Author Notes: Thank you to aigooism for the beta!
Neville dodged a rose that was running towards him and snapping its petals menacingly. He ducked quickly into the Department of Flora and Fauna Regulation. Panting slightly, he leaned against the closed door for a few seconds before looking up to see the slightly bewildered receptionist giving him an 'are you an idiot' look. Neville straightened his robes and gave her his best 'I'm a well functioning member of society' look. From the expression on her face, it didn't go over too well.
"Sir, there is to be no running in this building," the receptionist told him.
Neville walked over and leaned forward until he could read her badge, which was written in quite possibly the tiniest letters possible. It was as though the department had deliberately designed it so that nobody could read their employees' names. "Amanda," he said. "I wasn't running in the building." He decided to leave out the fact that he was running outside of the building. There was probably a rule against that too.
Amanda gave a nod of understanding, before giving him a bright smile. "So, how may I help you today, Mr...?"
"Longbottom," Neville supplied helpfully.
"Mr Longbottom." Amanda gave him a long look. "How may I help you then?"
Neville hesitated. He wasn't quite sure how to phrase this without offending her or the rest of the department. "Did you perhaps notice something odd when you came into work this morning?"
Amanda tilted her head to one side. "Now that you mention it, I did!" she exclaimed. Neville was allowing himself a sigh of relief when she continued, "The Floo traffic was terrible. I ended up with soot on my nice new set of robes."
Neville bit his tongue to refrain from mentioning that her robes were black and therefore soot was unnoticeable. "So you didn't see the rather hungry looking rose outside the front door?" He held up a sleeve and showed her the large tear through it. "It tried to slice me up with its thorns."
"I came by Floo," Amanda told him.
Of course. Neville sighed. "Did you get any of my letters about the new magical menace to wizarding Britain?"
Amanda looked down and shuffled some papers on her desk. "Your name was Longbottom, wasn't it?" she said without looking up.
She leaned down and pulled out a rather thick file with the name Longbottom stamped on it in bold lettering. After blowing the dust off and causing Neville to cough like crazy, Amanda opened the file and extracted a single piece of paper. "I see that you submitted Form 542 on the 4th of January."
"I did," Neville agreed. He couldn't remember the exact day he submitted the form, but it had definitely been around three months ago. He hadn't heard as much as a peep from the department since. He'd been warned by friends and family that there was a long turnaround time from the department, but this was ridiculous. "The form was marked urgent."
"It was." Amanda seemed to be reading the form. Unfortunately, her reading speed seemed akin to that of a tired grumpy old snail.
"I haven't heard anything back from the Ministry," Neville pointed out.
Amanda lifted the form and pointed to a very small line of writing down on the bottom of the form. Neville squinted at it. If she hadn't pointed it out, he would have taken it to be purely decorative. "This says that the form must on blue paper. Unfortunately, our offices have been unable to process it as it was on white paper."
"If you resubmit the form, this time on blue paper, we will be able to send it up the channels," Amanda told him cheerfully.
Neville seriously considered opening the front door to the offices and letting the roses in to do their work. Surely the world was better off without this department. She couldn't have been serious, could she? "Blue paper?" Neville managed to get out.
"Yes," Amanda told him. "There's a simple charm you can do."
Neville pulled out his wand. "Give me the form then."
Amanda shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I have to file this copy. You will have to refill out the form, this time on blue paper."
"You need to file the form?" Neville couldn't help himself. He felt as though he'd walked into some sort of alternate universe. He was suddenly very sorry for his classmates who had ended up in the Ministry. Imagine having to deal with this kind of stuff every day!
"I need to file this copy of the form," she confirmed.
"It's part of our policy," Amanda told him earnestly. "I could lose my job if I don't file it."
"Couldn't you... y'know... pretend that it came in on the blue paper?" Neville waved his hands.
"I can't," Amanda said, sounding apologetic. "I've already filled out the appropriate paperwork because of your mistake." She pointed down at the rest of the thick file.
Neville took a deep breath. "Was the rest of my form correct?" he couldn't help asking.
"It seems accurate; however, I will not be able to give you a concrete answer until you've submitted a proper form in the proper colour."
Neville considered banging his head on her desk. "Thank you for your time," he managed to get out. He really didn't think he could handle too much more of this without screaming. "I'll let myself out."
"No problem, Mr Longbottom." Amanda smiled. "And remember that there's to be no running inside the building."
"I bet you'd change your tune if I let one of those roses in here," Neville muttered, but not loudly enough for her to hear. He quickly walked towards the front entrance. It looked clear or least as far as he could tell. It must have been a rogue rose that had found him here. The rumours were that most of the carnivorous plants had been found in remote parts of Britain. Neville could have laid down his life savings to bet that the Ministry would have sung a different tune if the plants had attacked their buildings directly.
Quickly, Neville pulled the door open, stepped outside and hoped that he wouldn't be eaten by flowers.