We need to talk about Colin Creevey.
I know that the Battle of Hogwarts was the emotional equivalent of getting shanked 86 times by a nice blonde British woman. I love you, J.K. Rowling, but hot damn, my 17-year-old human self was not prepared for the slaughter of all of our faves, and there are some deaths to this day that I wake up in the middle of the night with a thirst for vengeance. And it was because of all these prominent deaths — Fred, Lupin, Tonks, Dobby — that we were all pretty emotionally numb by the time we were assaulted with what was arguably the most heartbreaking death in the entire series: Colin Creevey.
Here is what we know about sweet little Colin: this human labradoodle was way too excited about life. He was enamored by Harry, ridiculously passionate about photography, and impossibly supportive of his little brother Dennis and his friends. He was a Muggle-born who had no idea magic was a thing for 11 years, and like most Muggle-borns, was probably scared sh*tless when he first ended up at Hogwarts among kids who had known about magic their entire lives — among some kids who, to his surprise, resented him for his very existence.
Let's talk about Colin's first year. His whole life he's been a little weird, and he knows it, and finally he has the relief of an explanation. But after the blind faith he put into Hogwarts, it immediately betrays him — he is among the victims petrified by the basilisk when it snuck up on him and looked at him through the lens of his camera. He literally stares into the eyes of death at 11 years old. But Colin is a Gryffindor. Colin chalks it up to bad luck, shakes it off, and comes back for more.
Let's talk about Colin's second year. Sure, there's a mass-murdering wizard psychopath on the loose that is ripping knives into portraits and breaking into the dorms, but Colin loves school, and he loves his friends, and he freaking loves magic, so he maybe doesn't tell his parents, and that's the end of that.
Let's talk about Colin's third year. His little brother Dennis is starting and he is bursting at the seams with Creevey pride. But there was a Dark Mark in the sky at the Triwizard Tournament, and things at Hogwarts are shifting. There is a strange wind on the horizon, and it is shifting out of his favor; maybe this is the first time Colin starts to hear the word "Mudblood" and understand what it means. Things are getting more tense when he passes certain Slytherins in the corridor. People are a little bolder about jinxing the Muggle-born kids behind their backs. And Colin does what he can, protects his brother, and perseveres, managing even to convince his parents to let him return after the straight-up murder of a boy not much older than he is at a school sanctioned event.
Let's talk about Colin's fourth year. He and his brother join the D.A. without question, compromising their safety and their lives to fight back for a school that didn't seem to want them from day one. Despite all the prejudice against him, despite the jeers and the cruelty and the fear, his faith in this school — and in Harry, whose name is getting raked through the mud — is unshakable as ever.
Let's talk about Colin's fifth year. The prejudice is not subtle, but overt — and dangerous. The D.A. has been forcibly disbanded, and the stakes have never been higher. He feels cut off from his friends. He stops carrying his D.A. coin because he can't stop staring at it all day. He and his brother are sending letters to their parents that are riddled with lies, because yes, Hogwarts has gone to hell, but they remember what it was like in the glimmer of those first few perfect months and they have the kind of hope that just can't be crushed. They have to stay. They have to stand with Harry.
And then Dumbledore dies. At some point Colin realizes he missed the D.A. call that Luna and Neville answered during the Death Eater attacks, and his remorse is crushing. He attends Dumbledore's funeral, not knowing that it will be the last time he is welcome at Hogwarts for the rest of his life.
We can't talk about Colin's sixth year. There wasn't one. Colin and Dennis, like all the other Muggle-borns, were not just banned from Hogwarts — they were suddenly caught up in the middle of a war that had nothing to do with them. It is incredibly rare for a Muggle family to have two magically-inclined children. The mere fact that Colin was alive at the beginning of the Battle of Hogwarts implies that he and his family, surely among one of the new Ministry's top targeted Muggle borns, were on the run for the better part of the year with two underage magic users who had the Trace on them. There was no apparating. There were no magical bottomless carry-all bags with tents and supplies, or protective spells, or anywhere logical to hide. There was only survival, and that same unshakable faith that Colin had in Harry before he even met him.
We all know how this story ends, but let's talk about that, too. Let's talk about how after all of this — the threats, the attempts on his life, the betrayal of the one place he held dear — the Colin we knew should have already been dead. That optimistic, persevering, ridiculous human that we met six years before should have been utterly crushed. He had every right to be bitter. He had every right to be terrified. He had every right to turn his back on the Battle of Hogwarts, and refuse to fight for the school that never bothered to fight for him.
Instead, Colin didn't just come back to fight for Hogwarts. He came back twice. And this is all he gets to show for it, as Harry walks through the carnage:
"Then Neville nearly walked into him. He was one half of a pair that was carrying a body in from the grounds. Harry glanced down, and felt another dull blow to his stomach: Colin Creevey, though underage, must have sneaked back just as Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle had done. He was tiny in death."
Three lines. Colin is dead, and it is an afterthought — in the novel, in Harry's mind. It is a blow that he is incapable of feeling, and quite frankly, one that we couldn't feel when we were reading it at the time. There was so much else going on that this poor kid remains overlooked by the fandom even to this day.
So let's talk about Colin's death. Let's talk about the youngest victim of the Battle at Hogwarts. Let's talk about the kid who never stopped believing. Let's talk about the boy who followed his friends to the end of the earth, and asked for nothing in return. Let's talk about Colin, because he deserved more than three lines, and a hell of a lot more than the Wizarding world ever gave him credit for.
Images: Warner Bros; Giphy