Dancing in the Wind

Dancing in the Wind

It seems like yesterday when I saw you for the first time. Like a dream I saw you. And I knew I had to have you for my own.

It seems like yesterday when I fell in love with you. But my heart tells me that I've known and loved you for infinity. How can this even be possible? Perhaps it's not. It makes no difference. The impossible can be manipulated. After all, it is love we are talking about.

How many tears I've shed for you… how much pain we've both gone through… how great the joy we've shared… All these things I remember now, because once again we're together. We're taking this one giant leap forward. I'm praying.

I'm praying hard.

Let this be the moment please. Of all the people in the world, none deserve happiness as much as we do.

So this has all happened before. We tried this and we failed. But then we were doing it without their knowledge. We were tempting the fates and cheating a powerful group. Now we've earned it. We've really earned it.

I can't wait for the last test. I remember the pain of losing you. I was never sure when we'd be together again. I didn't know when we'd be able to dance again. I so love the experience of being held in your arms. I love the way we feel together. Nothing can compare.

When they returned you to me, they gave us an ultimatum. Prove that our love can coexist with our powers, our fight to protect the innocents, and we can be together. Pass those three obstacles that they will throw our way, and we will be free to love forever. And so we proved ourselves. Time and again.

Now the last test is about to come. I'm sure we will get through this. We've gone through the first two trials and we still are together, hoping and waiting.

Soon we will be able to dance in our own wedding. A holy union that no elder can tear apart.

A happiness that will make you sing. Yes, my love. You. Sing.

Remember, I want you to carry me over the threshold.  We'll do this the way normal people do. You will have to lift me in your arms and carry me to our bed. It's tradition. I know. Let's be traditional.

I hope Prue has something I can borrow for the wedding. I already have something blue…

Piper folded the letter in crosswise and left it on the nightstand. She smiled and climbed into bed. When Leo arrived tonight, he was sure to find it. True, it was sad that the only way they can talk now is through the letters. It was unfair for the elders to give Leo this many loads. But then again, they must be preparing for the month off that they needed

to give Leo for their honeymoon.

Oh well, she grinned. Sacrifices have to be made.

She woke up when she felt butterfly wings fluttering on her eyes, then her lips and cheeks. She smiled at the pleasant feeling of something heavy on her body. Piper moaned as she stretched. Finally, her eyes opened and she saw Leo lying on top of her, his elbows on either side of her body.

 "Hey," she exclaimed, surprised. "What time did you get back home?"

 "Only now," he murmured. He kissed her neck. "Did you miss me?"

      "Of course I missed you. I blink and I miss you already. Now let me up."

      Leo shook his head. "Stay in bed. We haven't cuddled for decades."

      "Oh? And whose fault is that? I have been here night after night, waiting for you."

      Leo lifted himself off Piper but stayed in bed. "Are we going to get into a fight?"

      "No." Piper rose and, seeing that Leo was on his back, jumped up on top of him.

      "Hey! No fair," he yelled, laughing as he caught her by the waist.

      "Oh, was it fair when you did it while I was sleeping, huh?"

      Leo rolled them over so he was atop her again. She screamed and playfully hit him. "Get off me!"

      "No way! You'll just think you're stronger. And I didn't jump on you. If I did you'd really be in for some very rude

      awakening. My weight would take your breath away."

      Piper kissed his nose as he lay on top of her. "You already take my breath away, Leo." The laughter died from his

      eyes and he bent to kiss her lips. His hands moved to take her face between them as he deepened the contact. His

      eyes slowly closed as he took in her essence. Never has a woman meant as much to him. Never has he felt this

      complete.

      He suddenly felt himself flipped over. His eyes snapped open and saw that he was again the one lying beneath Piper.

      She laughed down at him. "You don't fight fair, Piper!"

      She giggled and tweaked his nose. "Whoever said I had to?"

      "Well then neither do I!" He grabbed her again and rolled them both over. Piper screamed as Leo took hold of both her

      wrists and held them fast against the headboard.

      "Leo," she squealed. "Get off me!"

      "No," he told her.

      "Get off me! Let me go!"

      He pressed tiny kisses against her neck, and she squealed again. "That tickles, Leo! Stop it!"

      "No." He showered tiny kisses over the areas where he knew she was most sensitive. "I want you to yell, 'mercy.'

      Say that I am the most handsome, sexiest and kindest man you've ever laid eyes on."

      "You're crazy," she said, between giggles. "I won't inflate your ego that way!"

      "Well you asked for it."

      "What? What did I ask for?" Nervously, she felt her wrists being tied together and hooked to the bedpost. "Leo…"

      He grinned. "My hands are now free," he explained, and held them up to show her. "And yours are not." He began

      tickling her ribs.

      "Aaaaah!" she screamed. "Leo, get off me! Stop it! Aaaaahhhh! Phoebe, Prue, get in here now! Aaaaah!"

      Leo laughed as he intently kept the game up. Finally, he pitied her and collapsed on top of her, laughing. The laughter

      abated and the door came off at the hinges. Prue stood there, his hands still held up, obviously after using her

      powers. Phoebe was beside her, in kickboxing position.

      "Where's the demon?!"

      When they saw Piper tied to the bedpost, looking tired and harassed, and Leo on top of her, catching his breath,

      Phoebe and Prue relaxed.

      "I hope there's a good explanation for this."

      "And one that we would like to hear."

      "Ummm…" Leo grinned. "No demons. That was only Piper… reacting."

      "Help me," Piper begged her sisters. "Someone untie me."

      Prue bit her lips to keep from smiling. "Are you going to free my sister, Leo? Or do we have to do it?"

      Leo untied Piper's wrists and helped her up. Piper slapped his shoulder playfully. "What has you in that mood

      anyway?"

      Leo kissed the top of her nose and stood up to go to Piper's dresser. He took out a white box and handed it to

      Phoebe. "I had this with me when I orbed in. Send them out for us, will you, Phoebe?"

      "What is it?" Piper asked curiously.

      Prue lifted the lid and Phoebe took out one light blue envelope. She opened the envelope and took out the card. "No…

      I don't believe this."

      "What is it?"

      Phoebe handed it to Prue. Prue read it and looked up at Leo. "No…."

      "I swear, if you don't tell me what it is, I'm gonna scream!" Piper demanded. "Leo… you're keeping something for me!"

      Phoebe had a huge grin on her face as she handed one of the cards to Leo. Leo showed it to Piper. Piper snatched it

      from his hand and read. Her jaw dropped. "But- but- I thought-"

      "But but but but!" Phoebe repeated. "Are we gonna scream or not?"

      "Aaaah!" Piper exclaimed, when she finally got her breath back. "I thought we had to pass one more test."

      "I thought so too," Leo replied. "But the elders called me and gave me that. I think they said it's our gift."

      "I can't believe they've finally agreed. And no more third test. They're angels."

      "Oh, no question about that, Piper," Prue said. "It's only that they've gotten so irritating the past few months." Prue

      looked up. "But, well, in the off chance that you're listening right at this moment, I want you to know that this gesture

      has redeemed you to me."

      "Leo, this is… I'm speechless."

      "I know. I was too. But I wanted to tell you so much. You think this," pointing to the card, "was enough reason to

      celebrate tonight?"

      "Celebrate? No no no no," Phoebe cried. "Do you guys realize we have less than a month to prepare everything?"

      "Yes. I'll get the magazines and you and Leo can choose the gowns. Phoebe and I will handle the rest. This is so

      exciting."

      "Oh, I have the perfect idea! I met someone who does the best cakes—"

      "And this venue I had in mind…"

      "Ummm, may I have a say in this?" Piper interrupted.

      "Well… let's hear your suggestion. We might consider it."

      Leo laughed when he saw Piper stunned expression. "I was kind of hoping for a traditional wedding. No far flung

      venues please."

      "Traditional… How do you mean?"

      "Think Brendan."

      "Oh."

      "Can you manage that?"

      "Well, I think so, yes."

      One month passed swiftly by as Piper frantically chose gowns and Leo hurriedly completed the missions he had

      listed. Prue and Phoebe wouldn't let them see the preparations for the wedding. And they were too happy to mind.

      When Leo finished his work for the day, he orbed in to see Piper. Piper always waited for him every night.

      Sometimes, when she's too tired, she would fall asleep waiting. But they had an unspoken agreement that no matter

      how late he finished, he would wake her so they can tell one another about their day. They couldn't wait until they

      were finally joined together.

      Phoebe tried to pin Piper's veil on her hair. "No, Phoebe, a little to the left. A little more, some more, some more. No!

      That's too much. Still too much. Fix it properly, Pheebs. Do you honestly expect her to get married with a veil that's

      askew?"

      "Would you like to pin this, Prue?" Phoebe demanded, arms akimbo.

      Prue took the veil from Phoebe and pinned it. "I'm sorry, Phoebe. I just—"

      "I know, I know. You want to take part in it, too."

      Piper smiled at her younger sister. "Are you crying, Phoebe?"

      "No," she said, surreptitiously drying her eyes. "My eyes are tired. You know me… bad eyesight."

      "Oh, Pheebs, that's so overly emotional!"

      "Right, Prue. Don't think I didn't hear you sobbing your heart out last night. I went to the bathroom and I found it

      locked. Then sobbing. I peeked in on Piper and she and Leo were asleep!"

      Piper sighed. "Hey, you guys, you are so sweet. Come here and give me a hug! Ummmm… Oh, not too tight we can't

      crush the gown yet! You guys… don't be sad. I mean, it's not like Leo and I are moving out. It would be just like

      before. Nothing's gonna change."

      "Yes, but it's still… overwhelming! My sister is getting married!"

      "Your sister? Our sister! Our sister is getting married!"

      "Oh, I love you, guys!"

      "We love you too, honey."

      "I still can't believe the elders actually let you off on the last test. They must have realized how much you two loved

      each other and knew that nothing's going to keep you apart. Not even them."

      Someone rapped on the door. "It's time, Miss Halliwell!"

      "Just think! By this time tomorrow everyone's going to be calling you Mrs. Wyatt in your honeymoon."

      Prue grabbed Piper's hand and pulled her along.

      He stood in front of the huge church. He could hardly believe that Prue and Phoebe managed to schedule their

      wedding here. The high ceilings and elegant furnishings were reminiscent of the old churches he had seen in Italy.

      This was Piper's dream wedding. And he was glad she had sisters who would thoughtfully fulfill her dreams for her.

      He was so nervous. The wedding march played on the church organ and he stood before the guests in his coat and

      tie. Leo tried to control the rapid beating of his heart and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he caught his

      breath. It had begun. The march…

      A cute little girl began walking down the aisle, leaving a trail of petals on the carpet. Leo watched as she was followed

      by a young boy bearing a small gold basket which he knew contained the wedding bands. Finally, a woman stood at

      the end of the isle. The sun was behind her so he couldn't clearly see her. But Leo knew who it was. Prue made her

      way to the front of the altar and gave him an encouraging smile. Next came Phoebe, who winked at him and had an

      encouraging grin.

      And then Piper came to view, her arm around that of an older man whom Leo had spent weeks trying to find. Victor

      Halliwell was only too glad to have the chance to escort his daughter as she walked down the isle to a hopeful new

      life. Of course, he inspected Leo first. He had boasted that he would not condone his little mouse marrying a no-good

      (excuse me church) bastard. Leo had trouble convincing him that he was no bum. After all, he had no work ID to

      show him. But the word "magic" made Victor nod and stuff all the questions. But the look on her face when she

      learned who was walking her down the aisle was worth the interrogation he had suffered.

      "Are you okay, man?" He looked down at the large hand that covered his shoulder. "You're turning blue."

      "Ah, yes, Darryl," he told his best man. "I just… I couldn't help but hold my breath."

      "Yes, well, you need air," he spelled out for him.

      "I know. I know," he chuckled.

      Piper smiled behind her veil. Victor's hand closed around Leo's as Piper's father gripped Leo's in a handshake. "You

      take care of my daughter now, Wyatt." He bent to kiss Piper's cheek and took his seat. They faced the priest, Prue's

      unwilling warlock, to make their vows.

      "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join two hands in holy matrimony…"

      Piper looked up at Leo and saw that he was looking at her. She smiled. "I love you," she mouthed. His lips moved to

      form the words, "I love you too."

      "Is there anyone present who opposes this marriage?"

      Leo's heart stopped when Brendan looked askance at the new arrival. He turned and saw Dan standing at the end of

      the aisle. The audience looked at the back of the church. Finally, Dan raised a hand in apology. He took a seat in one

      of the pews. Everyone sighed in relief and turned back to the priest. The ceremony resumed.

      Piper and Leo knelt as the cord were placed around them to show the bond a husband and wife shared. Leo's hand

      closed around hers and squeezed. "Don't cry, sweetheart." She hadn't realized that the tears she'd been holding were

      rolling down her cheeks.

      They stood up and faced each other for the vows. "I, Leo, take thee, Piper, for my lawfully wedded wife," he carefully

      pronounced, "to have and to hold, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live."

      "I, Piper, take thee, Leo, for my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in

      health." She paused. "For all eternity."

      "As I you," he whispered.

      "Do you have the rings?" asked the priest.

      Darryl took the rings from the boy and handed one to Leo. "Take this ring as a sign of my love and devotion to you."

      He slipped it on Piper's finger. "With this ring, I thee wed. With my body I thee worship." And then he grinned. "And

      with all my worldly goods I thee endow."

      Piper took the ring from Darryl. She took Leo's hand in hers and slipped the ring on his finger. "With this ring, I thee

      wed. With my body I thee worship. And with all my worldly goods I thee endow."

      "You may kiss the bride."

      Leo slowly lifted the veil and touched her cheek. "May I, Mrs. Wyatt?"

      Piper's eyes filled with tears as she heard the name. "Yes, Mr. Wyatt, you may."

      His arms went around her. "I want to sing," he said. "But not before we seal this union with a kiss." His left hand

      rested on the small of her back and his right held her head steady for his deep kiss. Finally, she thought, real

      happiness.

      Lightning split the sky and deafening thunder roared. It was odd because it had been such a fair day. Leo wrapped his

      arms around his bride.

      "Leo, I feel…" Piper tried to breathe, but couldn't. She gripped his shoulders. "I feel so… Leo, I feel faint!" He tightened

      his hold around her. Piper fought the darkness that closed around her, and failed. Leo held her against him as she fell

      unconscious.

      "No!" He looked up. "We had an agreement. This is a holy union. This isn't one you can sever!"

      A whitelighter orbed in front of the church, and the guests watched in awe. Prue and Phoebe ran forward to check on

      their sister. "There was an agreement. You are correct. But they never told you there would be no third test. You

      assumed it when they told you that you may get married. This may be a holy union, but you did agree to pass three

      tests before they finally let you be together."

      "You can't do this to me, Quince."

      The whitelighter sadly shook his head. "I'm sorry, Leo. But we all work for them." He held out his arms.

      "I won't let her go, Quince."

      "You don't have to, Leo." Leo felt her disappear from his arms. She appeared cradled in Quince's arms. "I apologize."

      He orbed out with her.

      "Piper!" Phoebe cried. "Prue, they've—"

      "The elders," Prue muttered.

      Leo's hands fisted as he looked up. "Noooo!" Leo orbed out in front of the stunned audience.

      --

      "Mummy, mummy, are the cookies done yet?"

      Piper took off her apron and smiled at the little girl. "You wait, pumpkin. They're almost ready. Come and give

      mummy a hug!" she said, as she bent down to her daughter's level. The oven's timer sounded and she let go. "Okay,

      why don't you and Brian play at the yard? I'll call you when I have everything fixed."

      "Okay, mummy." The girl scampered off to do as she was bid.

      Piper took the cookie shoot out of the oven and set it before the fan to let the cookies cool. She took the bottle of

      orange juice from the refrigerator and proceeded to set the table.

      As she turned to place the mats on the table, she felt a sudden queasiness and held on to the chair. She breathed in

      deeply and tried to let the moment pass. And then she smiled a secret smile as her hand unerringly sought her

      tummy. This was how it felt like when she was carrying Bryant, and then Melinda. It seemed then that another little

      Wyatt was on its way. She wondered how Leo would react this time. The stunned silence that ensued after he was

      told about Bryant was absent in her second pregnancy. When he had learned that Melinda was about to come, he

      was ecstatic, whirling her around and around until she had threatened to throw up on him.

      Piper had never been this happy in her entire life. Her marriage to Leo was the best move she had ever taken. True

      enough, the elders had tried to trick them. Leo had explained everything to her when she came to. Prue and Phoebe

      lived in the manor and they still saw them often. But she and Leo had settled into the picture perfect home she had

      always dreamed of. Leo had clipped his wings after the wedding, and Piper had relinquished her powers. Oddly

      enough, and just as fortunate, no demons had come after them. She was able to raise her children in that normal,

      healthy life she had never thought possible.

      She heard the car arrive and continued her chore. The front door opened, and she welcomed her husband with a

      smile.

      "Get these little monkeys off me, wife!" Leo stood at the doorway of their kitchen, a child clinging tightly to each leg.

      As he walked, the children would squeal in delight. "Wait a minute, what have you done to my children?"

      "But we are your children, daddy!" Melinda insisted.

      "No, you're a monkey who's hidden my precious baby girl somewhere!"

      "No, daddy, it's true! I'm Melinda."

      "And I'm Bryant," said the boy clinging to the other leg.

      "My children are humans, not monkeys."

      "Ohhh okay! I know!" Melinda motioned for Bryant to come closer and began a stage whisper that Leo did not have to

      strain to hear. "Let's get down so daddy can see we're people."

      "Okay."

      Melinda and Bryant jumped off smoothly. "Well, there you two are!" Leo exclaimed. "Did you know there were two

      monkeys here pretending to be you."

      Melinda giggled. "That's silly, daddy. Coz monkeys can't pretend."

      "Is that so?"

      "Yes," the girl replied with a fervent nod.

      Piper grinned at the two. Whereas Bryant had been very close to her since he was born, Melinda had always been

      her daddy's baby. They understood each other in a way even she could not understand.

      "Babies," she called. "Will you both grab a cookie and run off to play in the yard again? I'll call you when you can sit

      on the table. I have something to tell daddy."

      "Yes, mummy." Bryant kissed her cheek and hopped his way to the yard.

      When they were alone, Piper faced her husband with a huge grin on her face. "Welcome home, doctor daddy. Was

      the hospital busy today?"

      "It always is," he grinned. "What is it you're not telling me, huh?"

      "Well… daddy," she emphasized. She giggled at the expression on his face when it dawned on him. "Yes!"

      "Oh mummy, I am so happy!" He embraced her tightly. "I can't ask any more out of life than what I have now."

      "Well, of course, Leo. You deserve it so much. And I'm so happy too. You've given me everything I could ask for."

      --

      "Leo, you're back."

      The whitelighter nodded, looking haggard and weary. "I am. I think I may have found a way to find her."

      "Won't you give up yet? It's been ten years, Leo. I love her too, but I think I know when to quit."

      Leo's haunted eyes turned to Phoebe. "How can you ask me to do that, Phoebe, huh? She's my wife!" he exploded.

      And then he tried to moderate his voice. Slowly, he said, "My life, my heart, my soul… she's my everything. For

      heaven's sake, I stay and work for them because I know I have no way to find her if I clipped my wings! I have none of

      the affection nor the drive needed to be a whitelighter but they keep me on because they know they did me wrong. I've

      done nothing for the past decade but look for a way to get to her. And now you tell me to give up?"

      Prue took Leo's hand. "We understand you, Leo. We just think--"

      "Do you, Prue? Do you really? She was my lifeline, my hold to sanity. How long does a man live without air to

      breathe?"

      "Not long."

      "Then I've been dead since the wedding."

      The eldest Halliwell was convinced. "All right. Tell me what we have to do." He did. "Are you prepared for what you

      might see?"

      "I am prepared for anything."

The man emerged from thin air, walking briskly, protected from the frigid air by a long black leather coat and dark

      sunglasses. The little boy and girl had witnessed the sudden appearance and watched as he walked towards them.

      "Hello, children."

      "Hello, mister," answered the girl. The boy held her back. "We're not supposed to talk to strangers."

      "It's okay," he answered quietly as he drew off his shades. "Do I look like a stranger to you?" The girl screamed for her

      mummy, and the boy pushed his younger sibling behind him protectively. "I won't hurt you. Don't worry." The girl

      screamed louder. He put his shades back on.

      The door to the house opened and out ran Piper. "Melinda! Melinda, sweetheart, what's wrong?" She caught the little

      girl in her arms. "Bryant, come here." She stayed at the steps. The boy ran to her. "What do you want?" she called

      out to the man.

      "I wanted to see you for a long time, Piper," he answered quietly, but Piper heard him from that distance. She moved

      closer to see him clearly. "It's been so long."

      Piper's embrace on Melinda tightened. Her other hand dropped to hold Bryant close. "Leo!" she screamed. "Leo!" She

      turned to the man standing before her. "Who are you? Why are you doing this to my kids? Are you a warlock? I'm

      sorry but you have to go. My husband and I no longer have anything you will be interested in."

      The man in the leather jacket drew out the gold chain from under his shirt. On it hung a wedding band. It was the one

      they'd exchanged ten years ago, engraved with their own private message.

      She met the hazel eyes that begged her to open her mind. "Leo," she screamed.

      "I'm Leo," he whispered.

      "No!" She shook her head, tears falling freely down her face. "You can't do this to me. This is not happening to my

      perfect life! Leo!!"

      The door flung open and her husband hurriedly stepped out. "I'm sorry, my love. I was taking a shower." But Piper did

      not look at him. His eyes moved to the direction she was looking. "You!"

      "Tell her the truth, damn you," the stranger whispered.

      "Who are you and what do you want from my family?" he demanded.

      "You know very well who I am. And what I want is for you to give me back my life."

      "I owe you nothing. She has been my wife for ten years. We've raised a family of our own."

      Piper frantically tried to take in the conversation before the two men who looked exactly the same.

      "I love her and I love our children."

      "You stole her from me!"

      "I was doing my job!"

      "Shut up! Both of you, shut up! Now tell me what's going on!"

      "Why don't you tell her the truth, Quince? She deserves to know."

      Piper's heart froze as the man who she knew was her husband turned to face her.

      --

      She stared blankly at her husband after hearing the truth from his lips.

      "You've been lying to me these past ten years?"

      Quince shook his head sadly. "I've lied about the circumstances, but not once did I have to pretend with you. Please

      understand, Piper."

      "Will you let me go home with Leo if I choose?"

      "I will. And so will they. They're big on free will."

      She laughed harshly. "Free will? So that's what they call the decade I spent with you. You were lying to me, and I—I

      was lying with you! Do you even comprehend how much pain you've brought my sisters and Leo?"

      "As I said before, Piper, I was doing my job. But what we had together, although based on deception, was real to me.

      I loved you, Piper. I know deep in your heart you accept that you loved the man you've lived with for years."

      "I will go insane!" Piper looked up at Quince's hazel eyes. Nothing in his face betrayed the fact that he was not Leo.

      Even his eyes… They always say that the eyes were the windows to the soul. And Piper clearly saw his soul. His

      emotions were bare in his eyes. They held the same love that Piper vaguely remembered from the life before she wed,

      in the real Leo's eyes. She walked towards the stranger who was also her soul mate. "You are my husband, my

      Leo?" He nodded. "Let me walk alone with him, Quince. You owe us that."

      "Piper… please understand."

      "Let me walk alone with him, Quince," she insisted.

      Almost on cue, Bryant and Melinda ran to cling to her legs. "Mummy! Mummy, where are you going?" cried the little

      girl.

      "You're not leaving us, are you, mummy?"

      Piper knelt down and took Bryant and Melinda in her arms. "I don't know, sweetheart."

      "You're not coming back?"

      "Bri, Mel, I'm not sure."

      "But why?! We're here, aren't we? Don't you love us anymore?"

      "I love you! Never think that I don't. If I never come back, I know that when you're older you will understand. You see,

      this man… he was my life before I had you."

      "Mummy, please don't leave us."

      Piper tried to disentangle the arms around her. "Le—Quince, please take the children."

      Quince took Melinda up in his arms and firmly held Bryant's shoulder. Piper faced him. "I have to go and look for

      myself, Quince."

      "I love you, Piper," he whispered. "I know you'll find your answers. I know you will go where you belong."

      Piper turned and extended her hand to Leo. Quince watched them walk away as he tried to calm their children.

      How can I just let you walk away

      Just let you leave without a trace

      When I stand here taking every breath

      With you, ooh

      You're the only one who really knew me at all

      "She'll be back," he assured the children. Finally he closed his eyes in desperation. "What have I done?" He watched

      the retreating figures.

      How can you just walk away from me

      When all I can do is watch you leave?

      'Cause we shared the laughter and the pain

      And even shared the tears

      You're the only one who really knew me at all.

      Piper looked up at the familiar face and touched every line. "Leo… I cannot say I missed you," she said in

      wonderment.

      "I've died a thousand deaths since they took you away from me." Leo bent to kiss her hungrily. Ten years he had

      searched hundreds of realms. He had looked for her in every plane, wondering… always wondering where they had

      taken her. If this were that third test, it was by far the cruelest they have ever devised. "I've missed you so."

      "You're my true love," she whispered.

      "I am. And we were fated to be together. Come home with me," he said excitedly. "Prue and Phoebe. They will be so

      happy to see you."

      "Prue," she smiled. "She must be so successful now. And Phoebe. Has she found someone to love?"

      "They both miss you."

      "The Prue and Phoebe in this-"

      "Illusions."

      She sighed. "There is so much the elders have to pay for."

      A strong wind suddenly came down. It seemed that they were caught up in a hurricane. His arms came around her as

      they felt themselves lifted off their feet. They held each other, eyes closed against the harsh wind. The wind gentled.

      They opened their eyes and found themselves floating above the ground.

      "Where are we?"

      "I think- I think this is their way of extending their apology."

      It was cool and cozy in the clouds. A love song played, and Piper thought she heard the voice of cherubims.

      "Wha-"

      "Our wedding dance. They're giving us back what they stole from us. Dance with me."

      Piper was caught up in the fantasy. Her angel had returned, and he held his arms open for her. She stepped before

      him and felt his arms around her. He led her to a waltz on the clouds.

      She could live like this forever. She smiled as the cool breeze against her face refreshed her memory. Every day she

      spent with Leo returned to her, and her heart burst with love again. Her hands came up to cup his face. "I love you,"

      she declared, as they twirled in the light waltz.

      He grinned in victory. "Love never fades." He kissed her lips once more. The music faded and the dance ended. His

      lips never left hers as they felt themselves slowly float down to earth. "It was a beautiful way of showing us that they

      are sorry."

      "It was a wonderful way to finally remember you."

      "Come. I will show you how to come back to our world." He took her arm and felt her resist. He looked askance at

      her.

      She shook her head. "I can't."

      "What?"

      "I can't go with you, Leo. Not to Prue. Not to Phoebe. Not to the love or the destiny awaiting us."

      "But why, Piper? You love me."

      "I'm pregnant, Leo."

      He was taken aback, but he gained his composure in short time. "We will raise the baby on our own."

      "You don't understand. My life here is perfect. I love you, but I cannot abandon my children. And I cannot take them

      away from their world."

      "Don't do this to us, Piper."

      "Don't change the way I am, Leo. You of all people, I expect to understand me." She turned around and walked away.

      So take a look at me now

      Well there's just an empty space

      There's nothin' left here to remind me

      Just a mem'ry of your face

      Well, take a look at me now

      Well, there's just an empty space

      And you coming back

      Is against the odds

      And that's what I've got to face

      "Piper! Piper, I love you. You know that. Come back to me!" he called. But she never did.

      I wish I could just make you turn around

      Turn around and see me cry

      There's so much I need to say to you

      So many reasons why

      You're the only one who really knew me at all

      So take a look at me now

      Well there's just an empty space

      Well there's nothin' left here to remind me

      Just a mem'ry of your face

      Piper wiped away her silent tears. She knew he followed, but she held fast to her will. True, she would always love

      him. But fate had dealt them this hand, no matter how unfair. The children were not at fault. She had to play the cards

      as they were.

      Piper stopped at the gate and looked up at her pretty home, surrounded by white picket fences. The door opened and

      Quince's wide smile greeted her. The children happily screamed their greetings and started to run to her.

      She opened the gate and stepped into the yard. His eyes caught hers as she turned to close it. She mouthed,

      "Always." She turned and embraced the children. Quince kissed her cheek, smiling in relief.

      Leo stood across the street, watching the scene unfold before his eyes.

      Now take a look at me now

      'Cause there's just an empty space

      But to wait for you

      Is all I can do

      And that's what I've got to face

      Take a good look at me now

      It's hard to be standing here

      And you coming back to me

      Is against all odds

      It's the chance I've got to take

      Take a look at me now

      EPILOGUE

      Her hand caressed the slight bulge of her tummy as she sightlessly stared up the ceiling, lying beside Quince. She'd

      been in bed for three hours, since she and Quince tucked in the children. It was a ritual for her family every night. She

      and Quince would read Melinda and Bryant their fairy tales and kiss them goodnight before going to their own

      bedroom. But tonight was different. Nothing really changed, but it was still different. She felt as though the ground had

      been taken from her feet in one swift movement. She felt slightly nauseated and not a little desperate.

      Sighing, she took off the blankets and stood up, walking to the window. There was a full moon tonight. She smiled,

      reminded of the antics she and her sisters used to play at this time of the month. She parted the curtains and looked

      at the glowing ball of light.

      "Hello, moon. Thank you for being the only thing familiar to me in this world."

      She didn't know what power told her to look down. But she did and the sight pulled at her heartstrings.

      He was still standing there, at the same spot she left him when she entered the house. He was looking up at her

      window.  Without another thought, she grabbed her robe and ran out of the room. She hurriedly took the flight of stairs

      and opened the door. She ran the way across her picture perfect yard and flung open the gate of the white picket

      fence.

      They stood facing each other, at either side of the street. It was midnight and the moon was high above them. It was

      not dark in spite of the hour because of the light cast by the full moon.

      "I can't live without you," he whispered. His low voice was carried to her ears by the night breeze.

      Piper wanted to rush to him and embrace him. She would kiss him passionately, the way they always did ten years

      ago, when there were still no complications. The way they used to when they were young at love.

      "Go home, Leo," she said, her voice firm. "Go home and leave my family be."

      "Piper…"

      She turned and, for the second time that day, she walked away from him.

      He did not call out to her this time. Perhaps she was right. Children are children. A life is a life, and the past is the

      past.

      As he watched her go Leo felt the wind once more. The wind was his friend. He looked on as she was swept off her

      feet and borne up to the heavens by the mystical power of the wind. Soon, he too was engulfed by the unexplainable

      force and carried high, high above the clouds.

      They were both deposited to the council. Leo immediately stood before Piper as they faced the mighty, if abusive,

      elders.

      "What do you want from us? We've failed the test. We did not survive the separation."

      The one in the middle smiled faintly. "But failing to hold on to your selfish focus on each other is exactly what

      success in the third test entails. You've passed it. Piper never lost sight of her family, the innocent children, even

      when you appeared and she rediscovered her love for you. And you, you finally accepted her choice and understood

      the true meaning of love."

      "Letting go?"

      "Letting go. Understanding. Giving. You've learned everything you need to know. Now we allow you to go back home."

      "You've taken ten years from us."

      "No. We didn't. You'll see."

      Leo took Piper's hand in his. "Then send us home."

      "No." Piper disentangled her hand from his. "No. Leo, my children. I can't abandon them."

      "They will cease to exist, Piper," the elder said. "They will be as though they never were."

      "Their souls."

      "Will be reborn. Perhaps even as your children once more."

      "Will I remember them?"

      "You will have the chance to have your own children with the man truly fated for you. We're taking back the bad cards

      we dealt you with. We're reshuffling. Now the dealer won't cheat anymore."

      "But will I remember them? I cannot bear the scars of deliberately giving up Melinda and Bryant and this new one all

      my life."

      "No. The lessons you learned are ingrained within. You do not need to agonize over the loss of three children."

      Piper closed her eyes and sent out a message of love to Melinda and Bryant. I love you, babies. I'll see you again

      someday. The loss she felt was incomparable. She hoped to forget this soon. She placed her hand on her tummy and

      said goodbye.

      Leo held out his hand to her and she placed her hand in his.

      A bright spark of light lit the heavens. Leo and Piper whirled around and around on the clouds as they were swept into

      a time altering sort of waltz. They were dancing, floating in heaven. They twirled and glided and laughed and cried as

      ten years of their lives were winded back.

      "Mrs Wyatt! Mrs Wyatt!" she heard a concerned voice say.

      "Uhhh…" She opened her eyes. Leo was leaning down, worried eyes looking her over. "Leo…"

      "Hey," he smiled at her. "Are you all right?"

      "Yes," she answered faintly. "What happened?"

      He grinned. "Sweetheart, you fainted after I kissed you. I didn't think I had that much appeal to you. Maybe you want

      to skip the reception and go straight to honeymoon," he teased.

      "No!" she exclaimed, as he helped her up. "We'll dance at the reception. We won't miss any moment of this."

      "All right, Piper."

      "I love you, Leo."

      "I love you too."

      Piper noticed orbing lights at the corner of the church. A man stood there silently watching. She smiled. One of Leo's

      whitelighter friends must have wanted to attend the wedding…

      fin