27 April 2008

Colin Creevey was the first person I met when I got to Hogwarts.

I had never been particularly tall, but Colin was positively short, even next to me. Somehow, on the night of our Sorting, the two of us had the misfortune of being stuck in the back of the cluster of first years that stood before the House tables.

"Can you see what's happening?" whispered an eager voice at my shoulder, as I stood on tiptoe to get a look as Justine Brandon was sorted into Ravenclaw.

"Not really," I replied, just as Colin tripped over the hem of his own robe and collided with my side. I giggled and helped him straighten up, and asked him if he was all right.

He nodded, looking around swiftly to see if anybody had noticed and apologized sheepishly, mumbling about the growth spurt his mother had been sure he would have over the course of our first year. Then he stuck out his hand, with an enormous, radiant smile on his face, and introduced himself.

Then Professor McGonagall called his name for the third time, and he went ashen before scampering away, ducking and diving between the other first years to get to the front. I giggled again, and made sure to applaud and cheer raucously when Colin became the first Gryffindor of our year.

Those first few weeks at school were difficult for me; there were times when I was sure I had only Colin to confide in. I couldn't seem to do any of my coursework right; I repeatedly embarrassed herself in front of a boy I liked; I felt as though I were completely out of my element at Hogwarts, even though I'd dreamed all my life of being there.

Colin, on the other hand, seemed impervious to any kind of negativity, but attacked every challenge he met with an overwhelmingly positive outlook—and on top of that, he was absolutely fearless. When we had their flying lessons, Colin was the very last of us to master the use of a broomstick, and I'm sure he would agree that the word 'master' is a generous one. But when he finally managed it, in that moment of his first successful flight on a broom, Colin seemed to take on a brand-new level of buoyancy that even he had never achieved.

He was glowing with pride whenever I saw him. He could fly, and he told any and everyone who would listen—or who happened to be nearby at the Gryffindor table—about just how wonderful he thought it was, even if he was rubbish at it. I had grown up with six Quidditch-mad brothers in my parents' house, but I didn't think I'd ever met anyone who was as keen on the idea of flying as Colin was.

From that moment on, it didn't matter if people teased him about his height, the Muggle camera he dragged all over the castle, snapping pictures of everything he saw, or anything else; Colin Creevey was pleased as punch with himself, and it seemed like nothing could make him stop grinning.

I remember a conversation we had—Colin was fascinated by my brother Charlie, the dragon tamer—when Colin told me how a part of him had dreaded growing up in the Muggle world—not enough adventures, he told me.

I asked him, "Isn't it just a job, Colin?"

He rolled his eyes. "D'you know how boring Muggle grown-ups are?"

And at once, he began concocting an elaborate story about my brother and his friends chasing down an escaped dragon. Colin loved make-believe; he could go on for hours, if I didn't occasionally remember to head him off and remind him that he still had homework to do. He could be forgetful when he got carried away like that.

But then, Colin was attacked when the Chamber of Secrets was opened. And when it was all over, when the enchanted diary responsible was destroyed and everyone who'd been Petrified was cured, the rumors about what had happened to me began to circulate. It was, perhaps, a lucky thing that term ended so shortly afterwards, but still, I rode the Hogwarts Express home alone.

That is, until Colin came to find me, all smiles as he sat down across from me.

I tried to apologize—but all he wanted to hear about was my adventure. Nothing could deter Colin; nothing could make him stop wanting to be my friend, and at that moment, I was quite sure I had never been more grateful for anything in my life.

My memories of my time at Hogwarts are peppered with Colin's mischievous grins and overwhelming enthusiasm for—well, everything. He made us laugh with his impersonations of our teachers, and he always had a reason to celebrate—everything from his younger brother's arrival at school to the day he finally grew taller than me.

We cheered at the Triwizard tournament together, we joined Dumbledore's Army together—we even tried out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team together, although Colin could barely stay on the broom and manage the Beater's bat at the same time. This, of course, didn't deter him from the opportunity to go flying, however, and he was, of course, overjoyed for me when I became the new Seeker.

Professor Dumbledore was killed at the end of Colin's and my fifth year at Hogwarts, and I have a very clear, strong memory of him from that time; I can remember everything he said to me, word-perfect. I think it's because for the first time in my memories of him, Colin was not smiling.

So much had changed and been lost in just those first two years of the Second War—but the absence of Colin's smile really meant something to me. In fact, I remember thinking how very grown-up he looked in that moment as he approached me to say goodbye for the summer; I remember realizing, at the age of fifteen, that it was time for all of us to grow up.

"I'll see you in September," he told me. "Have a good summer."

I started to speak, and he interrupted me.

"Don't say goodbye," Colin said firmly—he had this uncanny knack for knowing exactly what you were going to say next. "Goodbye means going away. I'm not going away." Then he hugged me again. "So have a good summer."

I managed to unstick my throat and say, "You too. The first of September. Don't forget."

A ghost of Colin's old smile flickered across his face, and then he was gone, looking for his brother as he moved off among the billowing steam and happily reunited families.

After that, Colin was gone. I had no contact with him in what ought to have been our sixth year, as he had taken his family into hiding. I know now that he received and tracked all of the secret messages passed between Dumbledore's Army that year, though he couldn't safely contact any of us.

He was one of the first to respond when the call for aid came from the castle on the night it was attacked. He was underage, weeks shy of his seventeenth birthday, when he was killed in the fighting, defending two of our wounded classmates.

When the rebuilding was done, and the time came to return to Hogwarts that year, I remember very clearly that I sat between Hermione Granger and Dennis Creevey to watch the Sorting ceremony. The first years clustered at the front of the Great Hall looked so very small, and I felt, very suddenly, that I had grown up—and that too many of my friends, including Colin, had not. Colin would not grow up.

Colin's brother Dennis stood beside me on the first anniversary of the war's end. On that day, the Fallen Fifty were memorialized with colored flags in a ceremony that took place in the entrance hall at Hogwarts, where the flags now hang. Each of us had lost brothers; each of us stood before the memorial long after the ceremony had ended. My brother Fred's scarlet and gold flag hangs in the third row on the far end; Colin's is the second one to the right.

It seems fitting that, ten years on—

"Ginny?"

Ginny sniffed, wiping her streaming eyes with the backs of her hands, and turned around. Harry was standing in the door of her study, his expression worried. "I'm sorry, did I wake you?" she asked, clearing her throat.

Harry shook his head. "Lily was fussing. She's all right, she's asleep again," he told her, before she could even start for the door. "What are you doing?"

Ginny pushed her fingers through her long hair and gestured at the typewriter on her desk, where the draft of her article for the tenth anniversary coverage was sitting. "Why Dennis asked a sports columnist to do this," she muttered thickly, sniffling again and wiping more tears away.

Harry was quiet, reading the draft. "This is good, Gin. Really good."

Ginny sighed and came over to the desk; Harry put his arms around her, holding her tight as he kissed the top of her head. "Thanks."

"Do you want to talk?" Harry asked.

Ginny shook her head. "I'll be all right. Really." She closed her eyes for a moment, listening to Harry's heartbeat against her ear.

"Where did this come from?" he said softly. She opened her eyes; he had picked up a photograph from her desk. "Dennis?"

"He sent it the other day. I haven't seen it in years," Ginny nodded. "Look how young we were…"

It seemed that Dennis had borrowed his brother's camera and snapped this particular photograph of Ginny and Colin, taken sometime in their last year together at Hogwarts. They had O.W.L. papers and piles of textbooks stacked all around them across two tables in the Gryffindor common room, and they both looked exhausted and stressed. Ginny held one hand over her face, weak with giggling at something Colin had just said; he was positively roaring with laughter.

"You look the same to me," Harry told her, passing his thumb over the picture.

Her eyes lingered on the picture, on the smile of Colin, her friend—the boy who never grew up. Ginny shook her head. "I don't. But…that's all right."


Something a little different! :) I don't think I've really taken a whack at writing first person like this, have I? Well, nothing like writing a hundred stories and changing things up now!

For Round 9 of QLFC, I had to include Peter Pan in my story! There are a few sneaky (and not so sneaky) references - let me know which ones you catch! ;)

Big hugs!