Author's Note: My first foray into the Charmed fanfiction fandom, but a lover of the series for much longer than that. Constructive Criticism is always welcomed.
Disclaimer: I have never and will never claim to own Charmed, its story or its characters. I simply love them from the bottom of my heart.
Piper sighed, knowing she'd never get used to the sound of her children in pain no matter how many years went by or what the cause would be – be it skinned knees, fevers, heartbreak, demon attacks…the list could go on into infinity.
Thankfully it had only been a minor mishap from the kids playing outside in the garden – this time. And her eldest was able to heal her youngest quickly and efficiently, a blessing she would thank Heaven for every day for the rest of her life. Seeing your children in pain was heart-wrenching enough without having to worry about infections and scarring too. But thanks to the healing powers they had inherited from their father, it was one thing she was all too happy to cross off her ever-growing list of anxieties that came with being a mother to a trio of half-witch, half-Whitelighter children.
She paused momentarily as she entered the living room upon seeing her middle child sitting quietly on the couch.
He'd always been a rather quiet child, especially in comparison to his adventurous older brother and rambunctious younger sister, but even this seemed to surpass his usually more reserved nature. She peered at him closely and was struck by the troubled look etched across his face. All too vividly she recalled a similar look from another time, one that was long gone but one she would never be able to entirely forget, and felt a frown stretch across her lips.
"Chris, honey, what's wrong?"
"I couldn't heal Melinda when she got hurt."
"Oh sweetie," she moved to sit gently beside him. "It's okay; I can't either. You're still young. It took your Aunt Paige years to learn –"
"Wyatt could do it when he was just a baby," Chris interrupted, his green eyes flashing as he crossed his arms across his chest defensively. "He saved you."
Piper sighed quietly. "Sweetie –"
"He could even work magic when he was still in your belly," he cut off his mother's attempted words of comfort. "It's not fair. Why am I so useless? How come I can't help anyone?"
Piper felt her heart stop beating for a moment as a memory flashed before her eyes.
"From the womb? He had powers from the womb? That's unbelievable! It's not like I don't have an inferiority complex with him already..."
She bit her lip at the painful memory before recalling being in the same position herself once upon a time.
Piper had been the middle child her entire life – neither strong nor wild, simply the mediator. Ordinary. Unremarkable. The one that no one was ever concerned about what with being too busy focusing on Prue's accomplishments or trying to curtail Phoebe's out-of-control antics.
Her life had changed completely when she and her sisters had discovered they were witches. The Charmed Ones. And that she had particularly strong active powers.
As Piper had grown older, she'd become more confident, more at ease with who she was and how there were different kinds of strength. She was still the middle child, but her solid, steady nature helped hold her family together through all their trials and tribulations.
Then Prue had died.
And suddenly Piper had become the eldest child.
Not just to Phoebe but to a new little sister in Paige.
She'd had to learn how to be the new matriarch of their little family. The one that still held everyone together; the one that protected her sisters and ever-growing family with a fierceness to rival anything she had ever thought she'd felt before.
Then she'd become a mother.
And where she thought her feelings of love and fierce protection could get no stronger or deeper, well, let's just say that she had left her mark in the demon world. One that had guaranteed that none of them would be so stupid as to even look at her beautiful, innocent child with so much as an unkind thought ever again.
Then the son she hadn't even known she would one day have had entered their lives.
Those haunted eyes and sharp, bitter words were forever etched into her memories.
Fortunately those recollections were coupled with small, soft smiles, quiet laughter and plenty of teasing and shared moments that she would hold deep in her heart where they belonged.
Where he belonged.
The warmth of love and the piercing heartbreak that he had brought with his mere presence alone was something she would never forget.
She looked now at those same piercing green eyes and her breath caught in her throat, forcing a watery smile onto her face. "Want to know a secret?" She whispered as she slid an arm around his tiny shoulders and pulled him close.
Open, trusting eyes, ones so different than the guarded, wary ones she had first met so many years ago met hers with a quiet nod.
"You saved the entire world before you were even born."
Eyes the exact same shade as her own widened in stark amazement.
"There was a bad man," she continued. "One we all trusted." Her arms tightened unconsciously around her child as the memories assaulted her for a moment. "He hurt your brother and the destroyed the whole world in the process."
She looked back down at her child, the one who was like her in so many ways it almost scared her some days and smiled gently. "But you fixed it," she told him softly. "You traveled back into the past and saved Wyatt, your Aunts, your father, me… Chris, honey, you saved the world."
"What happened?" Chris voice was filled with a mix of awe and excitement, his eyes now shining in eager anticipation. "Who was the bad man?"
Piper shook her head with a small, sad smile. "I promise we'll tell you the whole story when you're older. So for now, just trust me."
"Do I go back in time then?" Chris's brows scrunched together tightly on his forehead as he thought about his potential future. "When do I go? How do I get back?"
Tears welled up in Piper's eyes, a sudden lump forming in her throat as she gathered her sweet, beautiful child close in her arms and held him tightly to her, her cheek resting atop his messy mop of dark hair. "You're not in that future," she managed to choke out. "None of us are. That future no longer exists. You saved us in this time so that none of us will ever have to see that dark world."
If possible, Chris's eyes widened further as he sat tucked inside the warmth of his mother's arms. "Really?"
Piper nodded, loosening her embrace enough to brush his hair away from his forehead to press a gentle kiss there.
Chris scrunched his face in disappointment. "But then that means I'm still not going to do anything now."
Piper felt a bubble of mirth burst past her lips at the stubborn-set jaw on his little face, an expression so reminiscent of her own that it was like looking into a mirror.
"You will never travel from that forgotten time to this, but I promise you that you will save your brother, more than once in fact, in the future."
Chris eyed his mother for a moment, searching for any hints of deceit or coddling of his feelings, and finding none, he felt his curiosity stir instead. "Do I still get to time travel?"
Piper gave a reluctant nod before another memory flashed before her eyes and she couldn't stop the small lifting of her lips that accompanied it. "And when you do, try not to get too mad at your brother for spilling the beans about Uncle Coop, okay?"
A look of confusion passed through his vibrant eyes before he nodded seriously, even if he didn't entirely understand yet. "Okay."
Piper felt a swift smile settle upon her face as she kissed the top of her son's head one last time. "Now, go out and enjoy the sunshine with your brother and sister. I'll call you in when I start making dinner, if you'd like to help me."
Verdant eyes lit up in excitement. "Yeah!"
Chris bolted up from the couch before turning just as suddenly to throw his arms around his mother and hug her as tightly as he could. "I love you, Mom," his muffled voice sounded from where it was buried against her neck.
"I love you too, Chris." She held him close for a moment, awash in memories of the past and the present, her feelings as jumbled as the flashes she saw behind her eyelids, until her child wriggled out of her embrace and made to dash back outside with a wide, happy grin filling every orifice of his countenance, a look Piper had never before seen on her son of the forgotten-future. It filled her with both a weighty nostalgia and a determination to never let that unbridled joy be washed from his face again.
She looked up, roused from her inner musings as her husband quietly entered the room, a smile of his own radiating from his face as gentle eyes watched his youngest son happily re-engage with his siblings in their game out in the backyard.
"What was that all about?" Leo asked his wife, noting the expression on her face.
Piper's smile was bittersweet. "Honoring the past."
As she stood from the couch, Leo's warm arms embraced her lovingly, knowing exactly what she was referring to.
Who she was referring to.
He felt just as blessed as his wife that they had all been given a second-chance.
The son that they had gotten to know for too brief of a time was gone, but the beautiful child that now graced their lives was as beautiful and full of life as ever.
And if they were certain of anything, it was with that they would make sure he never felt inferior to anyone.
Chris deserved that much – and more.
With a happy, contented sigh, Leo loosened his hold on his wife as they turned as one to watch their joyful, vivacious family – one so full of love and laughter chasing each other around the backyard, their giggles and shrieks of joy echoing off the old manor to settle deep inside their hearts.