-Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling
The Lion in the Mahogany Casket
The group of four young people crossed the street clinging to each others hands, their eyes cast downward. They crossed the small space of side walk and then took the stairs in a line of four so they wouldn't have to drop hands just yet.
Perhaps someone watching from the street would have thought it a childish gesture, but to Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, it was the only way they could have made it across the street and inside the cathedral. So many had died in the last three years but there was something different about this one that touched them in an extremely personal way.
At one time or another Colin Creevey had been an annoyance to all four of them. With his constant camera bulb flashing in their faces and rapid fire never ending questions, he'd had a way of exhausting a person even if they were sitting before a cozy fire, in the squishiest chair in the Gryffindor common room. But looking back now they saw clearly what they should have seen then. For a sixth year Colin might have been small and fragile looking, but inside that little body he had been larger than life, a true Gryffindor hero.
That he had defied Professor McGonagall and returned to Hogwarts to fight had been a shock and his death had hit them all hard, but none as hard as Harry Potter for Harry took the blame for Colin's death solely onto himself. Harry had been Colin's hero, the one Colin aspired to be like, the one Colin had likely tried to emulate when he had sneaked back to the school to fight.
It was part of why he sometimes bitterly loathed being Harry Potter.
The four stepped out of the bright sunlight into the cool dimness of the stone foyer and their eyes fell on the gleaming mahogany casket magnificently draped in the colors of the house to which he had belonged. A scarlet and gold flag bearing the crest of Godric Gryffindor covered the closed part of the casket so the crest showed in the front. Hundreds of long stemmed yellow roses surrounded the casket on every side. Yellow, to represent Hogwarts.
Atop the closed end of the casket were Colin's medals. First , an honor that would only go to two of the lost, The Gryffindor Medal of Bravery. Next to it was the Award for Special Services to the School, and finally, the First Order of Merlin.
Harry swallowed hard and tried to take a deep breath, the stab of pain to his heart threatened to choke him. He hated how familiar he was becoming with funerals...and this wasn't the last...the worst was yet to come in the days ahead.
Harry felt Ginny tug on his hand and he looked up as she nodded to the front of the cathedral, waiting for him to join them as they paid their respects. His eyes shifted to where the family sat in the first pew accepting condolences as friends, family and school mates passed. Harry once again felt the pangs of guilt that had raged through his body upon discovering that the younger boy had sneaked back up to the school to fight after having been escorted out. Harry wasn't stupid, he realized that Colin had likely been lead to do it by his misplaced desire to be just like his hero, the fucking boy who lived...
Harry thought about Colin and how pleased he would have been by the awards. But then, it never had taken much to please Colin Creevey. His camera was Colin's favorite possession, he loved taking pictures and was seldom seen without his camera.
In fact, a signed picture was the only thing Colin had ever asked Harry for.
Colin had given Harry his friendship, his loyalty, hell, even his blind devotion, misplaced as it was. Colin would have died for Harry Potter...
'...and the great and wonderful Harry fucking Potter couldn't even sign a lousy picture for the kid.' Harry's thoughts became increasingly bitter.
"Harry" Hermione put her hand on his arm and looked at him with a look of worry "Are you okay?"
"What do you think?" Harry bit out through clenched teeth "I'm brilliant."
"Hey" Ron gave him a light punch in the arm "Watch it."
Harry's eyes flashed at Ron and Ron gave him a sympathetic half smile, finally Harry felt some of the tension ease away and he gave Ron a nod and muttered an apology to Hermione who gave him a quick hug and whispered in his ear.
"It's okay Harry. I feel like dung too."
Harry smiled and then shook his head and slid into a pew followed by Ginny, Ron and Hermione.
"I just can't right now" was all he said by way of explanation to the others when they opened their mouths to question him.
He looked around the crowded cathedral, it seemed like every person from every house were there. He shifted and looked at Ginny but she shushed him and pointed to her ear and then nodded ahead of them . Harry listened and was caught by the conversation taking place in the pew ahead of them between a Ravenclaw boy and a Hufflepuff girl who had been in Colin's year.
"...could certainly be a bit annoying at times" The blond boy nodded "But I never held it against him."
"Oh" The Hufflepuff girl with very long wavy red hair sounded near tears "But he was so nice ...and just..., oh I don't know, sweet."
"I'm not saying he wasn't a good bloke, not in the least. Colin was a good guy really, he was just a bit..." he paused in thought and then shrugged " hyper at times"
"I just don't understand" The Hufflepuff girl was now crying "What was he thinking going back there? Professor McGonagall sent us away and told us not to come back."
"Well" The boy said "He was a Gryffindor after all."
"So what!" The girl said "What did he think he could do against death eaters?"
"Gryffindors are a bit notorious for their bravery, you know, the old all brawn no brains thing...They don't much stop to think, they just act."
"But Colin didn't have any brawn, I don't know what he was doing in Gryffindor anyway. As smart as he was, he should have been in Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff."
Two fifth year Gryffindor girls sitting in the row in front of them turned around angrily.
"Colin might not have been very big" A girl with frizzy blond hair and a torrent of tears falling down her face said with clipped tones "But he was very brave. Don't you know how he died?" she asked
Harry's stomach flipped over, he hadn't heard anything about how Colin had died.
"No" The girl shook her head as she dug for something in her bag. She pulled out a delicate lacy handkerchief.
"He jumped in front of an Avada Kedavera that was aimed for Seamus Finnegan's back." The blond girl wiped a wash of tears from her cheeks
"Oh Wow" The other Gryffindor girl's eyes went as huge as china blue saucers. She was a very pretty girl with hair as red as the Weasley's "I didn't know that!"
"Is that really true?" The blond Ravenclaw boy asked
"Of course it is. He was in Dumbledore's Army after all, he knew how to fight quite well. Chelsea March, she's a seventh year from Ravenclaw who has been tutoring me on my charms for O.W.L.S., she told me. She saw the whole thing. And her dad, he was there fighting too, just before that, he saw Colin kill a death eater that was taking aim at Professor Flitwick. "
"Not that I really care right now," The pretty girl with the red hair began with a sniffle as a few tears ran down her cheek "I wonder what we they do about our O.W.L.S. ? We were suppose to start them next week."
"Maybe we will take them this summer?" The blond girl shrugged "I know it's our future and all, but I just can't bring myself to care right now." With a final glare at the Ravenclaw boy they turned back around.
They two ahead of them went quiet then and Harry felt Ginny take his hand and give it a firm squeeze.
"I knew it" she whispered
"Knew what?" he whispered back
"I knew that Colin had to have died in the act of doing something incredibly brave." she smiled
Harry felt his throat squeeze tightly closed as he was overcome with emotion.
"How did you know?"
"Simple really." Ginny lay her cheek on his shoulder. "Colin was a lot like Hermione. Very clever, and he wasn't reckless, he always thought things through very well before he acted."
"You think so?"
"Oh yes, and I sat classes with him for six years, I should know shouldn't I? Colin...well, he was just very brave...that must be why the Sorting Hat put him in Gryffindor instead of Ravenclaw. Bravery is what sets Gryffindors apart...right?"
Ginny had made a good point, Colin may have had a hero thing for Harry, but the Sorting Hat wouldn't have put him in Gryffindor House if he hadn't embodied the traits that Godric Gryffindor thought were the most important. No matter how much Colin asked.
Harry felt his load lift slightly as he looked up again at the mahogany casket. His eyes briefly glimpsed the still face through the line of people passing the casket and Harry's mind began to wander again. Ginny had made another point that Harry was pretty sure she hadn't meant to. He thought back to his first night at Hogwarts, to when Professor McGonagall was telling them about the houses. She had said that their houses were like their family. Harry realized that he had seen annoying boy with the camera every day for ten months out of twelve, for five years, but he had never once seen his Gryffindor brother, Colin Creevey.
As the waiting line was ushered into pews with the promise that the viewing would continue after the service, Harry began to wonder who Colin Creevey had really been, down deep, inside. Harry had had many chances over the last six years to get to know Colin. During Colins first year, Harry's second, he had felt humiliated by having a doting fan following him, Draco Malfoy and his lot harassing him about it certainly didn't help matters.
After Harry's second year, things became so crazed in his own life...Sirius returned, then Voldemort came back, then came Umbridge and then he lost Sirius, and then Dumbledore...
But Harry had found time to constantly fight with Malfoy, to argue with Snape, to have a dysfunctional sort-of relationship with Cho Chang, to mediate fight after fight between Ron and Hermione...even time to obsess over the angst of Ginny being with Dean Thomas when he wanted her for himself.
Thinking of the wasted chances caused a shift for Harry. His guilt over Colin's death had left him as sadness grew inside his heart, sadness born of the knowledge that it was his own fault that he had never known Colin Creevey, and now he never would.
A voice much like Colin's shocked him out of his thought's and Harry looked towards the front of the cathedral where Colin's brother Dennis had taken the microphone to read a poem that had been found in the pocket of the robes Colin was wearing when he was killed.
I have a mighty Lion,
He lives inside my heart.
How can I deny him?
of me, he is a part.
The enemy's come calling
and the Lion I can't ignore
the timid time is over
it's time for me to roar
You say that I'm to young,
Not old enough to fight.
I have no choice; Please understand,
I must do what is right.
I'm writing you this poem
in case I go... that way
If your reading it means I've died
It's a price I'm proud to pay.
I am not afraid
and please, don't cry for me!
I was more than worth it
If I've helped set others free
I'm honored to meet a heroes end
take comfort in that and smile
I'm on my way to heaven,
I'll see you in awhile
The task of life I leave to you now
I pray that happy you will be
fill your lives with peace and love
and take some pictures, for me.
The funeral had ended and the long line of those waiting to view the casket had shortened. The other three were paying their respects to the family, but Harry still sat where he had been sitting all along. Now he got up and slowly made his way up the aisle to the front of the cathedral as the last of the line went through.
Sunshine shimmered through the large stained glass windows and their beams of multicolored light fell across the face of Colin Creevey, his head resting proudly in his Gryffindor robes against the white satin pillows. The pale death mask was gone from his face and the pillows were now a myriad of dancing color as the wind blew through the trees, making the shadow's shift.
Harry could think of only one word to describe the effect of the colored sunlight splaying across the face of the boy in the mahogany casket...
"Harry?" Ginny touched his shoulder "Are you coming?"
"Yeah" he nodded and followed. He gave his condolences to the family and was in the foyer when he stopped abruptly and turned to Ginny.
"I'll be right out."
Ginny smiled and kissed his cheek "Okay"
Harry turned and pulled his wallet out of his pocket and began flipping through the pictures until he came to the one he was looking for. It was of him and Ron 6th year during the celebration after Gryffindor had won the Quidditch cup. He pulled a pen from his breast pocket and quickly scribbled a note on the back.
Harry quickly walked up the aisle to the mahogany casket and looked down at the still, small body of Colin Creevey.
"I'm sorry I didn't take the time to know you better Colin. I really wish I had. Thank you, for being my friend. I have something I want to give you, sorry I didn't give it to you when you asked six years ago."
Harry sniffed and glanced around to make sure that no one was watching him then he put the picture in pocket of Colin's robe.
"Bye Colin" Harry turned and walked down the aisle, out of the cathedral, and back out into the sunny day.
Dennis Creevey stepped from the vestibule and up to the mahogany casket for the last time. He reached into the pocket where he had seen Harry Potter put something a few minutes before and Dennis smiled, remembering how much Colin had wanted the very thing he now held in his hand.
"Dennis, we have to close it now, well, for the...what are you looking at Dennis?" His father stood behind him and Dennis handed him the picture. Mr. Creevey flipped it over and read the back, and he smiled at his son as he handed it back.
"He would have been very pleased"
Dennis nodded and turned it over to read the words a final time before they came to close the mahogany casket for burial.
From your friend,
Dennis slid the picture under Colin's folded hands, then they too turned and walked back down the aisle...
... to the sunshine.
-After the response to The Black Tomb, I decided to turn this into a series of Harry's reaction and thoughts as he attends the funerals for those who were lost. There will be at least two more one shots in the series, possibly four.
So far in the series:
The Black Tomb
The Lion in the Mahogany Casket
Authors Notes: Colin's poem, Epitaph to the Lion, was written by me specifically for this fiction. Please do not take it for posting elsewhere or in your own fictions.
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