‘How long have you known Madeline wasn’t an only child?’
‘We decided it would be wise to keep that information on a need to know basis.’
M won’t break the look and Ronni can feel anger rising unprompted, because a man was now dead as a result. This was what Q had meant, why Bond had mentioned the boss in conversation.
‘Had I known this we could have prevented an innocent man’s untimely demise this evening, Sir, because that information would have been freely available – ‘
‘Under the circumstances it was decided – ‘
‘I assume by the same people who deemed Blofeld’s life of sufficient value to keep him alive even though it was abundantly apparent he would never willingly volunteer anything to us or anyone else?’
‘Sir, I think 004 should be made aware of the letter you intercepted this morning.’
It is Q who’s instantly indignant, throwing the other woman a look that indicates only too well that a line was crossed that wasn’t hers to traverse. There is no regret from Eve, almost defiant with arms folded, and Ronni’s really rather pleased that the man’s ex-PA’s on the same playing field as her at last. Rachel quickly makes herself scarce and Charlie plus Felix are keeping well out of the fray: M considers, before reaching inside his jacket, passing an envelope to 004 on which her designation is written by hand. Opening the letter, Bond’s handwriting is both surprise and shock combined.
I’m sorry we fought, it’s the last thing I ever want to do. Your significance in my life is only now beginning to become apparent, and I know you were right, I don’t want to lose what we have any more than you wish to be separated from your future. The wedding’s been put on hold, while I sort out what needs to happen next.
Please, try and understand I’m only trying to be your friend.
In her stomach she feels sick, knowing that M had not only opened it but held onto this without her knowledge, for most of the day. Anger is now burning out of control, consuming a body working on far too little sleep and an excess of caffeine, and instead of keeping quiet, it is time to go on the offensive.
‘You didn’t trust that I’d be professional enough not to act on this?’
‘It occurred to me that you might have an emotional reaction -‘
‘Well I have, Sir. I’m staggered that you made an arbitrary decision based on how you decided I would respond, that you intercepted a private communication that was none of your damn business, and that you’d then try and justify your actions for the good of a mission. The fact everybody else present knew about this is enough to make me wonder why I’m even being briefed in the first place.’
Nobody says a word as she walks out of the room and Ronni knows why: at least something in that impromptu outburst hit the target. Kept out of the loop because they’d assumed she’d have gone to Bond to ask why the wedding was off: nobody took her fucking seriously, even after everything that has happened. For every step forward, she was intentionally held back. Even Moneypenny was better briefed, only promoted the previous day… but they were right. These people understood her better than Ronni realised. If she’d have picked up the letter this morning it might have saved a life tonight, but could well have jeopardised Bond’s position.
It doesn’t stop her being angry though, and that’s no bad thing.
She won’t stop until inside the Barracks sleeping quarters, familiar spot in the corner of the stables, bed already made up because somebody will have anticipated this turn of events, probably Q. The ire boils, and she wants to pick up something to throw: instead hands are placed on the wall, focusing anger into the brickwork with a measure of success. There’s still a part of this that’s not making sense, that might have something to do with LaCroix and Leiter being here largely unannounced. The piece of paper in her pocket, pulled out and stared at, is the element missing from this equation.
‘You have every right to be angry, Flemmings.’
Turning, M stands in the doorway and Ronni has to scrabble for composure, because confronting the boss twice in less than 15 minutes wasn’t really acceptable under any circumstances: he made a call that on reflection was spot on. In fact, she is the one who should apologise as a matter of urgency.
‘I’m sorry, Sir. With consideration I can entirely understand why you will have kept me out of the loop.’
‘Do you really, 004? Or do I think that I should have told you what was going on with Madeline Swann as soon as it became apparent?’
‘If you had, I would probably have considered it inappropriate.’
‘Can I ask why?’
‘Because, whether I like it or not, what happens in 007’s personal life is absolutely nothing to do with me.’
As is often the case, M’s regard reminds briefly of her father: less judgemental, gaze far more benign. He motions her to the cot to sit, taking a seat on the one opposite. Ronni’s briefly nauseous, unable to process so much emotional consequence simultaneously, so just shoves it all away to deal with later.
‘I am aware of how much of a Boys Club you still think this place is, and you would not be far off the truth, but your influence is beginning to have an effect in the most unexpected of places. However, Rome was not built in a day, and we have many considerations apart from the obvious need to open to diversity. Spectre, as you are now aware, have their ears to too many walls, and we must proceed with caution. The rules are changing so fast, snap decisions are having to be made. There’s a part of this equation that you don’t yet know, and I think under the circumstances I should tell you myself.’