Disclaimer: I don't own anything Harry Potter.
DEATHLY HALLOWS SPOILERS. SERIOUS ONES! I'M WARNING ALL OF YA! DON'T READ PAST THIS IF YA KNOW WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOU!!
Dennis cursed when one of his tears smudged the photo. Today was his fourteenth birthday, but he wanted nothing to do with it. He'd been in his room since dawn, staring at the photos, trying to will them to speak to him.
"Colin," he muttered, staring at the photo sadly. It was a picture of his brother from last year, when he'd been a fifth year. He was still older in the photo than Dennis was now. It horrified Dennis that one day he would be older than his brother, who had always led the way.
"Honey, what do you want for your birthday?" his mother had asked him wearily a few days ago, sitting at the dinner table over their dry chicken.
Dennis hadn't answered. What he wanted was Colin. What he wanted was for his parents to let him come back to Hogwarts. What he wanted . . . was to go back to that night on the grounds, when Lavender Brown had pushed him into the evacuation line and sent him away before he could get her off of him.
He couldn't have any of that for his birthday; he couldn't take back what had already happened. Of course, he would return to Hogwarts. Even if that was where his older brother had died, he refused to associate the castle with his death. The castle was his home. His escape. In the castle, he wasn't resigned to the life of a milkman as his father before him. In the castle, his mother wasn't fretting over how she could possibly feed her two sons and pay the rent at the same time. Dennis needed Hogwarts. So he would go, whether his parents liked it or not.
From the pile he produced another picture—it was Colin's last. It featured the remaining members of Dumbledore's Army, and Dennis was in it himself. Everyone but Colin was smiling up at the camera.
"You took so many pictures . . . but there are hardly any of you for me to remember you by," Dennis lamented, casting the picture aside.
Oliver Wood had been with Colin in his last moments. Dennis had never met or even heard of Oliver, but he contacted him over the summer, obsessed with his brother's death. He needed to know what had happened. He needed to know if he could have stopped it.
When Oliver had met him at a cafe later, he had said, with tears in his eyes, "There was nothing anyone could have done, Dennis. He wasn't even supposed to be there. He was supposed to be with you. And when the Death Eaters aimed to kill . . ."
"Why would they kill my brother?" Dennis had asked him, anguished.
Oliver looked at him sadly. There was something haunted in his eyes, and Dennis had a feeling that it hadn't always been there. "They killed anyone who stood in their way. They didn't care—man, woman, or child. Believe me, if there was anything we could have done to prevent it . . ."
Dennis nodded. He hadn't found what he was looking for in meeting Oliver. But what was it he was looking for, anyway?
After their talk Oliver graciously paid the bill, then walked Dennis home, seeing as it was dark. Dennis thought it was awfully unnecessary—nobody had protected his brother during a murderous battle, and now he needed help getting home in a residential neighborhood full of muggles.
"It was nice to meet you," said Oliver at the front gate.
Before he turned to leave, Dennis asked, "Can I take your picture?"
He looked at the picture now. Oliver was sad and worn-looking, but he didn't move like the wizarding pictures did. It was a picture taken by an ordinary disposable, and Dennis was glad that he was unmoving and still. The sadness wasn't as pronounced if he stayed where he was.
There were dozens of pictures laying beside the ones of Oliver, the D.A., and the late Colin. All of them related to Colin's death. There was a picture of the Great Hall, where Dennis knew Colin's body had been placed during the battle. There was a picture of Colin's headstone, the church where they had had the service. There was a picture of Colin's empty bedroom. There was a picture of Harry Potter.
Dennis did not blame Harry Potter, of course, but he was associated with Colin's death all the same. If anything, though, it made him feel more devoted to Harry than ever; Colin had died for his cause, after all. Dennis put his allegiance with Harry, too.
"I wish I had been there," he told Colin's picture. This time he moved the photo out of the way before the tear would fall on it. "I wish I had fought, too."
What he really meant to say was, I wish I was dead, too.
He would never forget. For all his life, he would remember that his brother had died the hero and that he had been ushered out of Hogwarts like a simple-minded child. Had he not fought in Dumbledore's Army as well? Had he not rebelled with the others against Snape's control? It was not fair. As if it wasn't enough that he'd missed the battle, the heavens had taken his brother away, a worse fate than any he could imagine.
"It wasn't all that exciting," George told him, picking up the photo of Colin and staring at it respectfully.
Dennis blinked. He'd almost forgotten George was in the room with him. George Weasley spent a lot of time at the Creevey house now, simply because Dennis and George were the only two in the world who felt they could understand each other after that terrible night.
They were quite the sight, the pair of them, sitting on the floor of Dennis's bedroom with all the pictures strewn out in front of them. One of them tall and lanky at the age of eighteen, the other small and scrawny boy that looked young enough to be a first year. But they'd spent so many hours together now that they didn't notice anymore.
"Do you remember much of it?" Dennis asked, wiping the tear from his eye self-consciously.
George shook his head. "After Fred . . . died, all I can remember was being so angry. I wanted to kill everyone." He looked a bit frightened of himself. "I thought I'd never be happy again."
Dennis nodded. "I don't know if we ever will be happy again."
"We will be," George said simply. "I'm sure we will be. You have four years left at Hogwarts, mate. It'll be great."
"If my parents let me go," Dennis reminded him ruefully.
"Don't sweat it. I'll bust you out of here." George smiled, but it wasn't the smile Dennis remembered. Like Oliver's, it was older and more worn, like it had been stretched and then set back into place. Dennis wondered if his face had changed, too.
Dennis smiled back to the best of his ability. "Thanks, George."
"And then you'll come work for the joke shop, of course," said George, leaning with his back against the wall. "We'll have a jolly good time then."
"I hope," said Dennis, staring out the window. It would be different without his brother there. He wasn't sure yet if he would like coming back, but it was the only choice he had.
Suddenly Dennis leapt to his feet. "I have something for you," he told George, walking over to his dresser drawers.
"But it's your birthday, not mine," said George, baffled.
Dennis rooted around in his drawers until he found the photo. Then he said softly, "Colin took it in his first year. I thought you should have it."
There were tears in George's eyes as he accepted the photo. The young, third-year versions of Fred and George were smiling identically mischievous smiles, their arms thrown around each other's shoulders and their hair still windswept from their winning match against Slytherin.
"It's a muggle photo," George laughed through his tears. He looked up at Dennis. "Thanks . . . it means a lot."
There wasn't a photo of Dennis and Colin that could compare to that. The two brothers had been inseparable, of course, but they each had their own cameras. Their job was to take the pictures, not to be the subjects of them. So Dennis and Colin had not one picture of the two of them standing together as the Weasley twins did. They'd never thought to ask anyone to take such a photo . . . neither of them had planned on dying.
"Honey? Who are you talking to?"
Dennis bit his lip. "You'd better go," he warned George.
The other boy nodded silently. "I'll see you later. Thanks for the picture." Then he Disapparated out of the room.
"No one, Ma," Dennis lied. He shoved the pictures under his bed. His mom hated that he was always looking at them.
She opened the door to his room, peering in suspiciously. When she found nothing amiss, her face softened, and she turned to her remaining son. "What kind of cake would you like?"
Dennis didn't hesitate. "Chocolate."
It was Colin's favorite, after all.
His mother frowned, but only for a moment. "Chocolate it is," she said with forced cheer. Then she left, too.
The room was unbearably silent. The house itself didn't make a sound anymore. Without Colin, Dennis couldn't be excited and giddy as he once was. There had been a time when he was enthusiastic about everything, and he, like his brother, had rarely ever worn a scowl. Why be unhappy, when the world had so much to offer?
Besides, the Creevey brothers had always been invincible. Colin had survived a basilisk, for heaven's sake. Dennis had survived near-drowning the lake on his first day, even. And the pair of them had always made it through D.A. skirmishes.
It seemed they had chanced fate too many times. Nobody could cheat death; not even Colin Creevey. Not even his brother.
Dennis closed his eyes, falling back onto his bed and breathing deeply. "You always sent me pictures of Hogwarts before I came . . . Would you take a picture of heaven for me, Colin? And send it here for me to see?"
Then he opened his eyes, sighing. "I know you can't. Don't bother. I'll just wait to see it myself, okay?"
He rolled over on the bed and stared down at the picture of Colin, still grinning impishly as he always had in life. Colin wasn't really gone forever. They'd see each other again one day, Dennis was sure; but until then he would remember his brother, and know that he was waiting somewhere just beyond those clouds in the sky.