The night passed quickly, even though I barely slept. A sense of dread leapt up within me at the sight of the sun's morning rays. I would have stayed in bed for as long as possible, but Prue took over immediately. She claimed that it was because she was going to be doing the fighting. I knew her real motive. She knew me too well, and it seemed that I knew her quite well. I was rather proud of that fact. I had originally set out to find out who Prue really was, I had learned much about her.

Prue took her time getting ready. She seemed very distracted. That was understandable. We were about to face off with the Elders and get the Verum. It was not going to be easy, but I knew that the sisters would be able to handle it. I, on the other hand, was a completely different case. I had a great deal of doubt about my abilities, and I was afraid of the Elders. They had killed me, after all; I was convinced that Gideon was behind the darklighter attack. Gideon had accomplished his goal with relative ease - and all because of me. I had choked up, and it had cost me my life.

The other sisters, Leo, and Cole, as I discovered when Prue went downstairs, were gathered in the living room. No one spoke when Prue entered the room. I wished that someone would say something.

"I have something important to share with you," Melchior announced as he entered the room. He was holding a potion bottle. For a few painful minutes, I was certain that I was going to have to undergo another potions adventure. "This potion is the closest I have ever come to developing the elixir of life. There is one part missing. I believe that that part can be found within the Verum."

"What?" Prue exclaimed. "You'd use the Verum?"

"It's the only option," Melchior said. "I have been unable to develop the elixir of life because the Verum won't allow that unbalance to arise. If I could channel the Verum's power into the elixir, I would be able to complete the potion."

"Why? So that you can become immortal?" Prue said, rising from her seat to face him.

"No, Prue," Melchior quietly said. "It's the only way that we can bring life back into your body. The elixir is the one substance that can bring you back to life. If we get the elixir, we will put it into your body, and you will know life again."

"But will you use the elixir on yourself, Melchior?" Piper questioned.

"Absolutely not," Melchior firmly said.

"You can't create the elixir," Leo said. "Evil could get to it."

"We will destroy it once Prue has been brought back to life," Melchior said.

"Can we trust you, Melchior?" Leo said.

"You used to trust me, Leo," Melchior responded. His eyes were devoid of hope. We were all judging him, and unfairly at that. "You trusted me when you were the mediator."

This had an affect on Leo. He seemed somewhat taken aback. I was not surprised. "I'm still the mediator, aren't I?"

Melchior nodded. "We still have the same roles. Prue is the controller. Phoebe's our hope. Paige is our fighting spirit. And Cole is our guardian."

"Then I guess I still trust you," Leo said.

Melchior's eyes warmed a bit. The atmosphere seemed to shift with that small change. It was less rough, and there was more hope around us. I gained some confidence from that.

"When are we going to go up there?" Paige asked.

"After Christy has visited with her parents," Melchior said.

Um… what? Had I heard him correctly? He's making it sound like I'm not going to come back, I uneasily thought. That was clearly one of the risks, but… it wasn't going to happen.

"Christy is not going to die again," Prue said.

"I know that, Prue, but once the Verum returns to her, she may not be Christy any longer," Melchior said. "She may become Shamira again. Christy is just one of the parts that Shamira has played in the cycle of life. The Verum may require Shamira to leave that part behind."

There was a chance that I would fully become Shamira again. Even though I was apparently Shamira, I didn't want to give up the only identity I could remember. I didn't want to become someone that I couldn't even remember. Why did things have to be so complicated? Why couldn't they ever be easy?

I voiced the question to Prue.

It's just the way things are, Christy, she responded. But don't worry. I don't think you'll lose your identity.

"But it is a possibility," I said.

And only a possibility. Now go on and orb to your parents.

I took over. I somberly looked over the others in the room for a moment, then orbed to my home.

"Christy!" Mom wrapped her arms around me.

"Hi, mom," I said softly.

Mom pulled back, studying me with great concern in her eyes. I was then caught by my father and held in another hug.

"Hey, dad." I tried to smile, but it didn't really work. "Do you…"

"Yes, we know," mom said. "Leo told us."

"I can't believe I'm Shamira," I said. "I'm going to face the Elders, and I…" I sighed. "I just want it to go away. I want to be me, not Shamira."

Mom stoked my cheek comfortingly. "I wish I could take this away from you, sweetie. But I can't. Still, I know that you're going to be okay."

I nodded slowly. "I guess I'll still be me. I just won't be the zany teenager you know."

Mom smiled a little. "You'll still be you, though," she echoed my words.

"But if I do become Shamira, I should probably get some things clear." I paused. "You know that lamp that Aunt Kate gave you? The one in the living room?"

My parents nodded their heads, then exchanged a glance.

"Well, that isn't the lamp that she gave you," I said. "I accidentally broke the real one. I found one just like it in a pawnshop, and I replaced it. Just wanted to clear that up."

Mom chuckled. "That doesn't matter, Christy."

"And I never should have been so angry about you not telling me the truth," I poured out. "You didn't mean to keep it from me. I'm sorry about that."

Mom didn't say anything. She just hugged me again. "Go take back what's yours, Christy. I love you."

"I love you too, mom," I whispered. I broke off the hug. "And dad…" I hugged him again. "I love you too."

"I love you, Christy."

I sniffed. "Goodbye… for now." I orbed back to the Manor.

"You ready to do this?" Prue asked.

Yes, I said to her. But do we have a Power of Four spell?

"Yes, we do," Prue said. "While you were sleeping, I was able to write one."

I thought the one in back had to be awake.

"Apparently that isn't true."

Did you happen to do anything else while I was asleep?

"Well, we put a protection spell on Phoebe…"

Ah, good. "We'd better get going," I said. The sisters nodded. Those that could orb orbed those who couldn't. And then… we were up there. It was eerily calm. I had only a few moments to ponder this before Prue slipped into control. Leo led the way to the Verum. I felt that it was kind of dangerous to have such a large group of people going after the Verum, but I trusted that certain precautions had been taken.

We walked down the glaringly white halls until we reached an area that wasn't as well lit. It seemed to be evenly made up of dark and light. Balance. I knew that we were in the presence of the Verum even before I saw the doors that were covered with strange symbols. There was a balance to those as well. We had found the Verum. It was strange that this had been so easy, but I tried to not think too much about it.

The sisters linked hands. "Here stands balance and harmony, here stands strength beyond the Power of Three. Arise, Power of Four, arise and let the Verum soar."

Nothing happened. The sisters again chanted the spell. After they had said it three times, a low groaning sound filled the air. Very slowly, the doors creaked open. A pulsing white energy started to emerge from within the revealed room. It reached out to us. I could feel it pulling at me. I walked toward it, leaving Prue behind. The energy touched me, then froze for a few moments. Abruptly, it began to fill me. The force of it pushed up against the wall. I could not move away from it. Then it ended.

I felt some pain, but I was mostly exhausted. I collapsed to the ground just as an alarm began to sound. Someone orbed me out, and somehow I ended up in the Manor. I was vaguely aware of the action going on around me, but I was more aware of the Verum. It was pleased to be back in its proper holding place. I knew that it wanted to recover my order. I reached out my hand and the Verum touched Cole, restoring his form. Cole was rather surprised by his sudden growth of wings.

"It's a symbol of your status," I mumbled. I turned the Verum on Melchior. The potion that he had been holding was now complete. "Now we restore Prue," I said.

"But Christy-"

"No. Take me to her body."

More action took place, and then we were in a tomb. "Paige," I said, "orb her body out."

Paige was hesitant. "But won't she be kind of… decomposed?"

"She has been preserved. Orb her out."

"Okay… Prue's body." In swirl of blue orbs, Prue's body appeared on the ground. It was indeed perfectly preserved.

"Give her the elixir," I commanded.

Melchior poured the elixir into her mouth. Gradually, color returned to her body and her chest began to rise and fall. I smiled. "You are now alive, Prue."

She was drawn into her body. Her eyes opened, and she sat up.

Then… there was the sound of a dog barking. But I could no longer fight the exhaustion. I lost consciousness.

My sleep was dreamless and peaceful. The thing that awoke me was the nagging sense of loss. Something was missing within me. I definitely didn't like the feeling.


"You're such a bad loser, Gideon," I heard Prue say. "This is Christy's right. The Verum is hers. She was made to house it."

"She lost that privilege when she crossed us."

No. No. This couldn't be happening. Gideon couldn't be back. I had to be dreaming. I'm dreaming, I told myself. This is a dream. This isn't real. I kept my eyes shut tight.

"Come on, Gideon. Can't you even face me without that witches' amulet?" Prue said.

Gideon didn't answer. "She's awake. Open your eyes, Christina."

"No," I said. "This is a dream."

"I assure you that this is no dream," Gideon said. "You were quite foolish to use the Verum so soon after retrieving it. Didn't you even think that there would quite a few spells on the Verum? Using it brought you right to me. And the Verum is flowing through Prue… as are the spells." He laughed.

Finally I couldn't stand it. I opened my eyes. Gideon indeed was there, as was Prue. Seeing her in her own body was quite different. I would have studied her further, but the darklighter who was pointing a crossbow at me was rather distracting. It was happening all over again. I got to my feet, moving very slowly.

"Yes, you should be rather careful," Gideon said. "You don't want to die, now do you?"

"Aren't you just going to kill me?" I asked, though I already knew the answer.

"Eventually," Gideon said. "And I wouldn't suggest trying to call for the crossbow. Darklighters have very quick reflexes."

"You can't do this!" Prue snarled.

"Ah, Prue. You want me to do this. You used alchemy. Normally, you would be punished in the same way that Hermes Trismegistus was. However, your use of alchemy can be forgiven if I put you back into Christina's body," Gideon said. "You will go through the ritual, and Christina will die."

"Christina is too important to die," Prue said.

"And you are too important to be punished," Gideon responded. "Just do as I say, Prue. Things will be much easier if you do."

I was not going to let this happen. The universe had already screwed the Halliwells over way too many times. Prue deserved to live in her own body. If I was going to help Prue, I was going to have to get rid of the darklighter and get his crossbow. I could call for the crossbow, but Gideon was right. I wouldn't be able to get it out of the darklighter's grasp without him reacting. I needed to kill the darklighter at the exact moment that I called for the crossbow. I was pretty sure that I could tap into the Verum and use its power to kill the darklighter, but how could I do the call and the Verum at the same time? I had never done two magics at once. What if I didn't catch the crossbow in time?

"You are a fool, Gideon," Prue hissed. "You're a perfect example of why Shamira needs to purify the rule of the Elders."

I had to try. I had to stop Gideon before he started the ceremony. I took a deep breath and concentrated on the Verum. Evil stands in my way. I closed my eyes. I can do this. Opening my eyes, I called for the crossbow and felt as the Verum released itself. The crossbow came racing at me and the Verum destroyed the darklighter.

Stop. The crossbow stopped. The tip of the arrow was inches from my heart. I grabbed the crossbow and pointed it at Gideon. "Undo the spell on the room," I commanded. My hands were shaking. I didn't look too formidable.

Gideon turned toward me, a small smile on his face. "Well, isn't this becoming interesting?" His smirk faded. "Put down the crossbow, Christina."

"No," I said, trying to keep my voice from trembling. The adrenaline pumping through me was making me feel significantly shaky. "Undo the spell… or I'll kill you!" I didn't like saying those words. I really didn't want to kill Gideon.

He moved closer.

"Stop," I warned, tightening my grip on the crossbow. "Don't come any closer. I'll shoot!"

"You can't kill me," Gideon said. "Just put the crossbow down. Accept defeat."

"No! I won't let you take this away from Prue."

"You have no control over this." He reached for the crossbow.

I yelled and released the arrow. It struck his heart perfectly. He would die almost immediately.

Gideon looked disbelievingly at the wound. "How alike we are," he managed to say before he stumbled back and fell to the ground. He took his last breath, and then he was dead.

The crossbow clattered to the ground. My whole body shook. "I k-k-killed him," I stuttered. I stared at him. His eyes were still open. They accused me, and they were right.

"It's all right, Christy," Prue said.

I shook my head wildly. "No it isn't!" I cried. "I killed him!"

"It was self-defense."

"I killed Gideon. I killed him," I chanted, feeling far from reality.

"I think the spell was cancelled out," Prue said. "We can leave."

I continued to stare into Gideon's eyes. How alike we are. I didn't move, not even when the door reappeared. Prue opened it.

"Come away from him, Christy," Prue said and attempted to pull me along.

I stayed still, refusing to move. "This is what Phoebe saw, isn't it?" I said. "She saw me killing Gideon."

Prue didn't answer. She just pulled me over to the door.

I could barely feel her. My entire focus was trained on Gideon. I never took my gaze off of him.

"So it's all over now," Phoebe said.

We were at the Manor. Cole's wings had disappeared, thanks to the sisters' spell. Leo had informed the Elders about Gideon's use of evil, as well as my newfound status. The Elders had attempted to take back the Verum, but the Verum refused to leave me. Reluctantly, the Elders had accepted my position. But not everything was resolved, as Phoebe believed.

I shook my head. "We still have to take care of Melchior."

Melchior just smiled. "You've already taken care of that, Christy."

"I have?"

"Yes. You wrote this into my life path," Melchior said. "I'm going to move onto my next life."

"Oh." I had known that he was going to leave, but I still felt a stab of sadness. "I'm going to miss you," I said.

"Don't worry about it," Melchior replied. "I'm going to be seeing you again very soon…" He winked.

"Um… okay. Are you going now?" I asked forlornly.

"We will meet again, Christy," Melchior said. "But now I have to go."

"I'll miss you, old friend," I said.

Melchior nodded. "Goodbye… for now." He started to fade away. But then, he seemed to float toward Phoebe… Strange. Then he was gone. I blinked back a few tears.

"Well, that's worked out," Piper said. "But what about the dog?"

"The dog?" I repeated. "You have a dog?"

Prue sighed and went into the kitchen. She emerged with a large, shaggy black dog. "This dog appeared after you put me back into my body. It won't go away."

"Aww! He's so cute," I cooed. I went up to the dog and extended my hand. He licked it. "What a sweetie doggy!" I started to pet the dog. "Aren't you the sweetest? Yes you are, mister adorable!"

Prue snickered. "You're talking to it like it's a little baby."

"He's not an 'it', if you didn't notice," I said.

"I try not to look," Prue said.

I rolled my eyes. "Well, if you don't want him, I'd be happy to take him. Speaking of that, I need to pack my bags."

"Oh. Right," Prue said. "You'd… you'd better go and do that then."

"Yeah." I went up the stairs and into Prue's room. This was it - the end of my adventure with Prue. I felt empty, which was probably a combination of my sadness and the absence of Prue. Soon, I'd be home, and Prue would be completely out of my life.

I gathered up my things and started to put them into my suitcase. I could only think of all the things that I was leaving behind. I wasn't going to see Phoebe's baby. I wouldn't see Piper and Paige again. And I wasn't going to see Prue again. Tears were forming in my eyes. I was annoyed by this. I hadn't said goodbye yet. Couldn't the tears wait until then?

"Hey," Prue said from the doorway.

"Hey." I forced the tears to go away.

The time I had spent with Prue had been unbelievable. I had never been so deeply touched by anyone ever before. Prue had a beautiful spirit, and I had enjoyed helping her. She had freed me from my fears and had introduced to me to my gifts. I was so blessed by our time together.

Jeez, now I was really starting to get upset.

"Prue." I turned to her. "Thank you for all that you did for me. You showed me true magic. You gave me the ability to take on the world." The tears were again forming in my eyes.

"Christy, if you cry, I'll cry," Prue said.

"Since when do you get so emotional?"

"Since I met you." Her voice cracked slightly. I reached out and embraced her. It was like we were one again, but now I would be leaving her behind. The tears broke through. How could I live a life without the sisters, especially Prue?

I heard what Prue wanted to say even before she said it.

"Stay," she whispered.

Stay. I wanted to stay. But if I did, I'd be giving up my old life. Goodbye New York, goodbye to the old ways. Yet if I left, I would lose more. Prue had touched me in ways that I had never imagined anyone could ever touch me; she had become everything to me. She was my mentor, she was my conscience, she was my friend. How could I just leave all this behind? How could I let it go and return to my old life? That would be like pretending that it had never happened. It had happened, and I couldn't forget it - I couldn't forget Prue. After all that we had been through together, I couldn't just pick my life up where I had left it. My life had taken a new turn, and it was better now. I couldn't do it. I couldn't leave.

"I will."