Well I haven't wrote any Charmed for a while, but I've been wanting to get back to it. Hopefully this is the start. I think I made it clear which kid was whose, but if you're unsure ask and I'll clarify. The names are all from my other story, Ties That Bind, if anyone's ever read it.

The Others

It was dim, the room. Small, too, and they'd never managed to get rid of that musty smell.

But it was, for all intents and purposes, home.

Bianca was holding his hand, as they walked inside. The others looked up, that raw fear in their eyes as they prepared to fight, only to relax when they recognised him.

Orbing was magically prevented, for their protection, but it meant getting inside was harder and caused them all to panic. While Wyatt had never officially ordered their deaths, he hadn't order for them to be kept alive, either, and had made it perfectly clear they were to stay away, if they wouldn't join him, work for him.

"Chris." Melinda stood, crossed to him and hugged him. "You said you'd be back an hour ago."

He hugged her back, murmured an apology. "We were followed." He explained. "Had to run around a bit to lose them. Sorry." He meant it, too, hating that he was adding more worry to his little sister.

She drew back, nodded. She was only nineteen, her height making her look even younger, but her eyes looked far older. The strain showed around her mouth, and he noticed she was too thin. Getting food wasn't a problem, but the stress was.

He kept an arm around her as they moved further into the room, knowing she needed the contact.

"Everything ready?" His cousin, Prudence, asked. She, too, showed signs of strain, and he hated his brother a little bit for doing this to them.

She looked a lot like his aunt Phoebe, more than her younger sisters, Paris and Phoenix, who favoured their father. He knew that, rather than enjoying it, she had avoided mirrors ever since her mother's death.

"You know what you can and can't say, right?" Another cousin, Henry, asked. Chris nodded.

"I'll be careful. I promise." He said it more for his sister's benefit than anyone else's.

"I wish you'd let me come with you." Melinda murmured, her voice shaking slightly.

"It'll be harder getting them to accept the both of us. I need to be their whitelighter, Linnie, so I can stay. If you were there, too, the plan wouldn't work." He told her, half-wishing he could take her, just to know she was safe. He'd already lost his parents, his aunts and uncles, and pretty much his brother, too. She and his cousins were all he had, but her death would destroy him, and he knew it.

"I know." She sighed, broke away from him and went back to the table, where she had been making potions. Several little glass bottles were already cluttered on the table.

"Linnie." He said, his voice ever so slightly louder. She looked up, and he met her gaze firmly. "You won't lose me too, OK? I promise you, I'm going to fix this, and come home, and you'll have me and Wyatt back."

She nodded, offered him a shaky smile then looked back at the small cauldron, breaking his heart. He'd always been protective of her, and since Wyatt's crusade had started they'd grown closer and closer. He hated leaving her, hated that he had to.

"What's she making?" He asked the nearest person, Lydia, as his sister was now too absorbed in what she was doing, a trait of hers that reminded him painfully of their mother.

"All sorts." Lydia replied. Her twin, Sydney, nodded.

"Anything you might need. Me and Lydia are working on the timeline, and everyone else is searching out spells you could need."

"Right."

"You two know how you're getting in? You've got it all worked out?" Phoenix asked anxiously.

"Yes. We've done four practice runs now."

"Timed it?" Paris asked.

"Yes." Bianca answered for him. "We've cut it in half. Everything's all in place."

"Good." Melinda said, looking up. "Because if there are any mistakes here, you'll both be killed." Her words may have seemed harsh, and her voice was hard, but raw emotions was on her face, in her eyes, and for a moment, Chris considered abandoning the plan. But as the oldest, he felt it ought to be him to go.

"We know, Linnie." He replied, a half sigh in his tone. She looked back down at her potion, took a step back and threw another ingredient in. A bang and a puff of smoke told them all it was finished.

"We...we're going tomorrow." Chris said, causing seven faces to look up at him in astonishment.

"We said another week." Lydia told him.

"We're ready now." Chris replied.

"You could cut your time more -" Paris began.

"We're fast enough." Bianca told them. "We'll already be waiting hours as is it - the longer we're waiting, the more chance of being found."

"You need more practice runs." Henry said, though without much conviction.

"No, we don't." Chris said. "Look, we're ready. There's no point waiting more. The sooner I go, the sooner I fix this, the sooner I'm back."

His cousins looked like they were going to argue more, but he sought his sister's gaze. After a long, searching look, she nodded.

"If you're sure."

And that was the end of the argument, because somehow Linnie's word was final. He would have smiled, in other circumstances, because she was so like their mother.

--

"You're absolutely sure?" Twenty-four hours later, Linnie stood in front of him, her eyes – the only part of her that reflected her father – were wide and he read the fear and worry in them. Fear and worry were in them far too often, and again he cursed his brother.

"Yes. Linnie, I swear, it's going to be OK." She nodded, as though she believe his reassurance. He knew she didn't.

The plan had taken months to work out, and he knew that they had one shot at it. He had one-shot at it. He was alone now.

She hugged him fiercely, then stepped back, allowing his cousins do to the same.

"When he's gone, you need to get out of there." Linnie told Bianca. "If you're caught, they'll kill you or turn you, you know that, right?"

"Yes." Bianca said, then glanced at Chris before looking back at his sister. "We've thought about it, and there's more chance of him turning me than killing me. You need to move base."

"We don't have another place -" Henry began, but Prudence cut him off.

"Will do."

"And if you get out of there OK, how are you going to find us?" Phoenix asked.

"You'll have to find me." Bianca shrugged. "Look, I can't tell you what to do, help work it all out, because it puts you in danger. Just trust me, OK?"

"We'll do what we can." Sydney replied, nodding.

Chris looked away, hugged Prudence. "Look after yourself." He murmured, and then, quieter, "Look after Linnie, too, OK?"

"Of course." She replied. "Be careful, OK?"

He looked over them then, the only remnants of his family. Orphans, the lot of them, none older than he, with the weight of the world on their shoulders.

When he fixed his brother, he just might hit him.

He gave Linnie one last hug, then turned away, walked swiftly from the room before his emotions got the better of him. He saw, from the corner of his eye, Prudence put her arm around Linnie's shoulders, and didn't have to look back to know his sister was crying.