Sorry this took soooooo long to get up. I just moved so I didn't have internet until recently, and I also have been working full time and trying to go to college --- ICK. Anywho, this is the last part for this story. I made it really long to make up for the long wait, and I hope you all enjoy what has been the longest story I've ever undertaken. I wouldn't have finished it without all your encouraging reviews. Thanks!
All Tied Up
Curled up on the trusty old sofa in the attic of the Halliwell manor, Anne watched on as her husband telekinetically flipped through the pages of the sacred Book of Shadows. He had his arms folded over his chest, a pen dipping out from the corner of his mouth as he gestured with a couple fingers to turn the page until he found something he thought might be useful in restoring her memories, at which point he jotted down a few notes on a pad of paper he had resting next to the book on the old wood stand.
"Hey you two," a voice called out from the doorway.
Chris looked up, smiling at the new arrival, "Hey Aunt Prue."
"Find anything yet?" the dark haired woman asked, moving to stand next to him at the book. She glanced up at Anne, "How you feeling, Sweetie?"
Anne shrugged, "Things could be much worse. I am just relieved everyone is all right. Memories or no, I'm still happy."
Her husband looked up at her, his eyes locking on hers. "You will remember. I'll figure this out."
"I have no doubt about that," Anne said smiling.
"Ooh!" Prue pointed to the current entry, "You know if you mix this spell with the memory spell and add the power of three, it should work."
The nephew shook his head, "You can't mix this one with the memory spell. They call on two different elements. You cross them and they end up making someone lose their memory. It happened to Mom way back when."
"Yeah, if you don't combine them properly it'll do that, but I'm telling you it will work," Prue argued. "Here, just let me. . ." she swiped the pen from his hand and bent over his pad, furiously scribbling down a makeshift spell.
Chris opened his mouth to protest, but thought better of it, opting instead to just roll his eyes and wait for her to finish. After a moment he bent over to get a look at what his Aunt was writing. Prue waved her hand at him to leave her be much like an annoyed parent to their young child.
Anne stifled a giggle at her husband's frustrated look.
Orb lights sifted down through the ceiling swirling into the form of Andy. He looked over to see Chris shaking his head at something Prue was writing, pointing out that one of the stresses in the second line was wrong. Andy smiled as his wife responded that she had known that, and had meant to do it and reminded him that she had been writing spells quite a long time before he was even a glimmer in his mother's eye. Her nephew responded that his actually worked, though. Andy raised his eyebrows and pulled a face, "You're a braver man than I, Chris."
"Andy," Prue smiled at her husband. "Hey. I was just teaching Chris a thing or two about winging a good spell."
Chris rolled his eyes, "I can wing a spell just fine on my own, thank you."
"If you say so," Prue replied, archly.
Anne, unfamiliar with this little ritual, cut in, "I'm sure both of you are excellent spell writers, and you both will come up with something absolutely brilliant to help me get my memories back as soon as possible."
Andy smiled at the peacemaker of the family, "It's ok, Anne. They're just giving each other a little healthy grief."
"So, what did the elders say?" Chris asked.
The whitelighter let out a breath, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, guys, but you won't be needing a spell. Her memories should start filling in as early as today. They'll come naturally," Andy turned to Anne, "you won't even really notice a difference."
"Well, that's wonderful news," Anne enthused. She turned to Chris, "See, no need to worry now, was there?"
"Worry about what?" Alex asked, flinging his book bag down next to the sofa as he entered the room.
"How was school?" Chris asked, deftly changing the subject.
Alex, not buying it, responded warily, "Good. How were things here?"
"Good," Chris answered.
"Good, then," the son added, narrowing his eyes at his parent.
"Very," the father agreed, folding his arms over his chest.
The two stood staring at one another for a moment. Alex, challenging his father, letting the man know under no uncertain terms that he knew something was up and was not about to drop the matter. Chris answered the challenge with his parental authority, letting his son know that under no uncertain terms would he tell Alex unless it was absolutely necessary.
Prue interrupted the showdown, "Ok, far too much testosterone in this room right now." She turned to Anne, "Piper's already started the big family dinner, wanna come down and help her get ready? Leave the boys to be boys?"
"Sure," Anne replied, shaking her head at her husband and son. Sometimes she was still amazed at how alike they were.
As Anne and Prue headed down the stairs, they ran into Emma and Patty. Patty was chasing Emma up the stairs calling out to give something back. Emma was giggling and running for dear life.
"Patty, no running in the house," Prue admonished.
"Emma give back whatever it is you took from poor Patty," Anne added.
Emma came to a skidding halt in front of her mother. She held out a tiny plastic ring with a fake pink flower on it. "Justin gave it to her. He's her boyfriend now."
"Is not," Patty argued.
Prue smiled at her daughter, "Is that true? Did a boy give you a ring?"
"Yeah, but he's just a stupid boy. I don't even like him."
"That's not what you told me," Anne replied without even thinking. "You said you fancied him quite a bit. Said you thought he had pretty eyes."
Emma's face grew into a big grin, "I knew it." She took off running down the hall again, singing, "Patty's got a boyfriend, Patty's got a boyfriend."
Patty took off after her, yelling, "I do not."
"I just remembered," Anne muttered in shock. She looked up at Prue, "It just came out my mouth without my even having realized. . ."
The former Charmed One smiled, "Guess the Elders were right for once."
Anne smiled in return, "I guess so."
That's when the heard something explode down below.
Prue ran full speed ahead to face whatever evil being had come to wreak havoc on their lives. Anne followed.
What they found was not some big bad come to ruin their lives. It was not the scene of another easy vanquish either. A messy one, though, perhaps. For, standing in the middle of the kitchen was Piper Halliwell, one of the most powerful witches in history, covered in some sort of blue goo.
"Oh, Piper, are you ok? What kind of demon was it?" Prue asked, worried.
The other woman flapped her arms dramatically, spraying the blue goo everywhere in the process, as she answered, "It's not demon guts. It's a potion."
"After all these years you're still messing up potions?" Prue asked, showing her amusement as she took in the sight of her cleanliness conscious sister dripping in unknown substance
Piper scrunched up her face and shook her head, "Very funny, Sis. But no. My son is."
"Why was Wyatt making a potion?" Anne asked, tampering down her amusement at the sight of her usually intimidating mother-in-law looking so comical.
"Not Wyatt. Chris."
Both Prue and Anne were shocked to hear this. Normally, both Chrises were the best potion makers in the family. Those two were always concocting newer better vanquishing potions. The younger Chris was even coming up with a good luck potion based in Leprechaun gold powder that tasted of chocolate.
"I'm assuming the younger one, being as Christopher generally brews his potions at his own place," Prue guessed.
"Chris?" Anne questioned. "That doesn't make any sense. He's just as good as my husband with his potions. What happened?"
"It's Bianca," the mother explained exasperated. "He's so caught up with that...that..." she caught the look her older sister was shooting her and opted to change her word choice, "girl, that he's completely neglecting everything else. His grades aren't as good, he doesn't spend as much time with his friends, and now, now, he's letting his wiccan obligations slide. He forgot the potion on the burner, and that's why it exploded. All over me."
Orb lights filtered into the kitchen, taking the shape of The Twice Blessed. He moved to the fridge, took out the milk, placed the jug on the counter, went to fetch a cup and froze as he spotted his mother. His eyes grew wide and for a moment, the corners of his mouth twitching between a smile and a frown as he fought off the laughter.
His mother rolled her eyes, "I'm glad everyone finds this so funny."
"Finds what so funny?" Alex asked, as he and his father entered the kitchen, obviously having finished their battle of wills. The boy stopped in his tracks at the sight, and his father nearly tripped over him. "Oh. My. Gosh. Grandma, what the heck happened to you?"
The woman narrowed her eyes and pointed at the boy's father, who was standing in shock behind his son, blinking slowly at the sight of his mother dripping in unknown substance. "You. I blame you."
"Me? I didn't do anything," Christopher defended himself raising his hands.
"No, but your past self did and since he isn't here, I'm blaming you," Piper explained.
Wyatt shook his head, "Poor Uncle Christopher. Always getting the bad rap for my twerp of a brother."
"I am that twerp, so watch it."
The Twice Blessed shook his head, "I'm not going to lie, that's still weird."
Alex rolled his eyes, "Yeah, trying dealing with the fact you're so lame that your best friends are your father and your uncle."
"Yeah, you are lame," Wyatt agreed, laughing as his so-called cousin glared at him.
Christopher moved toward his irate mother. He looked carefully at the goo, "What is this exactly?"
"Potion that Chris forgot on the stove."
"Sorry," the future version apologized. "I can fix it, though."
"Then do so," Piper ordered gesturing for him to get on with it. "I've got two pans of lasagna in the oven and garlic bread too. If we want dinner anytime soon, you'll get me un-blue."
"May the object of objection become but a dream as I cause the scene to be unseen," Christopher chanted.
Bright white lights enveloped Piper and when they dissolved she was just as clean as she had been before the potion had wreaked havoc on her. She shook her head at her son, "I had been hoping for a non-magical solution, Christopher."
"You didn't say that though, did you?"
"I really should know better by now, shouldn't I?" his mother lamented.
Prue nodded, "Yeah, I knew better after just three years of trying to get Pheobe to stop using magic for personal gain."
The timer on the counter went off, signaling that dinner was ready. Immediately, all thoughts of blue goo were gone, and Piper went to fetch her dinner from the oven, setting it on top of the range and going to fetch her serving ware. Everyone else just took their place at the table, eager to taste the Charmed One's cooking.
"Andy, dinner," Prue yelled up for her husband.
The former detective showed up a few moments later, Emma, and Patty following behind him. Each took their seat at the table.
As the table grew more crowded, Christopher turned to Anne, "Are you sure about dinner tonight? Not gonna be overwhelmed? We can always get some to go."
"I think it'll be nice," his wife answered. "I've always loved the big family dinners. Besides, maybe it'll hurry my memories along."
Her husband smiled warmly at her, putting his hand over hers on the table and giving it a gentle squeeze.
"Mmm, I smell lasagna," Leo commented as he came into the kitchen, holding a large brown bag, which he placed on the counter. Then going over to the chef, he gave her a chaste kiss hello.
"You got the wine?" His wife asked.
"Would I forget?" Leo responded smiling. "I even got sparkling juice for the kids."
Wyatt perked up, "I love sparkling juice."
"And I'm the lame one," Alex muttered shaking his head.
"I heard that."
The front door was heard being slammed shut. A moment later Jason Phoebe and Melinda came in, Pheobe holding one tin of brownies and Melinda the other. The girls placed them on the counter next to the wine. Phoebe then moved to hug her sisters hello. "Oh, you guys, I missed you."
"You were only gone a couple weeks," Prue said, secretly pleased her grown up baby sister still missed her when they were apart for a while.
Phoebe sat down next to Prue, Jason sat next to her and Melinda took the seat next to Andy and across from Wyatt.
Piper looked at the clock, "Well, Paige is late. Again." She looked over to her time traveling son, "Will she ever be on time?"
"I should blow you up for that."
Christopher merely smiled, "But you love me now, so you can't."
"Oh that's what you think," she warned.
Leo patted his son on the back, as he took the seat next to Christopher's, "Trust me, Buddy, that excuse does not work."
Piper then got to work cutting up the garlic bread and dishing up the lasagna, which she then handed off to her family sitting at the table. Once everyone was all set with food, she grabbed the wine and sparkling juice and set them on the table, seating herself next to Leo.
Orb lights filtered down through the ceiling forming into the Brody family. Paige looked exhausted, large bags under her eyes, but she also glowed with a happiness that Anne hadn't seen in the woman before. The reason for said happiness was sleeping in a car seat that Kyle was currently holding.
Kyle went and sat next to Leo, immediately asking about how things were going 'up there' since he had taken a leave from the heavens in order to help out with Pearl. Leo smiled and started filling him in on all his charges while rocking the car seat that was between them gently with his foot.
Paige smiled at her big sister, "Piper, I know I'm late, but you can't be mad because it's not my fault. Pearl needed a changing."
"You are forgiven," Piper answered, rising and hugging her sister in welcome.
Paige took a seat across from Christopher, "So, how goes everything with the new restaurant?"
"Fine, I think," Christopher answered.
"Good," She turned to Anne, "how is the memory thing coming along?"
Anne shrugged, "It's all right, I suppose. I remembered something about Patty...it just sort of popped out of my mouth without my thinking about it."
Her husband turned to look at her, "You didn't say that."
"It just happened."
"Well, that's great," he smiled, though his eyes didn't quite light up.
Anne raised an eyebrow at him, "I know you better than that. You're worried aren't you?"
Pursing his lips, Chris sighed, looking down at his plate. "I just don't want you to get overwhelmed by all the changes. Your mind is going to be going through a lot of change. . .that's why time travel is so risky."
"You think I'm going to go batty?"
Alex, who was on the other side of his mother, caught that part of the conversation and asked, "Wait, you never said Mum could get hurt. You said you were going to start treating me like an adult now. You promised. So if something is going to happen to Mum you need to tell me so I can help."
Anne grinned at her spouse, "You let him win?"
"Every boy needs to win a battle of wills with their old man once in a while," Christopher shrugged. "Besides, I figured he'd eventually figure it out anyway so there really was no protecting him from it."
Emma's ears perked up at the other end of the table, "What's going on with Mum?"
"Nothing," Alex lied. "She's just got a touch of a headache, that's all. Nothing for a kid like you to worry yourself about."
Christopher rolled his eyes, "Great, now it's gone to his head."
Emma pulled a face at her brother, "I'm not a kid."
Wyatt, who was stuck between the two siblings held up his hands, "Ok, I'm going to mute you both if you don't knock it off."
"Can you do that?" Emma asked biting off a piece of bread.
Patty nodded, "He's all powerful, Em. He can do whatever he wants."
Melinda shook her head, "Not whatever. We all have rules, and muting them would be personal gain, wouldn't it Mom?"
"Yup, 'fraid so, Wyatt," Phoebe agreed before eating a fork full of lasagna.
The Twice Blessed snapped his fingers in mock disappointment.
After several moments of silence as all dug into their perfect meal, Christopher finally noticed something distinctly wrong with the traditional family meal. Turning to his parents he asked worriedly, "Where is Chris?"
Leo put his hand on Piper's shoulder to stop the snappy reply she had and answered, "He's having dinner with Bianca's family tonight instead. Apparently her grandparents are in town and wanted to meet Chris."
Christopher's eyes grew wide, "What?"
"They seem awfully serious," Anne commented, not sure what to think about the situation. "Then again, she is a lot older than him, she could be looking for something more serious."
"She not that much older," Christopher defended, then shook his head, realizing how childish he sounded, and how invalid the point was considering what he knew. "That's not the point. Bianca doesn't have any family. Besides her mom, I mean. He lied to you. Chris isn't where he said he is."
Piper looked livid, "What do you mean? Where the hell is he then?"
"Stop having a meltdown," the boy in question answered as he came into the kitchen looking the worse for wear. His hair was sticking up in all directions and was covered in dust, his face was dirty as well, smudges of blood on one cheek, his new green shirt was ripped with claw marks and his jeans were had a hole in the knee that Piper was fairly certain hadn't been there previously. "I'm home, alive, and I just want some food, so could we please skip the whole, you lied to us thing and get to the oh-my-god-what-happened-to-you-are-you-okay thing?"
"Don't you take that tone with me, Mister," Piper started, "where the hell have you been and what happened to you?"
"Okay, so I did lie. I wanted to take Bianca to a party tonight, instead. However, when we got there, the demon I've been tracking was waiting for us. He was a little pissed off and without the vanquishing potion I was um...taken to the underworld and got kicked around a bit." He turned away and dished up some dinner, "Long story short, my clothes got ruined, I got hurt, and worst of all my girlfriend had to come save my ass."
Piper was about to go off on another tirade but a look from Leo silenced her. It seemed the boy's father felt he had learned his lesson. The mother didn't, but she also didn't want to ruin dinner. So, she stayed her tempered and bit down into a piece of garlic bread to keep quiet.
"Do you need any healing, Buddy?" Leo asked as Chris sat down across from Anne.
"Is Bianca ok?"
"Yeah," Chris answered. "Not a scratch."
Leo nodded, "Then I guess you got lucky this time, huh?"
The son rolled his eyes, "Yeah, guess so." Muttering under his breath, "would've been fine if I would've had that damn potion with me."
Christopher heard him and said, "You would have had it with you if you weren't so distracted by your new girlfriend, Chris. You realize you left it on the burner all afternoon? It exploded."
"I did?" Chris asked, clearly not remembering doing so. "I swore I took it off right when. . .oh."
"Let me guess, Bianca called?" Christopher supplied.
His younger counterpart closed his eyes in shame, "I can't believe I did that. If it had been a different potion. . ."
". . .It could have exploded in a whole different way," his uncle finished again. Taking pity on, well, essentially himself, the older man continued, "I get that you're crazy in love and that everything is secondary right now, but you've got to remember that your first priority is always, always, always to your witch craft. . ."
Wyatt whispered to Alex, "With great power comes great responsibility."
". . .remember, with great power comes great responsibility," Christopher finished. He frowned as both Wyatt and Alex burst out laughing. He folded his arms over his chest, "Ok, what'd I miss?"
Patty rolled her eyes and turned to Paige, "Did he watch a lot of Spiderman growing up?"
"Yeah, blame Jason."
Jason shrugged, "It was a good movie. I didn't know I showed it to both Chrises. And I don't think we watched it all that much."
"Honey," Phoebe grinned, "you got him so hooked he could quote it."
Melinda giggled, "I remember when Chris was little he used to dress up in the outfit all the time and run around pretending to shoot webbing out his wrists."
Both Chrises started blushing fiercely.
Anne turned to her husband, "Aaww, you never told me that. I bet you were the most adorable Spider Man ever."
"This is so not cool," both Chrises moaned.
It was at this point that the entire table seemed to erupt into conversation at once. Wyatt and Alex teasing the younger Chris mercilessly for his childhood obsession. Chris getting them both back by reminding Alex of his Superman phase and Wyatt about his obsession with the blue Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, which Wyatt held no shame for, saying his was actually cool.
Patty and Emma began discussing Halloween costumes. Patty wanted to go as a witch, which Emma thought was stupid considering she was one. Emma wanted to go as warrior princess.
Kyle, Jason Andy and Leo started talking about sports.
The Charmed Ones were engaged in a discussion about little Pearl. Piper, Phoebe and Prue were warning Paige about how fast they grow up, and how as a mom you have to treasure each and every phase of their lives, taking lots and lots of video– Piper insisted. Paige just wanted to know when she'd be able to sleep through a night again.
Anne listened intently, feeling more at ease and more at peace than she had in a very long time. This was the way things were supposed to be. One big happy family. Sure, demons still were going to cause problems, Chris' incident highlighting that fact, but they still were a family. Everyone was alive and happy and healthy. Best of all, she was responsible. Out of everyone here, little mortal that she was, she saved the day and fixed things.
Christopher leaned over to whisper in her ear, "Everything okay?"
She turned to look into those same green eyes that had captured her heart all those years before and thought on all the things they had been through together, all the hardships and trials, all the pain, and then with memories she barely recognized as being altered saw all the joy and all the love, the moments that made life worth living– family food fights with their kids, vacations, soft touches, loving looks, the laughter of her son and daughter, her volunteer work.
With teary eyes, Anne answered, "This is what perfect feels like. Life is like a present all tied up in a pretty red ribbon. It's a present where everyone gets what they deserve–Paige and Kyle have a beautiful little girl, Jason and Phoebe are together and Melinda seems to have straightened out, Piper and Leo are just as happy and in love as ever, Prue and Andy got to live the life they earned, everyone is ok with the truth about you, Emma has a best friend in Patty, Wyatt is studying to be a doctor, I've got my new clinic with my clients, and you and Piper have the club and the restaurant, Bianca and Chris finished the destiny you never got to with a love that's fated, but you and I. . .our life is amazing, isn't it? We love each other, and we've got two amazing kids. Can you picture anything better?"
Christopher shook his head, "No. I can't." And with that, he softly kissed her.
This may not have been what life was supposed to be like for the two lovers. Fate may have had other plans for Christopher and Anne. He could have returned to the future, while she married Terry and had a different kind of life. However, life has many paths, with many loose ends that can guide people to take a road less traveled, and lead to the perfect life they, in the end, created for themselves.