Setting: This story is set in Season Four, just after the events of 'Black As Cole'. Cole is human and Paige has recently moved into the Manor.
Disclaimer: I do not own 'Charmed' or any of the characters associated with that show.
Author's Note: This story is a response to Laby Anne Boleyn's Chicken Pox challenge (details below).
Chicken Pox Challenge
- Paige MUST be the one with chicken pox.
- Set in early season 4.
- Sisterly bonding between Piper and Paige or Phoebe and Paige or all three if you like.
- And no crossovers or deaths.
- This can be a one-shot if you like.
Other than that the story up too you.
"This is just wrong!" Paige complained for the sixth time in the ten minutes or so since she had been given her diagnosis. She was convinced that the doctor, who had been called to the Halliwell Manor by an anxious Piper, had found the whole thing very amusing but she definitely wasn't laughing. "We saved that boy from a warlock!"
"And he repays you by giving you his chicken pox. Very rude of him." Piper tutted in mock-disapproval, biting her lip to keep from smiling at the outraged expression on her youngest sister's face.
"Kids these days – they've got no manners." Phoebe quipped, smoothing Paige's hair away from her face and frowning when she felt how warm her skin was. "How did you manage to get through your whole childhood without catching chicken pox? It's practically a rite of passage."
Paige shrugged. "Just lucky, I guess. Or unlucky." She amended; if she had gotten it when she was little, she wouldn't be suffering now. "Can't Leo fix this?" She asked plaintively, unknowingly running her nails over the surface of her skin.
"No scratching," Piper chided automatically, catching her sister's hand before she could do any damage, "and you know that Leo's not supposed to heal natural illnesses, at least not ones that aren't life threatening. The Elders wouldn't let him." If they had been prepared to strip him of his wings, albeit temporarily, for intervening to save her life when she was dying of arroyo fever, she didn't think that they would look kindly on him stepping in for a straightforward case of chicken pox, not unless a supernatural threat that required the Power of Three at full strength to vanquish it reared its ugly head.
"So we have an in-house healer but the Elders won't let us use him?" Paige grumped. "Are we sure that they're the good guys?"
"Most of the time." Piper answered, remembering some of the times that she and the Elders hadn't seen eye to eye. Paige was right. There were times when it was very hard to remember that they were supposed to be the good guys.
"Look on the bright side." Phoebe suggested encouragingly.
"There's a bright side?" Paige looked at her as though she had grown an extra head or three. "I've got chicken pox. I'm twenty-four, I'm too old to get a little kids' disease!"
"Apparently not." Piper remarked, hard-pressed to keep from laughing at the glare her younger sister shot in her direction.
"Mr Cowan doesn't want you anywhere near the office until you're completely in the clear in case you infect anyone else, which means no work for at least a couple of weeks," Phoebe said brightly, climbing onto the bed and putting an arm around Paige's shoulders, "so you'll be able to sit back, relax and veg in front of the TV and let us wait on you hand and foot." She indicated herself and Piper with a flourish and, seeing a glimmer of a smile tugging at the corners of Paige's mouth, lowered her voice to a whisper, as though revealing a deep, dark secret. "I know for a fact that Piper's double chocolate chip brownies have medicinal value. They got me through the flu last year."
Paige laughed. "And what do we do if a demon attacks?"
"You sneeze on him," Piper's response was prompt, "and if we're really lucky, you'll start a chicken pox epidemic in the Underworld, it could even be a new way to vanquish the Source. Seriously," she continued gently, "you let us worry about that. Your job is to take it easy and get better, understood?
"Yes, ma'am." Paige promised, imitating a salute.
"Very funny." Piper swatted her arm lightly. "I mean it, missy. Relax."
"After all," Phoebe chimed in, "you only get chicken pox once so you might as well enjoy whatever perks you can get with it."
"How's Paige feeling?" Leo asked as soon as he orbed into the kitchen, where Piper was preparing a salad to go with the chicken casserole she had made for lunch. Although his charges tended to keep him pretty busy, he did his best to make it back for meals whenever possible.
It was nice to be married to a chef.
"Pretty miserable," Piper responded honestly, "but unfortunately there isn't really much that we can do for her at the moment. At least Dr Gibson thinks that it's not going to be a serious case." She added reassuringly, knowing how deeply her husband cared for the welfare of his charges, particularly his family.
"That's good. Chicken pox can be dangerous for an adult."
"I know." Even the doctor's assurances hadn't been able to completely erase Piper's fears that Paige would become seriously ill. "Thank God Phoebe and I got it over with when we were little. One case in the family is already one too many."
"I had it when I was a kid too." Leo supplied.
"I don't think that you would have had to worry much anyway, honey," Piper commented, amused. "Technically, you're already dead."
"True." Leo chuckled in return, gesturing towards the lunch preparations. "Is there anything you need me to do?"
"If you could set the table, that'd be great."
"Sure thing. How many places?"
"The two of us, and Phoebe. Cole should be back soon. I don't know if Paige will be feeling up to coming down to eat with us or if I should bring a tray up to her room."
"Better not disturb her," Phoebe recommended, entering in time to hear Piper's last sentence. "She had a pretty bad headache, so she took some Tylenol. She's fast asleep now."
"Has her temperature gone down at all?" Piper asked.
Phoebe shook her head. "Still the same."
"Poor Paige." Leo said sympathetically. "It's been a long time since I had it, but I still remember how awful it was."
"Tell me about it." Phoebe commiserated. "I didn't think that I would ever stop feeling itchy."
"I remember that Grams had to tape oven mitts to your hands to keep you from scratching," Piper said, "and that home remedy she gave us – it was the most disgusting thing I ever tasted!" Her brow furrowed in thought. "Although now that I think about it, that was probably a potion to help make us better. I don't think that we were sick as long as everyone else."
As children, she, Prue and Phoebe had not been aware that their grandmother was a witch or that they themselves would one day have magical powers of their own but now that they knew the truth, some of the strange things Piper remembered from her childhood now made a lot more sense than they had when she was a little girl.
"Maybe the recipe is in the Book of Shadows." Leo suggested.
"But do you really want to wish it on poor Paige?" Phoebe asked, shuddering slightly at the memory of the taste. They had once made a game of guessing the ingredients to Grams' home remedies and the three of them had come to the conclusion that that particular one – unanimously elected as the worst one of all – had consisted entirely of vinegar, cold tea, rotten eggs and broccoli – in short, all the evils of the world. "What did she ever do to you?"
"Good point." Piper agreed.
The front door opened and Cole walked in, stowing his briefcase in the closet – Piper hated it when people left their things on the furniture. He sniffed appreciatively at the aromas wafting in from the kitchen. "Something smells great." He shot Piper a smile. "As usual. How's Paige?"
"Not great. It's chicken pox." Phoebe responded.
"The doctor says that she'll be fine, just miserable for a week or so." Piper told him.
"She's pretty disgusted that it was a kid we rescued who gave it to her." Phoebe added, smiling slightly.
Cole laughed. "You know what they say – no good deed goes unpunished."
"Honey, I know that you're itchy but if you keep scratching, you're only going to make things worse – you don't want to end up with scars, do you?" Phoebe cajoled, catching Paige by the wrist and gently tugging her hand away.
"I'm sorry," Paige snuffled miserably, looking far younger than her years, "I can't help it!" After two days, she was convinced that she had never felt this bad in her entire life. How she was going to survive the week to ten days that Dr Gibson anticipated her symptoms would last before improving was beyond her.
"I know," Phoebe slipped a sympathetic arm around her shoulder, "Piper sent Leo to the drugstore to get some more calamine lotion and she's looking through Grams' old notebooks to see if she can find a spell or potion to make you feel better."
"Isn't that personal gain?"
Phoebe shrugged. "Maybe – but under the circumstances, I don't think anyone could really hold it against us, do you? Besides, if there was a problem with it, Grams wouldn't have used it."
"I'll take your word for that." Paige said quietly; although she had heard both of her sisters speaking fondly of the grandmother who had raised them after their mother had died, she had never met her – although, according to Phoebe, that could change as Penny Halliwell wasn't a woman who would let a little thing like being dead keep her from visiting if she felt so inclined.
"You know," Phoebe said, seeing her younger sister's serious expression and deeming it best to inject a little humour into their conversation. "You might be very lucky that it's Piper who'll be making any potions for you – Prue and I were always convinced that Grams used to make her home remedies taste worse than they should have on purpose because we could occasionally be a little troublesome when we were under the weather."
"As opposed to the rest of the time?" Piper asked, amused, entering the room in time to hear the last part of Phoebe's sentence. "You never needed to be sick to cause havoc, Pheebs." She had a small black book in one hand, and a glass of purplish liquid in the other. She sat down at the end of the bed, patting the bump Paige's legs made under the covers before handing her the glass. "How are you feeling?"
"Lousy." Her response was succinct and she gazed at the glass she had been given. "Please tell me this stuff will get rid of it!"
"Not quite – but it should help with the itching. Drink up." Piper told her, opening the book to a particular recipe. "This one should reduce your fever, too." She said, studying the list of ingredients. "We've got most of these down in the kitchen – oh." She chuckled slightly. "Looks like Prue was right." Seeing the quizzical expressions on the faces of her sisters, she passed them the book, pointing to the last line of the recipe.
"'A teaspoon of honey and three drops of vanilla essence may be added for cooperative patients without affecting potency.'" Phoebe read aloud. "I knew it!"
"That's what you get for running away when Grams was trying to put some calamine lotion on you." Piper told her in a mock-severe tone, before elaborating for Paige's benefit. "You should have seen her – Grams had just given her a bath and wanted to put some lotion on to stop the itching but Phoebe thought that it smelled 'icky'..."
"It did!" Phoebe cut in indignantly.
"...and didn't want to let her, so she ran out of the bathroom, downstairs and out of the house before any of us could stop her. She was halfway down the block before she realized that she wasn't wearing anything." Piper said, ducking as Phoebe picked up one of Paige's pillows and pitched it at her head, narrowly missing it.
"I was four." Phoebe defended herself, covering Paige's ears with her hands. "And you're not supposed to tell our aby-bay ister-say those kind of stories – I need someone in this family to look up to me."
"Don't stop on my account." Paige said hastily, enjoying the retelling. She dodged Phoebe's hands and awaited the rest of the story.
With a quick grin in Phoebe's direction, Piper resumed her story. "Of course, being Phoebe, she didn't do what any sensible person would do and turn around and go home to get out of the cold – she hid behind Mrs Ashley's shrubs, and didn't come out until Prue came after her with her coat to bring her back. It was February, so by then, she was so cold and miserable that Grams didn't have the heart to yell at her. Prue wasn't too happy either; she caught Phoebe's chicken pox... and just after Andy had asked her to be his Valentine, too. They were just ten, so they were just exchanging cards and holding hands at school and stuff but it was a big deal for them. It took her a while to forgive you for that one."
"But she did eventually." Phoebe finished wistfully. Between accidents, childish pranks and teenage tantrums, she had caused both of her sisters, along with their grandmother, more than a few headaches in her time, but they had rarely held it against her. She glanced up at Piper, a mischievous smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Want to hear about the first time that Piper tried to dye her hair?"
"Tried?" Paige repeated. "What went wrong?"
Piper clapped a hand over Phoebe's mouth before she could relate all of the gory details of that particular mishap. It wasn't among her most pleasant memories. She turned to Paige, frowning playfully. "This really isn't fair, you know – you get to hear about our embarrassing stories, but we don't get to hear any of yours. I don't think that's right, do you, Pheebs?"
Phoebe shook her head solemnly. "Not right at all." She nudged Paige gently. "Spill it, sister. Your most embarrassing moment."
Paige shook her head. "I'll never tell."
"I bet I know how I can get it out of you." Phoebe teased, holding her hands poised and wiggling her fingers threateningly. "Nobody can resist a tickle attack!"
"Not while she's sick." Piper intervened; Paige's stomach had been a little delicate over the past day or two, and she didn't want to see her bedspread decorated with the remains of her lunch. She shook her head in amusement when Paige shot Phoebe a triumphant look, sticking out her tongue.
Phoebe subsided, but not before shooting Paige a playful frown. "She won't be there to protect you once you're better." She teased. "Then you'll tell all."
"Nuh-uh." She shook her head.
"Just you wait." Phoebe said, in what she hoped was a suitably foreboding tone, moving to the edge of the bed and reaching down, rummaging for a few moments before emerging with an album in one hand and a triumphant expression on her face. "And in the meantime, we have this." She crowed, holding it out of Paige's reach and crawling to the far end of the bed before her sister could catch her, leafing through the first pages. "Look how cute you were!"
"Piper, make her stop!" If Paige had hoped that her big sister would defend her a second time, she was doomed to disappointment.
"Are you kidding me?" Piper moved to Phoebe's side, looking over her shoulder at the pictures. "Let me see. Aw! Look at those chubby cheeks!" She cooed.
"Two can play at this game." Paige huffed, holding out her arms. "Family albums!"
"Paige, watch..." Phoebe winced as her sister was showered with at least a dozen albums. "...out. We have a lot of family photos." She finished sheepishly.
"Are you alright?" Piper asked.
"Fine." Paige assured her, selecting one of the albums and leafing through it, biting her lower lip as she looked through the pages of pictures chronicling the childhoods of three dark haired little girls. She loved her adoptive parents very much, and was conscious of how lucky she had been that Sister Agnes had been able to find such a wonderful family for the baby who had been left in her charge, but that didn't keep a part of her from wishing that she had been able to grow up with her sisters.
One of the pictures caught her eye; of her mother, standing in the attic with two little girls standing on either side, their little hands pressed against her stomach as they looked at the camera.
Seeing what she was looking at, Piper moved to her side, pointing to each of the little girls in turn. "That's Prue, and that's me." She explained, before pointing at her mother's stomach. "And that's Phoebe in there. Not a great picture of her, but the best she ever took." Seeing the confused expression on her younger sister's face, she smiled wryly. "It's a long story."
"Time travel." Phoebe cut in. "We went back to the Seventies about three years ago."
"Maybe not so long." Paige quipped. This time last year, if somebody had told her that they had travelled through time, she would have thought that they were insane, but it was far from the most unusual thing she had heard since learning of the existence of her sisters, and that she was the daughter of a witch and a Whitelighter.
Phoebe smiled as she turned the pages, looking at the first pictures, the earliest ones taken of Paige with her adoptive parents. Only the top of Paige's skull, covered with dark, downy hair, could be seen peeping out of the pink blanket in which she was swaddled. 'These must have been taken just after they brought her home.' She thought. One of the pictures felt thicker than the others, and when she took it out of its protective film covering, two newspaper clippings slipped out from behind it; one piece describing how an abandoned baby girl had been found at a church and appealing for her parents, or anyone with knowledge of her identity to come forward. The second, dated a few weeks later, was a short piece about the baby's adoption.
Not wanting to dampen the mood, she quickly put the clippings back where they had been and crawled over to Paige's other side, closing the album and setting it aside until they could all look at it together. She looked at the pictures Paige and Piper were going through, chuckling at a picture of herself taking her first bath, when she was only a few days old. By the looks of things, she hadn't enjoyed it very much. Her face was red and scrunched up, and her mouth opened impossibly wide, displaying toothless gums as she wailed.
The pages of the album were crowded with pictures, mostly showing one or two of the girls engaged in various activities, with a few staged pictures dotted here and there. Getting three small girls to sit still long enough to allow a family picture to be taken had been far easier said than done – and Prue seemed to have been going through a phase of making faces for the camera.
As they progressed through the album, Phoebe noticed that shortly after the pictures of her first birthday, her mother seemed to disappear from the pictures. Grams became the one who held her toddler self when the photos were taken.
'Mom would have been pregnant with Paige by then,' she realized. Whatever spell or charm her mother had used to keep her daughters, neighbours and friends from noticing her pregnancy must not have been able to fool the camera.
There was one picture, however, taken on Piper's fifth birthday. Her mother was sitting on the sofa, with one arm around Piper as she read to her. Phoebe, her face smeared with chocolate and icing, was half-asleep, sitting on Prue's lap. The dress her mother wore was loose and flowing but, now that she knew what to look for, Phoebe could make out a hint of a bump.
She slipped the photograph out of the album, showing it to her sisters. She didn't need to explain what to look for. They knew.
"It's probably the only photograph with all four of us." Piper commented quietly. She put an arm around Paige, rubbing her shoulder gently. "This is definitely one we need to frame, don't you think?"
Phoebe nodded enthusiastically. "Definitely."
Paige gave her a small smile, accepting the photograph when it was handed to her. "I'd like that."
Piper and Phoebe had both argued with her, insisting that she wasn't well enough to be out of bed yet but Paige had stuck to her guns and had eventually won the argument after agreeing to a compromise. She could go downstairs, but only if Leo orbed her.
Paige loved her room and the way she had redecorated it and her sisters had kept her amply supplied with books and magazines, with one of them usually keeping her company, but even so, after five days of being stuck up there, she was going stir crazy, and even a short trip downstairs was welcome.
"I swear, you are just as pig-headed as Prue was when she was sick and wouldn't take it easy – worse." Piper muttered as soon as her younger sister was comfortably settled on one of the couches in the parlour, propped up with pillows and covered with a light quilt.
"I guess I know where I inherited my stubbornness then." Others might have been insulted, but Paige was absurdly pleased by the thought that she had something in common with the sister she had never had a chance to meet. 'I should have got in touch when I first thought that we were related, before Prue died.'
Although deep down, she knew that everything happened for a reason, and believed that she had been meant to go to the funeral, to find Piper and Phoebe when she did, it didn't make the fact that she would never have a chance to meet her oldest sister any easier.
Then again, with magic, nothing was impossible.
"I'd say that you've got Grams' stubbornness as well – and half our relatives' too." Phoebe observed, chuckling when Paige stuck out her tongue by way of response. She passed her a glass of juice. "Drink up, sweetie."
"And don't scratch!" Piper added, seeing Paige's hand move towards her stomach. She checked her temperature with the back of her hand. "You're very warm. I'll get you some more of the fever potion."
"I don't need any." Paige tried to back out; the addition of honey and vanilla had made it less unpleasant but it was still far from palatable, and the texture was even worse; thick and gloopy. It was definitely not her beverage of choice.
"Yes, you do – unless you want me to call Leo to have him orb you back to bed." Piper scrutinized her sister's pale face, wondering if she should follow through with her threat anyway. Paige may have looked a lot better than she had when she first became sick, but she still looked far from healthy.
Guessing what she was thinking, Paige rolled her eyes. "I'm fine."
"Just don't come crying to me if you wear yourself out or give yourself a headache." Piper warned, rising to go to the kitchen to get one of the bottles of potion from the fridge.
"Could you bring us in some cookies?" Phoebe asked hopefully. When Piper turned to frown at her, she assumed her most innocent expression, motioning towards Paige. "We don't want Paige getting sugar-deprived, do we?"
"So they're only for Paige, then?" Piper asked, amused.
"She's not going to mind sharing with her big sister – will you?" Paige shook her head. "See?"
"Alright." Piper agreed, shaking her head fondly. Phoebe had always been good at coaxing her older sisters to ensure that she got her own way, a talent she hoped that she wouldn't teach Paige. One of them was enough. She returned after a few minutes with a tray laden glasses of juice for herself and Phoebe, the potion and a plate of chocolate chip cookies she had made when Paige was napping the previous day.
"Thanks, Piper." Phoebe grinned, biting in the cookie.
"Ah-ah." Piper chided when Paige reached for one of the cookies, moving the plate out of her reach and handing her the vial of potion instead. "No cookies for you until you've had your medicine, Missy Paige."
"Fine." Paige grumbled, squeezing her eyes shut as she downed the potion, shuddering slightly at the taste.
"Good girl." Piper praised, handing her a cookie to take away the taste. "So what do you guys want to do today?" She asked, sitting down on the sofa opposite the one on which Paige was lying.
"Movie day?" Phoebe suggested brightly. "We haven't had one of those in... ages." She finished quietly. The last time she and Piper had taken the day off to hang out at home with their sister had been shortly before Prue died. Pushing the painful memories aside, she moved to crouch in front of the TV, opening the drawer underneath to look at the tapes stored there.
Being the Charmed Ones tended to keep them busy, too busy to keep up with new movie releases.
"We've got Ocean's Eleven, Shrek, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter – any preferences? Your call, Paige. Halliwell house rule," she explained, seeing her sister's quizzical look, "if you're sick, you get to pick."
"Harry Potter." She didn't even need to think it over before knowing which one she wanted. She loved the books even before she knew that she was a witch, and somehow, they were even more appealing now that she knew that magic was real.
"Hang on." Piper held up a hand to halt Phoebe before she could press play. "We forgot the popcorn."
"I'll give you a hand." Phoebe volunteered.
A few minutes later, the three sisters were comfortably settled on the sofas, with snacks in easy reach, happily watching the movie.
When Cole entered the house about two hours later, just in time to catch the last couple of minutes of the movie before the credits rolled, he found them entranced by the film, their popcorn bowl and glasses of soda and juice empty.
Phoebe glanced up and, seeing who it was, she stood, walking over to kiss him. "Hi, honey."
"Hi." He hugged her. "What are you guys up to?"
"Movies and popcorn." Phoebe responded succinctly. "Want to join us? Paige, what do you want to watch ne... oh." She trailed off, seeing that her sister was fast asleep on the couch. "I guess that she's not going to be picking the next movie, after all."
"I told her that she was going to wear herself out if she insisted on getting up." Piper grumbled. "I'd better call Leo to bring her back to bed..."
"No need." Cole interjected, moving to Paige's side and picking her up, tucking the blanket around her as he carried her up the stairs, following Phoebe into Paige's bedroom and waiting until she had turned back the bedclothes before setting her down. She stirred slightly, rolling onto her side but she didn't wake. "She sleeps like the dead." He remarked, surprised that she hadn't been disturbed when he moved her.
"Come on," Phoebe said quietly, tucking Paige in and touching Cole's arm, motioning for him to leave the room. "She needs her rest, poor thing."
"Do you guys know how much longer it will be until she's better." He asked quietly as soon as Phoebe had shut the door behind them. If a demon attacked when Paige was incapacitated, they could all be in danger.
"Another few days, at least." Phoebe murmured sympathetically. "Thank God she's only going to have to go through it once – thank God we're only going to have to go through it once."
Paige had never felt so itchy in her entire life. The past twenty-four hours had been worse than the preceding five days, and even the potions Piper had prepared for her had barely been able to take the edge off the irritation.
Her sisters were evil.
They had teamed up to ensure that she was never allowed to scratch, refusing to leave her alone for even a minute in case she disobeyed their instructions. When she had persisted in scratching, they had taken a leaf out of their grandmother's book, digging out a pair of soft oven mitts and taping them to her hands.
Naturally, with her power of orbing, this had proven to be more of an annoyance than a deterrent to Paige, who orbed the gloves off her hands as soon as they had been put on.
If she had thought that that would persuade her sisters to leave her alone, however, she was naively mistaken. The next thing she knew, they were reciting a spell, one that had effectively prevented her from scratching. Every time she tried, her hand was rebuffed by a glowing white force field.
"You'll thank us when this is over and you don't have a hundred scars." Phoebe had told her before bidding her goodnight and making her way to her own room.
Alone in her room, Paige had called the Book of Shadows to her, flipping through it to find a reversal spell but, as the original spell wasn't listed there, the Book was no help to her. She had to wait until Piper or Phoebe reversed the spell, which they wouldn't do until her rash was gone.
'Which could be days from now!'
Her bedroom door opened a crack and Piper poked her head in. Seeing that Paige was up, she entered the room, sitting down on the bed next to her.
"I saw that your light was on and wanted to make sure that everything was okay," she explained, smiling when she saw the Book of Shadows. "Looking for a reversal spell? You're not going to find one."
"So I see." Paige knew that she probably had a pouting expression worthy of a five year old on her face but she didn't care. "You guys are evil!"
"I know," Piper humoured her, "but once you're better, you really will be glad that we didn't let you scratch and make things worse for yourself."
"Maybe – but right now, I'm mad at you for it."
"You should be more careful, Paige," Piper teased, "if the wind changes, your face could get stuck like that."
"It will not!"
"How do you know?"
Paige had to admit that Piper had a point; they had seen and done a lot of strange things as witches, enough to know that nothing was impossible, even old wives' tales.
"You poor thing," Piper murmured, slipping an arm around Paige's shoulders, "you're feeling rotten, huh?"
"Worse than I did the last few days," Paige complained, not caring if it sounded as though she was whining. "Nothing's stopping the itching – and you guys won't let me scratch!" She felt like crying and bit her lip to keep the tears from springing to her eyes.
"Oh, honey..." Sympathy won out over amusement and Piper pulled her sister into her arms, hugging her gently. "I know it sucks but I really think that it's going to be over very soon – when I had chicken pox, I remember that it got a lot worse, right before it got better."
"Really." Piper confirmed. She settled on the bed, stretching out next to Paige. "Want some company? At least until you fall asleep."
Paige grinned. "Yeah. That'd be great."
Piper was silent for a few moments, watching as Paige snuggled under the bedclothes, yawning. Her eyelids were drooping slightly and, despite the fact that she was being tormented by itching, she didn't think that it would be long before her sister drowsed off. She reached out, brushing a lock of dark hair out of Paige's eyes before speaking quietly. "I've never really told you anything about Prue, have I?"
Paige shook her head; she understood why both of her sisters tended not to speak about their older sister very often, at least not in front of her. Losing Prue had been extremely difficult and painful for them, and it had only been a few months since her death.
"I think it's time we changed that."
Five days later
She had been headache and fever free for four days, and the last of her spots had disappeared two days ago. Yesterday, Dr Gibson had confirmed that she was no longer contagious and that she was free to go back to work on Monday.
After being away for so long, Paige was looking forward to getting back to the office. She was even starting to miss Mr Cowan's sharp tongue.
Until then, however, she had every intention of enjoying a relaxing weekend, starting with a shopping trip today.
"Just don't overdo it," Piper cautioned, dishing out a plate of chocolate chip pancakes and handing them to her. "I don't want you getting sick again."
"I won't." Paige rolled her eyes, touched and exasperated in equal measure by her older sister's protectiveness. Finishing her breakfast quickly, she stowed her plate in the dishwasher and headed out, running into Cole and Phoebe on the way to the front door. "Bye, guys, see you later."
"Have fun – and be careful." Phoebe called after her, walking into the kitchen with Cole. "Good to see that she's looking better." She commented to Piper, sitting down on one of the stools by the counter and grinning when Piper passed her a plate of pancakes. "Yum! My favourite!" She exclaimed, reaching for the syrup and pouring a generous measure over the pancakes.
"You're welcome. Cole, do you want some? Cole?" Piper repeated when he didn't respond.
"Huh?" He glanced up to look at her, seeing her gesture towards the pancakes. He shook his head. "No, thanks – I'm not really hungry."
"Baby, are you alright?" Phoebe asked, concerned. She touched his face gently, frowning. "You're very warm."
Piper's eyes widened in surprise as the pieces fell together. 'This I didn't see coming.'
As soon as Phoebe met her eyes, she guessed what she was thinking and her own eyes widened in horror. "You don't think..."
"What?" Cole looked from one sister to the other, scratching his torso absent-mindedly until he realized that they were staring at his hand, which had a few small pink spots already forming on the back of it. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me!"