A fan fiction story by Melpomene based on the characters and backstory of "Charmed" and composed without permission. No copyright infringement is intended and no monies have been earned.
“What is it about threes anyway? I mean, we’ve got the Charmed Ones, namely us, there were three Furies, there have been three Sources, and now the Triad? Why can’t they pick on some other number like, oh I don’t know, how about one?”
Piper quirked her lips at Paige’s tirade. Threes indeed. She turned her attention back to Leo. “So this Triad thing, if they’ve already chosen to give up their powers, I don’t see what we can do about it now. It’s their choice, honey.”
He pleaded with his wife silently before launching back into the argument. “They didn’t actually give up their powers, they just stopped using them. Once the Triad was broken, the two who remained were less of a threat to those who would have them dead but with the new Source vanquished…again…” He quickly glanced across the table at Phoebe.
“The factions are trying to gather as much power and prestige as possible and killing them would help do that,” Phoebe finished for him. “But I still don’t get it. You just said that the Triad’s power is gone, that it was destroyed when the demon killed… what’s her name.”
“Julia,” Leo supplied and nodded. “The combined power they had as the Triad is gone but individually they are still very powerful. Probably even more powerful than you are.”
“The two who are still alive…” Piper said softly.
“The Elders thought that, since you and Phoebe were able to go on even after Prue… died, that you might be able to help.”
Paige eyed Leo. “But you said the Triad were triplets. It isn’t like they could have some long lost sister out there somewhere. They won’t be able to reconcile their shared power with just the two of them, even if they do start using their powers again.”
“No,” Leo agreed, “but at least they would be better prepared to protect themselves against the factions that are going after them. All they are asking is that you talk to them, try to see if you can convince them that they are both in a great deal of danger.”
Piper sighed, resigned. “Do we even know where they are now?”
“They used to live in Santa Cruz but after Julia was killed, Claudia moved to Austin. The Elders are hoping Margaret will be there with her.”
“As in Texas?” Phoebe scoffed.
Piper ignored her sister’s obvious disapproval. “Even if we do agree to do this, what’s to say they’ll listen? It’s been what, seven years? A lot can happen in seven years.”
“Just try. Claudia won’t listen to their new whitelighter and she was less than pleased to see me when I tried to talk to her. She’s still hurting. If nothing else, maybe you can help her get past Julia’s death and allow her to move on with her life.”
Phoebe chuckled darkly. “You know us way too well, Leo. You always know just what buttons to push to get us to do what you want.”
Piper shot a half-hearted glare at her husband. “Fine, we’ll go and see if we can at least get her to agree to talk to us.”
“Thank you.” He reached out and took Piper’s hand, pressing it gently before he added, “But be careful, she doesn’t trust whitelighters, so orbing in on her probably isn’t a good idea, and there are a lot of demons who would love to take out the remainder of the Triad and the Charmed Ones.”
“Great…” Paige drawled.
Half a dozen jack-o-lanterns leered from the steps and porch railing, their fiery innards flickering menacingly in the cool gusts of wind that swept across the lawn as the group of children cautiously approached the door. Thick swaths of cobwebs danced in the wind and an eerie sense of foreboding poured from the house. Bravely facing the porch, the tallest of the children squared her shoulders and took a deep breath before racing up the steps and pressing the door buzzer.
“Trick or treat!” She was joined by the rest of the group just as the door swung open.
The woman who stood in the entrance surveyed the pale faces before her and smiled. “I think I’ll avoid the trick, my dears. Grab a handful.” She held out a plastic caldron brimming with sweets and laughed as the children swarmed around.
“Miss Harris? Can Taylor and Sara come trick or treating with us?”
“Is that you, Megan?” The woman peered at the youngster.
The little girl giggled and lifted the wide brim of her witches’ hat to reveal clear blue eyes. “I told you yesterday that I was gonna be a witch,” she said as a broad grin flashed across her face.
“And so you are. Hold on a sec, let me go find ‘em.” She turned around just as a little boy barreled into her, a little girl hot on his heels. She glanced down and tousled Taylor’s hair and smoothed Sara’s wings back into place. “I guess that’s a yes to the trick or treating question, huh?”
“We’ll be careful, Mama.”
“Be sure that you are,” she called to the retreating figures as they slipped through the garden gate in search of more sweets. She leaned against the doorframe and watched the bouncing light of the children’s flashlights before she dusted her hand off on her jeans. Her little zombie pirate and fairy queen would be back soon enough, safe and sound. She didn’t need to eat herself up with worry, there hadn’t been the faintest hint of an attack, demonic or otherwise, in more than five years. Shaking her head at her own seemingly foolish concerns, she turned to walk back into the house.
“Not so fast there, little witch.”
“Oh come on now, let’s leave Halloween to the kids…” She spun around and a glare shone out from her eyes intended to set straight the over-grown trick-or-treater who had invaded her lawn. The yard was empty. Curious, she scanned the deep evening shadows in search of whoever had spoken. “Who’s there?”
“An old friend…”
At the tauntingly familiar voice, she drew herself up and spun to flee within the house but was stopped before she could manage her escape. Rough fingers gripped her arm, pinching and bruising the flesh beneath her shirtsleeve as she fought to pull out of her attacker’s grasp.
“Let me go!” She tried to lash out with her foot but upset her balance instead and pulled her assailant down onto the slate-tiled porch on top of her. “Get away from me!” she cried out, struggling to disentangle her limbs from those that would trap her. “Be gone!”
“Powerless and you’re still giving orders. You’ll never learn, will you, little witch?” The man flipped her onto her stomach and caught her arms as he dug his knee into her back. “You’re coming with me.”
“Hey, hey, hey… just a second here!” Piper stepped through the garden gate and onto the gravel path, followed by her sisters, and threw up her hands toward the melee, freezing the fight before it could worsen. “Leo? What’s going on?”
Leo slipped through the gate and approached the house to glance at the pair on the porch. “Darklighter,” he answered. “One with a grudge against the Triad.”
“Must be some kind of a grudge,” Paige commented, eying the scene.
“Big enough to make him want to kill us and everyone we love.” The reply came from the porch and the girls and Leo watched the woman slip out from beneath the man who had been attacking her but now crouched frozen and grasping only air where the her arms had been.
“You didn’t freeze,” Piper gaped. She turned to look at Leo. “Why didn’t she freeze?”
Leo smiled grimly. “Um, Piper, meet Claudia Harris.”
“You’re immune to my powers.”
Claudia flipped her hair back over her shoulder and shrugged. “It would seem so. And while I’m grateful of the assistance, you can go away now.” She straightened her shirt and turned around, landing a hard kick to the man who was still immobile at her feet just before she walked into the house and shut the door behind her.
“Huh,” Phoebe sighed. “What do we do about him?” She gestured to the still frozen darklighter.
“I’ll handle it.” Leo stepped up onto the porch but turned around before he orbed the assailant away. “Be careful. Claudia would never hurt you but like I said, the demons and warlocks…”
“And darklighters,” Piper added.
“Yeah, and darklighters, who are after her and Margaret would love the opportunity to wipe out both the Triad and the Charmed Ones.”
“Don’t worry, we’re not going to let anything happen to us or them,” Piper promised just before Leo orbed the darklighter away.
Paige cocked her head at Piper and touched her eldest sister’s elbow. “You want the first shot? I mean, she did at least speak to you when you asked her a question.”
“I don’t think her agreeing that she was immune to my powers actually constitutes as a conversation, Paige.”
“You’re right,” Phoebe agreed.
“But,” Phoebe continued, “I get the impression that she’ll be more receptive to talking to you than to the two of us.” She grinned. “We’ll just wait out here.”
Paige bobbed her head up and down. “And if you get into any trouble just give us a shout.”
Piper glared at her sisters as they smiled back. “Oh, alright!” She flung her hands in the air to accentuate her surrender and walked along the path until she reached the front steps. “But I’m warning you, don’t go wandering off without me. We don’t know what to expect and I don’t want any of us to wind up somewhere without the Power of Three being available to bail us out.”
Piper wagged a warning finger at Paige then spun to push the doorbell.
Claudia sagged against the closed door. She didn’t know how Peter had found her but she did know what it meant. The kids weren’t safe, neither Taylor nor Sara, not with evil lurking on her doorstep and he wouldn’t be satisfied until he had killed them all. She jumped when the doorbell rang in her ear. Please, she thought futilely, let it be more trick-or-treaters.
“Hi!” Piper beamed at Claudia when the other woman slowly opened the door.
“I know I already told you to go away,” Claudia said flatly. “Do I need to call the police?”
“To protect you from us? No. And I can’t imagine that they’ll be a whole lot of help against the demons who are on their way here either.”
Claudia gazed at Piper evenly and tapped her foot in slow irregular syncopation against the entry tiles. After a long silence, she finally spoke. “You know, I may have been out of the witch-loop for the last seven years, but I do know who you are.”
“You’re a Charmed One, not only that, you married your whitelighter, Leo, the very same whitelighter I threw out of my home not five days ago.” Claudia’s expression didn’t change as she told Piper what she had managed to squeeze out of the supernatural grapevine.
“Pretty good for someone who gave up using her powers before I started using mine. What else do you know?” Piper refused to drop the pleasant attitude, remembering all the old adages about flies, vinegar and honey.
“You might as well come in,” Claudia said reluctantly. “But if you don’t mind, I think one Charmed One is all I can handle at the moment.” She stretched out a hand and snagged the plastic caldron of candy. “Hey!”
Phoebe and Paige looked expectantly to the doorway.
“Your sister here is going to talk, you two are going to hand out candy.” She left no room for argument as she thrust the sweets toward the women.
Phoebe hurried up the path and accepted the tub, looking into Claudia’s shadowed and haunted eyes as she did so. “Cool. Do you have any chocolate in here?”
Claudia nodded slightly. “Just make sure you leave enough for the kids.”
The kitchen was warm and welcoming and Piper watched Claudia as she fussed with the water kettle. The wall was lined with dozens of photographs, black and whites as well as full color shots of children and adults in posed and candid images. Studying the pictures further, Piper was able to distinguish a family resemblance between all of those in the photographs as well as a close bond that was obvious even in two-dimensional format.
“It must be hard to be married to an angel,” Claudia mused as she set the teapot on the kitchen table next to a pair of cups and saucers.
“It can be, but we manage.” Piper was unsure how to proceed so she decided to begin with the question that had been nagging her ever since Leo had first asked for their help. “Claudia, how have you been able to just stop using your powers for so long?”
Claudia sighed and slowly twirled a teaspoon in her cup of tea, watching the swirling liquid dance around the brim. “It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be.” She paused. “But to understand it, you will have to hear the whole tale of the Triad and all that preceded our decision...”
“I found her.”
“And who might she be?”
A cloaked man crossed the room, his footfalls menacing in the otherwise silent chamber. “The witch Claudia.”
His compatriot templed his fingers beneath his chin and nodded thoughtfully. “So she does indeed still exist. And what of the others, her sister, the children? Are you prepared to complete your task now that you have found them, Friedesh?”
Friedesh swept the dark cape aside and withdrew a simple dagger. “Margaret is elsewhere but once she discovers her precious sister is in danger, she’ll come running… right into my trap. It will be finished.” He studied the blade as it glinted in the flickering firelight. “And when the trap is sprung, Claudia’s pain will be all the more sweet after she witnesses the deaths of her son and niece, not to mention that of her long lost sister. And once they have been destroyed and we have obtained their powers…”
The other man flung up his hand in a gesture that demanded silent attention. “You failed to retrieve the powers held by the first of the Triad to die. Your impatience was solely to blame and I will not see such a mistake repeated.”
“Nor will I.” Friedesh turned the dagger over in his hand once more before he shimmered from the cavernous space.
Phoebe settled down onto the porch swing and pushed off gently so that, from her perspective, the world swayed in an easy rhythm. The low sounds of conversation from within the house were just audible in the stillness of the night. The picturesque surroundings tempted her to let down her guard but the memory of the attack on Claudia was too fresh to forget.
She watched Paige lean against the porch railing. “It’s nice here, quiet.”
Paige wrinkled her nose distastefully. “Too quiet. I guess I’m just too used to living in a city.”
Phoebe smiled. “I could imagine living someplace like this though. Especially after fighting so much evil for so long.”
“Uh huh. Are you forgetting that the evil followed her here? If she’s wanted that badly by the demon Leo told us about, hiding won’t be the answer.” Paige paused and watched the shadows of children as they crossed from driveway to driveway in search of candy. “Why do you think she didn’t just give up her powers? I mean, why would she keep them if she won’t use them?”
A frown creased Phoebe’s brow. “I don’t know. Maybe she just wasn’t ready to take that big of a step. Or maybe she knew that there would be a time that she would need them again.”
“It seems more dangerous to keep them and not use them that it would be to just get rid of them completely.”
“Yeah, it does. But, Paige, if there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a witch, it’s that not everything is as simple as it seems.”
“Tell me about it,” Paige sighed. “I mean I thought the evil sorceress and the good prince were just a fairy tale, not actual people and definitely not one of my past lives.”
“Our situations are very different. I envy you that,” Claudia said softly.
“How do you mean,” Piper asked, leaning forward in her seat to better hear what the other woman was going to say.
“There was never a time in our lives that we didn’t know who and what we were, that we weren’t coached in what it meant to be the Triad. The tales of our destined accomplishments were our bedtime stories and vanquishing spells were our nursery rhymes. We never were allowed to have normal childhoods, or any kind of a childhood actually.”
Piper sat back stupefied shock, suddenly immensely grateful for the decision her mother and grandmother made when she was still a little child.
“Our father tried. He was worried that we were being pushed into maturity too soon. He would sneak us out of the house and take us to baseball games or the circus, he bought us dolls and board games… he loved us very much. Mom and Granma loved us too, they just couldn’t see past what we were supposedly destined to be to see who and what we were, just three lonely little girls.” Claudia bit her lower lip. “We used to pretend that we were just like everyone else and try to imagine what it would be like. But you and your sisters… you got to live normal lives, at least for a while, for that I’m envious.”
Piper sat entranced as Claudia briefly outlined a childhood filled with magic and demonic activity. Somehow the triplets had managed to survive to be teenagers without falling directly into the path of too many supernatural forces. They had struggled with the same agonies of growing up that any other teenager did, but multiplied by the addition of magical powers and social ostracism. But they made it to adulthood and even to college, despite the toll that saving innocents and fighting evil took on their time and energies.
“Julia met Jason in one of her sociology classes. He was just her study partner as far as we knew, a nice normal guy. I’d see him on campus between classes every so often and we’d say hello but I didn’t think much about him. Julia didn’t tell us how serious their relationship had become until the evening she invited him to dinner and told him, in front of Margaret and me, who and what we were.”
“Wow,” Piper mused aloud. “I bet that was something to witness.”
“There were a lot of fireworks that night. Meg lost it, she was always the most volatile of us all anyway, but me, I just sat there and stared at Jules, waiting for the punch line. I couldn’t believe she had done something so stupid, that she would even consider doing it. By shedding our anonymity, she increased our vulnerability tenfold but she just couldn’t see it that way. Jules always believed in the innate goodness of humanity, it was her biggest weakness. It’s what killed her.”
“Yes, and dear Julia’s gullibility will be the downfall of you all.”
Piper spun around in her chair an instant after Claudia’s head shot up. A tall man stood against the wall next to the hall entrance, his gaze unwavering from Claudia’s face.
“Get the hell out of my home,” Claudia enunciated through gritted teeth. “Didn’t you get the message to stay away when your buddy, Peter, failed to report back tonight?”
“Peter will be dealt with. So foolish of him to allow himself to be captured by such a useless woman.” The man threw his head back and laughed, walking closer to the table and passing Piper without a second glance. “But why would I leave? Are you planning to use your powers to banish me? Because, Claud, that’s the only way I’ll ever leave you alone, either you vanquish me or I will kill you. And don’t forget your precious family. Are you willing to condemn them all to an early death just because you denounced your status as a witch?”
Piper tried, experimentally, to freeze the interloper from behind but was disgruntled to find him unaffected by her power. She raised her hand to her ear, as if to smooth a loose lock of hair, when the man swung around to address her.
“And I see that the Charmed Ones have now become involved in our little engagement. Fear not, witch,” he told Piper as he leered down at her, “I won’t forget to deal with you or you sisters.”
Claudia slammed her fist down on the table to draw back his attention. “Your quarrel is with the Triad, not the Charmed Ones.”
“Wrong again, Claudia. My quarrel is with goodness itself, the Triad was merely my first conquest.”
“A conquest at which you failed. Julia died before you could take her powers and need I remind you that Meg and I still live, powers and all? It sounds to me like one obscenely big failure.” Claudia raised her eyebrows and cocked her head.
Flames danced around the man’s body, sending off waves of angry heat. “You and Julia were so much alike, weren’t you? Your personalities were so similar, your thought processes as well. It’s true that I had a great deal of difficulty deciding which of you to approach first, Julia was merely in the right place at the right time. Wasn’t that how she described our meeting to you? You won’t trick me into killing you before I’ve taken what I want, Claud. But you will alter my plans for your torture. I wonder, what would hurt you more… watching your beloved son die first or your precious niece? Perhaps I will just kill them at the same time.”
Claudia reined in her panic and fury. “You would kill Sara…”
“The daughter of a powerful witch? Oh yes, my dear Claudia, most definitely.”
Claudia closed her eyes just as the man shimmered from the room.
“Okay,” Piper drew out, looking expectantly to her hostess. “And who was that?”
“His name is Friedesh, he’s in league with an upper level demon but we didn’t know that at first. We didn’t find out until after Sara and Michael were born… Up until then he was just plain ol’ Jason Brooks, Julia’s husband.
a work in progress