„Good morning, Bernard! What a lovely day to lead the country, isn't that so?" smiled the Prime Minister while entering his office.
„Well…" Bernard moved his look to the desk.
„What?" Jim turned back to Bernard's office, „What are this ,eye moves' for exactly?"
„You've got a meeting with Dorothy Wainwright about the new day care centres and fees in hospitals."
„Yes, I know about that, it's not anything special. What is the problem then?"
„Sir Humphrey, Prime Minister." said Bernard.
„What do you mean, sir Humphrey….oh God…he won't be…"
„Yes, he will attend the meeting as well."
„Why?" moaned Jim. „He will ruin everything…he will press me to do whatever he likes, like he always does. No no no! And Dorothy! These two just can't be in the same room!"
„I know, it often causes storms, doesn't it?" giggled Bernard.
„What storms?" Jim seemed confused. „The broadcast seemed pleasant this morning."
„I mean…you know…they're like two…oh, never mind." resigned Bernard.
„Bring me a coffee, Bernard, will you?" said Jim and disappeared into his office with a frown.
„Sir Humphrey." smiled Bernard while preparing PM's coffee. „Do you want anything to drink, too?"
„So you're now the tea lady. How nice." Humphrey sneered, „Is that Wainwright woman already with the PM?"
„Yes, she came here just a while ago."
„Damn, she's in the lead! Two sugars, Bernard, thank you very much." entered the PM's office with files under his arm and a determined expression.
„Seems like I'm becoming a tea lady…" sighed Bernardand the kettle started to whistle.
„Prime Minister!" Humphrey put on his best upper class smile and took a seat. „Have you read the files I gave you yesterday?"
„Yes, I have, Humphrey," Jim took off his glasses, „Those suggestions are just unbelivable!"
„Oh you don't have to be so kind Prime…"
„No no! Unbelivably stupid, Humphrey! Dorothy thinks those budget cuts are just impossible to make!"
„Who? Oh Miss Wainwright! Haha! I haven't noticed you, you're unsually quiet today." Humphrey gave her his best upper class smile also and he added a horrifying gleam in his dark eyes.
This is my territory, woman.
„Of couse I'm here, Sir Humphrey, I'm PM's adviser." her smile was deadly
Oh really, Appleby?
Bernard entered to a total silence with a coffee. His asking eyes wandered slowly through the room. Humphrey was pressing the armrests of his chair too much, Dorothy's cheeks had an unusual red color and Jim looked resigned.
„Oh…Looks like the silence before the storm. Here's your coffee." he left the room very quietly.
„Humphrey," Jim broke the silence, „We can't afford these cuts in health care. Just think of the old people who need day care centres. They can't take care of themselves!"
„Of course they can! Elderly can take care of themselves, we need some money injection to our education system."
„Tell me, Sir Humphrey, how exactly an 95 yers old ill or deaf man with a tiny pension, can take care of himself." folded Dorothy her arms, „With your education it won't be a problem."
„The thing is, Miss Wainwright, what to do with an 95 years old man? The costs of his care would make a wage of an economic active young health man." explained Humphrey very slowly, like for a 9 years old child.
„Oh my God, you sound like Plato…It's not the ancient Greece anymore!"
„But the principles remain." smiled Humphrey with a feeling of the winner.
„Prime Minister…? Say something!" Dorothy sounded like a girl whose doll was stolen by Humphrey.
„Oh I…well…let's continue tomorrow, OK?"
„Goodbye Miss Wainwright!" smiled Humphrey, „Have a nice day!"
Haha! Silly woman….she'll never get me in the corner.
„See you tomorrow." she said with a blank face.
How I hate you, Humphrey…your rude behavior and boasting with your bloody Oxford…
Jim threw his suitcase over the hall on the sofa.
„Annie, can I have a triple scotch?" he sat in an armchair with a face full of despair.
„Triple scotch? What happened this time, Jim? Did the French president announced a visit? Are we attacked by the Russians? Or did the Cabinet ran out of sherry?"
„Much worse." triple scotch disappeared in a second. Annie sat on a sofa with a book. Wuthering Heights.
They used to spend their evenings reading books or newspapers, watching the six o'clock news and drinking tea. Only in serious cases was the tea replaced by something with a higher percentage of alcohol than the good old Earl Grey has.
„It's about the budget cuts in health care…I was so foolish to invite both Dorothy
and Humphrey to talk about it. The problem is – I don't know on which side I'm standing. Both of them have their pros and cons. And they're like two dogs! Barking at each other all day long, unable to admit the other's arguments. Bernard said that they cause storms in my office."
„Hmmm…" Annie closed the book and switched to the thinking mood. „When exactly is the Christmas Government ball?"
„Why are you talking about the ball? It's next Friday…"
„I have an idea." she winked at him, „You know that saying – there is a very thin line between the hatred and love. That could be actually a solution to your problems."
Dorothy's evening dress was quite expensive but what the hell, why not to look fabulous one evening of a year. She covered her naked long neck with a parfume and put on diamond earrings she inherited from her mother.
Why am I even dressing up like this? The Christmas ball is usually one of the saddest parties of the year. Everyone gets drunk in an hour and the orchestra plays horribly out of tune. Where are my shoes…?
The weather decided to be snowy, stormy and decadent tonight and Dorothy decided to stay on the ball no more than two hours.
Her car protested a little bit but then she finally left the frozen snowy driveway. As she drived closely to the government buildings the parking places were all taken. She saw the last unoccupied one but so did an Aston Martin coming closer to that place.
„No no no! That's my place, you bastard!" she yelled in her small Mini, but it was too late.
A man in a tailcoat got off the Aston and immediately covered himself against the snow storm with an umbrella.
The orchestra was playing out of tune, the whisky smelt weird and people were forced to chat about things like weather and gardening. Bernard was seen eating chocolate biscuits (like every year) and chatting to his younger civil servants colleagues and Sir Arnold was surrounded by almost a dozen of civil servant newbies begging him for an advice.
Dorothy was standing quietly near the table with drinks (just in case). Suddenly someone appeared next to her – it was Sir Frank, quite drunk, tall, big, horrifying.
„Hello hello beautiful lady! Why aren't we already dancing together?"
„Ehm…because I'm not interested?"
„Oh come on!" Sir Frank grabbed her wrists violently.
„Frank!" said an admonishing voice behind Dorothy. It was Humphrey, wearing a very nice tailcoat. „I think you should go home." he grabbed Sir Frank and pushed him to the exit.
Dorothy stayed on her place motionlessly and tried to think about what had just happened.
And before she got to another thoughts, Humphrey was back. She noticed his black tailcoat.
„It's you…! Your Aston…"
„So you're interested in cars?"
Is he…flirting with me? He has to be drunk. Dorothy looked puzzled.
„Are you allright? Frank is unbearable when drunk. He has no manners."
„He has no manners even when he's sober." said Dorothy to avoid the simple ,Thank you'. Humphrey put on his non-transparent smile to avoid the answer.
„Good evening, Dorothy, Humphrey." waved Jim at them. As he was coming closer to them, Annie whispered him in the ear.
„You've got a very nice dress, Dorothy, the fabric looks very rare." complimented Annie on Dorothy's evening dress and she suddenly felt all the eyes just on her and blushed.
„Oh, thank you. Yours are also very nice."
„They're playing waltz, Annie, let's dance." said Jim, looked at Humphrey and winked in the Dorothy's direction. Humphrey repaid him with a look what, me?
„Erm…It seems that for keeping a good relationship between the Cabinet, civil service and parties I'm obligated to ask you for a dance." Said Sir Humphrey while looking alternately on the floor and Dorothy's dress.
This is a risk! If she refuses, she'll make a fool of me!
If I refuse I'll make a fool of him but…although I hate him a lot and love to wach him drowning in embarassment, I don't hate him that much.
Oh God thank you, she didn't laugh in my face…
Though Sir Humphrey was in his best years, Dorothy couldn't not noticed his arms are still strong. He gripped her quite tough, but not uncomfortable or unpleasant. She was just a little bit surprised. His hands were warm and his cologne smelt nice. Maybe too much nice. The kind of cologne you want to inhale for hours. Just put a head on his shoulder and feel the warmth of his body…
What the hell am I thinking of? No no no..he's my arch enemy, he's Moriarty to my Sherlock. My heart beats like mad…what if he notice the pulse?
„Am I holding you too strong?"
Bloody hell he noticed!
„No no…I'm O…"
At that precise moment Jim and Annie appeared behind Humphrey and shoved him very strongly to his back.
Humphrey naturally lost all his balance and the first thing he could grasp was Dorothy. He embraced her very strongly and the only thought that was on his mind was Jesuch Christ I can't let her fall on the floor!
Dorothy's „I'm O…" dissapeared in an (both sides) unexpected french kiss. Both of them were too surprised that they forgot to close their eyes. After three seconds from the „Jim's fatal push" Humphrey aquired back his balance but Dorothy, instead of pushing him away, just closed her eyes. Humphrey's heart was beating unbelivably fast, partly of the almost-fall and partly of the woman, he was still holding very strong and kissing passionately, but tenderly (now on purpose).
„Annie," kissed Jim his wife while still dancing, „You're a genius."