therealpm: (Haters to the left)
[personal profile] therealpm
Millarbell Household

EDIT: reposted here.

*Fiona is in the midst of writing another irate letter to Michael Gove when the doorbell rings. She goes downstairs to answer it, shoos Molly away from the entry with her foot, and opens the door to find a courier waiting outside.*

*She knows they haven't ordered anything, so she's instantly wary- you wouldn't believe the shit some people feel entitled to send Alastair- but she relaxes when she sees the milk bottle he's set down on the step. Peter has obviously decided to keep Alastair for longer and has sent her the milk to make up for it. (Fiona knows better than to imagine that considerate gesture came from her partner.) It's mildly irritating they didn't consult her before changing their plans- Christ, they've probably gone off with Tony after all; there was some article about him in the Guardian this morning- but at least she doesn't have to go out for the milk.*

*The other package is more mysterious. A Christmas gift from Peter? Still, whatever it is it probably isn't an Iraqi flag soaked in blood. With a mental shrug, Fiona signs for it, tucks the milk bottle under her elbow, and takes the mystery box inside.*

----//----

*When at last they come to a halt, Alastair sighs in relief to hear the ring of a familiar doorbell, followed by an unmistakeable barking. At least he's home. As the door shuts and the box is carried inside, Alastair braces himself for Fiona's reaction, whatever it may be. Best-case scenario, she laughs at him a bit then shouts at Peter a lot. Worst-case scenario, she laughs at him a lot then shouts at Peter a bit. Of course, there's an almost unimaginable number of variations on those themes, depending on her mood, but Alastair doesn't have much room left in his brain for such considerations.*

*Ideally, he'd wait in dignified silence for her to open the box and release him, but he doesn't want to be set down somewhere and forgotten about for hours. He jumps up and down as hard as he can, hoping to shake the box enough to inflame her curiosity.*

Fiona! It's me! Help me!

----//----

*Fiona can't feel Alastair's newspaper padded, hamster-sized jumpings, but she can hear a faint squeaking sound from inside the box. Oh God, if Peter's sent them some fucking ~rodent~- it's probably a Danny Alexander joke, and at least he didn't send it to them while the children were still living at home and would insist on keeping it, but honestly! She has enough to do saving the British education system from Michael Gove; she doesn't have time to look after a fucking ~squirrel~ or whatever it is.*

*No doubt Alastair thought it was hilarious and signed off on it. Because Alastair is not going to be the one cleaning up little pellets of rodent poo for the next five years.*

*Still, it's not the poor hamster's fault. No point in letting it suffocate in the box. She sets the box down on the kitchen room table, out of Molly's reach, and uses her key to slice open the packing tape.*

*Sure enough, there's a wire cage inside containing a bunch of shredded newspaper and... her partner?*

----//----

*There's a gigantic tearing sound, and then Alastair is squinting up at Fiona, all but lost for words. She seems to be in much the same predicament, at least for the moment. He coughs and tries to make his squeak as deep and manly as possible.*

Hello, dear.

----//----

*There is a brief silence as Fiona opens her mouth and discovers it is impossible to gape, talk and smile all at the same time. Eventually she manages to get the gaping under control and is left with just the smiling and the talking.*

What- why are you a hamster?

----//----

*Alastair draws himself to his full (albeit distinctly miniscule) height and folds his arms crossly.*

Three guesses.

----//----

Peter has convinced you to infiltrate Number 10 through a mousehole? Tony has finally discovered how to absorb your body mass as well as your time?

----//----

Please don't take the piss, Fiona. This is very serious.

----//----

*She'd been trying not to laugh at him. Honest. But 'This is very serious' in his tiny little hamster voice is too much for her. Fiona collapses into a chair, laughing hysterically, and points a wavering finger at the cage.*

He- gave you- a little ~wheel~!*




D'Souza's Office

*It's been a frustrating few days. The IT problems have persisted and multiplied, and her only comfort is that the House of Commons is every bit as affected as the Lords. If it were just the Lords afflicted the problems with the monitors and the annuciators might be added to the endless queue of deferred maintainence projects in the Palace of Westminster, accompanied by a few sniggering jokes about the eldery and their fabled discomfort with technology. But the Commons are ~important~. If MPs can't see the day's business on their office monitors they won't know when they have to come into the House to vote, which means they have to stay in the Chamber all day and actually listen to the debates. And of course ~that~ constitutes a national emergency, in their eyes.*

*John is under immense pressure to find a solution and fast, which means that Frances has an ally, albeit a pompous, ineffectual one. She hasn't yet managed to trace the interference back to Peter- indeed, she can't detect any hexes behind the IT problems at all- and John is no use at all when it comes to tracer spells. But the House of Lords adjourns tomorrow, which will give her a chance to concentrate on setting a trap for the arsonist instead of putting out the daily fires, and meanwhile John has promised to confront Peter. Frances isn't optimistic about the outcome of that meeting- Peter has John wrapped around his little finger and if he refuses to undo the hexes at her behest it seems very unlikely he'll do so at John's- but it can't hurt. She hopes. At the very least, John might be able to wring some information out of Peter that will help them to block the spells.*

----//----

*John doesn't think Frances will still be in her office at this hour, but it's worth a shot, especially given how close her office is anyway. He wanders throug the corridors until he finds her door. He knocks.*

----//----

Come in! Oh, hello John. How was the meeting?

----//----

*John wanders into her office.*

Good evening, Frances.

It went as you undoubtedly expected it to - Peter denied all responsibility of the attacks or knowledge of how they were carried out.

----//----

Oh well. It was worth a try, I suppose.

----//----

*John falls into a chair.*

Certainly, still I managed to go a little better.

You see, before I went to meet with Peter I thought to myself - "John", I thought, "John, Peter was director of communications under New Labour. He's going to run rings around you if you try asking him questions he doesn't want to answer."

"Well," I thought in reply to myself, "Surely there's got to be a way to get the basic facts of Peter's movements and so on without asking the man himself." Snooping in his diary is off limits, of course - an invasion of privacy, you'll understand. But there is someone else who knows Peter's actions just as well as - if not better than - Peter himself.

So, after a chat with Peter, I had a conversation with The Machine. She backs up Peter's story entirely - word for word. She can provide a comprehensive account of Peter's movements and spell casts over the period, both of which clear Peter's name. I'm sure if I asked politely I could even acquite the CCTV footage of Peter's movements if a simple read out would not quell your queries.

Anyway, the conversation continued and meandered and eventually I struck upon another thought; The Machine - a super computer designed to analyze and interpret data in an attempt to find the gaps and flaws in it and then produce an action plan of how to tackled those issues - could run a diagnostics of the parliamentary IT system. She's agreed to produce a report outlining the major failings of our security system and what she thinks we should do about them. She's more than capable of implementing the solutions, but then the private contractors would be up in arms and if anything did go wrong we'd be even more reliant upon her capabilities and so on. I'm sure you can fill in the rest of the arguments yourself.

So to conclude, the meeting wasn't a total failure and with any luck we'll have a report to be implemented that should hopefully stop any future attacks.

----//----

...you asked Peter's pet supercomputer to supply him with an alibi. Which you accepted without question.

*Frances pinches the bridge of her nose.*

Well, I certainly agree that we don't want it mucking around in our IT system. I don't particularly want it ~analysing~ our IT system, but I suppose we have ample evidence that Peter can ~already~ get in and out of our computers whenever he pleases.

*It occurs to her that this report, with its overtone of "Nyeah, nyeah, I'm cleverer than you, now watch me tell you everything you're doing wrong", is probably the closest Peter is going to come to taking responsibility for the mess he's made and clearing it up. At least, it's the closest he's going to come unless she puts the Mace binding on him again, and she can't do that without some proof of his culpability. Proof that has been annoyingly elusive for the past five days.*

*Wouldn't it be better to accept this peace offering and get the problems fixed? She hates to allow Peter to get away with murder like this, but given the choice between teaching him a badly needed lesson and sparing Parliament from another week of IT hell, surely as Speaker she has an obligation to put her personal feelings aside and get the monitors working properly again.*

All right, all right. Let's see this report.

----//----

*John hurrumphs. He didn't force Peter's CHILD to supply an alibi - he asked for information. John supposes pointing out the very important difference would likely result in an argument he's not willing to have, so lets the matter slide - for now.*

The report? It isn't done yet, of course! The Machine may be brilliant but she isn't that fast. It's going to take a good few weeks yet. I simply thought it a good idea to keep you informed of all developments, that's all. The report should be done by mid-January at the latest, then going through the recommendations and getting in the contractors, with the usual faff around negotiations, means the system should be running in its upgraded form by... oh... the end of February? Say the start of March, to be safe.

----//----

*Giving Peter another two months to sabotage their IT systems before doing so would call into question the effectiveness of his computer's recommendations. Of course. She should have seen that one coming.*

*Maybe she'd better keeping working on that trap after all. Come to think of it, this might be the best of both worlds- with a little luck she'll be able to catch Peter red handed, but if not, there's a guaranteed end date to his destructive pranks.*

I will eagerly await its findings.

----//----

Marvellous!

*John gets up from the seat.*

In that case I shall burden you with my presence no longer. If anything else happens in the meantime in those areas under my responsibility I'll be sure to inform you straight away, never fear.

Good evening.

*John gives a quick nod and leaves.*

Any edits required, let me know in the comments.
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