An A to Z prompt thing I snagged from Livejournal. Snippets, no real plot etc.
Sir Arnold was never one to make conjectures without hard facts. Without evidence or some form of proof of some sort. The public (re: journalists) may say what they like about Whitehall and subjective reality but Sir Arnold liked facts. He liked facts the way Sir Humphrey liked order and red tape and Bernard liked Greek and Latin stems and pure logic. He liked facts the way Sir Frank liked firm, hard figures. The way Jumbo liked sure agreements and drinks made over foreign contracts. The way Ministers liked a finger of brandy after five and journalists liked lunchtime leaks.
So when an under secretary to the Ministry of Industrial Harmony came to him with a rumor and a taste for ill founded advancement he couldn't help but laugh.
"Sir Humphrey would never do such a thing. You're being a bit of a dunderhead, if you ask me. Where's the proof? I need proof to substantiate this sort of claim. And against one of our own!"
That was the part that rankled. Against one of their own. Civil servants backed each other, they didn't tear each other down (unless strictly necessary). There were rules that governed any and all interactions. Sir Humphrey would never break those rules, no matter the temptation. And truly, Sir Arnold didn't think Bernard Woolley much of a temptation.
"But sir," the boy said with an earnest face. "I saw them –"
"You may have well seen the Virgin Mary but it does me no good if you don't have proof." And he didn't add on that even if the boy did have the proof he didn't really want it. Sir Humphrey was too old a friend and too close an ally to get rid of. "If you ever get some, come directly to me and no one else, you understand?"
"If I find out you've seen someone else," Sir Frank was hanging in the back of his mind. If there was a Judas Iscariot of the Civil Service – "It will be the vehicle licensing centre in Swansea or Fishguard. Am I clear?"
"Perfectly, Sir Arnold."
"Good. I'm glad. Drink?"
And he laughed as the boy asked for a sherry because truly the idea was ridiculous. Sir Humphrey risking his career, reputation, everything, for Bernard Woolley? Laughable.