He would dress in his dark blue suit, his Sunday best his mother would say. Everyone else would be in dress robes but it didn't feel right to him. In his world, the one where brooms didn't fly and owls didn't act as postmen, men wore suits on such solemn occasions. It was sign of admiration and reverence as much as an acknowledgment of ceremony and ritual, and so he chose to honor this man the only way he knew how, with a simple gesture of respect from another world.
His hands were unnaturally steady as he did up the buttons. He wore his grandfather's cufflinks, and placed his Godfather's monogrammed handkerchief in his breast pocket. His shoes were shined and his hair was trimmed and neat. When he was done, he found the reflection of a man staring back at him from his bedroom mirror, a sight that held his gaze for several minutes until the trance was broken by the sounding of steeple bells in the distance.
It was time.
As he turned to leave, the glint of a camera lens caught his eyes. Sitting on his bed was the accessory that was more like an extra limb than a simple piece of machinery. In truth, he felt somewhat naked without it, incomplete, and part of him wanted to reach for it, but he didn't. Instead he remembered…
When he was a boy of six years, the age at which one is at the peak of curious mind and contented oblivion, Colin Creevey found a photograph. He was very innocently searching for hidden Christmas presents, as is the sworn duty of all small children and a tradition he was not about ignore, when he came upon a dusty box in the back of his mother's closet. Exultant fingers pried open the box only to discover if was full of some old junk: little pink dresses and scuffed white shoes, hair clips with flowers and a stuffed bear, some dolls and a small stack of pictures.
The pictures were oddly discolored, blurred at the edges, creased at the corners, and not nearly as much fun as the stuffed bear but he was drawn to them nonetheless. There were people who looked like his parents but the lady's hair was very long, and the man, much more slender than his father. They were playing with a little girl he had never seen before; she seemed to be about his age, maybe a bit older, and she looked a little like Dennis only with darker hair that was long and curly. She had a pretty smile with small white teeth that gapped slightly in the font. Colin liked her eyes most of all: they were the color of dark chocolate, which was his favorite treat, and they seemed so warm and gentle.
He quietly sifted through the pictures until he came upon one of just the little girl, in a pale yellow dress and shiny white shoes. She was running though a field that was littered with leaves, her arms outstretched like she was an airplane about to take off, and her dark chocolate eyes were happy and bright. He turned the photograph over and found out her name was Evelyn and she was seven when this picture was taken. He didn't know much about Evelyn but he knew he liked her, he knew they could be friends, best friends, if he could only find her.
Suddenly, he heard the downstairs door slam. He knew his mother was done with her gardening and he had only a minute to get back to his room where he was supposed to be playing with his younger brother. Colin quickly threw everything into the box, pushed it back into the closet, and ran out only to find that his brother had chewed up his favorite book. He would have been furious were it not for a picture that sat in his back pocket, a picture that made him smile when he thought of it. A photograph of a girl named Evelyn, who would be his best friend.
Colin dared not ask who Evelyn was, for then he would have to explain how he came upon the photo in the first place; and the code of small children clearly stated that one never admitted to the hunting down of Christmas gifts. Instead the photo became his secret possession, and Evelyn, his secret friend. Late at night, when he was supposed to be asleep, he would take out his coveted picture and hold in tenderly in his cupped hands. He would tell Evelyn tales of the day's adventures, and giggle at jokes one could only share with his best friend.
Two years later, another Christmas in fact, Colin accompanied his mother to church and silently followed her as she walked toward the altar after mass. She knelt by a pillar of candles and began to light one as she said a quiet prayer. It was then that Colin heard a sad quivering voice say aloud the name he whispered in the darkness of his room every night.
Colin found the courage to ask the question that has burned his tongue for years. It was that Christmas that he learned the words sister and illness and death. He learned of a disease that didn't show mercy to children with gapped teeth and dark chocolate eyes. He learned that pain and loss could travel over a decade and a half and not lose any potency. That Christmas Colin went home and mourned a girl he never met. He thought of a voice he would never hear and a hand he would never hold and he wept.
Colin learned something else that Christmas: that though Evelyn had died when he was too young to remember, she lived in a small stack of photos that sat in a box in his mother's closet. She would forever be preserved on little pieces of paper and her smile and her eyes would always be happy and bright. Colin learned that photographs had the power to stopper death and fight illness and hold truth. They told epic stories. They captured history. They stopped time. It was that Christmas that he asked his mother to return all the toys he had received as gifts, and buy him a camera.
And so it would pass that Colin Creevey saw the world through the lens of a camera. People would become the subjects and the world around him the backdrop to an existence captured on glossy paper and tacked to his wall. His father hoped he'd take up a sport while his mother hoped he'd have more friends but Colin didn't care for the triviality of games or the distraction of acquaintances. He was seeking truth. He was creating eternity.
Today he stood in the shadow of dead man, and eternity didn't seem quite so infinite.
Without needing to see it happen, he knew; he knew how the day would progress. How each scene would play out. In his mind he had already framed the shots.
Lavender Brown is sitting on the steps of Gryffindor Tower, her hair eerily perfect and her crystal blue eyes outlined in stark red. Her shoulders are slumped as if sitting up was too strenuous, her knees are bent and her feet pointed in towards each other much in the way a small girl might place them. Parvati Patil is sitting next to her with an arm placed softly around her stooped shoulders. But whereas Lavender is looking down, Parvati is looking up toward her God, her eyes shiny and her face streaked with the tears she's been shedding all night.
Seamus Finnegan is sitting alone under the tree that blooms white flowers year round. His tie is loose around his neck and his fingers absentmindedly tear the grass at his feet. His lips are pursed tightly and his brow is knitted and strained. Seamus does not cry.
Dean Thomas is sitting on the sill of the common room window, a sketchpad abandoned on his lap with a crude sketch of a lion lying limply on a stone table. His forehead is pressed against the windowpane and his breath steams a small patch of the glass by his mouth. He stares blankly outside, most probably searching for Seamus.
Professor McGonagall is outside the Great Hall trying to comfort a group of first years who are terrified because they haven't been here for the past six years and don't understand. Their faces are pale white, and despite the warmth of the day, they shiver.
She towers over them; her hat perched high on her head, her glasses resting on the tip of her nose; a sight which holds safety and security in its familiarity. But there is something in her eyes that seems out of place. Something in the way she stands, in the line of her tense lips, in the set of her jaw. Professor McGonagall tries to reassure the children that surround her but her face wears the same expression as theirs, and it is difficult to tell who is consoling whom.
Neville Longbottom sits half-dressed on an unmade bed, his eyes focused on his shoes. His face is pensive, as if he's forgotten what they are and how to put them on. His head hangs forward and his hair falls over his temple, his mouth opened slightly so that it resembles a small circle. He sits perfectly still with a shoe in his hand and his robes pooled on the floor, waiting for someone to tell him what will happen next.
Ginny sits atop a broom, watching the preparations below her. Her hair is tied back and several loose strands are tossed by the wind so they float around her face. The smoky grey of the overcast sky clashes with the flame of her hair and the flush of her cheeks, and she is the only beautiful thing that he will see this day. Ginny is alone, which is how she prefers it.
Hermione Granger is curled into Ron Weasley's still form, her face buried in his chest, as if she can no longer look at the world. Hair that is usually messy and full of wild curls is listless as if it has given up as well. Her arms are wrapped around her abdomen, her back is curved, and her robes seem to be about two sized too big; she seems to be shrinking. Or maybe the world has just gotten too big. Maybe she is trying to make herself as small as possible. Maybe, the girl whose mind could take over the world doesn't want to think anymore.
Ron holds her with one hand while the other lies limply by his side. His eyes are dark and half-lidded as they look down to where the mourners have already began to gather. The freckles that cover his face grow more striking as the skin that surrounds them is drained of all its natural color. His back is perfectly erect and his shoulders are squared and rigid. A lock of hair falls over his forehead but he doesn't move it. Today he is solid and focused. Today he is a wall that surrounds his friend, that holds her up. Today he is a soldier.
Just behind them, under the shade of an elm tree, stands Harry Potter. He holds one hand out to the tree, steadying himself against the rough bark. He watches his friends with a look of profound understanding, as if he has finally figured out the answer to a question he has been contemplating all his life. Green eyes sparkle and glow. Perhaps they shine with tears like Parvati, perhaps with comprehension like Ron's. or perhaps his eyes glow because he is Harry Potter and he had finally figured out what that means.
In this photo, the background is faded white so that nothing shows but three people who might as well be one. It is a familiar snapshot, blurred around the edges and creased at the corners. It is a photograph as foreign to the person who looks upon it as it is to those who image rests on the glossy paper. It is time captured. It is infinity expressed. It is the end of one story. It is the beginning of a greater one.
A man stands in front of a mirror in his dark blue Sunday best. He is wearing his grandfather's cufflinks, and his Godfather's monogrammed handkerchief in his breast pocket. His shoes are shined and his hair is trimmed and neat. He is reaching for a care-worn picture of little girl in pale yellow dress and shiny white shoes. Armed with nothing else he will step out the door and down to where a thousand strong will congregate to watch the world change.
There are some pictures that will never fade, some memories that can never be lost, and he didn't need a thousand words to say goodbye.Finis