Bellatrix receives a sad visitor, things are falling into place for Harry's platoon
Part of the torture of being in a dungeon is sensory depravation. No sights except for the dancing shadows of the bars projected into your cell from faint torches lighting the caverns above. No sounds other than those you make yourself or those made by the scratching of the multiple pairs of tiny vermin feet. When it rained outside a rivulet of water, filtered by the layers of limestone would send a vertical stream of clean water down one wall that would pool at the seam formed by wall and floor before being absorbed into the semi porous rock. Bellatrix could take advantage of the fresh water to bathe in the icy perpendicular flow. If only she had a change of robes she could wash one set while letting the other dry in the weak air flow beneath the grate.
The passage of time is unremarkable as there is no schedule. Food is lowered at some point and must last until the next time food is lowered. Water is provided in a similar fashion in similarly irregular intervals.
The day becomes an endless series of: sit on the bed or lie on the bed or move about the tiny room, eat, drink, eliminate waste, then proceed to sit on the bed or lie on the bed and sleep. Prisoners confined solitarily in this manner had gone mad from sheer boredom.
Bellatrix Black knew the passage of time though; she could feel the sunshine on her face and arms and breathe the clean air unpolluted by the smell of her own waste in the chamber pot. In spite of or perhaps because of her isolation she could and did strengthen her connection to Harry Potter. She could see the world through his eyes. She could enjoy the conversations of those around her and from time to time could even offer an opinion of her own. She especially liked his close relationship with his Marie, not just the physical closeness from which she derived a great deal of pleasure, but the feeling of being part of something that was greater than the sum of its parts.
"A gestalt." She put the word and its context in the front of Harry's mind and he smiled at the truth of it and she felt his smile too.
Thus she was in a state of utter contentment when 'Healer' Jones descended the ladder carrying a few items for his patient. He had brought a large, soft pillow from her chambers and a change of sheets as well as a thick comforter to make the cot less uncomfortable. He set about making up her bed and tidying up the space as well as he could. He placed a bundle on the bunk and told her it was a change of robes and a pair of simple cloth slippers.
With a quick 'evanesco' charm he emptied the chamber pot then set a stone rune at the bottom of the pot, a simple household charm that would make it self-cleaning. Jones busied himself setting other runes around the cell to ensure Bellatrix would not be bothered by night insects. Seeming satisfied with his efforts he pulled a toothbrush and a hairbrush from the apparently bottomless bag.
"These have both been charmed to be cleansing," he explained, "just brush your teeth and they will feel mint fresh, likewise with the hairbrush, just brush and it will clean as well as untangle your hair. The hairbrush will also clean your garments in a like fashion."
He pulled the jar of ointment from the bag along with a soft cloth.
"If you spread the salve on this cloth and then lie on it, it will do to anoint that part of your back that you can't easily reach by yourself. Just remember to lie still for at least half an hour."
"Will you not be coming back?" she asked.
"I don't think so, milady. I am to take the dark mark tonight and I can't do that. We both know what will happen when I refuse the Dark Lord."
Her spirits, unbroken by her torture and imprisonment, cracked to their very foundations. Surely there was something that could be done. Think Bella, think!
"One last thing," he said as he pulled a final bundle from the sack. "I have always turned to these when I felt lonely or depressed."
Two small books were bound together with a black silk ribbon. He pulled the knot on the ribbon and placed it inside the first tome. He also had a small, thin wand that she recognized as a 'reading book mark' essentially a small wand that could only do one spell, a simple 'lumos,' but it was enough to read by and would last indefinitely.
"This one" he said as he handed her the first small book, "is 'Camelot in the Nineteenth Century,' Arthurian characters in the poems of Tennyson, Arnold, Morris and Swinburne, and this one," he held the other obviously oft' read book close to his chest, "is Charles Baudelaire's 'The Flowers of Evil' it's often obsessive and it's a little morbid but it's so beautifully written. Even thought it presents the poet himself as an accursed wretch it influenced virtually all the French poetry that came after."
He looked at her and asked "lisez-vous FranÃ§ais?"
"Oui, mon ami, naturellement."
He nodded, kissed the leather bound volume, touched it to his forehead and then handed it to her. She accepted it and felt her eyes well up as she saw tears running down both his cheeks.
"Perhaps our next life will be kinder to us both, milady. May I treat your wounds?"
She nodded and disrobed before lying on the much improved cot.
Harry in his guise as Recruit Platoon Leader Evans was very satisfied with what he saw, four dozen auror trainees that he wouldn't hesitate to match against most of the aurors in the field today. They were still learning but the Regimental Command had already decided that whatever RPL Evans did would become the boiler plate for all training to follow.
"Squad Alpha, on me." He shouted.
Twelve auror candidates double-timed to his position.
"Who are your best defenders? Who can make the best shields?"
Four hands went up.
"Right, you four are with me, who's your best sharp shooter?"
Two hands went up.
"Right then, Mister Smythe!"
"Still got those bludgers?"
"Put 'Kit Carson' and 'Annie Oakley' here in the middle of the field and see who gets one or both before they get hit."
Trainee Cruz stood in the middle of the parade ground back to back with Trainee Morris.
"Jose, why did you have to volunteer us like this?"
"Us? I didn't put your paw in the air; that was pure Kim."
Kim Morris nodded and chuckled, "well, you wanted to get his attention, I'd say you got it."
Jose Cruz laughed, "Be careful what you wish for."
"Who the hell is Annie Oakley anyway?" she asked.
"Famous sharpshooter from the Old West."
"Ah, and Kit Carson, same thing?"
"Yep, okay, here they come, you spot left I'll spot right."
"Half a tic, is that your left or my left? We're back to back y'know!"
"Ai! Tenochtitlan! Your right, your right!"
The wooden balls were coming in at a frightening speed and neither trainee was allowed to move out of the way, if they didn't want to get pounded they had to hit their targets.
Cruz sighted in on his bludger and cried "Diffindo!"
His shot was spot on, the only problem was that the precision beam sliced the bludger in half and now two half blugers with sharp edges were homing in on him looking for all the world like two wooden hemispheres of death.
He heard his partner yell "bombardia" before he was knocked to the ground then he heard a muffled "finite incantatum!" muffled as Morris's ample boobs were covering his face.
Harry stormed over to the two trainees lying on the ground, and demanded "What the hell was that?"
"You were ordered to stand there and take out the targets, and you disregarded that order!"
"Sah!" Recruit Morris was on her feet. "Those bits o' bluger were gonna kill Cruz, I wasn't gonna let that happen, Sah!"
"So you would disregard orders in a clinch if you feel your judgment is clearer than some REMF?"
"Sah," she answered with fire in her eyes, "without a second thought Sah!"
"Master at Arms, if you please?"
Kim Morris' knees went weak, she was about to be thrown into the brig or somesuch.
"Who is the Recruit Squad Leader of Alpha Squad?"
"That was my job, Sah, until I got promoted out of it."
"What's your name, recruit?"
"Recruit Morris, Sah!"
"That's where you're wrong; it's RSL Morris until I say otherwise." Seeing the gob-smacked expression on Kim's face he explained, "I'm not looking for brainless sheep who can't or won't think for themselves, you showed real initiative just now and you were looking out for your squad mate. I need a good squad leader for Alpha Squad, are you up for it?"
"Sah, yes Sah!"
Harry looked at Cruz. "Recruit, you split a wooden ball in half at fifty paces, was that luck or are you really that good."
"Sah, try me Sah!"
Harry chuckled, "If you can get the rest of the platoon to spell cast half that good we'll be unbeatable. Recruit Cruz your job is going to be to do just that, bring everyone's marksmanship scores up by at least half, get it?"
"Sah, got it, Sah!"
"Good. Gather 'round mates, gather 'round."
Harry was in the middle of the circle and he had everyone's undivided attention.
"We're going to take the best of every auror candidate in this platoon and spread the wealth, everyone has something they're really good at, spell casting, blocking, running and dodging, hand to hand, cover and concealment. We're going to make it so that the cover wizard from Gamma Squad could step into Beta Squad and neither group would miss a step. Every one of us has a special talent, but when we put those talents together, working as a team we're - and the word came to him - a gestalt. That means as a whole we are greater than the sum of our parts, get it?
The platoon chorused back "Got it!"
Author's Note: In training taking the initiative will get you noticed, sometimes that's a good thing. More often than not you get into trouble. The RE in REMF stands for "Rear Echelon" and MF needs no explanation. The "Get it," "got it," "good" is from The Court Jester.