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Highly unofficial advice to young officers - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Highly unofficial advice to young officers

Highly unofficial advice to young officers: an address by Brigadier-Legate the right Hon. Sir Ronald Weasley, Royal Corps of Aurors, GGC and bar, KB, OM (1st), PC, MW, to those passing out, RWAA Norsworthy



GMW Wemyss



Right.  Now, what we’re going on with is, I’m to give you advice for young officers.  There’s reams of that.  Whole herds of innocent cows, entire flocks of unoffending sheep, have given their lives to provide you lot with roll upon roll of parchment advice.


Saving the presence of our betters, sod that for a game of Aurors.




My advice isn’t in the reams of official bumf.  It’s not in your manuals.  Well, it wouldn’t be, would it. What I’m telling you today is wholly unofficial, dangerous, supplemental advice.


You want to take it none the less.  In fact, you want to take it all the more.


Right.  Your regiment will be your family – you’ve heard that one, have you?  It’s true.  Now just you think about that for a moment.  I’m one of seven.  [Laughter.]  Fred, you know, died in the last battle when we put down the Rebellion – and when I say we, I don’t mean the Corps of Aurors or the Ministry, there’s no point pretending I do.  At that point, the Aurors as a body and the Ministry as such were the enemy.


Never let that happen.  You serve the Crown and the subjects of the Crown.  Not today’s politicians, or tomorrow’s, or the next lot.  There’s a Covenant – I see you Scots grinning all over your Kirkly faces: stop at once, you bloody Jocks – and if the Ministry don’t keep it, you’re relieved of it.


Your regiment will be your family.  I was one of seven: I know what that means.  It means you always have a place to go home to and people who are obligated, in duty bound, to help you.  It also means that you damned well want friends outside the family who will see another view and give you a refuge from the scolding and the nagging.  But remember: they’re only your friends, they’re not your family.


Marry.  If you find a love who’s clever and will fight you when you’re wrong and back you when you’re right and everyone else is wrong and won’t allow you to wallow and won’t allow you to take the easy path and won’t allow you to use the easy options – violence, for instance – as anything short of the last resort they’re meant to be, marry at once, whether you’re a one-pip Ancient or a brigadier-legate.  It’s good to have a family in your regiment, but you’re adults, you want a household of your own as well, or you’re like one of those sad buggers who’s forty and still lives with his mum.


Cherish your uniform. Yes, all right, the book of the rules says as much, for any number of high and noble reasons.  That’s not what I’m speaking of.  When you’re in uniform, life’s a doddle.  Oh, yes, you’re expected to fight and die and sacrifice for a few galleons a day, naturally.  But I’m talking about daily life.  There’s a pattern and a schedule and rules spoken and unspoken for all the little buggering things.  The Great British Wizarding Public doesn’t fear the uniform – and a good damned thing, too.  Better to be mocked or pitied than feared: look at a goodish bit of the rest of the world, poor bastards.  No, when you’re in uniform, no one expects you to be witty, or clever, or socially adept, or anything but bluff and brave and kindly and rather stupid.


And then of course you can banjo the enemy bastards when they least expect it.


[Laughter and cheers.]


When you’re in mufti, wear it as mufti.  Make sure everyone can know simply by looking at you that you’re commonly in uniform.  Because then they’ll not expect you to be witty, or clever, or socially adept, or anything but bluff and brave and kindly and rather stupid, and you can banjo the bastards when they least expect it.




See here, I’ve known Harry Potter since we were sprogs, and he married my sister.  He’s cunning and crafty and socially inept save when it suits him, and – after decades when no one saw anything but the scar when they looked at him – time was when they saw only the uniform.  And then (wait for it) he could banjo the bastards when they least expected it.


[Laughter, cheers, and stamping.]


Your colonel will be a grand and terrible, august presence.  The second in command will be a model and a pattern for you.  Your adjutant will be a harried administrator who pulls elegant solutions out of chaos.  Your RSM will be an imposing figure who incarnates the Auroral virtues and knows absolutely everything.


All right, fair enough.  Remember this, though.  Your colonel was once an anxious Ancient with one fire-new pip up, terrified of dropping a crashing brick, and he can and will and is eager to prevent your clangers, some of which he’ll have made in his day.  The second in command is positively panting to help you and guide you in the way in which you should go, it’s not only his job, it’s not only his chance of becoming a grand and awful colonel himself, it’s the sort of thing he’s quite good at: that’s why he’s the second in command.  The adjutant suffers agonies when you don’t come to him for advice and guidance – and suffers far worse pains when the result of your having not come to him drops in his lap, at which point he, and the second in command, and the colonel, will see to it that you suffer agonies in your turn, and quite right, too.  And the RSM, precisely on account of his incarnating the virtues and being omniscient, has seen it all before and would as soon not see it again, and is therefore waiting patiently to be consulted.


I know, you’re hearing the remembered voice of some instructor or other lauding initiative and condemning young officers who are led by their sergeants.  That’s true enough as far as it goes.  But you’re being granted the Sovereign’s commission as one-pippers, not Field-Auror Marshals.  You want to learn, first.  And let me tell you, everything you’ve learnt here will suddenly look so different as to be bleeding nearly unrecognisable the first time you’re out there at the sharp end.  So before you get there, learn everything you can from those I’ve mentioned.


HM hasn’t commissioned you to cling, mind you.  Your sergeants and lance-jacks are your links to your squaddies, but they’re there to do their jobs, not yours.  Your colonel and all your superior officers have their jobs to do, they can’t do yours as well. 


And here’s another paradox.  You’re none of you Wellington or Evelake.  Not yet.  That is why you have superiors, whose orders you will and shall obey.  Equally, mind you, you’ve been commissioned to lead.  It’s not an easy balance to get right.  And we will, with regret but with celerity, weed you out if you get it wrong.  We’ve no choice.


Never be insubordinate.  Never exceed your orders.  And if you do either, be damned certain it works, because the only excuse for that that can and shall be offered and accepted, is success.  But I’m not here to talk about Harry, am I.




When you begin with your squaddies, do absolutely everything by the book.  They’re the best judges of young officers ever created, and they can smell weakness.  [Laughter.]  After your lot are used to you and contrariwise, then you can develop a certain give and take.  But never presume on it.  You are their officer, full stop.


Nothing is more important than the welfare of your squaddies.  Your anniversary and your sprogs’ birthdays must be ignored if one of your sergeants wishes to warn you of something brewing up in barracks or one of your squaddies wants your advice or aid.  You may someday have to order them to die for your objective.  They may take a curse for you at any moment.  You owe them your attention.


My mum’s the best plain cook I know.  The less said of my lady wife’s kitchen skills, the better.  [Laughter.]  I’ve always been a healthy trencherman.  [Laughter.]  And I am telling you quite seriously I never want to see a fat Auror.  That’s because I never want to see a dead Auror.  Every drop of sweat expended in training saves a pint of blood in combat.  Every crisp salute, every fiddling regulation, every regimental tradition – and some of them are damned odd to everyone else – [laughter] – observed, is another success in the field, where discipline shows its worth.  Don’t skimp it.  Train, train hard, train harder.  Never miss a Regimental Sports Day.  And never allow laxity in the day to day, from inspections to saluting, I don’t care if half your company’s on jankers.


Always accept invitations to the Sergeants’ Mess.  The food’s better, the drink’s better, the conversation and the company – [laughter] – well, no names, no pack-drill.  Be on time, don’t drink more than two, behave with the utmost courtesy, leave early and graciously, buy your damned rounds, and keep shtum and listen whilst you’re there.  You’ll learn more in five minutes than you’ve learnt here.


Longer ago than I care to think or admit, Harry, Nev – Professor Longbottom to you young savages – and I were one-pippers in a Corps being rebuilt from the foundation, and knowing that everything we got right and everything we got wrong set a precedent.  Right now, just as you sit here with the benefit of knowing what we did and what we buggered up, you each of you has a better foundation to be going on with than we had.


Well, Nev did his duty and that of about twelve other Wizards and then went to where he always best belonged, Hogwarts and Domdaniel.  You may have heard about Harry’s career.  [Laughter.]  I became a shop assistant.  [Laughter.]  Yes, all right.  I didn’t get these gongs I’m lumbered with by making Wheezes, I admit.  [Laughter.]  I’ve been at the sharp end myself, even when I was officially elsewhere.  [Laughter, cheers, and stamping.]  The point is this.  Gallant young officers of Aurors may be tempted to think themselves a cut above the Support Arms and the Combat Services.  Don’t.  Let’s think for a moment, shall we, of where you are without them.  You’re on foot because you haven’t any properly maintained brooms.  You’re throwing rocks at the enemy because you haven’t any wands.  Most of your lads are down, and they’re going to die because you haven’t a Healer Officer to hand.  You can’t whistle up reinforcements because there aren’t any Signallers.  You can’t bury the dead honourably because there aren’t any chaplains.  You’re starving because there’s no Logistics.  You can’t dig in because you haven’t any Sappers.  You can’t stop your lads running away – most sensible thing they could do under your leadership, I may add – because there’s no Provost Marshal and his RWMP, and when you’re court-martialled, if you live, there’re no Legal Services wallahs to defend you.  Not that it matters, because you’re going to die, and you’re in this position because you had no Int Corps buggers telling you not to walk into an ambush.


Don’t get into that position, is all I can say.  Without your Q and Logistics and some clever backroom boys researching and developing articles to banjo the poor unsuspecting buggers, you’re not even an armed mob, let alone Aurors.  Because, when it comes to it, I did get some of these gongs I’m lumbered with by making Wheezes.


Finally – I’ll pause now for laughter, cheers, and stamping – [laughter, cheers, and stamping] – finally, I’ll leave with this advice.  Look after your lads, and they’ll look after you and all the rest of us.  Drill them, train them, aid them, and by God make certain you’ve fed and watered them.  Rest them when you can, drive them hard when you must.  And then – wait for it – you can banjo the enemy bastards when they least expect it.


[Prolonged laughter, cheers, and stamping.]








Fred Weasley: GGC, OM (1st), Mentioned in Despatches (posthumously)


Harry Potter: Field-Auror Marshal the right Hon. the Marquess of Evelake, BC and bar, GCB, OM (1st), KCVO, DSSO, PC, &c; commonly known simply as Harry Potter.  In full, Field-Auror Marshal the Right Honourable HJ Potter, Marquess of Evelake, Earl Avelyn, Viscount Aveline, Baron Potter of Godric’s Hollow, Baron Peverell, Boudicca Cross and bar, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Order of Merlin (1st Class), KCVO, Distinguished Sorcerous Service Order, Mentioned in Despatches, Privy Councillor, Grand Sorcerer, late Chief of the Magical General Staff, Chancellor of the University of Domdaniel, Governor of Azkaban and Constable of the Black Tower, Ranger of Savernake Forest, Warden of the Sept Ports, Lord Warden of the Alchemical Stannaries, Magical Lord Lieutenant of Devon (and Muggle Deputy Lieutenant thereof). 


‘my sister’: Ginevra, Lady Potter, née Weasley: Ginevra, Lady Potter, OM (1st), (who died before her husband’s advancement to the peerage), Quidditch international and journalist.


‘my lady wife’: Hermione, Lady Weasley, née Granger: The right Hon. Hermione, Lady Weasley, OM (1st), PC, MW, DMag (Domd), Mistress of Paracelsus, Rector of Merlin College in the University of Domdaniel, governor of Hogwarts School, late Headmistress of Hogwarts School; sometime Chief Witch, Leader of the Moot, and Lady President of the Council.


Neville Longbottom: Professor the right Hon. Neville Longbottom, BC, GGC, late Captain, the Royal Corps of Aurors, OM (1st), PC, MW, DMag (Domd), DPhil (Oxon), Fellow of Paracelsus, President of Albertus Magnus College in the University of Domdaniel, governor of Hogwarts School, late Headmaster of Hogwarts School.



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12 comments or Leave a comment
fpb From: fpb Date: May 31st, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Delightful. When I was in the Army, I noticed one thing: the best-managed and toughest units (by that, of course, I mean the Alpini) were also those who had the best-ran barracks and the best food. As long as a certain lieutenant-colonel was in charge at the Alpini barracks down the road, in fact, the food would have done honour to one of the local restaurants. Then he was assigned to us, and the food - while still eatable - immediately went down. This man was anything but an Epicurean: to the contrary, he was a tough, hard-driving, by-the-book merchant who was rumoured not to be on his way to full Colonel because he had stepped on too many toes. But by God, anything that had to do with him would be done well, and that meant good food. Because kitchen duty is punishment in the Army, I have known mountains of really excellent supplies to be mismanaged or stolen; this guy just made sure that everything was done properly.

Tenente Colonnello Giordano, corpo degli Alpini. May he be well rewarded if he is still alive, and God rest his soul if not. My pattern of a good officer - and he never cut me any slack, but I'd have gone into battle for him. Whereas some of the other officers I knew....
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 5th, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

That is indeed the pattern of a good officer.
tekalynn From: tekalynn Date: May 31st, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, well done, sir!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 5th, 2010 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

I'm greatly obliged.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 1st, 2010 12:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Very much enjoyed this - and particularly the echoes of Dand MacNeill - from

Now, what we’re going on with is

wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 5th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

Of course, GMcDF is right, that phrase is immortal.
femmequixotic From: femmequixotic Date: June 3rd, 2010 04:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I love this, dear. So very much. I haven't been in the military myself, but my grandfather and his brothers spent several years in the Army during and after WWII, my father was an Air Force cryptographer and my brother did two tours a couple of years ago in Iraq with his Marine battalion. So I've such a respect and great love for the men and women who serve in the armed forces. And this echoes so much of what they all have told me over the years. I may have gotten a bit choked up while reading. It reminds me of all of them and of what they saw and how close they were (and in my grandfather's and brother's cases still are) to the men they fought with. It truly is a family that develops.

I love your Ron. You need to write more of him because he is utterly and completely delightful. Witty, sharp, and kind. He's just stolen my heart here.

And I adore this: If you find a love who’s clever and will fight you when you’re wrong and back you when you’re right and everyone else is wrong and won’t allow you to wallow and won’t allow you to take the easy path and won’t allow you to use the easy options – violence, for instance – as anything short of the last resort they’re meant to be

Oh, God, isn't that what we all would like? Lucky bastards who find that in life.

I hate that it took me so long to get a chance to read this. It just made my night. Much love, dearest. As always.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 5th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

Adult Ron's a joy to write. And you're very kind.
noeon From: noeon Date: June 3rd, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh Ron. Perhaps more than any of the others, this piece demonstrates the lessons (and quality) of the years that have passed. It's funny, sharp, and perfectly polished in voice.

And let me tell you, everything you’ve learnt here will suddenly look so different as to be bleeding nearly unrecognisable the first time you’re out there at the sharp end.

(Can I admit that I laughed hardest at the line, 'I became a shop assistant'?)

Edited at 2010-06-03 01:24 pm (UTC)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 5th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

May I admit that I did also?

Because he did, actually.

And I am enjoying these in the writing of them; I am rejoiced that you are pleased in the reading of them.
darcy58 From: darcy58 Date: June 29th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love this story, so very very Ron as a mature experienced man. Most of all though I love your notes, all those titles and accomplishments, simply delightful
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 30th, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you, very much.

Ron as a true adult is a joy to write.
12 comments or Leave a comment