His fate: lead. His thoughts on leading: "Does he have it in him to lead? Where would he even begin?" (14.76).
Okay, so Partridge isn't exactly the most confident dude out there, but he's still a leader… however reluctantly.
In Pure, Partridge is hesitant and a regretful at points. His mind constantly jumps to inside the Dome, and he often wishes he never left. But in Fuse, he doesn't want to go back to the Dome. He's a wretch now, and he likes being a wretch.
But the problem is that he needs to go back inside the Dome so that he can lead from within. So he does what a leader would do: he gives himself up to the Dome, sacrificing his life outside the Dome to save the lives of the wretches. And when the Dome tries to heal his pinky, he isn't too happy:
The thing is, he doesn't want his finger back. He sacrificed, and now that sacrifice is being erased. (28.12)
Partridge might not be confident, but he's courageous. He might not be particularly intelligent at times, but he's determined. He's constantly manipulated by his father and the Dome throughout both Pure and Fuse, but he keeps his nose to the grindstone. Partridge is given great opportunities just to roll over and give up, but he doesn't… and that's why he's the most dominant leader in the book.
Along with his suddenly kick-butt leadership qualities, it's worth pointing out how much Partridge has grown since Pure. In Pure, it was hard not to laugh at some of his mistakes: Partridge was a walking, talking disaster. He couldn't figure out a riddle that was pretty much spelled out for him, and he was a sitting duck outside of the Dome. But now there's no humor in his mistakes—partly because he doesn't make as many mistakes, but partly because he's developed much better common sense.
Partridge doesn't hesitate, and we feel pretty confident in his abilities (even if he doesn't feel confident) to be a leader from within. After all, the ending scene gives us tremendous hope in him:
He taught them to shake hands, like men. But this is on Partridge's terms, this absolution, and as he leans down and gives his father a kiss, he blows the capsule from his mouth past his father's lips to the back of his throat. (76.136)
With this kiss of death, Partridge is now the hunter, not the hunted.
There are really two sides of Partridge: a fighter, and a lover. Whenever he's not leading, he's loving. And whenever he's not loving… well, you get the picture.
In some ways, we can call Partridge a hopeless romantic. Whenever he's faced with imminent danger, one thought comes to his head: Lyda. When he feels happy (which is rare), he thinks of one thing: Lyda. When he's confused: Lyda. His head simply revolves around his love for Lyda, and all he wants is to be with her forever:
He wants to hold this moment—the Christmas lights blinking overhead, Mother Hestra telling Syden a story about a fox, and Lyda bent over her work. (14.2)
Aww, it's kind of cute. But it's also heart-wrenchingly sad… because he knows that all he can do is dream. While Pressia would never admit to Bradwell that she loves him, Partridge would write a whole book about how much he loves Lyda. Even when he knows Lyda is outside the Dome and he's inside the Dome, his mind plays tricks on him:
There's a knock at the door, and for a second, he wonders if it's Lyda. Anything could happen. (32.13)
Hearing a knock at the door and thinking it's your bae? That's a symptom of Hopeless Romantic Syndrome.
But his obsession with Lyda brings a new dimension his mission to lead from within. We wonder: is Partridge's mission to save Lyda, or to save the world? Even when he has to pretend to be married to Iralene, his mind tends to stray from his mission to lead and drift towards his mission to love Lyda:
He can pretend, for a moment, that Lyda is out there, on the other side of the glass somewhere. He wants to tell her that he's not betraying her. This will pass. He'll come back for her. (48.64)
His passion is so intense that it truly seems like Partridge's love for Lyda parallels Bradwell's quest for the truth. Maybe for Partridge, Lyda is all the truth he needs.