quartermaster was beginning to feel ready to admit he was maybe slightly tipsy.

He turned to say something to Harry, only to find the man already standing, halfway to the door.

“Fuckin’ hell,” Merlin grunted as he grabbed Harry’s forgotten jacket. He tapped Eggsy on the shoulder, making the boy snap up to attention from where he had been laying his head on the counter. “Go get that fucker,” Merlin slurred slightly as he finished his drink quickly, before leaving a crumpled bill behind him.

He had no idea how much money he was leaving, but he didn’t see anybody coming after them, so he assumed it was enough. They caught up with Harry a few minutes later, the man seemingly oblivious to the fact that they had had to scramble to catch up.

“If yeh don’t wanna see no grindin’ we could probably go to that salsa bar near Rox’s old flat,” Eggsy suggested, blinking blearily to try to figure out exactly where the sidewalk was.

“I don’t mind grinding, but if that’s what you’re gonna do, then bloody call it that and not dancing,” Harry complained loudly, looking the most put together of the three, despite his disheveled hair and his partially opened shirt.

Eggsy hummed, neither agreeing nor denying, before linking his arm to Harry’s. “C’mon Haz, let’s go to Rox’s bar. They got some serious dancin’ there, bruv, I promise.”

“Do not call me that,” Harry said while scrunching his nose with distaste.

“Get in,” Merlin said all of a sudden, yanking the cab door open and tumbling into the driver’s seat.

The two followed immediately, but Harry had enough sense to put it on autodrive. He had seen firsthand Merlin driving drunk and he had no desire to repeat the experience ever again. Once time had been more than enough for them to destroy two company cars, half of an old training room, and incur the then Arthur’s white hot rage.

You fill up my senses, like a night in a forest,” Merlin began singing, swaying softly to the music in his head. “Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain-” He turned to look at Harry, offering him a crooked smile before fisting his hand and bringing it up near Harry’s mouth as a pretend microphone. “C’mon Harry, I know you know this one.”

“Why the bloody hell would I know this one,” Harry mumbled grumpily as he closed his eyes to stave off a migraine.

“Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean!” Merlin screamed to egg the other man on. “You fill up my senses, come fill me again!”

Harry shot him a glare as Eggsy began laughing in the back, drumming his fingers slowly against his leg to the beat of the song.

“Come let me love you, let me give my life to you,” Harry finally sang quietly, his eyes inevitably drifting towards Eggsy, who was looking at him with that warm look that always made Harry’s heart throb. “Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms, let me lay down beside you... ” He looked away from Eggsy, feeling his heart too naked for comfort. “Merlin, you need to listen to new songs.”

“For fuck’s sake, Harry, it’s a classic,” Merlin said with a chuckle as he punched Harry in the arm. “Where the fuck are we going?”

“Rox’s bar.”

Merlin frowned and looked back at Eggsy. “She owns a bar?”

“Whut?” Eggsy said, tilting his head with confusion. “Does she?”

“That’s what you just said!” Merlin shrugged.

“No I didn’t,” Eggsy said, looking to the side as if somebody was sitting next to him. “Did I?”

“You two are far too loud,” Harry complained, before the car came to a screeching halt, throwing them all forward, which led to a round of cursing and laughing at each other.

“C’mon let’s go in,” Eggsy said excitedly as he forced the car door open, stumbling out. Thankfully, Harry caught him by the elbow before he could fall. “Thanks, Harry,” Eggsy beamed at the man, which made Harry falter slightly, but not enough to let go of the ironhold he had on the boy.

How exactly they made it in, Harry was not entirely sure, considering none of them looked - or felt - exactly sober, but in they were and it certainly was a vast improvement from the last establishment. This place did not have strobe lights, thank fuck, which gave it an almost romantic feeling as the currently slow salsa music resounded through the room and the smell of roses permeated everything. Judging by Merlin’s half longing, half nostalgic look, the bar had Roxy written all over it.

It did not take them long to find seats by the bar, where they proceeded to have another two pints each, before they all finally turned to look at the dancing going on around them. It was standard Kingsman protocol to learn all forms of ballroom dancing. Eggsy had never personally needed this particularly branch of his training, but he did know how to dance and how to recognize when someone was fucking up the technique.

“Half these people would not be able to keep up if they were to put a faster song,” Harry muttered as he swallowed down a long sip of the glass of whiskey he had ordered without the other two noticing.

“They also know jack shit about how to pour a Guinness,” Merlin grunted as he flagged down the waiter to order a scotch himself.

Eggsy smiled at the two men. “Yeh two are such shits,” he noted with a chuckle. “Do you think you could do better than them at Salsa?”

Harry snorted, though his eyes narrowed down on Eggsy. “Is that a challenge?”

Eggsy smirked. “I mean, it would be, but Merlin already told me you can’t dance, so is it really a challenge?”

A part of Harry - the logical, sober part of him - knew Eggsy was just trying to goad him into dancing and most likely make a fool of himself as he had been drinking quite more than it was advisable. Not to mention, he hadn’t attempted dancing since the loss of his eye nor had he danced after the operation. However, the larger, most likely very drunk, part of him very much wanted to show Eggsy just how fucking wrong he was at daring to challenge Harry.

And so it felt entirely natural to get up, ask the bartender to put on something a little more lively, grab Eggsy by the hand, and drag him to the dance floor. A few people turned to look around as the song changed suddenly from the slow ballad that had been playing. The new song started out slow enough for Harry to whirl Eggsy into position before the boy could even protest. His heart gave a painful twist as a part of his muddled brain recognized the song and its lyrics hit a little too close to home for comfort.

Yo no se si tu, no se si yo, seguiremos siendo como hoy

No se si después de amanecer, vamos a sentir la misma sed...

Harry pressed Eggsy close to him, allowing the boy to get used to his lead with the slow start of the song. Eggsy seemed a little surprised by Harry’s sudden boldness, but he took it in stride, allowing the man to guide him with the movements of his hand.

Yo no se mañana, yo no se mañana

Si estaremos juntos, si se acaba el mundo

Yo no se si soy para ti, si serás para mi

Si lleguemos a amarnos u odiarnos

Eggsy did not even blink at the sudden change of pace in the song, allowing Harry to twirl him twice before he began moving them around the dancefloor with a grace even Eggsy had not mastered in his time in Kingsman. Harry moved like a panther, keeping Eggsy locked in his arms with little effort as he moved them like water past people.

The young man blushed furiously as Harry continued to showcase Eggsy with every twirl, every touch, every dip of his hips. He could feel all eyes on them, some with awe, some with jealousy and some with anger, but he did not have it in him to care. He only cared about the music, the drumming of his blood, and the heat emanating from everywhere Harry touched and every spot where they were pressed together.

It was intoxicating, exhilarating, and it ended far too soon. They were caught off guard by the sudden end, both of them having been too engrossed in the other to notice much of anything. Harry looked at Eggsy, noticing his slightly harder breath and his elevated pulse and his mouth watered involuntarily.

He knew this was a normal reaction to dancing and exercise. He was aware that Eggsy was just indulging him and having a good time on his stag night. They were two days away from the  boy’s wedding. Harry was very much aware every single sinful thought crossing through his mind at the moment was wrong and misplaced. Thus he did the only sensible thing his still alcohol addled brain could come up with; stagger away and find Merlin to get the hell back home before he could do anything he would seriously regret.

Thankfully Merlin was easy to spot, and the way to him was relatively clear, thus it was easy to drag Eggsy back to the bar. He wasn’t sure why he accepted the drink Merlin was offering him considering he was already drunk enough, but he drank the entire tequila shot in one go, passing it back to Merlin to get another one.

“Damn, bruv, you really know your shit,” Eggsy slurred as he himself had a shot. “That was amazing, Haz.”

“Do not call me that,” Harry repeated, though his voice had little heat. “We should… home. We should get home. You have… something… a dinner? I can’t fucking remember. You have something to do tomorrow Eggsy.”

“Isn’t he gettin’ married?” Merlin asked with a frown.

Eggsy shook his head. “Two days bruv,” Eggsy said as he held up three fingers.

Merlin leaned slightly in to look at Eggsy’s hand, clearly confused. “Wha’”

Harry drank one last shot and pat Merlin on the back. “Right, I’m going home.” With that the man made his way out of the bar, once again leaving Merlin to pick up behind him in record time to make it back to the kingsman cab before Harry took off without them.

“Fuckin’ hell, get off,” Eggsy grunted as he struggled to get his t-shirt off.

Harry snorted behind him, stepping into the room to help Eggsy before the boy could destroy his bedroom. Harry’s heart stung slightly at the thought, as even in his drunkenness it was impossible to forget the fact that this room which Eggsy had called his own for almost a year now would not be used again in two days time.

Harry was pretty sure that, at least for a week, he would not be touching that room. It was ridiculous and utterly sentimental, but it was either that or going insane. He would exhaust every nook and cranny for pieces of Eggsy, as that was all he would have left of the boy.

“Oof!” Eggsy exclaimed as he fell forward on the bed, as he struggled to step out of his trousers. It took him a few more seconds to get himself untangled, but it was enough to leave Harry’s mouth dry and his cock tingling. Eggsy was always beautiful but here, like this, almost naked on a bed, it made Harry’s libido go into overdrive. There was nothing more that he wanted that to take those pants off, the last remaining hindrance between him and Eggsy’s deliciously naked body. He wanted to kiss his boy, every inch of him, to lick and bite and suck. He wanted to take him and claim him and make Eggsy scream his name.

He needed to get out of here, and fast.

“You need to sleep, dear boy,” Harry commented quietly, his voice slightly hoarse. “I should head to sleep too.”

Eggsy hummed in agreement, getting up with some difficulty as he swayed from side to side due to his lack of balance while smashed. Harry stepped forward, miscalculating where Eggsy would fall due to his own drunkenness, thus leading Eggsy to fall straight against his chest. He grabbed onto Eggsy’s hips, squeezing hard both to get the boy to stay still and to keep himself from ravaging the delicious offering that was now pressed against him.

The young man hiccuped and giggled, pushing slightly away to blink up. His eyes were glazed over, and he didn’t seem to know which way was up anymore. “Right on, night babes,” Eggsy mumbled, pushing up on his tiptoes to press a slow and messy kiss on Harry’s lips.

Harry could do naught but kiss back, licking into Eggsy’s mouth with a hunger he had never felt for anyone before. Harry pulled away after a few seconds for air, which made reality finally filter back into his drunken brain. Eggsy still seemed as oblivious as before, given that he only giggled again and turned around, falling headfirst to the bed, already half asleep.

Harry stood frozen there by the bed, his heart going a mile a minute.

Eggsy had kissed him.

Eggsy had kissed him, and Harry had kissed back.

“Fuck me,” Harry breathed out, slapping his hand against his eyes.

This was the worst moment to act on his feelings. The boy was clearly drunk, and had most likely thought he was Tilde. But Harry had answered, which meant that if Eggsy, god forbid, remembered this in the morning, there would be a hell of a lot of explaining to do. It didn’t matter that Harry too was drunk; he was fairing a lot better than Eggsy which meant it was his responsibility to keep them both from doing regrettable things.

Harry felt sick. How could he have allowed himself to respond? He wasn’t some horny teenager anymore. He didn’t kiss handsome men days before they had to walk down the altar.

He sighed softly as he walked back to his room, closing the door quietly enough to not disturb the sleeping man on the adjacent room. He was pretty sure he had never hated himself quite like he hated himself now, not only because he had responded to Eggsy’s drunken kiss, but because a part of him, a selfish, awful part of him, wanted to do it again.  

Chapter Text

Eggsy tugged at his collar nervously, fixing the military outfit for the upteenth time. Harry shook his head with a soft smile, turning Eggsy to face him to fix, once again, the buttons of the collar.

“You look beautiful dear boy, stop fussing,” Harry chided, his words holding more truth than he was comfortable sharing on most occasions.

Eggsy bit his lip, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “I don’t know why I am so nervous,” he admitted. “I mean, fuck, it ain’t like meeting her parents. That was a real pant shitting moment. This is.. Fine yeah? I mean what’s the worst that can happen?”

“That you say the wrong name at the altar?” Harry teased innocently, earning himself a swat on the arm from the shorter man. “Nothing bad is going to happen, Eggsy,” Harry assured, squeezing the boy’s hands softly.

He hated that he had to be the reassuring friend, the happy expectator, when he felt like crawling out of his very skin. The day had finally arrived; Eggsy was to get married in less than an hour. In less than an hour the love of his life would become entirely unavailable to Harry - romantically and otherwise. He would leave with his princess, happily married and entirely oblivious of the tempest he would leave in his wake.

Arthur was about to lose one of its best agents. Harry was about to lose his very heart.

And wasn’t it pathetic that a part of him was actually considering saying something, holding Eggsy back, telling him how he felt. He knew it would accomplish nothing, would only cause himself more hurt, but the romantic in him could daydream. What would it be like if he actually said something? What would it be like if Eggsy loved him as well? Would they run away now, causing a royal scandal which would force them both to go into hiding? Would they remain together, probably laughing in Harry’s home as they waited for the issue to completely die a few years from now?

It was all impossible, of course. Eggsy was now in the public eye. He could no longer be a Kingsman, not without some massive use of resources to keep the press quiet and his face out of social media. Eggsy might not be married yet, but he had already slipped out of Harry’s grasp.

It hurt more than he could ever admit out loud.

Eggsy looked at Harry softly, noticing the man was keeping himself busy by fixing Eggsy’s tie with faraway eyes. “Thank you so much, Harry, for being there for me,” he half whispered, breaking Harry out of his trance.

Harry froze for half a second before he looked up through half hidden eyes. He gave Eggsy a small smile, with no real emotion behind it. “It’s my pleasure to be here, dear boy.”

Eggsy’s smile grew. “You’ve been… the best, Harry, ever since I met you. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for ya. I mean… I don’t know how to say this proper, but I really appreciate everything,” Eggsy said in a rush as he brought Harry in for a crushing hug. “I hope… I hope to one day make you proud.”

The man held back a sigh and dared to run his hand once through Eggsy’s hair before disengaging and bringing Eggsy to stand in front of the full length mirror. “Look in the mirror. Tell me, what do you see?” Harry said in a low voice, the image a mirror copy of how they had stood over two years ago.

Even then Harry had felt the heat curl up inside him and desire flair at the very sight of the boy with a perfect body, rough emotional edges and a heart of gold. The only difference now was that Harry looked older, had lost an eye, and Eggsy looked more dashing than ever.

Eggsy shook his head slightly, oblivious to Harry’s consternation at the image of the pair. His eyes did as instructed and he drank in his foreign appearance. Never once had he imagined he would one day dress like a prince, in full military regalia. Never once did he think that people would bow to him and call him sir. Never once did he think he would move out of England, or that he would have lesson upon lesson of etiquette and diplomacy and languages.

Never did he think he would leave Kingsman.

“Someone who can’t believe what the fuck is going on,” Eggsy admitted, his eyes showing for the first time his indecision.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love his princess. It was that he wasn’t sure this was the life he wanted for himself. He wasn’t sure he could live with every minute aspect of his day being controlled by some posh twat that held the monarchy in the highest esteem. More importantly, he had no idea how the fuck he was going to get on with life without Harry being there to share every second. He was sure the man would come to visit, but that was not the same.

He had gotten so used to living in the same house as Harry, he had allowed himself to forget that wouldn’t be the case anymore.

Harry squeezed the boy’s shoulders, mistaking his indecision and sudden horrific realization for nervousness. “I see a man who is honorable,” Harry started, his voice silky soft and his heart bleeding quietly inside of him. “Brave. Loyal…” Harry took a small breath and finally said “who has fulfilled… his full potential.” Harry nodded, mostly to himself, because that was nothing if not the truth. “A man who has done something good with his life.”

Eggsy’s eyes watered involuntarily. There was nothing more heady for him than Harry complimenting him, nothing that could make his heart soar higher or his blood rush lower. He had no idea how to get rid of the, by now, pavlovian response, nor did he think he wanted to. “Harry, I…”

A knock at the door interrupted them, and Eggsy felt the loss of heat as Harry stepped away to answer the door. He had not realized the man had been standing that close to his back.

It was Merlin at the door.

“Are you ready, lad?” He asked, poking his head in. “Almost everything is ready for ya. Oh, harry, I need you to walk with me for a minute, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course,” Harry said, not letting his disappointment show. It seemed he would not even get a few last minutes with his boy. Harry turned and gave Eggsy a small nod and a wink before walking out the door.

Merlin closed it behind them and led them down the long corridor that led to the other side of the castle. “Sorry for interrupting,” he said with a sigh.

Harry raised a brow. “What happened?”

“The princess asked for you,” Merlin said, his body tense. “The Queen asked me to fetch ya”

Harry’s brows rose to his hairline. “Do we know what she wants?” Harry asked, a little disgruntled. He had come to the castle only because Eggsy had asked him the week before to be there as the boy was sure he would be nervous and also because he was the best man. Never had he expected to have to see the bride to be before the ceremony, though.

Merlin shook his head. “The Queen did nae say, and I canae just ask that,” Merlin said quickly, his accent thicker on purpose as a maid walked past them close enough to hear.

Harry sighed but nodded, following Merlin with an impending sense of dread. The scottish man left him in front of a double set of doors, squeezing his arm softly before walking away as if in reassurance. Harry was pretty sure that had just made it worse, in all honesty.

He turned and knocked on the door, half holding his breath as he waited for the princess to allow him in. The door opened a few seconds later, and there stood the radiant woman, already in her spotless wedding dress that clung tight to her figure in all the right places. Even Harry, a thoroughly gay man that would not change a cock for anything, thank you very much, could appreciate the aesthetic beauty the young woman was exhibiting.  

Harry gave her a bow of the head and a tight smile. “Your Royal Highness, Merlin informed me that you had called for me.”

She looked a bit guilty. “I did, but I did not mean to pull you away from your best man duties. I had hoped you were free, or did he snatch you away from Eggsy?”

“I am sure Eggsy can manage just fine without me, he is, after all, dressed already,” Harry joked dryly.

The princess chuckled and moved to the side. “Then please, do come in, I promise i won’t take much of your time,” she assured the veteran spy.

Harry walked quickly into the room, his years as a spy giving his movements an incredibly elegant yet silent touch that few could emulate. “How can I help you, my dear?” Harry said once the princess closed the door, not wanting to beat whatever issue she wanted to bring to his attention around the bush.

She took a deep breath and did not speak for a few seconds, seemingly gathering her resolve. “You love him, don’t you?” She asked quietly, without meeting Harry’s eyes.

Harry frowned, confused as to the nature of the question. He decided it was safer to play dumb than to confront the horrific possibility of her knowing the truth. “Well of course, he was my candidate and I knew his father. I am fond of him,” Harry conceded a little hesitantly, playing the part while keeping his voice free of all emotion.

Tilde rolled her eyes, not falling for it. “That’s not what I mean Mr. Hart, and you know it. You’re in love with him”

Harry clicked his tongue, feeling like they had just dumped a bucket full of ice cold water on top of him. There were conversations even his almost three decades in the service could not prepare him for. “I… “ He closed his mouth, unsure as to what to say.

He could deny it, of course, but that would be an insult both to his feelings and to her intelligence. It would also make her unlikely to trust him to stay even for the wedding.

So he tried again. “I am unsure as to why you want to talk about this today of all days,” Harry admitted, carefully gauging her reaction. “Why are my feelings towards Eggsy relevant at all?”

“Because I don’t understand you,” she said, sounding a little exasperated. “Why come when you clearly don’t want to be here? I noticed you loved him the day you came to the palace just how much you love him. And yet you haven't done anything.Why haven’t you tried to get him to leave me to be with you? ” She asked, and her insecurity finally leaked through her voice.

Harry felt a pang of both pity and guilt. Pity because he could not understand how someone as beautiful and lovely as her could ever think someone like him could hold a candle to her in comparison. And then guilt because something in his attitude towards Eggsy or herself must have made her belief he would be capable of stealing away her man.

He shook his head, feeling the beginnings of a headache forming. “I am here today because Eggsy asked me to be here for him as it is his - and your - special day. And I am not trying to get him to be mine… because I never had him in the first place,” Harry said calmly, though his words tasted like bitter poison in his mouth.

She scrunched up her face, not looking convinced. “But… he loves you too. He might love me now but he loved you first ,” She sighed pacing around the room like a caged animal for a few seconds before coming up to Harry, her eyes welling up with tears. “I can’t marry someone who will always compare me to a dead man who’s come back to life. I want someone that loves me.

Harry gaped at her, unable to believe his ears. How the princess thought Eggsy loved him was beyond him, but a small piece of him fluttered at the thought. He squashed the delusional thought immediately.

He grabbed her hands and looked seriously into her eyes. “Princess… You mistake love for being in love,” Harry corrected gently. “Yes, Eggsy loves me, but he’s not in love with me. He never has been,” he said this time a little more forcefully. “He loves me like a dear friend, like he loves Merlin or he loves Roxy.”

Harry raised a hand to signal her to let him finish speaking before complaining. “Perhaps I mean a little more than them considering he in his own silly way feels indebted to me because I was the one that got him into Kingsman,” He conceded. “But there’s nothing more.”

She shook her head, not convinced. Harry sighed and guided her to the nearest couch to seat next to her.

“Tilde… He does not love me,” Harry repeated, and it hurt his soul to say it so many times out loud.

She bit her lip. “You weren’t here when you were dead. You didn't see... How do you know he doesn’t love you?” She pressed.

Harry looked away, his eyes full of pain. “Kingsman has been his world for the past two years. It was the path I set him on. It was the path his father chose as well. It was meant to be his future, his pride and joy, but he gave it all up - at great cost to himself - for you,” Harry explained quietly, grimacing slightly.  “He loves you madly, Princess, I can assure you of that. I know Eggsy, and he would not do that for just anyone. He would not give up his family, his friends, and his job - his life goal - unless he was sure he wanted to create a new life with you.”

That, at last seemed to calm her down. “And you? you’ll just… step away then?” She asked tentatively. “You’re not going to tell him how you feel?”

“If I wanted to tell him I would have already done so,” Harry pointed out drily, before smiling self deprecatingly. “Like you said, I’m in love with him . My primary goal will always be for him to be happy and you make him happy.” Harry’s eyes suddenly turned steely and he turned to look at her. “So, since we’re on the subject, I will say this: It is now your job to make sure that that boy wakes up every day with a reason to be ridiculously fucking happy. He deserves every bit of it. So long as that remains true, you will not have to hear from me or see me ever again. Otherwise, you and I are going to have problems.”” Harry assured her, his eyes promising her pain if she did not keep up her end of the bargain.

Her eyes widened in surprise. “Why won’t I see you ever again?,” She asked, a little scandalized. “Surely, you will come visit Eggsy? Or am I supposed to stay outside while you talk?”

Harry raises a brow at her as if the answer was too obvious to need stating. “Kinsgman is an Intelligence agency that operates at the highest level of discretion. The world is not meant to know we exist,” Harry reminded her harshly. “Once Eggsy leaves his position as Galahad tonight, our involvement in his life will be mostly confined to surveillance to make sure there are no public issues that might affect us - or him. As a Prince, not only will it be almost impossible for him to leave the palace unaccompanied for long enough to pay a visit, we are required to stay in the shadows away from the flash the life of a royal brings.” Harry took a pause, genuinely surprised at the look of horror on Tilde’s face.

He rubbed his face, thinking of something to placate her. Finally, he said “of course, someone will be a point of contact in case of an emergency. I’m sure Roxy will be more than happy to keep in contact via untraceable calls every once in a while to check up on things, but personal visits will be rare and far in between - that is if they do manage to schedule them at all.”

Tilde stood, pacing around as if her world had just tilted on the wrong axis. “You say Roxy… but what about you? are you, what, not even going to call either then?”

Harry blinked twice. “My dear, I am Arthur . Lancelot has many more freedoms than myself when it comes to contact with former Kingsman personnel, particularly when the former agent in question is going to be featured in the newspapers on the daily and who will be watched by secret service from now on. We cannot risk the acting Arthur, or Kinsgman for that matter, from being found by accident because its leader is talking to the new prince of Sweden through unofficial channels that have nothing to do with missions at hand.” Harry smiled sadly at her, the reality of the situation unavoidable. “Besides, let’s be frank here, I am sure you’ll be relieved if I am removed from the equation. It will be simpler for all involved. You can rest assured that your husband won’t be in communication with a delusional man that was careless enough to fall for him.”

Tilde glared at him, unable to contradict him, but clearly wanting to.“It doesn’t matter how I would feel,” she said eventually. “He’ll miss you. You’re right, he might not be in love with you, but he still cares about you! I want him to be happy just like you, and… well you also make him happy.”

Harry snorted, the cynic in him rearing its ugly head.“He might miss me a bit, and he might even be very angry at me for awhile, but, I assure you, He will be just fine. Eggsy is adaptable. it will be nothing compared to…” Harry suddenly stopped, visibly recoiling from his own feelings.

He shook himself after a few seconds, his voice turning flat. “I will be missing my very soul, my dear girl. I will never again be able to see the man who has become my sole reason for getting up in the morning, so I assure you he has the sweeter end of the deal,” Harry ended acidically. “He doesn’t need me, especially not to be happy. And I can’t… I am very glad that he’s happy but I can’t always pretend that I’m not-” Harry did not finish the sentence, refusing to show that much of his heart “I can’t be the friend he needs. I can’t be, no matter how much I may want to. Eggsy is a strong man and he will be fine. He’ll be better than ever before. He’ll be married and happy and without the threat of dying every single day hanging over his head. He will forget me in time, and Kingsman will fade into the back of his mind once he has his own family to take care of.”  

Tilde looked at him with sad eyes and she fought back the urge to shake Harry. “You really just don’t get how much he cares, do you?”

Harry stood up then and crossed the room in three long strides. He did not stop until he was in her space, looking down at her with the cold eyes of a trained killer who had suffered too much in this life to let any more emotion show. “I am not nor will I ever be his priority. He made his choice; he chose you . And now it is time we all accept that, and act accordingly. My job is to walk away. Your job is to be happy with him, and that’s that. Now, I do believe we’ll be late to your wedding if we don’t leave now.”

Tilde deflated and did not answer, which in turn made Harry mellow a bit. He sighed and grasped her hand softly.  “I hope you understand that I won’t be staying for the reception. It is a night for rejoicing, and I want you both to enjoy it. Please make my excuses to Eggsy,” Harry asked her politely.

He kissed her forehead, almost as if giving her his blessing, and walked out of the room, every bit as composed as he was when he came in. It was not the time to suffer, it was the time to attend Eggsy’s wedding and plaster a damn smile on his face.

Chapter Text

The entire room went pin-drop quiet as the organ started playing the well known wedding anthem. The music fluttered beautifully around the room, filling it, caressing it as the bride to be slowly made her way down the aisle, smiling at Eggsy. Her white almost silvery dress shone as the material partially reflected the bright light coming in from the windows.

She looked breathtaking, happy, and carefree, which tunneled Eggsy’s vision; despite his misgivings, despite the fact that something deep inside of him was screaming at him to run away, to run away right now, he could do nothing but watch. He was completely enthralled by her beauty, by her smile. It felt, strangely, like he was on a golden ship which was sailing towards a precipice and he knew, a dark deep part of him knew exactly where he was heading, but the boat gave him so much momentary happiness, he could not quite see where the precipice would lead him to.

He grasped her hand as she reached the front of the church. He forced himself to take his eyes away from her for a second to give a small nod of thanks to her father, who was currently bringing their hands together. Eggsy knew this was hard for the old man, as he still wasn’t sure Eggsy was good for his one and only daughter.

But he stepped back and nodded, not necessarily giving Eggsy his trust, but rather letting his daughter choose for herself; whatever would come of this, it was her choice to make, and it was up to her to search for her own happiness.

“Hi,” whispered Eggsy, like a schoolboy in love who had finally gotten the girl to talk to him.

Tilde’s voice caught on her lips, her conversation with Harry still too raw in her mind, so she merely nodded. Stepping slightly forward to try to lock eyes with the older spy, who was standing behind Eggsy. But Harry was not looking at her. He was looking at Eggsy, at his profile, at his happy smile, at the way he looked at his soon to be bride.

It was ridiculous, really, the man thought. He was looking at Eggsy and Eggsy was looking at his princess and the princess was looking worriedly at Harry. It was like a shakespearean comedy gone terribly wrong. Or was it a tragedy?

If Harry’s bleeding, shattering heart was anything to go by, it was both.

He took a deep breath and a few steps back, his body unconsciously seeking the comforting shadows which had cloaked him for twenty five years in the field. What happened next, he wasn’t entirely sure. He was too distracted, the ringing in his ears was too loud, and the hard beating of his heart was painful enough to make his vision blurry.

Distantly, he wanted to laugh at himself. He could almost detach himself from the scene and look at this wedding as a spectator. He could admit, from that position, that it was all looked so very ridiculous, from every single perspective. But the absurdity of his life didn’t make his pain any less real, or the wedding any more bearable.

He broke through the haze and sluggishness much later, sometime around the point where the rings were passed to the happy couple to physically confirm their union.  Harry watched with unseeing eyes as the princess picked up the golden band and brought it softly, gently up to Eggsy’s finger. He could see her happy smile as he did the same, and, for one horrible second, he wondered what it would be like if that were him standing instead of the lovely, safe, and mentally whole princess whom Eggsy had chosen.

He could hear people starting to clap all around him as the two drew close to kiss - the final dagger to Harry’s heart. The man swallowed hard and brought his hands up despite the fact that they felt far too heavy to move. He clapped slowly, clenching his jaw as he felt tears prickle at his eyes. He would not cry, not here, not with people around, not with Eggsy just a few meters away from him. He needed to keep it together, at least for a few more hours. It mattered not that the wretched image of the two kissing at their wedding would forevermore be seared in Harry’s mind, like a virus unwilling to leave.

He schooled his face into an expressionless mask as Eggsy, surprisingly, impossibly, turned to Harry then instead of taking his bride’s hand to lead her down the aisle and out of the church. He raised a single brow as Eggsy approached him, looking at Harry with that brilliant smile of his and those soft eyes that made Harry’s knees weak. The boy did not stop until he was pressed close enough to Harry to bring his arms around the older spy. Harry froze for a second, unsure of what was happening.

The first thing that came to mind was the fact that this single hug was breaking hundreds of rules both within the spy world and within Eggsy’s new royal world. This was bringing attention to Harry, who was fucking Arthur, so the smart thing to do was to step away and hide deeper in the shadows. They couldn’t be seen together. Not now not ever again.

The second thing he realized was that this was likely the last time he would see Eggsy in person. This was the last hug he was going to get, the last time he would get to speak to the light of his life. So, throwing caution and reason out the window, he responded to Eggsy’s hug and crushed the young man against him, breathing him in, memorizing him. He brought his hand up to caress Eggsy’s hair - just once, just briefly, but it was still a stolen moment Harry would forever cherish.

He pulled back slightly, grabbing Eggsy’s hands as he came to a third realization; He could never tell Eggsy he was in love with him, but he could let him know he loved him.

“You are the most wonderful young man I have ever had the pleasure to meet, and I am so proud of everything you have accomplished, as I am sure your father would have been too,” Harry said, his voice shaking slightly. “You… have brought so much light into my life, when it was so dark and so empty before, I will never be able to thank you enough for that. I will always cherish the memories you have given me - both good and bad,” Harry teased, thinking back at the many times Eggsy’s antics in missions had brought Harry close to a heart attack.

Eggsy gaped at Harry, a hint of fear in his eyes. “Harry, why the fuck do yeh sound like yeh are sayin’ goodbye? This is not goodbye,” Eggsy insisted, his tone turning desperate. “I mean I’ll see ya soon, yeah? You’re gonna come see me soon, and-”

Harry did not reply, not sure whether Eggsy was being serious - in which case he was delusional - or if he was just saying that to alleviate the pain for both of them. Either way, Harry was not going to follow his charade. And so he squeezed the young man’s hands before whirling him around, gently pushing him towards his bride.

“Enjoy your honeymoon,” Harry said softly from where he stood behind Eggsy, once again only able to appreciate the young man’s back.

Tilde grabbed her husband’s hand, but Eggsy looked back at Harry, that same fear and incomprehension in his eyes. Harry in turn looked at Eggsy’s sinfully soft lips, distantly remembering the most wonderful and most cursed moment of his year when Eggsy had drunkenly pressed his lips against his.

He wished he could still one more kiss. But that train was long gone.

So Harry stepped back deeper into the shadows just as Tilde pulled Eggsy’s hand, looking worried herself at the fact that her husband didn’t seem to be responding properly. Eggsy allowed himself to be pulled, shaking his head softly as he forced himself to put on a smile.

He had no idea what Harry was on about, talking like they were saying goodbye, but he would get to the bottom of it. He would corner the man at his wedding reception, propriety be damned. He just had to smile right now for the next half hour, and then tell Tilde that Harry was acting weird so he had to go figure out what the shit was happening.

Eggsy looked back at the altar one more time, hoping to catch one last glimpse of Harry to see if he could understand the emotions hidden in that inscrutable mask of his, but Harry was no longer standing there. He couldn’t see Harry among the crowd.

“Eggsy are you alright?” Tilde asked as she pressed closer, looking distressed.

“Yeah babe, sorry. I just… Harry said something… I… need to talk to him. I’ll catch him at the reception,” Eggsy said as he forced himself to smile.

Tilde did not respond, already knowing that Harry would not be there.

Harry looked around slowly, his eyes resting on the golden ornaments cascading from the ceiling of the church. He wasn’t one to go exploring cathedrals - he much preferred the outdoors where he could observe the butterflies - but he had to admit this particular church was gorgeous.

He could even clinically see that this was a rather peaceful place, and he would have likely felt comfortable and calm here had he been here under any other circumstances.

“I would have expected you to have left by now,” Merlin said suddenly from behind Harry, stepping out of the shadows just like Harry had a few minutes ago.

Harry hummed, not turning to look at his friend. “I like the quiet here,” Harry said softly. “I was also waiting for everyone to leave,” Harry noted simply.

Merlin huffed, not bothering to point out the spy’s antics. “I assume you won’t be attending the reception?”

“No, you will have to inform Eggsy that I regrettably had to skip the festivities in order to attend to a mission,” Harry said tonelessly, the command clear in his voice.

Merlin did not comment on the fact that Harry was asking Merlin to lie for him; he had done it enough times in the past for a myriad of reasons not to do it freely now. “I know the question is a bit inane, but are you alright?”

Harry snorted, seemingly amused. “I am fine, Merlin. I will survive.”

Merlin rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I am saying, and you know it. If you ignore him for the rest of your life, you will only make yourself more miserable because you’ll miss him on top of loving him. That’s no way to live, Harry. You can try to repress your feelings all you want, at some point you will break down. We all do. You’ve been given a precious second opportunity at life. We both have. Don’t waste yours,” Merlin insisted as he came to stand in front of Harry, looking at the man straight in the eye.

Harry looked away and sighed. “Merlin, we both know I have been living on borrowed time for a long time. Anyway it doesn’t really matter. My personal life is inconsequential, it always has been and it always will be - even more so now. There’s much left to do at Kingsman, and wallowing won’t help us accomplish that.”

Merlin took a step closer, his eyes full of fire and sadness. “ I won’t let you hide behind the agent. Not again. I won’t let Arthur destroy whatever’s left of my best friend’s heart.”

Harry smiled sadly at his best friend, wrapping his hand around the back of Merlin’s neck and raising himself slightly on his feet to kiss the bald man’s forehead. “Enjoy your weekend. Take Roxanne somewhere nice, and rest a bit. I will see you Monday for debriefing.”  

Harry whirled around and elegantly made his way out, his feet not making a single sound. He slipped out of the church through one of the back exits, putting his sunglasses on before closing the door behind him. Merlin watched him sadly, recognizing all the signs that told him that Harry was drawing up his walls higher than ever.

Harry closed the door to his eerily quiet home, not bothering to turn the lights on as he blindly made his way to his study. He opened one of the small cabinets in the back and pulled a bottle of scotch, picking up a glass automatically. He distantly wondered if the glass was really necessary, considering he wasn’t planning on leaving any contents left on the bottle, but he figured his father would roll in his grave if he saw Harry drinking straight from the bottle.

Respect to oneself and all that.

Harry picked out the ice and put it in his glass before pouring a generous amount of liquid. He grabbed the glass and the bottle as he made his way to Eggsy’s room, taking a long gulp before opening the door. Eggsy had, for better or worse, left most of his things packed in cardboard boxes. The boy had hoped Harry could send him his things back to the palace, but the reality was that the majority of what Eggsy had packed Harry could never send, as his Kingman clothing and equipment could never be associated with the Swedish royalty.

He grabbed the boxes and brought them down to the rejected study room which had slowly become a storage room thanks to the amount of crap Eggsy used to throw there on the daily. He did not see where he dropped the boxes, could not bring himself to know. He went back upstairs, pouring himself a second glass before heading to his own room. He opened his closet with partially unsteady hand, quickly taking out a ridiculous amount of clothes; jeans, polo shirts, and bright suit shirts.

Eggsy had gotten all that for him, partially as a joke and partially because the young man truly believed Harry needed to have more “comfortable” clothes for his days off. Harry had fought the young man on principle, but seeing the sheer delight on Eggsy’s face when Harry had finally donned on a pair of jeans with a pale pink polo had crumbled his defenses. And so he had allowed Eggsy to spend hours in his room, moving his suits around to make space for the dismal clothing he so loved on Harry.

He gulped down the entire second glass of scotch and poured a third glass before half tripping down the stairs to put the clothes in black bags which he promptly binned right outside his home. He stayed outside for a few minutes, letting the cold air hit his face and chill his body. He enjoyed the cold, the bite of the wind on his skin and the few droplets of water staining his skin as the night rain began to fall. He knew he had to go in, however, lest his neighbors see him outside. In general, he preferred to be the mysterious, absent neighbor; it helped protect his job quite well.

Once inside he walked towards the stairs, but stopped short on the first step, as a thought corrupted his head. He walked slowly to his guest bathroom, turning the light on for the first time that night. He looked up and around the bathroom, taking in the beauty of his butterflies. He could still remember his first collection, which he had gotten as a way to feel less lonely, to keep a piece of his young, carefree self. The butterflies had been, for years, a reminder of his sacrifices to Kingsman, a tribute to his happy memories - both of his youth and his early first years at Kingsman when he had still been more of a lepidopterologist than a spy and assassin.

Now they just reminded him of Eggsy.

Harry covered his eyes, the alcohol finally starting to catch up with him; he felt sick. Still, he pushed past the feeling and walked out of the bathroom, turning off the light and locking the door. He would have to think about what to do with this bathroom in the morning, with a clear head and a calm mind.

Right now, he just needed another drink.

Chapter Text

Harry rubbed at his temples, fighting against the bile rising up his throat - courtesy of the brain splitting migraine he was suffering from this morning. To be perfectly fair, his current state of being really was all his fault. He knew alcohol no longer agreed with him, not since losing his eye and undergoing head trauma.

And yet he had he had drank the night away to the point of blackout.Hell, he couldn't even remember the last time he had drank that much, especially alone.

So yes, this was very much his own damn fault, which was why he did not feel particularly compelled to complain, lest Merlin hear him and scream at him while dragging his ass to the infirmary in front of his agents.

Harry sighed as he stood up, bringing his hands up to click a small button on the side of his glasses, tinting them black in seconds. He breathed out in relief as his eyes adjusted to the partial darkness. He fixed his pristine suit and walked out of his office, for once sure that he was early to the biannual meeting.

“Good Morning Arthur,” Merlin said as he looked up to regard Harry with those knowing, calculating eyes of his.

Harry was quite sure the man could tell exactly how many drinks he had had the night before. “Merlin,” he responded with a curt nod as he came around the table to sit at the head.

He did not fail to notice the fact that Merlin was now sitting to his right on Eggsy's newly vacated seat. Part of him was eternally grateful for that, as it meant he did not have to see the seat empty, did not have to consider it. Another part of him wanted to scream at how wrong it felt to have Merlin sitting in Eggsy's chair.

He thankfully did not have the time to consider it more fully, as Roxanne chose that moment to walk into the room, giving both men a warm smile. “Hello boys,” she said with a small wink as she came to sit on Harry's blind side.

“Looking dashing as always darling,” Merlin said, unable to keep his gushing in his head.

“I should have known you two would become insufferable,” Harry teased without malice, half tempted to make gagging noises.

Before Merlin could answer to his friend's jab, the door opened again, revealing their six virtually brand new agents. They each looked around the table, looking relieved when they noticed their code names were set out in front of their respective seats to avoid them having to ask where to sit. Tequila and Whiskey walked in right after, and they nodded politely at Harry before walking towards the table to their own seats. Tequila sat at the other end of the table, facing Harry directly, and Whiskey sat to his left, on the same side as Merlin.

Harry looked around the table, frowning slightly in distaste as the empty seats made their presence known.

“Good Morning, everybody, I am glad you could all join me today in person,”Harry begun, keeping his voice monotone and professional. “Generally, we do attempt to have all agents in-house when we hold our biannual meetings, but ongoing missions always take precedence. As you can see, there are still seats empty that need to be filled,” Harry said as he waved at the room at large. “There are currently seven of you thus we still need five more in order to return the table to twelve active agents.”

Jamal looked utterly confused at Harry’s words, and the man smiled. He was sure his teammates were having a similar reaction, they were just better at hiding it. “Tequila and Whiskey belong to the American branch called Statesman, thus I am not counting them as permanent fixtures here at Kingsman,” Harry explained, giving Jamal a small smile.

The young man blushed, clearly embarrassed at having been caught questioning Harry’s math, but nodded nonetheless.

“We will need to start recruiting again immediately, which means you each have to submit a person to be considered for the open positions. Merlin, I will need you to once again provide the names of the majority of the candidates due to the unusual circumstances,” Harry said as he turned to look at his friend.

Merlin nodded, internally groaning at the hours of research he would have to put into this. “Of course, Arthur. I shall have a list ready in a week’s time.”

Harry nodded. “Wonderful, then that means I expect everyone here to have a candidate in a week… and a half,” Harry amended after a second, taking pity on them.

“Um, what types of candidates are acceptable sir?” Emilie - now Percival - asked softly as she leaned forward, clearly still intimidated by Harry.

“Anyone that you consider is Kingsman material - meaning they can undergo the same training you did and pass each test with flying colors. I realize none of you have gone on any missions past basic recon and information extraction yet, but I am sure you’ve heard many stories either from your sponsors or from the agents that trained you. That should give you an idea of the type of people we are looking for,” Harry answered patiently. “The goal is to be back to at least eleven before the end of the year. The twelfth member… can wait for a while,” Harry said, his voice ging distant as Eggsy’s smile came to mind. “For now, I would rather concentrate on getting your hands a bit dirty in the field without dying.”

Harry turned to look at Merlin, giving him a small nod. Merlin stood up then and looked at the group. “Alright lads, you have made it to Kingsman. The true test begins now,” he informed them as he picked up his clipboard. “A few reminders; No one outside this room can know you are an agent. Your cover stories have all been delivered to your homes. Memorize them and burn them. Romantic entanglements with civilians are strictly prohibited, and you will do well to remember that. The same goes for entanglements with your fellow kingsmen - whether agents or handlers - until you have received Arthur’s explicit permission-”

Merlin narrowed his eyes as he was interrupted by a few wolf whistles courtesy of Tequila. He had caught he and Roxy kissing in his office not two days ago, which had turned him insufferable every time Roxy was in a room with Merlin. Honestly, the quartermaster was just considering killing him and getting the issue over with.

He also noticed the way George’s eyes went a little wide at Merlin’s words, before they snapped to Harry, concern clear in his eyes. Merlin frowned slightly, and filed the information away for later. Merlin  knew the young man had been dating a woman before accepting the offer at Kingsman. He also knew he had broken up with her, so he wasn’t sure why their dating policy would have him looking concerned.

“Please remember to speak to your assigned handler before leaving headquarters today so you start getting acquainted. Unless you are running a major operation - in which case you’ll be running them with me - your assigned handler will guide you in all your missions. If any issues arise, you come to me directly. Also, you must pass by my Arthur’s office in order to select an area of specialization. Please remember your area won’t necessarily be of your choosing, but rather it will be based on your prior tests and your proficiencies.”

With that Merlin sat back down, looking over at Harry. Harry gave him a nod in Thanks before sitting slightly straighter, interlacing his fingers. “I know you were inducted a little while ago, but it would be remiss not to welcome you all again, now that you finally have your proper condenames. Since you are all very new, you will not be assigned any major operations for your first year at the very least - not alone anyway. Your work will start today, effective immediately. Merlin will be assigning your first missions. You will do your research, and will prepare for them. They are all low level missions, so I expect all of you to do extremely well,” Harry warned, setting his expectations clear on the table. “You will also be rotated to accompany Tequila, Whiskey, Lancelot, and myself on major operations, which will resume next week.”

Harry looked over at Roxy, giving her a rueful smile. “I am afraid my dear, our workload is about to be tripled,” he admitted quietly.

She nodded in understanding, and gave her boss an encouraging smile.

“I do believe we don’t have anything left to discuss. You can all proceed to the castle. Your handlers are waiting for you,” Harry dismissed nonchalantly as he stood, formally allowing them all to do the same.

Merlin was the only one that stayed behind, twiddling with the pen on his clipboard as the new agents slowly filed out, some looking nervous and others excited. He sent a reassuring smile Roxy’s way, when she shot him a questioning look to try to understand the reason for his and Harry’s staying.

“So you are going back to the field then,” Merlin said once his girlfriend closed the door behind her, still looking worried despite Merlin’s attempt at reassurance.

“Yes, I am ready,” Harry confirmed, trying to sound unconcerned.

Merlin hummed, knowing deep down that despite his worry his friend was right. “I saw a tentative schedule you compiled last night. You are putting all the toughest missions on your plate,” Merlin noted quietly, not looking at Harry in the eye.

“We are understaffed, Merlin, and I am not going to put brand new agents in such precarious positions so soon,” Harry reasoned, raising a brow at his friend.

“Harry… you have Lancelot, Tequila, and Whiskey at your disposal,” Merlin said, sounding slightly annoyed. “You are going to burn yourself out. You have to be careful. You haven’t been in the field in over a year.”

Harry bristled. “My job is to make sure Kingsman thrives, Merlin. That means being completely hands on at the moment.” He stood up, and looked down at his friend with cold eyes. “I know we won’t always see eye to eye, but I am not trying to be a martyr. I am just trying to get things done.”

Merlin sighed but nodded, knowing nothing he said would change Harry’s mind. He knew part of it was Harry’s passion and professionalism acting up; he was Arthur now, and he would not accept anything less than perfection from himself. Merlin also knew, however, that part of the reason why he was assigning the absolute hardest missions to himself was because it was a quick, easy release in order to keep himself from mourning Eggsy’s loss.

Harry walked into the darkened observation room, fourth coffee of the day in his left hand and a hefty report on his right. He gave a small, tight nod to his nephew who was standing close to the tinted window, looking a bit troubled. The young man barely acknowledge Harry’s greeting with one of his own, clearly both still mad and distracted.

Harry did not admonish him, instead deciding to lean against one of the tables at the back and continue reading the report. His nephew would talk to him when he was ready. Harry had to give him time to work through his anger, especially considering that anger was directed at Harry himself.

It had been two months since George had become Gawain, and the boy was adapting rather well to his new role, all things considered. However, one main issue remained; he was a bit too much of a romantic. After his breakup with his girlfriend - courtesy of Kingsman policies - he had been heartbroken all throughout training. However, the boy had apparently moved on as he had begun dating a young woman who had just been hired within the tech department.

Why the boy had thought he could keep such information from Merlin, when the girl in question worked in Merlin’s dominion and ergo answered to the man’s all-seeing scrutiny, was beyond Harry’s understanding. He wasn’t sure if it was simply a lack of self-preservation, or if his nephew truly underestimated the scope of Merlin’s abilities.

Of course, as soon as Merlin had found out, he had come to Harry with the information, knowing that, as much as he wanted to rip George a new one, that dubious pleasure fell onto Harry’s shoulders. Harry - the uncle - had felt bad for his nephew, knowing that he couldn’t let such a dandilaince continue. Arthur, the head of Kingsman, had been beyond furious at the thought that Gawain had not only disregarded clear Kinsgman protocol but had also decided it was preferable to lie to his superior officers.

He had called them both to his office, and had delivered the lecture of a lifetime. He had docked appropriate punishments; a fifty page report for each on why their behavior had been unacceptable, and they had both been assigned to run sixty extra hours of drills in their respective areas of specialization. Harry had also made sure to tell them in no uncertain terms that even if they were to ask for his permission to enter into a relationship, he would not grant his permission. And, of course, they would not be allowed to work on missions together for the next few years at least.

After such a swift and brutal response, his nephew had stopped talking to Harry whenever they were not in a meeting or strictly working together. Harry did not blame him; he would have likely had a similar reaction if someone had tried to do that to him and Eggsy - that is if they had ever been together. Of course, the main difference was that his nephew had just recently met this young woman and was not madly in love with her.

Harry was sure the boy would be fine soon enough; what did worry him, however, was the fact that he was sure something like this would happen again and he wasn’t sure if next time the boy would actually fall in love.

“Are you going to be doing the interrogating?” Gawain asked after a few more minutes of stone cold silence.

Harry did not look up from the dossier in his hand. “Yes.”

Gawain bit his lip, clearly wanting to give Harry a piece of his mind, but not feeling 100% sure whether he wanted to do this now. “How long have you been working at Kingsman again?”

“I was recruited a bit after I had turned twenty,” Harry said calmly as he finally looked up. “So twenty seven years, this year.”

“And have you ever fallen in love?” His nephew asked quietly, still looking at the darkened glass.

Harry raised a brow warily. “I have been, yes,” he responded finally, not willing to go deeper into the topic.

“And… did you… were you kept from being with them because of Kingsman regulation?” his nephew asked bitterly, as he finally turned to look at Harry.

Harry smiled tightly at his nephew, appreciating the boy’s resourcefulness. He knew the boy was not in love - it was too soon to be real love - but Harry could appreciate the boy’s effort to make Harry empathize. “It wasn’t rules that kept me from being with him, no, though it would have certainly been highly inappropriate for me to engage in congress with him.”

George furrowed his brow, feeling a bit at a loss. “If regulation wasn’t an issue then why-”

“Because he didn’t love me,” Harry said, his voice sounding more strained than he would have liked. “I don’t see why talking about this is necessary, Gawain,” Harry said cooly, using the boy’s title to place some much needed distance.

George bit his lip, keeping his eyes on the floor as he said “what did you do when you realized you couldn’t be with the person you loved?”

“I got blackout drunk and went back to doing the only real thing I know how to do,” Harry found himself responding, feeling compelled by something deep within him to be truthful.

“And what’s that?”

“Killing people.”

George gaped at him, not sure how to respond to that. Harry, meanwhile, just sighed and offered a small smile. “George… I have never claimed to have the best coping mechanisms. I don’t deal with… sentimentalities as most people do. I simply dismiss them and compartmentalize. My job is my world. That is… all I have ever known. All that I… Kinsgman is the one constant in my life. It gives me meaning and it provides me a way to help others,” Harry finally said, still not sure why the hell he was telling his nephew all this. “I do not recommend you to be like me. In fact, you should have a life outside of work. Or at least, as much of one as possible.”

“Then why won’t you let me date Marissa?” George bit out. “She is kind and sweet and smart and she… she makes me want to be a better man, a better agent. I know I fucked up by not telling you but surely-”

“Do you know how interrogations work, George?” Harry asked suddenly, interrupting the boy.

George recoiled slightly, his anger seemingly building at the sudden change of topic. “What?”

“Interrogations. Do you know what the best techniques are for getting information out of people,” Harry repeated this time more forcefully.

“I… torture, I assume?” The boy replied with an annoyed sigh.

Harry hummed, and stood up straight. “Occasionally, yes, but it has been proven time and time again that physical pain is not the strongest motivator to get them to spill their precious secrets. If you inflict enough pain, they’ll just tell you what you want to hear,” Harry explained as he passed the report onto his nephew. “Now, people stay quiet generally for two reasons: out of a heavy sense of loyalty - either to their organization or to their ideology - or for fear something worse will happen to them or their family if they do indeed give us information. In the face of this, there’s two ways to extract information that are more effective than torture. The first being seduction - if they don’t know you’re tailing them - or psychological torture.”

Harry approached the window, his chocolate eyes turning colder and colder by the second, making George shuffle back with a hint of fear.

“In that case of the latter you need to be able to break their ties to the organization - by either showing them said organization doesn’t care about them or that their ideology is somehow flawed. Those two are often hard to achieve with zealots and radicals, so another method was thought up; attack, threaten or emulate the destruction of those the person cherishes above all else.”  

Harry turned slightly to face his nephew, the fire in his eyes having died down to simple sadness. “For years, the official ruling in kingsman was that no relationships were allowed whatsoever. Why do you think that is?”

George swallowed hard, shuffling on his feet as he said “so that they could be more effective in the field? I mean if they don’t have anyone… then there’s no one to leave behind if you die.”

Harry smiled tightly. “In part, yes, but the real reason behind the policy was that, if you have no attachments, then no one can get to you. Everyone is designed to protect those they love and most people will give in if the one they are torturing is their spouse or their children.”

Harry stopped for a second then, letting the words sink in. “Merlin was against my changing the rules, despite the fact that it would benefit him personally if I did. He did not believe it prudent to question the wisdom of such a rule. However, I felt that, with the right precautions, we could at least turn it into something a bit more moderate - more doable. That is why Arthur must always approve of a relationship before it is allowed,” Harry explained as he walked closer to his nephew, half towering over him. “Arthur’s job is to know his agents like the palm of his hand. Thus Arthur can ascertain whether they are ready to give up everything for Kingsman if they have to. I allow only those relationships that, if push comes to shove, the people involved will be willing to let the other die for the common good - even if it destroys them completely.”

Harry looked at the window then, watching as Merlin walked in with their make do prisoner. “Merlin might love Roxanne more than he loves life itself, but I have no doubt in my mind that, if she were captured in order to get him to, say, give over Kingsman’s most valued information, then Merlin would beg for her forgiveness for the rest of his days, but he would let her die. Similarly, Roxanne would put a bullet in his brain herself if it meant saving the world.”

George gaped, unsure whether he was impressed by his uncle’s story or repulsed. He also wasn’t sure how to feel about the very visible fact thta his uncle was so used to compartmentalizing, he didn’t let himself… feel anymore - at least not like most others did.  

“He is ready for you, Harry,” Merlin said as he walked into the observation room.

Harry nodded in thanks and walked out of the room without so much as another glance towards his nephew. The boy would have to process that in his own time, in his own way.

Merlin looked at the young man from the corner of his eye, and sighed. “You can stay and watch if you wish, but I am warning you now… it’s not going to be pretty. Interrogations never are. They’re certainly not for everyone.”

Gawain looked between Merlin and the glass, noticing the predatory look in his uncle’s deathly eyes.

“Merlin… is he… okay? There’s something… off about my uncle.”

Merlin did not respond. How was he supposed to explain the fact that Harry was grieving? How could he tell him of the multiple occasions in which Harry had learned how to cope with pain by mutilating his own heart - by throwing himself into his work to the point that only the agent was visible to the naked eye?

How could he tell this young, fresh, naive agent that the field made you hard, made you vicious, bloody and dark? How could he explain that, for Harry, pain and duty were quickly becoming one and the same?

“Perhaps you should ask him and not me, lad.”

Chapter Text

Merlin sat next to Harry in one of the man's newly acquired plush armchairs, both looking at the warm fire cackling in the middle of the room. Both had discarded their shoes long ago, preferring to keep their socked feet near the warm fire on the soft carpet. Each man held a glass of scotch and, in Harry's case, a cigarette on his left as well.

Harry had quit the nasty habit years ago, in part thanks to Merlin's constant pressuring. However, he had retaken the habit at some point in the past six months, after Eggsy had married and the agency had been thrown into a brand new era with all-new agents. Merlin still couldn't quite believe it had been six months already, and yet, at the same time, it felt like it had been much longer since Eggsy had left.

They had accomplished an alarming amount of things in just six months, mostly due to the fact that Harry had thrown himself into his work headfirst. Merlin had never seen him this dead set on his work. When he wasn't on a mission - which he often was - the man was dealing with Arthur related matters that often kept him at the office until two or three in the morning, only to be back at the office at seven or eight in the morning for his daily debriefings with Champagne and Merlin.

It had gotten to the point that Merlin barely saw his best friend outside of work related matters. He was quite sure, in fact, that this was the first time he was in Harry's house since Eggsy had left. He had tried expressing his concern a few months back, but Harry had quickly shot that tirade down, making it clear he was neither willing to listen nor willing to change the pace at which he was going. Champagne had expressed his concerns to Merlin a few weeks back but had not voiced them to Harry directly, knowing the man would not take it well.

Merlin knew a large part of this radical change had to do with Eggsy's departure. Harry still loved him, of that Merlin was sure, which made this all the harder for Harry. The man was probably the most emotionally stunted person Merlin had ever come across, and his coping mechanisms were not, and had never been, the healthiest. He didn't know how long this process would take, but it terrified Merlin, because he truly was not sure he would recognize his best friend once they reached the other side. Even now, there were days where he only saw Arthur.

It broke his heart to see Harry like this. More importantly, it bothered him that he had no idea what to do to help. Harry was as stubborn as they came. It was like talking to a wall.

Harry took a slow drag of his cigarette, facing up towards the ceiling as he slowly exhaled the smoke, his eyes closed in pleasure. “Merlin you are thinking too loudly,” he informed his friend. “Spit it out would you?”

Before the man could say anything, Roxy opened the front door, calling out a greeting as she toed of her shoes and dropped her coat on the hanger. She walked into the warm living room, beaming at the two tired looking men. “Sorry, I'm late. I got caught up in debriefing, but I brought food!”

Harry smiled indulgently at the much younger woman, standing up to greet her. He took the bags from her hands before kissing her cheek. “I’m very glad you finally got her, my dear. I think five more minutes and Merlin would have blown off an artery due to worry.”

Roxy chuckled as she approached her boyfriend to give him a short but sweet kiss on the lips. “Were you nagging Harry about me again?” She teased as she placed another kiss on the man’s lips.

“I have not even said a word for the past twenty minutes,” Merlin informed her, half offended, in between kisses.

“Like I said, old friend, you think too loudly. But no matter, I think we should eat. I, for one am starving. I don’t think I’ve had a proper meal in at least two weeks.”

Roxy rolled her eyes, but the concern there was unmistakable. “When did you come back from your last mission?”

“This morning,” Harry said as he turned to look at Merlin for confirmation. In all honesty, he had been pushing himself so hard lately, the days seemed to blur together half the time.

Merlin nodded, clearly looking unhappy. “Yes, he landed at five thirty today, and forced us to have a debrief at six.”

Harry chuckled. “Stop your whining, Merlin. I didn’t make you leave your home, now did I? Besides the lovely Roxanne was not even there to keep you warm, so it wasn’t like you had any good reason to stay in bed.”

“Sleep seems like a damn good reason,” Merlin grumbled as he too got up to head to the dining room.

He helped Harry set the table as Roxanne got the food out and placed it in the middle of the table. When Eggsy and Harry had first moved into this home, they had begun a tradition of sharing different plates whenever ordering food. Harry had continued on that tradition with Roxy and Merlin, in part due to necessity and in part as a last minute ditch to keep some things similar to before. He was in the office more often than not, which half the time forced Merlin to stay late as well. Thus, Roxanne had just adapted to their hectic schedule and had started ordering them all food. Each week the culinary theme would change, as to avoid ordering from the same place to keep the compound safe.

They would sit in Harry’s office and eat on the sitting room, as Harry’s desk was often overcrowded. There had even been times they had eaten on the floor since, when his desk rank out of space, he used the coffee table and every other surface available in the office. In truth, it used to bother Roxanne at the beginning. She loved her job, but it had frustrated her to no end that she could never have a dinner at home with her boyfriend. But, after six months of doing the same thing, she had grown to love it. She was still spending quality time with the man she loved, and she had the added bonus of spending time with Harry, whom she had become worryingly attached to. She was almost as fond of him as she was of Eggsy, even though she had known him for far less time.

Perhaps it was because she admired him so much, or because it worried her that they barely saw him outside of those cozy dinners - that were often filled with work as well, given that Harry didn’t seem to know what the word rest meant.

“I assume your mission was successful?” Harry asked the young woman once he had finished putting food on his plate.

She grinned at the man. “Yes, I was able to dismantle the ring. There were a few unexpected twists, and more targets than I had accounted for, but it ended up being alright.”

“You’re not injured are you?” Merlin asked seriously, leaning forward to check for any visible injuries.

“I bruised my ribs, and I have a few scrapes on my legs,” Roxy admitted with a soft blush. “But nothing major. They sent Tequila to back me up.”

Harry chuckled. “I imagine he blew everything up?”

Merlin groaned. “I am thankful for his assistance, but he honestly needs to learn a little self control. He’s worse than Percival ever was.”

Roxy’s eyes turned a little misty as she remembered her uncle. “I wish I could have seen Percival on the field.”

Harry patted her hand, not sure whether a comforting word would be of much help but knowing he had to help cheer her up somehow. “He would have been very proud of you, Roxanne. In only two and a half years of service, you have already become our top active agent.”

She snorted. “No, I am not. You still hold that title, Harry. In fact, I am pretty sure you have broken every record in Kingsman. You have the most number of successful missions, the highest number of kills, the highest score in weapons, logistics, and hand to hand combat,” she sighed. “I could go on but you get the point.”

Harry couldn’t help but smile a little smugly. “Why you are making me blush, darling,” He said in way of thanks. “But I have had almost thirty years in the field to get to those numbers,” he reminded her.

“Speaking of numbers,” Merlin interjected, thanking Roxanne in his mind for the timely topic. “I think you ought to take a vacation Harry.”

The man raised a brow, clearly surprised by the sudden change of topic. “Why on earth would I do such an irresponsible thing? I have six missions lined up for the next month and a half, I cannot take a break right now.”

Merlin frowned. “That’s exactly my point, Harry. Six missions in six weeks is a hell of a lot of work. You are running three of those consecutively, which can lead to mistakes.” Merlin leaned towards Harry. “Look, the new lads have been doing very well on lower level missions. I could send them on your two easiest ones, in groups of two, and monitor them myself. It would give them a chance to learn, and it could give you a chance to rest.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “So you want to block out four agents for two to three weeks just so that I can pull out of two missions? Are you out of your mind?”

Merlin glared at him. “It would give them more hands on experience on medium to high level mission difficulty. It would make them more independent on the field, and you could catch up on your work at the office, which you won’t be able to do at all if you go for these six missions,” he said sharply. “You have not allowed any of them to take high level cases since they started-”

“They have been working with us for six months Merlin, for goodness sake. Even I was not sent on red or black level missions until well into my second year,” Harry sneered. “I understand that you are worried about the amount of work I have decided to take on, but you have to put things into perspective. We are rebuilding the agency from the ground up. It is MY responsibility to make the transition into our old standards as easy as possible. So do me a favor and, if you can’t trust my judgement, then at least remember our stations and respect it.”

Merlin swallowed hard and sighed. This is exactly why he hadn’t wanted to talk to Harry about this. “Harry-”

“If you are so worried about breaks, then I suggest you send Roxanne on one. Hell, you should probably take one yourself,” Harry pointed out quickly. “You have been running all of my operations, Merlin, which means you have been working almost as much as myself. And let’s not forget Roxanne just came back from running two code red missions which she handled beautifully,” Harry praised as he turned to look at the young woman.

Roxanne smiled in thanks but said nothing, knowing that it would be unwise to get in the middle of this particular argument.

Merlin rolled his eyes. “Harry we’re fine we don’t need a break yet,” Merlin said exasperatedly.

“Oh no, but I insist,” The man said with a shard and dangerous smile. “I mean I had a whole year off when I was off in the looney bin in Kentucky. You two have not stopped in, what, two years? Truly, Merlin, I think you want to send me off on a vacation because you unconsciously want one.”

Merlin screwed his eyes shut. “Harry, I cannot take a vacation if you don’t, so this conversation is just going in circles.”

“That is not true and you know it,” Harry said slyly. “Roxanne has three upcoming missions in the next month that are all non-gender specific, and Whiskey was the former quartermaster of Statesman. I can pick up two of Roxanne’s missions and I can send one of our new agents on her lowest level mission. I will supervise personally.”

Merlin sat frozen, completely flabbergasted at the turn of events. This had not been what he had in mind when he had finally decided to talk to Harry about taking a break. “Harry you cannot possibly finish eight missions in a month and a half.”

Harry smirked. “It may take a few more days than that,” Harry admitted easily.

Roxanne looked between the two men, knowing that they were both gearing up for a fight. “Excuse me, I need the restroom,” she said quickly as she hightailed out of there.  

The last thing she wanted was to get into a fight with Harry. While she agreed with her boyfriend, she did not have the years of friendship to scream at Harry. More importantly, she knew how stubborn the man was. She doubted Merlin would be able to convince him.

All thoughts of their argument completely flew out of her mind as soon as she opened the door to Harry’s guest bathroom. She stood frozen with the light on, taking in the now bare walls. She looked around incomprehensibly, before walking purposefully back into the living room, leaving the light turned on.

“Harry, what happened with your butterfly collection?” She asked, sounding slightly scandalized. “Also what happened to the pastel beige of the walls?”

Merlin had told her a thousand times just how much Harry loved his butterflies. The man had been collecting them since he was a little boy. They had not always been stuck in the bathroom, that much she was sure of, but Merlin had told her ever since Mr. Pickle’s death, Harry had decided to put them altogether in the bathroom.

She did not pretend to understand her friend’s eccentricities, but she knew enough of human psychosis to know that something was very much off if Harry had turned so strongly away from a habit he had been following for so many years.

Harry stiffened slightly, but his face showed no emotion. “Oh nothing happened. I simply did a little redecorating around the house,” he said calmly, his eyes locking with Merlin’s shocked ones.

Neither man said a thing for an awkwardly long amount of time. Roxy looked between them, aware that they were communicating silently - an ability they had gained after almost three decades of friendship. Merlin was very clearly angry at Harry, while Harry was not giving in an inch. She bit her lip softly, unsure of what exactly she was supposed to do in a situation like this.

Eventually, Merlin broke eye contact with a heavy sigh and picked up his cup of wine. Roxy tracked his movements like a hawk until realization hit her; whatever private fight they had been engaging in, Merlin had lost.

“Did you read the report I sent you about our new personnel in the tech department?” Merlin asked suddenly, still looking unhappy.

Harry hummed, pleased at the sudden change in subject. “Yes, I read it this morning. I believe-”

Roxy tuned them out then, sitting back down to finish her dinner. She had no idea what the hell had happened, but she would have Merlin explain it to her once they were alone. She remained distracted for the majority of dinner, only emerging out of her bubble when she heard Merlin say “It’s getting late, we should probably start heading back home.”

She did not hesitate to grab his hand when he offered it to her to help her out of her sit, letting him lead her back to the foyer. Harry walked behind them, looking at ease. He helped Roxanne into her coat, and gave Merlin a warm him before ordering him to create a vacation pan by the end of the week so they wouldn’t be in the dark without him.

Merlin looked ready to strangle him but only nodded in acquiescence.

As soon as they were out of Harry’s home, and thus out of earshot, Roxanne pulled Merlin by the hand, to walk closer to him. “Are you gonna explain what the hell happened tonight? Is Harry alright?”

Merlin sighed. “No, not really.”

Roxy swallowed hard. “I need a bit more of an explanation than that, Hamish,” she complained.

Merlin clicked his tongue against his teeth. “Harry’s… always been very good at compartmentalizing,” he started explaining, sounding strained. “The Harry you see now is not the same man that walked in as a recruit almost thirty years ago. Back then, he used to dress in rather lively colors and he loved everything that had to do with art. He used to make masterful landscapes, compose music, perform poetry” Merlin smiled sadly. “He was in love with life. I remember the first time I walked into his old house, I almost got pink eye just from looking at the walls. There wasn’t an inch of his walls that was not covered in butterflies, sheet music, or flowers.” ”

Roxy’s mouth went dry. “I… what happened?”

Merlin shrugged. “Like I said, he compartmentalizes - and he does that too with his pain and his trauma. He started doing that because he could not afford to properly grieve anything, not if he wanted to be an effective agent. So, every time something shook him to his core - either because of a traumatic event in the field or due to the loss of someone he deeply cared about - he would simply suppress that emotion, and with it he would suppress a piece of himself. He took down one of his favorite paintings the first time he had to watch bystanders die on a mission. He took down every picture frame the day his father died.”

Roxy gaped at her boyfriend, feeling a surge of love and sympathy for their friend. “Is this because of Eggsy, then?”

“Most likely,” Merlin said without looking at her. “Harry has never been in love, my dear. He doesn’t know how to cope with heartbreak or how to move on. He has never had to do that, and he has never afforded himself the time to learn how to use proper coping mechanisms. With Eggsy leaving… well let’s just say I worry about whether anything will be left of Harry by the time he is done purging himself, or if I will walk into HQ one day to find that only Arthur is left.” Merlin looked back at Harry’s house, worry clear in his eyes. “To be entirely honest, considering the rate he is working at, I am not too sure it hasn’t happened already.”

Eggsy sat near the bathtub, soaped up sponge in hand. He was helping, or rather attempting to help, Tilde with her bath. But, if he were to detach himself from the situation and really look, he would be the first to admit he was doing a lousy job of it.

It wasn’t his fault - not really. It had been six months since the wedding, and this was the first time he was back in England, so, admittedly, he was more than a bit distracted. He had hoped this trip would help him detox from all the royal bullshit he had to deal with in Sweden, but so far that had not been the case.

They were here for a meeting with the queen - something Eggsy had not imagined himself doing even in his wildest dreams. He wasn’t sure whether to be excited or not. He had grown up hearing about the monarch, so, in a way it certainly was exciting, but he honestly would have rather just go to his mother’s home and watch a match with her, his sister, and his friends.

He had hoped he would grow into his role of royal consort, but each month it got progressively harder. It annoyed him to no end that he had to attend so many meaningless ceremonies and gatherings. He had been named patron of quite a number of things at this point, and yet he didn’t feel like he was doing much of anything. He brought awareness to many important causes, but he himself was not in the trenches fighting the good fight. This was the complete opposite of Kingsman.

Kingsman had been him working his ass off in the shadows to save a thankless world; now he had been thrust into the spotlight where he felt like he did no real work, and was surrounded by disturbingly fake people that only wanted something out of him. He was honestly not sure how he was going to survive becoming Prince when his wife became Queen.

To make matters worse, he not only felt useless but he felt lonely like he never had before. He had not been able to see his friends in months - phone calls and video calls had had to do, as he couldn’t get to England and they couldn’t take time off to get to Sweden. He had only seen his mother and sister once since the wedding, and everyone at Kingsman had completely dropped off the radar.

Eggsy still couldn’t think about that without feeling bile rise in his throat and anger clous his judgement. He understood that everyone at Kinsgman needed to be careful not to be seen with him, but complete radio silence? The coldness stung. He could not believe Harry had never bothered to inform Eggsy of his plans of cutting the young man off completely. Harry knew how deeply Eggsy cared for him, was that not enough to earn at least the minimum amount of respect? The man had not even had the guts to stay for his wedding reception.

It felt, in a way, that Harry wanted nothing to do with him, that he had simply waited for the perfect moment to cut Eggsy off from his life.

Eggsy suddenly stood up, mumbling an apology before walking out of the bathroom without bothering to wait for his wife to reply. He picked up his phone and dialed the still all too familiar number while holding his breath. He could blame Harry all he wanted, but he himself had not made any attempts to contact the man in the past six months as he had been both busy and waiting to hear from Harry first. Perhaps this was all a simple misunderstanding, and Harry had been waiting for him to reach out too.

Across town, Harry looked up from his bed, where he had laid out a number of weapons beautifully. He looked towards his nightstand, where his personal phone rested. He frowned slightly, knowing that Merlin and Roxanne were on their mandated vacation, which meant it was not either of them calling. He rounded his bed slowly, stopping only once he reached his nightstand. His hand hovered over the phone as he looked the number over. There was no name on the screen, but the number was swedish, which made Harry freeze to the spot. The only person he could think of that had his personal number that could have a Swedish phone code was Eggsy.

The last thing he had expected to encounter tonight was the possibility of Eggsy calling. The young man had made no attempt to contact him for the past six month. So why the hell was he suddenly trying now?


Harry dropped his hands to his side as realization hit him; Tilde and her husband had an engagement to fulfill in England with Her Majesty. Eggsy was back in England, albeit for a short time, which was likely what had prompted this call.

Harry had tried not to follow Eggsy’s life too closely after he had left, mostly to keep his sanity, but he had followed enough to know that Eggsy was happy. He was always all smiles and warm hugs whenever he and his wife were pictured together. It was clear he was adapting quickly to the ropes of royal life, as he carried out engagements to a T, whether or not Tilde was there with him to guide him. In truth, Harry was proud of him.

Eggsy gave it his all, no matter what the “it” was, which was why he was quickly becoming so well liked in his wife’s home country. Harry had known, of course, that he would do well and, while it was good to know Eggsy was happy, it still hurt. It hurt to see the confirmation that Eggsy did not want nor did he need Kingsman at all. He was his own man now, and he had left Harry and everyone else in the dust - as it should have been.

Harry sighed, walking back towards his weapons in order to finish cleaning them before putting them into his suitcase. He would not answer - could not answer. That would only lead to more pain in the end. Being back in England had likely reminded Eggsy of his old life, which had probably made him nostalgic. Considering he had not called at all for the past six months, it wasn’t likely that the nostalgia was all that strong.

It was Eggsy divesting himself of the last vestiges of a connection that remained between him and Kingsman. It was natural - and it would only break Harry down all over again if he heard the boy’s voice, knowing that they were in the same country, unable to see one another.

No, answering was not an option. He needed to help Eggsy let go - the faster, the better. There was no point in both of them being stuck in the past. With that in mind, he finished packing quickly, grabbing the bag and his drink without looking back at the still ringing phone.

As soon as he reached the first floor landing, his work phone began ringing in his pantsuit, prompting an eye roll from Harry. He took it out, half afraid that it was Eggsy trying the other phone. It was not the same number, thankfully.

“Arthur speaking,” Harry said as he brought the phone to his ear, his demeanor turning into all-business.

“Good evening, Arthur. I’m calling in regards to your upcoming mission. Your flight is due to leave in an hour and a half, so I am hoping we can get started with debriefing,” Whiskey said cheerfully, not sounding tired despite the late hour.

“Of course, my dear. I just finished packing, so, if you give me a few minutes, we can start the debrief once I am inside the car.”

“Alright, Arthur. I will call you in five then. Bedivere will meet you in the airport by the way,” she said agreeably before disconnecting the call.

Harry dropped his phone back into his pocket before walking out the door, silently promising himself to let go of his debilitating love for Eggsy. He had mourned the chance that never was for long enough; he was Arthur. He did not have time for this sentimental nonsense, not now and not ever again.

Chapter Text

Harry walked arm in arm with Merlin down a busy street in Hatton Garden, both men looking happy and at ease - a rare sighting these days. Neither was speaking, because, after so many years of friendship, conversation wasn’t always necessary. They could spend hours in companionable silence without ever feeling awkward or like they didn’t belong. In fact, they often sought each other’s company because they wanted silence; it was difficult to find those people that could stand hours upon hours of silence without starting to get twitchy. Both Merlin and Harry had that ability, and they were more than happy to quietly be there for each other when things just got to be too much.

They walked into what was likely the poshest store in the neighborhood - and therefore also the most discreet when handling their customers’ information - with seemingly barely more than a glance outside. What people would undoubtedly fail to notice, however, was the practiced, penetrating sweep of Harry’s gaze. They would fail to notice the way in which the man could catalogue people and their environment alike in mere seconds. He would know who was friend, foe, civilian - and anything in between. Merlin, on the other hand did a quick eye sweep of the inside of the store while Harry closed the door behind them.

It wasn’t that either thought they were going to be ambushed at a jewelry store in a neighborhood where they were seldom seen. At this point it was mostly routine; it was ingrained in them to always be aware of their surroundings, particularly  in new places. Thus, considering the fact that they had never been in this particular store, they both felt the need to be a little more cautious.

Merlin moved to walk in front of Harry without conscious thought, their training once again kicking in; Arthur always had to have someone in front to protect him in case of an attack. It was a natural adjustment to their old routine, which was probably why the clerk at the front of the store did not bat an eye, but simply smiled at the two men.

“Good Morning Gentlemen, How can I help you?”

“I am looking for an engagement ring,” Merlin responded amicably as he came to stand in front of the counter.

“Are you picking the ring together?” The clerk asked with a smile, looking between the two men.

Harry chuckled. “Not in the way you’re thinking, no. I am here to make sure he doesn’t pick a ghastly piece for the woman he loves.”

Merlin rolled his eyes. “My taste is not that terrible, you knob.”

“You can think whatever you want my dear Hamish, but Roxanne far prefers mine - so just stand there and look pretty darling.”

The clerk couldn’t help but laugh at the two men’s antics, their long friendship visible to anyone with eyes. The man moved around the counter with his little pouch of keys to bring out the three cases of diamond rings they had to select. Harry approached the counter alongside Merlin, keeping both his natural and bionic eyes trained on the delicate rings.

Merlin stood there half frozen, as if the reality of it all was finally seeping in. He was looking for an engagement ring. He, for the first time in his life, was actually considering - desperately wanting - the possibility of getting married. This was not a reality he ever thought possible, and, in all honesty, it was terrifying. He had no idea how exactly he was supposed to feel, or what one did in these kind of situations.

He had had no real romantic relationship before Roxanne; what if he cocked it all up? Not only that but he was much older than her, what if she ended up not wanting this? Worse, what if she died? The reality was that he would have to continue sending her on dangerous missions. He would have to let her die to save Kingsman if necessary. Was Harry right, could he really be practical enough to put duty over love?

Was this all simply a mistake born out of an infatuation he shouldn’t have fed to begin with.

Harry suddenly grabbed Merlin by the back of the neck, kneading the skin softly to ground his friend. With his other hand he took Merlin’s chin and forced the man to look him in the eye. “Breathe,” Harry commanded. “You are not making a mistake, Hamish. You deserve to be happy - both of you do. You are the first of… our kind to be afforded this privilege,” Harry half whispered to avoid having the curious clerk listen in on his pep talk.  “Roxanne is going to be over the moon when you ask, so stop worrying about the future and live in the present time. We will deal with what life throws your way when it comes - and I will help you every step of the way.”

Merlin swallowed hard and focused on breathing as instructed. Once he felt a little more settled in his own skin, he nodded. “Thank you,” he whispered fervently, before looking back down at the rings.

After a few minutes he picked up a white gold ring with three lovely diamonds shaped like a small budding flower. Harry in the meantime signaled to the clerk to walk with him a little further away once he was sure enough Merlin was absorbed in his search enough not to notice immediately. He pulled out a small pouch from his inner pocket and passed it to the man.

“Do you think you could resize that, and polish it?”

The man looked inside and his eyes grew large. “Family ring?” He asked, taking out the piece with gentle fingers.

Harry hummed in agreement. “It belonged to my mother, who loved that bastard,” Harry said pointing towards Merlin “like a son from the moment they met.”

“It shouldn’t be a problem to resize it. We may have to change the underlying structure holding the diamonds for something a little stronger, but we can make sure the design and the stones are not altered in the slightest.”

Merlin suddenly looked up when he realized Harry was no longer beside him. “What are you doing?” He asked curiously as he made his way over to the two men. He stopped short, however, once he noticed the ring the clerk was holding.

“Harry?” He asked, voice hoarse and trembling. “Is that-”

“Yes,” Harry confirmed. “I was thinking you could propose with this ring - that is if you want it.”

“But it’s one of your family’s heirlooms!” Merlin spluttered. “That ring alone is worth a fortune. Why doesn’t your sister have it?”

“Because mother left it to me as a final reminder that she wanted me to settle down and have a family. But, seeing as that is never going to happen, I think she would have liked you to have it instead. She would have been ecstatic to know that at least one of us is finally tying the knot.”

Merlin was unable to speak, unable to thank his friend, so he just closed the distance between them in two long strides and hugged Harry close. Harry patted his back, happy that Merlin seemed touched by the gesture.

Harry turned to look at the man, still embracing Merlin. “If we give you all the specifications, can you get it done within the week?”

They walked out of the store almost looking giddy, both men overjoyed by the prospect of Merlin getting married. “You’ll have to let me know when you plan to propose so that I can have Whiskey handle your missions for that night.”

Merlin nodded, before groaning softly. “I don’t know where we’ll find the time to actually plan and have this wedding.”

Harry smiled. “Well you and Roxanne will pick a date, and I will make it work. We will move your schedule and hers so that you can both take at least a week off. It’s fine, Merlin, we will make sure you’re married by the end of next year.”

Merlin shook his head. “You know the last thing I want to do is add more work to your pile. You barely do anything other than work as it is. I am not gonna let you use this wedding as an excuse to work yourself to death.”

Harry snorted. “I don’t need an excuse to work, Merlin. I am Arthur. Now stop worrying so much about me, and start figuring out how you are going to propose so that we can check if we need to rent a venue.”

Merlin looked scandalized. “We are not using Kingsman funds to propose to my girlfriend!”

Harry in turn looked offended. “I would never do that, you asshat. I have more than enough personal funds for such a thing - as do you for that matter.”

Merlin only chuckled. “Well I’ll have to have a think about. Honestly, I never thought I’d ever get this far. I mean, what if she says no?”

“And you call me pessimistic,” Harry said with a role of his eyes. “Merlin the girl is besotted. Why the hell would she say no?”

“Because… because!” Merlin said helplessly. “What if she wants kids, Harry?”

“Hamish, you’ve always wanted kids,” Harry said, sounding confused.

“Yes but our job is not exactly kid friendly, Harry! Who would take care of our child if we die?”

“I would, or her sister would. Hell, half of Kingsman would volunteer. You are not alone, Merlin. We are all going to be here to help. Most everyone wants what you two have, and, to get that, they need to convince me it works. So they are going to be on their best behavior, I am sure.”

Merlin seemed like he wanted to argue but a single cutting look from Harry stopped him in his tracks.

Harry looked at his friend in the eye and asked “do you truly love Roxanne?”

“You know I do, Harry.”

“Then there's nothing left to discuss, Hamish. Now, I will meet you both for dinner once you propose so I can congratulate Roxanne in person,” Harry concluded as he continued on, as calmly and efficiently as always.

Merlin looked after his friend, unable to keep a small smile off his face.

Tilde watched as her husband fumed while carelessly doing his tie. doing his tie in front of the mirror. She was sure the only reason he wasn’t muttering to himself in self righteous offense was because he was far too angry to actually speak.

Tilde knew Eggsy was having a difficult time adjusting to life as a royal, which had made her desperate to try to find a way to help her husband find his footing. She had tried at first tried to integrate him into her group of friends by suggesting he go out with her friend’s husbands or significant others. Eggsy, of course, had done his best to please her and so he had gone, but in the end - he had not meshed with the group at all.

To him, they were a bunch of posh twats that had no real idea of how the real world worked and who had not been in a dangerous situation in their entire life. To them, he was a social climber that had to find something bad about everything they said and did - add to that the fact that they had nothing in common they could speak about considering Eggsy’s past was marred with a rough childhood and then a few years where his job had consisted of stealing information and protecting people while killing others.

So, after that turn of events that had only left Eggsy more isolated, she had invited his mum and sister to stay over for a week, which had been nice - and had helped Eggsy feel a little less restless - but Daisy had had to go back to London for school, and with them had left Eggsy’s momentary distraction.  This had made Tilde desperate enough to reach out to Kingman to see if any of his friends were willing to visit. She had managed to set a date for Roxanne to come visit, which had left both her and Eggsy elated. But, what Eggsy had not known, was that Tilde had also reached out to Merlin and Arthur and neither man had ever responded to her messages or her calls - well, he had not known until today.

Hence why he was so furious. It felt to him like the utmost betrayal. Not only had Harry not come to his wedding reception, the man seemed hellbent on pretending he and Eggsy had never been close at all. He kept acting as if Eggsy did not even exist, as if he didn’t have feelings that could get hurt every time the man was an absolute prick - and that was what stung most of all. Out of everyone in his life, Harry had been the person he had trusted the most, had admired the most. So it stood to reason that the man’s sudden cruelty hurt the most, for he had finally opened Eggsy’s eyes to something he had never thought could happen; Harry had failed him too.

“Roxanne should be here soon,” Tilde said quietly, looking worriedly at Eggsy. “Do you want me to ask her to leave?”

“No,” Eggsy answered sharply, not looking up at Tilde as he fought to keep his emotions in check. “I have a lot of questions I am sure she can answer.”

“Eggsy please don’t start a fight with her,” Tilde said tiredly. “Can’t you just have a nice afternoon with her? We don’t even know if she’s staying past that.”

“So I am just supposed to play dumb and ignore the fact that her boyfriend and his best friend were disrespectful to ya and to me by fucking ignoring your calls and texts? No, babe. I ain’t never been afraid to stand up for myself, so they can all go fuck themselves,” Eggsy seethed just as Tilde’s assistant walked in.

“Ma’am Miss Morton is here.”

Tilde stood up with another sigh. “I’ll go greet her. Eggsy just… cool off for a second, alright? Please.” With that she made her way out of the room, not waiting for her husband to answer.

She walked down the stairs as fast as propriety allowed her in order to have a minute with Roxanne before Eggsy came into the room. She found the young woman standing by one of the double windows, looking as lovely as always. She couldn't help but notice that the young woman was wearing an engagement ring, which surprised her. As far as she knew no one at Kinsgman was allowed to engage in a relationship. 

Had she left as well? Was she on a mission? Was it just a random ring? it looked like an old and expensive family heirloom, so it was possible it had simply been passed down to her. 

Roxy turned to look at Tilde, offering her a warm smile and her hand in greeting. Tilde did not protest the fact that Roxanne did not curtsy, in fact a part of her preferred it. While the two were on more formal terms than with Eggsy’s other friends, at least Roxanne did not insist on following protocol with her.

“It’s very good to see you well, Roxanne,” Tilde started, unable to hide some of her stress from her voice.

“Thank you for inviting me over, I am very glad to see you too! I have so much to tell Eggsy,” she said with a musical chuckle. “How have things been here in Sweden?”

“Everything is… well to be honest I should warn you Eggsy is not on the best of moods today,” Tilde said with an apologetic smile.


“He’s… moving here has been rough for him. And when he found out that Harry and Merlin had not even let us know whether they were willing to come see him,” Tilde shook her head, moving to the window to look out to the palace gardens. “You know, I spoke with Harry before the wedding and he said “if he’s willing to give up his job and his friendships, then he surely loves you”, but you know something? I don’t think Eggsy considered even for one second that he would lose you all. His job, yes, but Harry?... he wasn’t prepared for that.

Roxanne stayed unnaturally still for a few minutes before walking closer to Tilde. “Well changes are always hard, princess. Maybe he just needs more time.”

Tilde snorted. “We’ve been married for over eight months now. He still hasn’t adjusted, not fully.”

Roxy bit her lip. “I… I am not quite sure what to tell you. I mean, I thought the exact same thing Harry thought. Eggsy is not stupid, he knew what marrying you meant, and he was so excited about it. I…” Roxane shrugged, unable to find the right words. “Perhaps you both just need to… try to find more of a middle ground? I am not sure what is driving Eggsy’s discontent but figuring out the exact reason might help both of you.”

Before Tilde could respond, Eggsy walked into the room, his anger still very much there, simmering under his skin. Tilde looked between the two of them, shooting Roxy an apologetic look just as she said “I am afraid I have a meeting with the Prime Minister, so I have to go, but I do hope to see you later for dinner.”

“Best of luck,” Roxy told her with a kind smile, both knowing she did not mean with the meeting.

Eggsy gave Tilde a quick kiss before she left, his cold eyes never leaving Roxy - who wasn’t even looking at him. The young woman didn’t need to, for she could feel Eggsy gearing up for a fight. She straightened then, her posture changing from friendly to neutral in seconds. She turned off her glasses, knowing this was not a conversation she needed Merlin - or Harry - reviewing later.

“Long time no see, Rox. I was beginning to wonder if yeh lot even cared if I was alive,” Eggsy began, his voice steely.

“Trust me, we would know if you weren’t,” she replied calmly, not willing to rise to the bait. “I’m glad you invited me over. It’s good to see you, Eggsy,” she said, attempting to end the fight before it could start.

Eggsy snorted. “Sure.”

Roxy rolled her eyes. “Are you really gonna do this right now Eggsy? You’re acting like a child.”

“I’m acting like a child? Your boyfriend doesn’t even answer his phone, and I’m the child? Harry doesn’t show up to my reception, stops answer his phone and drops off the face of the earth even when he knows I’m in town and I’m the one acting like a child? Oh come on, give me a break.” Eggsy paced back and forth, his anger rising with every step. He looked both ready to punch a wall and ready to cry. “You know what? Fuck Kingsman, fuck all of you.”

Eggsy whirled around to leave the room but Roxy grabbed him by the wrist and neatly brought him crashing down to the floor flat on his back. It was her turn to look absolutely livid. “First of all, you absolute moron, we don’t talk about the shop in an open space filled with guards and cameras,” she hissed at him as she leaned down to look him in the eye. “Second, what the hell did you think would happen when you got married Eggsy?” She asked honestly, trying her best to understand her best friend’s reasoning. “Your face is in the papers half the time. You are basically a celebrity now. The Kingsman tailor shop cannot be associated with you any longer. None of us can. It’s too dangerous,” she whispered, her faced dead serious. “Arthur cannot ever be seen anywhere near you. No one can know who he is. His anonymity is what keeps him mostly safe. I mean, do you honestly think it’s easy for them, you fucking ingrate? Harry moved mountains so that you could be happy and get married, because he cares so much about you.”

Eggsy gaped at Roxy, not quite comprehending the verbal thrashing she was giving him. “I am not asking him to come with paparazzis, Rox. Answering the phone is-”

“Against the fucking rules,” she growled. “Your staff could find out. They could get curious who you are speaking with. The public always finds out, Eggsy. We cannot run that risk. The fact that I occasionally speak to you is already a privilege no other agent that has gone into the spotlight has ever received. I mean honestly, Eggsy, Arthur did the best he could. He let you go so you could get married. He didn’t get mad, he didn’t try to stop you. He was a great friend and put your welfare above even Kingsman. You left a vacancy when we were barely regrouping, and had a whole new staff. He is the head of a new organization that once was the best at its job, and it’s his mission to get us back there. Arthur has been working missions non-stop - sometimes two or three at a time - and, when he’s not, he’s in HQ trying to catch up with paperwork. He got injured last week because he hadn’t slept in three days when he went in with a new agent to gather intel on a drug cartel. I myself have run more missions in the past eight months than I did in my first two years as Lancelot. To top it off, Tequila and Whiskey were recalled back to America two days ago, because two American agents were killed in an explosion and they need them back for a few months. Merlin is running both the tech department and is the acting head until Arthur comes back from a forced two week leave to recover. ”

Roxy finally stepped away, too angry to keep looking at her friend. “So stop feeling so sorry for yourself, when you got the better end of the deal. You wanted to get married with a civilian and have a family - something no agent can have. Ha- Arthur knew he would lose you both as a friend and an agent if you left, and he never once complained, never once made you feel like choosing your wife was wrong. He never judged you. So stop judging him for simply doing his fucking job.”

Roxy walked back to the entrance, stopping at the last second to look at Eggsy, who was still lying on the floor, shellshocked. “If it makes you feel better, they both miss you a lot. We all do. You… you were a bright light in everyone’s lives, Eggsy. You made us better, and…” she shook her head, a sad smile on her face. “He will never answer his phone, you have to come to terms with that. But not because he doesn’t answer means he doesn’t care. Ha- Arthur cares more about you than he has ever allowed himself to care for anyone, and it broke his heart to watch you leave Kingsman but he went to your wedding with a smile on his face so that you could walk away happy to have your fucking fairy tale ending that he can never have.”

With that Roxy walked away, a part of her fearing she had revealed too much in her rage. She couldn’t stay here a minute longer - she needed to go home and talk to Merlin, she needed to re-center herself. She hated feeling this angry.

Eggsy watched his best friend go, feeling like the biggest jackass in the world. Roxy’s words made complete sense, which made him wonder why he had never considered the fact that losing Harry was a possibility. He had never stopped to consider the huge toll his departure would take on Harry as the head of Kingsman. He hadn’t stopped to consider that anything could happen to Harry physically or emotionally - simply because his mind could not process that. He could not live in a world where Harry was anything less than alive and emotionally stable.

In all this time, never once had he considered that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t that Harry had failed him, but that he had failed Harry - over and over again.

Not only that but Roxy’s words sounded almost as if… as if Harry had… loved him.

Eggsy shook his head as he stood up, feeling daze. He had no idea what to do with this conversation. There was nothing he could do, in all honesty. Nothing but wrack his brain for answers that he was sure would never come.

Chapter Text

Roxy staggered her way up the steps, her legs protesting the effort. She had been in a deep undercover mission for the past month - a mission which had ended going up in flames. It had been a shitshow of epic proportions, and it hadn’t even been Roxy’s fault. 

The prostitution ring she had been sent to infiltrate had been far larger than they had expected, and it had been a lot messier. Information wasn’t shared even amongst those set to keep control of things; each city had a different way of handling things, and she still didn’t know just how deep that entire hellhole had gone. She had stolen information from three of their keeps and she had still felt mostly in the dark. She had saved as many women as she could, but she knew she had not done enough. It didn’t feel like she had done enough. 

They had realized she was a spy by the end, which had forced her hand. She had been more than happy to blow them all to bits, but with her cover blown she couldn’t go back in. They didn’t know anything about kingsman, and she was pretty sure most didn’t know her face anyway, but it wasn’t a risk Harry was willing to run. That meant Merlin would have to create a new cover, another scenario, and Harry would either have to go in himself or he would have to send Tequila or Whiskey who had recently come back to Kingsman now that Statesman was back to its usual numbers. Any option was very risky, considering the ring was now on high alert. Roxy couldn’t help but be angry at herself, for the longer they took, the more danger those women were in. 

She was brought out of her reverie, by Merlin’s discrete but sure touch on the small of her back, his eyes peering into her very soul. “Sweetheart, you cannot blame yourself. The mission was stacked against you. You did well - and this is not the end.”

Roxy swallowed hard while she blinked rapidly, trying to process the man’s words. She had not even seen him coming, in her distress, which was truly bad shape for her as an agent. She looked around, and noticed that few of the agents currently in London had already arrived, all waiting patiently for the briefing to start. They were studiously not watching the two seasoned Kingmen, both out of respect and to give her a moment. 

“I am fine,” She said loud enough for them to hear before she brushed past her soon to be husband in order to take her seat. It wouldn’t do for her to look weak in front of her fellow agents. 

It wasn’t that she thought they would think less of her if she visibly showed her emotions, but that mission had left her raw to the bone, and the only people she would confide her most personal thoughts and feelings were Merlin and, occasionally, Harry. Besides, while they had been in the field for almost two years now and were thus taking some hard missions of their own, they still looked at her and Harry for many of their queues on how to behave. She needed to be strong for them - just like Harry was every day. 

Finally, the last four agents arrived, all coming in quietly to take their appointed seats. George - now Gawain - was the last to come in, a visible hitch in his stride. Roxy’s eyes narrowed involuntarily as she tried to pinpoint the injury currently ailing the younger man. He wasn’t wearing a cast, which meant, at the very least, it was not a broken bone. But, considering their line of work, it could very well be a bullet wound for all she knew. 

She did not ask him what had happened despite her curiosity, mostly to keep him from feeling embarrassed in front of his fellow knights. She was sure she would be able to snag that piece of information from Merlin later. Instead of prying, she contented herself with watching the knights quietly talk amongst themselves, feeling pleased at the obvious sense of camaraderie that was forming amongst them. 

She knew that was, hands down, all Harry’s work. The man had make sure to force all agents to participate in group drills, and had taken the time to send even those that didn’t seem to be too fond of each other in joint missions. Harry knew just how important it was for there to be a sense of friendship, especially in their line of work. Their lives were meant to be lived in secret so, if they did not form meaningful relationships with at least one fellow knight, they would go insane. They needed to have someone to talk to, someone to drink with when things went to absolute shit. They needed someone they could rely on in a life or death situation - and Harry, as the great leader he was, was making sure those resources were available to them. 

Roxy looked around the room, a small smile playing on her lips as she noticed that, while everyone else had arrived, Harry was still nowhere to be found. That  was the one trait their workaholic leader had not left behind from his Galahad days - the man seemed to be perpetually late no matter how early he left his home. It was, ironically enough, one of the traits the agents loved about him the most. It was a reminder that he was still human. 

After almost two years of watching the man work with such a laser focus precision, most of them had a healthy amount of respect - and fear - for Harry. They dreamed of hearing the man say a word of praise to them because they knew the dry man delivered them so sparsely. More importantly, they could not view him as a peer; hell, it was hard for them to look at him as anything less than the most deathly human alive. The man never failed his missions, never seemed to need rest, never took time for himself. He was a walking legend - and a living warning of what they could become if they did not learn how to balance their personal and professional lives.

As if to proof Roxy’s morose thoughts, all the knights were prompt to get up as soon as Harry opened the double set of doors. His eyes were covered behind a pair of tinted sunglasses, making his already stony expression impossible to read. 

“You may sit down,” he said as he walked elegantly to his seat, fixing his right cufflink as he went. “Let’s get started shall we? There are two pressing matters we need to discuss, but, before I get to that, there is one thing I need to adress,” Harry said amicably as he clicked the side of his glasses to turn the lenses clear. 

His quickly hardening eyes immediately fell on his nephew, who swallowed hard at the icy glare he received. “The mission in Malta was nothing short of a disaster. Though I am sure you don’t need me to state the obvious, I will say this; your behavior Gawain, while admirable, was inexcusable. Your job is to listen to your handler. If they tell you to pull out, then you do as you are told .” 

Gawain grimaced. “Arthur… with all due respect sir, I couldn’t just leave. If I had, they would have killed the hostages they had.”

“And you would have kept the hard drive safe - which was your mission to begin with. They have it now and millions of people are in danger because of your reckless decision. Your handler told you backup was coming; we were not leaving the hostages to die. You decided to play hero,” Harry’s voice took a venomous edge that made his nephew squirm in his seat. “You will be benched for the next three months, and you will report to Merlin tomorrow morning for additional training and drills which you clearly need if after two years you are having issues listening to orders.” 

Roxy couldn’t hold back a grimace at Harry’s hard stance. That was something else that had changed ever since Eggsy had left; Harry in an effort to move on had shut down yet another bit of himself. Harry’s dedication for Kingsman seemed to be all the man had left; and, with the weight of it all on his shoulders, he had forced himself to become sharper, stronger, less merciful than before. 

Harry had always been kind, loving, and prone to help people see the best in themselves. As Arthur… he was still kind in a way, but he had no problem grabbing his agents by the proverbial jugular to break them into submission. Arthur was cold and unyielding, expecting the best his agents could give as he saw their true potential. 

“Now this brings me into the first pressing matter; this shadow organization is now in possession of a hard drive filled with information of nuclear armaments. It is our job to retrieve it, and make sure those that have seen the information are eliminated. I will be handling this personally, but, due to the nature of the mission, I will likely need a partner. Tequila,” he said, turning to look at the handsome cowboy. “You will be coming with me.” 

The man grinned widely, winking at Harry as he said “you got it bossman.” 

Harry’s lips twitched with a hint of a fond smile before he turned to look at Whiskey “I will also be requiring your services, Whiskey. Lancelot was compromised on her last mission; infiltration is now out of the question. That forces us to go on the offensive. We need to destroy their cybernetic connections and the physical “pipeline”. You will be teaming up with Lamorak for this mission. Merlin will be contacting you both sometime tomorrow so that we can give you more details.”

They both nodded at Harry, smiling at each other tentatively across the table. Jamal had never had the chance to work with Whiskey while the woman while she had been active with Kingsman, so the prospect was quite exciting, as he had heard she was incredible in the field. This was also in many ways a chance to prove himself - to show that he was really deserving of a top spot at Kingsman’s mighty round table;  though he was sure Arthur did not see it that way as the man had never doubted Jamal’s worthiness. If anything, this was more to prove it to himself than anyone sitting around him. 

“Lastly, I want to inform you all that the first round of testing has been administered, and a few of our recruits have been sent home. You are welcome to read Merlin’s report to know if it was your candidate - and, if it was, what exactly they did wrong in case you wish to speak to them. Overall, they performed very well as a class, so we are certain we will find a strong candidate to fill in our ranks as the new Galahad,” Harry kept his face expressionless, acting as if the fact that Eggsy’s codename would finally go to another did not bother him in the slightest. 

“That is all in terms of housekeeping from my side. If you have any particular concerns about your upcoming personal missions, please come to me today. Now, Merlin, if you would.” 

The man in question stood up and headed towards the screen, pulling up a number of images. “Right, listen up ladies and gentlemen, today we will be talking about new prototypes.” 

Roxy adjusted her pace, quickening her steps to keep in stride with Harry who was quickly making his way to the bullet train that would take them to headquarters. She knew the man was not in a good mood, what with the second test for the Galahad position scheduled for that day. Of course, Harry was polite and unfailingly professional with everyone - recruit and agent alike always regardless of personal feelings. So, really, no one whom the man didn’t want to know had even an inkling of the troublesome feelings currently brewing up a storm inside him. 

He had been the one to decide, on his own, to reinstate the Galahad codename. It had been two bloody years already; it was time. Still, that did not mean the process of selection wasn’t particularly rough on him. There were only seven recruits left; two more tests and they would have their new Galahad. Thankfully, there was no protocol that dictated Arthur had to sit next to Galahad, nor did the title immediately mean that they were marked to be Arthur’s protege. But, really, that had been the Kingsman tradition since the very beginning, and Harry knew one way or another he would have to continue it, which was likely why he was feeling so vexed. 

The code red that blasted through headquarters in greeting as the train arrived did not help matters. At all. 

Harry growled, turning on his glasses with one hand as he pulled out his pistol with the other, all the while striding out of the station at top speed. “Where are the intruders, Merlin?” 

“Recruit’s wing. It seems a group infiltrated some of our files in one of last week’s trainings. I am currently checking what information they could have gotten their hands on.”

“Roxanne, go seal all the entrances. No one gets in and no one gets out,” Harry instructed without bothering to look back to check whether or not his instructions were being heeded. 

While he had no doubt this little breach in security had been possible by the mistake of one of their recruits, there was no way he was going to allow a sodding adversarial group besmirch his record for no-deaths when recruiting this early on in his tenure as Arthur. He was having a bad day as it was, so for them to dare come and test his hard earned patience would simply not do. 

Harry reached the recruit wing faster than what most people would have been able to, knowing every single backdoor and hidden passageway. He took a second to assess the number of enemies, and then jumped into the fight before the recruits, who were just coming out of their shared dormitories, could react. 

Harry grabbed the first man by the neck impulsing himself upwards to roll over the man, bringing him down hard and fast. The intruder broke his fall with his back, gasping in pain as something definitely cracked. Harry did not seem perturbed by the sound as he landed on his feet; instead he raised his hand and shot the man with a tranquilizer on the neck. 

After that everything became a bit of a blur. Harry allowed his instincts to take over, dodging punches and delivering blow after blow to the most painful nervous points to bring his enemies to their knees.

After a few minutes of hand to hand combat he heard a gun go off somewhere behind him and he automatically ducked, bringing the idiot he had been fighting with him to use him as a human shield. Harry let out a metal cord out of the watch and encircled the man’s neck, pulling hard as he ran to the nearest pillar to take cover. 

How the agent did not break out of Arthur’s hold when the man was likely twenty years younger than Harry and was at least forty pounds bigger in muscle was anyone’s guess. It probably had to do with the fact that Harry was determined to break the man’s trachea if he did not stop breathing soon. 

Once the man went limp Harry released his hold and took out his pistols, moving away from cover to shoot down his last remaining enemies. Each shot was as precise as it was deathly; all blows to the head. 

Harry looked one way and then the other, breathing hard after the altercation. He was not as young as he once had been and taking down thirteen men did now tend to leave him a bit breathless. Once he was satisfied with the emptiness of the hallway, he turned to face the door that led to the recruits’ dormitory. 

There stood all the remaining recruits, all cramped and frozen by the door with their jaws on the floor at the visceral display of violence. 

“Is everyone alright?” Harry asked, sounding as prim and proper as always. 

Before they could answer, Roxy appeared at the head of the stairs, running towards Harry. “All entrances have been sealed, sir. Merlin found them; he already took them out of our system and is currently pinpointing their location.” 

“Good, Merlin are you still there?” Harry said as he adjusted his earpiece. 

“At your service as always, Arthur,” Merlin replied automatically as he typed away at his computer, breaking down the firewalls his enemies had in place. 

“Have a plane ready for me in the next hour. I will personally handle the intruders - just give me their location.” 

“Yes, Arthur,” Merlin replied, knowing better than to argue when Harry was in a mood. “I will have all the information ready as soon as possible.” 

Harry snapped his fingers towards his first assailant without looking at him. “That one is still alive,” He informed Roxanne. “I want you to question him once he wakes up. It is likely he has a few ribs broken, so account for that.” 

“Of course, Arthur,” Roxy said with a nod. “Um,” she said turning to the recruits. “Right, well your test will be rescheduled for tomorrow.” 

“Sorry about all that, I needed to let off a little steam,” Harry said with a half frosty smile. “Now, I want to know exactly which of you made the mistake to leave Kingsman files open and unprotected for the entire bloody world to find. You can either step forward now or Merlin will find you and the consequences will be more severe.” 

After a few minutes a young man stepped forward trembling like a leaf. He was short for his age, which made him look more like a sixteen year old ready to face the guillotine.

“I… um, it may have been me, sir. I am sorry. I am good with weapons and ops, but really bad with um, well, technology really.” 

Harry sighed, wanting for just one second for everything to just stop. “Right, then I am afraid I am going to have to ask you to pack your bags. We cannot afford to be discovered and while I am sure your intentions are good, I cannot have a liability in the field.” 

The young man looked ready to cry but nodded, knowing there was little he could do to argue against Harry’s valid worry. “Of course, sir. I… apologize.” 

“Speak with Merlin before leaving,” Harry said as he turned around to leave. “While you might not fit Kingsman, you have made it this far, which means you may be well suited for other jobs we may have connections to. We can always use a friend in other pastures.” 

That, at last made the young man smile softly, his entire body relaxing at the prospect of still being tied to Kinsgman somehow. “Thank you sir.” 

Harry hummed in acknowledgement but did not turn back, instead walking away still looking as suave and deadly as when they had first come across the infamous Arthur. 

“Am I the only one that thought something was off with Arthur today?” Jess said as she sat down next to one of the other recruits, putting a bowl of grapes in the middle for them all to partake in. 

“What was it that clued you in? The fact that he killed twelve people and left one severely injured without a flinch?” Robert said sarcastically from the other side of the room. He seemed to be the most affected by the sheer coldness with which Arthur had handled the situation. 

A young blond man frowned. “He has been doing this for, what almost thirty years? You can’t truly expect him to be overtly expressive after all these years. He was defending us and Kingsman. That’s just his job.” 

“That doesn’t mean something was not off, Jack” Another boy said from where he was sprawled on the floor. “I have met him before; he was friends with my uncle. He was always terribly sweet and gentle with me when I was little. I think… I think he was probably dealing with something personal. My uncle was a lot like Arthur when he was having issues. He became so cold… so calculated.” 

“Today is the two year anniversary of Galahad’s retirement if I remember correctly - and of the codename as well. We are the first batch allowed for the position” A short, slithe young woman with big spectacles said from where she sat on her bed, a big book sitting on her lap. 

Jess frowned. “Wait, but why would that matter, Lizzy? Were they like, close or something? Did the last Galahad die in like some particularly gruesome way or-?” 

“Lizzy” finally looked up, pushing her glasses up her face. “He did not die. He left.” 

“How do you know any of this?” Robert asked as he stopped his pacing to stare at the young woman. 

“My brother is an agent,” she admitted quietly. “He um.. He was here when Galahad was still around. He used to tell me that he and Arthur seemed inseparable. He thought Arthur was in love with Galahad.” 

“Do you think Galahad left because they broke up?” Jess asked, looking truly curious now. 

Before any more wild speculation could be thrown around, Roxy cleared her throat as she quietly walked into the room, having heard the entire conversation. 

Everyone jumped a meter high before scrambling to form a line. Roxy gave them a small, tense smile. “Your test will take place tomorrow afternoon. Merlin will give you the full details tomorrow. I am here to see to lights off,” she explained. 

They all nodded and scrambled to their respective beds, hoping against hope that she had not heard them talking. 

“Word to the wise,” Roxy said as she activated the usual safe lockdown for the night. “Do not ever discuss Arthur’s private life.” 

No one dared reply. 

Roxy knocked as it was customary before entering Arthur’s office, though, in truth she did nto wait for the man to answer. She already knew they were waiting for her. 

She smiled at the two men in the room, already sharing a drink while waiting for her. 

“Ah, Roxanne, we were beginning to wonder if you would be joining us,” Harry teased good naturedly as he pointed to the seat to his right. “Come, join us. Scotch?” 

“Yes, thank you,” she said before leaning down to give a quick peck to her husband on her way to her seat. 

“So, we have a new Galahad,” she said to no one in particular. 

Harry hummed in agreement, tensing slightly though his face remained devoid of emotion. “Indeed, Jessica shows promise. She was top of the class in most everything. With enough specialized training, we may make a great Galahad out of her.” 

Roxy nodded, but could not pretend not to see the pain in Harry’s eyes; that overpowering, worn resignation that had settled in the man’s heart two years ago. “You could call him, you know? It’s been over two years since you last talked. I think… I think he’d be happy to hear from you.” 

Harry rolled his eyes at that but refilled his drink and raised his glass.”A toast to the crown princess of Sweden and her consort,” was all he said, a subtle reminder to Roxy to leave it the hell alone. 

She wisely chose to drink, trying her best the rage bubbling inside her at the utter unfairness of it all.  In the end Arthur had won; there was very little of Harry left - or so Merlin said every few days, with a lost look in his eyes that broke his wife’s heart a bit more every day. 

A knock at the door interrupted her morose thoughts, making her look back at the door. 

“Enter,” Harry commanded, his eyes as sharp as ever as he took another sip of the drink, his eyes trained on the agent at the door. “What’s the matter, Percival?” 

“Um, we have an… intruder sir. The former Galahad infiltrated the outer grounds. We are currently holding him there. We, ah, were not sure if there’s any protocol in place for this.”

Harry pinched the bridge of his nose and set his drink down, the sound shattering the thin veneer of calm in the room.

Chapter Text

Roxy and Merlin sat frozen with their drinks still in hand, both looking at Harry with a mix of concern and fear. The man had not moved for almost a minute now, his hand still pinching the bridge of his nose.

Merlin shared a glance with his wife, before his eyes fell back on his friend just as Harry let his hand drop, his eyes still closed. “Is he alone?” Harry asked, his voice sounding rough and cold. 

Percival shifted on her feet. “Yes, sir. We scanned the perimeter and he did not come with any security detail. He did come armed, though.” 

Harry finally looked up, his eyes void of all emotion. “Activate code blue security measures, and have Merlin’s second do a constant sweep of a thirty mile radius. I want to know the minute his security detail gets close. Also, have lamorak lock down the recruits in their dormitory; we do not need them to see the prince’s face  in our fucking headquarters.” 

“Right away sir,” Percival was quick to say with a small nod, before hightailing away as fast as possible. 

Roxy bit her lip, swallowing hard as she shared a desperate look with Merlin; this was not going to go down well. At all. 

If ever there was a time for Eggsy to unexpectedly visit Kingsman again, it was a year or a year and a half ago, not now - not when Harry was basically done with a most thorough job of purging himself of… well, himself. 

Harry stood up slowly, his body as tense as a bowstring. “Right,” he said tightly walking around the coffee table and back towards his desk. 

He grabbed the black umbrella resting to the side of his desk, mostly to quiet the need to ground himself in something familiar. He closed his eyes again and took a deep breath, his right hand tightening around the handle almost unconsciously. He straightened up, fixing his tie with his free hand.  

“Let’s go greet our guest, shall we?” Harry said as he brought his left hand up to touch the side of his glasses. They tinted pitch black in mere seconds, shielding Harry’s eyes from divulging any emotions that may make it past his iron self control.

Both Merlin and Roxy stood up then, waiting for Harry to walk past them to flank his sides slightly behind him. Roxy watched slightly unnerved as Harry glided through the hallway, the happy, affable, wise man she knew nowhere to be found. Right now all she could see was the lethal, cold, gracefully calculating head of Kingsman who was clearly annoyed at the breach in protocol. 

They reached the doors to the main lawn in minutes,thanks to Harry’s and Merlin’s brisk pace. Harry tilted his head slightly and gave a side look to Merlin - the order clear as day to his friend. Merlin side stepped Arthur and opened the door, motioning with his hand for Roxy to follow him. 

If Merlin was happy to see Eggsy he did not show it, and so Roxanne followed suit, understanding that - right now - they were not Hamish and Roxanne but Merlin and Lancelot dealing with a security breach. To be more precise, it was all of Kingsman dealing with a security breach, considering that 5 of their agents - the ones that had just returned from missions - were on the lawn, weapons trained on Eggsy, and Roxy was sure Tequila and Whiskey were hiding in the shadows somewhere, ready to go on the offensive as soon as Arthur gave the call. 

She was also absolutely sure the recruits were doing their damnest to peak from their window to catch a glimpse at all the drama. 

Merlin sighed to her left as he began making his way down the steps to join Whiskey, who Roxy hadn’t spotted before due to her sitting position. She was completely ignoring the scene in front of her in favor of giving her undivided attention to whatever it was that she was doing on Merlin’s clipboard. 

Merlin looked from above, sighing again as he whirled to face Eggsy. But Eggsy was not looking at him; Eggsy was looking at Harry who had just come out the door to stand by the handrail in the middle, flanked by both sets of staircases. 

Eggsy clenched his hands, feeling an overwhelming amount of emotions in twenty seconds flat. A part of him wanted to run up and hug Harry and never let him go while another part wanted to walk up there and punch the man in his perfect teeth for all the grief he had caused the younger man. It had been two bloody years since he had gotten married, and Harry had not given so much as a smoke signal. The man had effectively left Eggsy alone, making the young man feel as if their close relationship had meant nothing to Harry. It had left him bereft, bewildered, and unanchored and no matter what his wife tried, Eggsy couldn’t see the shore. But, he couldn’t just forget Roxy’s words from a year ago - he knew most of this… cold and uncaring side of Harry was a front. 

It had to be. 

“Hello Arthur,” Eggsy said finally, his voice rough with emotion. 

Harry did not, could not answer, not when whatever was left of his heart was trying to claw its way out his mouth. He felt untethered in a way he had not felt since the blasted wedding. It was physically painful to be so close to Eggsy and yet be unable to touch. It was a perfect reminder that Eggsy was not his, would never be his, and that the young man did not belong there in the shadows with Harry. 

“I don’t know why you’re here, but if you wanted to come for a social visit, you should have called ahead of time, Eggsy. We could have killed you by accident, lad,” Merlin piped up, drawing the attention away from Harry, much to his friend’s relief. 

Eggsy rolled his eyes and scoffed. “Please, as if I couldn’t outdo your agents.” 

“Ya sure about that, lover boy?” Tequila said with a chuckle as he came out of the shadows from behind Eggsy a little too close for Eggsy to have been able to react had the man attacked him. 

Eggsy had to contain the urge to growl at the tall man. Instead, he walked away from the agent, forcing himself not to be affected by the tangible proof that after two years of no missions and no training he had lost his edge. He approached Merlin almost shyly, giving the man a winning smile that he hoped could break through the cold front Merlin was giving him. 

“C’mon bruv, you owe me at least a hug after giving me the cold shoulder for two bloody years,” Eggsy said as he opened his arms, unwilling to take no for an answer. 

Merlin shook his head, unable to keep back a smile as he wrapped his arms around the warm younger man. At the moment, he wasn’t sure whether he loved or hated Eggsy; more than a bit of both, probably. 

Harry watched them from the top of the steps, his jaw tightening almost imperceptibly despite his best efforts to keep any and all emotions locked deep within. Had he been given more of a warning, he would have had time to prepare, but this, seeing Eggsy again looking so beautifully well put together on Harry’s very grounds was a little too much for Harry to handle all at once. 

Tequila, sensing Harry’s restlessness, walked up the steps, meeting Harry halfway there as the man descended halfway down. He stood half a step below Harry, giving his back to Eggsy in order to look at Harry in the eye. He did not have to voice his question for Harry to see his underlying concern; they had spent enough time drinking and hanging out together for the past two years to be able to communicate fairly efficiently without words. 

Harry gave him a small reassuring smile that Tequila was sure did not reach the man’s eyes. Still, it was enough to let Tequila know he did not need to stage an intervention to get Harry out of there just yet. Still, he could not help but reach out and squeeze the man’s wrist hard twice - just like he had seen Merlin do with Harry in the past years - before dropping his hand to the side. Harry hummed in thanks, concentrating on the tingling sensation on his wrist to center himself. 

It was the strangest paradox: he dreamed of seeing Eggsy constantly, like the lovesick fool he was deep down, but right at this moment there was little he wanted more than for Eggsy to leave so he could get back to the safety of his study where he wouldn’t have to deal with anyone for at least a day. 

And the itch to isolate himself was growing by the second. 

Harry leaned slightly towards Tequila and took a deep breath before saying“Mr. Unwin, as pleasant as it is to have you here, you should not be here ,” Harry started, his face devoid of emotions even after Eggsy turned around to face him, a hurt look in his eyes. “I assume you evaded your security detail? They will be searching for you soon, and I’d rather not create an international scandal by killing part of the swedish army. Now, if you would be so kind as to-” 

“Two years that I have not heard so much as a hello from you and that’s what I get, bruv? Really? You can do better than that, Harry,” Eggsy bit out, trying his best to keep back all the hurt and rage that had accumulated inside him for two horrible years. 

Harry took yet another deep, calming breath. “Your Highness-”

“Don’t call me that,” Eggsy snapped, wincing internally at the honorary. “Would you relax? I told Tilde I would be coming. No one in the palace will be looking for me. No one even knows I’m in London. It’s fine.” 

They stared at each other in silence for a long while, having reached an impasse. Though, really it was more accurate to say that Harry stared at Eggsy for the young man could not see Harry’s eyes behind the dark glasses. Finally Harry sighed, nodding tersely. He looked out at the lawn, where his agents were looking at him expectantly. “Round table, in ten minutes,” he commanded loudly, both to his agents and Eggsy, before turning around and walking back up the stairs to head back inside. 

He’d be damned if he had to ride their shuttle with Eggsy. He couldn’t handle being in such close quarters with the young man at the moment. 

Eggsy walked into the room with more than his fair share of trepidation. He wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as everything felt so… off. He had known coming here was a bad idea but, after two years, he couldn’t keep away any longer. He missed Harry, and he missed Kingsman, and he missed his friends. And, okay, perhaps it had been a bad idea to come without giving them at least minimum warning but it wasn’t exactly like he had planned this. It had been a spur of the moment decision, driven by his growing suffocation at the palace. 

The young man looked around the room, feeling a spike of anger fill him to his very lungs as he watched Tequila confidently walk all the way to seat at Harry’s right - Eggsy’s old seat back when he had been Galahad. It felt all kinds of wrong to see that… idiot sitting so comfortably in Eggsy’s rightful place. For one irrational second, Eggsy actually considered whether it was possible Harry had placed Tequila there specifically to spite Eggsy. 

Obviously, Harry hadn’t expected Eggsy to come back, so this had not been done with malice, which, honestly, didn’t actually make it better in any way. 

“I thought yeh lot went back to the states,” Eggsy said after a few seconds as agents continued to mill in, all waiting for Arthur to grace them with his presence. 

Tequila gave him a side glance, looking bored. “We did return for a while, to settle things down there, but Arthur needed us here - at least for a few more years.” 

“So, what you’re Galahad now?” Eggsy asked, feeling proud of himself for keeping the venom in his voice to a minimum. 

Tequila frowned, clearly confused. “No? That doesn’t even make sense.” 

"Then why are you sitting there?That has been Galahad's seat for like a hundred years or some shit like that." Eggsy bit out, eyes narrowed. 

Tequila raised an unimpressed eyebrow. "Because I am the most senior agent here aside from Arthur and, since we're currently recruiting for Galahad, this seat automatically falls to me. Also, Arthur likes my pretty face to look at." 

Before Eggsy could even think about a witty reply - or really just any reply - Harry walked in through the back door that led directly to Arthur's side of the table. Ha waved a hand to have everyone that was still standing sit down, leaving only Eggsy and Merlin still standing. 

Merlin stood behind Harry, clipboard right to his chest and face completely unreadable. Eggsy could barely pay attention to him, however, as he was preoccupied with drinking in the sight of Harry.

It was irrational, Eggsy knew, but for a second all he could think about was the fact that this was not his Harry. 

This Harry was shrouded in shadows, his face expressionless bordering on disdain. He was too well put together, his suit sharp enough to cut, and the way he sat in his chair… it reminded Eggsy off Harry when he was out on the field; all deadly grace and vicious professionalism. 

This was not the Harry that used to sit with Eggsy in their living room, sipping whiskey and trading stories of their respective youth. This was not the Harry that gave Eggsy indulgent smiles, and watched Mamma Mia! On repeat with homemade pasta they often cooked together just for the fun of it. This was not the Harry that allowed Eggsy to sprawl his feet on top of the older man's lap because he knew Harry would unconsciously rub his feet while they watched TV in either Harry's or Eggsy's rooms. 

For one horrible second, Eggsy held Harry's hard gaze before looking away. He couldn't help but feel that somehow this was all his fault; Roxy had alluded as much.  

 “I assume you have a reason for seeking Kingsman again?" Harry asked, finally breaking the silence. "Hopefully not one of major international proportions. So, Your Highness, how can we help you?” 

Eggsy stiffened slightly as he realized that Harry was under the assumption that Eggsy was here to ask for help. The man really believed that the only reason Eggsy would seek Harry out again was due to a life or death situation. "I don't… I… there's no problems, Arthur. I just… missed you," Eggsy said softly, feeling monumentally uncomfortable to admit that in front of the entire round table. "I mean I just came to visit ya. I wasn’t sure if you were home, so I figured I’d try the compound first.” 

Harry froze at that, for a second even forgetting to breathe, because what the fuck was he supposed to answer to that? 

Harry screwed his eyes shut, bringing his hand up to put pressure on the bridge of his nose in an attempt to stave off the migraine he could already feel forming at the front of his head. He did not need this, not now and not ever. He had been doing so well finally letting go of Eggsy and moving on with his work. Why did the boy have to overcomplicate everything? He was happily married, that much Harry knew, so why the hell did he feel the need to come back to torment what was left of Harry’s heart two years after leaving them all without even a glance backwards?  

If this was a late attempt to get Harry to communicate with him via unofficial channels every so often, the man was going to scream. 

Leave us,” Harry commanded quietly, his hand still covering his eyes. 

All the agents, with the exception of Tequila, were quick to obey, throwing glances between Harry and Eggsy as if to gauge where exactly this would be heading. The American did not immediately follow his colleagues, instead walking towards Harry’s chair. He trailed the man’s arm with the tip of his fingertips, letting his hand come to a rest on the older man’s shoulder. Harry did not tense at the contact, but rather leaned into Tequila, letting him know that he was listening. Tequila leaned in close and whispered something in Harry’s ear which Eggsy could not hear, but, all in all, made him see red. 

He had no claim on Harry - their relationship had never been like that - but that did not mean he was okay with the stupid cowboy with grabby hands touching Harry left and right. Honestly, had he not heard of personal space? 

Harry patted Tequila’s hand, answering the man with a whisper of his own. Tequila gave Harry one last worried look before taking his leave, walking very near Eggsy in an almost aggressive manner before exiting. Eggsy brought his hands up and crossed them across his chest, fisting his hands to keep himself from hitting the damn prick. 


“Not here,” the man said tersely as he got up. “Follow me, please,” he instructed as he walked back to the door from which he had come from. 

Eggsy followed without uttering another word, feeling slightly confused as to where exactly they were going. That question was answered soon enough when Harry opened the door for Eggsy to what looked to be the man’s private office. 

“I didn’t know Arthur had an office here at the shop,” Eggsy said looking around the tastefully decorated room. 

“My predecessors did not,”Harry corrected as he closed the door behind him. “I requested an office here during the reconstruction. It was finished a few months after you left.” 

“Oh,” Eggsy replied quietly, feeling his stomach twist painfully inside of him. “I didn’t know that. Why did you never tell me while I… you know.” 

“You were busy with wedding preparatives and it wasn’t anything exciting. It’s just something I felt necessary to have in the shop due to my more hands on role,” Harry replied, feeling the urge to shrug which he quickly clamped down on. He wouldn’t be caught dead shrugging. He walked quietly around the desk and sat down, motioning with his hand for Eggsy to sit across from him.”Why are you really here, Eggsy?” Harry asked quietly, the boy’s preferred pet name feeling both like ambrosia and poison on his lips. 

Eggsy clenched his jaw, feeling an acute sense of anger that reminded him of the day Roxy had come to see him at the palace. It was a familiar anger that had been eating at him for the better part of two years. “Oh fuck you,” Eggsy snapped, gripping his chair hard enough to bruise. “I don’t have some secret motive or hidden agenda you absolute prick. I just missed you okay? It’s been two years and every day I feel more miserable because you fucked off without so much as a bloody goodbye.” 

Harry stiffened, his eyes narrowing as unfiltered, raw rage filled him. How dare this boy come in here after two years, acting all pissy, when it had been him that had chosen to walk away. He had broken whatever was left of Harry’s heart, had decided to go looking for a brighter, better future, and he was the one angry now? Harry was not equipped to handle this much bullshit in one go. “You should not be here, Mr. Unwin,” Harry bit out, his face giving away nothing. 

“Don’t call me that! Why are you being so bloody difficult?” Eggsy asked, frustrated. 

I am being difficult? You show up in the HQ of a spy organization, unannounced, after two years of being carefully kept off the grid, and you just expect me to smile and act like your reckless behavior is alright?” Harry half growled, cloaking himself tightly in his rage because all other emotions rolling inside him right now were far too messy to look at let alone deal with. 

“I never asked to be kept off the grid like this! I mean for fuck’s sake-” 

“Did you or did you not resign in order to get married?” Harry cut him off, standing up and leaning his weight on his closed fists. 

“You never told me getting married would mean I could never speak to you again,” Eggsy said, his voice cracking against his will. He looked away, blinking back tears as his rage finally wave way to the utter sorrow seeped deep into his bones. “I didn’t know choosing to get married meant choosing to lose you.” Eggsy shook his head sadly. “I think I would have chosen differently, if I-”

“Don’t,” Harry choked out, feeling his heart stutter in his chest as a sudden - and very much unwelcomed - flood of hope tried to fill him. He squashed the sentiment into smithereens and pushed it back into a dark corner as he whispered, “You’re being silly, dear boy. You have what no other agent has had before; a happy marriage and a good, fulfilling life.” 

Eggsy snorted as he watched Harry stand up and walk towards the window. “Yes well… I am not sure about that.” 

Harry turned fast enough to give himself whiplash. “What?” Harry rounded the desk, unable to contain his restless energy any longer. “What are you talking about? Are you having marriage troubles? 

Eggsy sighed, scrubbing his face. “No, it’s not… I love her, of course I do. She’s wonderful and she has been so patient with me,” Eggsy admitted, smiling softly as he looked at nothing in particular. 

“Then what’s the matter? Why are you here?” Harry pressed desperately, sitting down on the edge of his desk, his legs mere inches away from Eggsy’s. 

“Because I don’t fit there, Harry! I was never meant to be a fucking prince. I don’t like posh palaces and kissing ass to stupid politicians that give no fucks.” Eggsy stood up, running his hands through his hair in anxious motions. “I’m a kingsman for fuck’s sake! I save people, I help them. I don’t sit back and eat five courses with idiots who have never seen the ugly reality of the world.” 


“I hate the palace, I hate how fake people are. I hate the air there. I hate the fact that they are not you,”Eggsy pressed forward, coming to stand dangerously close to Harry. “I hate that they have none of your compassion, none of your empathy, none of your intelligence. I hate that you are not there to make me laugh, or to teach me useful shit I wouldn’t have thought to learn otherwise. I miss Roxy and my mates. I miss Merlin talking in my ear. I hate what  that place is turning me into and I hate that it’s making me see Tilde in a different light and I don’t want to hate her.” Eggsy buried his face in his hands, feeling ashamed of himself for admitting all of the things he had kept carefully lidded for two years. “I don’t know sometimes I think my marriage was a mistake and I should end it before I hurt her anymore.” 

Harry gaped at the younger man, unable to process even one tenth of the emotional vomit Eggsy had just unloaded on him. There were too many emotions churning inside of him, leaving him breathless in the worst of ways. He wasn’t sure what to do with these newly presented information; hell, he didn’t even know if it provided him a modicum of comfort. Because, if Eggsy was unhappy after specifically choosing from walk away, after putting Harry through literal hell, then it all had been for nothing and Harry wasn’t sure he could handle that. 

Worse, it really changed nothing at all, because even if Eggsy decided to end his relationship, even if Eggsy came back - which was an impossibility in it of itself - he had already chosen Tilde because he did not feel that way about Harry. Even if he came back that was a door that was firmly closed now and forevermore and, after two years of doing a bloody brilliant job of shutting down the pesky emotions that kept Harry from being the absolute best, the last thing he needed was the object of his affections coming back into his life. 

Eggsy, oblivious to Harry’s internal turmoil whispered “I have been thinking of getting a divorce.”

What?” Harry breathed out as his already constricted lungs squeezed him painfully tight. “Surely that’s a bit hasty? Look, I am not a relationship expert, so maybe you should not listen to me, Eggsy, but based on your relationship as I saw it, and based on the press and intel gathered, you and the princess have a very good marriage. Is it truly worth throwing away?” 

Eggsy licked his lips, getting up slowly. “Hypothetically, if I were to return today, would you let me come back to Kingsman?” Eggsy asked, keeping his hope down for fear of it being crushed to nothing. 

Harry tried his best not to gape at Eggsy. “I…” Harry shook his head, suddenly standing up to put some much needed distance between himself and Eggsy. “I would love to tell you that you will always have a seat at my table, but the reality is I don’t know Eggsy. You have been a major public figure in Sweden for the past two years, and a minor one around the world. I honestly don’t know if we can make you disappear effectively enough for you to retake your position as an agent.” 

Eggsy swallowed hard, feeling crushed despite his best efforts. “I understand.” 

Harry sighed. “I am sure Merlin would be willing to look into it, and I can certainly say that, if you need to disappear, my home will always be open to you, but, I truly believe you ought to think this through,” Harry said without looking at Eggsy. It physically hurt him to say those words, but it had to be said nonetheless. His priority was Eggsy’s happiness not his own. “I have never seen you quite so happy as I saw you the day you married your wife. I don’t want you to make a rash decision simply because you are having a hard time adjusting to the Swedish royal lifestyle.” 

Eggsy sighed but nodded, walking to where Harry stood. He tried to ignore the way the older man tensed as Eggsy made no signs of stopping, instead opening his arms to hug Harry close to him.

 Harry half held his breath, feeling as if he was on free fall as Eggsy pressed himself close, burying his face in the crook of Harry’s neck. Thankfully, his body did the work for him, bringing Eggsy close and running his hand through the young man’s soft hair before Harry’s brain could even begin comprehending what had happened. 

“Please… please don’t stay a stranger,” Eggsy begged, his lips close enough to kiss Harry’s neck. “I don’t know what I am going to do yet, but I know I can’t do it without you.” 

Harry shook his head, cursing this moment, for, despite his best efforts, it made his stone cold heart tremble with pain