CN: use of swear words and potential reference to suicide.
Colin Creevey paced the corridors of The Prophet offices, their cheap and whitewashed walls creating a maze of cubicles, in a tinsy bit of a panic. He shouldn’t be panicked. He wasn’t panicked. Who was panicking?
He had just been given the OK to go to Bulgaria, leaving his Editor’s office, finally let out into the real world. He’d been waiting so long to just go. To finally do what they were paying him to do. Artistic integrity and all that bullshit.
His article was due in two days. Two days. And all he had was two days, two days, what did that even mean anymore? It was more than a life time, it was less than a lifetime.
He wanted it. And he didn’t.
He didn’t know why he was here. He’d always wanted to be a photographer, taking photos, that was his thing. Before the war, and even during the war, he’d had grand plans. Such plans.
But then the Dark Lord won. Even in their darkest moments, no one actually thought that was going to happen. Because it was impossible. Because a million to one chances always worked out. Except it didn’t. Except it didn’t.
The war, the Dark Lord’s victory, the fall of Hogwarts, they crushed Colin’s plans, friendships, ideals. They crushed his life. And here he was, twenty years onwards, working a 9 to 5 job with the Daily Prophet, editing the newspaper and writing weekly pieces on key figures of the Voldemort regime.
Who would have even imagined it? No one could imagine a world where the Dark Lord had won. No one even dared imagine that world. But it happened. And things carried on. Almost as normal.
Hogwarts still stood, albeit a different academic institution to the one that had stood before it. The Ministry still stood, albeit a different ruling/political institution to the one that stood before it. Everything was the same, but it wasn’t. That’s what got him. That’s what truly hurt him. It was how similar things were; because things shouldn’t be the same. Except they were. Everything was just a horrific parallel to what should have been. What should have been.
But despite these changes, Colin played along, desperate to survive, to forget the pains of war, the death of those he’d loved most, the freedom they had once all enjoyed. The years went by and eventually, he learned to forget.
Until that day.
At the start of the week he had started researching his weekly column. Like always. He came up with a title he knew his editors would praise: “George Weasley’s Durmstrang: a decade of sustained excellence”. If by ‘sustained’ one meant ‘cruelly reinforced’ and by ‘excellence’ one wanted to say ‘supremacist indoctrination’, yeah, the title somewhat reflected the truth. Always the truth. Always the fucking truth. No wonder he drank. No wonder he fucking drank.
In his column, Colin was going to outline how George Weasley, once a friend he held dear, came to represent everything he had once stood against, and how he transformed himself in a powerful Dark wizard whose control extended over not only over the famed Durmstrang Institution, but over the magical elites of the whole of Central and Eastern Europe. His influence reached the higher ends of the British Ministry of Magic, and he seemed to have inexplicable connections with wizards in Moscow, Cairo, and Rio de Janeiro, as attested by his correspondence. With painstaking detail and in tastelessly flowery words Colin described how George rejected his humble roots, condemned the bravery of his family and friends, climbed up the social ladder of the new social order and by fraternizing with such distinguished individuals the Parkinsons or the Lestranges eventually became first professor of Charms, then deputy headmaster, and finally headmaster of Durmstrang Academy – all before the age of forty, remaining an available bachelor and holder of numerous Gringotts accounts.
It was going to be great. It was going to be fantastic.
Deep down, Colin did not envy George. He had betrayed them, sold his soul to the regime that he had fought to prevent from happening.
His article was going to be perfect, George Weasley; the man, the teacher, the leader.
Colin thought him a coward. Did George know his little sister Ginny ended up being sold to Gregory Goyle? Did he know how his mother wept when they took his father to Azkaban? George Weasley who kept the Elder Wand on his desk like an ornament, because it meant nothing, a spoil of war. George Weasley who- a journalist should have had the words, but Colin didn’t. He was a coward, and Colin detested him.
George Weasley was a hero for fucking over everyone he loved.
That’s what Colin was going to write. He was going to write that George Weasley was a hero, a businessman, an entrepreneur, an academic, one of the greatest minds the wizarding world had ever seen. A hero.
That’s what he was going to write.
That was what he had to write.
Colin’s editor, impressed with his choice of topic, had arranged for Colin’s trip to Bulgaria to speak with the esteemed Mr. Weasley himself. Initially, Colin declined, but there was little he could do.
So he departed, wrapped in his warmest travelling cloak, his best transcribing quill in hand.
Once he reached Durmstrang, he was warmly welcomed by their deputy headmaster, Professor Kosovieyetz, who led him up a spiral of marble stairs to Professor Weasley’s office.
When the door opened, Professor Weasley was standing by the window, his back turned to Colin.
Professor Kosovieyetz cleared his throat and said something in Bulgarian, then left.
Colin braced himself. He was ready to face him. Once a friend, almost a family member, an almost identical copy of the love of his life, Fred Weasley; once a blooming young man, now a dead man
To Colin, they could never be identical. Everyone, even at the funeral, commented on how similar they were. They weren’t. They weren’t. Fred was whole, Fred was beautiful. Fred was not George. No one, nothing, could ever be a carbon copy of Fred Weasley. Because Fred would have died rather than betray his friends. Fred would have died.
Professor Weasley turned around, and Colin felt his head spin.
The paintings on the walls were staring him out. He didn’t like their eyes. They were wrong.
Before him, twenty years older, darker, paler, cloaked in heavy dark velvet, stood--
‘Fred,’ Colin croaked, his voice caught in his throat, so quiet he could barely hear it himself.
‘Hello, Mr. Creevey,’ said Fred Weasley. It was unmistakeably him. He had the same eyes, the same elegant hands, the chipped tooth, and most importantly, both ears.
Fred would have died. Colin had reassured himself, so many times over the years, that Fred would have died rather than done what George had done. What taboos do we subscribe to? Refusing to mention, to speak of the evil wicked and evil deeds of one brother to another. The taboos we live by. What Fred had done, what George had done, what who had done?
No, Fred would have died rather than betray his friends.
Except, he didn’t.
‘I believe our childhood familiarity allows us to be on first name terms. Please, call me George,’ said Fred, stretching out his hand.
Colin felt blood rush up to his head. Fred would have died. Who sold their soul just to prolong a sad and miserable existence under the regime they’d fought tooth and nail to overthrow? Who betrayed everything, everyone, they loved; just to prolong their own life? He had. So had George. Fred wouldn’t. Fred would have died.
What should he do? Play along and pretend he didn’t recognise him? Or lash out against him, spit in his face, spell it out for him: that he is a coward, that he will roast in hell? He was going to burn in that eternal frozen flame.
Or, perhaps, should be let him know how he missed those tender moments they once shared, that no one had ever loved him like Fred had, that he had never forgotten--
Colin looked down. Protected by a thick layer of glass, the Elder Wand, untouched for twenty years, lay menacing, wicked, embedded in the surface of the table. Just a spoil of war. An antique. A myth.
‘What an honour,’ Colin swallowed, shaking Fred’s hand.
It didn’t matter.
Four hours later Colin’s article lay precise and perfect on his Editor’s desk. It said what it had to say. George Weasley was a hero. George Weasley was a fucking hero.
Five hours later, Colin Creevey’s body was found floating in the river Danube.