|Precision Speaking (Oliver/Percy)
||[Mar. 14th, 2007|10:06 pm]
Harry Potter | Oliver/Percy | 1,500 words | PG-13
Summary: Percy makes a speech. Oliver meant to listen, but he's a little distracted.
Disclaimer: Rowling's world and characters. Definitely not mine.
A/N: This was written for justbreathe80's Less is More mini challenge.
"... which is perhaps the essence of the game. And what Quidditch can, well, teach us about fair play and teamwork makes it more than a key to opening communication with other wizarding communities."
Percy adjusted the glasses on his nose and glanced down at his notes. His hair was a bit longer than it had been at Hogwarts. It curled around his ears and over the nape of his neck. The charcoal grey of his formal robes made the neat hair spark like flames.
Oliver realised that his stare had become fixed. He glanced away.
Ministry press conferences were not stimulating events. If Oliver hadn't been interested in the possible ramifications for domestic play of the new International Cooperation Through Quidditch Act he wouldn't have gone near this one. Especially as the hall the conference was held in was stuffy and overcrowded with idle members of the public and journalists listening with half an ear for catchwords and sound bites in the speeches, in between making the most of the free buffet.
A group of middle-aged witches were squeezed onto the bench next to Oliver. They were fanning themselves and complaining about the lack of air.
Oliver hadn't realised that Percy had moved so far up the ranks of the Ministry. He hadn't considered that he might be here at all, actually, let alone giving a speech. But if he had thought of it, he wouldn't have thought it a big deal. Schoolboy crushes were left behind at school. They didn't come back to knock you over and kick you savagely in the gut at Ministry events. Oliver was fairly sure there was an unwritten law about that, somewhere.
He didn't think it helped that he heard 'fair play' as 'foreplay' the first time Percy said it. Or that he'd said it quite so many times since.
Up at the podium Percy found his place, gave a little cough of apology and continued. "The Ministry believes that our reputation for fair dealing and sportsmanship in the air can translate to our political reputation; that we can remind the rest of the wizarding world that we are a, well, an honourable and steadfast nation, not defined or shadowed by the affair with He Who Must Not Be Named — in which so many British wizards and witches distinguished themselves."
His voice sounded a lot like it had at eighteen. He was a little surer of himself, a little smoother, but there was that same precise way of speaking, every word held carefully against himself. Just like the clothes, neatly pressed, every fold and drape of his robes exact. Like the shoes, shined and black, peeking beneath his robes. Like the hair, combed and smooth; except for that vibrant fiery colour, and the curls at the nape of his neck.
Percy ran a finger around the inside of his collar. He didn't seem aware that he was doing it. A feather of a curl that was trapped inside his collar flattened under the finger and then sprang slowly back behind it, the kink reversing.
Oliver shifted on the bench. He remembered Percy doing the thing with his collar at school, when he was studying on his bed in the dorm. It was always a weird and uncomfortable thrill to walk in and find Percy the only other one there, wrapped up in his study and completely unaware that anybody else existed. Oliver only had one topic of conversation, really, and he was never so aware of it as when he found himself alone with Percy, and Percy didn't talk about Quidditch so there was nothing to talk about, and Oliver's mouth was dry and all his limbs were the wrong shape or in the wrong place or something. But most of the time it didn't matter because Percy wouldn't even hear him come in, and Oliver would sit on his bed and go over Quidditch strategies and sneak long stares at Percy and wonder what he'd think if Oliver walked up to him suddenly and pressed him against the wall next to his bed and pushed a knee between his legs and messed his hair up, so that he dropped his quill and stared, open-mouthed and panting.
Oliver shifted again. Thoughts like that really weren't helping.
He wasn't fifteen anymore, anyway. Hogwarts was a long way away.
Percy wasn't fifteen any more either, if it came to it. His robes fit him better, now. He half-turned to Accio a glass of water from a side table and Oliver found himself staring hard at the brief swish of robes conforming to his hip for a moment and then falling back, neat, grey, undisturbed.
Percy gave an apologetic half smile to the audience and lifted the glass to his lips, taking a sip. A drop splashed over onto his fingers holding the glass, sliding down his thumbnail. He took another sip — and his mouth was shiny with wet, now, until he licked it away, tongue neat as a cat — and banished the glass.
"Which is why the Ministry is eager to implement this new Act," he said as he turned back to the podium.
Oliver didn't have a clue what he was talking about.
He gave up on trying to follow the speech and concentrated on simply watching the schoolboy-crush-he-apparently-hadn't-left-behind-at-school-after-all at the front of the hall, a few rows away. This Act probably wasn't terribly important anyway. Or maybe somebody else would tell him what it was about. Who cared. There was Percy up there on the dais, running his finger around his collar again and god, did he have to keep doing that?
"I'm sure you have questions about this exciting new initiative —'' he made exciting sound precise too, and Oliver wanted badly to hear what it would sound like if he said it when he was breathless "— so if you wish you may now put them to me, or to Madam Villabanks the Minister for Trade."
Oliver didn't listen to the questions. He watched Percy's face as he listened to them instead. Percy held himself in readiness, his answer always exact and detailed and just a little bit smug. It occurred to Oliver suddenly that he might actually have had something to do with this Act other than presenting it to the press. It seemed odd to think of Percy working on anything to do with Quidditch, but there was a faint air of ownership in the way he fielded the questions that made Oliver wish that he'd listened to the details of the Act after all.
Rita Skeeter had the floor now. Percy chewed on his bottom lip as he listened to her, frowning a little in concentration. His sleeve fell away from his wrist as he lifted his hand to adjust his collar again. Oliver wondered what the skin tasted like, there on his wrist.
Percy smiled suddenly at the end of Skeeter's question, pleased, then corrected it with a self-deprecating laugh as he answered. His mouth looked warm and flushed when he smiled.
Oliver's robes were really very uncomfortable now. He wondered how he was going to get up without shocking the middle-aged witches next to him. He snuck a glance across and found two of them whispering behind their hands and leering at Percy up on the dais — who had just absently slipped the tip of his tongue over his upper lip, moistening it.
Alright. So maybe they wouldn't be shocked.
He turned away again, even more uncomfortable.
It came as a surprise when the questions ended and everybody began rising around him. He got up hastily, adjusting his robes under the pretext that they'd got twisted around while he was sitting, and then slung his long outdoor coat over his arm so that it fell and hid his groin. He glanced at the two witches and found them watching him and giving each other knowing grins.
He moved away quickly.
He could still see Percy near the front of the hall, talking to another journalist. His hair was like a scrap of firelight; impossible to miss.
Okay. He wasn't fifteen anymore. He didn't spend his evenings mute on his own bed because he couldn't work out how to talk, and then wank himself sore over the person he couldn't talk to after they'd gone to sleep.
He took a breath, squared his shoulders, and pushed through the press of people.
"Hallo, Perce." He made his voice cheery. It only cracked a little. "Haven't seen you in ages."
Percy looked up.
And warmth sloshed through Oliver's belly, startling and wonderful. Because as he said, awkwardly, "Hi, Oliver," and smiled at him, Percy blushed. The colour flooding his face hid the speckling of freckles over his nose.