Chapter 1 : The Giant Squid
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It is the year 2003, the day after the fifth anniversary of the great Battle of Hogwarts, and two young men are sinking in their memories.
Dennis Creevey is broken. He remembers that day, when his brother dies and his hero fell. He remembers banging on the walls of his locked house, helpless, wandless, hopeless. It was only later that he felt the shame.
When his brother, his mentor, his ally, his best friend was killed, he felt it as a physical blow. Then came the emptiness. Colin had escaped, taken the train to Hogsmeade, never to return. Such brutal words, which slice Dennis, cut him to the quick with every syllable. Never. To. Return.
Colin wasn’t a well known hero. He never burned with a blaze of glory, he wouldn’t be mentioned in the same group as Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom. But Colin was remembered. Dennis made sure of that.
Every Sunday for his last three years at Hogwarts, Dennis walked to the grand memorial and payed tribute to his brother. Not with flowers, but with pictures. A motley sort of scrapbook, constantly moving, showing Colin that somewhere he is remembered. Dennis Creevey’s life is preserved forever in a kaleidoscope of images half buried in the sweet-smelling Hogwarts earth.
Blaise Zabini is lost. He remembers that day, when his faith shattered and his truths were only lies in disguise. He remembers turning his back on his housemates, refusing to flee with the rest. He remembers battling through his friends, their mothers, their fathers, to reach the Great Hall; his heart was pounding with the exhilaration of betrayal. Burned forever into his mind, haunting his most feverish nightmares, is the scene that awaited him.
Bodies. Littering the floor, spread into rows like a legion of the dead. His classmates. Students younger that he. Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, Gryffindors. But there are no Slytherins. He is filled with shame, for he knows that in the end his house is the cowardly one. They flee towards the powerful side, take the easy way out. And as a result, the Slytherin bodies are still alive and breathing, shrunken hearts still beating cunning minds still working. They slither from the building like startled snakes.
Blaise knows that he is wrong to blame them. They were, after all, told to leave. He did not expect any of them to fight against their families, but he had always hoped to be surprised.
There he was, and he tried his best to redeem his house. Blaise seeked out Madam Pomfrey and demanded to be put to work. He saw more pain that awful day, pain in every form, than in the past two years of healing combined. Because of what he saw that day, Blaise Zabini, aged 20, is the best healer St. Mungo’s has seen for years.
Dennis travels by train, Blaise via Floo, into the Three Broomsticks. Quietly, they weave their way towards the vast Phoenix Monument, set in the middle of the Hogwarts courtyard. The golden phoenix is consumed by fire every year, only to regrow, identical in every way, but with one more feather on its crest. It is a tragic thing, but hopeful. A terrifyingly long list of names adorns its surface: people who gave their lives for hope of a better future. Not just humans, though; Several centaurs were memorialized: Bane and Thornin among others; and house elves, whose leader, Kreacher, still lives in the Hogwarts kitchens. Set in the middle, across the phoenix’s breast, is a larger, more familiar name: Harry Potter - the Boy who Died. Privately, Blaise thinks that this is a bit dramatic. After all, Harry had only been dead for, what? Five minutes?
Blaise stands for a long time in front of the monument, searching for familiar names and saddened by how many he finds. He turns at the sound of footsteps to see a small boy carrying a large bag. They do not speak, but rather examine the statue in silence. It is in full glory, for it was created on this day, five years ago.
The sun shines from a cloudless sky, the sort of pale, irresolute sunlight that one sees in early May, making the phoenix shimmer as if it is on fire. Dennis kneels at its feet and unearths his collection of pictures. He places more down underneath his brother’s name. Pictures of his parents, pictures of the monument, pictures of himself, and one picture of the giant squid. He knows Colin will understand. He gets up and brushes the dirt from his hands, like the priest at Colin’s funeral. Dust to dust, he thinks. He turns to his silent companion.
“Who are you here for?” he asks. Blaise takes a moment before answering.
“No one,” he says, finally. “Or everyone, I guess.”
“Were you there? At the battle, I mean.” Dennis looks hard at the man, trying to place him. He seems vaguely familiar.
“Yes,” Blaise says, and, as always, feels the shame of his house. “I snuck back in. I was a Slytherin, you see.” It feels good to open up to this stranger. The boy is nodding in understanding, looking at Blaise not with the disgust that he has come to expect, but with admiration. Dennis looks at him and Blaise notices that his eyes are kind, but with far too much weariness for one so young.
“That must have taken guts,” he says, finally. “To go it alone, I mean.”
"It did.” Blaise’s voice is quiet. He has never thought of himself as brave, only as a Slytherin.
“I’m Dennis Creevey, by the way,” he offers, “I come here for my brother, Colin.”
Blaise’s long fingers wrap around his hand.
“Blaise Zabini,” he says. “I come here to remember.” Dennis nods, and releases the other man's hand briskly.
“I think,” he says, carefully, “that I’m done here.” He hesitates, then: “Would you like to join me for a drink?” Blaise nods. He is glad to have company besides the shadows of memories that this place brings. They walk in simple silence, until Blaise speaks up.
“You and your brother... you were in that daft club against Umbridge, right? Dumbledore’s Army?"
“Yeah. Yeah, we were,”answers Dennis, and grins at the memory. “Were you in her squad thing? Those knobs that busted us?”
“I was” says Blaise, and the silence becomes tense as they remember this earlier war, where they were on different sides.
“Don’t you think she looked like a fat, pink, toad?” asks Dennis, and the tension disappears as they both laugh. Suddenly, Blaise stops dead and looks at Dennis with narrowed eyes. Then he cracks up and laughs deep from his stomach. It hasn’t happened in too long.
“What?!” cries Dennis, “What is it? What’s the joke?”
“You-” sputters Blaise, struggling for breath, “you were that first year! You fell into the bloody lake! I remember you, little tiny kid wrapped in Hagrid’s giant coat, huge smile on your face. I thought you were crazy!”
“It was awesome! I thought it was the best first day ever!”
“Did the squid really push you back out?” asks Blaise.
“It did. It was really slimy.” Dennis pulls a face, making Blaise chuckle. They stand, together, beside the black lake, and both smile, truly smile, for the first time in years.
“So why did you come here, today of all days?” Dennis’ voice is quiet, inquiring.
“I-” Blaise searches for words.”I wanted to remind myself. How might isn’t always right. It’s so much easier to follow, blindly. I just wanted to remember that some things are worth fighting for.” Blaise looks at Dennis shrewdly. “Were you at the battle?”
“No,” says Dennis quietly. “I’m a muggleborn. We were on the run, hiding out, when Colin slipped away. After he left, my parents took my wand. They didn’t want me go as well.” Dennis takes a deep breath then continues. “I dunno how Colin got in - he was too young...”
Blaise feels he should say something, anything, to break the silence.
“Don’t,” Dennis interrupts. “Don’t say you’re sorry. Do you know how it feels? To be older than your big brother? He’d be 21 today. But i can never think of it as his birthday anymore. Only as the day he died.” Dennis is embarrassed to find tears streaming down his face.
Blaise is embarrassed just watching him cry. He doesn’t have a handkerchief to offer, or any comforting words. So he does the logical thing, and pushes Dennis into the lake.
Dennis comes up sputtering and laughs. Blaise laughs too, laughs so hard he doesn’t notice the hand around his ankle until it’s too late, and he’s in the water as well. They float, laughing, and feel their shattered worlds begin to mend, piece by piece. Not perfectly, far from completely. They still have their scar tissue, their regrets and their sorrow. But now, however cheesy it may be, they have each other. Then, two slimy tentacles emerge from the depths and curl around them. Before they realize what has happened, they lose contact with the water. Together, they are airborne, held aloft by the giant squid.
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