Part Three of Three. Enjoy.
Set Us Free, Part III (Until The End Of Time)
The ancient dust on the floor began to sweep up into the air as a whooshing sound passed through the air. There was a bright blue flash, depositing each of the Charmed Ones in front of one of the three statues in the room, with them facing one another all with overwhelmed expressions on their faces. Finally, the trio began to walk back into the centre, where the Book of Shadows still lay on the ground, apparently unharmed by whatever had happened to them.
"Where were you?" Piper asked both of them, casting her look between her sisters.
"Present." She answered her own question. "What were we supposed to get from that whole experience?"
"To regain your will for the battle."
"To remind you what you had to fight for."
"To make you realize there's an after if you make it so."
The Charmed Ones and instantly spun around on the spot, convinced that they had just heard the voices in their heads come from the statues around them. Phoebe, tired of the numerous games and trials they had had to endure, stepped forward with an indignant look on her face.
"Who are you?"
"The calm before the storm…"
"The calamity itself…"
"…And the soothing breeze once the tempest subsides."
"We are birth."
"We are life."
"We are death."
"The Triple Goddess…" Phoebe breathed, swirling on the same spot as she examined all three statues, armed with this new knowledge. She stopped spinning, landing back to face her sisters' curious gazes. The middle Charmed One knew from her extensive research into their powers, from everything she had ever learned about where they came from. "The original Power of Three… The root of all witches."
Piper was next to question these beings, staring up into the air so she wasn't just addressing one statue. "Why the hell are you in the Hollow if you're so important to the world of magic? I thought you were off on some untouchable plane."
"We are part of the cage that keeps the beast contained."
"We put our words into their mouths so they could spread the cage… enforce its bars."
"Then we sealed ourselves within our cage, to ensure perpetual entrapment."
"We've waited… thousands of years, we have waited."
"The magic grew stronger, finally becoming something that would have the strength to purify this world of its final Old Powers."
"Forever tied to the beast, we will fade with its dying breath, granting rest to those who spoke our words for all these years…"
"But… if you die, don't you take the powers of every witch with you?" Paige inquired nervously, supremely unnerved by the three voices whispering their ancient words in her head, words that had not been uttered for thousands of years, and would probably never be uttered again.
"The power lies in no being. It lives in the very way of this world. The power of the witch comes from the plentiful earth, its ways manipulated into extraordinary abilities that give birth and continue to grant magic. As long as there is the world, there will always be the witch."
"Birth, life, and death, with eternity at its epicenter. As long as the wayss of this world are honoured, magic shall live until the end of time, regardless of who remains within it."
"This, is the true meaning of the Power of Three…"
The ground rumbled slightly, before a stream of light shot out from the ground in the middle of the sisters, making them step back, startled. It shot up to the ceiling as a pool of glorious white light began to grow on the ground within their triangle. It seemed to be a portal of some kind, yet the Book of Shadows sat unharmed and immovable within the middle, the centre of the silver triquetra being the source of the single beam of light.
"Step forward, and begin the end."
"Bring forward an age where the world no longer trembles in the shadow of Ultimate Powers, or perish trying…"
"Destroy everything, and rebuild."
Almost enthralled by the spectacular sight of the portal, all three Charmed Ones slowly stepped into the pool of light in front of them, instantly dissolving into a spray of twinkling bright lights that swirled on the spot for a split second before shooting off upwards to find where the darkness would finally end.
It seemed like they were in some kind of in-between world, with the only anchor being the massive clod of ground that floated steadily within the complete and utter chaos. And yet, despite their lack of movement, it felt like they were moving through the ether at an incredible speed, with so much light and so many colours flying around them in the absence of tangible things. Golden pulses that would slowly darken as they spread, emerald rings of light that would pass by like lights in a train tunnel, and the ever-present blood red hue that was more terrifying than anything the Charmed Ones had ever faced. It made them think that the blood of people who had tried what they were doing before had been sprayed violently across the world, forever staining it. It was like they had walked through that portal, and where still traveling to the other side. This was the infinity between destinations, an endless abyss. Eternity.
Their hair flapped wildly around them, caught up in the supernatural wind, and yet they couldn't even feel the breeze itself. They didn't dare look over the edge, knowing that they would just see more of this yawning chasm of light and blood beneath them, just as it was above and around them. This wasn't the attic, or even a mildly threatened Underworld cavern. In this case, it seemed, the location was as dangerous as the dweller. It was vicious, snarling, waiting for its prey.
"Not what you were expecting?"
The Charmed Ones looked towards the voice and were shocked to find Katrina and her two partners, Vondar and Insigil next to her on the other side of the floating plateau. Her expression was unlike anything they had been from her before. It was emotionless, grave, and somehow, threatening. The other two beings wore similar expressions, looking toward the three witches with a vaguely intimidating aura.
"What are you doing here?" Piper shouted over the screaming chaos.
"Hopefully, getting killed!" Katrina shouted back, "Diam and Tyola… Well, they weren't the first servants of the Hollow, and you know that. They were the refined versions. There were three before them, but foolishly, they were made with human emotions and most of all, a conscience. The moment they saw the destruction and misery their maker was bringing, they vanished into the heavens, were gifted with the binding spell from the Triple Goddess, and were able to seal away their creator with the great sacrifice of every grand magical being left in the world, leaving nothing… This is our story, how the Higher Beings were brought into the world and how we changed it. Now, it's time for another change to occur, but you guys have got to be the ones that do it."
"You tricked us…" Phoebe seethed, stepping forward with fury shining in her eyes, "You gave us the new Book of Shadows, you showed us those souls at Journey's End, and you made us fight, all so you could kill us in this grand finale? Why not just kill us? You certainly have the power!"
"Are you kidding?" Vondar replied, an eyebrow arched, "We don't want you dead! We engineered your powers from way back in time, when Melinda Warren was nothing but a twinkle in Destiny's eye. We gave you the tools you needed to become stronger, to elevate your power even more. We even controlled what you experienced once you entered the Hollow. We made sure you…" He made eye contact with Paige, "…would get the dragon's blood you needed to refine the potion you used against Diam and Tyola, and give it enough power to destroy even us. We made sure you would get the idea to use the power of all the stagnant souls around you, reinforcing your Power of Three and taking it to the point where you stand a chance in a direct fight against us." Phoebe looked down, refusing to look at him as he spoke, "And of course, we carefully choreographed the breaking of the Power of Three, and the reunion, just to make sure your bond was as strong as it could be. Everything in the last fourteen years has been getting you ready for this moment. The escalating danger of the enemies you faced, the personal woes… All of it's made you stronger. You can beat us; you just have to fight like hell!"
"Why do we need to beat you at all?" Paige spat back, "You're the good guys! You're on our side. Why can't you just get out of our way and let us vanquish the Hollow?"
"Because it doesn't work like that." Insigil answered mournfully, looking down at the ground that moved through the chaos like a ship through the sea. "You're in the heart of the Hollow. Here, it doesn't have any power as all of it is on the outside. You got this far, and I applaud you, but when intruders get to this point, it summons its servants and fights through them, regardless of whether or not the servants want to. You can't vanquish it until you vanquish us. After us, there are no more beings it can possess here. It will be naked, exposed, and weak."
Katrina's expression suddenly fell to an even more miserable expression, "It's coming…" She breathed, fear in her eyes, but also a sense of relief for finally bringing this to an end. She regained her composure in the last second, her face becoming wrought with hope and determination. "Don't hold back… because we certainly won't be able to."
A sphere of swirling colours suddenly bled out from the wailing vortex around them, making the Charmed Ones duck down to a crouching position as it flew over their heads, heading towards the three Higher Beings. It pulled up, hovering high above Katrina's head. It was a mixture of pure black and brilliant gold, with the constant stream of blood red, making it look like the embodiment of death. There was a low groaning sound, before the sphere slowly split into three smaller forms, and floated down to the Higher Beings below, ignoring their screams of pain as it pierced their backs, taking control and turning their eyes black as a result.
There was no going back now.
A colossal blast of energy flew from Katrina's hands almost instantly, heading straight towards the three witches before it detonated halfway through its journey with merely a thought from Piper, sending a spray of purple sparks and smoke throughout the battlefield and throwing all six combatants back slightly from the resulting shockwave. The smoke, despite the harsh wind around them, refused to shift, leaving the Charmed Ones completely open to attack.
Vondar pounced upon Piper almost immediately, the colours and light all around them reflecting in the shiny beetle black of his eyes. He raised his fist before bringing it down at a phenomenal rate, allowing the witch below him barely enough time to phase out and allow the punch to go through her, wrecking a large chunk of the ground and sending pieces of rubble flying into the air. He raised his fist again, but this time, Piper was ready. With a flick of her wrist, Vondar's movements were reduced to a crawling pace, allowing her to mass out her right arm and swing it into his stomach, sending the Higher Being flying into the quickly dissipating smoke. She got up and run in the direction he had vanished in, only to nearly be hit by another blast of energy spiraling out from the smoke. Without even raising her hands, she blew up the charge and froze the resulting explosion almost simultaneously, leaving both her and combatant unharmed.
Phoebe artfully activated her levitation power as Insigil sent her spinning after negating one of her kicks. If she had been powerless, such a maneuver on his part would have sent her painfully to the ground, but right now, she was able to float beautifully through the air, resisting the urge to take complete flight thanks to the power boost she was experiencing. Still in mid-air, she was able to throw her feet into her enemy's chest repeatedly, sending him stumbling back as she danced on air, kicking him over and over again until he finally fell to the floor. Phoebe then began to charge a psionic blast, only to find herself telekinetically thrown into the air as a form of repellant. There were numerous flashes as Insigil sent up a multitude of energy blasts to try and hit while she was disorientated, but she once again was able to float masterfully, weaving in and out of the attacks' paths before one finally hit her. The middle Charmed One fell to the ground like an angel who had had its wings clipped, landing roughly as the possessed Higher Being walked towards her. She could only look up as he advanced, before all of a sudden, she shot a powerful beam of rosy white light from her forehead, the force of which enough to make her recoil slightly, and send her opponent flying off in the other direction.
Katrina screamed in agony as another energy blast plowed into her back, throwing her forward and even further towards Paige in the process. That was the second time Paige had orbed her attack behind her without even uttering a word, and it was starting to become a burden to attack in such a way. The witchlighter merely smirked, having not moved once from the initial attack and just controlling her battle from one spot. This lead wasn't to last long through. Before she could even react, Katrina had finally managed to successfully retaliate with a vicious telekinetic punch which rippled through the air, throwing the youngest Charmed One back onto the ground where she rolled from the velocity for several seconds. This was a fatal mistake, as Katrina took this one moment of startle to send a powerful energy blast straight for the spot of ground that Paige was lying on. There was a bright flash of purple, and Paige was sent flying into the air again, cuts all over her body from the flying rubble. She was able to orb out before she hit the ground, righting herself in the ether before orbing back in and throwing her enemy high into the air with just a thought, the pulse of telekinetic energy also sending a torrent of rubble flying upwards and hitting Katrina like she was caught in a meteor storm.
Piper stood, lightly moving her fingers as bright beams of orange light poured from her palms, manipulating the ground around her and causing sharp stalagmites to pierce out from the ground, creating a rocky cage around Vondar and trapping him in her geokinetic magic. This prison didn't last long, however, as the Higher Being's body began to glow fiercely, and with a primal roar, he reduced the points of stone around him into dust, allowing him to move forth towards his enemy… but she was gone. A massive explosion suddenly detonated within him, blowing him to smithereens and leaving the exposed Hollow floating in the air for a second, before Vondar reformed around it, scanning the area wildly. She had become invisible.
With unnatural calm during this calamity, he closed his eyes began to concentrate; extending his will out from his body and into every plane of existence around him. With unbelievable precision, he raised his hand in the direction of an apparently blank space, and shot a power blast of purple energy towards it. The eldest Charmed One reappeared almost immediately, taking in a breath and massing out just as the attack hit, causing it to ricochet off her hardened body and fly back at her nemesis. Vondar was ready, however. He quickly diverted the sphere of power back in the other direction, catching Piper in a weak moment and sending her flying across the arena, landing on the ground hard with her shoulder scorched and bleeding heavily.
The middle Charmed One's heart began to beat even faster as she watched two streams of light slowly flow from Insigil's hands, eventually becoming two long, thin swords that looked like they would even be deadly to stone. He ran at her at an incredible speed, leaving a trail of dust in his wake before jumping up and descending upon her with both weapons ready to run her through. Like a rocket, Phoebe flew off into the air, a resounding clang echoing through the realm as metal hit stone. Landing far away from her enemy, she scrunched up her eyes and focused all of her power into her telempathy. She heard another clang, and hopefully opened her eyes to see that her plan had only half worked. Insigil had only dropped one sword while his mind had been controlled, but right now, she would take what she could get. Tapping into Insigil's emotions, she ignored the regret buried deep in his heart and found the trigger for his telekinesis, gesturing to the fallen blade next to him and summoning it into her hands.
The next few minutes passed by as a series of sharp clashes between the two fighters, swords moving faster than they ever had before due to both of their wills to survive. They struck at one another, meeting in the middle with a dull clang before pushing each other back. Insigil used this time to unleash a powerful blast of energy, to which Phoebe was able to fly into the air and dodge once again, doing an acrobatic flip over her opponent and hurling the point of her blade into his back. Insigil screamed in pain, his black eyes wide as he threw his sword backwards, taking pleasure in the wail of agony that was elicited from Phoebe as the blade went straight through her thigh. They stood there, both impaled on each other's weapons, in a seemingly never-ending stalemate.
Katrina threw her hands together; blue light threatening to throw her hands apart before she did it herself, unleashing a powerful shockwave of blue light that struck Paige in the stomach, sending her flying off in the other direction. Too startled to orb out, the witchlighter fell to the ground with a sickening thud, shattering the bones in her arm to pieces and leaving her unable to properly push herself up to a standing position. Katrina advanced upon her, smirking when she fell unconscious and lay vulnerable on the ground. She wasn't expecting it when a massive telekinetic storm swept her up into the air, before slamming her down harshly on the ground. This pattern repeated itself, with the Higher Being raised and slammed back down in a seriously undignified manner until she saw the cause of her humiliation. Another Paige stood next to the passed out version, raising and lowering her head in time to Katrina's controlled movements with a wise smile on her face. As the Higher Being was thrown to the ground for the final time, the unconscious Paige rose to her feet and exchanged a sly smirk with the clone standing next to her before said clone vanished in a flare of ruby coloured light.
With a vicious swing of her arm, a surge of mental energy ripped up the ground before Paige's feet and once again threw Katrina upwards, allowing her to be battered by the rubble before she inexplicably leveled out during mid-flight, crushing any boulders that flew towards her with a casual flick of the wrist. Before Paige could respond, a small energy charge flew from her enemy's fingertips, plowing into the ground and sending up a chilling wind before detonating in a vicious fireball that consumed everything in its path and threw away anything that resisted.
Piper and Vondar, nearly all of their magical trickeries spent, had resorted to heavy hand-to-hand combat, with the eldest Charmed One breathing heavily, alternating between massing and phasing out to either avoid or bear punches, or to throw them out herself. Her head swung to the side as her attacker threw his fist into her massed out face like a rock. She retaliated just as ferociously, throwing her own hardened fist into his stomach, a hit that would have killed anyone but a Higher Being. It seemed that Vondar truly was the strongest Higher Being, as he just kept taking Piper's punches, self-healing almost immediately, and going completely on the offensive. It was like attacking a brick wall, and if she didn't figure out something that would give her the upper hand soon, she would perish.
Suddenly, an idea struck her, and she had to stop herself from getting carried away in case her excitement would cause her plan's failure. Taking a chance, she dropped her magical armour and threw her hands out, knowing that the explosion would be more powerful if she used the gesture and not just her thoughts. Like clockwork, Vondar was blasted apart, leaving a third of the Hollow floating in the place where he stood before he reformed, but Piper was ready. The moment he reformed, she raised her hands again, this time freezing him for a few seconds, but this was all the time she needed. With a deep breath, she phased out her fist and plunged it into Vondar's gut as he began to fight off the breeze. Knowing she had barely any time left, Piper took a breath again, massing out the fist that was immersed in her enemy's body and wrenched her hand up through his insides like a hot knife through butter, shattering bones, tearing organs, and sending blood flying everywhere. Black energy poured from the mortal injury like smoke as Vondar collapsed to the floor, the darkness in his eyes fading away as his death unlocked his true self once again.
"Strike me down…"
Complying with his final request, Piper reached into her jacket pocket and revealed the potion they had used to against Diam and Tyola, only now; it was infused with dragon blood. With a mournful sigh, she swung her arm back and threw the phial against his chest. He remained silent as an inferno blazed to life inside him, his expression peaceful before the multi-coloured fire consumed him completely, leaving nothing but the piece of the Hollow that had possessed him, which soon split into two and flew towards the remaining Higher Beings so they would fight even better.
Phoebe could only duck and weave wildly as Insigil slashed viciously at her, slowly pushing her back towards the edge of the platform as she continued to dodge his relentless attacks. It was only due to the all the spirits within her that she was able to remain out of the sword's path, with their power increasing her agility, and their advice whispering in her head in the form of her thoughts, but even they wouldn't be able to help her if she fell off the edge. While her leg injury had severely hobbled her, Insigil was barely affected by the sword that was still stuck in his back, with the tip poking out of his stomach. Could nothing stop him?
The middle Charmed One whimpered frightfully when she reached the edge of the platform, feeling part of her heel hanging over the edge. It was with one final ditch effort she shot a psionic beam from her forehead, causing Insigil to whip backwards and momentarily loosen his hold on his sword. This was the chance Phoebe had been waiting for. She grabbed his arm and threw her knee violently against his wrist, making his hand jerk open and the sword to drop into her awaiting palm. With a final ditch effort, she ran the sword through her enemy's heart; black smoke pouring from the wound as he slowly fell to his knees, blooding beginning to run over his lips as his eyes returned to normal.
"Extinguish me… Please."
Solemnly, Phoebe threw the potion at his knees, causing the vicious flames to lick around him before ultimately covering him head to toe, a happy grin on Insigil's face as he was slowly reduced to a pile of ash at the middle Charmed One's feet. Phoebe was temporarily entranced by the black sphere of energy hovering in the place Insigil had stood moments ago, before flying towards Katrina, its last remaining servant.
All three Charmed Ones surrounded her, well aware that she now contained the entire Hollow within her as they trapped in a triangle of their bodies. They stood, ready to unleash everything they had left, to pour every soul they had absorbed, including their own, into bringing her to her knees.
But the moment never came. Katrina spun wildly around, facing each witch as black smoke began to pour her body. She grimaced, before letting out a scream of agony. She seemed to be fighting the controlling force within her, her eyes flipping wildly from being normal to black over and over again as she spun on the spot, holding onto her head as she wailed in sheer pain before finally landing on the ground. Her body shaking and smoking, she wearily raised her head in Paige's direction, silently begging her to act before the Hollow took control of her once again.
Paige did as she was told. Bliss spread across Katrina's entire form as the potion destroyed her, her body loosening as she finally let go of her eternal life, surrendering to the cleansing fires that burned all around her before causing her body to explode in a shower of orange, purple, red and blue sparks.
Piper and Phoebe ran around to their youngest sister as nothing else stood in front of them, apart from the swirling, pulsing oblivion that now lay exposed to whatever they had planned to defeat it. It was so small now, barely bigger now than their heads. This was their greatest enemy in its purest form, the enemy that had swallowed realities, destroyed species, and waged terror upon the magical world for thousands of years. This was all it came down to. A swirling abyss of nothing that hovered before them. And, with hands held, they would destroy it together.
"The Power of Three will set us free, the Power of Three will set us free, the Power of Three will set us free!"
The Hollow began to expand and contract with no control, a low rumble spreading through the chaos all around them. Sparks of golden lightning were flying from its darkness, tearing up the ground around it and slowly breaking up the platform that the Charmed Ones had waged their greatest battle upon. There was another rumble, but this time, it sound more like a slow groan of agony as it was beginning to tear apart under the power of the spell that was being chanted over and over again. The blood red light that had surrounded it started to dissipate like mist, fading away into nothing.
"The Power of Three will set us free, the Power of Three will set us free, the Power of Three will set us free!"
Another rumble. More of the plateau broke off and fell into oblivion; becoming dust as the strikes of lightning would hit it. The gold and red that surrounded the darkness of the Hollow began to fall away, dripping off its non-form and fading away on the quickly vanishing ground. There was a twinkle of white light within the centre of the darkness, steadily growing and beating back the endless shadows that had been cast over magic and the world for over three millennia. Shockwaves began to pulse from its core, causing even more of the platform to crumble into the vortex around them. Even more lightning was flying forth, making the Hollow more of a source of light than a source of darkness and nothing.
"The Power of Three will set us free, the Power of Three will set us free, the Power of Three will set us free!"
The light was getting stronger now, having nearly consumed the darkness of the creature. Another unnatural scream echoed through the endless realm around them. More lightning. More crumbling rock, to the point where the only piece of ground left was the small part the Charmed Ones were standing on, holding each others' hands and screaming their spell at the top of their voices, an odd aquamarine shield rising around them whenever a stray streak of lightning headed towards them, protecting them from harm and allowing them to finally finish this tyranny.
There was a screaming, but this time, it wasn't from the Hollow, it was from the light that was now pouring out from its insides, destroying it from the core and working outwards. The world around them began to crumble, the ever swirling vortex beginning to slow as it readied to fall away into its own infinity. There was nothing but light around them now. So much light that is was blinding. They felt the ground beneath their feet crumble, and they fell, still their hands held, and still the light grew stronger, obliterating the Hollow and removing it from existence. It was over now.
"The Power of Three will set us free!"
ONE YEAR LATER
Wyatt stared up at the sun through the canopy of leaves above him. This tree house had fast become his favourite spot in the new house. He did like his new room, but he felt like he had earned this fortress, along with his brother. Having been devastated at the total annihilation of their old home, their father had vowed to help them build a tree-house in the backyard once the new house was finished. They hadn't been allowed one before, as his mother had always insisted that having a structure at the top of a tree wasn't safe for her children, but that didn't seem to matter now.
Coming away from the small empty window, he went towards the door that led to the ladder and looked out at the back of the house. Wyatt didn't know if it was because he had never seen the area from this perspective before, but the new house seemed a lot bigger than the one that had stood before it. It had been painted the crimson colour that the old Manor had had, and had been constructed in a design that allowed it to still fit in with the other Victorian houses on the block, but the windows no longer had stained glass trims, and the corner had been turned into a turret-like structure which consisted of an extension to the kitchen on the ground floor, and Lorna's room on the second floor.
"Wyatt!" Two voices shouted in unison.
He looked down to the kitchen door, seeing his twin little cousins hailing him from the ground. Over the last year, the physical differences between Melinda and Emma had become far more pronounced. Emma's hair was beginning to curl, and Melinda had more of a rounder face than her counterpart, but even they looked the exact same, Wyatt knew he would always be able to tell them apart.
"Pam's back!" Melinda shouted excitedly, before rushing back into the Manor as Emma walked out into the garden, heading towards the main tree in the backyard as Wyatt slowly made his way down the steps. As his confidence had grown, he had taken to jumping past the last two rungs of the ladder, landing on the grass with a light thud.
"Wassa matter, Lorny?" Emma asked with a curious stare, looking down at the young redhead who had been sitting in the grass at the base of the tree all along, crayons strewed in a circular shape around her as a blank piece of paper sat on her lap. "You not wanna draw?"
"Nope." Lorna replied quietly, smiling down at the paper with silent joy, "No more to draw now…" She said, distantly, before leaping to her feet and running across the grass as fast as her little legs would carry her, shouting at the top of her voice, "Pam's back! Pam's back!"
"Pam!" Wyatt gasped as he entered the large kitchen, staring at his eldest cousin with shock, "Your hair!"
"What? Does short hair not suit me?"
Pamela's skin was probably the darkest it had ever been in her twenty three year existence, making her piercing blue eyes stand out from her face even more than usual. It looked like she hadn't spent a second out of the sun in the past year, so much so that Wyatt could see parts of the skin on her arms peeling, probably from being burnt in whatever country she had been in before finally returning home from her world tour. A small wooden amulet hung from her neck, a charm engraved in its surface, while her hair, now barely brushing her shoulders, was swept back into a small ponytail and away from her bronzed face. She was wearing a white halter, so the tan line left by her bag strap shone across her chest as the only strip of pale skin left. She looked so worldly compared to the last time he had seen her all those months ago.
"Yeah, I didn't really have access to the proper facilities when I was traveling through Africa a few months ago, and it was getting all tangled, and greasy and dirty, so I just took a knife out of my bag and cut most of it off. Sold the remains to a witch doctor, the reasons for him wanting it I really don't wanna know." She smirked at her oldest cousin, "And you are still really short."
Grinning back at her, Wyatt ran up to her and threw his arms around her, contrary to her statement; he was now up to her shoulders. "It's good to have you back, Pam. You staying for a while?"
"Yeah. I'm sure there's room in this humungous new house." She said, looking up to Leo who was preparing food at the counter with Aidan hurriedly rummaging through cupboards, apparently looking for more plates. "Okay, I left a big bag of presents at the bottom of the stairs. Yours is the telescope looking thing with the orange lens. It's an Indian aura glass. It shows peoples' auras if you look at them through it." He had already ran off out of the room before she had finished talking, leaving her to roll her eyes, "Your welcome!"
Brennan chuckled at the scene from his vantage point at the dining table, Faith sitting on his lap greedily sucking on her thumb as Pamela turned towards him. "It's good to see you." He said with a warm smile, letting his daughter off his lap so she could run after her other cousins and get her present. "You kinda took off without telling anyone but the kids."
"Yeah, we had us really worried. We thought we had lost you." Aidan added, laying down plates on the counter as they shakily lay on his forearm.
"I'm sorry, you guys. I just… I had to get away." She replied apologetically, her expression turning mournful as she looked down at the ground, "I didn't need to see the wreckage of the Manor… which, by the way, is now completely mind blowing!" Pamela exclaimed, spinning back on Leo with wide eyes, "How did you manage to afford to build this? It couldn't have all been home insurance. The amount of times we've all claimed on that and you still have enough to rebuild an entire house? I don't think so."
"Well, some of it was home insurance…" Leo admitted, before becoming slightly uncomfortable, "The rest was… well, it was money from life insurance."
"Oh…" Pamela trailed off, quietly, before becoming cheery once again and turning to Aidan, "So, where the hell are the girls? I still haven't met my brand new little cousin!"
"I honestly don't know." The elemental said wearily, "But you'll be lucky if you even get to hold him. Paige is very clingy with him. I think it's because he got her eyes instead of the twins, who take nearly every one of their physical attributes from me. Oh, and his powers haven't surfaced yet, so that might have something to do with it as well."
"Did you guys decide on a name yet?" Brennan asked.
"Yeah, but Paige wants to keep it a secret until the Wiccaning this afternoon."
"The last I heard from Piper, all three of them had gone for a coffee to catch up with Phoebe while she's in town." Leo said, facing his eldest niece as his face slowly fell, moving more food onto the main island "But you know Piper. A new house is like a blank canvas, so now I think they're probably going to come home with a ton of new stuff, because we can't just have some space. It needs to be filled!"
"Wow… I'm glad my flight was delayed." The witch said ruefully, "By the way, I saw your carpentry ad on a bench at the airport. Very nice. You have a trustworthy face, so I'm sure the work will be pouring in the moment you get settled into things."
"Thanks." Leo answered, "I already have a few jobs lined up for next week, so I guess it's just a matter of time."
Pamela jerked involuntarily at that familiar shriek, cringing as she slowly turned around to face Piper, who was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, holding a tiny statue of a gargoyle in her hands as she slowly advanced upon her niece, "You gave my nine year old son a mini-gargoyle that shouts profanities whenever someone unwanted enters his room?" She asked lowly, frowning darkly at Pamela as she was now pressed against the wall.
"Chris likes his privacy! …It's from France. I call it Arc Junior!"
Piper's eyebrow arched at this. With a deep breath, she slowly put the gargoyle down on the counter. Everyone in the room didn't make a move, afraid that they would set off Piper like an unstable bomb. Suddenly, she threw her arms around Pamela's shoulders, hugging her tightly, "I've missed your absolutely insane antics so much!" She boomed, pulling back and smacking her lightly on the arm, "Where do you get off keeping in contact through postcards when you can pop back and forth whenever you want?"
"Oh, Piper…" Phoebe sighed as she entered. The middle Charmed now walked with a permanent limp in her left leg, having sustained lasting damage in the final battle a year ago to her thigh which no amount of magical healing would ever mend. She immediately made her way to the kitchen table, wincing slightly as she sat down, receiving aid from Brennan who got up and gave her his seat. It wasn't good for her to be walking around for too long without any rest. "The girl just got off the plane. Can you give her a break?"
"Seconded!" Paige called out in agreement, slowly making her way to stand in the space Phoebe had occupied previously. The witchlighter was holding on tight to the small child currently in her arms, his eyes closed over in sleep and somehow soothing the entire room with his own serenity as he was brought forward into the kitchen. "I would like to have no blood shed before the Wiccaning. They may do that kind of thing in some other cultures, but not for my son." She looked up towards her husband, surveying him with hawkish eyes, "You didn't tell them his name yet, did you?"
"My lips are sealed."
The backyard of the Halliwell Manor had never seen so much activity. If they had been friends with any of their neighbours, they would have been offended at the fact that they hadn't been invited. As it was, they were more disgruntled at the fact that the family had moved back into the street, even after the explosion of their house had sent the residents of Prescott Street into a gossiping furor and they had began speculating whether or not the Halliwells had been killed in the blast, despite numerous sightings of Piper and Paige around town, and the children at school. Some things never changed.
Piper, aware of her sudden notoriety in the street, had decided to cast a web of magic over the whole backyard, shielding them from sight and making them nothing but disembodied voices to anyone outside the bubble. It was a necessary precaution, as the kids had taken to playing many a game with their powers, and nearly every single guest was magical. Between Brennan's sisters, the elementals, Mutant X, and the Halliwells themselves, you couldn't turn in any direction without seeing some kind of magical display.
They were all aware of the visible grimace on Phoebe's face as she lowered herself into a garden chair, her hand pressed hard against her leg before her happiness returned, sipping on the cool cocktail that had been made up for her. Aidan had done his best to heal it, but even with his temporarily transcendent powers, he hadn't been able to completely mend his sister in law's leg. It was just a minor annoyance at this point, but none of them had any idea as to how it would progress.
"So, what's been going on while I was away?" Pamela asked, popping a grape into her mouth as she looked around her aunts' faces.
"Well, I actually spent most of my time relaxing." Piper said with a satisfied smirk, "Yeah, Thyme and P3 are still doing great, Leo's getting his business off the ground, and the kids are going back to their old schools in the Fall. Although, I have to admit, we were all kinda getting used to living in New York. Where did you find such a great place with all those marble floors and massive windows? And that piano! Lorna's now got a flare for it!"
"Oh, you know… just a friend. What about the rest of you?"
"Well, I haven't really been up to much." Paige said with a sigh, earning eye rolls from both of her sisters as she shrugged casually, "I've been too busy being pregnant and helping Aidan get a promotion. He's fire chief now."
"Oh, please." Piper groaned, "She's an accomplished artist."
"I am not!"
But her eldest sister had already began to recount the story that had been a massive source of embarrassment for her, "You know how I asked Paige to do some paintings for the restaurant when it first opened? Well, one afternoon, some guy comes up to me and tells me he'll give me two thousand dollars to take the painting off the wall and put it in the back of the van he had just called for. Next thing you know, she's got her own exhibition! There was even a bidding war over one of her paintings that went up to over ten thousand dollars, but she still didn't sell."
"Art is more sentimental than material." The witchlighter replied sagely, "That piece was just very close to my heart…" It had only been through rigorous wearing down from Aidan that Paige had been persuaded to put up the painting she had done after her parents' funeral. And while she was ready to show it to the world, she would never be ready to part with it. "Besides, I'm hardly in the position to be in charge of a lot of money. I prefer being a little more grounded… Actually, now that I'm thinking of that night, that was the last time I saw you." She said to Phoebe, "Where have you been? You missed the birth of your nephew!"
"I know, sweetie, I'm sorry!" Phoebe said sadly, squeezing Paige's knee as sat on the arm of the deckchair, "But I was helping this kid going through a really tough time… We were in the middle of a breakthrough when I got Piper's message about you going into labour and I couldn't just leave the poor guy in the lurch."
"So you're actually finding the school therapist gig pretty rewarding now? You were a little unsure last time I checked." Piper said, sitting down in the deckchair across from her two sisters while Pamela stood behind her, all of them drinking the non-alcoholic cocktails that had been made up for the party. They hadn't seen Pamela's grimace when she realized she couldn't taste any alcohol.
"I was just in an adjustment period, I guess." Phoebe replied, "The Ask Phoebe thing was always very impersonal, but here, I can actually see people grow and help them make the right decisions that will shape their lives. I've actually been able to organize a few camping weekends for some of the more troubled kids so they can see what the world is all about. It's beautiful country up there, so we might as well use it. Which reminds me…" She said, looking in Pamela's direction, "Your friend, Jordann? Total Godsend on a farm. I offered her a job and she's living with us now. She brought your cat with her."
"Really?" She asked with a curios frown, remembering that whenever Jordann was in the same room as Nightshade, she would either ask for the cat to be removed, or she would fidget uncomfortably under the feline's stare until it got bored of her. "Good for her. I knew it was good to give her your number. She prefers the outdoors to the city any day." Pamela looked down, seeing Piper staring out towards the mass of people in the garden and quickly murmuring under her breath, "What are you doing?"
"Counting." She answered flatly, "I don't think we're going to fit everyone into the attic, especially with all the spirits. Maybe we should just have close family come in with everyone else watching through a ronyx crystal."
Phoebe exchanged a confused look with Pamela at this, "Uh… This house has an attic as well?"
"Oh, it has an attic alright."
Phoebe had to smirk as she looked around her. As she had steadily climbed the floors of the house, she had marveled at how much fresher and different it was from the hollowed out building site she had seen at the start of construction, with every single room, fixture, and detail had been modernized, save for a few mementos lost in the disaster that Piper had re-conjured, purely for sentimental value. She had not expected to see this, however.
The attic was exactly the same as it had been before the explosion. Her bike, the object that had given her her premonition still hung on the slanted ceiling, kept purely as a reminder to how everything in the last fifteen years had started. The mismatched carpets that covered the wooden floor where exactly as normal, the cluttered cabinets and dressers looked to be the same ones that had been there her entire life, the stained glass windows were still plagued by immovable grime, and finally, the Book of Shadows stood proudly on its altar, caught in a stray ray of late afternoon sunlight and bathed in a celestial glow. Pamela, upon seeing this room, raised the fair argument of the house not showing any sign of this room outside, thus making the outside of the Manor not match with the inside. Piper had simply responded with, "Get over it."
Candles covered every available surface in the room, illuminating the attic with a warm hue as Piper slowly opened the Book of Shadows, reciting the spell to summon spirits from the afterlife. She had chanted it so many times in the past; every word just seemed to roll off her tongue now.
In a mass of swirling white lights, the two spectral forms of Prue Halliwell and Julie Mulwray appeared in the attic, a golden stream of light flowing upwards across their bodies, slowly turning them corporeal as they stepped out of the circle on candles on the floor.
"Well, it's about time!" Julie instantly snapped, storming across to her agape son and tapping him lightly on the shoulder, glowering at him. Connor could only suppress a giggle. His grandmother was even shorter than his mother, and his father towered over nearly everyone they met, casting a slightly intimidating aura to anyone who didn't know him well enough. And yet Brennan still looked petrified of the expression on the old spirit's face, "How the hell does it take you two years to get my little granddaughter a Wiccaning? What's your excuse?"
"Mom… I…" Brennan stammered, looking helplessly to Phoebe for assistance, only for her to repress her laughter and turn away from his pleading stare, leaving Faith to stare over her shoulder at him and laugh merrily. "We were busy! You know, the girls' thirteen year trial distracted us, and then the Hollow, and then we moved away… It just kinda got forgotten about."
"Wrong answer!" She barked, "There's no excuse for not having a Wiccaning…" The old woman froze at her own words, reminding herself about the reason she had been summoned for and instantly turned to Piper, a sincere look of regret on her face, "Except for you and Lorna, dear. The whole situation was a little complicated. But!" She spun back on Brennan, "At least she's righting the situation now!"
"So are we!" Brennan squeaked back, again looking to his wife, "A little help, please?"
"Granny Mulwray is scary…" Chris murmured softly to Leo, partly curious and partly terrified by the formidable woman that had been summoned into his home. Leo could only snort with laughter and ruffle his son's hair, putting a protective arm over his smaller frame to reassure him.
"Okay, let's just summon our two families, shall we?" Prue offered hopefully, not wanting to offend Julie by outright ordering her to get back to the book and say the spell, but despite her death, the control freak within the true eldest Halliwell sister had never perished, even in the afterlife. "Unlike us, these guys have lives to get back to." She said with an air of sadness, beginning to turn the pages of the book to the spell that would summon everyone required.
"We call forth, from space and time, descends of the Halliwell and Mulwray lines, parents, children, siblings, friends, our families' spirits without end, to gather now in this sacred place, and help us bring these children to grace…"
With those words, it felt like the very sky fell through the attic. Shooting stars descended, leaving a trail of light behind them before landing on the floor, giving form to every family member that had ever lived and died in the two families. Their apparel ranged from the most ancient customs to the most modern, every person vividly unique in their own way. But there was one thing that they all shared: An everlasting love for the people who stood before them, hands clasped with their lovers and children in complete and utter euphoria.
Prue held out her hands towards her youngest and least well known (at least to her) sister, her arms open for her new nephew. "May I?"
Reluctantly letting go of her baby boy, Paige complied with her request and relinquished him into Prue's awaiting arms. Phoebe did the same with Faith and her mother-in-law, only she was far less tense about the whole situation.
"I don't get it…" Piper murmured in a panic, looking around the sea of transparent faces desperately. "She's not here. Leo, where is she?"
Penny smiled from her vantage point in the front row of the Halliwell spirits, holding her arms out as if she was presenting something. "I do believe that you're looking for her…" She said with a smile. Another comet of light fell through ceiling, sparking around on the floor before giving form to a beaming redhead, even more magnificent in death than she was in life.
Emma's appearance made every live being in the room buzz with happiness. Lorna, having not seen her mother in nearly a year and a half, started to move towards her, only to realize halfway through her journey that if she ran at Emma to hug her, the quick tumble to the floor as she fell through her would hurt more than anything on this earth.
"Are you okay with us doing this?" Piper asked uncertainly, eyes locking with the deceased psionic, "I mean, technically-,"
"Technically…" Patty jumped in quickly, putting her hands on Emma's shoulders as she stepped forward and grinning at the girl her daughters had considered as the fifth Halliwell sibling. "Technically, Emma's been a member of this family for a long time, and this should have been done the moment Lorna was born. It's like Mrs. Mulwray said, we're righting a wrong."
"Call me Julie, honey. We share two grandchildren after all."
"Alright!" Piper quickly cut through the conversing witches, shaking her head, "I actually wasn't asking a gaggle of ghosts, I was asking Emma."
Emma laughed at this, her bright auburn hair glimmering in the natural glow she had as a spirit, "It's okay, really." She replied. "I was blessed to meet you guys. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have made such great friends, I wouldn't have found love, I wouldn't have had my beautiful daughter, and…" The redhead looked into the comforting swarm of ghosts that floated happily behind her, "…I wouldn't have been accepted into such an incredible family. One that is going to go on and on until the end of the time. So, if you're asking if I want my daughter to be a part of that, then I can only watch on with joy."
At this, Lorna walked away from Piper, holding her hand until the last possible moment before going to stand in between Prue and Julie, who smiled down at her as she took their free hands.
"We still have one more child to bless…"
Pamela felt tiny as all eyes in the room suddenly fell upon her. She blinked a few times, scratching at her sunburn nervously as an entire room of calm, peaceful faces looked back at her. It was starting to feel a little disconcerting. "Me?" She asked, as if she didn't know the answer, "Oh, come on, I don't need a Wiccaning. I got this far on my own, didn't I?"
"Don't I know it." Prue replied guiltily, "You're getting one, whether you like it or not. So move it."
The witch could only roll her eyes as she stepped forward, taking her little cousin from her mother's arms and sighing. "What a time to play the mom card…"
Lowering Faith to the floor and letting her take Lorna's hand, Julie stepped forward with Prue and faced the two families that stood before them, eagerly waiting to welcome these witches into their arms. "We pledge to be with these children…" She turned back, seeing that Pamela was now holding Faith's free hand; all four of them united by love and blood. The old witch had to hold back her tears of joy as she spoke, "… These beautiful children, always."
"Free, but never separate." Prue continued.
"Apart, but never alone." Julie added.
"They are part of us, and because of that…"
"…we shall bless them in all the goodness that we are."
"Welcome to the families, Pamela Walker, Lorna Thoroughway, Faith Mulwray, and…"
Paige exchanged a look with Aidan, silently winning the war of who got to reveal the name of their son. "Daniel Parker-Matthews."
"…and Daniel Parker-Matthews." Prue grinned, before turning back to the spirits.
"Blessed be…" From the high priestesses.
"Blessed be…" From the spirits.
And, "Blessed be…" From those who would continue to live on.
"Prescott Street has not changed a bit."
"It kinda has." Piper pointed out, "We now have an annual street party. Although they may have just been celebrating the fact that, for once, those noisy Halliwells weren't living here at the time." She said with a smirk as she stared out towards the sunny street, perching comfortably on the bench that sat next to the open front door. A large strip of decking had been added to the new house, giving Piper a patio of sorts, and a place to put even more flower pots. "Oh, by the way, before I forget, I need your help at Thyme tomorrow night."
Paige, seeing that this question was directed at her, stood up straight from her leaning position on the railing and frowned, "Why?"
"Well, I have people from the French tourist board coming, and if all goes well, they'll put a little blurb about Thyme in the travel brochures and send any tourists my way. And since you speak fluent French, I thought it would really impress them if I had someone there who would make it easier for tourists to come in to the restaurant. That and you can totally butter them up in their own language."
Phoebe interrupted at this, looking up at her baby sister, "Since when were you fluent in French?"
"You gotta do something on maternity leave. Plus, I deal with a lot of French art dealers, so its courteous to able to speak their language well when they can speak yours." She replied, before turning back to Piper, "And okay. I think you should serve the…"
"I know, but I was going to go with the…"
"No way, not that. Although maybe…
"I'm not serving that. Oh! Perhaps we could…"
"Oh, good idea. I'm fine with that."
Phoebe had watched this bizarre exchange in amazement, befuddled as to how her sisters had even communicated anything with substance to one another. She came to the conclusion that it came down purely to reading their facial expressions, a connection which she herself had shared with Piper, but never with Paige. Now, it seemed, the two had gotten close enough in her absence to practically read each other's thoughts. She had expected to be jealous of this fact when she realized, but it only filled her with happiness to see them both get along so well and so closely. "That was adorable." She said with a snigger, earning embarrassed expressions from her siblings before she changed the subject. "So, can someone tell me what a tree-house is doing in Piper Halliwell's backyard? I thought there was a ban on them within your mighty kingdom."
"Well, when the tree survived the explosion without a leaf out of place while the rest of the yard was incinerated, I figured it was strong enough to take the weight of a few kids and some wood." Piper conceded happily, taking a sip of her coffee, "Besides, we had a few hundred dollars left of Prue's and Grams' life insurance from using it to help pay for the house, so I just made sure we got the best materials, and the best workman, a.k.a. my husband."
"I'm glad you dipped in to the money they left us." Phoebe said lovingly, turning around slightly to rub a hand over flawless crimson wall of the house behind her. "We couldn't have found a worthier cause. This place is breathtaking."
"And it shall be until the next earthquake, or explosion, or flood, etcetera…"
Silence between the three. Cars passed by, coffee was sipped, and the world kept spinning. Even after a year, this kind of peace was totally alien to them. They half expected a demon to shimmer in the other side of the patio and hurl a fireball at them, incinerating part of the brand new Manor as it missed. In fact, a part of them even willed it to happen, as after all these years; it had just become the norm. Sitting back, relaxing, and just watching life go by was not how the Halliwell family was used to living their lives. They would adjust though, and when they did, it would be glorious.
"Have you guys had any demon trouble?" Phoebe asked.
"Nope. Well, there was a scare with a Cyclops a few months back, but it turned out he just wanted our help in getting back to his home world." Paige replied. More silence. More rushing cars. More sips of coffee.
Piper felt she had to add to this, "We would have called you, but…"
"Yeah…" Phoebe trailed off, looking down at her coffee mug. Despite her happiness over the newfound closeness between her two siblings, she didn't want to lose the bond the she had with them, and she felt like that was what was happening here. She didn't live here anymore. All she had were memories. "Hey, you guys, I was thinking… Maybe we should organize a weekly lunch or something. You know, just so we don't drift apart? I didn't realize it this year because I was busy getting settled in back East, but I really miss you guys being a part of my life, and I would like to see more of you."
"Sounds good." Piper responded with a smile, putting a hand over her sister's as Paige nodded also.
"I look forward to it."
More silence. More cars in the distance. More sips of coffee. The distant noise of the kids playing outback warmed the hearts of the three battle worn witches that now finally sat in peace. Now, they were the ones who got to watch the world go by.
"You know, I never thought we'd get the chance to do this." The eldest Charmed One confessed quietly, moving her thumbs around the rim of her coffee mug as she looked down into the murky substance her family seemed to thrive upon, "I mean, the dream was always to live out the rest of our days peacefully, but I really did think we would go down fighting in the end."
Phoebe raised a sardonic eyebrow at this, smirking into her coffee cup, "We nearly did."
"Yeah, and how we didn't is still a mystery."
"I think it'll always be a mystery." Paige said distantly, catching her siblings' attention with her rather out of character tone, "Where would be the fun in knowing what saved us? It could have been just a happy accident, or a purposeful event engineered by some god, or I could have orbed us out and I just don't remember due to the trauma. Or, you know, someone up there likes us."
Piper snorted at this claim, "I seriously doubt that." She grumbled, "Especially since I haven't seen an Elder once in this past year, apart from the one that came down to congratulate us right after the fight."
"I don't even remember that!"
"Yeah, you passed out a few times. It was a combination of how draining the vanquish had been, and that you were losing a lot of blood from your leg." Paige replied, remembering the moment vividly. It was so clear in her mind mainly because Aidan had appeared out of nowhere with massive wings on his back, and had healed all three of their wounds in one go, bathing them in a brilliant white light that had faded along with his wings. She was still thankful that Daniel hadn't been born with wings sticking out his back. "Still, you get what I mean, right? The day we know everything there is to know about magic, we may as well stop being witches."
"Well, in that case, I'm happy to leave some mysteries just the way they are." Piper resolved, pulling her legs up onto the bench and wrapping her hands even more around the mug. "So, to recap, we are going to be careful, we are going to be wise, and most of all, we are going to stick together."
The clinking of coffee mugs bashing against one another sealed their pact.
Pamela always kept her distance when she visited, for she didn't like to get too close to him when he was in some kind of therapy, as every time, he would make some kind of progress and smile such a smile that would make her want to run back into his arms, and that wasn't what they both needed. She hadn't told anyone about the sorry state he had been in when she visited him in London all those years ago. Her world tour had originally had London as its only destination, but as Keith's problem became clearer and clearer, Pamela had resolved that she just had to get away. But the witch would never escape him. He would always come and turn her world upside down, just like he had done now.
She didn't know how doing yoga outside in the bitter November chill helped drug addicts overcome their problems, but she had picked this place for him on its reputation and services, and certainly not for value for money, so she would trust their methods. Pamela hoped with all her heart it would be worth it though. Keith was a good person, he had just fallen down a horrible path. Hopefully, the news she was about to grant him would help him steer clear of it for life.
The session disbanded, and he saw her, and he grinned. Trying to hide her blushing face beneath her scarf, she wearily raised a hand to wave at him before she sat down at one of the many benches that littered the courtyard of the compound. As Keith neared, she was pleased to see that he looked so much better than when he had been committed. His eyes were no longer constantly red, he wasn't always sweating, and most of all, he looked so much more alive than he had been before being committed.
"Hey!" He greeted her warmly, looking a lot happier also. This made Pamela feel better, mainly because this place had made him feel better, and everything she had done was worth it. "I wasn't expecting you until later. I didn't want you to see that I have a natural talent for yoga."
"It's fine." She replied quietly, smiling tightly over the edge of her scarf. He was shivering, but it was just because of the cold, for the first time in ages, and not some drug-related symptom, "Okay… here's the thing: I kinda need to tell you something, because I basically can't hide it for much longer, but I do not want you to completely fall off the rails and have some kind of massive breakdown, alright?"
He blinked at her a few times, "Okay, so far I'm not liking the sound of-,"
"Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt, thank you for coming in."
Piper decided now was not the time to get fussy over titles. She was already anxious enough as it was. Mrs. Redman, who was sitting on the other side of the desk, had become somewhat of a family friend after teaching both Wyatt and Chris as they had passed through the fourth grade, but right now, all Piper wanted to do was shake the poor woman for making her worry so much. Why couldn't she have just told them this news over the phone? Her first thought had been that Lorna was seriously hurt, but thankfully, she saw her surrogate daughter sitting peacefully at her desk at the front of the class, writing in her notebook. So what was the big emergency?
"No problem." Leo had replied to her, ever courteous. "Although I have to admit, you've got us a little worried." He said, smiling at the teacher while Piper just sat biting her nails.
She eased considerably at the next words out of Mrs. Redman's mouth, "Oh, it's nothing to worry about at all. In fact, you should be very proud." Reaching into a drawer in her desk, the teacher pulled out several brochures and began looking through them, talking as she did so, "Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt, I have taught both of your boys, each of them intelligent in their own ways, but I have to tell you: Lorna is, quite possibly, the most intelligent ten year old I have ever taught in my thirty years of experience."
"Oh…" Piper breathed, both bowled over and flattered at the same time, "Thank you, although I don't see how this could wait until parent-teacher night."
Mrs. Redman clasped her hands over her desk, staring at Piper over her thin spectacles, "Mrs. Wyatt, I love to teach, and your daughter has been one of the most rewarding students I have ever had, and while it would pain me to lose her…" She pushed forward several brochures, "I honestly think that she would be better off in a place more suited to her intelligence. Now, if you can't afford one of these schools, then believe me, I will fight tooth and nail for Lorna to skip grades, but I'll be frank with both of you. This school is beneath her. It's my opinion that your little girl is nothing short of a genius!"
Phoebe sighed as she surveyed her son over her black-rimmed glasses, putting her notebook down on her receptionist's desk before walking towards him. Brennan stood behind Connor, his hands on his firstborn's shoulders, looking down with a mixture of pride and disappointment as his wife neared. The twelve year old's face had a large pink scrape on one side, with the origins of a bruise forming on the other. His dark shaggy hair was tussled, his lip was cut, and overall, the child looked even more savage than usual. The storm raging in his eyes did nothing to quell this appearance.
"What happened?" She asked with a tired sigh.
"He was fighting with a boy in his class." Brennan replied, "He broke the kid's arm, and knocked a few of his teeth out." Despite being cross at Connor for reacting in such a violent way, Brennan found himself mentally beaming at the fact that his son had been the clear winner in the fight.
Phoebe sighed for the third time when she saw her son's knuckles, torn to shreds from a clear collision with teeth. "Connor, your Dad and I teach you and your sister self-defense so you can do exactly that: defend yourself! Not use it against your classmates!"
"But I was defending myself." The adolescent insisted. "He threw the first punch and I went to the floor." He said, moving his face in different directions to indicate the bruise of his left was from the punch, and the scrape on the right was from the fall. At this, Connor looked up towards Brennan and glared, "It was a total sucker punch, Dad. He never would have got that close if I had been facing him."
"Why did he hit you in the first place? Who was this kid?"
"Tyler Messing." Connor answered acidly, "His parents split up recently, so I was gonna let it slide, but then…" It was his turn to sigh, deciding whether or not to tell her something, "But then he called you a bitch, and said it was your fault his parents were getting a divorce, and that's when the gloves came off."
"Evidently." Phoebe said sourly, looking at her son's battered hands again. She couldn't help but feel a rush of blinding love for her son for defending her though. "I guess this is what I get for being the only shrink in town… He shouldn't have hit you, but you shouldn't have hit back either. And just so you know, the Messings had a very peaceful separation, and they're still on good terms with one another. I was just too late to help them. I am not, however, too late to help you. Come on, let's get you cleaned up. I'll tell you how to watch for enemies out of your peripherals so this doesn't happen again."
Aidan had to contain the lump in his throat as the Grimlock exhibited shock at what he had just said. "Did I stutter?" He growled, "The deal is simple. You give me my son back, and you can take my eyesight. You're the Grimlock leader. You can't be vanquished without the Power of Three, and they can't vanquish you without breaking the pact they made with the Source as you haven't physically harmed Daniel. C'mon, you have a lot more to gain by taking my eyesight rather than holding on to a kid whose powers haven't emerged."
"The sight of a spirit elemental, huh?" The demon replied, trying to hide his excitement. This kind of opportunity came along once in a lifetime! The power that must be in this being's sight, a being that could see into one's very soul! "Deal." He raised his hand to prepare to take Aidan's sight, only for Aidan to throw a powerful charge of white light from his palm and make the Grimlock stumble back.
"I don't think so. First, I get my son back, then you get my eyesight."
"…Fine." He snarled in reply, swiping his hand across the air and causing Daniel to reappear in between the two of them. His eyes were magnified by his glasses, showing the harsh colour of red they had taken on from crying so much after his traumatic capture. He immediately ran towards his father, who wrapped him in a tight embrace, unaware that the Grimlock had already raised his hand once again.
Trying to stay strong for Daniel, Aidan stayed as calm as possible when his vision was blurred by a slew of bright blue sparks, before complete darkness took over, even after he had opened his eyes. Not wanting to dwell here a moment longer, he transported them out of the cavern by slowly fading away into the ether and heading back to gave Paige the news that, unaware to him, she had been dreading for over ten years.
Pamela hung the final photograph on the wall of the Manor stairwell. It had been at Andrea's first birthday at her birthday party in the park. They had been sitting under the trees, and Keith, being the professional he was, had captured the exact moment where the light through the leaves had hit herself, baby Andrea on her lap, and their eldest, Peyton, in the most beautiful way. Taking a step back, she looked around the entire wall, and the two walls that followed the staircase, all now covered in photographs of her family. She had been reluctant about moving into the Manor, and thus taking the mantel of family leader, but Piper had wanted an apartment with less empty space, and with both Wyatt and Chris off at college, she, Leo, and Lorna no longer felt comfortable in the Manor. It was time for new memories to be born within its walls.
It was the perfect place to write the next installment in the series of books she had written about Sam Webster, a young boy who goes on a slew of magical adventures across the world. Pamela never meant the stories for publishing, since she took a lot of what happened from her own experiences. They were just to entertain Peyton as a child to prevent her from falling into the Harry Potter trap, and until she was ready for the His Dark Materials trilogy. As it was, Peyton was now halfway through The Subtle Knife, and since Andrea was still too young to appreciate her mother reading to her, she would get started on the fifth and final book.
Managing to walk into the house without her mother even realizing she was there, Peyton dropped her book bag in the door and stared up at all the photos in wonder. Her vivid blue eyes jumped from picture to picture. Some being memories and some being of times she had never known. It didn't matter though, because combined, they had the same effect.
"Now it feels like home."
Wyatt's knuckles turned white as he gripped the steering wheel even tighter. He turned to his racing opponent next to him, sharing a cold stare, before revving his engine loudly. This, in turn, caused the other driver to do the same. Wyatt could only hope he was masking his terror. He had promised his family he was done with drag racing, but it was the only way he could make the money he needed to pay off debts to people who lived in shadows.
The signal flared, and both of them flew off down the deserted road. Blood thrummed in Wyatt's ears, drowning out the sound of the loud engines as he pressed his foot down on the accelerator even more passionately. It was a serious shock when a swirl of white lights began to swarm around the passenger seat, quickly depositing a furious Pamela next to him. Her eyes were terrifying as she stared at him, shaking her head, "You complete and utter moron!"
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"You tell us you're done with this insane death game, and then you do this?"
"This has nothing to do with you, Pam!"
"It has everything to do with me!" She blasted back, "You are my cousin, making you my family, and therefore making everything you do something to do with me!"
"Get out of here! You're slowing me down."
"I damn well hope so!"
"Pam, I swear to God-."
Wyatt had just enough time to see the safety railing his car crashed through before soaring high into the air and coming down on the steep hill with a thundering crash. Screeching sounded in the air as the metal was twisted and destroyed with the many revolutions the car was doing as it spun down the cliff. Glass flew everywhere, pieces of the car came clean off, and as it landed in a ditch with a horrifying noise, the vehicle's underbelly burst into vicious flames.
Chris felt heavy. The only comfort to him was Bianca's reassuring hand on his arm as he gripped his knees until his knuckles went white. Two losses, striking him at the same time so it felt like one, one that made his whole world collapse. In one fell swoop, he had lost his cousin and brother, and become the oldest of his generation. A great burden now lay on his shoulders. Something that he had never been prepared for, and while he didn't yet know it, it would take months of painstaking effort to put his family back together after these horrific tragedies . Out of all them, Pamela and Wyatt had been the least expected losses that they would ever have to endure in life.
He wasn't even listening to the Wiccan priestess' words as tears slowly began to trickle down his face. Nearly everyone else around him had dissolved into full scale weeping since the service was made up almost entirely of family. Peyton and Piper looked like both of their hearts had been ripped out. In a way, they had. The loss of a mother and son was something that no one should have to go through, especially when the victims were at such a young age. Keith had an arm around his eldest daughter, while Andrea sat in his lap, not able to comprehend the grief all around her. Peyton's gargoyle, Theo, stood like stone on top of one of the gravestones near by looking like an ornament to the mortal guestst, but really providing silent emotion support for his mistress. Chris had heard of the mutant's plan to move himself and his children up North and away from them. The twins had already resolved to fight him on this at every step, but deep down, they knew it was wrong to force the two young girls to stay in a world were even more grief was a certainty.
There was a mass rumble around him as everyone stood up. Urged by his lover, Chris slowly got to his feet and went over to his bawling mother, and his father, who was ready to come apart at the seams from trying to hold it together. He embraced both of them, and went on to do the customary thing and accept peoples' condolences. This was a part of funerals that he had always hated. People queuing up to say "Sorry" seemed so informal, so emotionless, and completely pointless to have to stand here when all he wanted to do was orb himself to an empty strip of the Nevada desert and scream until his lungs burned, and the fury had been drained from his soul.
He had noticed Persia on the periphery of the service, standing in the shade of a tree and crying freely. She too had lost a cousin, and shared the grief of her half-brother and sister. It didn't matter that she wasn't from this world. She had been with Pamela for most of her life, acting as her best friend with their bond built on the foundation of the fact that they were both accidents. Happy, happy, accidents.
His heart skipped a beat at what lay beyond her, for Pamela and Wyatt were staring at him over the otherworldly witch's shoulder, Pamela perched on top of a large gravestone and Wyatt leaning on it next to her. He had heard it was customary for witches' spirits to go to their own funerals, but he had never seen it in practice. Jumping off the giant slab of concrete, Pamela locked eyes with him and slowly nodded her head, before turning on her heel and walking away, briefly touching Wyatt's hand before she faded into the ether. His elder brother followed suit, raising a hand to his head to salute Chris with a smirk before vanishing forever.
"You took your mom's cane?"
Faith turned towards the intruder with fiery eyes blazing, glancing at the walking stick that was resting against the edge of her bed before going back to trying to do her homework. She moved her index and middle finger up and down, making the pen between them bounce against the paper underneath. "She can't handle stairs without it, so I thought I would take it and save myself the trouble of getting yelled at again. But it seems she's sent her little protégé instead. What do you want, Lorna?"
Lorna gently sat down on the bed, surveying her little cousin over her thin glasses that were barely visible on her face from a distance. "I just want to talk. It's no secret that you haven't been acting yourself recently and you've kinda got everyone else worried about you."
The young witch shook her head with an angry growl, "This family is insane. You can't sneeze without everyone else knowing about it within a few hours. Daniel should get out before he's poisoned by all of it… I'd be fine if you all just left me alone!"
"We care about you!"
"You don't even like me!"
"Yeah, and the feeling's mutual, I'm sure." Lorna spat back. Faith always brought out the worst in her. The two had never got along, and neither of them weren't sure why, but it was too late to start all over again with a clean slate. Things had been said, feelings had been hurt, and irrevocable damage had been done. "Look, just because I don't get along with you, doesn't mean I stop caring. And between dealing with whatever you're dealing with, and having to keep up a constant mental block to make sure your mom doesn't find out… Well, you just be ready to keel over."
"How do you know about me using my powers to counteract hers? Even she hasn't realized."
"Because I sensed it the block, and went straight through it."
At this, Faith rose to her feet, apparently ready to let loose a barrage of screaming insults, before she faltered slightly and slowly went back to her chair due to the dizziness. "You know…?" She asked quietly, locking eyes with Lorna.
The younger witch stood up again, slowly this time and walked over to the full size mirror that covered her closet door. With a sigh, she lifted up the layers of baggy clothing she had on and revealed the large bump in her stomach. Going purely on what Pamela had looked like when she was carrying Andrea, Lorna had to guess that her little cousin was at least six months along. Faith looked to the redhead, tears shining in her eyes as the barriers she had been making for the last six months faltered. "Please don't tell them…" She pleaded, her voice shaking.
Melinda rushed into the attic to find her two siblings, Faith, and Lara pouring over a map. She had heard that they were currently dealing with a demon, but it would have to wait. This was far more important. The elder twin was out of breath, her face was red and her hair was slightly askew instead of the long, thick blonde hair that was never out of place. "You guys must have gone after an innocent he wanted dead, because he's pissed and he's coming."
"Mom?" Lara looked up to Faith, fear in her eyes as she clutched to her mother. "What's going on?"
"It's okay, honey…" She breathed softly, stroking her daughter's hair as she stared an understanding glance with Melinda.
"The Source?" Daniel half-growled, taking his glasses off. Now in his early twenties, he was the spitting image of how his father had been around that age, all except from the soft brown eyes that he had received from his mother. He easily towered over everyone in the room, and bar Connor, was the tallest person in the family.
"Yeah. You need to get Faith and Lara outta here. Take them to Chris and Bianca's and tell Chris to get his butt over here." The lights within the room began to flicker and there was a breathy moan that passed through the darkness, sending a chill down all their spines. "Emma, go, now!" She screamed, seeing her sister reluctantly comply and take Faith and Lara to safety in a surge of water that quickly dried up into the floor. "Danny, get outta here!"
"No way." He said firmly, watching with horror as a column of fire burst into the life in the middle of the room and reached the ceiling, leaving the Source standing in its place with the points of his intimidating helmet scraping against the ceiling. Daniel was the first to react, with two beams of brilliant white light pouring from his hands and colliding with his enemy. The attack, which usually vanquished most demons, seemed to have absolutely no effect on the demon king, who effortlessly raised his arm and with a swish of his robe, the light had been neutralized and Daniel had been hurled across the room, crashing through a table and tumbling to its remains.
The Source turned to Melinda and laughed at her glaring up at the oblivion in his helmet with sheer hatred. "Look at those lost little girl eyes. This family's always led by the eldest woman of each generation. However will you be able to do that when it seemed Pamela would rather die than try? She's been dead for eleven years, and you still act like a child!"
"You bastard! Don't you dare bring her into this!" She shouted, pointing her fingers towards him and unleashed two powerful laser jets of golden light. There was a groan of pain from within the helmet as smoke began to pour from the black robe. It wasn't long before what happened to Daniel happened to her, and her attack was snuffed out with a wave of the abyss.
But Melinda was ready. She flicked her wrists in his direction and blew him to pieces, charging through his particles as they flew apart and rushing to her downed brother, trying to help him to his feet. He had the least experience in the family when it came to fighting demons, having always been coddled for being the youngest. He hadn't built the resistance all Halliwells had to getting thrown through furniture. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah… My head hurts though." Melinda looked at the back of his head and instantly had to keep her facial expression in check. She looked down at the table wreckage and saw the remains of a pewter potion bowl, covered in his brother's blood. "Mel, watch out!"
She looked up just in time to see the particles reform, with the Source now towering over both of them as they struggled to their feet. "Enough of your parlor tricks, witch! I tire of your antics!" He raised one hand and a fireball bloomed in his hand, the cage-like structure of the sphere spinning viciously before he threw it towards the both of them.
"Fireball!" She yelled, causing the sailing fireball to be called to her own hand in a swirl of orbs for her to hurl right back at him. Unfortunately, this had only been a distraction, for the Source had conjured another fireball in his other hand and threw it just as she threw the first one. The projectile plowed into her chest, throwing her back across the room to crash into a dresser, falling to the floor in a shower of glass and wood while the Source stumbled back from his own attack.
It was at this moment Chris and Emma made their return. It was chaos. As Emma ran toward her not moving sister, Chris threw his arm outwards towards the Source, sending him careening back into a large pile of antique furniture that both broke his fall and made it worse. This was getting too complicated. With one final menacing laugh, he exploded in a plume of bright flames and retreated to the Underworld, while Emma wept and wept for the sister had lost, holding onto Melinda as if it would stop her warmth from slowly fading away.
He stood on the edge of death. He could hear his minions being vanquished behind him. He knew it wouldn't be long until the six witches caught up with him. With their spread of powers, even the one hundred demons he had brought to protect himself hadn't lasted long, the terrain of the afterlife being the only thing that really stopped him from getting caught by them a few minutes ago. That and the never-ending slew of demons who were ready to fall into the pit of black orbs below for him.
The Source stood on the very spot the Charmed Ones had stood twenty five years ago, looking out onto the beautiful plains of flowers, the river that traveled to the horizon, and the disconcerting blue disc that hung suspended the air, wreathed in black smoke. The beauty and softness of the whole place made him want to leave immediately, but this was the only way to get the power he needed, as walking into Hell as a demon would have been risky, even if it would have felt more like home.
The demon king began to chant Latin, holding his arms out wide as, against their will, all the stray orbs began to flow towards him. There was movement behind his back, and before the evil being knew it, he was sent to his knees when an athame penetrated his shoulder. He looked over his shoulder to see the eldest Halliwell child, in his thirties now, glaring down upon him with loathing, "You…"
"Surprise." Chris said back, his face expressionless as Lorna and his cousins stepped out of the portal behind him, surrounding the Source and looking down upon him. Emma and Daniel seemed to be relishing the demon's pain the most, having never got over the fact that this filth had taken their sister away from them. "There's a reason Omega was vanquished all those years ago. You want to know why?"
As if on queue, Adam and Eve arrived before the bowing darkness in a swathe of pearly white orbs, ready to use their power over the lost souls and turn them against the Source, vanquishing him for his greed and stupidity. "No." Chris said calmly to them, raising his hand. "He's ours." With that, the six of them began to chant together.
"Prudence, Penelope, Patricia, Melinda, Astrid, Pamela, Wyatt, and Grace, Halliwell witches stand strong beside us, vanquish this evil from time and space!"
Flames had gathered around the ancient demon as they had chanted, completely consuming him on the climax and obliterating him within seconds. Orbs began to fly around him, ready to take another into the abyss and throw him down to where he belonged when the fire eventually blew upwards in a mushroom cloud of flames, sending a shockwave through the realm and making the orbs scatter before he was finally destroyed.
It was over now.
Faith's eyes moved underneath her eyelids as she continued to dream vividly into the future. The amulet in her hands was one that she had sneakily taken from Pamela's neck when her big cousin had been holding her earlier, and with it, she saw every single event that lay in store for her family. Every death, every birth, every tear, every smile. She saw it all as if she was standing there. But would she remember any of it? No. Too young. Far too young to even remember, let alone understand everything that she had seen. She would get a slight feeling of déjà vu when these events actually happened to her, but like every person, she would brush it off as a weird feeling and continue to live, unaware that she had seen time unfold before her.
"There's my amulet, you little thief!" Pamela hissed with mock anger as she moved toward her sleeping cousin on the living room couch, gently prying it out of her tiny hands and putting it back around her neck. Leaning down, she stroked Faith's chestnut locks with a smile and leaned in to whisper in her ear, "It actually makes your powers stronger, but don't tell anyone."
Getting back to her full height, Pamela walked into the hallway and took a deep breath. She had no idea what she would do now; and that thought alone made her heart beat faster. She could so anything she wanted, be anything she wanted, and nothing would be there to stop her. Despite the fact that Pamela knew demons would eventually come back with a vengeance, she would never regret being born a witch. For the secret of being a witch was family, and how the magic that they all shared created unbreakable bonds that would last forever. She wouldn't a change a thing. She felt like she could see for miles around her without even moving. It was exhilarating to know that you didn't need to fear that every breath would be your last.
Frowning, she realized that the front door had been left open. Pamela rolled her eyes at her aunts' forgetfulness, as they had come in from the outside porch and were now gossiping heatedly in the kitchen instead. With a small laugh and a smile, she raised her hand and flicked her fingers into the air in front of her. Swept up in her telekinetic power, the door began to move forward, before gently swinging closed with a soft click…
Well, folks. That's it. If you guys want to know anything else about the trilogy, you can always ask in the website. The story of these characters is over, so you can ask anything you want, and I'll answer. I could only fit so much into Faith's premonition. So yeah, if you're still curious, take a gander over to the site that's linked to in my profile.
What's next for me? Well, I honestly don't know. I think I'm done writing for the Charmed fandom, but I'm sure you guys will see me in another fandom. I have many. A very wise person once told me to never stop writing, so I'll have to do something if I want to keep my talent sharp. I hope you all enjoyed this series. And to those of you far in the future who have found this series by chance and have just finished it (If that even happens.), I hope you enjoyed it also and am sorry you weren't around when I was in the midst of writing. I'm sure I would have loved to have your support.Thank you.