Deep into the night when the chirping crickets fell silent and the bed-frame creaking of other masturbating recruits ceased, Ron Weasley fell victim to his own mind. It was always the same image. He, Hermione, and Harry standing on the platform for the train back to London. Harry had drifted away to say goodbye to some of the Hufflepuff blokes that he’d had classes with. Everyone wanted to talk to Harry– he had literally saved the world. Ron had just been there to help. In this particular dream, Ron turned to Hermione with a big grin on his face. But, for some reason Hermione didn’t or couldn’t smile back. Instead her eyes welled with tears. When he was awake, Ron remembered they had a conversation of sorts but it never transpired in the dreams. Instead she left; turned tail and ran back to Hogwarts. Then, the morning bugle call.
“All of you, UP!” Drill Sergeant Winthrop screeched, swinging the dorm door open. “Surprise morning inspection.”
Ron’s bunk was the closest to the door meaning the Drill Sergeant always scrutinized him first. Ron, slow to rise, cursed his luck and his bad dreams. He had gotten two, maybe three hours of actual sleep. He felt the skin below his eyes sag when he rubbed the morning gunk from the corners. After the second go, the image of DS Winthrop sharpened. He stood, legs apart with his hands behind his back, staring incredulously at Ron.
“UP! Does not mean five more minutes.” Winthrop’s eyes nearly bulged out of his reddening round head. “This. is not. Summer camp Weasel. Do I look like a camp councilor to you?” Winthrop, now six inches from Ron’s face, shouted with such enthusiasm that Ron knew the man had broken his fast with eggs and onions.
“No. Drill Sergeant Winthrop. You do not, sir.” Ron replied.
“Do you think we are going to sing Kum-bay-ah later Weasel?”
“Do you think I’m here to teach you how to make ceramics Weasel?”
“That’s right Weasel. So then why do you insist on maintaining your bunk like a little sixth grade boy sent away to fat camp?” Winthrop paused for second. Two weeks into boot camp Ron had learned not to respond to Winthrop’s non-yes-or-no questions. “Your bed is unmade. You,” Winthrop looked Ron up and down, “look like absolute shit Weasel. And,” He opened Ron’s trunk and upended it on the floor, “you have some fucking cleaning to do.” He paused to smirk in Ron’s direction. “Once you are done with this mess you will be cleaning the lavatories, again. Understood?”
Ron continued to look straight forward. “Sir, yes, sir.”
When you were being grilled by Winthrop you didn’t look at him. Only straight ahead. Otherwise it was hard to look away. The man entertained like no other. Ron had picked up on this on his second day. After Winthrop had moved onto the next recruit Ron uttered a word and flicked a wrist and put his bed, shirt, and trunk all in order.
Several minutes later, a much redder Winthrop marched from the room and paused to stare at Ron. “Done already Weasel,” he said almost impressed. “My my. You’re a quick one.”
Ron couldn’t help but to smirk. Winthrop stopped dead and he stomped towards Ron. He bent he knees to be eye level with Ron’s mouth– his eyes darting back and forth.
Fuck, Ron thought.
“You are quick. And you know it. Well Weasel, let’s see if you can clean that lavatory as fast as you can wipe that SHIT EATING GRIN OFF THAT UGLY GINGER MUG OF YOURS. After you’re done that, report to the kitchen.” Winthrop turned on his heel and began to march out of the room, hands still snugly behind his back. “You’ll be cleaning that shit hole too.”