Chapter 1 : Focus and Exposure
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A boy walks into a pub.
"Firewhiskey, neat with a twist."
A man walks out.
A man walks into a pub.
His world floats past as he orders another drink. Everything is slowly caving in.
Blood-shot eyes, with the smell of vomit in his breath, he leaves the pub again, this time, a boy.
He flies from one state to another, forever caught in the confusion that is adolescence. Forever half-man and half-boy, he wonders often, if he was ever anything on his own.
These nights, he frequents pubs. Small, dinghy ones, tucked away in the corners of cobble stone alleyways. In the darkness, he feels like he can taste freedom on his tongue, and it is bittersweet, at best. He stumbles down streets, tripping in the shadows, sobs racking through his ribs. Dennis Creevey is lost; aimless and lost
The pub is full of strange men with funky breath, a mixture of alcohol and garlic. She scrunches up her nose. She isn't used to this, whatever it is, but she has heard that it is a temporary, but effective coping mechanism.
Her world is spelt in tomorrows.
"Tomorrow, I will visit your grave, Mam," she whispers to herself, in promise.
But she can't bring herself to accept that bodies that once ran with blood are now rotting, slowly disintegrating, becoming one with the Earth. The frailty of death is too much for her.
One drink will do for tonight, and every night forward.
Romilda Vane just wants to run away.
A girl at the bar leans towards him seductively. Thick, nicotine fog swirls out of plump lips, and the smell of cigarettes is enough to make him physically choke. Suddenly, he's seven again, listening to his parents screaming about something or the other, ears pasted against the wood grain door. He grabs his drink and shuffles away, muttering a mass of incoherent apologies to the startled woman.
He forces himself to think of it. The shouts were so loud that they believed sometimes, that they'd both burst from all the sort of things they had to say to each other. Colin and Dennis, in their small fortress, fearing the day their parents would split. It happened not shortly afterward. The last picture they ever took as a family is the last picture the brothers have with mum. It's one of those rare photos, but not because of her -- it was him.
The silver contraption was glued to Colin's eyes from the moment he got it.
A second-hand hunk of chunky metal, the best that could be scrounged from his parents' paltry savings, it was his most favourite thing in the whole world.
His finger was hovering above the button, when their father said to him, "I think you're going to miss the world flying by with that lens stuck to your eyes."
He had a point. Sometimes, Dennis wondered if he truly saw things.
Sheepishly, Colin pulled himself away from his camera and set it on a rickety stool
that their mother used in the kitchen.
Dennis' cheeks were hurting from all of the smiling when the set-up finally worked. The room was momentarily drenched in white light as the flash flooded their eyes.
"So that's how it feels," grinned Colin.
When he met Harry Potter, he took a photo with him.
When he met Ginny Weasley, who was barely a fluttering name in the wind back in the time, he took her photo.
Dennis has heard they're together now. They'd made it when Colin hadn't.
It didn't matter to Colin who it was on the other side of the lens. He just took the photos. Dennis once asked him if he wasn't worried about all the film he was exhausting. They were cooped up in his make-shift developing room that summers' day, talking about Hogwarts as he showed Dennis photos. He'd said that he could never play God.
"Everyone deserves a chance at preserving memories. Photographs are memory stamps, so who am I to decide who's worthy?"
Dennis thinks of a photo of Colin and him, with Colin's arm wrapped around his frame -- his first Hogwarts train ride. Just the mere thought of the photographs drags the right upper corner of his lip upward in a sardonic smile. How things change!
Preserving memories, helping recall them, and then pressing them into the folds of the mind is what Colin did best.
They used to dream all the time, Colin and Dennis, Dennis and Colin! They used to dream that they would travel the world, run to each corner of it, swim in all of the oceans, taste food from six continents. They were boys with wanderlust stitched into their souls, like imprints on their hearts.
"I want to be a photographer, like you," Dennis sighed on countless occasions. Colin was so impossibly good at it.
"You already are," he said, kindly. "Eyes like shutter. Mind like lens. Your soul is your canvas."
"But," Dennis stuttered, raising a feeble finger at his old camera.
"This?" Colin asked, smiling as his fingers closed in on the button.
When they developed it, he showed his brother the photo, his features transitioning into a smile.
"You see what we've done?" He asked, unable to let the pride from bleeding into his voice.
"We stopped time a for second. We've created a... a... a time machine," he breathed wondrously.
And when Dennis closes his eyes in a dark, shady pub, even today, it almost feels like it. They created a time machine.
The photo was a promise to teach Dennis how to preserve memories in the preservative of time.
He drains his glass and orders another. He drinks that one fast, and then asks for another. He doesn't earn much, but it'll do. He needs something to blur out his world.
"Isn't that a bit much?" The Irish twang in Romilda Vane's voice is evident, as she takes the empty bar stool, next to him. But she doesn't stop him. She orders her own.
"Fill what's empty. Empty what's full," he murmurs. He doesn't mind her company, really. He remembers her from school. Her dark hair is longer, and her large eyes are infinitely heavier, but that aside, she still looks the same. He remember her crying over her mother's sleeping body in the Great Hall, ext to his brother that night. It's a terrible last memory to have of someone, though he can't decide if a drunken bar meeting would be worse.
He thinks she does still look the same, he decides. He can't really see her clearly though. His eyes can't seem focus no matter how much he screws in on her form.
"What are we drinking to?"
"To silver linings that never exist."
"Do you expect any better?"
He's right. They've both lost too much in war to bother.
"To dead people."
The toasts go on, and neither can stop themselves till the bar empties out. The sticky floors and cranky bar man come into focus as Romilda Vane urges Dennis to leave.
"No." His tone is defiant, but she pulls him away, and out of the door. She is sober, in comparison to him, but she understands why he is how he is.
"Can I kiss you?" He asks abruptly, and before she can respond, his soft lips are on her. Their kiss is tender, and very wet, mixing with all the tears that are now openly streaming down their faces. It is peppered with emotion.
He pulls away.
"C'mon," she urges, as Colin stops walking at the center of the bridge. "I- I was planning to jump off this thing tonight," he tells her truthfully. "I never learnt how to swim."
She doesn't say anything, but her grip tightens just a little. For the first time, he feels like someone understands what he's really trying to say.
"Come," she whispers again, softer, after an age.
"No. He's gone, Romilda. Dead as dust, rotting with the Earth. We were supposed to go everywhere, him and I. He was going to help me take photographs. He was supposed to teach--"
His voice cracks and his face dips into his hands, sobbing.
"I know how to take photographs. I can teach you?" It comes out as a question.
He lifts his head a little, "Okay."
"Okay," she nods and threads her arm through his.
"Where are we going?" He asks.
"With any luck, forward," she says, as his lips meet hers in a gentle kiss.
This is their silver lining, and it will do for now.
This story was written for a prompt on overcoming adversity.
I'm cutting it fine with this one, what with just about half an hour or so left.
'Eyes like shutter. Mind like lens.' These lines are not mine. They belong to Parveen Sharma. The story is exactly 1,449 words, accoring to Word.
All editing and formatting issues will be taken care off after this gets validated.
Thank you for reading. Please review if you have the time! :)
House Cup '14 GO GO GRYFFINDOR!
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