wow. so, this is my 50th story and my longest story yet, and i can't actually believe i've got this far. the dedication for this is split five ways: firstly, to amy, my beautiful fiancée, amy (and it feels like finally), secondly, to my rapper twin and the dennis to my gabrielle, louise (downstage), thirdly, to my amazing daughter isha (unsurded), fourthly, my billy elliot twin, maddie (overstreets) and, fifthly, to the whole of the rosescorpius fans forum ― i wouldn't have got this far without any of you.
thanks to RubyRed950 for beta'ing :)
warning: this story contains language, crossgen, cousincest, (although it's only a brief mention) and mature themes. please do not read if this is offensive/off-putting to you.
please don't favourite without reviewing :)
if I could find a way to set this straight I'd run away
to some fortune that I should have found by now
— cough syrup, young the giant
Maybe he should just run, run further away than he's ever run before. Maybe without all of them—Colin, Gabrielle, Roxanne, Lucy—he is nothing. Perhaps that was all he was ever made for, maybe that's all he ever was, just Colin's brother, Gabrielle's husband, Roxanne's friend and Lucy's boyfriend.
Along the way he's screwed up so much, breaking hearts, doing wrong. He's broken his own heart time and time again, and no matter how much time passes, he'll never be okay with the fact that some of the people that he loved the most are either dead, or they left him behind.
He would run, but he can't. He's no coward, and so he'll walk with pride. He'll walk on, pretending like each step doesn't threaten to cripple him, and he'll walk on, pretending that he's not wishing with every step that he could go back and live his whole life again, fixing his wrongs and saving their lives.
He will walk on, pretending that nothing is affecting him. He will walk on like that, because he knows that if he doesn't, he will collapse.
And damn it all to hell if anyone thinks Dennis Creevey will fall.
part i: the early years
He is the first one to know that Colin is a wizard, even before Colin himself.
The owl swoops through the kitchen window, drops a letter next to Dennis' glass of milk and then leaves. Dennis shrieks, almost flinging himself from his seat in shock. When he gets over the initial surprise he reaches for the letter, admiring the red seal on the back and wondering exactly who it is for before he turns over the letter.
His first thought is that Colin never gets letters. His second thought is that that's a stupid thing to think, as nobody gets their letters delivered by owl. Then he wonders if, maybe, some people do and Dennis is just not old enough to know that yet, because he's been told by his parents that he doesn't know everything—there are some things he is too young to know.
Maybe it's one of those things that he asked his parents what it was, and then they told him to wait until he was older. Maybe he's discovered a secret of the adults early. The thought fills him with childish joy—he smiles, and rips open the letter, thinking that he'll show it to Colin later, and that it's Colin's fault for not getting up in the mornings to see their Dad off on his milk round. He wonders if Colin will be jealous that Dennis figured out a secret before him, and then he reads the letter.
At the contents of the letter, Dennis' mouth forms a small 'o'.
His first thought is that Hogwarts sounds like a cool name for a school.
His second thought is 'why is a cat walking through our door?'
His third? How on earth did that cat turn into a woman?
"I can't believe that you opened that letter without me!" Colin says when he closes the door on Professor McGonagall after a lengthy conversation with the boys' mother about what exactly Colin's education at Hogwarts would entail.
Dennis knows his brother well enough to know that Colin doesn't really mind—who could stay mad at anyone when they're going to a school for Witchcraft and Wizardry? Who could stay mad at anyone when they were Colin?
"Colin, you're going to Hogwarts!" Dennis exclaims, for what seems like the fiftieth time.
"I wish you could come too," Colin sighs. "Do you reckon you'll come when you're eleven? Do you think you're magic, too?"
Dennis' bottom lip seems to stick out for a moment before he reverts back into cheerful Creevey-mode. "I hope so! You'll have to take lots of pictures, Colin."
Colin smiles; Dennis can tell that he's remembering the camera that Dennis saved up all his money to buy for Colin's eleventh birthday.
"I will, Dennis! I'll send them all to you!"
Dennis smiles, pretending that he's as invested in Colin going to Hogwarts as everyone else is. He's excited for him, he truly is, but he's just scared. There's that little teasing voice in the back of his mind and it kind of hurts when it whispers to him what if you're just a Muggle like everybody else?
The morning of September the first is a blur to Dennis. It's full of shouts of 'have you got my trunk?' and socks, scarves and robes being thrown down the stairs and bundled into the spare space in the trunk. Their father has even got the morning off work so that the whole family can bid Colin goodbye.
During the car ride to the station they talk about all the kinds of things that might happen for Colin. Their mother tells him to be nice to everyone, to try and make some friends.
"Always remember to wash your neck, Colin!"
"If anyone is mean to you, write home to me, okay?"
"Are you sure that you're okay with not having an owl or anything?"
The Creeveys stand by the wall that leads to Platform 9 ¾, there's a scary moment where all of them doubt that the wall actually leads anywhere, until Dennis grabs hold of Colin and tells him quite sternly that he willgo through, that Colin will get to Hogwarts.
And then they run. The two of them, holding hands, run together at the wall and then seemingly run throughthe wall and then they're laughing and looking at the wall and staring at the bright red steam engine and thinking just how magnificent it is.
Colin stares at Dennis for a moment. It seems as though they both remember something at the same time, and they say the same thing, in unison.
"Muggles can't get through the barrier,"
And then they're smiling and laughing and Dennis is smiling more than he has for a while because he's going to Hogwarts too, he just has to wait a few years.
"I'm going to Hogwarts!" Dennis shouts.
"You're going to Hogwarts!" Colin yells.
Dennis glances up at the clock and notices that it's two minutes to eleven.
"You won't be going to Hogwarts if you don't get on that train, soon." he laughs.
Colin makes as if he's about to walk away, but then he turns back towards Dennis and says something that Dennis can't quite hear over all of the noise.
"What?" he asks.
Colin comes closer again. "I'll miss you,"
With that, he is gone onto the train and Dennis doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. His older brother is going to Hogwarts. In a year, he'll be going to Hogwarts.
He waits until eleven o'clock and he waves the train off, seeing Colin practically hanging out of the window in order to see Dennis one last time. When he can no longer see the train he makes his way back through the barrier and rejoins his parents.
"I'm going to Hogwarts in two years!" he tells them, smiling.
He misses Colin already, but he's happy, and already looking forwards to all the things Colin will be able to tell him when he comes home for the holidays.
The first time he thinks that he is going to lose Colin, he doesn't do anything. He is afraid. He's known Colin for all of his life and he knows that they're more than just brothers—they're best friends.
It scares him, knowing that Colin is lying paralyzed in a big school in a whole different country (within Great Britain, but, hey, Dennis has never been to Scotland before).
He wishes he could visit, but he's still at Primary School and he couldn't go all the way to Scotland, even if it were to see his brother. Besides, he can tell that, however welcoming Hogwarts is, they're not exactly keen on letting Muggles in, or even future students.
And so he waits. Waits for anything, really. He waits for a letter to come saying that Colin is okay, he's waiting for even a letter that says that he will be okay, that he's on his way to recovery, the revival potion is nearly ready.
Not for the first time, Dennis wishes that he was the same age as Colin, or older. This time, though, it's not just so they'd be able to spend more time together, or so Dennis would see Hogwarts before or at the same time as Colin. It's because he wants to be able to protect Colin when there is nobody else to do that for him.
When Colin returns in a blur of Gryffindor robes and scarves, chocolate frogs, hats and moving photographs, Dennis almost pounces on him, he's so excited to see him. Colin regales them all with tales of his time at Hogwarts, and Dennis doesn't care a bit that it's obvious almost every story has been exaggerated.
Their parents fuss over Colin but Dennis doesn't mind a bit. He knows that they were all worried about Colin during his period of being paralyzed—who wouldn't be worried?—and they're all happy to have him home for the summer.
They pour over the photographs and gasp in the appropriate places. They wonder at the fact that the people in them walk in and out of the picture whenever they please. Colin tells them about Harry, the savior of the Wizarding World—"The whole world, really," he tells them—he speaks of how he felt when he was revived. He recalls just how much food there is at the feasts and their mother looks appropriately shocked when he tells them exactly how much he ate.
"You're not saying much, Dennis," his mother notes.
Dennis looks at her, jumping from the world of Hogwarts that he'd been engrossed in. "I'm just happy that Colin is home," he says, before returning to flicking through the photos that he must have flicked through hundreds of times before.
Colin is safe. He is home. They have a whole summer until Colin is due back at Hogwarts, and even then, each day takes Dennis closer to the day that he will go to Hogwarts, himself.
Dennis resolves to have fun—he's heard that time goes faster, that way.
When Dennis' Hogwarts letter finally arrives the whole family is sitting around the table. They decided to have breakfast together, for once, seeing as his father has the day off work. Colin's third year letter arrives as well, but no one pays any attention to it until Dennis' letter has been opened and his place at Hogwarts has been confirmed.
Dennis can barely speak. He's known that he's going to Hogwarts for a while, but seeing the letter—feeling it, smelling it—makes it seem to much more real to him and so, for a moment, he is lost for words.
They decide to head to Diagon Alley and Dennis feels as if he's seeing it for the first time, even though he's been twice before. Now, he has school supplies to buy—the things in the shops are for him.
It seems as though it is only a few days until he is aboard the Hogwarts Express; when, really, it's two weeks. The scarlet engine seems so much more vivid, more alive now that he knows that he's getting on the train and going to Hogwarts, the place that he's fantasized about for over two years, now.
He's seen photos, he's heard countless tales, but now he knows that he will see it for real.
He's so excited, he nearly forgets to say goodbye to his parents. He'll write to them, anyway. Nothing else matters in that moment—Dennis Creevey is finally going to Hogwarts.
Colin sits with Dennis for the train ride, which Dennis is grateful for. They buy what they can afford from the lunch trolley and spend the majority of the train journey spitting out disgusting Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans into crumpled tissues, and laughing about it afterwards.
Some of Colin's third year friends join them in the cabin and they happily discuss what subjects will come up in third year, and Dennis asks them all what house they think he should be in.
"You're going to be in Gryffindor, Dennis." Colin says. "I'll get Harry to cross his fingers for you. That should do the trick."
"Thanks, Colin." Dennis smiles. "It'll be okay if I'm in another house, though, won't it?"
"'Course it will," Colin replies. "You'll always be my brother."
Dennis smiles. Colin has made him slightly less nervous, but he's still anxious. He wants to be in Gryffindor with Colin, no matter what Colin says about it not mattering what house he's in. He wants to be with his brother.
The train ride seems to pass quickly, so before Dennis knows it they're clambering out of the train and a giant man is calling for the first years.
It's raining outside and so Dennis rounds his shoulders, almost curling himself up, trying to keep himself as warm as possible, whilst still next to Colin. He begins to follow Colin until Colin turns around and points him in the right direction.
"You're going to go on the boats to get to Hogwarts," Colin tells him. "I'll see you when you're in the Great Hall, ready to be sorted. I'll have my fingers crossed for you."
"See you," Dennis replies, teeth chattering from the cold and his nerves.
Dennis grabs a boat with a boy (who he later learns is named Kevin Whitby) and a girl who looks just as nervous as he does. Just as they begin to make their way across the lake, the rain gets heavier, slashing down as if it has a personal vendetta against the first years, as if its very aim is to knock each and every one of the first years from the boat.
Slightly green, Dennis notices the boat is rocking harshly from side to side. He clings onto the edge to keep himself from being thrown into the lake. He remembers Colin's tales of the Giant Squid, and doesn't know whether to be excited about the prospect of seeing it, or worried that it might try and eat him.
With a lurch, Dennis is thrown from the boat and tumbles down, down, down into the cold lake. For a moment, there is nothing there to support him, and he has an awful feeling that he's going to drown. He's tossed from side to side and he thinks about how he can't even swim until—
A tentacle grabs him from underneath, supporting him fully and with one full swing Dennis is thrown back into the boat. The first years all cheer at the sight of Dennis and the giant man—Dennis later finds out his name is Hagrid—looks incredibly relieved that he didn't have to jump in afterwards.
"That was so cool!" Dennis yells, and the rest of the first years laugh with him.
Dennis' first view of Hogwarts is astonishing. Even with his teeth chattering he lets out a breath of wonder, looking at the thing he's fantasized about for so long. The castle looks beautiful, absolutely wonderful. He can't wait to get inside.
When they get to shore, Hagrid calls Dennis to him and takes off his coat, wrapping it around him.
"Let's keep you warm, eh?" he tells him.
The coat is so heavy that Dennis can barely walk. He's not entirely sure if it's clear that anyone is wearing the coat as it's so large on him, but he's thankful for the method of keeping in his body heat, even if the coat smells of dog and foul odours that Dennis can't name.
They walk up to a heavy wooden door and Dennis knows exactly what is going to happen—Colin has told him everything—and, still, he jumps when Hagrid raises a gigantic fist to knock on the door.
Everything seems to go so quickly that Dennis feels as if he's on autopilot as he listens to Professor McGonagall speak, as he traipses through the castle and the first years are set in a small room to wait. The ghosts are wonderful and Dennis can practically feelthe magic bursting from the walls of the castle.
When he sees Colin sitting at the Gryffindor table he smiles. He catches his eye and, holding up two thumbs mouths "I fell in the lake!"
For the first time, Colin looks in awe of Dennis, instead of the other way around. Dennis doesn't even notice, though. He's too busy staring at the ceiling, noticing the suspended candles and the ceiling that looks so, so real.
Wow, Dennis thinks. This is just how I thought it would be.
It really is a magical year for the Gryffindor boy. He's certainly had a better first year than Colin—rather than being petrified by a basilisk, he's petrified about the fate of Harry Potter during the Triwizard Tournament instead. He cheers from the stands, watching Harry beat a dragon, fetch a hostage from underwater.
At the same time, he's attempting to make it through his lessons without too much grief. He's not the smartest kid in class, but he's not stupid, either. He's fairly content with his levels, even if it does take him a few lessons to master the art of the levitation spell.
His year doesn't end so well—no, that's an understatement. He knows about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, of course—no wizard doesn't. Not even those coming from Muggle families.
He knows. Although a little naïve, he's not stupid enough to believe that he's going to be safe for the remainder of his life. He knows. He knows that there is a fight ahead. And maybe he's a Gryffindor, but that doesn't stop him from being scared out of his mind.
Dennis and Colin don't really keep up with the Wizarding World in the summer holidays, as they're not the newspaper reading sort. They do both get letters from their friends, though, and so they're not completely oblivious to the fact that the Ministry thinks that Harry is a liar. Colin is more outraged than Dennis. Dennis knows that Harry is telling the truth, of course he is. When the time is right, everyone will know the truth.
Second year begins. Dennis doesn't even try to pretend that he's not worried, not with the Death Eaters breaking out from Azkaban, the fact that You-Know-Who is back and the Ministry are ignoring it, as well as bringing in a foul toad of a woman to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts.
To be honest, the only thing that gives him hope that year is Dumbledore's Army. He's thankful that he's a part of it—which is all due to Colin really, without him, Dennis wouldn't know about it at all—it helps him know not only that he can fight, but know that he has something worth fighting for. He fights for Colin, for his family, for his fellow Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. He sort of even fights for the Slytherins, even though the majority of them are on the opposite side of the impending war.
He can't bring himself to believe that any of them—or anyone at all—is evil all the way through. Everyone deserves a second chance, and Dennis believes that passionately. He may only be a second year, but he knows a lot.
The year ends with a boom and a crash, and Dennis doesn't know the details but the papers clearly confirm that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is definitely back, that it isn't a bluff, a con or a trick. Dennis is relieved. Not that You-Know-Who is getting stronger—for he definitely is—but that the Ministry is finally acknowledging that there is a threat to the Wizarding World. They believe Harry, now. Surely that is the first step to defeating the dark wizard?
Dennis hopes that the war can be over, soon. He knows that his hopes are probably in vain.
Things get darker. Pamphlets from the Ministry arrive, instructing all witches and wizards on what to do. Dennis is scared. He knows what is coming and he can see it so clearly and he is afraid of what is to come.
Neither Dennis or Colin tell their parents of the pamphlets that keep arriving, or anything of You-Know-Who. They don't want their parents to think that anything is up. What if their parents refused to let them go back to Hogwarts? Mr and Mrs Creevey are very protective parents—who knows how they'd react if they heard about the danger?
"Dennis." Colin whispers to Dennis one day when their parents are both downstairs, watching the television.
Dennis moves in the direction of Colin's voice, wondering what he wants. It may just be that the film in his camera has got stuck, or he wants an opinion on whether he should get new robes for the new school year.
He enters the room, and knows that something is up. Colin—the brave, remarkable Colin—looks afraid.
"Another pamphlet came today, Dennis," he says, his voice sounding almost afraid. "Dad had just left the room when the owl came."
Dennis just stands there, not knowing what to say. He nods, motioning for Colin to go on.
"How much longer are we going to keep doing this?" Colin asks. "We can't hide it from Mum and Dad forever."
"What if they don't want us to go back to Hogwarts?" Dennis asks, not even fully answering Colin's question.
"Then we'll go anyway." Colin says, and Dennis stares at his brother with awe. They've never really defied their parents before. The Creevey family are tight—they share everything. This summer is the first time that the brothers have lied to their parents about anything, and it's strange.
"Are we going to tell them?" Dennis asks, his voice shaking as he imagines confessing that he's kept a secret from them.
"I'll tell them." Colin sighs. "Do you want to come with me, or do you want to read the new pamphlet?"
Dennis smiles at his brother. "I'm coming with you, of course."
Naturally, their parents are worried about them, but over time, Colin and Dennis manage to persuade them that it's actually safer for them to go back to Hogwarts. For one, Dennis is relieved that they won't have to sneak out of the house to get to Hogwarts, and he's also glad that he's not keeping a secret from his parents anymore. No matter how grown up he may seem, he's still only thirteen years old and he's the sort who is more vulnerable, despite his Gryffindor bravery.
He will be ready to go back to Hogwarts. He doesn't know how many more years he'll have of safety, but he knows he'll make the most of the years he has at Hogwarts before the war truly begins.
He only hopes that he has a few more years of peace before the world explodes around him.
When the bridge goes down and Muggles are killed, Dennis knows his hopes are in vain.
It scares Dennis that when they enter Hogwarts, this year they are subject to security checks and scans for dark arts. It's almost a reality check, but one that Dennis doesn't like—it's not a nice thought that perhaps there might be someone inside Hogwarts on the side of You-Know-Who. Hogwarts used to seem safe to him, and there's a part of him that thinks he should see it as more safe with the increased security checks, but all they do to Dennis is make him think about the threat to Hogwarts—to his life.
In that year, Dennis knows, deep down, that things are changing. Perhaps, next year, he will not go back to Hogwarts. He doesn't know where he'll go. He'll be with Colin, of course, if he runs, but Dennis can't even imagine not returning to Hogwarts.
There are shocking events in the course of the year—the cursed necklace and the almost incident where Ron Weasley almost died from a poisoned drink. There are signs layered around the Wizarding world, shouting out in newspaper headlines, seemingly isolated incidents, and it's in the air, as well.
One event, however, stands out more than the rest. For Dennis, and the majority of the other Hogwarts students, it signifies the end. In other words, perhaps it signifies the beginning of something terrible, rather than the end of something wonderful. And it's something so hard to take in, something that nobody wants to believe and it's not true—
It can't be true that Dumbledore is dead. It can't be true that Draco Malfoy was ordered to kill him, and managed to let the Death Eaters into the castle. It can't be true that Professor Snape was the one who killed Albus Dumbledore. And, yet, it is. All of those things are true, and Dennis knows it isn't only him who finds it hard to cope with.
The funeral is the only thing that truly makes it real for him. Albus Dumbledore is dead.
The war has begun.
part ii: the war begins
"We can't go back," Colin says to Dennis as they step out of Hogwarts together. "You know that, right?"
Dennis looks up at his older brother, wishing he didn't know that, but he does. "I know, Colin," he replies.
"Let's take one more look," Colin says, turning around to face Hogwarts in all its glory, the two of them pretending that they're not feeling heavier with every step they take away from Hogwarts.
"Goodbye, Hogwarts," Colin whispers.
Dennis looks up, wishing he had his brother to hold on to, but he's fourteen now. He's old enough to look after himself.
"We'll be back," Dennis murmurs, not quite sure whether he's addressing Colin or the castle.
"We will," Colin affirms and the two of them turn around and begin walking towards the carriages that will take them to Hogsmeade Station.
Dennis feels too young. Too young to leave Hogwarts already, too young to run and hide from those who threaten to kill his kind. He feels to young to have to sacrifice things.
But he is not to young to know what is going on, not in the slightest. Any witch or wizard to not know would be ignorant. Dennis and Colin both know that a storm is coming—and when it does, they'll be ready. Perhaps not to fight, but they'll be ready to run.
Oh, yes, they'll be ready to run.
It takes a while to convince their parents of the danger, but Dennis and Colin know that their parents have felt it. They knew before of You-Know-Who returning, of course, but they'd never really felt that it would affect them, mere Muggles in the grand scheme of things. Dennis and Colin can tell their parents know what is going on, more than they have been told by their children. Perhaps everyone has felt the feeling that the war brings, but just dismissed it as the familiar emptiness that everyone carries around, or the feeling that summer will soon be over and winter will come.
It is only the Wizarding population who know what is really going on. They know that something bad is coming. Thankfully, the Creeveys are smart enough to run.
It's not easy for them. Neither Colin nor Dennis has completed their years at Hogwarts, neither are either of them particularly bright, but they know enough to survive, they hope.
They try not to stay in one place for more than three nights and they're constantly moving on. Sometimes they meet other muggle-borns and their families and travel with them for a while, but usually they split up from other families, knowing that whilst safety in numbers has a little basis, it's probably better if they stay in small groups.
They learn of the Snatchers and try to avoid them at all costs. Dennis figures out how to get Potterwatch on their radio. The familiar voices comfort Dennis and Colin. Their parents are still wary, still afraid, but when their sons feel better, so do they.
It's the middle of the night when they notice a old woman creeping past their camp. They think they're concealed but it seems that the woman sees them—or hears them. The family of four freeze as she steps closer, thinking that she's a spy of the snatchers, or even a snatcher under Polyjuice potion.
"Muggle-born?" the woman wonders aloud. "I'm not going to hurt you," she continues, and Dennis comes out of his hiding place, ignoring his family trying to pull him back in.
"Who are you?" the fourteen year old asks, looking the woman up and down as if trying to place her in his mind.
"It's rude to stare," she tells him. "I'm Augusta Longbottom. Now who, may I ask, are you?"
Dennis recognizes the surname from one of Harry Potter's dorm mates and so he tells his family to come out. "I'm Dennis Creevey, this is Colin, and these are my parents."
Introductions are made and Augusta is welcomed into the family.
"I might slow you down," she warns.
Mrs Creevey smiles. "It'll be nice to have some feminine company around here."
Within a few hours she's almost part of the family, although Augusta insists that they don't begin to call her Gran.
"That title is reserved for one boy only to call me," she says. "I'm out here keeping him safe, believe it or not. They think that they can get to him if they threaten to hurt me, but they'll have to catch me first."
For the first time in a few weeks, the mood is lightened. Perhaps Augusta will be a good addition to their camp.
After months and months of hiding, of hearing rumours through Potterwatch ("Harry and his friends were inside Malfoy Manor for a while. Luckily, they escaped." "Harry Potter was seen flying a dragon!") a change that they can see and feel comes.
Colin and Dennis' Dumbledore's Army coins begin to glow. Somebody is summoning them. They can tell that they're needed, perhaps for a fight. Maybe it will bring the downfall of Voldemort. Maybe it will kill everyone against him.
They want to find out.
They don't tell their parents or Augusta about the coins, convinced that it will only worry them. Dennis pleads with Colin not to go.
"Don't you see?" Colin says. "This is our chance to make a difference. We can fight."
Dennis looks at Colin, as if to tell him not to be stupid. "Colin, this won't be like in the D A. You'll be really, really fighting. With proper Death Eaters. There won't be any safety mats or time outs."
"I have to go," Colin tells him, sending him a look that tells Dennis ever so clearly that Colin will not change his mind on the topic.
Augusta comes out from what seems like nowhere. "I'm coming with you, Colin," she tells him. "You can't go there all by yourself."
"He wouldn't be going there by himself." Dennis muttered, glaring at Colin.
"You're not going," Colin tells him. "You're too young."
Augusta sighs. "He's right, you know."
"He's not old enough, either!" Dennis cries.
"He's old enough to be able to make his own decisions," Augusta tells Dennis, and that is when Dennis knows that, no matter what he says, Colin will be fighting.
"I'll see you later," Colin tells Dennis, and with that, Colin and Augusta are gone.
Dennis sits on a rock, waiting for them to come back. He knows that it will take hours, but he can't move. He's numb with fear—what if they never come back?
This is the worst way to find out somebody is dead, Dennis thinks. A Patronus in the shape of some sort of animal—he doesn't have the heart to figure out which—speaking barely a sentence to tell him of his brothers death.
I regret to inform you that Mr Colin Creevey was murdered during the Battle of Hogwarts.
He-Who—Voldemort is dead.
To be honest, Dennis knew it as soon as the Patronus arrived. If Colin were alive, he'd tell them himself, not send someone else's Patronus.
Dennis realises that he has made his biggest mistake so far. If only he'd tried harder to make Colin stay, or if he'd taken Augusta aside and pleaded with her to make Colin stay. Perhaps he should have run for his parents, told them as soon as his D A coin began to glow.
He realises that there is no point thinking about what he should have done to prevent Colin's death. Colin is dead. There is no turning back. Dennis can only walk forwards, no matter how much each step hurts, no matter how much he wants to turn back and live everything again, making everything right.
He can't go back in time and fix things before they are broken. He can't even fix them now. He has to deal with them, broken as they may be.
That night, he finds Colin's camera in the tent, and he resists the urge to throw it away. He almost wants to get rid of it because he's not ready to be reminded of his brother—it hasn't even fully sunk in. He doesn't know if it will ever sink in. Instead, he puts it to the bottom of his rucksack, almost hoping that he'll never find it again. He doesn't even wonder about what is on the film in the camera. Everything apart from Colin's death is irrelevant.
Dennis Creevey is fourteen years old when his brother dies. No matter how long he lives, he knows he'll never be okay with that.
part iii: back into the light
Dennis graduates from Hogwarts when he is nineteen years old, instead of eighteen, due to 'circumstances beyond his control'. Nobody likes to remember exactly why a lot of people are behind by a year. To be honest, neither does Dennis. He doesn't want to be reminded that while his brother did what Dennis was too much of a coward to do, Colin died at the hands of a death eater.
Nobody wants to remember the amount of people that died, least of all those related to them. So Dennis goes along with the 'circumstances beyond his control' line because, to be honest, that is exactly what the war was; beyond his control. He couldn't fix it, couldn't even fight to even make it end sooner
Some days he questions if he really belongs in Gryffindor. Surely a true Gryffindor, no matter what their age, would go back to fight to protect Hogwarts in whatever way they could?
Maybe if Dennis had gone back, Colin might still be alive.
Dennis has to remind himself that what's done is done. Colin is dead. Dennis is alive because he didn't fight. That's the way it is. That's the way it will always stay.
Once, he stumbles across Colin's old camera again, and fresh tears sting his eyes. Boys aren't supposed to cry, but this is his fucking brother he's crying about, and so he thinks that he's perfectly entitled to crying over him. Five years later, he still cries over Colin, still sees him walking through Diagon Alley, or popping out from behind doors. People say that time heals but Dennis isn't healing, and you'd think that five years would be long enough to be classed as 'time'.
He doesn't know what to do with the camera. He doesn't know whether he should get the photos developed—he doesn't even know what the photos are of. Maybe he should just hide it in the back of an old cupboard, but Dennis can't bring himself to do that. It is as though the camera is Colin's legacy, the only thing he has left behind.
He sends the film off to a man who specialises in developing Wizarding photos. A week later, an envelope comes back, filled with photos.
Dennis hides them in the bottom of his sock drawer, under the paper lining. He can't open the envelope, he can't.
He doesn't know if he can deal with seeing pictures of Colin moving again. It would just be another reminder that his brother is dead. He's reminded of that enough, anyway. He doesn't need the photos.
For a few years, Dennis dabbles about in different jobs, attempting to work at the Leaky Cauldron until he's kicked out for being too normal. He tries working at the Eyelops Owl Emporium, but his cat allergy really doesn't help in those matters. He stumbles from job to job until he decides to take another look at Colin's camera.
Just because Dennis may not look at the photos he hid, it doesn't stop him looking at Colin's camera. He feels as though there's almost a part of Colin's soul trapped in there, desperately trying to get out. He wants to use the camera, but he doesn't know what to photograph. He starts out with photographing nature, but everything seems to come out wrong. Moving photographs don't look so good when you're photographing trees… trees don't actually move, so it's not as effective. Dennis decides that if he's going to be a photographer, he should photograph people.
Wizarding photographs are so different to Muggle ones, Dennis has always thought. Instead of just catching a single frame, a single second, it captures an entire moment. It shows a person entirely, as if it is more than a photograph but rather a memorial to that single moment. With a wizarding photograph, things can almost be relived, if you look at the photograph closely enough. The dead can be moving, laughing, joking. The depressed can be happy once more. The grown ups can be children once again. In muggle photographs, a single second is frozen and put on paper. For wizards, an entire moment—however big or small that moment may be—is remembered.
And so Dennis embarks on this career. With every single second, it reminds him of Colin, it plagues him about the photos he's hidden in his sock drawer, but with the reminders and the plaguing, it brings a sort of contentment. It doesn't make him okay with Colin's death, but it helps him come to terms with it more. He sees now not why Colin died, but what Colin left behind. It helps him.
At first he's simply photographing small parties and the like, but gradually he moves onto larger events. He's absolutely thrilled when he's invited to be official photographer for a Weasley-Potter reunion, specifically an August celebration of the anniversary of Bill and Fleur's wedding. It's not just that he is a fan of Harry Potter—because, come on, who isn't?—but that everyone knows the Potters are rich, what with the income from Harry's Auror job and Ginny's chaser talents being placed on the Holyhead Harpies. Dennis begins to realise that he's got some sort of credit as a photographer, and it's a nice feeling, for a while.
Then, he begins to wonder if the fact that Harry knew Colin has anything to do with it.
For a moment, he feels as if he doesn't want to go. He can always cancel. Perhaps he could ask one of his friends who are into photography to go instead. But Dennis knows that he can't not go and still hold the title of Gryffindor. He has to be brave and not cancel plans because he might be reminded of Colin—he knows it's what Colin would have wanted.
He heads along to the Burrow—where the reunion is being held—and pretends like seeing Harry Potter isn't only going to make him think of his only brother being dead. It's only for a few hours. He'll be okay.
It's overwhelming for Dennis. Sure, he's been to family reunions, but he's never really seen a family quite as big as the Weasleys. Everywhere he looks there seems to be another person he hasn't spotted yet—and, hey, he's not complaining, but it would be nice if there were a few more people that weren't ginger, so he could tell them all apart. It's hectic, to say the least, people running around and yelling greetings at each other.
There are also a few who look somber—Percy Weasley, for example, standing in the corner with a his two girls who are roughly the same age as Bill and Fleur's oldest daughter. Dennis isn't one for gossip, but he's heard the rumours of Percy's relationship with a Muggle, and he takes a moment to feel sorry for the man. Both Angelina and Ginny look heavily pregnant, and so Dennis can see George and Harry in slave mode, looking after their wives. It's strange, really, how much a photographer can observe, and how they can keep everything from each moment, suspended on paper forever. He sees Bill and Fleur Weasley with their two oldest children, Victoire and Dominique, and their tiny son resting in Fleur's arms. He's astonished that they have three children already.
Dennis is sure that everyone is at the reunion when somebody arrives later than the rest. The first thing he sees of her is her silvery-blonde hair. Next, he takes in her eyes. He looks into them so deeply that he can't even remember what colour they are—only that they are beautiful. She has a dazzling smile, and Dennis is sure that he's not the only one who stops when she enters.
She swoops up to Fleur, handing her a neatly wrapped present and apologising for being late. The two sisters—for Dennis can obviously tell that they're related—talk together for a moment, and everyone turns back to what they are doing, besides Dennis. He's quite aware of the fact that he's seeming a little stalkerish, but he can't find it in himself to care. He knows that he's seen the girl before, but he can't for the life of him think of where it might have been.
Suddenly, it starts raining, and Dennis almost growls. He quickly gathers up his camera, wanting to protect it from the rain. There are squeals and screams coming from the Weasleys as they all race to the Burrow. Dennis is one of the first in, knowing that he'd never be able to live with himself if Colin's camera got damaged.
He sees Fleur's sister run in, completely soaked from the rain. In that second, it all clicks. He realises that she is Gabrielle Delacour, one of the people to be found in the second task at the Triwizard Tournament. He looks at her for a moment, her finger absent-mindedly twirling her hair. He realises that she looks so very beautiful in the rain.
It's one of those moments where Dennis feels as though something could change for the better. It's a moment where he wants to keep this girl close, even though they've never exchanged two words. He's had girlfriends before, but none of them have lasted very long. He's drawn to this girl, like… like maybe they're meant to be. He knows that it's too early to think of these things, and so he just thinks about how he might get to see her again.
The party carries on longer, and Dennis manages to snap a few photos of Gabrielle, even though she insists in a French accent that she's not looking her best. He doesn't exactly flirtwith her, per se. It's more… conversation between Dennis and a girl that he may or may not have a slight crush on. She seems to notice the fact and Dennis hopes that maybe she might find him attractive, too.
He manages to slip her his business card, which has his number on it, and Dennis is feeling quite proud of himself as he looks at Gabrielle in a way which makes it clear that he's not looking for another party to photograph.
"You know, this doesn't really warrant a date." Gabrielle tells him. "I'm more into French guys."
"Oh, I can be French," Dennis tells her, and says goodbye.
He sometimes wonders why he acts like a complete idiot around girls. He really can't help it.
(He did see her checking him out as he left, though, so that's a good sign.)
That night, Dennis goes to his sock drawer. He opens it up and feels under the paper lining for the envelope packed full of photos. In his mind, he can almost see Colin jumping around, laughing, messing around. After a search, he finds it, and is about to open it when there is a knock on his door.
He rarely gets visitors at the flat he's living in, and so he quickly pushes the envelope back into the drawer, making sure to hide it under the paper again so it is no longer visible. Running to the door, he almost wishes that he'd been able to look at the photos, but part of him is glad that he was disrupted.
When he opens the door, he is shocked to see Gabrielle standing there in all her glory. A smile begins to spread across his face, and he hopes to Godric that he actually looks presentable enough to be seen by her.
"I-I thought you were phoning me." Dennis manages to stutter out. "How did you know where I live?"
"I have my resources," she tells him, slipping into the flat. "Journalists know things."
Dennis then realises that he knows her as more than just Fleur's little sister—she's been in England for a few years now, working as a journalist. It explains why her English is almost as good as Fleur's now, even though everyone can still hear that familiar French lilt to her voice. Dennis is glad she still has her accent—it sounds lovely.
He invites her in and it's awkward because he's really not prepared at all. He seats Gabrielle in his tiny lounge and says he'll try to cook something for them—it's nearly seven o'clock, and Gabrielle tells him she hasn't eaten, and neither has he, and cooking dinner is so much more romantic than grabbing a take-away.
Soon, he realises that he has nothing in. Well, not nothing, exactly. But unless Gabrielle would like Weetabix covered in marmite with a bit of milk for her tea, then he's completely screwed.
Gabrielle walks through, getting tired of sitting on her own. "Weetabix?" she asks, a smirk on her face.
"I have nothing else in. I'm sorry." Dennis is completely embarrassed—as first dates go, this isn't exactly the best it's ever gone.
He notices Gabrielle head to a cupboard, open it and then close it again, noticing there's nothing in there.
"What are you looking for?" he asks her.
She looks at him as though the answer is obvious. "Bowls, of course."
And so for their first date, Dennis and Gabrielle have weetabix and milk. Both of them decide that they'd rather leave the marmite out of the equation. They talk and laugh for hours, about photography, journalism. They talk about Fleur for a while, and the Weasley-Potters. Eventually, the conversation moves to Dennis' family.
"My parents are Muggles," he tells her. "Dad is a milkman, Mum is a social worker."
There is a pause. Gabrielle can tell he wants to say something more, and so she is silent.
"My brother died in the war. His name was Colin."
"You are very brave." Gabrielle tells him, reaching her hand across the sofa to touch his. Electric tingles go up his spine.
"Thank you." he replies. For the first time, he truly believes that he is brave. It's a wonderful feeling.
He kisses her that night, and it's wonderful, magic. It's everything that he could have wished for—soft at first, and then building up, making it not just a kiss but an expression of everything that is Dennis and Gabrielle. It's a wonderful feeling.
"Does this warrant a second date?" Dennis asks Gabrielle as he pulls away.
Gabrielle smiles at him. "Only if we go to a restaurant next time."
Dennis has never really met a woman like Gabrielle before. She's smart, she's funny and to top it all off, she's absolutely beautiful. She even manages to get him an interview to be a photographer for the Daily Prophet, and buys several bottles of French champagne to celebrate the victory when he gets the job.
It seems as though, where you see Dennis, you see Gabrielle. It's not often that a couple is so public, and being part of the Weasley-Potter family and both working for the Daily Prophet, they are certainly in the public eye.
Gabrielle is suited to being in the limelight. Dennis? Not so much. But when he's with Gabrielle he feels as though he's worth something, and that means everything to him. She's the light in his life—he doesn't know if he could live without her.
And, so, when they've been together for a year, he decides that he's going to ask her the question that he's wanted to ask a girl his entire life. He's finally found the right woman. He books a table at their favourite French Wizarding restaurant, and finds a ring.
He's not exactly fashion conscious, and he knows the ring has to be perfect. He thinks of asking one of his work friends to help, but he knows that they'll be useless. And so he asks Fleur to help him go ring shopping. She'll know what her sister wants, after all.
First, though, he has to tell her that he wants to marry her sister.
After a great deal of hand signals and losing track of what he's saying in the middle of long, complicated sentences, Fleur understands what Dennis is trying to say.
"So, you wish to marry my sister?" she asks him.
"Yes. And I'd like your help with ring shopping, if that's okay."
"This is wonderful!" she cries. "Of course I shall help you!"
After a fair deal of compromise—as Fleur tries to persuade him to spend galleons that, quite simply put, he doesn't have—he settles on an engagement ring with sapphires and diamonds set into the stone. He figures that it will match her hair and eyes, and when he looks at Fleur for approval, she has tears in her eyes.
"It looks so beautiful," she tells him. For Dennis, that is the ultimate praise.
Now all he needs to do is ask Gabrielle that one question. He hopes that it will be enough for her.
They go to a French restaurant that is famous in the Wizarding world. Dennis isn't quite sure what it's famous for—perhaps for how French it is. Gabrielle is wearing a slim-fitting silver dress and he can hardly take his eyes of her. Sometimes he wonders how such a wonderful girl fell in love with him, but then he can't bring himself to care. All that matters is that she does love him—and he loves her back with everything that he is.
"Hey, Gabrielle, I needed to talk to you about something," Dennis tells her, and she looks over at him in a way that just makes him melt.
"Qu'est-ce?" she asks.
"I love you, Gabrielle," he begins, and he's thinking rapidly in his mind about all the things he needs to say to her to get everything right. "You are my everything. You're funny, smart, kind. You're beautiful."
He looks at her to make sure she's beginning to get the message. She's smiling and she's completely ignoring her food. All that matters is Dennis.
"I get up in the morning thinking about you and I go to bed at night, thinking about you. You mean the world to me—you arethe world to me. And… I was wondering," he says, as he gets down on one knee, next to the table. People in the restaurant are beginning to look their way, but none of them exist—in that moment, it is only Dennis and Gabrielle. Nothing else matters.
"I was wondering, if you'd do me the honour of being my wife."
Gabrielle gets out of her seat and knees next to Dennis. "Je t'aime," she whispers. "Of course I will, Dennis. Of course,"
The restaurant seems to notice her reply and a collective sigh goes around. It'll be in the papers in the morning, Dennis can tell, but he's just so, so happy that Gabrielle is going to be his wife.
That night, he lies next to Gabrielle in bed. He loves her.
He wishes Colin could be there to see him get married. Even though he'll probably ask Kevin Whitby, one of his best friends, to be Best Man, in his heart, Colin will always be his best man. His family will be there, but without his brother, it won't be the same.
He hasn't seen his brother alive for nine years. Maybe his death hurts less, but he still hasn't come to terms with it.
(The photos still lie forgotten in the bottom of his sock drawer. He hasn't touched them for a year.)
The plans for the wedding seem to go by so quickly. Bridesmaids, Best Men, locations, outfits and flower arrangements are all sorted out incredibly quickly. Gabrielle takes Dennis to meet her parents in France before the wedding, as they've decided that the wedding should take place at Chez Delacour, as the house is beautiful and Gabrielle is always French at heart, no matter where she lives. A huge amount of people are flown over for the wedding, and Dennis can't remember ever getting this much attention from anybody—it's insane.
As the big day arrives, he's incredibly nervous, but he remembers Gabrielle's face. He thinks of her hair, her smile. He remembers all the times she's made him laugh and he realises that everything is perfect. Today is the day that he marries Gabrielle Delacour.
As he says 'I do', he feels as though he is the happiest man alive. Who could be happier? Dennis has everything—the perfect career, the gorgeous wife.
You don't have a brother the little voice in the back of his head whispers he's dead, remember?
Shut up he tells it.
They move house soon after they're married to a new and larger house. Dennis moves the envelope from one sock drawer from another, barely looking at it. He's got quite skilled at not really noticing the envelope, which is good. Ten years after his brother's death, he still can't bear to open that envelope. Maybe one day he will, but he's not strong enough.
I'm not a coward he tells himself.
And he's not… he's just not ready. Gabrielle has noticed the envelope before, but he's lied to her about it. Actually, it's the only thing he's ever lied to her about. He feels bad. He feels cowardly. But he can't help it.
"Have you thought about having kids, Dennis?" Gabrielle asks him, about two years after they've got married.
He's taken aback by her question—it's not something they've really discussed before. It's always occurred to him as something that everybody does, sooner or later. He'd love to have kids—he just doesn't know if he's ready.
"Do you want to?" he asks her.
She looks down at the floor for a moment. "Do you want to?"
It's not exactly a lie, because he kind of does. "Yeah. I think we should have children."
She then proceeds to chatter loudly about whether he'd prefer a boy or girl ("I don't mind, Gabrielle") and when they should begin to try for kids, and whether they should tell anyone that they're trying and it's a whirl. Dennis hardly hears any of it—he's thinking about his childhood and wondering if his kids will have one like his, or if it will be better or worse.
He does want kids. Really.
He waits outside the bathroom while Gabrielle takes the pregnancy test. He's lost track of the times he's been in this position—they've never managed to conceive a child. Dennis wonders why. They've both decided that if it doesn't work again this time, they'll go and see if there's anything wrong.
Dennis can see in her eyes just how much Gabrielle wants a child. She's begun to look sadder. She's lost the light in her eyes over the past few months as she desperately tries to get pregnant. He now sees just how much she wants a baby, even if she only has one child. He wants to give her a child. He's afraid that maybe, he can't.
Gabrielle's face appears around the door. Her face says everything—no words need to be said. She walks over to Dennis and he takes her to an armchair.
She cries herself to sleep that night. Dennis doesn't know what to do. He loves her and there is nothing he can do. He is afraid that it is himself that means Gabrielle cannot have a child. He doesn't know how he can live with himself if that is the case.
He books an appointment with a (Wizarding) fertility clinic. Whatever it is that is stopping them from having kids, he wants to know.
Waiting for the results is possibly the worst thing Dennis has ever waited for. Barring, of course, waiting for news of Colin at the Battle of Hogwarts. Colin seems to appear in every aspect of his life. Dennis wonders what Colin would be like now. Would he be married? Would he be working as an Auror, or a photographer like Dennis? Dennis curses himself for thinking of Colin when he should be thinking of Gabrielle and himself.
She's hardly spoken to anyone for the past few weeks. She knows something is up. Dennis didn't know before she failed to get pregnant so many times that she even wanted kids that much—he thought that it was just another thing that she'd like to have in her life. He doesn't know how he was so wrong about it all.
When the letters finally come, the couple stare at each other for a moment before opening their letters. It's something so terrifying, knowing that the contents of that envelope may change their life. It's medical results, but it's so much more. It delves into their entire lives—it could determine their future.
Dennis can't believe his letter at first, even though he's been prepared for this. Gabrielle reads her letter and looks satisfied, and attempts to peek over Dennis' shoulder but he won't let her.
"Gabrielle…" he begins. "I can't have children."
It is in that moment that they begin to fall apart. A simple four word statement manages to wreck an entire relationship, shattering it to pieces, leaving only dust. Of course, it doesn't happen that quickly.
"Okay," Gabrielle says in a small, defeated voice. "I'm going to bed now."
Dennis doesn't point out that it's only eight o'clock. He knows that Gabrielle can't deal with the news. He's afraid. Gabrielle loves him, but there's a part of him that suspects that Gabrielle loves the idea of having children more.
Silence is the only thing Dennis can hear. Gabrielle gets out of bed in the morning, eats breakfast—always weetabix—and sits around on the sofa all day. She eats lunch at exactly twelve o'clock each day and eats whatever meal Dennis cooks. Before falling into bed, she reads a book.
That is all he sees her do.
She doesn't go to work anymore and that worries Dennis. She's told them that she's sick but she's been ill for so long that her boss is beginning to get suspicious. Dennis doesn't know what to do or what to say—he can't walk up to her and say, "I'm sorry that I'm the reason we can't have kids."
It doesn't work like that. Nothing is ever that simple. Dennis knows that now.
But he has to talk to her—he can't just watch her turn herself into a numb person who never does anything. He can't let his beautiful, wonderful wife turn into that. Because when you love someone, sometimes you have to make sacrifices. And Dennis loves Gabrielle with everything that he is.
It's a sacrifice he'll have to make. He can't bear to see her unhappy anymore.
"We have to talk," Dennis begins, and his voice is already shaking.
Gabrielle looks at him, her eyes are almost blank. "About what?"
"I'm not stupid, Gabrielle," Dennis says, his voice going up a notch. He's strong, but he's still having to fight to try not to cry. "You want kids. And I can't have them. I know that adoption wouldn't be enough for you,"
"Je t'aime," Gabrielle murmurs and looks away, trying to walk off.
He grabs her arm and Gabrielle looks surprised. He's never been so forceful before.
"I know you love me," Dennis says, looking her in the eye. "I love you too, I love you so much that it hurts me that you're doing this to yourself because I can't give you what you want,"
"It doesn't matter, Dennis," she says. "I'm okay."
"No." Dennis pauses for a moment. "No, Gabrielle, you're not okay. And I can't sit here and watch you break yourself over this when you can find another guy who can have children with you. I love you too much for that,"
Tears begin trickling down Gabrielle's cheeks. "Je t'aime," she repeats. "Je t'aime, Dennis."
"I'm sorry," Dennis whispers.
And in that moment he doesn't care about men not being supposed to cry. This is his wife. Perhaps some may see him as foolish—some may suggest adoption, or a sperm bank. Dennis knows that is not what Gabrielle wants, not what she needs. He can't watch her settle for one of those options just to be with him.
For the first time, Dennis speaks French back to Gabrielle. "Je t'aime," he says to her, before leaving the room to make sure he has packed all of his things.
He leaves the house and goes to stay with Kevin Whitby. He'll put him up for a few nights until he can find an apartment. For now, he just needs to get away from Gabrielle. He still can't believe that it's really over.
Gabrielle has been a part of his life for seven years. Something like that doesn't just go away. He'll never forget Gabrielle. Is there anybody who ever could?
She moves back to France after a few months. There are two many memories in England for her. Dennis is almost glad that she's left—he doesn't have to wonder it it's really her on the streets, or just his imagination. He only sees Gabrielle in his dreams, now.
He doesn't regret breaking up with her, as much as he wants to. He feels as though he had to break up with her—it wouldn't have been fair. He still loves her, of course—how could he ever stop?—but he doesn't know if he'd be able to live with himself if he'd stayed with her when she needed things he could never provide her with.
He's twenty-eight years old and divorced—not a good thing, he thinks. Most guys at his age are engaged or already married. Those who are single have never been married before. Perhaps twenty-eight is not the youngest age, but he's not enjoying being a divorced twenty-eight year old. Not at all.
It's not as though girls are throwing themselves at him or anything. He doesn't want anyone else—he only wants Gabrielle.
Two years later, he hears that Gabrielle has two children with a French man named Pierre.
He still misses her. That's Dennis Creevey—he can't let go of the people he loves, even when they're long gone from his life and they've already let go of him.
part iv: painted façade
Dennis wonders if it is normal to have a mid-life crisis at the age of thirty-four. He suddenly switches from a Daily Prophet photographer, back to a freelance photographer. He doesn't even really know why. All he says to anyone who asks is that he fancies a change, and he does, really. Except he wonders if there's something more behind it. Whether it's that he still sees Gabrielle in the hallways, even though she's in France, just like the reason that he can never go back to his childhood home—Colin is ever present.
He begins photographing in Wizarding clubs, catching up on trends. He often sends his photos to Witch Weekly because it seems that he catches the things that no one else does. After a while, he knows which Wizarding celebrities go to which clubs, and it's pretty easy to take photographs of them.
Unlike others, Dennis can see the story behind these people. The witches who pour over Witch Weekly almost always only see the celebrity status of the Wizarding stars, but Dennis sees more. He sees heartbreak, revenge, cheating, illness. He sees people pretending that they're something they are not so they do not get hurt by the people who would judge them for it.
He talks to Roxanne Weasley, sometimes. They have an agreement that he can take photos of her, as long as she checks them before they are sent off to any gossip magazines. He sees her story, and she confides in him. He's almost an uncle to her. Through marriage, they are distantly related, but they feel more like friends than relations.
Roxanne tells him she is a lesbian before she tells anyone else. In that moment, Dennis feels as if, perhaps, his life has some sort of meaning. Someone trusted him enough to confide a secret in—someone regards him as a friend. If he were to die in that moment, his life would have some sort of meaning still attached.
It means a lot to him, that he can still talk to the Weasleys, after his break up with Gabrielle. Some of them still see him as part of the family, even though he hasn't been with Gabrielle for years, now. Roxanne closely becomes a close friend—their ages don't matter.
He thinks that he may be content without romance in his life until he spies a blonde girl dancing. He doesn't know what it is about her that makes him stop where he is and long to capture that moment in a photograph. She looks beautiful, but he feels as if there is something more—something mysterious and hidden behind a painted façade.
Her name is Lucy Weasley, he realises, after the paparazzi gather around her and yell questions at her, which seem to be something to do with her latest boyfriend cheating on her with her cousin, or something. She looks calm and cool, telling them all that it's none of their business and carrying on dancing with whoever she's with.
Dennis raises his camera, and it is poised to get a perfect shot, whether or not Lucy moves a lot.
"Excuse me," she walks up to him, obscuring the lens with a fingernail painted silver. "I don't remember giving you permission to take pictures of me,"
He's stunned by the authority in her voice—she's seventeen years younger than him and yet she's standing there looking at him as though she's a Princess looking down at a little bit of dirt on her shoe.
He straightens the way he's standing. "I wasn't aware I needed to ask permission,"
"Oh, but you do," Lucy tells him. "I thought you'd know my rules."
"I don't think we've met. May I take a picture of you?" he asks.
"Of course not," she replies, and begins to slink away in her skin-tight emerald-green dress.
"My name is Dennis," he tells her before she walks away. "Dennis Creevey."
She turns around and she smirk she's wearing is irresistible to him. He forgets for a moment that she's seventeen years younger than him. He forgets for a moment that he's a thirty-four year old divorcee. All he can see is Lucy and her smirk, spread across her face like a prize that he has to earn.
(And Gabrielle and the way she used to smile, but let's not mention that, shall we?)
He returns to that club for a few nights. All he wants is a picture of Lucy, but every time he raises his camera she notices and reminds him of her rule. Every time he asks if he could take a picture, she refuses.
Still, he goes back. He doesn't go to other clubs to try and capture pictures of celebrities who will quite willingly have photos taken and spread across the world. Thing is, Lucy intrigues him. She seems quite satisfied with fame, but he can tell that something is wrong with her, something underneath the surface that she's not quite letting show.
All celebrities are like that to him, but with Lucy, he sees it more clearly. He wonders if he's the only one who sees her in that way—if he's the only one who realises that, deep down, she's hurting.
He wants to get to know her. And he wants to capture a moment of her life in a photo, so that Lucy Weasley can be pinned down onto paper. There is nothing permanent about Lucy—she flits and flies through life. Dennis wants to be the one who can finally pin her down and discover exactly who she is.
Roxanne begins to turn up at the club Lucy and Dennis inhabit. She playfully hits Dennis on the arm when she finds him.
"Why haven't I seen you for weeks?" she asks him.
He looks at her guiltily. "I've been here,"
"But hardly anyone famous comes here…" she pauses. "Oh. Dennis, don't fall into her trap."
"Trap?" he questions, raising an eyebrow.
"Lucy's air of mystery. Come on, that's why you're here, right? Everyone wants to be the one who solves that puzzle, but I'll tell you something, no one has. Well, I think Louis may have, but…"
Dennis sighs. "I just want a photograph."
"Photographs are an illusion of permanence," Roxanne says, in her best imitation of Lucy's voice. "Nothing is permanent."
"She really says that?" Dennis asks.
"All of the time. She's a bit of a pessimist, really." Roxanne looks at him staring in the direction of Lucy. "Oh, no, now you're even more keen on her. Dennis, she only hurts the guys she's with. I mean, age isn't an obstacle to her, but she doesn't love anyone that she can love…"
"What do you mean by that?" Dennis questions, intrigued. Who is it that Lucy loves? And why does she dance so energetically and smile so brightly and yet speak so coldly and feel so broken?
"I've said too much," Roxanne sighs. "I suppose I can't prevent you from chasing after her. I did warn you, though,"
"Thanks, Roxanne. How's it going with Heather?" he asks, inquiring after the girl Roxanne is in love with but who doesn't even know Roxanne likes girls.
Roxanne glares at him. "Don't even ask. Go on, talk to Lucy. I'm sure someone I know vaguely will turn up sooner or later."
By the end of her sentence, he's already gone. He doesn't care about Roxanne's warnings—someone like Lucy is impossible to stay away from.
(And then there's the fact that she sort of reminds him of Gabrielle, but that shouldn't be mentioned.)
Lucy begins to feel more comfortable around him, he thinks. He spends a lot more time with her than he did before he talked to Roxanne, and she's beginning to talk to him more.
Every time he meets her he asks if he can take a photograph of her. Her answer is always the same. To be honest, he's not really expecting her to say yes—he'd be extremely shocked if she ever did. He still wants to have that picture though. She knows that well—it's exactly why she refuses. It's fun, having him ask a question every night. Dennis knows Lucy all too well, he's figured out that he's a game to her, but he can't even bring himself to care.
One might think that Dennis and Lucy would stay friends, due to their age difference, but when you're friends with a sly, seductive girl who wears the Slytherin colours with pride, all numbers and statistics seem to fall away for Dennis, with only the feeling of his heart racing in his chest and her hand on his and his lips on hers—
Because he kisses her, doesn't he? Even Lucy can't deny that they've got chemistry, the two of them. According to Witch Weekly, it's a scandalous relationship, but neither Dennis nor Lucy care.
Dennis feels free again, like he can finally be himself. He's not alone, and that's what matters. Whether he's getting drunk, or kissing Lucy, or feeling the feel of her skin against his, or waking up in the morning and seeing her, a beautiful mess, lying next to him, he feels as free as when he first met Gabrielle.
He's nowhere near to unraveling her mystery, and he knows that, but he can't really bring himself to care. Time will tellhe reminds himself, and he believes it.
He doesn't really mind that he hasn't even taken a photograph of her yet. He has Lucy Weasley—for the time being, that is all that matters.
It's a month since the kiss and Dennis finds himself surprised that Lucy hasn't flown off and found someone else. He's thirty-four and she's eighteen and it's all so wrong but then it's not, at the same time.
He walks in on her crying, and he doesn't know what he can do.
"Lucy?" he asks, noticing her just sitting there.
She jumps at the sound of his voice—obviously not expecting him to walk in on her. He sits down next to her, so close that their legs are touching.
"Go away," she murmurs.
"No." he says. He's a gentleman, Dennis Creevey, and he doesn't leave crying girls alone. "What's the matter?" he asks.
"It's none of your business," she tells him sharply.
Dennis takes in a breath. "I'm your boyfriend, yeah, it's my business."
"You're not my boyfriend. We shag—that's not a relationship," she mutters.
Dennis moves back a little on the sofa, almost wincing. It hurts, what he just said. He thought they had something special. Evidently, he was wrong. He tries to mask the fact that her words stung more than anything.
"I care," he tells her. "I care and I want to know what's wrong."
"What's wrong is that I'm not in love with you!" she suddenly yells, and then her face turns into a look of shock—she wasn't supposed to say that. "I mean… I didn't mean…"
"I know you're not in love with me," Dennis whispers. "I know that you can't love me. Who could?"
And then there's an awful silence, one that seems to fill up the whole world but really only fills the room the two of them are inhabiting. It seems tot be the void because no one can speak or move or do anything. The two of them are just staring at each other like they've never seen the other before except it's also like they've known each other forever.
"People could love you, Dennis," Lucy replies. "Just not me. I never fall in love with the right people,"
"Nor do I," he murmurs. "It all falls apart in the end."
"I'm sorry," Lucy tells him. "I shouldn't have started this—I shouldn't have started any of these relationships when I'm in love with someone else."
She pauses for a moment. "You're in love with someone else, too, you know."
He looks at her, confused. "No. I'm not."
"When you look at me you see Gabrielle," she tells him, and he realises that. It was in the back of his mind—he didn't know it himself, but Lucy did. "I don't know how you see her in me, but you do. And you miss her, Dennis. And you can't forgive yourself for not being able to be with her and you wish that you could go back and change it all."
In that moment, Dennis realises that he does regret leaving Gabrielle. He regrets a lot of things, actually. He regrets not trying harder, not striving to be a better Gryffindor. He regrets being too caught up in superficial things that he's never noticed the things that really matter.
And he regrets never opening that envelope full of Colin's photos. He regrets that a lot, he suddenly realises.
"Thank you," he says, and he sounds confident, even though he feels as though everything is ripping apart because he's realised what a fool he's been.
"That's the only thing we really have in common," Lucy tells him. "We're both in love with people who we maybe shouldn't still be in love with."
"Who do you love?" Dennis asks her, wondering if he'll get a real answer.
Lucy sighs. "I'm in love with Louis," she pauses. "My cousin. And I know he loves me and I love him but we can't—"
"You can." Dennis tells her. "You have to. You can't throw all of that away just because of what people will think."
Lucy stares at him for a long while before replying. "I'm afraid, Dennis."
"So am I," he replies. "We're all afraid, Lucy. Because we don't know what's coming—we never know what's coming and that's absolutely terrifying. But I want someone to be happy."
"You could be happy, too," Lucy replies.
He shakes his head and smiles sadly. "It's too late for me. But I know that now. And it's okay."
And, no, not everybody gets their happy ending. Some people don't find their Prince Charming, or stay with the woman they loved more than anything. Fate is a cruel thing. Some of us are cursed—some are blessed. Dennis knows that he's not going to get his love back, and maybe things are screwed up for him. Sometimes he just wants to run away—but what has he got to run to? Nothing. And so he stays, walking onwards, his head held high, because there is no other way he can walk. If he doesn't stay strong then he will crumble, but he cannot fall. He will notfall.
He heads back to his house and finds the envelope, still hidden under the paper lining of his sock drawer. He slowly gets it out of the drawer and runs his finger along the seal, breaking it and knowing that there is no turning back. He pulls out the pictures, being careful not to leave fingerprints, and he begins to flip through them.
There is Colin, sixteen years old, laughing with Dennis whilst they're on the run. There are shots of trees as well, and Dennis knows that Colin was always a much better photographer than him. Every time he sees one of Colin, Dennis smiles and puts it aside. He looks so alive, so young. He's laughing, jumping. He's Colin Creevey and he's Dennis' brother and he's there, and alive and, oh—
Maybe it's not a happy ending, but it's something else for Dennis. Something like closure.
And he knows that if he died today, or if he lived to be one hundred and fifty, he'd have left his mark on the earth. He may not be remembered in history books like Harry Potter, or be given memorials or medals, but he will be remembered in the memories of those who he has loved and befriended.
And he's screwed up so much, he's broken hearts—broken his own—and maybe he's done everything wrong along the way, but there was one thing he always did that he will never regret.
Dennis Creevey has loved.