"Why didn't you tell us this before?" I asked Sirius, thoroughly annoyed.
"And what are you doing orbing? You have to be more careful," Phoebe said.
"You shouldn't have been up there for so long," Paige put in.
My sisters and I were gathered around Sirius, looking at him accusingly. He just looked confused.
"I didn't say anything," Sirius said.
"Well, we heard you loud and clear," Phoebe said.
"Uh… exactly what are you talking about?"
"We heard your thoughts. A darklighter is taking out whitelighters," Piper said.
"What?" Sirius said. "Since when can you all read thoughts? And I still don't know what you're talking about. No one has told me anything about a darklighter."
"Oh really? Well… Um…" I trailed off, unable to think of a good case. "As for your first question, we have mastered the power. I guess that's why we suddenly have more power. As for the second question—"
"It's probably a combination of my precognitive ability and Prue's telepathy." Phoebe paused. "Jingle. Go up there, but get back here quickly."
"Go see if we're right," Piper commanded.
He orbed out.
"That was… unusual. How else do you think Morrigan has affected our powers?" Phoebe wondered.
"I don't know, but we'll probably find out soon," Piper responded.
I knew that she was referring to the final battle. "This is going to be worse than the battle with the Titans."
"How? That was one hellish battle. Voldemort is at least mortal."
"Only to Harry," I said. "And Harry is just as mortal as Voldemort. We have invincibility while we're in Morrigan's form, but we can't do much for Harry."
"We'll give him the sword," Piper said. "Voldemort won't have a fighting chance."
She gave me a look.
"—fully. I'm just saying that we should be realistic. Voldemort will be a challenge. He'll have demons and who knows what else."
"We'll have potions and the Queen," Phoebe said. "Stop being pessimistic."
"I wish that we could see what Voldemort is up to, though."
"I could try it. I've seen from your view using Morrigan," I told Phoebe.
"You saw through my eyes?" Phoebe said. "What did you see?"
"Not much," I replied. "I did it when you were taken by Cearbhall and once when you were in the basement, practicing."
"You mean the time when Sirius came to me?"
"Sirius? He was that presence?" I asked.
"Yes. He wanted to assure me that he was still with me. He also saved me from signing my powers over to Cearbhall, and he came to me while I was visiting his grave."
"That's… touching… I think," I said.
"Yeah, it's a little unusual, but it was still sweet."
"Anyways… I think I'll try that with Voldemort." I closed my eyes. Show me Voldemort.
"Whoa," Piper said. "Well, that's useful. Prue, you did it."
"What?" I opened my eyes. An image of Voldemort's lair was floating in front of us. "Nice." I studied each demon in the room. "Looks like we have some serious demons to deal with."
"We should get working on those potions." As soon as the words were out of Paige's mouth, potions appeared and the image disintegrated. "I'm really starting to like this."
"Do we need anything else?" I asked.
"Uh… Let's see. Morrigan, do we need anything more?" Phoebe called.
A book landed on the table. "Magizoology."
"Of course," Paige said. "Voldemort probably wants more defensive power. He won't have anything we can't handle, though."
"A darklighter is attacking whitelighters," he slowly said. "He's probably working for Voldemort."
"So we were right. No more orbing for you tonight," Phoebe said. "Get Wyatt and Nick. If you can find him, warn Chris. We'll summon any nearby darklighters and vanquish them."
"You certainly know how to take charge."
"Oh, and get Harry. I keep forgetting that he has whitelighter genes."
"Okay. Let's take care of that darklighter." I relaxed and allowed the power to fill me. "You know, this is starting to feel less like Morrigan and more like my regular powers."
"That's a good sign," Piper said. "It gives us more control." We summoned the darklighter. It appeared and we easily killed it.
"Can you sense any others?" I asked.
"I don't think so," Phoebe said.
"Yes," Paige interrupted. "Another is coming."
We turned around and faced another darklighter. Power pulsed through us.
"You dare to challenge us?" I said.
"We have the power," Paige said.
"Fool," Piper said.
He ignored us and raised his crossbow. We merely laughed.
"Let us see your power," Phoebe said.
An arrow tore through the air. We held out our hands. The arrow disappeared, and the darklighter was vanquished.
"Nice job," Sirius commented as he stepped back into the room with the boys.
We each fell to one knee, our heads slightly bowed. "Chosen Ones," we whispered. "Our powers serve you."
"It is time," Morrigan said quietly.
"We shall protect you…" Piper began.
"But now we must wait…" I said.
"Until the final battle…" Paige said.
"Then we shall awaken," Phoebe said.
Everything went black.
"Why won't they wake?" Chris's voice asked.
"Morrigan is preparing their minds and their bodies for the final battle," Sirius said. They both sounded anxious.
"What are you talking about?" I called. "I am awake!"
"The final battle?" Chris said. "They can't stay like this until the final battle. They have lives. They have families."
"I know. But there's nothing that we can do."
"Can they hear us?"
"I can hear you just fine," I said.
"Yes, but they can't will themselves to wake," Sirius said grimly.
"What are we supposed to do?"
"Hello!" I looked around. I was in a domed building. It was so dark that I could barely make out the walls. I could, however, see that there were four doors carved into the walls. I went to the first door and stared at it, mesmerized. I thoughtfully stroked the smooth marble. Suddenly my fingers came across a word carved into the door. I couldn't see what it said, so I felt it out. P… R… U… D… E… N… C… E… So I was meant to be in this place, wherever it was.
"Prue?" Piper asked.
I turned. My sisters were there.
"Where are we?" Phoebe questioned. "What were Chris and Sirius talking about?"
"I'm not sure, but it looks like we're not controlling our bodies," I said.
"Why didn't Morrigan warn us about this?" Paige asked.
"I don't know. Are your names on those doors?"
"Yes," Phoebe said. "Do you think we should open them?"
I considered the doors warily. "Well, Morrigan has never led us into danger before."
"Plus we've got a long time until the final battle starts."
"So we're going in there?" Piper said.
"Yes. We'll be okay."
We faced the doors. I took a deep breath, then pushed open the heavy door. A bright light confronted me. I walked into it confidently and was absorbed into its infinity.
"For the light of desire burns in you with the strength of a great fire, and all that is valued is measured in silver and gold, so may you know thyself, and so may you see more than you are told."
A different voice then whispered in my ear, "What do you desire?"
"Nothing," I responded.
"Ah, are you truthful with yourself?"
"Yes, I am."
"Even if you do desire nothing, the 'what if'," the voice chuckled, "can always stir desire for truth. Perhaps… Perhaps you would like to see what might be."
"No one will judge you."
"What if my sisters and I had never discovered our powers?"
"An interesting question. I shall show you the answer now."
I blinked and the living room appeared. As I watched, Phoebe walked in with Sirius.
"We shouldn't be here again," Phoebe said.
"He can't take this place away from you, Phoebe," Sirius said.
"Yes, he can," Phoebe bitterly said. "He will. I don't even know that I want it. This place is filled with bad memories. We lost our children here. I lost my sisters here. I can't find peace here. I can only find pain… and guilt."
"Voldemort killed them. You didn't kill them."
"The blood is still on my hands. If I could have done something—"
"You couldn't have," Sirius said. "You didn't have your wand. He made you helpless."
"He didn't have to kill them. They weren't a threat."
"They were a part of the resistance, so they were a threat."
"I should have died with them," Phoebe said.
"Phoebe," Sirius said softly and wrapped his arms around her. "I couldn't live without you."
"I know. I'm glad that you saved me, but I miss them so much. Our daughters were so young… so were Piper's sons…" Tears formed in her eyes. "And now we're back here. It's easier than running. This place is protected now, but no spell can protect me from the memories." She blinked away the tears. "What if he sends another?"
"He won't be able to find us."
"Nothing is guaranteed anymore. Voldemort has the Source on his side. No one can stop the Source."
"It's going to be okay."
"How can you be so sure?"
"I just am."
I could sense what was coming next.
"No. I will not watch this," I said firmly. "I won't see them die."
"Very well," the voice said and pulled me back. "So you see just how important your powers are."
I sensed a bit of odd amusement in the voice. "Who are you?"
"I am one like Melinda."
"Piper's daughter. She was born from a great power."
"Are you Morrigan's daughter?" I asked.
"What's your name?"
"But why are you here? Where's Morrigan?"
"She's completing certain tasks before the final battle," Aveline answered.
"She's preparing our bodies and minds."
"How long will that take?"
"A while. My mother's interference has had a great impact on your bodies. She needs to ensure your safety."
"What are we supposed to do until then?" I asked.
"Learn and practice."
"Oh. Practice what?"
"Your battle skills," Aveline said.
"And how we will accomplish that?"
"With my help." She appeared before me, armed with a sword. She looked remarkably like Morrigan.
Suddenly, I felt a sword in my hand. "What's the purpose of this?"
"He knows about the sword."
"What? How could he know?"
"He's not stupid. He knows that the First Chosen will not be able to use his wand against him. He will be prepared with his own sword… the Slytherin Prodigy. As heir to Salazar Slytherin, he is the only one who can handle that sword. And yes, each founder had a sword made. The swords of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff have been lost, but they will be found by the foretold people. There will be many battles in the future involving those swords. But that is not your concern. You will not be given those swords. For now, you must only concentrate on summoning my mother's sword. It won't be an easy task. She made it difficult to prevent the possibility that evil would find it and use it to wreak havoc on the world. But she chose you as the greatest force. Good shall win. For now, though…" She came at me.
"This is fascinating stuff." Paige was looking at a magizoology book. Morrigan had provided us with an extensive library. It was partly to train us, but it was also to ease the short transition and make the wait a little more bearable.
"What are you reading about this time?" I asked.
"Quintapeds. There is an interesting legend behind their existence. It is said that the Quintapeds at one time may have been a wizarding family by the name of MacBoon. They lived on the Island Drear, and their enemy was the family of McClivert."
"Paige," I interrupted. "That's quite interesting, but is there any chance that Voldemort will have some Quintapeds?"
"No way," Paige said. "Quintapeds have a particular taste for human blood, and the Island Drear is unplottable. He couldn't control them even with the strongest spells."
"That's one group down," Phoebe said. "Any other threats?"
"All the really dangerous creatures hate humans and are intelligent enough to be independent. It's not likely that he'll use them."
"Not likely?" Piper said.
"Impossible. He simply wouldn't be able to control them."
"So why did Morrigan have us look at Magizoology?" I inquired.
"There are some things that he could use," Paige said. "They're all pretty easy to handle, though. We are the Charmed Ones, after all."
"Mom, where are you?" Chris's voice came. "Why did you have to leave again? I was just starting to see you as a mother. Now it looks like I'm going to lose you again."
"Oh, Chris," Phoebe sighed and shook her head. "I don't want to fail you again."
"You won't fail him," Piper told her.
"I think Aunt Paige was right," Chris went on. "I can see how it would be to be raised as your son. I just hope that's how it turns out. Come back soon. We all need you."
His voice faded away.
"I'm beginning to get impatient. I want to get out of here," Phoebe said.
"I know what you mean," Piper said. "I want to go back. I kind of wish that Voldemort would start the final battle so that we could be released. I miss my kids."
Their doors started to glow, signaling that Aveline wanted to speak with them.
"We'd better go see what she wants," Piper said.
They disappeared behind the doors.
"How long do you think it's been?" Paige asked musingly.
"I don't know. There doesn't seem to be any sense of time in this realm. There are no boundaries. It's just there. We're just here."
"We're going to be here for a while."
"I know," I said.
"It's not going to be easy."
"The battle is going to be even worse. We know what to do, but we don't know what to expect from Voldemort."
"Even with Morrrigan," Paige said.
"Yes, even with her," I agreed. "But I don't think that we've seen the full extent of her powers. We won't discover what she can truly do until we go up against Voldemort."
"We'll have to use it to kill all the Voldemorts."
"Yeah. I was hoping that I could forget about that, but we have to realize that in order to do it."
After a certain amount of time (it was impossible to feel the shift of time), Piper and Phoebe emerged.
"How'd it go? What did she want?" I asked.
"Just to help us," Piper murmured. She looked a little out of it.
"Yes." Phoebe looked just like Piper.
Paige and I exchanged looks. Something was definitely off about them, and we couldn't be sure if it was the work of Aveline… or the work of some outside force. Another dead end.
"Can you truly ever leave them?"
The words echoed in my head. It had been so long since I had slept. Some part of me, though, knew that I was sleeping. Was this all but a dream? Was any of this real?
"Yes, I can," my own reply came. "I have."
"They feel your presence still. You will return to them soon."
"When the time is right."
When the time is right. It was right for me now. Aveline had done something to ease the pain, but it was still present. I had been torn away from my children far too recently. It wasn't fair that I had to experience it again. No parent should ever have to go through this. "I don't deserve this!" I called. The emptiness muffled the sound and kept it close to me. "I want to see them. I want to hold them. I want out! Now!" The muffled noise came again. "We hold the battle in our hands. We have to right to begin it. What if I told you that I wanted to begin now? Hmm? How would you react?"
"You are not ready yet," Aveline said.
"I don't care!"
"If you do this now, you put yourself at greater risk."
"So?" I said.
"If you want them back, you have to have patience."
"No, Prue has to have patience. I can be as impatient as I want."
"True, and I must tell you that I am proud," Aveline said.
"You see that this is your battle. That's good. He can't claim what you already own. You know that."
"Why do you know me so well?" I questioned.
"My mother taught me."
"I want to teach my own children."
"For now, you must put aside your desires for the greater good."
I shook my head. "I've given up to much to the greater good."
"What is your other option? Evil? You are most certainly not meant for that."
"I can accept that, but I won't accept this situation. You speak of the time called now. There is no now in this place. This place is just holding me back."
"No. It is helping you to advance."
"I don't care."
"You have to care," said Aveline.
"While I'm out there, I do. I'm in a place completely separate from the real world."
"You're in your mind. Out there, there is another plane where you and your sisters may meet. Here, though, you are in your own mind."
"Then I can make anything happen."
"And you must realize that you can transfer that to the 'real' world. You four can do anything."
"I'll worry about that later, after I stop losing everything that I love," I said.
"Loss is a part of life."
"But I still deserve to receive as well."
"I enjoy this banter," Aveline said. "I haven't felt so alive since… well, since I was alive."
"We Halliwell women tend to leave an impression."
"You will leave a great impression in history. Allow me to work on your spirit. Mother wishes you to keep that purity that you have worked so hard to attain."
"Do you hear that?" I asked breathlessly.
"More like feel it…"
We all looked up. There was a distinct energy in the outside realm. We could sense that the final battle was either approaching or it had come.
"Mom, you have to wake up now," Chris said. "We need you."
We waited. Come on, Morrigan.
"The final battle has come!"
I took a deep breath. It felt like I was being dragged into something. My head felt rather light. I slowly opened my eyes, feeling groggy.
"They're waking up!"
"Yes, it's me."
I looked down just to make sure. I was back. I was also floating in the air and I was in Morrigan mode.
"Has the final battle begun?" I asked.
He nodded. "Voldemort just started the attack. This is it."
"Do we really have to go now?" This was rather surreal. We were actually going up against Voldemort.
Leo, Harry, Sirius, and Remus came in.
"Are we all ready?"
"Okay then." Prue swished her hand, taking us to Voldemort. The sight that greeted us was… impressive. We were facing a seemingly endless army of demons of varying abilities. Voldemort was missing, but he would show up soon. "Wow. I mean, this is nothing, Voldemort!" I willed any powers to work. A few rows of demons disappeared. "That's a start." I flicked my fingers. There was a huge explosion. Half of the demons were taken out. "Now that's very good."
My sisters used some newfound powers to vanquish the demons while the others pitched potions. Within a few minutes, all the demons were gone. We waited a beat, but Voldemort didn't appear.
"Do you think he's hiding?" Prue wondered.
"That would be wise," I said.
"There's no reason for me to hide," Voldemort announced as he arrived. "I have all the protection I need." He was holding a sword. The handle was shaped like a snake. It was most definitely the Slytherin Prodigy. Two snakes were following Voldemort. I recognized one as his famous pet. The other snake had three heads. It was a Runespoor. I hadn't seen one of those in quite some time.
Suddenly I felt fear—Prue's fear. Since when did she get afraid? She slowly backed away, eyes wide.
"Prue, what are you doing?" I said.
"I can't," she whispered.
"What do you mean?" Paige exclaimed. "You're Prue, superwitch! You're fearless!"
Prue flickered out of Morrigan's form. The Runespoor came closer to her. She gasped a little.
"Oh no you don't!" Phoebe called. "You're a witch! Use your telekinesis!"
She looked away and swung her arm. The snake was thrown violently into the wall. I blew it to pieces.
"Now get back into her form!"
"Here we go." We all used our powers on Voldemort. Nothing happened to him.
"You cannot kill me," Voldemort said. "I possess the Prodigy."
"Yawn," Phoebe said. "We have Morrigan's sword."
"Not yet. I know that you have to call upon it."
"And that's exactly what we're going to do." I had no idea about this. There really was no procedure for it. "Uh, we call upon Morrigan's sword!" I paused expectantly. Nothing. "Okay, Plan B. Help me out here, sisters!"
"What are we supposed to do?" Paige asked.
"Use Morrigan," Prue said.
"More like be Morrigan," Phoebe said.
"Perfect!" I felt the fullness of the power. Her control slipped in. "We feel Morrigan."
"We are one with her," Phoebe said.
"We are one with good," Paige said.
"This is our path," Prue said.
"This is our power," I said.
"Now is the time," Paige said.
"This is the hour," said Phoebe.
"I am the Master."
"I am the Medium."
"I am the Mother."
"And I am the Mystic. We hold Morrigan's true form within us."
"We call upon Morrigan's sword!"
The sword appeared in Harry's hand.
"Booyeah! In your face, Voldemort!" Needless to say, I was feeling quite confident.
"Now for that Prodigy…" Paige tried to summon it, but couldn't.
"He has to face me," Voldemort said triumphantly. "No one can interfere."
"However, you are a nuisance, so…"
The room closed around us, cutting us off from the others.
"That's not good."
"We're out of our form again," Paige pointed out.
"And what the hell is that!" Phoebe exclaimed, pointing at a creature in the corner. It had a lion's head, a goat's body, and a dragon's tail. "Paige?"
Paige had always been the magical creatures whiz. "That's a Chimera."
Two more creatures popped up. The first one seemed to be a black leopard. The other was a large, hairy beast with five legs. We slowly backed away.
"And those?" I said.
"That would be a Nundu. And that's a… oh crap. We are really in trouble."
"What is it?" Prue asked.
"That would be the incredibly rare, incredibly dangerous Quintaped."
"Great. Do you feel that?" An oppressive force had appeared in the room.
"Yes," Paige said. "That's a Lethifold."
"Well, they can't be too hard to handle." I flicked my fingers, trying to blow them up. Nothing happened. "Why won't they blow up?"
"They're extremely magical creatures. They can evade all magical attacks. There are few spells that can stop them," Paige explained.
"So let's just use Morrigan."
"No one ever said that Morrigan was omnipotent," Phoebe pointed out.
"She can instantly vanquish demons. I doubt that she'll have trouble with a couple of surly creatures." We transformed again. The Quintaped chose to attack me. I picked it up and threw it off to the side. "Ew, it's bristly and nasty."
"Bristly? Piper, you're supposed to be fighting for your—" The Lethifold wrapped itself around Paige. She impatiently brushed it away. "This isn't a challenge at all."
"I know. They're just annoying." Phoebe ducked as the Chimera flew at her.
"Okay, this thing really needs a breath mint or something," Prue said, her nose wrinkled.
"The breath of a Nundu is so horrible that it can cause an entire village to fall ill to a disease that can kill all of them," Paige said.
"That's not too hard to believe," Prue gagged.
"Voldemort must be losing his touch," I said. "This is way too easy."
"Which means that this must be a trap," Phoebe said.
"Well, let's think," Paige said. "This is just a distraction. We're…"
"Supposed to be helping Harry to wipe out Voldemort," Phoebe finished. "Let's just terminate these things."
"That takes a lot of power," Prue said.
"Power that we have," I said.
"Power that we can build up, then use."
"But we have to leave now," Phoebe said. "We can't be in two places are once."
"Oh, can't we?" Prue said with a wicked grin.
"Maybe you can, but…" I then caught on. "Morrigan spread around our powers. Well, let's try some bilocation."
"Yes," Paige said. "It's time for some Voldicide."
Prue winced. "Must you butcher the English language?"
"Hey, we're concentrating on fighting, not on proper grammar. Let's go."
A very strange sensation overcame my body. I suddenly had double awareness. I was in the room fighting with the Quintaped, but I was also with Harry, giving him strength.
"This is really weird," Phoebe said. "How are we supposed to summon all this power while we're doing two things?"
"I have no idea," I said. "Let's get rid of the monsters first."
"The power isn't ready yet," Prue said.
"Grr. Hurry up hurry up hurry up!" Paige said impatiently, apparently to herself.
Harry was doing exceptionally well. Voldemort looked a little worried.
"You can do it, Harry!" I called. At the same time, I kicked the Quintaped off its feet, making it even more pissed. "These things have some temper."
"Do you think you could try to untransfigure it?"
"Paige, I am not even going to dignify that with an answer," I said.
A cool wind hit us. "Is that it?"
"Only one way to find out."
We tried to terminate them. They fell to the ground, dead. "Okay, time to put ourselves back together."
The bilocation was undone. "Glad that's over," I said.
Harry was winning, and Voldemort knew it. We could see it in his eyes.
"Your end is coming!" we called.
CLANK. The Slytherin Prodigy fell to the ground. We sent it away. Voldemort was helpless. If he tried to use his wand, Harry would just use a spell. We had trained him well. He knew exactly what to do. We just had to wait for the exact moment, which was quickly approaching.
"NOW!" We took hold of each other's hands and concentrated. We saw every picture of evil in every world. We brought them forth into the light of good and justice. It pained them greatly, but they did not die. We concentrated harder. We bring justice. Reap what you have sown. Good is overcoming you. You are nothing. The blade connected with Voldemort. You are dead. We threw our hands into the air, an awesome force surging through us.
"THIS IS OUR POWER!" our voices boomed.
Voldemort couldn't believe that this was happening. He held on for a moment, then slipped away. All the other evils of the world were vanquished. We had won at last.