DISCLAIMER: To be perfectly honest, I find disclaimers a little tedious and condescending, but I understand the necessity. So here is my official disclaimer for the entire story: I do not own Harry Potter. Get it? Got it? Good.
WARNING: Graphic descriptions of battle including violence and gore, and some inflammatory language.
In all its centuries of existence, the Room of Requirement had never been so required, and even though in one of its magical incarnations it housed objects of great power and darkness that needed constant guardianship, the Room's current occupation was the noblest it had ever served: a sanctuary for Hogwarts students seeking refuge.
The Room had gone beyond what any witch or wizard had ever tried to challenge it with before, servicing the individual needs of nearly fifty children. As all children possess an innate magical sense of curiosity and creativity beyond any adult, the students were more suited to the application of the Room's magic by doing what many former Hogwarts explorers had strangely not thought of: they simply asked the Room for what they needed. Granted, there were many things it could not do, as it was limited to the magical reserves of Hogwarts itself and it could not feed upon the magical energy of the people inside it without express permission, but there were daily occurrences of unexplainable magic that covered all levels of miraculousness. One such miracle had happened early on during this dark year of Hogwarts history.
The magic of the Room meant that it could only ever be one room, which prevented more convenient living arrangements for the students there, but once the populace had reached twenty, the group had awoken one morning to find the Room as big as the Great Hall (the Room had anticipated the unfortunate need for more space) and sectioned off with long curtains, that contained hammocks to sleep in. Each curtain was embroidered with names, as the Room knew which students would like to live together. The curtained sections provided some much needed privacy, a simple luxury and dignity the students had sorely been missing.
One such section was reserved unsurprisingly for Parvati and Padma Patil, twin girls that had lived in separate dormitories for six years, but the Room (and nearly everyone else) had known that as inseparable as they usually were, they needed each other now more than ever.
Padma and Parvati were pure of blood and therefore did not need to hide in the Room of Requirement like some of their classmates, and indeed had held out for a very long time coexisting with some of their more cruel and ignorant classmates and teachers, but solidarity and the increasing fear of personal safety had driven them to dwell amongst their refugee friends.
One night, the sisters were reading quietly in their 'dumble' (a second-year Hufflepuff had coined the term, explaining that calling the curtained-off sections 'rooms' was too confusing as they used that word only to refer to The Room, which worked both inside the headquarters and out in the more dangerous public places where listening hostile ears wouldn't recognize that as being meaningful. 'Dumble' also fit with the theme of honoring Dumbledore's legacy, and quoth the Hufflepuff, "it's really quite fun to say"), but Padma couldn't focus. Truth be told, she had spent so many years reading to the background noise of Parvati's endless chatter that she still wasn't used to peace and quiet when Parvati was around.
But her sister had developed an oddly secretive scholarly habit lately, sneaking into the library during the day to copy scrolls and then spending the evenings poring over them and taking copious notes. Padma had asked more than once what her sister was reading, but Parvati had laughingly dismissed her twin's questions, saying, "I don't want to have to repeat a whole bloody year of school when this whole Dark Lord thing is finally over, so I'm trying to keep up with what would have been our homework. Honestly, Padma, you're a 'Claw. Shouldn't you have cottoned on to this idea before me?"
Padma reluctantly believed her sister - after all, Parvati wasn't the only one doing such a thing, many groups of students had succumbed to the boredom of being locked in the Room for hours at a time and resorted to schoolwork - but two things kept her suspicions alive: Parvati had always asked Padma for help with every single piece of homework since they were first years, and she hadn't asked Padma one single question ever since her first clandestine library run this year.
Also, Padma privately wondered if this 'Dark Lord thing' would ever be over, and Parvati had never been particularly optimistic either.
Padma was not a very confrontational girl, and this hardly seemed like something to bother about, so she left it alone. But it was still awfully strange to study in silence with her sister.
Tonight, Parvati seemed particularly absorbed by the scroll she had, so focused on it she seemed almost paralyzed. Padma kept glancing up to check and make sure her sister was blinking or even breathing, and after rereading the same page of her novel for a fifth time she finally gave up with a sigh and decided to give her suspicions one last chance.
"Vati?" She asked tentatively.
The childhood nickname caught her sister's attention immediately and she jolted upright so fast she surprised Padma, who flinched in response. Parvati stared at Padma blankly for a moment before she blinked and her body relaxed. She smiled at Padma. "Yes, Addie?" She answered teasingly.
Padma grinned at the sound of her own nickname. "Whatcha reading?" She asked casually.
Parvati hesitated for a long moment, and Padma heard paranoia's frantic whispers in the back of her mind. Then her sister shrugged and turned the scroll towards her slightly. Padma stared at the page in utter confusion. "Is that… Hindi?" It was the twins' first language, but they hadn't spoken it in years. Upon enrollment at Hogwarts, their parents had impressed the importance of cultural adaptation upon their daughters so they would be more easily accepted into 'polite society'. They were only allowed to speak proper English from then on.
Blood status may be the most obvious prejudice in magical society, but that does not mean xenophobia and racism do not exist.
Parvati laughed lightly. "I know, it's a bit of a trip into the past." Padma nodded, still confused. Parvati sighed, her smile now tinged with melancholy and nostalgia. "I suppose… with everything that's happened, I miss how things used to be, when we lived in India and didn't know the words 'blood traitor.'"
Padma didn't know how to respond. "I… thought you were proud to be a blood traitor." She said finally.
Parvati immediately shook her head, "I am! I really am. I wouldn't change anything right now - no, that's not true. I obviously would change more than a few things, first things first getting rid of Old Moldy, and all his nasty little friends." Padma giggled a bit nervously at her sister's flippant description. "I mean," Parvati clarified, "that I know we're making the right choice, being in Dumbledore's Army. It's just..."
Parvati sighed again. "Well, we don't know what happened to Mother and Father. Best case scenario, they were banished back to India near the beginning of all this nonsense, and worst case…" She didn't need to finish that thought. "I just miss home." Parvati said softly.
Padma nodded in agreement, even though she was a bit surprised because Parvati had not referred to India as their home for nearly a decade. She reached out and took her sister's hand. "Let's make a pact." She said with a smile. Parvati tilted her head curiously. "Let's promise that when all this is over, we'll go back to India."
Parvati smiled back. "Okay." She hooked pinkies with Padma. "I promise."
"I promise." Padma echoed, letting this small wish flare within her like a floating candle and keep the encroaching darkness and dread at bay.
There was a commotion outside of their dumble. The girls exchanged a confused look until they heard Seamus' distinctive shout. Parvati was on her feet, wand out, rushing through the curtain at the sound of her friend's distress. Padma followed close behind.
They came upon a gathering of the DA underneath the portrait hole that led to Aberforth's tavern. Parvati pushed to the front of the group and gasped. Padma peered around her sister and could not contain her own shock. There, standing next to Neville's bruised, beaming face, was none other than Harry Potter.
Everyone was talking excitedly over one another as Neville tried to calm everyone down so Harry could speak. Parvati joined the cacophony, but Padma stayed quiet. Her eyes narrowed on the prodigal Chosen One. The boy was dirty and messy and fierce, like the stray dogs Padma remembered seeing my roam the streets of Indian cities, more wild than tame. Harry had always been lanky, but now he was downright malnourished and behind his crooked glasses, those distinctive green eyes darted around anxiously. He flinched at every new voice.
As everyone else grew more and more hopeful at the return of their fearless leader, Padma felt her heart sink and that small candle flame begin to flicker. That was not the face of a savior. That was the face of just another scared runaway kid desperate for safety and answers, overwhelmed by the pressure of having everyone's hopes carried on his shoulders.
By chance his gaze landed on her, and whatever he saw in her face caused a brief moment of pure honesty in his. For one second, Padma saw all of the torment and despair and grief she felt multiplied a hundredfold in him and she could not bear his burden. She looked away.
She looked away, and met Parvati's beautiful brown eyes, burning with passion and determination and hope. And Padma felt that little candle inside her go out.
Mere hours later, Padma and Parvati were standing in the ruined courtyard of Hogwarts, surrounded by fire. Shattering remnants of magic in every color imaginable and some hues never seen before streaked above their heads and in between bodies in a savage dance, an aurora borealis of death.
A witch with wild hair and wilder eyes suddenly appeared in front of them. She smiled with ruined teeth, and Padma immediately knew the unsettling face from newspapers and wanted posters. "Bellatrix Lestrange." She felt rather than heard her and Parvati's shared whisper of recognition. The woman's insane gaze sharpened as she locked onto her new victims.
"Patils!" She cackled. "Blood traitors! Crucio!"
Padma jerked to the side as Parvati yanked them both out of the way of the curse. A fingertip of lightning touched her elbow like a butterfly's kiss and then she was enveloped by a pain worse than anything she thought possible. Talons of fire and blood raked up and down her arm. Dimly she heard Parvati screaming her name, then Bellatrix's, then shouting spell after spell.
"Diffindo! Reducto! Stupefy!"
Her twin must have sufficiently distracted Bellatrix because the pain ceased in a moment and Padma found herself struggling to stand without remembering that she fell. Pain-drugged, she groggily managed to focus on the terrifying reality of her sister fighting the most dangerous witch alive. Fighting, and losing. Whatever element of surprise Parvati had attacked with was gone; Bellatrix was firing off spell after spell and Parvati was barely doing more than dodging. Green light ruffled Parvati's long braid and Padma lunged forward, shrieking her sister's name and it became a spell as well as a cry, pure emotion surging through her body forged into a bolt of red light shot from her wand. Bellatrix was forced to break the offensive and evade Padma's magic.
Then Parvati was back on her feet, none the worse for wear except looking rattled by her near-miss, her warm and real hand grabbing Padma's and holding tight. Instant and powerful relief flooded Padma, before morphing into determined rage. Bellatrix Lestrange tried to kill her sister, and she was only a few feet away trying to do it again. Suddenly everything was clear and sharp and desperate and without thought. There was only action.
Padma launched herself forward and her wand seemed to melt into her hand and become an extension of herself. She didn't need words, the spells streamed from her wand smooth as silk. Parvati immediately twisted her body to accommodate Padma and they became two parts of a deadly whole, a perfectly synchronized battle dance. There was no time to plan or rationalize or strategize, not with Bellatrix's leering face snarling at them from barely a meter away. Padma followed her Gryffindor sister's lead, a secondary reaction to Parvati's instinctive bravery.
They might have been fighting for seconds or hours; the passage of time was irrelevant. Then one of Bellatrix's spells hit a large chunk of debris next to the twins and it shattered like glass.
(During the long, tense days and nights of the past year hiding in the Room of Requirement, Padma had fallen victim to the morbid contemplation of what death would be like. Books and Muggle films always made it seem like it would happen in soundless slow motion, every detail in sharp, graphic relief.)
But reality does not happen in slow motion. What came next happened at the exact same pace as the rest of the day, impossibly fast and increasingly horrifying.
Padma barely had time to dodge the falling rubble and feel something hard and sharp roll under her foot before she stumbled and fell in front of Parvati, who stopped casting a spell to grab for her.
All Padma saw was her sister's big brown eyes before her vision was invaded by a pulsing blaze of terrible violet light. She instinctively reached for her magic and could incomprehensibly sense Parvati doing the same.
There was a surge of energy between them, and the violet light turned a bright, blinding white.
One horrible, excruciating heartbeat of sheer terror.
Then the next thing Padma knew, she was blinking in shock at the very real sight of people duelling around her against the backdrop of her destroyed school courtyard. She registered a savage, ugly pain in her side and that something had her hand in a vice-like grip.
She looked down and saw that it was a blood-covered Parvati who was holding her hand, while a moaning and cursing Bellatrix lay writhing on the ground a few feet away.
Padma was utterly paralyzed by the sight of her beautiful sister bleeding to death in front of her.
Then Parvati said her name again. "Pad...Padma…"
The world started up again, the sound of her own thundering heartbeat momentarily drowning out the sounds of battle around them. "Parvati! Oh, no, no, no. Oh, gods. Oh, Parvati, no." Padma belatedly realized the shrill, panicked babble was coming from her and tried to change her tone. "It's okay, Parvati, you're going to be okay. I'm going to get help, I'm going to heal you, you'll be okay…" She tried to let go of her sister's hand, the one still holding her wand frantically casting every healing spell she could think of, but nothing would staunch the bleeding.
Parvati squeezed her hand tighter. "Padma...stop…"
"What? No, no, I can't stop, I have to save you, damn it, you're going to be fine -"
"Padma." Her twin's weak but firm voice stopped her tear-slurred babbling. She looked at those gorgeous brown eyes that were full of determination and sadness and acceptance. "I'm not... going to be... fine."
Padma furiously blinked her eyes free of tears so she could focus on Parvati's face. "No." She gasped, the word ripping its way out of her throat in a sob.
"Padma." Her sister stopped her again. "We're both... hurt. But I'm not… going… to… make it." another raw noise of denial came from Padma, but Parvati pressed on "But… you… are. Because… you… must… fight."
Padma shook her head. "No, I can't, not without you, please Parvati. I'm not brave, I'm not the Gryffindor, you are!" Fresh tears spilled out of her eyes at Parvati's sweet smile. "I need you."
Parvati coughed and blood speckled her lips. She smiled weakly. "You will fight… Padma… I saw it. I saw you… fight."
Confusion twisted its way into Padma's fear. "What?"
Parvati's eyes filled with a sudden strength. "I... love... you... Padma." Then in a move so fast and sudden Padma was knocked off balance, Parvati grabbed Padma's hand that was holding the wand and drove it into her blood-soaked abdomen with a wail of pain. Padma barely had time to gasp in shock before Parvati gasped out, "Sorry about this," and stabbed her own wand into Padma's side.
Searing, incomprehensible pain knifed through Padma's body and she collapsed, dimly aware of Parvati beginning a stuttering, gasping chant of odd syllables that sounded nothing like Latin.
Suddenly, miraculously, the pain began to lessen. Padma now had the strength to turn her head and was utterly dumbstruck by what she saw: beams of bright light, shimmering golden and rose were shining out of the spot where Padma's wand was shoved into her sister, stretching and twisting until Parvati was wrapped in a cocoon of light.
Then the beams began to concentrate into one spiral that arched over Padma and touched down where Parvati's wand was piercing her already wounded side. There was instant, blessed relief, and in a moment of painless ecstasy Padma's logical brain realized what her sister was doing.
She was using her own magic, sacrificing her life, to save Padma.
"N...no…" Padma reached for the wand to break the connection, to do something, when a bone-chilling shriek sounded nearby.
"How… dare… you… blood-traitor whores... try to… kill… me!" There was a high-pitched, mad cackle. "Avada Kedavra!"
As the rose-gold light reached blinding intensity, a bolt of violent green magic struck Parvati's magic. There were two screams of pain, one gasping and raw from Padma, and one shocked and shrill from close by. The green line abruptly darkened into rich emerald, tainted dull gray like stone and a sickening, oily black sheen. The strange ribbon was sucked into the rose-gold vortex and then Padma's vision began to dance with black spots.
Padma heard Parvati say I love you, but in her delirium she didn't know if Parvati said it out loud or if she only imagined it.
There was a moment of terrible, complete blackness that melted into a glimmer of gold, then faded into nothing.
Padma again slowly became aware that she was still alive, through the pulsing agony in her side, the feeling that something was crushing her chest, and something horribly, lifelessly still held in her hand. She desperately wanted to talk to Parvati, filled with the desperate but fading feeling that her sister might still be alive, but she couldn't even manage to open her eyes.
Padma distantly heard someone struggling for breath. "What did you do to me?" A shaking, rasping scream that was barely above a whisper.
The sound of pounding feet. "Lestrange, leave those two, they're dead! The Dark Lord calls for the death of all blood traitors and mudbloods, not just a pair of immigrant child brides!"
"Don't tell me what the Dark Lord wants!" The rasping voice sounded a bit stronger. "I just… need a moment."
Someone laughed and it sounded like they were choking. "Well while you… need a moment, I'm off to take care of that dirty Weasley brood once and for all! Then maybe I'll be the Dark Lord's favorite, and you'll still be here -"
"Avada kedavra." The killing words were uttered casually. There was a thud. Then a long, slow, rattling breath. "I've been waiting to kill Molly Weasley for a long time… I think that time has come." A pause, and Padma was dully aware of the person shuffling closer. She held what little breath she still had in her lungs and kept her eyes shut. "Patils. Blood traitor brats. Good riddance." There was a small, weird sound and then Padma felt something wet hit her face.
After that, the sound of quickening steps faded along with a sharp, manic giggling.
Padma concentrated hard on opening her mouth and trying to remember how to use her tongue to form words. "Par...va...ti…"
Padma fought the rising despair and tried again. "Parvati…" Still nothing. Her whisper faded into near-silence in her desperation. "Parvati… please…"
Padma focused all her energy on opening her eyes and she slowly turned her head, feeling sharp pieces of gravel scrape against her face. The wand protruding from her side clashed against another larger piece of rock next to her as she moved and dislodged it, the wand slipping out of the wound and clattering softly to the ground. Padma barely noticed the rush of blood and pain, transfixed by the brutal, impossible truth lying inches from her face.
Parvati lay next to her, more calm and serene than she had ever been in life, eyes closed and face turned towards her twin, smiling gently. She was dead, and all Padma could do was lay there, tears slowly falling from her eyes as she whispered her sister's name over and over, feeling a darkness growing inside of her that she had never felt before.
There was no convenient fade into unconsciousness for Padma, like she had read about in countless novels. She lay there in excruciating spasms of pain for what felt like hours, unable to move or think or comprehend anything beyond her agony, and the knowledge that her twin sister's dead body lay next to her, her lifeless hand still clasped in Padma's, Bellatrix Lestrange's spit drying on her cheek.
Her vision did fade in and out but her pain grounded her in sharp, cruel reality. She could see blurred shapes and shadows moving around her, and more than once a foot stepped carelessly upon her. Every now and then she thought she glimpsed vaguely familiar features or flashes of striped school scarves and ties. She knew in some part of her mind that was still capable of coherent thought that was hiding behind a mental wall from the unfathomable pain still rocking through her, that they must think she was dead. She wanted to call out for help, but that part of her stopped herself, knowing that she might attract attention from the casters of the malevolent green ribbons of light.
So she lay there, and despite desperate prayers to whatever deity that might be listening for blessed sleep or death, she waited in waking pain.
At long last, the colors faded from the air and all that was left was dust.
Author's Note: While perusing the Harry Potter fanfiction genre, I became intrigued with the creative possibilities and challenges of using a canon minor character like Padma and putting her center stage. But I also wanted to exercise my plot development muscles, so I'm taking my Padma and sending her on a journey of my creation that goes deeper than JK Rowling's "all was well" and explores more of the aftereffects of the Battle of Hogwarts, emotional and otherwise, with a dash of drama and adventure.
I hope you liked this first chapter and that I didn't traumatize you too much so you stick around for the rest of the story. I'm excited about it and I hope you are too! Review and let me know what you think.
P.S. Sorry about Parvati. It's necessary for the plot, I promise. If it makes you feel any better, according to my research, Parvati was never confirmed as surviving the BoH, but Padma was. So this is technically canon.