On 12 January, 1935, Margaret Ruth Brown was born to Sally and George Brown.
George Brown fought in the Second Great War, and he did not come back. Sally was a nurse. She raised Margaret listlessly, and Margaret learned that you can't rely on anyone.
MI6 likes orphans.
Margaret was an orphan of her own making (people whisper, sometimes, that she killed her mother. Other people said no, no, Sally ran off with that French man- scandal! Leaving poor Margaret behind like that.)
(The truth is lost, and only Margaret knows, but Margaret is dead now, so what does it matter?).
On 24 May, 1954, Margaret Ruth Brown dies. Two women were born of her (or entirely separate of- the details don't really matter, except when they can get you killed).
One was simply called M. She had devastatingly intelligent eyes, walked with a purpose, did not smile, and was the better or equal to any man in MI6. M had no birthday, or if she did it was 24 May. She spoke fluent Russian, German, Czech, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Icelandic and French.
She achieved 00 status within 5 years, and was the first woman to do so.
Nobody knows what the M stands for.
The other was named Eleanor (though everyone called her "Ellie") Jane Henderson. She was a strangely beautiful girl, with large eyes, a small upturned nose and lips that begged a chance to smile. She was slim and carried herself well, though not aggressively, and she worked for HM Government as a secretary, filing papers.
She spoke passing French but did not like to flaunt it, cared little for world events, and loved long walks in Hyde Park.
She was married to Gregory Jones within 5 years.
This is the truth: M does not like Eleanor at all, but she does like putting her on. She is like an ugly bathrobe one cannot bring oneself to throw away: comfortable and well-worn and secure.
Eleanor is a bathrobe that stands the test of time, even when M would like nothing better than to shoot her.
This was M's first assignment: find out how close the Soviets really were to the bomb.
She was there for the RDS-37. Kazakhstan was not a pretty place to be, but she was there. She got the information. She also almost got killed, because the bloody Communists have no concept of a "blow back" and three people died from a building collapse.
No matter what you hear, that was due to the bomb, and she had nothing to do with it.
Eleanor's name is Eleanor because M picked it for her.
They'd wanted her to be an April. Or a June. A month. She'd eyed the man across the desk and demanded to know where he'd gotten the ridiculous idea that she should be named after something so positively superfluous, and surely HM Government could afford to give her a name that was practical and suitable.
Then he'd begun trying her patience. "Genevieve" ("A French hussy"), "Laura" ("Some blushing virgin, I don't think"), "Darcy" ("Do I look like a Jane Austen hero? And might I remind you to consider my record before you reply to that too promptly") "Charlotte" ("I shudder to think"), "Sheridan" ("If you suggest anything else that could be shortened to "Candy" or "Sherry" or anything else which one might consume I promise you shall not be waking up tomorrow"). Finally, the unnamed desk jockey had thrust his hands in the air and demanded to know what she would name herself, then.
M had crossed her legs, folded her hands and lifted her brow, and Eleanor had been born.
So you see, Margaret bore M, and M bore Eleanor. It is all very complicated, but somehow it is simpler to think of it all this way.
Or don't think of it at all: M never does.
Never confuse Margaret and M though. They are entirely different people.
M got her 00 status this way:
There was an internal leak, because the Russians were very clever.
She was 24, sat in the dark and waited for James Treaudeaux to walk through the door (in case you wondered, she invented that move- Bond, are you taking notes?). James Treaudeaux was born Ivan Heigle, but his mother was a British citizen, and she raised him here. Apparently that was not enough to engender sympathy to one's country. He got to working for HM Government, and had murdered three MI6 agents.
She shot him once in the temple, slid the gun back into her pocket, tugged on her gloves to makes sure they were secure and watched blood leak into the carpet. In the dark it all seemed shades of grey, and she neatly stepped over the body.
Katherine Treaudeaux, the mother, wept and pleaded.
"You're a woman!" she'd implored as M had screwed on the silencer. "How can you? He was my son."
"I believe," M had remarked, pulling back the safety, "that the operative word in that sentence is 'was'."
She pulled the trigger twice, and Alan and Anthony, twin boys aged 16, fell the way their elder brother had.
Once again, and the mother joined her sons.
M sorted through all of the items in the desk, collected relevant data to be analyzed, and then shut the door behind her.
"Yes?" the woman next door inquired.
"Hello, ma'am, sorry to bother you so late," she'd said, smile stretching over her lips, professional and warm. "I know you must be in the middle of dinner, but we're just popping about to make sure everyone shuts their doors tightly tonight! Lock and key, and all that- apparently there's some burglers prowling the neighborhood!"
"Oh my word!" the housewife gasped, hand to her strand of pearls. "Thank you!"
"Tell Jones to send a uniform around to Whitechapel. Goulston Street specifically- warning residents of possibly armed burglers." She shrugs out of her coat and drapes it over her desk.
"Something I should know about?" C inquired.
"Your leak is plugged."
They never talk about it. She is a 00 for a decade. 003.
Back when it wasn't a flash job.
Ellie has a daughter. She was raised by her nanny and her father. Ellie rarely sees her, but loves her fiercely. Her name is Elizabeth Anne Jones. "Bitsy" to her father, "Miss Beth" to the governess, and Eliza to her mother.
Eliza loves Ellie: thinks she's a pioneer of women's rights. She never resented her mother for being gone.
She's married now, happily, with two children.
M is quite fond of Eliza. She keeps track of her, and thinks that to have created something like that on her year of suspension was a good use of her time.
She was possibly the only good thing to come out of 1969.
This was how M got suspended: her partner decided he didn't like having a woman, and didn't come when she called for back up.
He was having lunch, and she broke her leg in four places.
She still managed to limp into his flat and shoot him as he fucked the latest trophy.
She imagines it was rather unpleasant for the girl.
Eleanor would hate the things that M does. For years they are compartmentalized. It isn't until M makes director that she lets things bleed through. Not all of them, but a few.
"I say," was all Gregory said when she showed him the new penthouse. He didn't ask at the DNA-accessed security codes. He didn't blink when their home became infiltrated with technology that got slimmer and more adept over the years.
M realized she might love him (not as much as Eleanor does, but enough) when they were 62, and he woke her from a bad dream. She pulled a gun on him, and he simply froze and said,
"It's okay. You're safe here."
She loves him because he didn't use any names.
That was the day she started letting them forward calls home. That was 1997.
M takes a lot of men to bed. Some of them for the release, some because it's a power play, and some because they're impossible to resist.
The days are long past when anyone could call her a slut.
M loves Bond.
Eleanor died the day Bond broke into her home. M put her back together carefully, but she was never quite the same.
M was serious when she said people used to kill themselves during the Cold War.
They either killed themselves quickly, or were killed.
She misses those days. Now the PM thinks he's allowed to be involved in everything, and it's all politics.
Some days she takes calls from the CIA director and they commiserate about cloying administrations- but not for too long, and they both make sure to laugh.
They could effect a coup.
That doesn't mean they want to.
M's feelings towards Bond are maternal, but not.
It's okay. His feelings towards her are just as confused.
Never think she doesn't know it.
Never think she won't use it.
She almost dies.
Not with the Quantum business- it's after that.
A stray bullet, not even aimed for her, as she and Bond walk in Regent's park as the sun sets.
It's a dangerous game she's playing, but she's old enough to know that, and know she can handle it. She wants Bond loyal to her first, and HM Government second.
She hands him her wallet as she goes down, and when she comes to it's Bond at her side, blue eyes fierce and his jaw clenched.
"I'm quite sure there's no need for that," she insists, words rasping dry in her throat. "Oh, make yourself useful and give me water."
He gets up and hands her the cup, and she shoots him an exasperated look. "Tell me you got him, at least."
She watches him quietly, and he looks back.
Gregory, she knows, is in the other room waiting and anxious, but he is Eleanor's husband.
Bond is the only person she can just be around.
She has only ever been M.
Bond is perhaps the only man who knows that.
He has only ever been 007.
She knows, because she created him.