"I feel like I should have lizard scales and a set of nasal ridges." Professor McGonagal cleared her throat, one eyebrow quirked upwards in disapproval at his audacity in sailing the reference over her head, and Colin sighed, shoving the letter back across the coffee table. "Tora Ziyal? Gul Dukat...oh, nevermind. I feel like we're someone's dirty little secret."

"You are, Mr. Creevey, not to put too fine a point on it." She nodded politely, taking the mug of tea from his mother without the slightest second glance that it was shaped like Boba Fett's helmet. "The Lestranges find themselves in a very awkward position politically with you young gentlemen. If they take you before the MBRC as Muggle-Born -"

"-then all I have to do is ask for a blood test to prove who my biological parents are, and they have to confess to having thrown a squib and hidden her among the Muggles." Mrs. Creevey finished, stirring her own tea nervously despite the confidence in the statement. "Which would be why they're treating the boys' blood status as unquestioned, but that means that school is mandatory this year. I don't like that."

"Nor should you," the Professor agreed crisply. "At the same time it protects them, it also puts you all in grave danger. The best way to deal with an embarrassment, of course, is to make it disappear. If you choose to attend, I must insist that neither of the boys participate in sports this year, nor any other activities where accidents are prevalent."

"If we choose to attend." Colin took a deep breath, not quite willing to look at either Mum or Dennis before he spoke. "You say that like there's an option, but that," he jerked a hand at the awful paper, "was pretty clear about the mandatory bit."

"I think the Professor is referring to...expatriation?" There was a long pause after the word, no one wanting to acknowledge what it meant, and even Dennis' attempt to break the tension with a plate of business was waved away from all sides. Even though they were Jaffa cakes. He couldn't eat right now; his throat was far too tight, his mouth too dry even if they had looked as appealing as he was fairly sure that they once had.

Expatriation. Leaving the country. Running.

The thought of it made his skin crawl, and his immediate thought was that the only response could be something by Jerry Bruckheimer or James Cameron, some grand and inspired speech about never letting the enemy see your back shot at low angle with a lot of brass and strings swelling in the background. He would dash down his cup, leap up onto the table...but Dennis was looking at him with those eyes that said I trust you utterly and Mum was blinking too hard to not be trying not to cry. It wasn't that simple, and that realization was more frightening than any letter.

Something curled up inside him, and he hated that he sounded so much like a little boy rather than a grand hero as he shook his head. "We have to go."

"Where were you thinking, love?" Mum's voice was as quiet as his. "Aunt Mellie's in Wales, but I don't think that's far enough. There's your godparents, but they wouldn't be able to take you in with ComiCon on the 17th." Her tone had strengthened, and he was more comforted by it than he had expected as she tilted her head, tapping one finger against her lower lip in the way she always did when she was making something work. "We'd have to have you gone well before school started, but maybe if they could get you in as -"

"No, Mum." Colin didn't dash his cup down, but he did set it on the coffee table, wiping his palms on the knees of his trousers. "We have to go to school. Even if we could leave, it's not like they can't follow anywhere we can go, and once we're out of sight, there's no reason not to get rid of their little problem."

"Your son has a point; unfortunately the same one that I was about to make. While Hogwarts may no longer be as safe as it once was, it's probably their best option. And yours as well." There was a hint of approval in her look, and he clung to it, not knowing why he felt so much a coward when he had just refused to run. But you do know, he thought bitterly, you feel like a coward because it was the safe option. Potter's not taking the safe option. The Professor already said he wasn't coming back. He's fighting while you're just...

"With all due respect, Professor, I don't think you know my sons." There was a kind of pride there, but something like sadness as well, and he didn't know which surprised him more. "If there is trouble at school this year, they won't back down. Physically, I trust that they can take care of themselves - they've been in karate since they were three, and you don't grow up with our hobbies and never need to use it - but there's also a reason that we admire these things."

"I'm sure."

"No, you're not, because you don't actually know them." "It's not about the shiny ships or alien worlds or genealogies of the kings of the Third Age. It's that they're our sagas, our mythos for the modern world, and they have taught our family the same lessons about courage and adversity and adaptation that the boys of Sparta learned from Perseus. They don't just speak Klingon, they understand honor, and that's why I'm afraid for them. Because you're talking as if the only way they'll have a chance is if they keep their head down and go along with a tyrannical regime, and they won't do that."

"Mrs. Creevey..."

"She's right." Dennis cut in, and his eyes looked older than Colin had ever seen as he smiled. "We're not gonna back down if it comes to it. We've never started fights -"

He looked to Colin, who grinned back. "-but we've finished plenty of them." He took a deep breath, turning to face his Mum as he reached out for her hand. "We didn't ask for this. But you raised us right. You know that. Whatever happens, please remember that."

"Of course I will." The tears were back, and he didn't care and was rather grateful that the Professor was a Muggle in her own way as she smiled softly. "Qapla' batlh je."

He nodded back, and for some reason, it didn't seem silly to kiss her hand. "Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam."

* The Klingon phrases translate "Success and honor" and "It is a good day to die."