Word Count: 2,475 (this excerpt); 11,864 (all excerpts total)
Primary Pairings/Characters: Harry Hart/Eggsy Unwin
Content/Warnings (for entire story, not just excerpts): GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, RAPE/NON-CON (mentioned, not explicit), UNDERAGE (mentioned, not explicit)
A/N: These excerpts are all from my first EBB fic in the universe, they are in order but skip around through the fic’s chapters. Thanks to lanalucy for the beta. Enjoy!
1960 to 1975, England
Philip Hart met and married Melissa Hargrove in 1960. They were not soul mates and the marriage was very much a dynastic one, though arranged by the couple themselves rather than their families. Philip Hart was a relatively wealthy, though untitled, landowner from Kent. Melissa Hargrove’s family was old money, also untitled, that had fallen on hard times after the second World War. The marriage was made in blue blood and pocketbooks, but the couple and their families were pleased with the choice.
It wasn’t unusual, even in lower class unions, for the spouses not to be soul mates. Considering that worldwide the percentage of same gender soulmates was near twenty percent, and that regardless of the numbers, the prejudice against not marrying the opposite gender to procreate,and thus increasing the population, was alive and well, it was no wonder. As reproductive technology was becoming increasingly advanced and businesses were cropping up to pair people with other than their mates, to reproduce or to pair sets of same sex couples up to have children without needing to have sex, the stigmas against homosexual soul mate relationships, where the couple had no children, were slowly decreasing. But as with any attitude that had been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, it was at times glacially slow with occasional bursts of violence and legislation pushing backward.
Philip never told anyone what he saw in his visions of his mate. Some of the family speculated it was a man, others were insistent his mate had died and so there was a generation gap. Melissa believed Philip had met his mate before they reached puberty and so had had no clues other than the warmth and pull to go on to find them.
Melissa’s own situation was fairly standard for girls in her social class. From the visions she had once a year for ten minutes where she saw through her soul mate’s eyes on the day of their conception, she knew her mate was a man. But he was not of her class. If he had been slightly lower on the scale, prosperous but not rich, or nouveau riche, it would have been do-able. But her mate was in the army. And not even an officer. He was a basic soldier. And when she saw visions of him in his natural habitat, and with his family, they were working class at best, living in estate housing.
Melissa had known from the beginning that unless she was willing to give up everything to be with him, she would not marry her mate. Her family would have never approved a relationship such as that, regardless of what King Edward VIII had done a few decades previously. It just wasn’t done. It was unthinkable. So she put it out of her mind and hoped the time never came where she accidentally crossed his path, as it would cause untold difficulties, especially if she hadn’t yet had a child. Everyone knew once one met their soul mate, one could no longer be fertile with another.
So, Melissa married Philip and even though neither was deliriously happy, they were both content. They didn’t hate one another but they didn’t love one another either. They were polite and very stiff upper lip stereotypical British, in public and in private. It made for a somewhat cold home but not an unbearable one.
The marriage of Philip and Melissa quickly bore the fruit it was designed to, and Melissa gave birth to a son in July 1961, just over a year after the wedding. The boy was given the name of Henry Alistair Hart, after both of their fathers, Henry for the Harts (a name sprinkled through the family tree for the past two hundred years) and Alistair for the Hargroves.
Henry, quickly shortened to Harry in true British fashion, was a quiet child. He rarely got into mischief and enjoyed wandering the estate gardens and grounds, finding interesting flowers and leaves and other outdoor things and bringing them home to research what they were.
Melissa and Philip cared about their son, an only child in their cool marriage, but the only way they truly knew to express it was to give him things their wealth easily provided. Harry had excellent nursemaids and eventually a governess. He learned to ride a horse after being gifted with a pony for his fourth birthday. He had the most expensive clothes they could give him, fashionable and stuffy at the same time, including several suits that he wore for his parents’ numerous parties. And when Harry turned seven, his governess was fired, his latest nursemaid retired, and he was sent off to boarding school.
Bedford School was at first a difficult place for the young boy, but he swiftly settled in and made friends, or at least was friendly with, his dorm mates. He excelled in his classes, and often advanced to an older class, as his governess had simply taught to his level and not worried about the grade level of the material he could understand. Harry learned to love sports and over his time at Bedford, he made a place for himself on the rugby teams, the cricket teams, the fencing teams, and the rowing teams.
Bedford was also the first place Harry truly learned more than the mythology of soulmates.
Harry was just seven years old when he first started attending the boarding school, much too early for soul mates to make much of an impact on his life personally. When one was born into the circles of society Harry was born into, one often didn’t meet many soul mate pairs.
Harry’s governess had taught him the mythology, of course. He had read the stories of Zeus and the other ancient gods and how they had been jealous of humans and split them in two, which he found in Plato. He read the English translations, though he'd been working on learning Latin and Greek when his governess had been fired. He had been taught that humans, according to myth, had once had four arms, four legs, and one head made of two faces. He knew the ancient peoples believed that after being cursed by the gods, they had to find the other half of their soul to be whole.
But the young boy thought it was all bedtime stories and savages from olden times who didn’t understand science and things. It wasn’t until he began his classes at Bedford that he learned the truth: while the idea of four arms, four legs and heads with two faces might be fiction, along with the curse of the gods (though that is strongly debated), the idea of soul mates isn’t just a romantic ideal.
There was an entire class taught every year on advancing levels that made it clear that soul mates were real. Harry learned in his first class more about the mythology, and the ongoing debates about the existence of Zeus or God or Satan, causing the current issue with how one found one’s mate. He read stories (dumbed down to a child’s level) about soul mates throughout history and how their searches for their mates, chance meetings between mates, or the lack thereof had impacted history.
As he grew older, the classes became more focused on the actual mechanism of the soulmate bond and how it manifested in life. Harry learned puberty was key. Puberty, as defined by when he had his first wet dream or awake ejaculation producing actual sperm, would trigger his visions. Once he was considered adult by those standards, he would have ten minute visions every year on his mate’s conception date. He would lose control of his body and see what was happening through his mate’s eyes.
It was a disturbing thought to the boy. He prided himself on his control. His parents had always praised him for his lack of temper or outbursts when he was young, so he strived to keep it that way. It wasn’t that Harry didn’t have emotions or even that he didn't show them. He simply kept them to the correct time, place, and level. A joyful yell when one made a goal in rugby was acceptable but not when one made a touch in fencing or received an outstanding test mark.
The idea that he would have no control over his body for ten whole minutes once a year was disconcerting. He understood he would be stationary. His body wouldn’t do anything without him, it wouldn't be like sleepwalking. And it happened to everyone. It was how you got clues to where your soulmate was, what they did, their age, an idea of a range for their birthday, and if you were lucky, a name or something to indicate who they were.
Harry still wasn’t sure he was willing to do this, though he was smart enough to realize he didn’t actually have a choice. When he reached the magic age, his body would give him a week’s worth of warnings and then the first vision. Though many of his classmates were looking forward to it, Harry would rather not. Especially since he knew now that his parents weren’t mates and it was likely they would want him to marry as they did - for money and property and family reasons - not for something as nebulous as love.
Then Harry turned fourteen and came into puberty properly.
1975, Bedford School, England
Harry reclined on the red leather chaise lounge in the small retiring room in the medical wing of Bedford School. The medical wing had three floors, the top floor devoted entirely to small rooms such as this. They were all seven feet deep by seven feet wide, furnished with a single chaise lounge and a small table piled with several blankets and a few pillows. The walls were a dark cherry wood paneling with a single oculus window cut high into the exterior wall. There were two sconces, gold with white flower-like domes on either side of the window though at a lower height. The rooms were designed to comfort those in vision trances without jarring them upon waking.
The past week had been what Harry considered a personal hell. He understood the biology, both from classes and from his fellow yearmates, most of whom had already gone through the process. Harry was a late bloomer. He had actually started to hope he wouldn’t enter into puberty until he was in his late teens - anything to put off the utter horror of this process.
However, he had not been that lucky. Two months after his fourteenth birthday he had woken up sticky from a wet dream for the first time. Then three months and sixteen days later, his body began to lead up to the first vision. He had been sitting in the cafeteria for dinner and suddenly began to feel increasingly hot. The sensation began at his heart and spread throughout his body, the discomfort increasing quickly.
After that first horrific ten minutes, he had made sure to go to a retiring room for the first half hour of dinner time so he would be alone and not teased about his approaching trance. This was actually encouraged by the professors, as it would enable the newly awakened to get familiar with and comfortable in the retiring rooms before they had their first vision.
And now, Harry reclined in the now familiar room, massaging the fingers that had been tingling uncomfortably for at least the past twenty-eight minutes. He knew this meant the vision would start momentarily. Tingling in the extremities was nature’s way of warning that a vision trance was approaching, to enable one to get to a safe place to fall into the trance. Just as the hot flashes were nature’s way of warning a first timer the new experience would soon occur.
Harry tensed and laid back, staring at the ceiling with gritted teeth, wishing he was not about to lose control over himself. Then suddenly, it happened. Rather than the wood panelled ceiling above the chaise lounge, Harry was seeing a hand twisting a cuff link set into a white dress shirt under what seemed to be a tuxedo arm.
After a few moments, the eyes looked up and Harry saw a beautiful blonde woman in a sparkling wedding dress walking toward him. She was on the arm of an older man, white-haired, with a distinctive mustache. They reached the area near Harry (so it seemed to him) and the eyes turned to the front, and Harry saw the woman escorted to a tall man with dark red hair. The older man lifted the bride’s veil out of the way and stepped back, allowing her to join hands with her groom. Harry watched the wedding ceremony he couldn’t hear, an unknown passenger for this lovely occasion.
The ceremony was short. There was no sermon, no overly religious trappings, simply what seemed to be an exchange of vows and rings and a blessing by the officiant. Harry couldn’t hear what was being said - all visions were just that, vision only - but he had good observational skills. It was an odd sensation but Harry was actually enjoying trying to memorize everything he was seeing so he could interpret it later.
Then the couple turned toward the watchers and bowed their heads. The eyes Harry was seeing through also looked down, and Harry saw a lovely pair of shined Oxfords on his mate’s feet. He suspected his mate had his eyes closed for a prayer but eyelids didn’t count as obstructions for the sake of this vision trance, everyone knew that. As long as the eyeball itself was in the socket, the vision showed what was in front of it, beyond the body limits.
The eyes raised again and for the first time, Harry saw the newly wedded couple look at one another. Previously they were angled so they couldn’t both be seen but now - now Harry saw the almost luminous quality to their smiles, the shine in their eyes that wasn’t caused by tears. They practically radiated peace and happiness and - love. This must be what love looks like, Harry thought, suddenly wistful for all he had never known or thought worthwhile.
As the eyes saw the couple reach for one another to kiss, Harry found himself seeing the ceiling of the retiring room once more and was overcome with longing, feeling a hollow emptiness inside himself he had never before been able to recognize or acknowledge. It was the hole in his soul his soul mate belonged in.
The stoic teen rolled to his side, buried his face in the back of the chaise and burst into tears, finally believing in the idea of soul mates and wanting, needing, to find his own.