Chapter 9 : Year Seven: Part Two
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Paige stared into the ancient glass cabinet, unable to fathom how timelessly beautiful the set of emeralds before her remained even after many years in storage. The necklace, bracelet and earrings were all encrusted with the green stones, the empty places between the emeralds embellished with diamonds. An elaborate tiara finished the set. It was truly fit for a princess.
Paige wasn’t even wealthy. Or pureblooded. Surely these were not meant for her to wear.
“You want to try them on?” Narcissa urged gently with a smile, stepping forward and removing the set piece by piece, gradually layering Paige with the extravagant gems. When she was finished, Paige stood before the mirror in her long white dress and examined herself.
I suppose I’d fool anyone looking like this, wouldn’t I?
“You look perfect.” Narcissa’s voice had gotten deeper and more sinister, and Paige turned to look at the woman in curiosity. To her horror, Bellatrix now stood behind her.
“T—thank you.” She stammered, watching the woman come closer to her in the mirror.
“Draco is a very lucky man.” Bellatrix continued, placing her hand on Paige’s neck and tracing her fingers along the jewels on the necklace. Paige noticed that her hand seemed abnormally cold, and she turned once more, only to find herself looking into a set of wicked red eyes.
Her own scream woke her from her sleep.
Paige looked all around her frantically, breathing a large sigh of relief when she discovered that she was in a Slytherin dormitory, not back at the manor. She felt her neck, finding no elegant accessory there now, though her heart still pounded mercilessly in her chest. After a moment, she looked down at her hands, wanting to check one last thing.
It was still there.
The brilliant square-cut emerald ring had come straight from the set; she had not imagined it. Narcissa had told her of the family jewels as soon as Draco reported his successful proposal. She seemed very pleased to have Paige wear them on the day she married the youngest Malfoy. Lucius, on the other hand, was more reserved but appeared amendable to their union. Professor Snape had paused for a moment or two, causing Paige to tense up, and then remarked that he thought it might well happen someday, offering Draco a tentative smile as a way of demonstrating his approval. It was understandable, she supposed, his not wanting to give her up.
Bellatrix had been absolutely furious, naturally, but none of the others would hear a bit of it.
On her bedside table, she kept the issue of the Daily Prophet that reported their engagement as headline news. She remembered Narcissa bringing it to her excitedly two days after Draco’s proposal, confessing that she had tipped off Rita Skeeter out of excitement. The bold black text read “MALFOY HEIR TO WED LONGTIME GIRLFRIEND”, and the story below detailed how the Snapes and Malfoys had been close friends for a long time and were looking forward to finally formalizing their connection. A picture from the debutante ball gave life to the piece.
Paige glanced at the photo now, noting how much she and Draco had changed in the span of only two years. Neither of them had smiled that broadly in many months. He held her tighter recently than ever before, whereas in the photo he had still been concerned about not being too grabby for those around them to see. Now, though, every time he kissed her goodbye might well be the last.
She got up, looking at the clock to see that it was almost two. It was Saturday, so no classes had been missed, but she was still behind on the homework she’d wanted to get done today. She sighed, glancing at the empty cauldron sitting over by the closet and realizing she wasn’t much in the mood to work on potions today. Instead, she got dressed and went up to see her father.
He was filling out Ministry paperwork when she arrived, and she took the seat in front of the headmaster’s desk without being offered it. After a few minutes of quiet, he looked up at her.
“What are you doing here?”
“I don’t know.” Paige shrugged. “I just wanted to come see you.”
“Mmm.” He murmured, looking back down at the paperwork and then returning his eyes to her. “Are you still getting used to it?”
He gestured to the ring on her finger.
“Oh.” She shrugged again. “I don’t know. I guess so. I mean, it’s been four months. If I’m not used to it by now—”
“It’s all right.” He said gently, causing her to smile a little.
They sat in silence for a few moments longer, and then he put down his quill. “I’m sorry I dragged you into this mess.” He said softly, the shame evident in his expression.
“Nobody dragged me into anything.” Paige said firmly, meeting his eyes. She softened just a bit, though, when she saw how wounded he looked. “I mean it. I’m not angry with you, Dad.”
“Just promise me you’ll do bigger and better things when our names are cleared, yes?”
She smiled again. “Of course.” She stood up, wrapping her arms around his neck. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” He said gently, smiling despite himself. “And if Draco ever hurts—”
He broke off, looking very pensive, as if he were concentrating on something that he could only see with his mind’s eye. He stood up suddenly, crossing the room and opening a portrait that sat low on the wall to reveal a passageway behind it. “Go. Find somewhere to hide.”
She looked at him questioningly. Had he seen something via Legilimency? “Where—”
“I have to deal with something, and I don’t want you to be involved. Go, now!” He urged, and she suddenly heard the angry voices of McGonagall and Flitwick just outside the door.
She took one last look at him, and then she dove into the tunnel, the picture slamming shut to cover the hole behind her.
Paige emerged from the tunnel just outside of where she knew the Room of Requirement to be. The corridors were strangely bare of students, considering the time of day. She remembered her father’s words, wondering where she should conceal herself until the trouble in his office had blown over. The common room was probably a bit too obvious, and the Room of Requirement was receiving an unusual amount of traffic these days. She decided the best thing to do would be to curl up in her father’s private potions stores, provided that Slughorn hadn’t changed the password, and wait out whatever was going on.
When she turned the corner to go down into the dungeons, however, a hand yanked her into the shadows. Paige whirled around to see Pansy looking back at her, with Daphne next to her.
“Merlin!” Paige said, frowning. “What was that for?”
“Haven’t you heard?” Pansy countered. “The other houses are waging an all-out war on Slytherin. You and Draco are at the top of the hit list, but we figured we should hide, too.”
“McGonagall, like, cracked. I think Potter must be finally coming back.” Daphne added. “She and some of the others are headed to your dad’s office right now to try to throw him out.”
“What?” Paige hissed, and Pansy clamped a hand over her mouth.
“Shut up, I think someone’s coming.”
The footsteps became evident to all three girls as their owner came closer and closer. Paige quickly realized that there were at least two people approaching them, and she shrank further into the shadows alongside her friends. Daphne finally got brave enough to peek out from around the corner, and her face suddenly shone with delight.
“Draco!” She chirped, stepping into the dim light. Pansy and Paige followed her.
Draco stood there, wand drawn, with Blaise, Crabbe and Goyle in tow. He allowed his fiancée to kiss him hello and nodded to the other two girls, looking like he hadn’t slept in several days.
“What’re you doing?” Pansy asked, frowning slightly. “You lot can’t take all of them on.”
“Don’t intend to.” Draco replied. “We’re going to the Room of Hidden Things. Potter may try to reunite with his friends there, and we can capture him and turn him in to the Dark Lord.” He glanced at Paige but looked down again quickly. “You all should find somewhere to hide.”
“I’m going with them.” Crabbe suddenly spoke up, stepping forward.
“Leave the girls alone, you’re with us.” Blaise growled.
“No, I don’t want to listen to Malfoy anymore.” Crabbe said boldly. “He and his dad, they’re through.”
“You go with them.” Everyone was surprised to hear Paige speak up, looking firmly at Crabbe as she did so. “Do whatever Draco tells you to do, unless you want to get killed.”
Crabbe stared at her in disbelief for a moment, but he was not willing to cross a Snape, not now. He shrank back into the small group of boys, and Draco offered Paige a short nod in return.
“All right, we’d best be going.” Draco said, looking at Paige. “You take care of yourselves.”
“Yeah, you too.” She replied, reaching out and squeezing his hand before she and the girls turned away, heading down the corridor and moving deeper and deeper into the dungeons.
The three Slytherins found an empty broom closet near Slughorn’s office, and they packed themselves in as comfortably as possible, not knowing how long they’d have to wait. At first, they passed the time by quietly recounting favorite memories from school, but after a while, their attempts at normal conversation turned to unmasked worry. Pansy began to wonder aloud how many of the Slytherins would still be alive by the time they left the closet, and Paige found herself focusing on her more pleasant memories with Draco just to tune out the girl’s depressing predictions. Daphne, who had been silent for much of the last hour or so, finally stood up.
“I’m getting out of here.” She said firmly. “There’s nobody down here. It’s too quiet.”
“Daph, no!” Pansy cried. “What if they’re out there waiting for us?”
But it was too late; Daphne was already opening the door. She grinned, stepping outside the closet. “There you are!” She exclaimed, and Pansy and Paige looked out. It was Theo.
Daphne ran to embrace him, despite the fact that he shook his head vigorously as she approached. When she got to him, however, her face drained of color and her smile fell.
Neville Longbottom stepped around the corner, Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood behind him.
Paige and Pansy withdrew their wands, but the remnants of Dumbledore’s Army were too quick. The sound of their combined stunning spell was the last thing Paige heard before passing out.
When she woke up, Paige found herself tied to what appeared to be Professor Slughorn’s desk chair. Neville paced before her, with Luna and Ginny watching from their places closer to the door of the office. The ticking clock caught her eye, revealing that she had been unconscious for several hours. She did not notice any pain, though, and she did not seem to be injured.
“Good, you’re awake.” Neville had come to a stop in front of her. “What are you lot planning tonight?”
“What do you mean?” Paige asked, looking up at him. It was odd, seeing such intense hatred lighting up the eyes of a boy to whom she had offered tutoring countless times in Potions class. Luna and Ginny seemed determined not to look at her directly. She frowned slightly.
“We know he’s coming, and it’ll be soon, considering that Harry has found most of the horcruxes and we’ve gotten rid of Snape.” Neville replied, bringing a glower to her face.
“I don’t know what is being planned.” Paige said quite honestly. “I woke up in this castle this morning, same as you, and I was just going about my day when you found me and the others.” She looked around, wondering where Pansy and Daphne were. “And what’s a horcrux?”
“Oh, like you don’t know.” Neville scoffed, beginning to pace again. “Where’s Draco?”
“I don’t know.” Paige repeated. “I haven’t seen him.”
“Liar!” Neville cried. “He’s your fiancé. If anyone knows where he is, you do.” He added, giving the word fiancé extra emphasis as a way of expressing his disgust at the thought.
“Well, I don’t—” Paige began, but the door to the room opened, and Harry and Ron stepped inside, looking like they’d been through a furnace. “I thought that might be your voice, Neville.” Ron said, brightening slightly. “Are you the only ones who answered the call?” He frowned.
“Unfortunately, yes.” Ginny replied. “McGonagall sent the younger students home, and she’s mobilizing the members of the Order in the Great Hall now. But that’s it, I think.”
“Are you kidding?” Ron shot back, dread in his voice. “But they’re here already!”
“That’ll have to do.” Harry cut in, and he glanced at Paige. “Let her go, Neville.”
“You’re joking.” Neville said incredulously. “Harry, she’s one of them.”
“Check her arm.” Harry said calmly, and Paige allowed Neville to yank up her left sleeve, displaying the unmarred skin beneath it for all to see. “Nothing.” Neville sounded surprised.
They untied her, letting her stand up at last. Now she could see Draco standing behind the two boys, with Blaise, Goyle, and Hermione a few feet behind them. “Crabbe—?” She looked at Draco questioningly.
“He’s dead.” Harry replied flatly, and Goyle suddenly seemed very interested in the floor.
Paige let this sink in, and then she embraced Draco, who felt more lifeless than ever.
“This is your last chance.” Harry said to the Slytherins. “If we see you attacking anyone from the Order out there on the battlefield, we won’t hesitate to strike back. Is that understood?”
“Yes.” Paige replied, looking at him with gratitude.
“Fine.” Hermione said. “Harry, we’ve got to go. The others need our help.”
The six members of Dumbledore’s Army left, and Blaise and Goyle took off in a different direction, likely hoping to find their parents on one side or the other. Paige looked at Draco, noticing that the edges of his clothes were singed. “Are you okay?” She said softly.
“I was just worried about you.” He whispered, kissing her on the cheek and finally meeting her eyes. “Crabbe—I feel like it was my fault. If I hadn’t asked him to come in with me—”
Paige shook her head. “There’s nothing we can do now.” She said quietly. “Come on, we’re not safe just standing around here. Let’s see if we can find your parents.”
When they emerged from the dungeons, the battle was in full swing. Paige and Draco crept around Arthur and Molly Weasley, who were facing off against the Carrows in the middle of the Great Hall. They finally reached the castle doors, but when they stepped onto the grass, they were quickly surrounded by members of the Order.
“Go on, don’t hesitate!” Lupin said, raising his wand. Paige looked at her former Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in horror.
“Remus, they’re just kids!” Tonks cried, looking at her husband.
“Aye, they won’t hurt nobody!” Hagrid chimed in, having arrived on the scene.
“Far from it.” Lupin fixed his eyes firmly upon Paige. “Draco’s quick with his wand, and Paige is far more dangerous than she may seem.” He glanced from one Slytherin to the other.
“You’re right there… Lupin, was it?” Bellatrix was now approaching, wand out and at the ready. “Draco, go on, aim for the girl. Punish her for the sullying of our family’s noble bloodline.”
“N—no.” Draco stammered, looking helplessly at Tonks and then his aunt. “I—I can’t.”
“Can’t?” Bellatrix raised her wand. “The Dark Lord was right about you.” She hissed, and she cast a curse, aiming it for Paige at the last minute. The spell tore into her side, ripping through her clothes and skin and leaving a bloody gash in its wake. Shocked, she pressed down hard on the wound, attempting to staunch the bleeding. Bellatrix studied her handiwork triumphantly.
“Paige!” Draco cried, leaping to her assistance. Bellatrix shot a curse at him too, hitting him in the leg and bringing him to his knees. He struggled to crawl towards his wounded fiancée.
Meanwhile, Lupin began to duel Bellatrix, with Tonks following shortly behind him. Paige glanced up to see that they were now alone, Hagrid having disappeared as well. She looked at Draco. “Come on.” She gasped painfully. “We can’t just lay here. We have to help.”
“Help who?” He looked over at her feebly.
“Neither of us really wants to live in a world run by him, do we?” She replied desperately.
“No.” Draco admitted, managing to get to his feet and offering her a hand. “Keep pressure on the wound. We can get bandages from the hospital wing to tide you over until the battle ends.”
“How are we going to get there?” Paige asked, gesturing to his leg.
Draco had already thought of that. He stuck his wand up in the air, saying with all his might, “Accio Nimbus Two Thousand and One!” A few tense moments later, his well-used broomstick came shooting into view, coming to rest right before him. He mounted it, helping her to get on behind him, and together they flew around to the other side of the castle.
Once they were temporarily mended, Paige and Draco spent the remainder of the battle flying around and covertly disabling Death Eaters from above. Once the Order caught on, they stopped shooting curses up at the pair, making it a great deal easier for Draco to maneuver the broomstick. The fighting raged on until Voldemort announced that the Order had one hour to turn Harry over before he and his followers would dispatch of each and every man, woman and child who remained in the failing stronghold of the castle. Paige and Draco joined the others who had resigned themselves to holing up in the Great Hall as they awaited Harry’s decision.
The minutes ticked by at an abnormally slow pace, and Paige felt her heart tighten with each passing second. After a while, she heard jeering coming from outside, and she sank down against the wall, unable to comprehend the fact that the Dark Lord had truly claimed victory after all. The Death Eaters poured into the Great Hall, and duels erupted all around the two young Slytherins, as the Order members were unwilling to give up the fight so easily.
A pair of blondes poked out of the approaching crowd, and Lucius and Narcissa rushed over as soon as they saw their son. “Thank Merlin you’re both all right.” Narcissa’s cheeks were stained with anxious tears, and she threw her arms around both Paige and Draco.
“Is he really dead?” Paige asked.
Narcissa glanced around, lowering her voice. “No.” She said firmly. “Not yet.”
Draco looked at her curiously, searching the sea of moving bodies behind her for Harry.
Paige looked over at Lucius, who was glancing around nervously, wand out. She turned her attention back to Narcissa. “Have you seen my father?”
Before she could answer, Harry showed himself in the center of the room. He faced a surprised Voldemort, revealing the truth of Snape’s allegiance. The many faces in the room didn’t seem to know whether to attend to Harry or to Paige, who looked at Draco helplessly. Her fiancé didn’t seem altogether surprised, however, and Narcissa even smiled a little. Lucius said nothing.
It suddenly occurred to Paige that Harry had used the term was quite a bit when speaking.
Harry and Voldemort extended their wands toward one another. Voldemort attacked viciously, but Harry’s wand refused to allow his spell passage. It rocketed back at him, sending him to the ground in a crumpled heap. As shocking as it seemed, the Dark Lord was finished at last.
A crowd of excited students and adults pressed in toward Harry, eager to congratulate him and begin the celebration. Draco moved quickly, wanting to be one of the first to shake the hand of the Boy Who Lived, perhaps in the hope that it would help his family’s case when the euphoria settled down and the trials began. Paige tried to make her way into the crowd behind him, but she was blocked off by a group of former Dumbledore’s Army members.
Draco got to Harry first, extending his hand cordially. Harry ignored it, leaning in to speak to Draco privately instead. “Snape’s dead. Voldemort murdered him.” He said, looking at Draco gravely.
Draco just stared at him, unsure of what to say.
“I just think you should be the one to tell her, that’s all.” Harry said, and then he turned to greet the Weasleys, who had cut through the crowd and appeared at his side.
Draco turned, his heart pounding as he cut back through the crowd. Paige still stood at the back of the group, trying to see Harry over all the heads. Everyone, save for the Malfoys, was too busy to watch her face fall when Draco finally broke the news to her. None of them saw the color drain from her already pale skin, nor did they see her green eyes fill with astonished tears. No one even noticed when she tore from the room in an attempt to outrun the awful, terrible news.
Draco followed her as she ran down through the dungeons, leading him around countless turns and twists until she finally stopped in front of a familiar-looking closet. She pulled it open, sputtering out the password, and began to search the shelves full of ingredients frantically. When she found nothing there to her liking, she turned her sights on the books that lined the top shelf, raining stray pages down upon him as she found one unsatisfactory recipe after another.
“Paige, there’s nothing that will bring him back.” Draco said quietly, feeling his heart break.
She stopped, staring at him, and then she dropped the book she was holding. Finally, she crumpled to the floor much as Voldemort had, tucking herself into a corner and freely sobbing into her jeans. Draco sat down next to her, holding her as tightly as he possibly could.
Though she was not in bad shape physically, Paige was treated like glass in the hospital wing.
Harry was one of her first visitors, coming in with several of the surviving Order members to ask if there was anything they could do for her. Her one request was that they let the Malfoys go free. Harry assured her that he had already planned to do so, considering how much the family meant to her and her father, not to mention the fact that Narcissa had helped to conceal his miraculous return to life from Voldemort.
The Malfoys stayed, even after Draco had been properly cared for by Madam Pomfrey. He never left Paige’s side, sitting with her day and night, though all she did was lay in bed wordlessly and let the tears stream down her cheeks. Lucius and Narcissa sat off to the side, both of them having accepted the fact that they were now the ones most responsible for Paige’s welfare.
Professor McGonagall, who was once again acting as temporary headmistress, came in to assure Paige that her father would receive a portrait in the Headmaster’s office. Hagrid brought her fresh tiger lilies from an undamaged part of the grounds, his selection guided by Draco, but they did not bring the smile back to her face. Kingsley Shacklebolt, who was chosen as the new Minister for Magic, informed her that she would be receiving a medal on her father’s behalf, the Ministry’s way of acknowledging his extensive services toward the welfare of Hogwarts and the wizarding world at large. The thought, however pleasant, appeased her only temporarily.
Her last visitor of the day was a surprise: Professor Slughorn. He came in as the sun was setting, taking a seat on the end of her hospital bed. “How are the pain potions treating you?” He asked, an attempt at normal conversation. “I brewed them myself, you know.”
Paige glanced up at him. The last thing she wanted to talk about was Potions; didn’t he know that? Still, he looked like he was trying, and she forced herself to smile just a little. “It hurts a bit less, now that you mention it.” She said, thinking of the ugly scar forming above her hip.
“Listen, Paige, I’m afraid I didn’t give you enough credit.” He admitted, looking at her. “Your father was a student of mine the first time I taught here, and I tried to strike up a conversation with him about it once in the teacher’s lounge last year. The thing is, all he could talk about was you.” He smiled a bit, tears beginning to form in the corners of his aging eyes. “I’m telling you, my dear, if you’re even a fraction as talented as he was, you’ll make an excellent Potions Master.”
Paige nodded, trying not to start crying again. “Thank you.” She whispered painfully.
“I mean it.” Slughorn said. “I’ll write you a letter of recommendation to Slug and Jiggers, if you like.”
Paige couldn’t begin to think about an apprenticeship, not right now. Still, she couldn’t help but recall the promise she’d made to her father in his office a shockingly short time ago. “I would like that.” She said softly, offering him a pained smile once more. “Thank you, Professor.”
“It’s the least I can do.” Slughorn said, looking down. “You’re welcome.” He glanced at Draco, who was watching them carefully. It seemed that the young man was on alert for anyone and anything that might injure his bride-to-be’s gossamer feelings. “Well, I’ll leave you to it.” The professor said, standing up and exiting the room.
As night fell, Draco continued to watch her, noticing that she made little attempt to sleep. “If you don’t rest, you won’t heal.” He urged quietly. His parents were both asleep in their chairs.
“You aren’t getting any sleep either.” Paige said, glancing over at him.
“I’m fine.” He insisted, and they fell silent for a short time. He looked at her again, tired of seeing her laying there like a corpse with watery eyes. “Come on.” He said at last.
“What?” She asked, and he gestured for her to try to sit up.
“Take it slow, now, don’t rip your stitches.” He whispered, helping her to her feet. He took her hand, holding it gently, and she put the other one on his shoulder. They began to dance slowly, simply, their only music the sound of Draco’s voice. He chose a song his mother had often sung to him when he couldn’t sleep at night. “You cut me down a tree, and brought it back to me..."
Though he sang softly, uncomfortable with the thought of being heard but wanting to assist Paige in her time of need, his voice carried far enough that it seeped into the hallway. Professors Sprout and Flitwick, who were returning from making sure everyone who remained in the castle had a comfortable place to sleep, barely perceived it on their way to their offices, where they were to bed down for the night. They paused at the entrance to the hospital wing, watching the two Slytherins move together slowly, attempting to remain as soundless as possible.
“And I could write a song a hundred miles long, well that’s where I belong, and you belong with me…” Draco continued, singing close to Paige’s ear. Once in a while her body contracted with renewed weeping, but she had calmed down considerably, and she pressed her face against his shoulder and contented herself with carefully shuffling her feet to his lead. He glanced up, noticing their audience, but he ignored them, still singing her a lullaby.
Flitwick and Sprout lingered just long enough to see the former star student cry her final tears, and as Draco gently lowered her back down into her hospital bed, they departed for their rooms.
When Draco stirred awake the next morning, Paige had been up for several hours.
She looked quite different than she had the previous night, though a touch of sadness still lingered in her pretty green eyes. The most noticeable change was the fact that she’d traded her hospital gown for a strapless black dress, her tiny waist highlighted by a white bow. It also looked like she’d combed her hair and even applied a little makeup. She wasn’t laying in bed any longer either; she had moved to the table across the room, where she was assisting house elves as they mixed up a new batch of healing potion to administer to those who remained bedridden.
“You want to see about breakfast?” He said, standing up and looking at her.
She turned, offering him only a tiny smile, but it melted his heart nonetheless. “Sure.”
They made their way down the stairs and into the Great Hall. The groups of students and parents nearest them fell silent as they entered, though some did offer Paige encouraging smiles. Harry stood in the middle of the room, turning to follow Hermione and Ginny’s eyes when they lighted upon her. He smiled a little, and she paused. It was the closest she’d gotten to him since the night of Dumbledore’s murder, and things felt just as tense, even if the circumstances were different.
She let go of Draco’s hand, moving forward quickly. Harry stretched his arms out, enveloping her in a hug. She closed her eyes tightly, but a few tears slipped from beneath her eyelids. She did not notice Harry shed a tear or two, but the people standing around and watching them saw him quickly wipe them away before returning his hand to her waist. They seemed to hold one another for ages, but neither of them said anything this time, not until they broke apart at last.
Harry glanced behind her at Draco, whose rolled-up sleeve revealed a slightly faded but still present Dark Mark. Now, though, it had ceased moving, having become a simple scar. Draco looked down, unable to meet Harry’s eyes. Lucius and Narcissa emerged warily behind their son.
“D’you think Draco would mind if I had you to myself for a second?” He asked.
“Yes.” Paige smiled weakly. “But it’s all right, as long as it’s only for a second.”
The two of them walked over into the corridor, where the open-air windows with their Gothic arches let in a fresh breeze, nature’s attempt at clearing away the carnage from two days ago. Harry leaned against the railing, and Paige followed suit. Her face darkened unexpectedly.
“I can’t believe he lied to me.” She said faintly.
“Lied to you?” Harry asked.
“Yeah, about all the business with your mum. He told me that he’d defected because he wanted to be around to take care of me. He didn’t even mention her.” She glanced over at him. “All this time I thought he turned his back on them for my sake, and now I wonder if he even loved me.”
“Don’t wonder about that.” Harry said firmly. “He did. You and I both know that.”
“I’m not so sure anymore.” She countered softly. “Maybe he wanted you instead of me.”
“Bollocks.” Harry almost laughed at the thought. “He hated me. You were his pride and joy. He couldn’t have left a better legacy behind.” At this, Paige smiled a little. “I mean, I’m pretty sure you were the only reason he kept on the side of good whenever I did something he couldn’t stand, like help keep Sirius out of Azkaban.” He smiled brightly, though he was really no better recovered from the battle’s emotional damage than she was. “I think it was mostly you, in the end, Paige.” His voice turned more serious as he uttered it, and she considered this, accepting it at last. With all of the things her father had done for her over the years, how could she not?
She felt Draco standing behind them before Harry saw him. He took the cue, going to rejoin the Weasleys, who were having a rather animated breakfast. Draco’s parents kept their distance.
Draco draped his coat over Paige’s shoulders, coming to rest up against the railing next to her. “You want to go home?”
“I don’t know where home is now.” She said quietly, and he didn’t know what to say. After a moment, she spoke up again, looking at him. “Just stay here with me, please?”
“Of course.” He said gently, and she laid her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes and blocking out the happy reunions, the clatter of silverware, the celebrations of victory – everything but him.
Author’s Note: The song is “Swallowed in the Sea”, and credit goes to Coldplay.
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