Here's story for you and I hope you're having a better day than I am.
Written for the February Omniocular Challenge – and look! It’s on time!
Use the film or TV prompt (which was ‘Dogma’) however you wish, from a full scale crossover or AU combining or substituting characters or universes to the ever popular "two characters walk into a bar" to using a quote as inspiration or even just using the same title.
Title: Fighting To Explain From In-Between
Warnings: References to character death/s
Length: 1,766 words
Summary: Dennis wishes he was more like Colin, then maybe he wouldn’t be in this in-between place.
Fighting To Explain From In-Between
“You know what the dead do with most of their time? They watch the living.”
(the thirteenth (and black) apostle,
who wants the Bible corrected to include him and the fact that Jesus was also black)
Dennis and Colin Creevey did not attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the academic year of 1997-1998, yet somehow Colin ended up living in the Room of Requirement for at least five months before becoming a hero.
Dennis wishes he was more like Colin.
A letter had arrived for their parents, delivered by the postman like normal mail, warning them that following the take-over of the Ministry of Magic by a group of political extremists Hogwarts would no longer be safe for Muggleborns and that if they allowed their sons to return their safety could not be guaranteed. There was more, about how nowhere would really be safe for them, since the Ministry had a list of all students attending Hogwarts and anyone with access to that list could easily work out the blood status of the children listed, and that Hogwarts might be somewhat safer than staying in the Muggle world, but that it was their parents choice.
Dennis had stared mutely at the neat, familiar handwriting of their Head of House whilst Colin had argued, but Mr Creevey was only a milkman and Mrs Creevey a milkman’s wife and, apparently, a milkman’s children had no part to play in a war that was ‘none of their business’.
“You remember everything we learnt at DA, right?” Colin had asked as they waited in second-hand (but new to them) Muggle uniforms for the Muggle school bus to take them to the local Muggle high school. “You still have your wand with you? Constant vigilance, okay?”
Dennis remembers thinking that they hadn’t done anything bad enough for a bunch of Death Eaters to hunt them down in a building full of kids all looking the same, then that Death Eaters might think it was funny to randomly kill a lot of Muggle kids for no reason at all.
He remembers sliding his wand out of its arm sheath slightly, so that the tip poked out of the end of his blazer sleeve where Colin could see it, and saying, “Okay.”
Dennis wishes he was more like Colin, who practised wand movements with a biro, a fork, a ruler and his toothbrush whilst Dennis just used the Muggle objects for what they were meant for.
They went to the high school, but it didn’t make the memories of Hogwarts fade away, like their parents had probably hoped. People wanted to know what school they’d gone to before and why they went there when this one was close to where they lived. The teachers wanted to know why they were always behind in class, why they paused every so often when writing, moved their pens away from the page as if to dip them in something not there and frowned, and why Dennis had doodled huge squids in the margins of his science textbook.
Dennis had wrestled with trigonometry and Shakespeare, World War Two and photosynthesis, and one Tuesday after school the seat next to him on the school bus had been empty.
There had been another letter for their parents, saying I’m not sorry and I can’t leave my friends and I don’t like that world any less just because it has bad parts that don’t like me. There had been a letter for Dennis that time too, but it hadn’t contained any words, just a series of photographs. People smiled proudly at the end of a DA session, Dennis and Colin stood side-by-side in the Gryffindor Quidditch stands screaming in excitement and the giant squid waved a lazy tentacle in the air.
Dennis wishes he was more like Colin, who practised being a wizard so that he’d never forget what he was and left to fight for his place in the wizarding world as soon as he got the chance.
They didn’t get the Daily Prophet or The Quibbler in case the owl was tracked to their house and they didn’t get any letters from Colin. His parents muttered about wanderlust when they mentioned their eldest son and talked worriedly about paranoia when their youngest tried to make them plan for somewhere safe that they could go if anyone came to the house that they didn’t recognise. Dennis hadn’t cared what they said about his mental state as long as they did it.
Constant vigilance, until letters from Jimmy Peakes and Professor McGonagall and the newly created Department of Post-War Affairs say it’s over and they don’t need to be vigilant anymore. They don’t need to be anymore because the war is over and Colin is gone.
Dead people don’t need constant vigilance.
It rains at the funeral, glass beads rolling off everything and everything grey. There aren’t any photographers at funerals and Dennis thinks that’s not right, because if every other event in someone’s life is captured in colour and lights this should be too, but he can’t think of any part of this snapshot of time that should be preserved.
Dennis wishes he were more like Colin, who practised being a wizard, who fought for his place in the wizarding world and who saw a perfect picture in every moment.
The Creevey brothers were going to be a team, like the Weasley twins with their joke shop. Colin was going to be the photographer and Dennis was going to be the journalist and they were going to be the most formidable freelancing reporters the press machine had ever seen.
Colin had always loved taking photographs, especially when they went on holiday all together as a family. Dennis remembers him saying once that it wasn’t about remembering all the moments of the holiday, but about preserving them so other people could see what it was like. Dennis prefers telling stories and explaining things to people with words. He’d always believed that between the two of them they could explain anything to anyone.
(Maybe if it had been Dennis that had argued with their parents that summer and not Colin, if he hadn’t just stood and stared, they would have both gone back to Hogwarts.)
Dennis has Macbeth and biros on the IKEA desk in his bedroom and a wand strapped to his arm. He doesn’t know how to explain this strange mix of Muggle and Wizard that his is now, especially when Colin’s desk has quills and a back issue of The Quibbler. Colin wanted to be a wizard and he was a wizard, whilst Dennis just feels that a scribbled squid alongside diagrams of the liver is the best way to describe his life.
His parents ask about his GCSE coursework at the dinner table and talk about career opportunities, because, apparently, a milkman’s son can aspire to be more than a milkman if he wants to.
There’s a story bubbling behind Dennis’ lips that he wants to explain, but he doesn’t know how to. Then he realises that what he wants to explain is that he wants to explain, and he wants to explain to everyone.
“I’m going to write a book,” he announces.
His dad’s fork pauses in mid air with its mash potato load. “You have to have a proper job at the same time though,” he says, “because fiction doesn’t pay well. Unless you’re going to write textbooks, that kind of thing? Think you have to go to university for that.” He turns to Mum with a small smile. “We could get a loan.”
“A wizarding book,” Dennis says firmly. “I’m going back to Hogwarts and then I’m going to write a wizarding book.”
“No.” Dad puts his fork down and a little bit of mash potato spatters on the table cloth.
“A wizarding book,” Dennis continues, just like Colin used to do, because if they don’t stop him talking before he’s managed to explain then maybe his words will get through. “I’m going to write about what it’s like to get photographs of a strange world sent home to you by your brother and what it’s like to go to into that world yourself. I’m going to write about going to a new school that’s more different than the high school you were worried about going to, and what it’s like to have to go back to that high school where you don’t belong all over again. I’m going to write about Muggleborns and Purebloods and Halfbloods and what it’s like, I’m going to explain it, to everyone.”
“Sometimes people just don’t understand you,” his mum says quietly, looking at him with bloodshot eyes.
Dennis wishes he was more like Colin, who went back to where he belonged, but if Dennis has to stay in this in-between place then he thinks it’s a good idea to explain to people where this place is, and he’s willing to fight for the right to explain.
“It’s going to be a very good book,” Dennis tells her. “It’s going to have photographs.”
Somewhere, in another kind of in-between place, Colin wishes he was more like Dennis, who always chooses the right time to argue and argues well.
He’s not watching from ‘above’ them or the clouds, or next to them and unseen, but something of both and neither. He’s not Colin-shaped or angel-shaped or shaped like anything he thought dead people would be shaped like before he became dead himself. Really it’s not any shape at all, more like a floating light, for a lack of any other description.
He wishes he had a camera so he could take a picture of it, then people might understand what he means. He wishes he was more like Dennis so that he wouldn’t need a camera and he could just tell people and they’d know.
Another light floats over. The lights recognise each other like sheep can recognise other sheep. The first light is a Colin-light and this light is a Rufus-light and both of them are unique. Colin talks to Lavender-light sometimes, when they’re both watching people in the Gryffindor Common Room, and Lavender says that it’s because they all have their own auras.
How’s things? Rufus asks.
Colin likes Rufus. He’s talkative and he has a way with words, a bit like Dennis.
My brother’s going to write a book, Colin says.
Books don’t always get things right, Rufus warns, sounding unimpressed. Sometimes they don’t even get the colours right.
This one will be right, Colin tells him confidently. It’s going to have photographs.