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11 February 2008 @ 01:58 am
Birthday fic for AM!  
Yesterday was the delightful norton_gale 's 40th birthday. She was my very first lj friend and is one of the best people I have met in the last 10 years, brimming with kindness, humour, talent and wit. One of the first fics I ever read was her Unfinished Business, and it still makes me laugh. Go and read it, it's a winner.

The fic below was a present for her and is a sequel of sorts to her tale. It's unbeta-ed and a little unhinged (I decided that I should let my lovely beta concentrate on some writing! So blame me for the glaring errors.)

I currently owe about 382 comments. Will get to them v shortly! Just need to beta one story, finish another and the next chapter on a third. Easy! (Cue manic laughter.)

Title Pushing the Envelope
Author blamebrampton
Words 2450
Rating PG, egregious management speak, sexual suggestions
Notes Absolutely nothing to do with Jo Rowling, Bloomsbury, Scholastic or any other media titans. But affectionately nicked from all of the above.
Summary Percy is inspired by Romilda's Ministry!, but old habits die hard for Ms Vane. A very foolish sequel to norton_gale's very fabulous Unfinished Business.


Percy stared at the parchment in front of him. His lower lip bore the imprint of teeth, between his brows a furrow wore deep. He mouthed the words written:
Romilda Vane, Romilda Vane,
Your skin is pure as cellophane,

That much was good, it was a solid metaphor and one that would please her. The next bit had him worried:
My love for you would fill a paen,
Romilda Vane ...


Was that how one pronounced paen? And did paen mean what he thought it meant, or something else? Was he really thinking of peon after all?

Poetry was so much harder than policy. But Romilda was surrounded by the best and brightest of Ministry! He would need to show that he had something none of the other bureaucrats possessed: a soul.

At that moment a memo landed on his desk .The colour-coded winged parchment could have come form only one person, and – orange – that person had something important but not vital to share. “Percy, drop by asap if you would, need input on ongoing review,” it read

He clutched the memorandum to his chest, then carefully folded it and added it to the pile in his third drawer. Taking a quick moment to check his hair and teeth, he began his favourite journey within the Ministry, from the office of the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, to the office of the Junior Undersecretary for Human Resources.

Romilda was wearing her hair in a twisted bun today, with two curls descending before her ears. Percy sighed. She was all the incentivation he required in a day. Since he had met her, he had acquired a whole new language of love. She was his performance target, and he prayed daily that their relationship was organically progressing towards mutually satisfying goals.

She looked up, saw him, and beamed. Daily target met, Percy thought exultantly.

“I’m so glad you’re here. I need your assistance with a performance review.”

Percy sat on the edge of her desk and smiled brightly back at her. “I’d love to help.”

“That’s the team spirit!” Romilda patted his wrist for emphasis. “It’s Harry – I think he has a few issues with some of the new initiatives I’ve been trying to implement, and he seems a little resistant to change. I was hoping that your presence would help him to see the new management theory as less of a confrontational force and more of a way of implementing future-forward thinking.”

“Is that his file?” Percy indicated the inch-thick manila folder on Romilda’s desk.

“Mmmmmm, yes,” she said wryly. “He’s come in for a bit of attention within his department. So you can see that it would be a definite advantage if we could convince him of our goals for Ministry!.”

“Absolutely,” Percy agreed.

“I knew you’d be a valuable asset on this.” Romilda’s voice was warm and she actually clasped his hand at this point. Percy took a brief personal moment. When he refocussed she was outlining her plan. “What I was hoping was that you would be able to trade on your family associations with Harry to influence him. Could you do that for me, Percy?”

At that moment he could have climbed the Great Pyramid in a single rush; swum the Channel in half an hour; defeated a whole room full of Death Eaters with the one Jelly Legs jinx.

“I can, Romilda,” he averred.

“I knew you could,” she purred. “He’ll be here in just a minute. Follow my lead and I’m certain we’ll have a mission-positive coutcome.”

Percy watched her strong and determined chin nod up and down. Mentally he added another stanza to his poem:
“Oh darling girl, oh darling girl,
You have the lustre of a pearl,
Your oyster shell I would unfurl
Oh darling girl.”


He was on a roll, and was rather disappointed to hear the tentative knock at the door behind him. Romilda, though, was beaming.

“Harry! Do come in! It’s been such a long time. I’m so please you were able to schedule this bilateral, I know how busy you are.”

Harry nodded at her. “Romilda, Percy, hope you’re both well. Kingsley says that I have some sort of review on. Is this the right place?”

Romilda went over to the door and escorted Harry to a chair at the large desk. Percy realised he was still perched on said desk and eased his way into the remaining chair with what he hoped was elegance.

Romilda stood for a moment behind Harry, her hand on his shoulder. “You’re in the right place, Harry, and I hope that you feel it’s a safe place. We’re all part of the same team, you know.”

Percy exchanged glances with Harry and was surprised to see that the younger man looked as though he felt anything but safe. Percy realised that this might have a little to do with the fact he was glaring at the sight of Romilda’s hand still on Harry’s shoulder. He modified his expression to one of gentle authority. Harry’s expression shifted to bafflement, with an edge of horror as Romilda’s red nails tightened for a moment, before she walked smoothly around to her own chair.

“I respect you, Harry,” she said, sitting down. “I’ve long felt a special connection between us, and so when I realised that you were withholding completion of your Personal Personnel Evaluation Report, I read that as a sign that you wanted to communicate with me one-on-one. Did I read that rightly, Harry? Do you have something to tell me about the PPER?”

“Well, yes …” Harry began.

Romilda cut him off. “I knew it! Percy will back me up here, I was just saying to him that your initiative and forthrightness are two of the core values with which Ministry! associates itself, and that your willingness to be proactive, not reactive, was what sets you apart from many of your colleagues, not that they don’t demonstrate their own personal industrial intelligences.”

“Quite so!” Percy agreed.

“Yes, but I just want to get back to …” Harry tried again.

“So, Harry,” Romilda went on, “what we were hoping is that we could sit down with you and evaluate some of your recent performance and construct an action plan for your development within Ministry! – one that is fully cognisant of your unique role within our organisational structure.”

“I’m just another Auror,” Harry protested.

“But also a living example of our key values and our most highly visible point of brand recognition for our stakeholders,” Romilda reminded him.

Harry turned to Percy. “Do you understand a word she’s saying?” he asked, with an exasperated tone.

Percy leapt to his beloved’s defence. “Clearly, Romilda is concerned that, as one of the Ministry’s more prominent staff, you seem not to care about our recent corporate restructure,” he translated. “She was hoping that you would reconsider, as others tend to follow your lead.”

“Ministry!, not ‘the Ministry’,” Romilda corrected Percy gently. “But that’s it encapsulated in a nutshell,” she told Harry. “I’m hoping that we can develop a synergistic relationship whereby you move beyond your role as simply an Auror and take up a forward-looking position within our evolving framework.”

Harry looked at her blankly.

Romilda smiled and picked up his file. “Now, let’s see. Sixty-two high-profile arrests in the last six months, that’s very good, and you’ve run training programmes using our official and approved methods in four countries over the same period, that’s the way to wave the flag! We’ll overlook the unfortunate Icelandic incident–“

“I caught him in the end!” Harry protested.

“Yes, but the Inuit are still claiming territorial infringement, which is why I am very keen to book you in for an International Cooperation Course as soon as time allows. In all of our operational-based criteria you’re really best of class, but I think that we can do better on some of the big-picture items.”

Harry’s mouth fell open. “Big picture?” he managed after a moment.

Romilda nodded, and Percy’s attention was captured by the way that her two curls bobbed up and down. “Absolutely. For example, you seem to have a charming but total disregard for Minstry! PR. I can’t begin to tell you how shocked they were when the rumours regarding your sexuality began circulating in the press and you didn’t come to them to have the story managed. That’s what they’re there for, Harry, to take data that could, on its own, be seen as damaging, and to context switch on behalf of our valued staff.”

Percy knew Harry better than Romilda, and so it was he who noticed the white knuckles gripping his arm rests and the red tips of Harry’s ears. “That’s fine, thank you, I don’t actually need my personal life managed.”

“Well, of course you don’t,” Romilda said smoothly. “But Ministry! PR could have protected you from the press and made that whole experience much less invasive, leaving you to concentrate on your core skill set rather than worry with items that are part of theirs. They are a professional team, Harry, happy to be utilised.”

“They can keep the Prophet’s wolves from your door,” Percy added, with an edge of sympathy.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Harry addressed Percy only. “Quickly over, like pulling out a splinter.”

“Now,” Romilda tapped the pile of papers before her. “What I really need from you is some information about recent developments if we’re to have a full knowledge base from which to build our staff profile.

“Exactly how is your relationship with Mr Malfoy going?”

“That’s a very personal question!” Harry blustered.

“It’s been two months since his return and the two of you have been intensively workshopping, has it been fulfilling?”

Harry spluttered helplessly.

Romilda frowned slightly. “Your interdepartmental liaison has identified mission-critical issues for the Aurors, but we need assurances that they can be taken to the next level, Harry, and for that I need to know that you and Mr Malfoy are happy to leverage your skill sets in mutually complementary fashions.”

Percy wasn’t sure that even he had followed that, so he wasn’t surprised when Harry slumped back in his chair and declared: “I have no idea what you just said.”

Romilda leant forward, with a placating and encouraging smile this time. “It’s all about the team, Harry. I need to know that you’re a part of it and that you’re happy to work with the rest of it.”

Harry looked as though he was on solid ground at last. “Yes,” he declared. “I am thrilled to be a part of the team. I have the utmost respect for the current Auror corps and trust my colleagues wholeheartedly.”

Romilda positively glowed at that. “I’m so pleased!” she declared. “There’s a current issue that I think you could impact on strongly. After years of having our image managed for us, we’ve taken back the provenance and are determined to make ours the authoritative voice. And for that we need a symbol.” She turned behind her desk and rummaged in a large folder there.

Percy was distracted by Harry taping his arm urgently. “Seriously, Perce, does any of this make sense to you?” he asked.

“She has a PR campaign she was hoping you could help with,” Percy translated.

“Oh,” Harry smiled tightly in thanks, but was frowning as he turned back to Romilda.

She was unrolling a poster. On it was a shot of Harry sweeping from the sky on his broom, to first stun and then apprehend a miscreant. Underneath it the legend ‘Aurors: for your safety!’ was written in large typeface, with the now familiar Ministry! below that.

“You are fucking joking,” Harry’s words seemed to proceed from his mouth without any input from his brain.

Percy winced a little at the coarseness, but he was thinking much the same. For one thing, Harry had famously been responsible for at least three house fires as part of his slightly over-zealous Auroring, and was seen as something of a well-intentioned public hazard.

For another, he was nowhere near that good looking. Romilda seemed to have given Harry a tan, better hair and a far more muscular chest in this photograph than the live example beside him could boast. And why was there so much of that chest on show? Auror robes were traditionally done up properly. Percy began to glare at Harry again.

“No,” Harry said. “Absolutely no way on this earth. I’ll happily go off to Hogwarts and tell the kids that they want to study hard and that it’s a rewarding job, but you are not plastering that monstrosity about.”

Romilda put her head to one side in what Percy considered to be a winning fashion. “But Harry, dear, it’s a key element to our promotional strategy, reminding the public that our boys on the line are young, virile and human.”

“I thought this was meant to be a review!” Harry protested. “And instead all you’ve done is question me about my personal life and threaten me with brazen images!”

“We can have it reshot!” Romilda suggested. “You can have creative control!”

“Oh bugger this, I’m off to see Kingsley and Arthur, sorry Perce,” Harry scraped his chair back and quickly left the office.

Romilda watched the door close behind him, then hiccoughed twice before collapsing in a gale of tears.

Percy was by her side in an instant, and she turned to him, flinging her arms about his waist and crying damply into his belly. It wasn’t ideal – if only he was taller – but she clearly considered him the right person to console her, and he had a number of initiatives he was eager to try out.

“Oh Percy,” she sobbed. “I just want to create a centre of administrative excellence! Why does it all have to be so hard?”

“There, there, hush Romilda,” he murmured, stroking her hair.

She looked up at him, eyes rich and dark amid the tears. “Oh Percy,” she whispered, and her lips quavered, it was all he could do not to lean down and crush his to them. “Do you really think Harry is sleeping with Draco Malfoy?”

Percy was at a complete loss for words.

Romilda bit her lower lip, and widened her eyes. “There’s only one thing for it. You’ll need to authorise video surveillance of their homes. Especially their bedrooms. And I’ll monitor it. No one else need know.”

Percy patted the top of Romilda’s head, suddenly aware that his robes were both wet and a little snot-streaked. He wondered if Penelope Clearwater was really back from Italy, as rumour had it. There were a lot of good words that rhymed with ‘water’.
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Current Location: going to sleep!
Current Mood: amusedamused
 
 
 
down the hills and round the bendsnorton_gale on February 10th, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks again for causing me to laugh while at my desk! And I am seriously thinking about the sequel. After all, Ministry! still has much to do in terms of re-defining its corporate image and overall brand strategy.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on February 10th, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC)
I'll knit you egg cosies in Gryffindor colours! Go on!
wemyss: ministrywemyss on February 10th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
John Betjeman, in Paradise...
... is sniggering himself silly.

I am a young executive. No cuffs than mine are cleaner;
I have a Slimline brief-case and I use the firm's Cortina....

Pure Percy.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on February 11th, 2008 02:00 pm (UTC)
Re: John Betjeman, in Paradise...
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! I'd reply further here, but I need to save my adjectives for my review of your current work, which I ADORE!
wemyss: fotherington-thomaswemyss on February 11th, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
You're vy kind to say so.
Bless.
Daisy-chama: HP - Voldie - banging lilydaisy_chan on February 10th, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
*DIES* Hilarity. I did so love norton_gale's original, and this is an excellent compliment to it.

She was his performance target
XDD

And you worked in slasher!Romilda too. <3
blamebramptonblamebrampton on February 11th, 2008 02:00 pm (UTC)
She's such a little spot of fandom in canon, I half like her! You know, that is the best icon ...
Dedicated Escape Artist: Bwahaha buddhajadzialove on February 10th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
*giggle snort* (absolutely not ladylike, but I'm not known for my lady behavior)

I've yet to read AM's fic, but this one cracked me up---I don't know why you think it might need changing, but I won't argue if it's going to make it even funnier. Good stuff!

I'll save what I noticed on the first read through for the actual beta copy--whenever you're ready.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on February 11th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC)
I think I have no time at the moment, just realised how much I have on in the next month, so feel free to amend my idiocy. Glad it raised a laugh, I'm just so relieved I do not work with people like this, but J does! Go read AM's, it has sex as well as sarcasm!
auburnesha on February 10th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
She was his performance target, and he prayed daily that their relationship was organically progressing towards mutually satisfying goals.

She looked up, saw him, and beamed. Daily target met, Percy thought exultantly.


I laughed and laughed at this bit. :D
blamebramptonblamebrampton on February 11th, 2008 02:03 pm (UTC)
I disturbed myself writing that ... Though I ended up quite liking Percy. Thanks!
the center of the room and beyond: harry by the talented yukiponsnottygrrl on February 11th, 2008 12:15 am (UTC)
brilliant. can i have your babies?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on February 11th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. Can I have the rowdy three-year-olds? (Nappies are evil, but I quite like most kids!) Cheers, dear!
lackofmendacity (Diana): fanfic scares Harrylackofmendacity on February 11th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
Awwwww... poor Percy. *giggles helplessly*

I can't believe his affections are straying, and hahah, Romilda's plans for the Ministry cracked me up. :D Young, virile and human indeed. ;)

... err, what's this I hear about Harry being responsible for at least 3 house fires? 0_o

Heheh, thanks for the wonderful read! *hugs*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on February 11th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
Well, he fires off these jinxes, and sometimes he's a bit uncontrolled ...

I can;t hep thinking it's for the best if Percy transfers his affections to someone less mad. While I admire Romilda's singleminded fangirling, it doesn't bode well for Perce. Or Harry for that matter ... Thank you for the lovely comment, hugs back!
( ̄ー ̄)☆☆ ジュンジュワ!under_an_oak on February 11th, 2008 06:22 am (UTC)
As a HR Advisor, I am amusingly horrified that I understood practically 98% of what Romilda was saying.

See me banging my fist on my desk, choking on teary giggles as I reflect on how eerily similar that conversation was to most of the discussions I have with the line managers I look after.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on February 11th, 2008 02:09 pm (UTC)
OH NO! I'm so sorry to have brought up painful memories. Er ... she later falls in love with a Plain English exponent who brings in a new era of clear communications and transparent operations within the Ministry, and he does not turn out to be a Dark Wizard in disguise. There we go, happy ending! Also, pay rises for all the lovely HR people and career changes for all the scary ones.
xhihi0x on January 17th, 2012 06:07 am (UTC)
goodness, this fic made me love Percy.