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The Boy on the Moon

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Alfred would never forget the faces and stories of all the people who died on that day. But the dozens of people who escaped? They would never forget Harry. And so even if they've lost their last true crumb of innocence, they are proud of the little boy who grew up to become a hero, ready to die a meaningful death. So when the tears subside and the shock of his death has evacuated their systems, the team is piecing back Harry's beautiful youth around a bottle of vodka that Alfred thought they would need. They made it into Poland after all, why not taste the local ways of coping with grief?

“He got bitten by a dog when he was four. Still had the scar on his leg. It was a nasty bite and even I would have grown scared of dogs. But not Harry. He learnt of the dog being blind and so he argued with his parents to adopt the bloody thing.” Neil tells Aurora and Alfred, lying in the hay that covers the floor of the barn he and Alfred are hiding in.
And Aurora has the most amazing smile as her eyes fill with love and fresh tears. She snorts.

“Nothing could resist him. He was so sweet... One time, he came to me, asking what flower to give someone if you meant to apologize for something you said.” She begins.

Alfred has a side smile and looks at his hand, playing with the rim of his hat. He knows that story already, he played his part, although Aurora would never know.

“Really? What flower is that?” Neil asks, frowning.

“I didn't know at the time... Which I told him, of course. He came back to me the following morning with a sprig of lily of the valley.” She says with a fond smile. “God knows where he found it.” She sighs.

Alfred would always remember their walk in the woods surrounding the camp in search of a flower... The way Harry's eyes had been glued to the floor... And how he, and not Harry, had found the sprig and picked it delicately to hand it to him.

“Do you remember his face when he tasted figs for the first time?” Alfred asks, his eyes lost in the past, back to that wonderful day.

Neil and Aurora share a nostalgic smile. They do. How could they forget this? Harry had looked like a hamster trying to fill his mouth with as many fruits as he could. It was such a beautiful day in the south of France... Aurora can still feel the sun warm her arms and her shoulders. The light as the sun was setting had made Neil's hair look lighter and Alfred had quite unexpectedly cracked a few jokes, which they had found to be terrible, as they were crossing a corn field.

“I wish I could remember it as well as you...” Aurora confesses, closing her eyes, trying to focus on Harry's face.

Alfred nods. He cannot help but hope that her admission also covers all the moments they shared together.

“That was the same day he told me about his dream of walking on the moon.” Neil recalls, taking a sip of vodka from the bottle and handing it to Aurora who drank her share before passing the bottle to Alfred, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Why would anyone go to the moon in the first place?” she asks.

“His plan was to go and call earth from there. Broadcast some music even.”

At that, Alfred raises the bottle above their heads.

“To Harry James, forever our beloved adventurer, whose soul is now haunting the moon.” He toasts.

Neil wraps his arm around his shoulders and shakes him gently.

“I sure hope he is, old chap. That I do.” He says.

Aurora feels a shiver run down her spine, not knowing whether it comes from the exhaustion, or the cold, or even the alcohol coursing her system, but she gets closer to the two men, close enough to Alfred that their knees touch, and she leans her head on Neil's hand, and she feels Alfred's shoulder relax just a little.

“Was Siobhan his first love?” She whispers, frowning.

She feels sorry about not knowing these things about Harry. She had loved him – still does, like a little brother, and yet they had never talked about their feelings. They had never had time, it was never the right moment either.

“Yes.” Neil confirms.

“Can we define her as a lover though? After what she's done?” Alfred points out, his jaw contracting.

His question brings back memories they would all love to forget, and they remain silent for a few seconds before Aurora sighs.

“Sometimes people do things they regret. She loved him. Which doesn't mean she deserved him.”

Somehow, Neil feels like his friends are not talking about Siobhan anymore. He can feel it in the way the mass of limbs against his arm tenses up. And is that Aurora's jaw contracting against his fingers?

“I thought you hated her?” He reminds the sergeant.

“I did. And I hate to say that, but I understand her logic.”

They all fall silent, and Alfred takes another careful, more measured sip of vodka.

“The damn dog died a couple of years before the war. The bloody rascal lasted fifteen years.” Neil states, taking the bottle from Alfred's hand.

Aurora's head suddenly lifts from were it was resting.

“Wait! Was that Jerry?” She says, her voice catching in her throat.

“Is was.” Neil confirms. “Did Harry tell you about him?”

“No. I heard him call him in his sleep.”

“That's how much he loved it.”

They all smile, thinking of how Harry used to show them all his love in his own, slightly awkward way, at least according to the standards of spies who have long forgotten how it feels to be loved, who have learnt not to put their hearts' content on display for the safety of the team.

They have been silent for a while again when Aurora's shoulders start shaking and she suddenly starts chuckling.

“Remember how we would always make him sleep where he wouldn't be heard if he were to speak during the night?” She asks between two fits of laughter.

Neil snorts.

“All because René couldn't do without his beauty sleep.”

It makes Alfred smile and Aurora chortle.

“You can talk. You never were able to sleep in the same room as Tom.” She reminds him.

Neil looks daggers at her, but he cannot resist her smile and the way her eyes sparkle with nostalgia.

“Tom snored. I swear he could shake the most solid buildings some nights. I don't know how you could sleep.”

She shrugs.

“Exhaustion. And the knowledge I could trust all of you. And Tom's snoring lessened thanks to Alfred anyway.”

It had. Alfred had never been able to stand his father's snoring, and he had lots of tricks up his sleeve, the most efficient one being to prop the offender up to prevent him from rolling on his back during the night.

Neil sighs.

“Right. We were a bloody great team, weren't we?”

Aurora closes her eyes. Were... Tom, René, Harry... She missed them all acutely. And she's looking for a way to tell Neil and Alfred she wouldn't stand losing yet another member of the team when Alfred grips their forearms and she's brought down to earth by his touch.

“We are.”

They are... Although Aurora feels lonely working on her own and she can't deny she is a bit jealous about her two friends always being together. She's tired of being in charge, tired of being a lone wolf also. And she's suddenly exhausted. She doesn't want to go back to her flat where she has to be Helena Bauer, a person she hates.

“I don't feel like sleeping alone.” She whispers.

“You can stay with us.” Neil suggests, leaning forward to see her face better.

“That's not what I meant.” She answers, snuggling against Alfred's side.

She's had no intention to leave anyway. Not in the middle of the night, not when Harry's dead and buried, not when she could use a little company from what little family she has here.

She doesn't have to expose what's on her mind. It's been a hard week. Her boys - no, her men - know her need for warmth. So without a single word, they lie down messily in a shapeless mass. Alfred kindly offers his torso as a pillow, taking Aurora by the shoulder to collect her against him. Neil naturally finds his place, resting his head on her knee and his feet on Alfred's.

They've done that a few times before, although it usually looked like a square around a camp fire and not a triangle around a nearly empty bottle of vodka.
They feel safe together, and Aurora feels better, tucked against Alfred's chest and feeling Neil's head heavy on her legs. She sighs, and a smile tugs at the corners of her mouth when she feels Alfred's hand in her hair.

And while they all fall asleep, comforted by their closeness, their last thoughts fly to their dear Harry, looking down at them from the moon.