The Life and Times

Part 2: Friends, family and other contradictions

Chapter 14


"To expostulate why day is day, night night, and time is time, 
were nothing but to waste night, day, and time"
Hamlet, Act ii, Sc.2

Clarissa was a little stunned to see Phoebe arrive with two toddlers and a baby.

"Meeting Cole here "Phoebe said brightly "Hope you don't mind?."

"No " said Clarissa uncertainly "He won't be here for an hour ."

"Oh " said Phoebe as Melinda good girl held onto her hand and Whosit Patsy her skirt and then to her horror Phoebe sniffed.

"What's wrong?" said Clarissa concerned "As if I didn't know Rodik?" she grimanced.

Fifteen minutes later with Melinda and Patsy playing spin the skittle in the middle of the not-as-bad-mess as either Clarissa or Phoebe remembered and Wyatt sucking on a dummy and not doing Much which was what he liked to do, over coffee Clarissa asked again "What trouble is that little shit causing?."

"Just family stuff" Phoebe said and then tried to explain in a jumble words "Its just you know the way our family live..together know its the Charmed One thing, well mostly Cole is okay about family and things, magic but with Rodik" Phoebe gave Clarissa a watery smile. "Normally we get on Ok. I mean Piper and Cole bicker a lot but that's none of my business, I mean Paige and Cole bicker too but that's between them. The guys are usually Ok, except they bicker a bit but I just let them work it out."

Clarissa smiled but nodded sympathetically but did not say anything.

"With Rodik" Phoebe continued "You know well, Leo use to be our whitelighter, and Rodik's but well gave it up."

"Heard lots of rumours there;" Clarissa told Phoebe, not sure she should say much more.

"He just found it was not his calling " Phoebe said a little defensively. "And this is really nothing to do with him but Angela is his friend and she's going through hell."

"I never knew whitelighters could look that bad" said Clarissa.

Phoebe nodded "Well Leo feels you know because he stuck her with Rodik and the whole whitelighter deal we should not make things worse with Rodik and I think he's right. But Cole hates the little bastard and Piper is ready to get a divorce because she says she cannot believe a husband would do this to her. She's not being fair because its not like he has a choice really.. And she's mad at me because I'm siding with him but well he is my brother in law but he's also my .. f.f.friend and Cole agrees with Piper."

"Families can make it damned difficult " said Clarissa as Phoebe became more teary.

Phoebe continued, wiping her tears away "The guys had an awful fight this morning and it was sort of Piper and I both siding with the in law. We all sort of stalked off. My other sister Paige went to work looking like death. Its not fair on her" Phoebe explained "Paige is my half sister, she didn't grow up with us but only found us a few years ago after my older sister Prue died. She had a really hard time after she lost her adoptive parents and really wants just a family, needs a family really so when we all start exploding around her, its bad for her and it upsets the kids. The guys are usually so okay but this is getting bad."

Clarissa gave Phoebe a hug "I don't know them that much but I wouldn't worry." she said "You know what men are like. You and your sisters will be all off crying all day, they'll get over it in an hour .Get home tonight and be the best of buddies and you'll get the 'what the hell is wrong with you stupid women bit'."

Phoebe smiled.

"I know men " said Clarissa. "Its goddamn not fair, all this problems that little shit is causing. I can't feel magic but I guess it can be a real bitch at times."

"Nah " said Phoebe " magic is fine, its life that can be a bitch.

"I wouldn't mind knowing that just once" said Clarissa said wistfully " all I get out of it trashed shops and huge bills, and Mike trying to pretend it does not upset him and wondering how we are going to pay the medical bills for our son."

She was stopped by saying more as a rather masculine looking middle aged woman wearing baggy slacks and grey sweater came into the shop.

Phoebe waited for Clarissa to say the shop was closed but instead she said "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to be here when the insurance investigator comes" said the woman looking at Phoebe curiously.

"Oh " said Clarissa. She introduced them "This is Phoebe a witch friend, this is Hesta, my whitelighter." 

Phoebe stood up ."Hi " she said extending her hand which Hesta took in a business like way.

"Why do you need to be here? " asked Clarissa "I'm not going to lie or anything. Just the police suggested that it looked like a break in and .. " her voice trailed.

"Just some concerns above?" said Hesta efficiently, all business.

Phoebe  got the impression Clarissa and Hesta's relationship was not one of friendship. Hesta's efficiency reminded her a little of the whitelighter Natalie who had once worked with them. "Poor Clarissa really didn't get any fun out of magic." She thought."

"You know what you described happened, I, the Elders thought there should have been more damage." Hesta explained without any sympathy.

"This is bad enough " said Clarissa waving her hand around the trashed shop "If it was any worse ... My son wouldn't be having any operations any time soon."

"I know that" said Hesta. "That is part of the concern. It's not usual that these thing are covered by insurance. You've been working with the Charmed Ones" explained the whitelighter as Phoebe gasped realising as mother, and child breeder she wasn't recognised as a powerful witch, which she apparently wasn't any way. So it shouldn't matter.

"And " said Clarissa nervously glancing at Phoebe.

"Charmed Ones apparently have been a little to close to personal gain and some powerful forces going on in their lives for quite a number of years." Hesta said all business and trying to sound non-judgemental. "The Elders naturally want to check anything that does not appear quite it ought to be. From what you told me about the fight here, this place should have been written off" Hesta added.

"You think the Charmed Ones have made some deal " Clarissa asked as Phoebe made a whimper noise "With evil and it fixed my shop?."

"Didn't say that" said Hesta "The difficulties with the Charmed Ones were not explained to me, and it was not my place to asked, , but there are always rumours of evil about unexplainable magic." Then dropping the business like façade for an instance Hesta continued "although I was asked to be their whitelighter last year. I declined" she added

Phoebe grimanced and then she smiled sweetly" "Unexplained does not mean evil " she said "It means unexplained or beyond your comprehension. And thank you for your wise decision not to be one of the Charmed One's whitelighters.. many whitelighters."

Clarissa swallowed nervously.

"I'm Phoebe Halliwell "Phoebe said " one of the Charmed sisters, if you don't recognise my name.

Hesta nodded to Phoebe's annoyance not embarrassed, as if she did not believe she had to be embarrassed for stating the truth.

"Maybe you could tell the Elders if they want some explanations set out in a way they can comprehend they can ask " Phoebe snipped to angry to realise she was getting into dangerous territory " particularly when you think what we are putting up with helping that bastard Rodik. And them."

"I will " said Hesta and stopped as Cole came into the shop with a dark skinned man with some what pedantic walk, who he introduced as the insurance assessor. Elliot. He started to say something to Phoebe then stopped as she shook her head. Phoebe  managed to restrain Melinda and Patsy from running to him.

"Cole is my husband " she said to Hesta defiantly.

He looked at her, narrowing his eyes. "I'll show Elliot around " he told Clarissa who introduced Hesta as a business friend. Cole nodded having realised from Hesta's aura she was a whitelighter.

"So that's the lawyer who is the mortal husband, of of ..your friend " said Hesta very quietly to Clarissa but not so quietly Phoebe did not hear her "Does work for quite a number of witches, knows quite a deal about magic, so I hear."

"Yes" said Clarissa glancing at Phoebe who was watching her pale.

Cole walked around the shop, with its surprising intact book stock, damaged shelves, ruined window coverings, scorch marked floors and intact upper level.

He pointed out a few things to the assessor, discussed the incidence of break ins, made it clear that ambience was an important consideration in restoration and discussed with enthusiasm the small print that was there to protect honest claimants and good business practice.

Clarissa and Hesta huddled in a corner watching the assessor go around the shop, and as Melinda started making muttering noises about her Unca Cole, and Patsy kept whimpering Dada, Phoebe pulled the children into a corner and distracted Melinda and Whosit Patsy by reading them Sleeping Beauty, catching Melinda's attention because she loved stories and WhosIt's because he just loved hearing his mother's voice.

Phoebe contented herself by glancing at Cole working, feeling a pride she could barely contain. Whether he was being an arsehole lawyer in court or charming people like he was doing with Elliot, Cole was damned good at what he did, he managed to play the game and be true to himself and she sighed and whispered to Patsy and Melinda just how special Uncle Cole/Daddy was.

The assessor finally finished and told Cole, barely noticing Clarissa to Cole's amusement and her chagrin, that he found nothing out of the ordinary, and he thought the claim would go through without difficulties. It looked like the police presumption, break in by felons who used flame throwers for spite, the book stock was intact luckily otherwise there may have caused problems with depreciation if it was damaged, so he foresaw no problems.

Hesta stopped him, "You're certain " she asked ignoring Clarissa's pleading eyes.

"I wasn't here when it happened, were you" said Elliot not liking being questioned by a mere spectator." Police think a master key was used to get in. If the place had been really trashed we would have been looking for a fraud I have to be honest but this is right in the predictable pattern."

"That's convenient " said Hesta.

"Or" said Cole in his calm uninvolved lawyer voice "It simply fits the pattern because it is the pattern. I called the police as soon as I could after Clarissa told me about the trashing. They told me this is typical of some of the gangs who break into these shops, especially when they find out no cash has been left in the place."

"Exactly " said Elliot " I'll  be in touch soon" he said shaking Cole's hand and then remembering to shake Clarissa's hand before he left.

"Hesta is Clarissa" s whitelighter " Phoebe explained " Hesta is here just checking there was nothing ..unusual in the magic here " she added as Cole did his best to make his expression go blank.

"As you see " he said at his most charming "Nothing unusual, if you don't believe in magic. It doesn't worry you that Clarissa decided not to correct the impression the police had about a break-in." Cole asked Hesta with a  smile "I mean as Phoebe tells it, there is not much difference between demons and other vandals. And I can't believe the Powers that be want Clarissa's family to suffer on a technicality."

"No " said Hesta knowing she was on shaky ground "The Elders do recognise the importance of family" she said as Phoebe and Cole exchanged glances. To prove her point Hesta turned to Melinda and Whosit Patrick sitting on Phoebe's knee. She glanced at the book and said kindly to Melinda "Sleeping Beauty I loved that, when I was a little girl. Especially when the price and Sleeping Beauty lived happily ever after.

Melinda had had a bad day, with mommy and daddy and Aunt Phoebe and Uncle Cole at each others throats and Aunt Phoebe stopping her running to her beloved Unca Cole.

"No they didn't" Melinda told Hesta seriously "They got married."

Phoebe looked at Cole and he smiled wryly.

Cole spent a few minutes giving Clarissa instructions and at his best and most charming wished Hesta well. Phoebe was not unamused to watch the whitelighter somewhat smitten.

"What are you doing here?" Cole finally asked Phoebe when Hesta had gone.

"Came to ask you to lunch "Phoebe said glancing at Clarissa who smiled.

"Why?" said Cole suspiciously, guessing that Clarissa had been the recipient of a long, long list of his crimes .

"I love you and want to spend time with you " she said sweetly.

"Not because you want to yell at me." he asked unconvinced.

"Only a little " she said knowing she was in control and then she caught his smile, understanding what she was saying. "McDonalds " she sighed looking at the kids.

"I'll  follow " he told and just nodded when Melinda insisted she was going with him, child seats being a necessity in all family cars these days.

They pulled up at a local McDonalds, Cole parking beside Phoebe. Phoebe took Wyatt and Patsy to the baby change room while Melinda somewhat proud of herself stood in line with Unca Cole and even got to carry a tray and only spilled a little coke into the ice-cream.

"There goes this morning's profit " Cole told Phoebe as he put not a huge amount of change from a $50 note in his wallet.

"Is that all you made this morning, don't tell Piper?" said Phoebe. She swallowed "Have I been awfully bitchy the last few days."

"On a scale of 1-10" he asked smiling the one he saved for her..

"Yes will be okay" Phoebe snitched but then eyed him from under her lashes eating fries and feeding Wyatt from a bottle at the same time. "Rodik isn't going to have his fun pulling our family apart " she said " Anyway, you know we only argue over things that don't matter " she said " and all the arguing just proves that little shit doesn't matter."

"I believe you" said Cole.

"Liar " she told him as he smiled again. Her cell rang and Cole reached over for her purse to take it. Phoebe hoped it was work but it was Piper.

"What " Phoebe kept saying as Cole answered yeah, yeah, yeah nope okay, no, no, no Yeah.

"Cliff notes version" Cole told her "Piper is not hurt, Jade got a broken arm. All fixed by whitelighter. Demon retriever's arrived, demon leader watched but did not interfere even though it could have pot-shoted Rodik."

"So" said Phoebe "Demons want this battle."

"Guessing" said Cole.

"Can't you…. " she asked.

"No, I can't remember, don't you think I'm trying." he answered seriously.

"I know you're trying " Phoebe answered smugly. "Elder' s really think I've got demonic connections. Right on it aren't they?" she said quietly.

"You have" Cole said wiping Patsy's face which as covered in ice-cream. "If it comes out its coming out. I am not killing anything to protect the secret. Just so you know."

"Rodik is picking up on power all over the house " said Phoebe " He's feeling what you have. Damn pity that you can't kill him to protect the secret ," she said.

"I could kill him for being a shit'" Cole grinned. "Can't feel a waver in the spirit winds on that one."

"I think Angela is ahead of you " Phoebe laughed." Cole, I decided that no matter what, even if it comes to me not being.. a witch losing powers or anything, what I know about you, isn't their business.

"You think I would let that happen?" he said.

"I'm not asking you "Phoebe said firmly "I'm telling you. and whatever any-one says  I am not going to lose you " she swallowed " you're everything to me and I'm not going to lose you" Phoebe repeated. "Regardless of what you say. I think we're doing okay."

"I'm not game to argue with you " said Cole smiling the special smile the one he saved for her, and promising himself she was not going to make such sacrifices for him.

Then they both had to interfere with an ice cream throwing match between Patsy and Melinda, which achieved its aim because it got their attention.

They arrived home to find Piper in the kitchen making things that froze for meals because she had just got the credit card bill and found out how much the family spent on take away and that was not counting what Cole and Phoebe and Paige spent.

Piper uncomfortable after missing a feed was relieved to see Wyatt. She had been tempted to send Leo after him, but then again she and Leo had had an afternoon with the house to themselves. She sucked her breath when Phoebe suggested weaning Wyatt.

"I’m  a mother before I'm a witch " Piper told Phoebe firmly, "You didn't stop feeding Patsy just because it was inconvenient for magic."

"Kay " said Phoebe somewhat anxiously watching how Leo reacted after the way he and Cole had been at each others throats. She was somewhat  disgusted when Leo simply offered Cole a beer, and not missing Piper's glare he took glasses.

"Clarissa said they would do that" Phoebe told Piper shaking her head.

"I'm glad they are " said Piper " that shit Rodik is not going to pull us apart just for his own kicks."

"Did you rest this afternoon? "Phoebe asked Piper "You looked tired."

"I didn't rest " said Piper happily "Leo was home."

"You had sex in the afternoon while Rodik was in the house" said Phoebe in admiration.

"He isn't here" Piper said "I guess he went out and sulked. Couldn't stand any-one enjoying themselves."

Phoebe went upstairs and sent a few emails and changed and was even more annoyed to come back downstairs and see Leo and Cole on their second beer and comfortably leaning back, apparently totally unconcerned that they had threatened to rip each other apart that morning. Melinda and Patsy were running around making a huge noise which both ignored.

"What ?" said Cole when Phoebe yelled at them.

Leo shook his head "Hissy fit " he said. "Do you understand why women do what they do?"

"No" said Cole.

"Me neither " said Leo.

Cole nodded "I thought I better tell you" he said "There could be a few problems. I sort of helped Clarissa last week when her shop was trashed. Got it back to something the insurance companies would pay on.:."

"Lied " said Leo not quite critically.

"Only by omission " Cole, said " You know she needed it badly. You got a problem? "Cole grinned.

Leo hesitated then shook his head. " No " he said :"Sometimes I think Good could do more for people who fight for them, instead of just expecting beings will fight no matter the cost because they are Good.  I would not complain if I Elders used magic to help Piper sometimes, when she looks so damned tired, instead of bitching about personal gain."

"I try to help " Cole said seriously."

"I know you do Cole'" Leo answered  just as seriously "And I appreciate it I really do." Then he jumped as a large vase was orbed in front of him and shattered.

"Bastards " yelled Paige from the door way "I was worried about you two all day" she roared and slammed into the kitchen.

"Cole and Leo are drinking beer together" she said "Bastards, I've been worried sick all day."

"Rodik is not going to pull this family apart for spite " said Piper.

"You betcha " said Paige suddenly smiling. "Did you rest this afternoon?."

"No " said Piper smugly "Leo and I had sex instead."

"With Rodik in the house" Paige said impressed. "What did he do? Listen outside the door?."

"Only for a while " grinned Piper.

"Finding a little magic in the magic has helped you hasn't " said Paige a little wistful as Piper nodded.

In the conservatory Cole emptied the beer into his and Leo's glasses "I don't understand women " Cole told Leo.

"Me neither " said Leo looking up to see Rodik had followed Paige in. "Want a beer " Leo asked straight faced.

"Can't you keep those children quiet" snarked Rodik. "You shouldn't drink alcohol in front of children."

"Its only beer " said Coe "Pure vegetable matter. Good healthy stuff ".

Rodik sniffed and left with some dignity which was lost when he fell over the rug that somehow moved when Melinda flicked her fingers.


"It isn't just me now. I know all the consequences about Good or Evil finding out about me, but I can't help feeling if its destiny, and it will play out" Cole told Francesca as they sat in his office "Its .. they have Phoebe in their sights. They clearly think she's lying and is hiding something."

"She is " said Francesca bluntly. She was looking very much the middle aged matron, sitting on the sofa opposite him and sipping coffee she had insisted on before she would discuss anything with him.

"She's lying to protect me" Cole bit out.

"Is she? " Francesca asked matter of fact.

"What do you mean?" demanded Cole annoyed. "Why else would she lie?."

"Phoebe's lied as I understand it about you since she found out you were demon" Francesca commented  "She's had lots of opportunities to tell the truth and she still hasn't."

"Are you saying she should?" Cole glared at Francesca.

"No I am saying she hasn't " Francesca said calmly " Even after you came back from the wastelands she chose to hide Belthezor's return, and I assume for reasons more about her than you " Francesca told him bluntly.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Cole demanded.

"Certainly she did not do it to protect you at that point. If what I heard, what you told me when I first ..met you was true, Phoebe hated you, or believed she did. " Francesca explained unperturbed by his temper.  "But she still lied or at least did not tell the truth and encouraged her sisters not to either, so one would have to assume she kept the lie going for her sake as much as yours."

"And what would that be?" said Cole his voice terse with anger.

"I'm not Phoebe, I can only guess" said Francesca "Embarrassment, secret guilt she was still in love with you. Any one of a number of things. Ask her if you want to know."

"And if Phoebes loses her power or has some retribution because of that lie?" Cole challenged.

"Then it is her problem" said Francesca bluntly "I do however suppose as her husband you will support her and look after her but the demon guardian Belthezor will not go to the Elders and confess all to make it up ."

"Why is your advice always an order?" Cole demanded.

"Because you rarely listen to common sense where Phoebe is concerned" Francesca said in her best school marm voice. "What are you going to do? Confess that she is lying and their suspicions are true. What good will that do?."

Cole, not liking logic any better than he like good advice, scowled.

Francesca pushed "Cole respect Phoebe enough to accept her responsibility for her choices. She lied as much I would guess, to protect her own memories as anything else. If there are consequences its her choice." Francesca told him.

"And I'm supposed to sit here and let her wear it " Cole snaked. "Let her pay for me, for what I chose . She could lose the magic, what she is .Do you have any idea what being a witch, being a Charmed One it means to her?

"If you had been raised mortal," Francesca told him severely " You would have learned something about mortal manners."

"What?" asked Cole feeling five years old"

"You would have learned" said Francesca schoolmarm stare in place "That when some-one offers you are a gift the correct answer is 'Thank you', not 'How much did it cost'."

Cole glared at her.

"If Phoebe wants to sacrifice herself for you, its her business not yours and her choice. Thank her for it and accept it." Francesca advised him..strongly.

Cole sucked on his lip. "Stop giving me orders like I'm five " he snarled.

"Stop behaving like you are five " Francesca told him, accepting silence while he reluctantly considered her advice. "Oh lord" Francesca said changing her voice " not again."

And Cole glanced up to see Proctor in his outer office.

"The guardian Hilma always referred to Proctor as Fiend Proctor " Francesca told Cole for no reason that he could think of  "She had a point " Francesca added.

Cole stood up and went to the door to invite Proctor into the office away from Eduardo's glances. Eduardo was rapidly becoming the favourite guest at family and friend's parties with his stories of the clients and characters who wandered into Cole's office. '"Whatever else you say about this job as his assistant " Eduardo had told his daughter" It’s a hell of a lot more interesting than an insurance office."

Proctor entered smiling satanically " Ah Francesca " he said " such a pleasure and such a co-incidence."

"As always " answered Francesca smarmily.

"I take it you will be leaving " answered Proctor "as always."

"Do you want me to leave?" Francesca challenged.

"Francesca I never want you to leave" answered Proctor with a sneer that may have been a smile.

Francesca to Cole's surprise looked somewhat confused which way she should respond, and finally asked "You do not need me? " in a tone that said she not liking being bested.

"Not for the business at hand" Proctor answered with the same smile.

"Then I am gone" said Francesca all business "I will be in touch Cole," she said " Proctor."

"Be well Francesca " Proctor answered watching her go. He turned back to Cole who without asking was getting him coffee with 4 spoons of sugar " Francesca must be concerned. It is so rare, I best her."

"Why are you here?" Cole asked not distrusting himself to continue the conversation.

"I told my brother that I would pass on any observations" Proctor said "Africa" he said.

"Africa" said Coe trying to pull himself into guardian mode.

"I observe a certain tension in the north that has the marks of demonic interference, under the guise of what I believe it is called International aAid" Proctor told him.

"You advise I should interfere" Cole asked not sure what his response should be.

"I, recognise what is happening " said Proctor dryly.

"Sorry sometimes Africa seems beyond my comprehension" Cole explained to Proctor. "and right now I am distracted."

"That is not always wise" Proctor told him.

"You think it is unwise for me to be concerned about being exposed and the consequence when it is not just my fate " Cole only just managed to keep his voice calm. "And all Francesca does is tell me what can't be done, which is not ..much help."

"Ah well that is the difficulty " said Proctor. "You do not know that no-one is helping you, or acting on the problem. All you know is that you are unaware of it."

Cole pursed his lips and went to answer and Proctor narrowed his eyes satanically.

"But my brother" Proctor said carefully keeping any inflection from his voice "should have some understanding that because he does not know it, does not mean it is not happening."

"I don't understand" Cole bit out restlessly pacing his office.

"Then your wisdom is sadly lacking" Proctor told him and seeing the mutinous expression on Cole's face explained "It is a guardian's business to mind their business."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Cole snapped and did not care that the satanic smile opposite deepened into a dark sneer.

"Greatly lack wisdom" said Proctor dryly "I will explain. The discovery of Belthezor's calling is not just the business, or even the business of Belthezor. It is the business of his brother guardians and Belthezor should know that without being told ."

"Are you saying it is your business? " Cole demanded " Or Arturo's?."

"I am saying that Belthezor should have the wisdom to know we answer our calling and mind our business " said Proctor dryly.

Cole swallowed.

Proctor added "But as my brother has such little wisdom I will impart some to him. The Elders, the minders of witches and mortals and magic creatures of the realms here, are not the sole arbitrators of the cause of good. There are those who can be approached."

"Powers that be" muttered Cole,.

"Oh not just powers" said Proctor. " who can be approached on the wisdom of the realm and the wisdom of the worlds and realms is not beyond.. interpretation."

"I have no idea what you are talking about " Cole snapped.

"I am saying " said Proctor his voice a creaky rasp " that there are ways of doing and asking and acting that do not involve confronting those who have concerns. As my Brother Guardian will learn ..with time, as he gains wisdom. It is to be hoped."

"What is Arturo going to order or threaten the Elders and their minions to stop worrying about Belthezor," Cole said sarcastically "That will help."

"No " said Proctor " To order not to give their attention to Belthezor would be to bring Belthezor to their attention. There are better ways."

"I don't under.. " said Cole stopping and glaring down at Proctor.

"This I understand " answered Proctor " The business of guardians is to ensure the balance, not partake of the battle or to be combatants in the battle."

Cole started but Proctor continued before he could say anything "You saw that Guardian' s role, Arturo's business was to elevate a demon, any demon to be the Source, although this was not the aim of good, or with the approval of good. What did he do "?.

"Gave them back the Grimoire with most of the lore of the old Source ripped out of it. They got the Grimoire without its knowledge, only its power. I thought it an interesting solution, considering the importance demons give to the power of lore."

"Yes " said Proctor " and in 500 odd years, one of us will do the same for the next Source. "And there are ways to solve other problems .. creatively."

Cole shrugged. "You cannot strike me from existence or knowledge of me by ripping some pages from the Grimoire. And I will not hide behind an alias, or a name that is not my own. Pretend I am something I am not,."

"If my brother says so " answered Proctor "And I am glad my brother realises how lacking in wisdom that would be to pretend he is something he is not " Proctor said "There are better solutions."

"And what would they be" demanded Cole angrily.

"As my brother has no understanding of these solutions, and has heard no thoughts the spirit winds I must assume such a solution is not.. yet the business of the Guardian Belthezor."

"Why?" Cole asked almost in a whisper.

Proctor shrugged "He has not the wisdom to respect these solutions? He has commitments to a life that may cause him to question them. Some things are better kept out of family business" Proctor answered standing up. "As I have imparted, my wisdom such as I have to my brother, I am gone " he said demonically.

"Thank you " Cole told him not completely graciously.

Proctor started to open the office door, then shut it and turned back. "Belthezor " he said meeting Cole's angry and frustrated expression. "I understand your lack of wisdom. You and I " he said leaning back on the door " are very alike.'

And the satanic smile depended at the expression of disbelief on Cole's face.

"We are " Proctor continued "we are creatures of the heart, you and I, and creatures of the heart are passionate, feeling and very rarely wise."

"I see" said Cole.

"This I doubt " said Proctor "but I tell you it is no small gift, to lack wisdom. I see my brother Therold, my friend who is wise, lost in his wanderings and his books because his heart is not touched and he has nothing else, and I believe we are to be envied our lack of wisdom."

Cole sucked his lip.

"Be well " Proctor smiled almost not satanically as he left.

"Be well Brother Proctor " Cole answered.

That night was relatively calm in the manor. Rodik's demand to go warlock hunting was met by blank resistance from the witches and such a flat and determined no from Leo that even Rodik shut up.

Cole said 'No' too but as he was supposed to be mortal Rodik ignored him.

Rodik contented himself with complaining that the sheets in his bed were not changed, that Piper put a knife that had touched meat near his food, the hot water was tepid, and the magic in the house was so mixed and demonic he was nauseated "And don't think I haven't told the Elders " he added as a partings shot before he went to meditate because he was being totally ignored.

"He isn't going to do it " Piper said wiping he hands on a tea towel ".

"Do what?" said Paige checking the kitchen cupboard for herbs.

"Split us up as a family just because he wants to be a shit,'" Piper insisted.

"No way " said Phoebe "Even if one of us kills him."

"Especially if one of us kills him" said Piper.

"It must be pretty sad " said Paige grabbing Piper and pulling her into a hug with Phoebe " to have nothing but magic and duty so the only thing you can do is go out of your way to make other people miserable.

"Not so sad I don't want to kill him" said Piper pulling he sisters closer to her.