Now I’m thinking of Eggsy first seeing Harry in Kentucky and realizing, he can’t speak. At first being confused and shocked, thinking they have it wrong. But no, the bullet did extensive damage to the Broca’s area, all the centres of language and speech gone. It’s likely he will never regain full use of it.
And I’m thinking of Eggsy being determined to be able to communicate with Harry. Harry, who knew sign language since he was 22, communicating with Statesman staff his needs, thoughts, wants. But he leaves out the emotion; they say his face is devoid of any indication of what’s going underneath. They bring him what he asks for, he says thank you, and he is polite and cursory and–empty. So, Eggsy learns sign language.
He watches videos, asks Merlin for help, to teach him gestures and their meanings, and catches onto the basics right away. He knows Harry can hear him just fine; he wants to hear Harry again. Maybe not in the way he had before, but it’s something. When he thought he had nothing left of Harry besides an empty house, a will, a name that he kept trying to fit into.
So, he learns. And he learns the rhythm of Harry’s hands, how elegant and graceful they are. Just like he was. It’s amazing, Eggsy thinks, once he pays attention. And a few weeks after they first lay eyes on each other, Harry is able to tell Eggsy, Hello, Eggsy. I am happy to see you.And it’s amazing, it’s brilliant, it’s makes happiness unfurl in his chest like ribbons–and it’s not enough. Merlin told him: half the language is in the eyes, the expressions. Harry says he is happy. But it doesn’t seem to reach his eyes.
Merlin has known it as long as Harry, talks with him, waits and watches his hands, nods, a hand over his face. Whiskey tells him one night that his aunt was born deaf and mute, that he’d known how to use sign language all his life, that he was the first one to talk to Harry, a real conversation. Harry didn’t have many of those, Whiskey tells him, almost sadly, staring at his glass. But he tried, he said.
But Harry doesn’t let on more than what his hands give. He doesn’t show Merlin or Whiskey or the staff what he’s thinking besides what he wants them to know. But when he sees Eggsy–oh, when they both finally find each other through the glass, Eggsy knows that look: baffling disbelief and hesitant joy, the smile that flashes across his face, timid and small, and falls away just as quick. But Eggsy saw it, he knows he did.
Merlin tells him, hand on his shoulder like he needs to steadied for this, that Harry isn’t who he was before. That whatever Harry endured, whatever he suffered, has made a home in him. And they should not set their hopes too high.
Eggsy doesn’t believe in a life without at least a bit of chance, a bit of foolish hope.
Eggsy comes to know all the ways Harry’s eyes scan the room, the hard line of his mouth or the soft fall of it, his posture as approachable or tenuous. The gentle tap of Harry’s finger on the inside of his wrist, hand dropping on his shoulder, resting on his elbow, his back. He knows what’s urgent, what’s merely conversational–what’s meant to just be between them.
Their own little language. Things only Eggsy comes to know. They can speak in glances, touches and cues. Eggsy wouldn’t say he knows what Harry’s thinking intuitively… but there’s something they have that Merlin can’t replicate, that Whiskey never got out of Harry in all the months he spent in the cell with this stranger, trying to let him know he wasn’t alone.
And slowly, slowly, the happiness reaches Harry’s eyes. Fleeting smiles, frowns come and gone in the blink of an eye; raised brows, corners of his mouth curving up the barest amount, fluttering eyelids, turn of his head as Eggsy laughs and Harry listens to him.
Eggsy sees it all.
And when Harry motions for him, Eggsy watches his hands, his face, waiting before he answers. And he listens; and he hears Harry.