Disclaimer: I don't own Charmed, I'm just playing.
A/n: As promised, I'm beginning on those requested fics! I started off a little heavy with MissyPaige06's request for a dramatic piece on Paige. Thanks so much for the request! I really hope you enjoy it and I'd love any feedback. And if anyone else has a request, feel free to ask! Thanks!
Oh, and I've noted this elsewhere, but for anyone who's new to my post-Forever Charmed fics, I've changed the canon a little bit. In my stories, Paige's Henry, Jr. and the twins do not exist. That's all.
Setting: February 2016
Thinking of the Sea
A story by: Ryeloza
Paige isn't sure how long she has been standing in the doorway of children's bedroom watching them sleep. She can't seem to draw herself away from the sight of them so peaceful: Wil, curled into a tight ball on the top bunk and little Ellie, limbs spread akimbo on the bottom. Watching them somehow calms her and makes it difficult for her to breathe all at once.
"Paige?" says Henry as he comes up behind her. Paige isn't at all surprised that he's there, even though he was asleep when she left their bedroom. Henry lays a hand on her shoulder and kisses the side of her head; he doesn't ask her why she's standing there at three o'clock in the morning and for that she's incredibly thankful.
"We're going to have to move one of them into the guest room soon," she says quietly. "They're getting a little old to be sharing a room. We should do it this spring, before they get out of school."
"Why don't you come to bed?" asks Henry, but Paige knows that it's not a dismissal of what she said. He's worried; that's all. "Tomorrow is going to be a long day."
Unwillingly, tears spring into her eyes and she reaches a hand back to grasp the one Henry has lain on her shoulder, desperate for contact. "I don't know what to say to Phoebe," she says. "I—this grief is just—" She breaks off, unable to finish the thought.
"Phoebe is just going to be grateful that you're there," he says. "Trust me."
Paige nods and follows when Henry tugs on her hand.
Infertility wasn't the reason they adopted, but sometimes Paige wonders if it could have been. If she and Henry had ever deliberately tried to get pregnant, would they have been able to? She likes to think that they would, but one miscarriage and several less-than-protected sexual encounters make her think otherwise.
Quite possibly she is just paranoid because of her sisters' histories. All three of Piper kids were premature—Wyatt six weeks; Chris one week; Meli two weeks—and with both Chris and Meli both Piper and the kids had almost died. Part of Paige is still secretly thankful that Piper had to have a hysterectomy when she had Meli; the risk was eliminated. And Phoebe, of course—well, Phoebe is the reason her mind is even on this track.
Paige manages to get a few minutes of sleep over the next few hours. Every time she closes her eyes, though, she's haunted by dreams of loss and grief and panic—unclear ghosts she can't make out—and she wakes up with a jolt. She wonders if, miles away, Phoebe and Piper are waking from the same dreams. Probably not, but she wants to believe in the connection.
When she gets up in the morning she dresses in the most conservative black she owns—a turtleneck sweater and a pleated skirt—and puts on a pair of black high heels that pinch her toes. Henry, bless him, gets the children ready, even managing to pull Ellie's hair back into something resembling a pony tail. She's not sure how much the children actually understand about what's happening, but they seem to pick up on the mood because for the entire drive they're quiet and solemn.
Paige can't believe the instincts Ellie has sometimes; they seem almost unnaturally mature for a child of six. As soon as they arrive at the funeral Ellie makes a beeline straight for Lena, grasping her cousin's hand in hers and squeezing tightly. Wil clings to her side, clearly nervous and uncertain, until he spots Chris and Wyatt, both of whom he's been shadowing since he's been old enough to walk. Paige is incredibly grateful that the boys don't seem to mind Wil's presence, especially since the age difference seems greater recently.
She's suddenly struck by just how large a hole there seems to be in the family now. It seems odd because the dynamics she's witnessing now are so normal that the idea of missing a person who was only in the family for a day is bizarre. She can see the scene of what will never be as clear as day, though: Wil sitting mesmerized while Wyatt and Chris play video games, trying to keep up when they let him join in; Meli and Nora off in some corner together, Nora obviously scheming and Meli biting her lip, reluctant to make trouble; and Lena and Ellie pushing Meda in a stroller like she's a baby doll, getting in everyone's way. The idea that she will never see this—that she'll never get to know her niece—strikes her so harshly at that moment that it takes her breath away. And she can't comprehend Phoebe's grief because hers is so overwhelming that for Phoebe it must be simply unbearable.
Coop sits next to Nora, looking as still as a statue, his face ashen. Phoebe is standing next to him, leaning on Piper as though she doesn't have the strength to remain upright on her own. Instinctively, Paige goes to her sisters, grasping Phoebe's hand and helping Piper carry their sister. Phoebe looks a wreck, but Piper is uncharacteristically composed; Paige is sure that this is only for Phoebe's benefit, and she tries to mimic her oldest sister's resolve.
For the first time in a long time, Paige feels like the Power of Three isn't about powers and demons and fighting; no. For the first time in a long time, she feels like it's about sisters, about being strong for one another, and about holding each other up no matter what is going on.
And Paige knows, having sisters doesn't make everything better, but it helps.
A/n 2: If anyone is curious, the name of Phoebe's baby was Halimeda, which means, "thinking of the sea."