Summary: Robert Creevey doesn't really have dreams any more
Fandom: Harry Potter
Spoilers and/or Warnings: Deals with canon character death
Title, Author and URL of original story: Living the Creevey Life by nopejr, http://nopespace.com/hp3/ltcl.htm
A lot can happen in twenty years, Robert Creevey thinks, gulping whisky in the kitchen before his wife wakes. He used to imagine that he could go from being the guy who only delivers the milk to the one owning his own dairy farm. He used to imagine leaning on the fence, watching the cows beyond it ripping up clumps of grass and chewing them down to cud. He used to imagine both of his sons becoming strong, full-grown men.
Robert Creevey doesn't really have dreams any more.
It traces back to the day he discovered his sons, both gifted in their own way, were part of world separate from his own, a world of dragons and Dementors, wizards and Dark Lords. Colin went first and Robert was proud of him. It seemed to make sense when there was someone there to explain words like wizard and Muggle and explain the difference between the two. Robert was not a terribly intuitive man but he had known he was sending Colin somewhere he would never understand. That was why Robert gave him the camera, really, and Colin had dutifully taken pictures of all the wonderful things he saw until surely his peers must have thought him ridiculous. Robert loved him all the more for doing it. The pictures had made the whole thing seem less awful until Dennis went too, eyes shining, and Robert had to accept that even if he could build that dairy business there would be no one to pass it on to. His sons would be off doing jobs he could barely pronounce.
He sent them both off to a school of wonders and terrors beyond his imagining. He worried about them every minute of every day of every term and the mere fact that they kept in touch via owl was enough to make the worry lodge itself permanently in his throat. After the thing with Colin being petrified in his first year, Robert almost didn't let Dennis go at all – but his son begged and pleaded to be allowed to enter the world his brother obviously loved so much that Robert bit his lip and nodded his assent.
He met them at the start of every holiday and saw them grown a little taller, a little stranger, a little stronger. Colin went from hero-worshipping someone who had apparently saved the world (Robert hadn't realized it was in such urgent need of saving) to someone in training for conflict himself (Robert hadn't realized that so much of this 'magic' they were learning was combat-based, and he wrote an angry letter to the Headmaster which came back with only meaningless assurances and a bag of jelly beans so disgusting that Robert had only eaten one, which tasted like vomit).
He watched their independence flourish, and had felt proud and amazed and sad and a little hurt each time they faced the world without him. Robert remembers Colin after his fourth year, sitting on the porch and playing with a gold coin. Robert sat down next to him and waited until the story of how six of his friends had gone off to fight some enemy came spilling out of him. Robert's blood turned to ice as he realized that Colin was ashamed, that he felt as though he had failed his friends and himself by not being there. Robert could see his son turning into a man right before his eyes, but he's doing it in a world where apparently teenagers and political extremists routinely infiltrate government buildings and Robert is not comfortable with this thought at all. When he'd asked if Dennis was mixed up in this Colin had told him, "We all are. We all have to be." Robert had ached.
He taught them the value of rules and the value of knowing when to break them -- and then he had to accept the consequences of doing so. Colin was desperate to go back to Hogwarts for his sixth year despite the letter talking about "blood-status" and "Muggle-born registration" and this time, when it might really have mattered, there was no one friendly from the school to explain what this meant. Robert never knew until much later that his sons were hated in this wonderful world that had taken them away from him. They were loathed and despised in the life they had chosen to replace his, and when he found out, Robert wanted to burn the whole wizarding world to the ground for daring to treat his sons so callously.
Robert had coached his sons through exams, reading them questions out of books whose pages turned themselves, whose words danced in his vision. He wonders if Colin died because he learned these lessons too poorly, or because he learned his father's lessons of compassion and integrity too well. Robert watched them both learn, but will never know if the lessons were the right one.
Robert Creevey sent his sons off to a school that almost killed them both, over and over again, and he never said anything until eventually it did kill. He taught them what values he has, to be kind, courteous, compassionate - and they took it as a battle cry.
Robert wants to be proud of him but all he can think is that Colin, little Colin is dead. All these bodies in the hall of a school he had never been invited to before, not for a sports match or a parents conference, and Robert wants to scream – where were the adults? Why were the children of this magical world the only ones who fought for it? Why was this allowed to happen?
In the Great Hall, staring at Colin's body, Dennis was sick with himself for leaving his brother alone but Robert was just grateful that this time Dennis didn't follow Colin, didn't disappear. Robert clasped Dennis' shoulder and he was, and is now, grateful and grateful and grateful.
Robert always thought he'd get to watch his boys move out, first one, then the other, taking jobs he half understood and jobs he wouldn't at all. He was sure he'd have to smile and nod when they visited, pretend he could follow the fast flurry of words passing overhead. He wanted to make them thick sandwiches like he used to, so big they took two hands to hold and stretched the mouth to eat, though with his sons full-grown it would be less of a challenge for them, of course. He used to see the two men sat at his table and in a waving of hands, a twist of phrase, a laugh, a grin, a scowl, see echoes of the boys they were.
This future is not his. This future is not going to happen.
Colin is laid to rest in the church graveyard where his grandparents are buried. Some of them are there, including that Harry Potter hero Colin had talked about all those years ago. Robert can't bear to speak to him, can't even look in his direction. Instead he keeps his eyes on his son's coffin as it is lowered into the ground.
Robert can feel the ache in his legs and know that he has grown old. Colin never will.
Robert places his whisky glass back down on the kitchen table. Outside, Rusty Bob Two barks and growls. There is a loud, joyful laugh and Robert stands, a little bewildered, and goes to the window. There in the back garden Dennis is playing with the dog as he and his brother used to when they were still very young. R.B. Two tugs at a toy and Dennis laughs again. Robert sinks against the window frame and reminds himself that no matter what rough magic the world has thrown at them, he still has Dennis – and Dennis lives in his world now. That gift is not worth the death of his other boy but it is a gift nonetheless.
And Robert always was a man to accept whatever blessings he was offered.