A W.i.t.c.h. Fanfiction by: A J

Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue. The O.C.'s Steph and Gen are mine, as is the plot.

Summary: Zenith was NOT the end of the story. Even if it WAS the end of W.i.t.c.h. …

The final blast to subdue Cedric had been too much; the building gave way and, even in their Elemental Forms, the girls had succumbed to the explosion of masonry and magic released when Cedric perished.

Emerging from the crystalline prison of Elyon's diadem which Nerissa had imprisoned them in, the Queen and C.h.k.y.y2. had beheld the profound devastation in numbed disbelief. Thinking they'd been fighting to break out to save the girls from the mindless existence of Elemental Transformation, the six had outwitted Nerissa and reappeared in the ruins of the battlefield.

Finding no signs of life, poor Elyon had collapsed in the rubble, crying inconsolably. Yan Lin and her Altermere had embraced in shared grief at the loss of five granddaughters – and Guardians – they had both been so proud of. Unable to do much for their fellow recent captives, Cassidy, Halinor, and Kadma had started to search the wreckage, looking for nothing in particular, but needing something to do in the meantime.

Settling on damage control, Cassidy and Halinor were putting out the small fires that had been started during the battle and from the collapse of the building. That's how they discovered Taranee.

Smoldering in the crater her sudden descent had carved in the rubble, Taranee Cook was flickering back and forth between her Guardian Form and her Elemental Firebody. Just as Halinor sent a mental cry for the others' help, Matt, Napoleon and Mr. Huggles landed near the Fire Guardian and changed back to their everyday selves. Huggles scurried over to Taranee's prone form, chittering in distress, only to scamper back as she flared back to fiery elemental life.

Stumbling up the hill of rubble in response to Halinor's incoherent summons, Elyon stopped next to Matt in shock at the sight of Taranee as the former Guardians knelt around their successor.

"Mattie-boy, it'll take all of us to help her back …" Napoleon started to say, when the mournful group became aware of the extra two people on the hill.

Peter Cook and Nigel Ansbury crested the rise at a run, both crying the names of the, Taranee's about twice as often as the others. When the pair saw her flickering form beside the others, they both charged forward singlemindedly.

"Crap," Matt muttered, getting in front of Peter, and nudging Elyon into Nigel's path as he went. Still screaming his sister's name, Peter slammed into him like a bull, and the two went down in a windmill of limbs.

Before Peter could fight his way back to his feet, a large black cat pounced on his chest, and roared with the volume of a lion.

"ALL RIGHT, SETTLE DOWN! YOU TOO, NIGEL!" At that, Peter looked over at his sister's boyfriend, only to see Nigel was being easily restrained by young Elyon Brown, a mere wisp of a girl half his size. That's when it registered: the cat had TALKED! Staring up at the black beast, unremarkable except for his size, (and his voice, which sounded like a native of Brooklyn, New York!) Peter gulped and tried not to panic.

"Hey, isn't that Corny's cat?" Nigel asked.

"No," several people, including the cat, answered him. "My name is Napoleon, and if I'm anybody's cat besides my own, I guess you could say I belong with Lillian, Cornelia's sister." Nigel and Peter goggled at him as he answered, then Elyon gasped, looking over at Matt in a panic.

"Ohmigosh, Matt! What'll we tell them? Miss Vandom, the Lairs, the Hales, the Cooks …" she said as she looked down at Peter fretfully. "Oh, the Lins, ohmigosh, Yan Lin, what do we tell your son and daughter-in-law?"

Yan Lin, her Altermere, and their fellow teammates traded several long looks while telepathically conferring. Then Yan Lin spoke up. "We tell them the truth." She reached down and shooed Napoleon off Peter's chest, then helped the muscular youth back to his feet. Her duplicate was leading Nigel and Elyon over to the circle around Taranee's still-shifting form.

"But first we must save our last Guardian. Everybody, join hands, concentrate on your best memories of Taranee, and … brace yourselves …"