Smile For The Camera

Dennis Creevey held the small, black muggle camera in his hands, which were sweating and shaking uncontrollably. It had been several days since the Final Battle had ended, and Hogwarts had gone back to normal, somewhat. He could still remember the words on his older brother's dying lips, "Dennis… camera… photos…" before falling silent and still. Then Neville had come along, tried to console him as he refused to let go, and offered to help carry him and lay him down in the Great Hall. Dennis held back the tears that threatened to flow, and his fingers clenched tighter around his brother's dearest possession.

He took a deep breath and decided to open the little flap tucked at the bottom which held the contents of his brother's dying wish. His fingers slipped as they fumbled to extricate the film from the small opening, and after a few half-hearted shakes, the small black roll made its way out with a loud, pronounced clunk. Careful to shroud it in darkness so as not to destroy the quality of the photos, Dennis placed it carefully in a box and took it to the developer's.

The photos were out of focus and slightly blurred, but that was probably because they were so old. Dennis squinted at the first. He could make out a shock of long, red, fiery hair…that must have been Ginny. She appeared to be sitting on a window ledge, reading something. She looked relaxed, he could tell from her posture, and she sat tall and straight. Even though she looked so perfect, Dennis could tell it wasn't posed – Colin had never liked taking photos of people when they were aware of it. He continued to watch for a while as Ginny lifted a hand to twirl a stray lock of her around her finger before letting it go again, the strands of red falling perfectly onto her shoulder, and Dennis noticed how straight her hair was, because it didn't curl.

He had never really spoken to Ginny, but he knew she and Colin had been close since their first year together. He knew that they used to sit near each other in Charms, and Colin proudly boasted to him that he was so gifted with his spellwork, he was constantly giving Ginny tips during class when Professor Flitwick wasn't looking. It was he who had taught her the Bat-Bogey Hex, but Colin had admitted to him later on that Ginny did it better than he could ever have done. The year the Chamber of Secrets was opened, Ginny had been utterly devastated after hearing of Colin's Petrification. Fortunately, he came around, albeit after several months in a paralysed, comatose state.

The second photo he could recognize instantly. Luna Lovegood, looking as dotty as always, was spinning in circles, dancing a clumsy pirouette, her hands above her head like she was doing a ridiculous dance to music only she alone could hear. Her dirty blonde hair flew around her like a golden halo, encircling her movements as she twirled gracefully. To the average person she would have looked like she was dancing, but Dennis knew otherwise – she was most likely fanning away Wrackspurts in the air, or chasing Nargles off or something. Either way, she was slightly batty, but he didn't mind.

He could remember the first time he had spoken to her. It had been incredibly awkward, from what he could recall. He had heard from countless people about her eccentricity, but hadn't expected her to be so gentle-looking and quiet. "You're blonde," he told her. It wasn't an insult, it was more like a surprised remark. She looked at him with her protuberant, permanently surprised eyes. "I'm not," she said simply. Then, with a mild, innocent smile, she said, "I'm a dirty blonde." Dennis had roared with laughter, and remembered Luna looking at him ever so curiously with those protuberant eyes of hers, as if trying to figure out what she had said that had been so funny to him. He had decided not to tell her, as he figured it would be rather embarrassing, trying to explain the joke to such an innocent person as her. Dennis suddenly wondered where Luna was now.

He placed the photo next to him on the windowsill, smiling softly, and glanced at the next one. He almost rolled his eyes. Harry Potter, of course he would. Colin had an entire box of photos of Harry under his bed, which he constantly talked about – no, used to constantly talk about, he thought sadly. "I'm going to get them signed one day," he would exclaim in glee over dinnertime. His parents would shake their heads and sigh, and Dennis would wisely ignore him. Harry was in profile, staring out the window, and he could clearly see his startling green eyes particularly clearly from that angle. It must have been taken from below, because Harry looked a lot taller than he really was. He guessed that Colin had taken this from a staircase below, secretly watching.

The next photo made him laugh. Colin rarely took selfies, but here was one, his cheerful face grinning into the camera, looking unnaturally large, his hair in disarray. The photo was taken such that nothing else could be seen except for Colin's face. The photo was moving, so he continued to chuckle as Colin shoved his face closer to the lens. He appeared to be saying something; a long, drawling, "Helloooooooo!" He chuckled softly as he watched his brother stick out his tongue playfully and cross his eyes. Dennis wished Colin was with him right now, laughing with him as he looked at these old preserved memories.

Then he glanced at the photo beneath it and took in a sharp intake of breath. He hadn't realised that Colin took photos of him too. Dennis was asleep in the common room, his face curled into his knees as he rested in the foetal position, a book laid open on the floor nearby. Now and then, his eyelids would flicker, but he knew he was only dreaming. There seemed to be no one else around to disturb him, Dennis slept on in a quiet slumber. He figured Colin must have crept up on him and taken this photo unawares.

Dennis felt like crying again, all of a sudden. When he found Colin lying dead on the ground out in the Hogwarts courtyard, he had thought he was sleeping too, and was about to wake him and pull his older brother out of danger, until he realised the truth. In retrospect, it was impossible to have fallen asleep amidst such chaos; it had merely been wishful thinking on his part. Time and time again, he would hope that Colin was really sleeping, that he would wake up again and be able to take care of him like the older brother he was. Now that he was gone, Dennis was going to grow older than him. The idea was unfamiliar, alien, wrong to him. This shouldn't be happening, he thought. Younger brothers are supposed to stay the younger ones. Colin had always protected him, supported him, but that was all gone. From this day on, he would need to fend for his own.

He reached for the next photo, but found there were none. The film had been a short roll, after all, but he hadn't realised until this moment. Feeling like a weight had sunk onto his heart, he gathered the photos up and put them in a box, sliding it under his bed like Colin did with his own collections. He flopped backwards onto the bed, narrowly missing the bedframe which would have surely knocked him out, had he landed on it with the back of his head. It did knock the wind out of his lungs, though, and he lay there for a while, getting his breath back while he thought and pondered and…wondered.

Perhaps he would fall asleep again, and wake up to find a new photo beside him, another one of him sleeping, and he would discover that Colin was alive after all… He rolled over and took the camera in his hands again, turning it over, examining every knob and screw it had. It was rather light without the roll of film inside it. He suddenly noticed a scratch in the side of the camera, and as he peered closer, they formed words. Property of Colin Creevey, said the letters, in Colin's distinctive handwriting; he had even put a small circle on the 'i' of his given name, and the tail of the 'y' was long, curling upwards at the end in that characteristic way only Colin would do.

Perhaps I could take some photos for him, said a voice at the back of his mind. He was about to shrug off the idea when he suddenly realised what a brainwave it was. But what would he take photos of?

Then the answer came to him. The war.

He could see it all in his mind's eye now; the battle scars of the countless people who had fought, the empty spaces the enemy had created from killing…he would have to talk to those people and ask them if they agreed. He hoped they would.

He wasn't doing this for himself, though he thought it would be a good project to concentrate on and keep his mind off feeling sad about Colin's death. It was like avenging him, almost. Do it for Colin, he thought.

For the two of us.

Author's Note:

I read this fic called 'Cauterize' by Lady Altair, and it is a brilliant fic, much better than anything I could have written, basically about Dennis starting his little project and taking photos of battle scars. This is sort of like a mini-prequel to that, hope it worked. And Lady Altair, if you're out there, I hope you read this!