A/N: thank you, animalzoo, Red-rumm, andy20, egastin77, and charmedsisters (though I am still waiting to get an informal name from you!) for reviewing the first chapter. This chapter is totally dedicated to you five.
Lily Evans stared down at the breakfast before her and sighed for the third time that morning. Two weeks. She only had two weeks left until her fifth year at Hogwarts began. Hogwarts… Her heart leapt at the thought of seeing the castle again, then promptly sank as she was reminded of the person she would run into when she returned to Hogwarts. Potter. Anger washed over her and she viciously stabbed her egg. She was so sick of thoughts of Potter invading her pleasant thoughts of Hogwarts. Unfortunately, Lily could not avoid the association. Damn Potter.
"Lily, are you going to eat?"
Lily looked up at her mother. "Yes, mum." She took a bite of her toast, then went back to pushing her food around her plate. The Marauders were the bane of her existence. Potter alternated between playing pranks on her and attempting to charm her. She preferred it when he played pranks on her. Black was always trying to get into her friends' pants. Lupin… well, he wasn't as bad as Black and Potter, but he aided them in their mischief. Pettigrew was so helpless without his friends. But the four of them together… Lily winced, then brushed her red hair out of her face. She was not looking forward to dealing with them again. God knows what they've got planned for this year.
"I am not going anywhere near that freak show," Lily's older sister declared, jolting Lily out of her trance.
"No one said that you had to come, Petunia," her father said.
Lily tuned back into the conversation. "We're going to Diagon Alley today?"
Her father nodded. "Unless Patty shows up."
Lily made a face at the thought. "No way. I will not allow that to happen." She didn't have a problem with Patty. In fact, she quite liked the whitelighter. However, certain disagreeable things happened when Patty showed up, most of them involving the insufferable Marauders. Over the summer, she had been swept off to Potter, Black, and Lupin more times than she could stand. Lily scowled. She was supposed to use the summer to get away from them, but it seemed that she spent just as much time with them during the summer as she did during the school year. But summer training was over. She likely wouldn't have to face them again until the beginning of school.
Blue orbs illuminated the room. Lily fought the urge to stomp her feet when Patricia Halliwell appeared in the room. Patty had an apologetic look on her face. The message couldn't have been clearer.
"Don't say it," Lily pleaded.
"Sorry, dear," Patty said. "I have to say it."
"What is it now?" Lily asked sulkily. "Surely they must be managing on their own."
"Well, the demon Damazein has been stealing witches' powers. You're the only one who has mastered the vanquishing potion," Patty explained. "It is absolutely necessary for you to aid them." Patty knew how much Lily disliked James, Remus, and Sirius, and she could understand why. She had seen how the three boys acted; it made her quite glad that she didn't have sons.
"But I need to get my school supplies," Lily protested.
"It's your school supplies or their lives."
"I choose-" Lily started to say but was cut off by Patty.
"I will drop all four of you off in Diagon Alley after the vanquishing," Patty said.
"No, you don't have to do that," Lily sullenly said. "I'll do it some other time." She got up and went over to the whitelighter. "I'll be back soon," she promised her parents.
"Don't hurry," Petunia muttered.
Patty orbed before Lily could say anything. They landed in a large backyard. It was a place that had become very familiar to Lily. She had, after all, been coming to this place for around four years. Lily crossed her arms and looked up at the Potter residence.
"Evans," a smooth voice said. "What a lovely surprise."
Lily groaned and turned around. James Potter, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin were standing there. Just the sight of them made her want to flinch. "Shove it, Potter," Lily said. "I am in no mood. Let's just brew the potion so that I can get out of here."
"Why so cold?" James said, still wearing that haughty grin. "Here." He conjured a rose and offered it to Lily.
Lily rolled her eyes. "Brilliant idea, Potter. Why don't you just send the demon a personal invitation? Don't you know anything about Damazein?"
"Okay, that's enough," Patty said. "Work on the potion. Damazein may have already located you. Lily, call me when you're finished." She orbed out.
"Come on," Lily snapped and walked towards the house.
"She doesn't seem to like you much, Prongs. Are you going to give up?" Sirius asked, though he already knew the answer.
"Potters never give up, Padfoot. I'll get her eventually."
Prue sipped her coffee while Piper sat at the table, her cereal growing soggy. Neither of them could bear to eat. They hadn't slept a wink all night. They would have gone all night searching for Paige, but Grams had insisted that they go back to the house. Grams herself had yet to return.
Piper opened her mouth to speak, but she had nothing to say. The silence was agonizing for both of them, but they just couldn't bring themselves to discuss the situation. It was just too painful.
"Hi," Phoebe said softly as she entered the room. Her sisters looked up but did not respond to her otherwise. She sat down at the table and joined the silence.
Prue and Piper were struggling against urges to shout at Phoebe more, but they knew that nothing could be accomplished if they did that. Yelling at Phoebe couldn't make Paige suddenly appear, not even if Phoebe showed remorse. Phoebe had shown some remorse, but no one could completely trust that she was truly repentant. Phoebe was far too good at manipulating people for them to truly believe her.
"No trace of her still?" Phoebe said, trying to break the silence.
Piper shook her head. "Everyone's clueless. Phoebe, are you absolutely sure that she didn't give any hints about where she was going?"
Everyone kept asking Phoebe that question over and over again. "I'm positive. She just ran to her room, packed her things, and ran out," Phoebe said, feeling like a broken record. "I'm sorry that I don't know more."
Prue banged the coffee cup down on the table, causing Piper and Phoebe to look at her. "What kind of a tone is that, Phoebe?" she said. "This night has been hard on us all, but you actually sound angry that Paige ran away."
"I meant it, Prue!" Phoebe shouted, standing up suddenly. "I can't help anyone. Besides, I think that anger is a rather appropriate reaction. Paige has done a stupid thing that has gotten us all worried to death. We should be angry!"
"We are a little angry with Paige, Phoebe," Piper said, "but we have to concentrate on Paige right now. We cannot focus on emotions."
"Fine," Phoebe said, sitting back down. Her normal demeanor was taking over again, as Prue clearly observed. Gripping the coffee cup tightly, Prue forced the hot liquid down her throat. She needed the caffeine. It was crucial that she stay alert.
"Do you think Grams will let us go back yet?" Prue asked, glancing at the time. "We've been here for five hours."
"You know that she won't," Piper said. "She wants us to stay here in case Paige comes home."
"Phoebe can stay here and wait around for Paige," said Prue. "Let's go back now. I can't stand just being here."
"Neither can I," Piper said and got up.
They headed for the door, but it opened before they got to it.
"Paige?" everyone said hopefully.
"It's just me," Grams said, her tone dismal.
They all let out the breaths that they had been holding in. No one said anything when Grams went upstairs, and no one questioned why she went up to the attic. They just went back to the original silence.
"Stop that," Lily said through clenched teeth. She was helping Lupin to create the potion, but Black was making it difficult for her to concentrate.
"Stop what?" Black asked offhandedly.
"Stop trying to read my mind!" Lily shouted.
"What is it that you feel you must hide from me?" he inquired. "Whatever goes on in your mind can never be half as bad as what goes on in James's mind. Unless it is…" He grinned.
"You are a sick bas-"
"Language, Evans. I thought you were a lady," Potter said disapprovingly.
"And I thought I told you to shut up," Lily said. "I would do anything for some duct tape right now."
Potter's eyebrows shot up.
"Don't even say a word," Lily told him. "Now kindly tend to your potions. I'm supposed to be teaching you this."
Potter shrugged and turned back to his potion.
"There," Lupin said as he corked his potion. "It's finished."
Lily silently thanked all the deities she could think of. "At least you've been paying attention. I'm surprised you didn't get it before."
"That was only because of those two," Lupin said and jerked a thumb towards Black and Potter.
"Ah, yes," Lily murmured, remembering how Potter and Black had been too busy writing out plans for the year to pay attention to Patty's lesson. Patty had promptly set their parchment on fire and had ended the lesson before the boys could succeed in their potions. Lily eyed them, but their backs were turned to her. Suspicious, Lily closed her eyes and tapped into her power. When her eyes opened, she was no longer looking from her view. She was looking through Potter's eyes, at a list. Remote viewing was very useful. She pulled back to her own view. "Potter, put the list away. We need all the potions we can get, even yours."
Potter turned towards her. "Is that a compliment?" he asked while blindly adding an ingredient.
Lily recognized what he had added. She decided not to say anything and ducked down behind the table, pulling Lupin down with her. He didn't deserve to suffer because of Potter's incompetence. Black, however…
A split second later, Potter's potion exploded, spattering both him and Black with purple goop. Lily straightened up and savored the sight. The only parts of the two boys that were visible were their eyes.
"Tsk tsk, boys. Looks like you should have paid more attention to me," Lily said, shaking her head.
Lupin popped up and started to laugh.
"It's not funny, Moony," Sirius said sourly.
She smiled. "I suggest you two get yourselves cleaned up. The potion that Potter created has some rather interesting side effects."
"What kind of side effects?" Potter asked.
"You can't feel it yet?" Lily said with her brow furrowed.
"No," Black said nervously. "What is it?"
"Oh, of course you wouldn't. Well, it's nothing to worry about," Lily said. "It's just that you might… just might… I mean, it's really improbable, but it could happen… You could lose all feeling in your body. There would be no part of you that would react to any stimuli." She smiled sweetly.
Lily was certain that she had never seen them run so fast.
"That's not really true, right?" Lupin asked.
"Of course not," Lily responded.
"So what did he make?"
"Bubblegum," Lily said. Mrs. Potter would recognize that immediately. Hopefully, she wouldn't tell Potter.
A sudden yell from upstairs told her that he had found out. Potter and Black would give her hell for this one.
It was worth it, Lily thought.
Paige came around a few hours later. As her vision cleared, she sat up and looked around. She was in a nice hotel room. There was a living room off to the side, and she could hear snoring coming from the room. Paige gulped a deep breath and slipped out of the comfortable bed. She was in a pair of unfamiliar pajamas, and her shoes were nowhere to be found. Paige didn't care. She looked out the window and discovered that she was at least ten stories up. She would have to get through the door.
Silently, she sneaked into the living room. The television was on static. She almost gasped at what she saw when she turned to the snoring figure.
A huge man was asleep on the couch. Paige had never seen anyone so big. She was astounded, but she couldn't keep gaping at the massive man. She had to get out of there. Slowly, she turned the handle of the door and opened it, praying that nothing would awaken the man. She tiptoed out of the room and broke into a run. The stairs were so close… She threw open the door to the stairs and ran down them at breakneck speed, adrenaline pumping through her. She fell down half of them, but that didn't faze her at all.
Her heart burst with joy as she found that she was almost to the lobby. She ignored a loud popping sound behind her and sped up.
Suddenly, she stopped moving. Like in a bad dream, she was frozen in place.
"Paige Halliwell," a woman murmured. "Just where do you think you're going?"
Paige fought valiantly against her frozen state, but there was simply nothing she could do.
The woman stepped around her and faced her. She was tight-faced individual who greatly reminded Paige of Grams. She was wearing very odd clothing. The woman studied Paige. "You look a lot like your grandmother," she commented. "Now, there's no need to be afraid. I'm not going to hurt you. I just needed you to stop before you got some muggles involved."
Paige's confusion showed through her eyes, but the woman made no attempt to clarify anything.
"I am going to take the spell off," the woman said. "Do not scream and do not try to run away." She pointed a stick at Paige and muttered the countercurse. Paige fell forward into her. "You all right?"
"I'm fine," Paige whispered. "What are you?"
"No time for answering questions now," the woman said. "Just know that I hold a great power over you and that I do not wish to play around. Come along. I'm not going to climb all those stairs." She dragged Paige out into the lobby and over to the elevator.
A few people gave the two funny looks but said nothing. The pajamas clad pre-teen and the robed woman got off at the twelfth floor.
"Weirdoes," one person muttered.
Paige's earlier high dropped down to rock bottom as she was brought back into the room from which she had escaped. The woman closed the door behind her and tapped it with the stick.
"Hagrid," the woman snapped, her hands on her hips. "Hagrid. Hagrid!"
"Wazzit?" The man opened his bleary eyes. "Oh, bloody hell. She got away."
"You were supposed to be watching her, Hagrid," the woman reprimanded.
"I've been up all night watchin' her, Minerva," Hagrid said. "I was only sleepin' fer a few minutes."
"But that was long enough for her to get away," Minerva said. "Though I suppose I can let it go this time. She's back, and now we can explain to her. I hope that you can watch her long enough for me to get Albus."
"'Course," Hagrid responded. "Come 'ere, Paige." He patted the seat next to him. "I don' bite, I swear." He smiled at her.
Paige glanced at the woman. As she watched, the woman disappeared into thin air. Paige's jaw dropped open. "How…" She blinked a few times. "How did she do that?" She was starting to feel like she was going to pass out. She couldn't take much more stress.
"Well, she's a witch," Hagrid said.
Paige stared at Hagrid. She had stopped breathing and had lost the ability to speak.
"I know it's a bit o' a surprise, but…"
There was no need for him to finish the sentence. Paige passed out, landing lightly on the ground. Hagrid sighed, got up, and placed Paige on the couch.
"Typical Halliwell," he said to himself.
"You found her?" Grams asked. "Oh, thank you so much. I'll come over and take her home. I just hope she didn't see any magic."
Dumbledore gave her a grim look. "Penny, you cannot keep them away from the world of magic much longer."
"They're not ready. They have no sisterly connections," Grams argued.
"They should have been trained at Hogwarts," Dumbledore said. "They are severely unprepared for their destiny. In your quest to protect them, you have greatly weakened them. Paige is young enough to be accepted, but the other sisters can be tutored."
"Albus, don't speak of that," said Grams. "Once people find out that they are the Charmed Ones, they will never be left alone. Demons will come after them, and the whole wizarding world will overcrowd them. They're not mature enough for that. They can't handle it."
"They need the training. You said that Paige is already curious about magic."
"Only because your portrait can't sit still."
"You've told me about other incidents," Dumbledore reminded her. "And the other sisters too are coming closer to the truth. How do you want them to find out? Do you want them to stumble across the magic world on their own? Or do you want to tell them?"
"Just let me work on them a little more," Grams implored.
"Time is running out."
McGonagall appeared in the attic. "Paige is awake. She broke free from Hagrid and nearly escaped, but she's back now. She has been exposed to magic."
"Albus, you know that they have to read the passage on their own," Grams said. "If you tell them they're witches, they will read the passage out of greed. You may tell her the truth, but don't tell her that she is a witch."
"I give you my word, Penny." He and McGonagall disapparated.
Grams stood there for a moment, then went over to the book and opened it to the passage. "Perhaps the time has come." She ran her hand across the page. "Perhaps."
Paige sat on the couch, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the one called Minerva. "So witchcraft is real?" she asked Hagrid.
"I knew it," Paige said triumphantly. "I am so going to rub this in Phoebe's face." She paused and thought. "Can portraits move?"
"As long as they were painted by a wizard," Hagrid said. He looked at her curiously. "Yeh really know nuthin' about our world, do yeh?"
"Well, no one in my family has magical ability," Paige said. "Um, why did you kidnap me?"
"Kidnap?" Hagrid laughed. "It would seem tha' way, wouldn' it?" His laughter subsided. "We were rescuin' yeh."
"Rescuing me? You're keeping me here against my will. Besides, why would you want to rescue me? You don't even know me," Paige said.
"Paige, I've known yeh since yeh were a baby," Hagrid responded. "Everyone's been watchin' out fer yeh, though yeh didn' see us."
Paige started to question why, but the appearance of McGonagall and Dumbledore stopped her. She gasped when she saw Dumbledore. "You're the old man!" she exclaimed.
"I prefer to be called Dumbledore, Paige," the old man said, smiling at her. The smile and the twinkle in his eyes were exactly the same as they were in the portrait. "And this is Minerva McGonagall."
"Why is your portrait in my attic?" Paige asked, forgetting her manners completely.
"All in good time, Paige," Dumbledore said. He waved his wand and two chairs appeared.
"You have magic too? Wow." Paige was too amazed by the sudden discovery of magic to be angry. She didn't really care that she was being held against her will.
"Paige, there is a whole other world that you have never been exposed to," Dumbledore began. "It is the wizarding world. Wizards and witches are found all over the world. Those without magic – muggles, they're called – have no idea that this world exists."
"Muggles cannot handle magic," McGonagall explained. "They would try to get wizards to do everything. In order to keep the wizarding world running smoothly, muggles must not find out about our world."
"Then why are you telling me this?" Paige asked. "I'm a muggle, not a witch."
"You have been severely exposed to magic," Dumbledore fabricated.
"Why did you save me?" Paige pressed.
"Your grandmother is a friend of mine," Dumbledore said.
"Oh. So that's why she has your portrait."
Dumbledore nodded. He wanted to tell Paige everything, but he knew he could not say a word about her destiny. "During your lifetime, you have met many witches and wizards. They look as normal as anyone, but they have a gift."
"What about those sticks?"
"These are wands. They are magical aids. No witch or wizard can perform magic without a wand," he said. He considered if he was going to tell her about the exception. "Well, that is not entirely true. Some witches and wizards have a different magic that is added to their wand magic. Such a witch can use a type of magic that you probably know about. Psychic powers, you may know them as. Telekinesis, temporal stasis, pyrokinesis, that sort of thing."
"So this whole world has existed all along, and I didn't even know about it. Can I tell my sisters? They probably won't believe me, but it's worth a try," Paige said.
"Of course, Paige," Dumbledore said, nodding. "You and your sisters will be trusted to keep this knowledge secret." He stood up. "Now, I shall take you home."
"I'm going home like this?" Paige motioned towards her pajamas.
McGonagall swished her wand and some clothing appeared next to Paige. "They should be your size."
"Thanks," Paige said and went into the bathroom to change.
"Are you certain that we cannot tell her?" McGonagall asked. "We need to train her as soon as possible."
"She must find her powers on her own," Dumbledore said.
"But she doesn't even know the passwords," McGonagall said. "And Penny will kill you if you tell her how to open the portraits."
"Perhaps, but telling her the passwords is different from telling her how to get in," Dumbledore said.
McGonagall smiled despite herself. "You are sneaky, aren't you, Albus?"
Paige emerged, wearing jeans and a t-shirt. "So, do you guys have a car, or do you just disappear?"
"We're going to use a portkey for you," Dumbledore said. "Paige, I need you to remember these words: Merlin, Hogwarts, and the Charmed Ones."
"Merlin, Hogwarts, and the Charmed Ones," Paige repeated. "Why do I need to know them?"
"Don't worry about that. Just remember them." He held out a quill.
Paige touched it and a very odd sensation overtook her body. There was yank behind her navel and she was pulled forth.
A/N: every author loves reviews, and I am no exception. I'm currently working on four different stories (plot bunnies are evil!), so their updates mainly depend on the reviews I receive. It's up to you, peoples. You can make the third chapter happen.