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Looking for Bertie
19-02-2012, 01:35 PM (This post was last modified: 19-02-2012 01:50 PM by Silktie.)
Post: #1
Looking for Bertie
Spoilers for season 9, mention of new characters for season 10.

Takes place between seasons 9 and 10. Harry and Ruth.


Wednesday 23 March 2011

It was a typical late March day in London; crisp, cold air that misted her breath, and a weak sun trying valiantly, but in vain, to break through the low clouds. There was nothing out of the ordinary in the streets that slid past her window. They bustled and teemed with the morning rush hour traffic, eventually thinning out as the car moved further from the city centre. Just a normal, average March day, she reflected. Except that it wasn’t. It was the day that marked the first step she was taking after The Decision, the first step towards what she hoped would be something wonderful.

The man next to her turned a page and it rustled in the silence. He was totally absorbed in his reading, and she turned her eyes back to the window, to the bare trees lining the street now moving slowly past. The car ghosted to a stop and for a moment she panicked. She had never been to his house – unless one counted the miserable hour she’d spent indecisively loitering across the street, wanting to take back the rejection of a second date many years ago – and her mind filled with doubt. Would he want her here, in his house, after everything that had happened? After everything she’d said?
“We’re here,” she announced, and her voice sounded high and anxious to her ears.
The Home Secretary looked up and surveyed the house for a few moments.
“Not too shabby for a civil servant, eh?” he remarked, then got out without waiting for a response.
Ruth got out as well. She followed him to the front door, the anxiety knotting tighter and tighter in her stomach.

Towers rang the bell and they could hear its stringent echo inside. The seconds ticked by, and when they’d stretched into a minute he leaned on the button again, longer this time. He’d barely taken his finger off it when the door swung open to reveal Harry, who regarded them in silence. There was no hint of surprise in his expression and Ruth surmised that he’d made use of the spyhole.
“Hello, Harry,” Towers said breezily. “How have you b-... What’s that?”
He pointed to the implement in Harry’s left hand.
Harry looked down at it, almost baffled by its presence.
“They’re pruning shears,” he said, wiggling them slightly.
The two people on the doorstep stared at him, and he apparently felt that some sort of explanation was necessary, because he added, “I was, erm...” He faltered, then lifted his chin and looked at them challengingly. “I was thinking of doing some gardening.”
“Good God!” Towers exclaimed, horrified by the thought. “We’re just in time, evidently,” and walked inside without waiting for an invitation.
Harry’s gaze shifted to Ruth and they looked at each other for long seconds. When she stayed rooted to the spot, he asked drily, “Would you like to come in as well?”
He tried to sound casual but was not quite able to hide his uneasiness at her presence.
Her heart sank, and she took care not to brush against him as he stood aside to let her in.

They found Towers in the living room, planted in front of the window and surveying the unkempt shrubbery outside with a slight air of distaste. Harry’s garden could obviously do with some attention. Heaven knew what could be hidden in that tangled mess... His attention snapped back to the situation at hand and he turned towards the room.
“So. How are you, Harry?”
The curt response did not invite further discussion. He was a month into his suspension and climbing the walls. Hence the gardening implement he still clutched in his hand. He became aware of its presence and dropped it onto the paper scattered over the coffee table.
“To what do I owe this visit?” he enquired, deciding it was time to take control of the situation.
Towers looked around him and moved towards the nearest chair.
“May I?”
At Harry’s nod he lowered himself onto it.
Ruth had wandered over to the far corner, her attention caught by a stack of vinyl LPs. Harry wondered what she made of the fact that he still had them. Luddite? Couldn’t let go of things he loved? He was guilty on both counts, of course. He leant back against the wall and slipped his hands into his pockets, waiting for Towers to explain.

“I have a little project for you,” the Home Secretary announced.
Ruth turned around, her focus now on Harry, carefully observing his reaction.
He kept his eyes on Towers, although he was fully aware of her scrutiny.
“I’m suspended; you’re not allowed to give me any projects.”
“Ah, but this is a private enterprise,” Towers stated smugly.
When Harry merely lifted an eyebrow, he leaned forward and continued.
“A certain young nobleman of my acquaintance has disappeared. His mother approached me for help; she wants the matter handled discreetly. Naturally I thought of you. What better way to while away the time than to engage in a spot of amateur sleuthing?”
His eyes moved to the pruning shears and he added meaningfully, “I had a hunch you wouldn’t cope well with enforced idleness.”
Harry glared half-heartedly; Towers had him there.
He pointed out, “They have surveillance on me. My movements are limited, so I’m not sure how much use I’d be.”
Both Towers and Ruth noticed that he didn’t refuse right off the bat.
“Not to worry old chap,” the Home Secretary said. “I’ve arranged everything. You’ll have complete freedom of movement for the next two weeks. The only caveat is that someone from the Service should be with you at all times.”
Harry’s gaze flicked to Ruth, and she looked back steadily.
“Now, Harry,” Towers continued sternly, “I am standing surety for you, because I don’t believe you are the type of man that would abscond at the first opportunity. For God’s sake don’t prove me wrong.”
He stood up. “Ruth here will babysit and fill you in on the details. Your expenses will be covered by the family of the missing man, and I’m sure there’ll be something in it for you, especially if you should find him. These people aren’t exactly poor.”

Harry showed him out, and Ruth remained where she was. She could hear them talking, their voices an unintelligible low rumble before the door opened and closed. It was strange to be in his house like this. The butterflies in her stomach returned in full force now that she was alone with him, now that there was no-one else to take their focus off each other. Harry came back into the room and took up station behind a chair, his hands resting lightly on its back. He watched her for a moment before he spoke.
“So you drew the short straw?”
He seemed unimpressed by the whole idea, even somewhat aggrieved. She wasn’t sure whether it was because his integrity was being called into question, or whether she was the one that would do the babysitting. The second option disturbed her more than she would like to admit.
“No,” she said calmly.
Her answer surprised him and he cocked his head at her.
“I volunteered,” she clarified with the ghost of a smile.
It took him a few seconds to process the implications of her statement, and his eyes softened. The set of his shoulders relaxed fractionally and he moved around the chair and sat down. When she didn’t follow suit, he looked pointedly at the chair opposite him and back at her again. She got the hint and sat.

He decided to open with a safe topic.
“How are things on the Grid?”
“There have been some changes.” She hesitated. “The acting Section Head-“
“Erin Watts,” Harry supplied, and she shook her head in admiration.
“She’s made some changes.”
“What changes?” he asked sharply.
“She decommissioned Beth, and brought in a new techie. Calum Reed.”
He absorbed the information without comment, a frown etched on his face. She could tell he was not exactly happy with these developments.
“She must be confident of her position,” he remarked offhand, and Ruth knew he understood what it meant: Erin Watts had been told that she would be his replacement if the Inquiry found him guilty.
“Yes. She’s a big fan of yours, though,” Ruth revealed, wanting him to know that Erin was not working against him.
He pondered this bit of news, then said, straight-faced, “She’s obviously never met me.”
Ruth couldn’t smother her smile.
“Obviously,” she agreed.
He smiled, and with that the last lingering unease between them melted away.

“So. What have we got?” Harry asked and leaned forward.
Ruth rummaged in her bag and produced a slim file which she handed across. He flicked it open and was confronted with a photograph paper-clipped to the first page. The man in it looked to be in his mid-twenties, blonde and lanky. He reclined against an Aston Martin with an insouciant smile.
“David William Percy V,” Ruth informed him.
Harry rolled his eyes and muttered, “Oh, the fifth.”
“Heir apparent to the Duke of Suffolk and his large business empire.”
“How large?”
“Multi-millionaire large. Mining concessions in Australia, South Africa and Chile, tea and coffee plantations in Sri Lanka and Kenya, and so on.”
He flipped up the photo and perused the list of companies on the first page.
“Was daddy recently ennobled, then, perhaps after a not-so-modest financial contribution into the right coffers?”
“Actually, no. The family traces right back to the War of the Roses. They were on the Lancastran side of things and were eventually rewarded for that with a Dukedom during the Tudor era.”
Harry pursed his lips. “Ah. So instead of the vulgarities of the nouveau riche we’ll have to contend with good old-fashioned baseless entitlement.”
He was not a fan of the nobility, irrespective of their ilk.
She gave him a look and bit back the urge to call him Sir Harry.
He ignored it and pointed at the photograph. “How long has Bertie Wooster here been missing?”
“Two weeks,” she said, her disapproval evident in her tone. She found it hard to understand how parents could wait two weeks before they start to worry about their children, and it showed in her expression.

Harry watched the play of emotion on her face and sighed inwardly. They were so very different in some ways. Despite her more jaded view of the world since her return from Cyprus, she still, in essence, believed in the goodness of humankind, whereas he had a more cynical outlook. These days he tended to be more surprised to encounter common decency than its opposite. He wondered, not for the first time, what she really thought of his abject failure as a father; whether she knew about Graham and the fact that, for years, he’d had no idea where his son was.
Her voice brought him back to the matter at hand.
“The Duchess, Lady Agnes, is willing to speak to us.”
“How generous,” he murmured.
When he didn’t move, she added pointedly, “Today, Harry.”
His mouth twitched in amusement at her firm tone. Not many people dared to speak to him in this way, but she had always been different. He had always allowed her more liberties than most.
“Right. I’ll go and dress for the occasion, shall I?”
Her eyes slid away from him, the thought of him undressing under the same roof as her enticing and embarrassing in equal measure. When she looked back at him his gaze was on her, curious and contemplative. She wondered what he read in her face, but whatever it was, it seemed to remove any doubts he might have had about taking on this project.
“Ruth,” he said, his voice warm and reassuring. “The odds are better than even that we’ll find him in a house of ill repute or an opium den somewhere, wasting daddy’s money. If it were something more serious, like kidnapping, they’d have heard from the perpetrators by now.”
She nodded, moved by his attempt to ease her concerns, and watched him walk from the room. He was going to do it, and she would accompany him every step of the way. The thought ignited a spark of excitement in the pit of her stomach, and she couldn’t stop the smile that spread across her face. For the first time since she’d taken the decision to stop pushing him away, to allow herself a chance at happiness, she began to believe that there was hope for them.


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19-02-2012, 03:42 PM
Post: #2
Ruth RE: Looking for Bertie
A new Silktie story - yay! Yahoo

My heart strings were tugged a bit when Ruth mentioned standing outside his house for an hour wanting to take back the refusal of the second date.

I had to google (hopefully Harry would forgive me!) the name Bertie Wooster, but I understand the reference now. I'm looking forward to reading more. Thank you for sharing.

Zaf: "Shouldn't you be in prison or something?"
Ros: "This is the something."
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19-02-2012, 04:14 PM
Post: #3
RE: Looking for Bertie
Ha! When I flicked onto the forum and saw a new thread called "Looking for Bertie" I thought for a moment it was another one of those darn Russian spam posts which keep appearing on here Wink

Super idea for a story Silktie. Think I am really going to like this one.

For some reason I found my mind wandering to what unsuitable clothing Harry was wearing, which meant he had to change...shorts? Silba

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19-02-2012, 07:44 PM
Post: #4
RE: Looking for Bertie
Yippee for a new story. A wonderful sounding plot, some terrific banter and a bit of hope for something more between them. All the ingredients for a great story. Well done and looking forward to more. Please.

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20-02-2012, 06:19 AM
Post: #5
RE: Looking for Bertie
So happy to see another story from you Yahoo and as always this has started superbly! Really enjoyed the tension between them in the beginning and Harry slowly realising that Ruth was there because she wanted to be there. Glad Ruth has decided to 'be brave' and go after something wonderful! I hope she finds it in this!
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20-02-2012, 12:51 PM (This post was last modified: 20-02-2012 12:52 PM by cateau1.)
Post: #6
RE: Looking for Bertie
I confess: it's been AGES since I visited the Forum, but now I'm hooked again and waiting with baited breath (sorry for the mixed cliche!)
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23-02-2012, 11:59 AM
Post: #7
RE: Looking for Bertie
This is great, Silktie. You have me wanting more Smile
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