So I don't know if you guys are familiar with ship_manifesto, but basically it's an lj multi-fandom community where people post manifestos about their favorite ships, including character descriptions, pairing dynamics, links, fic recs, etc. I signed up to do the Percy/Oliver one. It's not due until December, and I've written a lot of it, but I wanted to get some other P/O fans opinions on the ship. Here's some of what I've got so far. This part's on the pairing and OoTP.
Obviously some poilers for OoTP, just to let you know, but the section is labeled!!
Okay, so granted Percy and Oliver don’t have any relationship in canon- I think they might be peripheral characters in the same scene once. The only (admittedly tenuous) piece of canonical evidence comes from Prisoner of Azkaban, when the Gryffindor team wins the house cup. As soon as Harry catches the snitch we find Oliver sobbing his eyes out in joy, and Percy “jumping up and down like a maniac, all dignity forgotten.” Now why would Percy, who doesn’t seem like the type to give three straws about Quidditch, loosen up for the first and only time in the books over a Quidditch game?
The answer to this question should be obvious- his secret boyfriend just won the Quidditch cup. Duh.
Despite the fact that they are barely canonically connected, Percy and Oliver are in the same house and year. That means, if Harry’s year is anything to go by, that they shared a dormitory through most if not all of their time at Hogwarts. They definitely know each other. And as for their canon love lives, well Oliver seems too Quidditch-obsessed to think about dating anyone, and Percy’s girlfriend Penelope drops out of the books after the third one, saving you the trouble of writing her out yourself.
And sure, on the surface, Percy and Oliver seem like completely different characters- Oliver, the Quidditch-obsessed jock, Percy, the uptight, studious nerd. In my opinion, though, that’s where a lot of the humor in the pairing comes from- the Odd Couple dynamic they’ve got going. But what really strikes is just how similar they are. They are both extremely motivated and driven individuals. Oliver is just as obnoxious as a team captain as Percy is as Head Boy. They both know what they want- with Percy it’s the Ministry, Oliver professional Quidditch- and they’re going to get there however they know how. That’s is something that I think lies at the heart of both characters (for better or worse) and is something that I think they would understand in each other, even if Quidditch and the Ministry aren’t really similar fields.
And while many people object to Percy/Oliver on the grounds that there’s nothing in canon to suggest it, I actually like the pairing for the same reason. There’s so much to work with. You have two very distinct characters, and time was you could write them together without having to worry much about the confines of canon, like say a character getting married or killed off. You can have Percy and Oliver as friends at school, sekritly in lurrve, or have them meet years later, and it’s all plausible. Because of this, though, Percy/Oliver is a largely fanon based pairing.
Order of the Phoenix- *sigh*
Being a very fanon based pairing (especially considering Percy’s characterization, I think) OoTP kind of killed Percy/Oliver as I knew it. Most Percy fans read the book and were outraged at what JKR did to their character (that is, fanon!Percy). I will admit to being one of them. (I will also admit to still being bitter.) And while many general fans would disagree with me, I don’t think JKR sufficiently built up Percy’s decision.
Also, it’s important to consider that although we as readers know that Harry’s has seen Voldemort and that he actually is back, all the other characters only have Harry’s word for it. To an outside perspective, at the Third Task in GoF, Harry and Cedric disappear in front of the crowd, and then later they reappear, Harry clutching Cedric’s dead body, telling everyone that the dead dark Lord they live in fear of has returned. I think I’d be a little skeptical of Harry’s sanity myself if I didn’t know better. (Besides, even Seamus, an arguably more likable character, thinks Harry’s “mad” in Book 5.) I can understand wanting to be in denial about the return of Voldemort, especially if you were old enough to remember his first appearance, which Fred, George, Ron and the rest of Harry’s year weren’t. Besides, I think Percy actually shows a lot of bravery (granted the misguided sort) in standing up his family.
Of course this doesn’t excuse Percy, and his decision is made all the worse by the typically snotty way he goes about it, but I can see where he’s coming from.
Many hope that Percy will regain his sense, swallow his pride, and come back to his family. And if we’re lucky, this is what will happen in the future books. After all, before OoTP, the last time Percy appears in the books (other than by mention or letter) is when, after the Second Task in which Harry “saves” Ron from drowning, Percy, “(looking) very white and somehow much younger than usual” wades out in the lake to grab Ron, smothering him in concern for his safety. This shows me that Percy does genuinely care for his family, even if they don’t get along. And in the end, I hope they’re more important to him. But we don’t know what JKR will ultimately end up doing to his character. (This, I would argue, is the worse part.)
Or course, the OoTP thing put a bit of a wrench in things. Canon kind of got in the way. The pairing’s innocence was lost, as corny as that sounds. Writing a P/O post OoTP fic means addressing the issue and “justifying” Percy’s actions in some way. It’s not the easiest thing to do- it hurts- and it certainly adds a lot of built-in angst the ship didn’t have before. (At least before the angst existed strictly in the confines of a fic and could be resolved therein.) Of course, exploring Oliver’s potential reaction to Percy’s decision is an interesting one. Especially since as far as we know, Oliver isn’t involved in the Order of the Phoenix [and probably would continue to play Quidditch even if Voldemort himself appeared at a game ;)]. After OoTP, there were a lot of justification fics, but they’ve dropped off and I have to say that the pairing isn’t nearly as active as it used to be. Oh well.
Still, there are plenty who go the denial route, writing Hogwarts era fics, or future fics that completely ignore the development. (As I said before, canon has never been the dominant basis for the ship.)
Regardless I continue to love the pairing. I remain undaunted. Pre-OoTP fics can be pretty waffily wonderful, and post-OoTP fics are often very gripping, if angsty. It’s still a ship worth checking out, and who knows what will happen once the other books come out?
So? What do you guys think? Did I leave anything out? Am I too biased on some issue? I'm especially unsure about the OoTP part.
Also, any fic recs would be greatly appreciated. :)