'Can I come with you?'
'You know you can't, Dennis. You're not old enough,' Colin whispered. 'You can't go to Hogsmeade until you're a third year.'
'It's not fair,' said Dennis, disconsolately kicking at the wall of the common room. 'If I can't go with you, why did you even bother telling me? I mean if Harry is setting up a Defence Against...'
'Quiet!' ordered Colin. 'Keep your voice down. It's a secret, remember!'
'Sorry.' Dennis looked around nervously, but the Gryffindor common room was crowded and noisy, and no one appeared to be paying them any attention. 'What about the secret passages? You said that there were secret passages to Hogsmeade.'
'Yes, but they're secret, Dennis,' said Colin. 'I've asked around, but everyone I've asked has said they don't know where they are. Everyone apart from Fred Weasley, he told me about one under the desk in Snape's office. But Katie Bell overheard, and she said he was lying. Besides, according to Jack Sloper, Filch knows them all.'
Dennis sighed and slumped sadly against the wall.
'I'm sorry,' said Colin. 'Filch checks everybody's Hogsmeade letters, too. You'd never be able to get through the gate without a pass.'
Dennis scowled unhappily. 'True,' he admitted. His older brother patted his shoulder in an attempt to console him, and that was when the idea struck Dennis. 'We'll just have to make one, Colin,' he said.
'Make one?' said asked Colin. 'How?'
'I've no idea,' said Dennis, shrugging his shoulders. 'I hoped that you would know. After all, you've already got one! I watched Dad sign it for you. You're the photographer, Colin, not me. I thought … well…' He grinned at Colin. 'There are advantages to being Muggle-born, you know. We know loads of stuff that wizards don't. What if we made a photocopy? Wizards don't have photocopiers. They probably don't even know what the word means… So…'
Colin whooped, and hugged his brother. 'That's a brilliant idea, Dennis,' he shouted.
'I doubt it,' said a snide voice. Dennis looked across to see the sneering face of a third year called Romilda.
'Ignore her, I'll be back in a minute,' shouted Colin over his shoulder as he dashed up the stairs to the boys' dormitories.
Colin was back within minutes, carrying his camera case. 'My Hogsmeade letter is inside,' he whispered. 'Let's go.'
Colin didn't stop, he scampered past Dennis, heading out of the common room. Without hesitation, Dennis trotted obediently after his brother.
'Where are we going?' Dennis asked as they dashed along the corridor.
'The Camera Club Room, of course,' said Colin. 'I can't develop a photograph in the common room, can I? I've had an idea, and if I'm right I'll be able to amend the wording during the development process. The only problem is that I've only ever printed my pictures on photographic paper, and I'll need to print the copy of my letter onto school parchment.'
Dennis followed his brother down the shifting staircases to the basement, and along a dimly lit corridor. The door at the end was covered in photographs. In the centre of the door, barely visible under the waving, dancing, and in one case sulking photographs, was a sign which said "Hogwarts School Camera Club – Members only".
As they approached, Dennis pointed to the floor. A glow of light was visible under the door. 'There's already someone inside,' he said.
'It will be one of the other members,' said Colin. 'If it's Daphne Greengrass, we'll have to come back. She hates Muggle-borns, she's always calling me a Mudblood. There's no way we'll be able to make you a Hogsmeade pass if she's hanging around. She'll follow us around being horrible until we leave.'
'We could hex…'
'She's a fifth-year, Dennis. She hangs around with Pansy Parkinson, and Malfoy, and that lot. She's an evil cow, but even if we manage to hex her, we'll be in real trouble. Just keep quiet, and let me do the talking.'
Colin touched the door with his wand. 'Colin Creevey, member,' he said clearly. The door swung silently open. 'C'mon, Dennis.' He led his brother into the room.
Dennis looked around in surprise. He had known that there was a thriving camera club within the school, but he'd had no idea of the facilities. Dennis did not share his brother's enthusiasm for photography, so when Colin went off to the camera club, he amused himself by exploring the Hogwarts grounds.
The room was huge, bigger than some of the classrooms. Framed photographs lined the walls, and in one corner of the room a white drape hung artfully from the wall. Alongside the drapes were several spotlights and a stack of scenery boards, many af which almost reached the ceiling. Standing in front of the boards, with her back to the door, was an extremely tall and broad-shouldered girl. Her hair was long, black and very thick. When she turned Dennis saw: a long, slightly hooked, nose; a pale, oval face; thick, black-rimmed glasses; and a startled expression. The moment the girl saw them, she slumped, curving her spine and losing two or three inches in height.
'Hi, Fenella,' said Colin. 'This is my kid brother, Dennis. I've brought him down to see the Club Room. He claims he isn't interested, but I'm trying to persuade him. Is there anyone else here? Did you have a good summer? What was your photograph competition prompt? What're you doing?'
Dennis watched the girl reel from the onslaught of questions unleashed by his brother.
'Hello, Colin, hello, Dennis,' she began. Dennis, who had been expecting a deep contralto, was surprised by the girl's squeaky whisper. 'There's no one else here. I was alone until you two arrived. I'm trying to remove this ink mark from the sea backdrop. I'm supposed to be photographing Merfolk for the competition.' She shrugged hopelessly. 'It's a bit difficult from home. I wanted to use this backdrop for my photo, but someone has spilled black ink on it.'
Dennis followed his brother across and examined the large canvas. The photograph of a stormy sea made him feel a little queasy, but he listened with interest as his brother examined the eight foot square photograph while firing more questions at the tall girl.
'I'll help you with the ink stain,' Colin volunteered, pulling out his wand and moving to stand next to the girl, who was more than a foot taller than he was.
'Thanks,' she whispered.
'It's possible to remove or alter something during printing, isn't it?' Colin asked as they worked to remove the ink.
Dennis listened uncomprehendingly to the conversation as his brother and the girl discussed alternate photograph-fixing potions, canvas cleaning, and something called depth of field.
'This is canvas, not paper,' said Colin. 'I've only ever used glossy for my prints, because that's what I used in the Muggle world. I know I can print on parchment, but I've never tried. Is there anything I need to know? Can I make a still photo?'
'A what?' asked Fenella.
'A still photo,' Colin repeated. 'You know, one that doesn't actually move?'
'A still photo?' said Fenella. 'Of course you can't, Colin. Whoever heard of a photograph that doesn't move? That's just silly.' Dennis noticed that her voice was returning to a more normal volume and pitch as she warmed to her subject.
'Are you sure?' Colin asked. 'What if I photograph a vase and don't move the camera, for example?'
'That's not a still photograph, Colin,' Fenella said. 'It's a photograph of a still object, so of course it won't move.'
'Excellent,' said Colin. 'Thanks, Fenella.'
Using the excuse that they would leave Fenella in peace, the Creevey brothers retired to one of the darkrooms and Colin locked the door.
'I don't want her to know what we're doing,' said Colin as he fixed his Hogsmeade letter to the wall. It took him some time to set up his camera and lights, and longer to take the photograph. Eventually, he announced that he was happy, turned off the lights and began the development process.
'She was a bit weird,' said Dennis as he peered along the shelf of photographic potions.
'Fenella isn't weird,' said Colin sharply. 'She's really nice. I like her.'
Even in the strange red glow of the dark room, Dennis could see how annoyed his brother was. He decided to find out more.
'What year is she in, six, or seven?' Dennis asked.
'We joined the Camera club together, when we were both first years,' said Colin.
'She's in your year?' spluttered Dennis disbelievingly. 'She must be nearly six foot! And you're not even close to five feet yet. Is she really only fourteen? She's not a Gryffindor, either. What house is she in?'
'She is in my year, and she's a Slytherin, if you must know,' said Colin defensively. 'They're not all racist gits like Malfoy. I joined the camera club in my first week at school, so did Fenella. We were nervous little first years…'
'I bet she wasn't actually little, even as a first year,' said Dennis.
Colin smiled. 'True, but that doesn't matter. Even Ginny is taller than me this year. Girls grow up before boys do,' said Colin forcefully.
'So…' Dennis began hopefully. Colin filled in the silence.
'When I was a first year, I didn't know we weren't supposed to talk to Slytherins. Obviously, I didn't know anybody else in the camera club, and neither did she. She's a Pureblood, which is useful. She knew a lot more about magical photography than I did in first year, but I've almost caught up. And she gets picked on because of her size, just like we do!'
'Okay, I'm sorry I was rude about her,' apologised Dennis. 'But, blimey, Colin, you'd better watch it. If you go on like that about a girl, people will think that you fancy her!'
Colin glared. 'Do you want me to make you this Hogsmeade Pass or not?' he asked threateningly. 'I couldn't have done it if Fenella hadn't told me the formula to fix true black ink onto parchment.'
'Of course I want you to make it,' said Dennis. 'I didn't realise that you fancied her!'
'I don't,' Colin protested.
'It's probably just as well,' said Dennis. 'After all if you wanted to kiss her you'd need a set of stepladders.'
Colin burst out laughing. 'Give me a hand with this, will you? We need to alter two words before the potion dries and the ink is permanently fixed. If we mess up, we'll have to start all over again.'
Argus Filch glared at the brothers. Dennis licked his lips, and looked nervously through the gate; it was only yards away, and was invitingly open. He wondered if he should simply make a run for it.
Filch grumbled, and ran his finger carefully across Dennis's forged pass. The Hogwarts caretaker was muttering under his breath as he read it.
PERMISSION for VISIT to HOGSMEADE for
Student name: Dennis Creevey
This document hereby serves to state the aforementioned Third-year student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is permitted to visit the village of Hogsmeade at such a time that the school arranges, and with the signature of the undersigned parent or guardian.
The student shall abide by all such rules & regulations relevant to such expeditions and set by the school as per article 528/Z of the 1714 Edict.
Print Name: John Creevey
Signature J J Creevey
'Is this yours?' Filch asked.
'Er,' Dennis began, quailing under the caretaker's hostile gaze.
'It was bad enough last year,' said Colin angrily. 'You told me that I couldn't possibly be a third year. You said I was too small! And now you're doing the same thing to my brother! I'll tell you what! We'll do what I had to do last year. We'll see what Professor McGonagall has to say, shall we? I'm sure she'd love to be dragged down here again. Just to confirm how old my brother is.'
'Please hurry up, Mr Filch. We want all to go to Hogsmeade and you're holding up the queue!' said Ginny Weasley politely.
Dennis turned and caught the ghost of a wink from Ginny. She was with three boys, none of whom were Gryffindors. One stood proprietarily close to her, the other two stood behind. The boy next to Ginny was black-haired and well dressed. His colleagues were also dark haired. One was relatively short and insignificant-looking (but still a lot taller than he and Colin); the other was even taller than Fenella, was very broad, and looked rather thuggish.
'What's the problem, Mr Filch?' Ginny asked sweetly. 'Colin is a fourth year, like me. And his brother is a third year.' Ginny grabbed the black-haired boy's hand and squeezed it. 'That's right, isn't it, Michael?'
'Yes,' the boy confirmed. 'That's right, fourth year and third year, aren't they, Anthony? Terry?'
'Yes,' the smaller boy confirmed. His big and burly companion merely grunted and nodded.
'Huh,' Filch grumbled. He took one final look at the two Hogsmeade permission letters and, unable to find a flaw in them, thrust them back at the Creevey brothers. They strode rapidly out from the school.
'I hope you enjoy yourselves in Hogsmeade,' Ginny shouted after them as Filch carefully examined her own pass.
'We will, thanks, Ginny,' said Colin.
'Yeah, thanks, Ginny,' said Dennis.
'Good job Ginny's new boyfriend backed her up,' said Colin.
'I think Filch would have let us through anyway,' Dennis told his brother staunchly. 'You were brilliant, Colin. Threatening him with McGonagall was a great idea. Now, let's find this pub. What's it called?'
'The Hog's Head,' said Colin.