Author's note: So this fic started its life as a tag ramble on tumblr. It very, very quickly got way too long for that to be feasible, as tumblr has a tag limit that I've never bothered to calculate but is shorter than this. So I turned it into fic but kept the style (though now with actual commas) and ended up with this. It's, well, meta in fic form is a good name for it really. I really love the Creevey brothers, Dennis especially, and I really love the idea of cultural upheaval in the revolution in Wizarding Britain and so this kind of thing happens. You could consider it a sort of sequel to 'we rose with voices ringing' though both are standalone pieces.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling. No money is being made from this work.
Colin takes pictures. He takes pictures of everything and of everyone and he keeps all of them. His early ones aren't great - he's eleven, what can you expect? - but he keeps all of them anyway. Photography is something that makes sense. It's something that's magical and familiar all at the same time, something that bridged the gap between his home life and his school life, a permanent reminder that this is his real life now. (A real life where pictures move and where you need special film to capture ghosts and can you blame him for sometimes waking up and needing those pictures to remind himself it's not just the greatest dream of his life?) He wants to remember every second of this, every detail, every hallway, every student, every spell. So he takes pictures.
Dennis doesn't, but that's okay. He doesn't need to. He's got a good memory and he's more prepared for the culture shock than Colin was. Having a big brother pays off sometimes even if Dennis isn't about to admit that in Colin's hearing, no sir. (Because yeah, okay, fine, he loves Colin even if he's at an age where that's the ultimate four letter word, but that doesn't mean he's gonna say it. He's a Gryffindor; he's got his pride.)
They grow up and the stack of pictures under Colin's bed gets higher. He can't be bothered to organize them, doesn't care enough to sort them into years or locations or any other convenient system. He keeps them in shoeboxes and gets older students to shrink them until he learns to do it himself. They're stacked under his bed in teetering towers held up by magic and miracles (and really, is there a difference between the two?).
Colin knows Hogwarts as well as anyone - better than most because where they just look he records. And as they get older things start cracking. Their new world, their shining world of possibilities and delights, starts looking a little tarnished, and it's hard to ignore the feeling that they're not wanted. They're not about to leave, absolutely not, but that doesn't mean they don't notice things. They're Gryffindors, not idiots, and it's hard to ignore the sneers sent their way. But they are Gryffindors, so they glare right back and both of them get written up again and again for fighting in the corridors.
When he's fourteen Colin starts using his camera differently. He's heard of photojournalism - who hasn't heard of photojournalism? - but he never really thought about trying it himself. He does now. He takes as many pictures as always but now they're not just of corridors or teachers accidentally making ridiculous faces. He takes pictures of educational decrees and abuses of power, of bleeding hands and scared faces. (He doesn't take pictures of the DA; he's got a brain and there are things he doesn't need to be told.) He takes pictures and stores them under his bed and labels the boxes 'evidence.' No one notices anything different, no one but Dennis who's know his brother forever. Things keep getting worse and Colin keeps taking pictures. He gets more than just the horrors, gets the fun stuff too because everyone could use the levity. He gets the portable swamp and the nifflers and the best picture of the Weasley twins' dramatic exit anyone's ever seen. (He gets a picture of Marietta and her pimples too, gets a picture and prints it out twice as big as usual and isn't sorry at all.)
And so it goes. The war at Hogwarts, the silent hostilities that get less and less silent as time goes on, gets documented in pictures stored in shoeboxes under a bed in Gryffindor Tower. It's accountability and condemnation and truth. A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, and Colin knows that better than anyone. (A camera is too - he's never forgotten what happened his first year. And if he keeps his eye glued to the viewfinder for more reasons than just journalistic integrity, well, who can blame him really?)
And then the battle happens. The battle happens and it puts an end to everything. The battle happens and Voldemort is killed and Harry Potter wins and the terrible year is over. The battle happens and Colin petrifies Dennis and ties him up for good measure and doesn't say goodbye and doesn't come back. Dennis doesn't forgive him for a long time for that. Not for leaving or even for tying him up - Colin wouldn't be his brother if he hadn't done those things and Dennis is older now, old enough to admit out loud how much he cares about his brother. Dennis doesn't even blame him for not coming back. But not saying goodbye, that's a different matter. Dennis doesn't forgive that for a long time.
(Dennis doesn't forgive a lot of people. Funny, really, how no one ever paid any attention to his anger. Funny, really, how they still don't despite everything.)
At the funeral Dennis gets a trunk filled with shoeboxes and he packs it away and refuses to look at them. He's busy and he's mourning and he's got a world to rebuild. He knows what's in those boxes anyway and they don't need them. They don't need Colin's accountability, don't need his backup plans, don't need his evidence because they won and everything is going to be okay.
Only then it's not okay. They won and things aren't changing. And maybe people aren't calling him names anymore, and maybe no one sneers in public these days, but Dennis didn't spend years of his life being hated without learning to read between some lines. His friends tell him he's overreacting, tell him to be patient, tell him that there are more important issues to solve and he thinks he might hate them a little bit for it. Because things aren't changing and they're not going to and Harry Potter failed them. Harry Potter failed Colin. That's unforgivable.
So Dennis digs out those shoeboxes, digs them out and sorts through them. He doesn't mean to look through everything, doesn't mean to see the ones from the early days, the ones where they're all happy and everything's fine. But Colin couldn't, wouldn't organize anything and he finds the early ones anyway, finds snapshots of laughing students and deserted corridors and Harry fucking Potter. He finds himself transfixed, staring at the glossy photos without quite seeing them. And he's not quite sure why he does it but eventually he grabs a box at random and apparates to Hogwarts. He sorts through the box and wanders through the castle and tracks down every single one of those pictures. (The ones with a happily smiling Harry Potter bring bile to his throat and he swallows with difficulty and promises to make him pay for failing them.)
He spends hours wandering the castle with that shoebox, spends hours prowling the halls and doubling back on himself and rediscovering lost corners. And when he reaches the last one he holds it up and looks from the picture to the wall and smiles a little. Goodbye he says, because Colin didn't, because one of them has to, because he understands. And then he closes the box gently and leaves the school and apparates home.
The next day he shows up in Diagon Alley, armed with box upon box of damning evidence, ready to make everyone listen at last.