For Colin, it had never stopped being an adventure.
The school, the magic, even Dumbledore's Army – all of those were wonders that unfolded one after another to the delighted boy. Enthralled, he'd taken photograph after photograph to take back to his family, and he'd been over the moon with excitement when Dennis had been allowed to join him.
His parents had borne it all with a kind of wondering acceptance. Obligingly, they had admired the photographs Colin brought home year after year. Willingly, they had taken both their sons to load up on magical supplies at Diagon Alley. They had been a little alarmed by some of the stories Colin had brought home – tales of balisks and magical creatures – but as Colin's father had said, if it was dangerous the teachers would hardly let the boys near it, would they?
They had only been alarmed when the stories started to change.
Tales of Dumbledore's Army had been concerning – what kind of headmaster formed his school children into an army? In vsin, Colin and Dennis had tried to explain that it wasn't really Dumbledore's army at all – in reality, it had been formed the some of the older students.
If anything, this had worried their parents more.
When they brought home stories of the war that was beginning, tongues stumbling as they tried to explain the situation, struggling to convey anything more complex than that there were some evil wizards who were trying to hurt the good ones and they had to be stopped, that had been the final straw.
"No son of mine is fighting in a war," their father had declared firmly, "Especially not at your ages. I think perhaps we'll find you a different school for next year."
Horrified, both boys had begged and pleaded to be allowed to go back, insistent that it wasn't really that dangerous. They had, after all, been in plenty of risky situations before, and someone had always saved them. They saw no reason why this occasion should be different. Their parents, however, stood firm.
"When you're eighteen, you can decide for yourselves if you want to go fighting any wars. Until then, we'll find you schools that don't enlist pupils into armies."
So, Dennis had ended up at the local senior school, and Colin had been sent to sixth form where he studied Media Studies, English, Art – all subjects his father said he ought to consider if he wanted to really work on his photography skills.
They were excellent subjects certainly, and good enough teachers. There was something rather sad though in photographs that stayed frozen after being taken, rather than eternally continuing in their movement.
Taking them out of Hogwarts couldn't take either boys' dreams of the place away. In school they buckled down, and tried to learn, as their parents had wished, but after school they babbled to each other excitably about spells, and charms, and curses.
"How long do you think it'll be until we go back, Colin? Do you think Mam and Dad'll let us go back next year?"
"I don't know. Maybe. Hey, do you remember that time you fell out of the boat and the squid rescued you?"
Nor were they cut off from the world of magic as it might seem. Owls arrived regularly from friends still at the school, updating them on gossip, on who else hadn't returned, on the latest changes…
Frightening changes they would have been too, had the boys let themselves be scared of them. They hadn't, of course. After all, hadn't Hogwarts defeated Umbridge? Couldn't it defeat anything?
When his friends sent back the rumours that there was going to be a big battle, Colin lay awake at night, his head swirling with images. Childhood stories from Narnia flashed through his mind – magnificent battles with magical beings, and wizards, and magic.
Of course, good triumphed in those battles. Didn't good always triumph?
Of course, he shouldn't sneak away. He knew that. He shouldn't have owled friends, begging them to help him find a way to slip back into the castle by floo, just for the battle. His parents would have been very upset – but his parents didn't understand. The pictures, the glorious pictures of such a battle – how could those be missed?
He'd been clutching his camera when he arrived back at Hogwarts, blindly following people, assuming they were heading to somewhere that was going to be exciting. He hadn't quite expected to end up in the middle of battle, nor for war to be as ugly as it was.
For once forgetting his camera he's drawn his wand and fought the best he could. Perhaps that was just as well. The picture of a young witch, her features burnt out of all recognition, the picture of someone weeping over a lost friend, the picture of a boy staring uncomprehendingly at his wound as he slowly bled to death – these were not pictures he would want to take home to his parents.
Nor did he get to take a picture of the green flame that came leaping towards him from someone's wand. He turned, seeing the light coming towards him, and then crumpled. Despite his dearly held belief, there is no magic that will keep the good from death on a battleground, not even a magical battleground.
Strap burnt through by the green fire, the camera also dropped to the ground and bounced unseen underfoot, kicked and trodden on by the passing wizards. By the time it was found, it was to be no more than an unrecognisable hunk of metal, but the familiar blonde-haired boy – that people would recognise.
Someone else would have to pick up his body, to carry it home, to give his story to his parents. Someone else would have to, for he could not, and nor could his camera.
There is no way of taking photos on that last great adventure.