Disclaimer: See First Chapter.
Author's Note: Hi! I've updated two stories today so I'm very happy. I haven't gotten a chance to work much because of school, but my finals are finally over so I'll have more time to write.
Thank You ForReviewing. I hope you enjoy this chapter...
"Before we get started on the Book," She said, gripping the pedestal tightly to keep from shaking, "I want to talk about Tessa and what we're going to do now that… that I'm in her life."
Cole remained silent.
"I tried moving out about a year ago and it didn't work out too well…"
"Phoebe." He said firmly, cutting her off.
When he had her attention, he spoke, slowly, so that she could understand just how serious he was.
"I am here because we have a magical problem, a magical problem that is easiest to solve with me and my daughter here. Because the greatest form of protection I can offer my child is within these walls. I am not here to discuss anything not pertaining to magic. Any discussion that you and I have about my daughter will be had in my home." The tone brooked no argument and made his position clear.
Phoebe bristled, "Cole, it's not like it's a war, relax-"
"It's always been war where we're concerned Phoebe," he cut her off, "… it just took me awhile to figure it out. One of us has always had to give in, in order for us to work." He stated, coldly, "Usually it was me."
Phoebe opened her mouth, her nails clawing into the wood of the pedestal.
"It won't be like that this time." Cole spoke, once again cutting her off, "It is a war, and this time I want home court advantage. No more fighting things on your territory, you want Tessa – fine, we'll work something out – on my terms. In the meantime I will do everything in my power to corporate with you and your sisters so we can destroy this thing."
Phoebe took a deep breath; there really wasn't much you could say to that. Nodding slowly, she stepped back and motioned for him to look at the book. "Good to know where you stand," she added as he approached.
"I always did let you know where I stood Phoebe."
"Not always, Cole, not always,"
The exchange was quiet and quick, but it touched a nerve in them both. It sparked memories of long ago years; of memories neither was willing to contemplate.
Cole quickly turned his attention to the book. He flipped through the pages quickly, familiarly, noticing that there were few new entries.
"Here… Yenix…" he said pointing to the page.
Phoebe looked it over, "There's a vanquishing spell; it's fairly simply; not power of three… I bet Piper could just blow them up…"
"Not if they're coated with that potion," Cole reminded her.
"True…" she said and began running the list of ingredients through her mind, "We're out of mandrake though and running low on snakeskin…" she muttered, and would have continued to, if Cole had let her.
"Phoebe…" he prodded, staring at the top of her bent head, "… touch it."
Phoebe paused, than nodded, her expression was grim – she had a bad feeling about this. Sighing softly she reached out and laid her fingertips against the image of the monster.
Cole watched her eyes close, saw her stiffen, and remembered how hard he'd had to work in the beginning to make sure she never got a premonition off of him.
Her eyes flew open; she stared straight ahead at his chest. He waited for her to speak, but she said nothing, after a few more moments he gave a frustrated sigh, "Well?"
Her head lifted, her eyes met his, "I saw Lady," she whispered, "Tessa's right, She's beautiful..."
"Most deadly things are," Cole responded, the words sliding easily off his tongue, his eyes pointed.
Phoebe ignored the jab, but couldn't ignore the flash of satisfaction she felt - he'd implied she was beautiful...
Pushing away that sort of thought, she began flipping through the pages.
They were standing side by side now, could feel the heat emanating from each other. Cole shifted his weight away from her - he wouldn't forget, couldn't…
"There! That's our Lady!" Phoebe cried, pointing at the drawing of a beautiful enchantress.
The instant her finger landed on the image, her body went rigid again... she jerked, but much more violently than before, her eyes rolled back into her head and she would have fallen to the floor if Cole hadn't moved quickly.
It was a large cave, lit by torches that lined the walls. Intricate tapestries hung in front of the walls and plush rugs covered the dirt floor, making the cave look almost homey.
The beautiful woman was standing in the middle of room pacing back and forth slowly, her dark eyes eerily appealing.
Sitting in a row in front of her were three little children. Two boys and a girl. The dark haired girl held in her arms a dark haired baby boy and next to her sat a towheaded child. They're eyes were riveted upon the Lady, absorbing every word out of her mouth.
"I know you must be frightened, must feel that you're now alone in the world; after all with you parents all dead, who is going to care for you? Who is going to love you? Who will be your mommy?" The woman spoke softly, gently almost, but with a subtle cynicism that was chilling.
"I want you to know that you are not alone, that I am here. I will take care of you..." she said her voice changing a little, losing the gentle quality and becoming firm.
"... we're going to work together," she continued, "And I will make you utterly powerful. I will make it so no one else will ever take advantage of you again. You hold the power of a universe in your hands and I will teach you how to use it, how to wield it for your own purposes. I will guide you, and together we are going to make a better world..." she turned to face them fully, "You are my Charmed Ones now..."
"Phoebe, Dammit!" Cole said through clenched teeth, as he held her upper body in his arms. He'd been calling her and shaking her for a good minute already and she hadn't woken up. Having quickly glanced at the page he knew enough about their Lady to know that they shouldn't be wasting time.
Giving up he sighed roughly and lifted her into his arms, he walked her over to the couch and sat at its edge - to wait. He kept a firm lid on his emotions as he observed her.
He saw the way her eyes were moving underneath the lids, whatever she was seeing she was doing her best to take it all in.
She shot up suddenly, her eyes wide.
"Relax." He said, the word was clipped and carried not an ounce of warmth. He was too busy suppressing the urge to touch her to worry about warmth. He wasn't going to think about how this new hairstyle of hers made her look very young or that her eyes were wide and a little frightened, he wasn't going to think about how she was probably a little disoriented and could use a little reassurance... she was Phoebe... and he wouldn't forget.
"Oh god," she muttered, sitting up.
"Since when do you pass out 'cause you get a premonition?" he asked roughly, not putting it past her to have faked it. He'd leaned to expect anything from her.
She didn't register the question, just shook her head trying to clear it and was assaulted by a wave of nausea.
"Piper," she said, a little breathlessly, trying to get the world to stop spinning, "I need… Piper…" she moved to stand, forcing Cole to get up.
On her feet she headed unsteadily for the door. Cole followed, his teeth clenched as he suppressed the urge to lift her into his arms. She was fine, she had premonitions all the time, she was probably exaggerating.
Nevertheless he couldn't help keeping a sharp eye on her as she maneuvered the stairs and kept his hands at the ready to help her.
"Piper!" she called as soon as the reached the last step.
Piper was standing over a mixing bowl, her dark hair pulled back as she vigorously stirred the contents. Chris cooed in his bassinet on the counter, he chubby arms flailing around quietly.
"Oh jeez, Phoebe! What happened?" she cried when she laid eyes on her sister, shooting Chris a quick glance she moved towards her; then shot angry glances at Cole, "What did you do?" she hissed, "It was a simple assignment, you didn't have to go and upset her so much… like this isn't hard enough without you behaving like a jackass," she continued as she ushered Phoebe into a chair, "Look at her she's pale as a ghost what did you-"
"I didn't do anything."
"He didn't do anything."
Both said at the same time, Piper glanced between them, "Oh, okay then… what happened?"
Phoebe shook her head, still trying to clear it, "I just… it's like… it pulled me in… it was like I was there…"
Having no idea what her sister was talking about, Piper looked up at Cole for an explanation.
"She passed out," he said evenly, his voice devoid of any inflection.
Piper's gaze flew back to Phoebe, "That's new…"
"Tell me about it…" Phoebe said wryly rubbing a hand over her face.
"You okay? Are you hurt? Want me to call Leo?" She asked running her gaze quickly over her sisters form.
Phoebe shook her head, "No, I just… my head was a little fuzzy there for a second, but I'm better now…"
Piper nodded, "What did you see? Did you find the demon that attacked Tessa?"
"Yeah, Cole found it, I touched the page it was on and saw something… I'm pretty sure it was in the past though. They were reporting to…" Phoebe trailed off.
After a moment she continued, "I saw Lady too… found her in the book… its Lamia…"
Piper blinked at her sister in silence, "Am I supposed to know who that is…" she asked after a few moments.
Phoebe sighed, "It just makes no sense…"
"Share the thoughts, Phoebe…" Piper said wryly as she stood and moved to sit.
A quick smiled touched Phoebe's lips before she said softly, "The book says she eats children."
"It says that she consumes children... she is beautiful – from the waist up. From the waist down she's a serpent"
"GREAT. Just what we need, a snake-like woman who eats children…"
"But it doesn't make sense…" Phoebe repeated, "She's been hanging out with Tessa and hasn't…" she swallowed hard; suddenly realizing the danger her daughter had been in.
Piper was silent a moment, than asked, "Did the book say why she ate the children? Maybe she can't get what she wants from Tessa…"
"For vengeance." Both women looked up at Cole with surprise on their faces. He'd been so silent they'd forgotten his presence.
"The desire for it consumes her." He continued knowledgably.
Slowly he walked around to the other end of the table and sat down, "The legend says she was once Queen of Lybia and dazzlingly in her beauty. So beautiful that the very ruler of Olympus fell in love with her, Zeus took her as a lover and gave her the power of immortality so that she might always be with him. When his wife found out, she was – as usual – consumed with fury. One day while Lamia was away Hera put serpents into the beds of Lamia's children and one by one they were all killed. Legend has it that when Lamia entered the rooms of her children the place was infested with serpents, there were dozens of them, the entire room crawling with them and the bodies of her children among the writhing creatures; in a desperate rage she destroyed the serpents with her bare hands, even going as far as to consume them. When every serpent had been devoured, she released a roar of fury and rage so intense it reached Olympus and shook the very walls of the palace." He stopped there, and stared at the sisters, silently amused at there looks of rapt attention.
The amusement fled though, when he saw the way Phoebe leaned her cheek against her hand – the same way Tessa did.
"Well…" Piper said, her voice a little impatient, "Don't stop now…"
With a quick smirk, he drew his eyes away from Phoebe and continued the story, "Her rage combined with the magic Zeus had infused her with turned her into a serpent-like creature – and her sorrow turned to maniac grief. Why should anyone have children if she couldn't? If she had to feel the pain of a child lost, than so should the world."
"So she eats children." Piper said softly, "So everyone can know her pain."
"But this… the Greek gods are long gone… how did she survive? How could something that feeds on children not have been destroyed by now?" Phoebe asked.
"She's a snake Phoebe," Cole responded.
"She doesn't look like one."
"Of course not. She has the ability to take on a human form – her form, and the snake form. What I meant was that she's cunning."
"I thought the fox was cunning." Phoebe said.
"He is," Piper said, shooting a look at Cole, "The snake is sneaky…" she stated and her eyes dared him to contradict her.
Cole rolled his eyes, "Whatever. Point is she's smart enough to have lived this long and I don't think she'd risk herself for just anything."
"She wants Tessa but not for her usual…so for what?" Piper said softly.
"Um… my vision…" Phoebe began softly, when she had both sets of eyes on her she continued, "My vision showed her with… with all three kids." She finished.
Piper swallowed hard, "Were they hurt?"
Phoebe shook her head, "No but… I think we were… the way she was talking… it seemed like we were…."
"Like we were what!" Piper asked, frustrated and nervous – she knew what Phoebe was going to say and it didn't bode well for the rest of the day.
"We were dead. She was talking to them, telling them that she would take care of them and they'd make a better world," she paused a moment before adding, "The scary thing is that they were listening, really listening; they were hanging on her every word."
"I don't like the sound of this…" Cole said after those words sank in. He stood and paced the kitchen a moment, "I mean its one thing to be attacked, but this… this is a completely different thing. This woman has done a lot of work for this; she's been meticulous in her dealings." He studied the two women a moment before adding, "It may be hard for you to believe, but I am customarily aware of every move my daughter makes, this Lamia associated with her regularly for over two weeks, without me catching on. She taught Tessa how to arrange and rearrange the crystals, how to cast glamour spells on her babysitter, how to fake sleep convincingly…" his eyes narrowed in sudden anger, but the sisters knew it was anger not directed at them, "She taught her how to lie. This isn't some quick scheme; this woman has come up with something big; there's a grand design to all this somewhere."
"I agree," Piper stated, "Like you said before, she's smart, which makes her very dangerous. We need to figure out what her design is."
"I think I know," Phoebe said softly after a moment, "but it just doesn't make sense. In the vision, she told the kids that… she told them they were her Charmed Ones now…"
Piper frowned, "Her Charmed Ones? We're the charmed ones."
"That's the part I don't understand." Phoebe said softly.
"She wants our kids…"
"There are three of them…" Cole said interrupting Piper.
"So what?" Phoebe asked, her eyes going to his, "Are you saying that they're the next Charmed Ones?"
He shrugged, "I don't know but would it be a big stretch? Think about it…"
"I don't think there can be another set of Charmed Ones… and I think if there were they'd be girls…" Piper said softly.
"Well maybe they aren't technically Charmed, but something like it. They did inherit a mix of all our powers…" Phoebe added.
"This is so not good," Piper said, sighing wearily.
The sound of tinkling filled the kitchen a moment later.
"Okay I have good new and bad news…" Paige said as she appeared.
"Well you're doin better than us…" Piper stated.
"All we got is bad." Phoebe finished.
Paige gave a heavy sigh, shot a glare at Cole for good measure, and moved past him to the table.
"Okay, good news is the potion used has an antidote…. Bad news is it requires the blood of the demon that created."
"Oh, great," Piper said sullenly.
"Hey, on the bright side we know who that demon is…" Phoebe said, always the optimist.
"You do?" Paige asked brightly as she sat down.
"Yeah, she just wants to avenge the death of her children by killing us and using our children to dominate the world."
"Tessa is not yours," Cole said immediately. In response he received three very angry glares.
"I beg to differ," Piper said heatedly.
"She's as much as ours as she is yours," Paige added.
Cole opened his mouth to respond but Phoebe beat him to it.
"You can't deny it, Cole, she's part of us and we're part of her." Than she turned to her sisters, "Cole has decided that any all discussion about Tessa that does not involve magic will be had in his house; and I – meaning we – have no choice in the matter. So until this all gets figured out and solved we're not going to discuss any of it, okay?"
Her sisters stared at her a moment, before nodding. They really had no choice but to follow her lead. They accepted it, albeit not before shooting heated glances at Cole.
There was silence again in the kitchen and Cole sighed in frustration, "So you need blood, no big deal. You got my blood when you needed it for a vanquish."
"That was flesh." Paige said grumpily.
"And it was hard." Piper added, "That took us a while to do."
"We're just going to have to speed up the process," Phoebe said standing, "We're more experienced now. How hard could this be?"
Paige sighed, "Considering we don't know where to find her… pretty hard."
"Well scry for her or something," Cole hissed.
"With what?" Paige snapped, "Hopes and wishes?" The sarcasm dripped from her words.
Cole opened his mouth to respond, but was interrupted by Tessa, who suddenly ran back into the kitchen, Wyatt running in after her.
Neither were crying, but the fear on their faces had all the adults suddenly scared.
"What happened?" Cole asked his daughter, as he bent to scoop her up. She'd made a beeline for her father and buried her face against his chest for a moment before speaking.
"Monsters Daddy, Monster in da living 'oom," she said fearfully.
"What!" they all said in unison.
Piper lifted Wyatt into her arms. The boy too sought comfort from his parent, and his mother rubbed soothing circles on his back.
"What do you mean, honey?" Phoebe asked softly as she approached her daughter, ignoring the being holding her daughter and his intense gaze.
Tessa looked to her mother, with the same wide eyes, "It jus appeared and we 'ooked up and it was d'there and I was gonna scream but d'then Wy put d'this blue thing up and they couldn't touch us. They jus stood d'there for 'while and 'ooked at us and 'alked and d'then left."
"My god! How long was it in there!" Paige cried.
"Even if they'd called for us, the shield muffles sound… we wouldn't have heard…" Piper said softly, tightening her hold on Wyatt.
"This is ridiculous!" Cole hissed, but his features were decidedly more pinched. He was upset. "If the boy hadn't had a shield they could have been taken or…" He trailed off, paling as he realized what could have happened… even with all of them in the next room.
They all paled.
"Or killed," Paige finished.
"They're never leaving our sights again." Phoebe said a note of finality in her words, "Not until this is resolved."
Paige nodded and went to the bassinet and lifted a now sleeping Chris.
"We're going to have to work fast, that was too close for comfort." Phoebe said firmly.
"We'll make a spell and try summoning," Piper added, her tone intense.
Paige nodded, "We'll keep trying until it works."
"Something has to work," Phoebe continued.
They nodded,but all continued to standthere, all quiet; thinking of the tragedy that could have just happened. Of how close it had come, of how unaware they would've been...
Suddenly though, Tessa sighed dramatically and broke the pensive atmosphere as only a child can.
"So…" she said, looking around, her confidence returning now that she was safe with her family, "You wanna see the pictures we drew before the Monsters came?"