How Quaint the Ways of Paradox

Part 2: Promises,promises,promises

Chapter 16


"How quaint the ways of paradox;  At common sense she gaily mocks"

(Gilbert and Sullivan. Pirates of Penzance)

Ten days after the demon Arturo had gone to find out whether it was even remotely possible the mortal lover of the Charmed witch was a half-breed demon seeking the light, or the Great Betrayer himself living up to his reputation, the whitelighter Francesca sat in Arturo’s living room watching coloured crystals flashing away in the glass case. She knew of the magic Arturo had given the crystals to tell him of the ways of Good and Evil, of magic beings and demons but she never told the Powers of Light. She understood the very real fear the definers of Good had of a demon half-breed who had found the ultimate level of his own power and Francesca had thought it better not to remind them of what Arturo was capable.  They had to accept Arturo and his kind but they were frightened of him.  Unlike Francesca, who sat at ease after helping herself to Arturo’s wine.  


Some time later Arturo shimmered into the room.  Without a word he helped himself to the wine and then sat down opposite the whitelighter.  Francesca finally asked, ”I gather from your call, that you have finally decided what to do about Belthezor. Have you the answer?” she said ” Are you sure now?”


”Yes” murmured Arturo sadly ” I am sure. I have watched him for ten days and I know.”




On the first day Arturo watched very little happened. It was a Wednesday. A sister witch went into her small green car about 8.30 and Arturo followed her to what was quite clearly her place of work.  He had returned to the manor and nothing had happened until late in the afternoon another of the witches got in a car and drove off. Arturo followed her to what he discovered was a nightclub of some sort. She stayed there all day. The first witch returned from work, the other stayed at the nightclub until closing and drove back to the manor.


On Thursday, the witch drove to work, there was no sign of the little witch Arturo knew or Belthezor until about midday when, a tall good looking man dressed in very casual clothes left the manor and drove off in the car. It actually took Arturo a few seconds to realise this was Belthezor. He drove to a garage where he filled the car with gas and then went to a few stores and appeared to pick up household goods and then he returned to the manor. Very ordinary mortal things. Belthezor’s reputation for duping his victims was well know to Arturo.


A few hours later, Belthezor and the little witch flew out of the house and jumped in the car and Belthezor drove, very fast. They arrived at the nightclub and the other witch ran out and jumped in the car. Belthezor drove like fury across San Francisco , where he stopped suddenly at a warehouse. The third witch was waiting at the warehouse. The three ran in and Arturo managed to see them demolish three very nasty Arachnid demons. Belthezor watched from the door. He drove one witch back to the club and then he and his own little witch returned to the manor.  They stayed in all night.


Friday was the same almost. One witch went to work, around mid morning, Belthezor came out and worked in the garden for a few hours. After lunch, the little witch that Arturo thought of as his witch left the house and drove off in her sister’s car. Some hours later, the witch who worked returned and went into the house. She and Belthezor came out soon after and drove away in her small car. Arturo followed. They drove to a part of San Francisco that was poorer and had many needy people. They stopped in front of a dilapidated weatherboard house. Arturo risked getting close to the car to listen.  Arturo heard the witch say  “Piper will kill me, she would say helping this old lady was personal gain.”


Belthezor replied “Damn their bloody rules.”


He and the witch talked for a few minutes. Arturo was sure he was offering advice on a spell then the witch got out and recited a regeneration spell on the house. She drove back to the manor and the demon r went inside while she drove away.  The little witch returned about an hour later. She and Belthezor left the house and drove to the club later that night, they stayed until closing, then Belthezor, the two sisters and a man Arturo guessed to be the other witches whitelighter husband got in the car and went back to the manor. The whitelighter drove.   Arturo was guessing by this time, they had some arrangement for the car.


Saturday followed in similar fashion. In the morning two of the witches, the club owner and Arturo’s little witch went for a two hour run together. After lunch, the whitelighter and Belthezor left together and drove off, the whitelighter driving. They went to a bar and spent several hours drinking beer and talking. They returned to the manor. Later that night Belthezor and his little witch drove to the club where they stayed all night returning to the manor, with her sister and whitelighter. Belthezor drove.


Sunday was a flurry of activity. At various times Belthezor or one of the witches drove anxiously out and back using either one of the cars. As dark fell, all three witches and Belthezor met at a museum in San Francisco. Belthezor picked the lock and Arturo watched whilst the three witches efficiently disposed of four fire eating demons.


They returned to the manor. An hour later the youngest one left with a good looking young man. She returned to the manor at dawn.  Throughout the next week Arturo watched. Occasionally Belthezor drove the car and picked up errands. On three nights he and his witch drove to the club and returned after closing with her sister. Once he drove to the club in the middle of the day and picked up the older sister. He drove her to a municipal office. Twice Arturo observed Belthezor working around the garden.


On Wednesday when his witch was out, Arturo observed Belthezor drive off and meet the youngest sister on a highway. It was obvious her car had broken down. He drove her to a garage. They bought a fanbelt and Belthezor fixed her car. He was clearly quite annoyed with her and Arturo was close enough to hear him mutter about paying auto club bills. Several times Arturo watched Belthezor drive the witches to sites where they disposed of lower level demons with an efficiency, Arturo could only admire. Once Belthezor saved the youngest witch by catching her and forcing her to orb just before she was smothered by a flux demon. In another demon fight Belthezor stayed back as the demons were vanquished but he had some problem with the proceedings because he and the oldest of the three sisters had what could only be described as no holds brawl as they insulted each other for nearly ten minutes.  Of interest to Arturo was the witch reciting Belthezor’s history of murderous intent. They drove off together with two sisters sitting in the back seat with angry expressions on their faces and Belthezor’s witch in the front seat putting her hand on his knee as he roared the car down an alley.



During the Arturo’s long hours watching the small mortal life of Belthezor and his witch, Francesca occasionally joined him. She snorted derisively ”Belthezor seems to have made himself part of the family.“


”You don’t think this is good?” Arturo asked amused.


”No I do not” Francesca said with more force than was necessary ”and you know it.  Its Belthezor, Arturo. Belthezor betrays and the only way you betray is to create a bond, a trust with your victims that you can shatter. Belthezor betrays Arturo and he dos it so well.“


”I know” said Arturo.


”Get rid of him Arturo” Francesca said ”Get rid of him before he causes everyone concerned more pain than they deserve.“


”I can’t” Arturo said ”Not yet and you know it.“


”I do” Francesca said ”But I had to ask.“




On Sunday, Arturo finally had a chance to observe Belthezor and his witch closely. In the morning nothing happened but in the afternoon, the two left the manor.  She was dressed in a fashion that Arturo assumed was acceptable for young women She wore tight red trousers that barely covered essentials. She had a patterned blue top that left a gap of skin to the trousers and a scarlet jacket that in Arturo’s view miss matched. Somehow or other the effect was quite enchanting. Belthezor wore dark coloured trousers and a light casual fawn jacket over a grey shirt. The witch had a large bag slung over her shoulder. 


She and Belthezor walked hand in hand to the end of the street where they waited with some tourists at a cable tram stop.  The tram was full when it arrived. He found a seat for the witch but on the trip to the bay he amused himself pretending to fall off the crowded tram. The little witch became quite annoyed with him. At the tram terminal, the two walked still holding hands walked to the bay. They turned along the shore to the flea market.


At the entrance they stopped at an ice cream shop. Belthezor ordered a lemon and vanilla ice cream and the witch ordered chocolate and vanilla chip.  Belthezor stopped the attendant getting it. A few minutes later she ordered chocolate jaffa.  Belthezor raised his eyes to the attendant as he changed the order.


A little later, arm in arm, the two walked through the flea market. The little witch stopped at several places. Arturo watched her as she bought a few coloured scarves, some earrings with decorations, and writing paper with a cow motives. Cheap little trinkets.


The two spent quite some time in the market walking through hand in hand. Belthezor seemed quite happy to be there, only becoming impatient when the witch stopped along time in a shop that announced itself as a pre loved clothing shop.


The two finally left and wandered along the coast to a café. They sat at a table in the open air. Belthezor ordered a latte and cappuccino and chocolate chip muffin. He did not ask the witch what she wanted.  The waitress put the latte and muffin in front of the witch but Arturo noticed without asking  Belthezor reached over and ate more than half of the muffin. The two stayed in the café for 45 minutes. They held hands across the table several times but as Arturo listened to their conversation, he was amused to notice how mundane it was. Once the witch lowered her voice to use the word demon. They talked about an old movie they had watched together.  The witch used the word sexist.  They talked about family and a few words about the new sister fitting in their lives. Arturo noted that whilst  Belthezor seemed to want to touch the witch at every opportunity, neither seemed to flirt or talk about sex.


The two walked down the shore road.  They stopped at a second hand book store and there they separated. The little witch chose two books with quite grotesque covers of women with large breasts and almost no clothing. Arturo thought she was getting quite enough sex without reading about it.  The expression on Belthezor’s face as he met her in an aisle and glance at her choices said the same thing. 


She put them in her bag after paying for them. He did not offer to carry the bag.


After the book shop, the little witch and Belthezor wandered along the pier, arm in arm. At the end of the pier they stood watching the bay. He finally pulled her to him and the two indulged in a very long kiss that was just within the limits of what was publicly acceptable.


The two wandered back along the pier, the little witch hanging onto Belthezor’s arm.  A little after seven, they arrived at one of the seafood restaurants on the bay.  Arturo heard Belthezor ask the witch four or five . She guessed four as they were shown to a table. Belthezor ordered a bottle of red wine  “Damn Leo” he said to the witch ”I want red. Water okay for you." Some ten minutes later the witch’s older sister and her whitelighter husband joined them. The witch’s sister looked at the wine and made a remark about Belthezor’s taste in these things. Arturo heard the older sister snap that Paige would not be caught dead dating with her family.  They talked comfortably and naturally.


The two witches left to go to the bathroom. Arturo listened as Belthezor asked the whitelighter whether he had felt anything unusual. Belthezor told the whitelighter he had the feeling he was being watched all the time.  The whitelighter looked surprise ”Cole, you don’t have those powers any more.“ 


Belthezor shrugged ”I feel I am being watched. All this week. Are you sure you can’t feel anything?”


Arturo wondered exactly what secrets Belthezor kept to himself, what demonic legacy was lurking.


They stayed a long time at the restaurant. The whitelighter and Belthezor’s witch ordered desert. The witch ordered without asking her lover, lemon meringue pie. Without asking her lover ate most of it.


After the meal, all four caught a cable car then they walked up the street together, all holding hands with their partner. Arturo watched as half way up the street Belthezor caught his witch and pulled her in front of him saying Phoebe will protect me.  Her sister laughed. The whitelighter muttered something about Cole being to scared of Piper to try and argue and the little witch stooped and said she was not moving until he behaved. Belthezor stopped. He leant over and removed the bag from her shoulder and put it on his and then in a swift movement lifted her in a fireman’s lift over his shoulder.  He walked up the street his witch protesting loudly slung over his shoulder talking with her sister and his husband who had his arm around his wife, about possible demon attacks. None of the four seemed to find the situation unusual.


Arturo watched them enter the Manor, very certain of what he knew




”Yes” said Arturo helping himself to another wine” I am very certain. He’s very good at making himself part of the family isn’t he? But he does have his secrets”


Francesca leant back against his chair, a relieved look on her face.  ”I should be sorry. But I am not.  I know that this must play out because as yet the time has not come for you to act but I would love to say just kill him and be damned”


”I would be if I killed him”  Arturo replied shortly  ”I am very certain Belthezor has turned.“


Francesca came to her feet ”No” she breathed  ”You said yourself that you would not believe him if he came to the doors of heaven on his knees.“


”I would not“  answered Arturo ”But he has not done that. In fact he seems to making a real effort not to go running to anyone. He seems to saying in the bounds of his own and I use this word deliberately family.“


Francesca expression was one of complete cynicism. ”You and I have no gift of vision” she said ”but we both know that the time arrives when the destiny of the old Source is about to be decided and all the prophecies say that will be done by The Charmed Ones. And” she added ”Belthezor, the Great Betrayer, the demon reputed to be the most evil of all the half-breeds. The one  who even demondom believe wants to be the new Source is living in their house” she added with a snort “In human form Arturo. He even let her destroy his demon half, to be more” and she sneered “human. And you believe he has turned?”


”I have been known to be wrong” Arturo answered.


Francesca had to smile. In a thousand years, Arturo had been wrong…once. ”Are you trying to tell me” she said shaking her head ”in the space of weeks Belthezor has turned to the path of good, locked himself into a family and vowed remorse for all his evil ways. Belthezor”  she snorted  ”Belthezor, Arturo.“ she said in quiet disbelief.


Arturo smiled gently ”I would be wrong if that were the case, but it isn’t. I watched Belthezor and whatever he has with that girl, it is not new.  She believes he has been love with her since the Triad sent him to kill her. I think she is right. I’ve been in love” he said softly ”I know love. Francesca, Belthezor is in love, he’s not Evil because Evil can’t love.  Those two were to sure of each others ways, they shared without asking, they knew each others ideas. I never once saw them ask what the other wanted. He’s in love Francesca, and I know a little about that.“


“Even a year is not enough” Francesca protested, because of all the demons, they had ever considered turning this was not the one.


Arturo nodded ”As you say a year is not enough. I strongly suspect that Belthezor has done what so very few others have. He has managed to hide what he was feeling so well, for so long, neither Good nor Evil had any notion what he was about. And only he will be able to tell us how long that is. You understand?”


Francesca sitting on the balcony overlooking the Corinthian Gulf, in the sanctuary of a very old demon who had long since turned to the light, understood. That if the Great Betrayer, the demon of the century Belthezor walked away from demondom for the love of a witch, he had achieved the ultimate act of betrayal. Because somewhere in the life of this most evil of demons, some small quirk of fate had changed his path. Because for him to fall in love with the witch he could not have been evil incarnate when he met her.


”I see no evidence of him having walked fire of his own making, facing the blackest and most evil depths of his nature” Francesca said. ”He may just as easily go the other way.“


”I see no evidence either” said Arturo ”We can only watch and hope, and see what happens when he finds the demonic power or they find him.“


”And when hope fails” Francesca smiled. ”You are really convinced the answer is he has turned.“


Arturo shrugged and then nodded.


But it was not to be. The Old Source knowing his prophesied end was near and that prophesy said it would be at the hands of the Charmed Ones lost all wisdom in his obsession to defeat the witches and on a day in late January  he stole the Hollow. And the mortal Cole Turner made his choice to consort with the demon known as the Seer and take on the Hollow to save the witch that he loved.


Arturo and Francesca watched as the Charmed Ones fulfilled their destiny, and vanquished the old Source. At first nothing seemed to have changed, Belthezor lived in the Manor house with his witch. They married.


All those whose business was the battle between Good and Evil knew something was not right when the Charmed Ones vanquished the Old Source, the rebellion the disruption to the underworld simply failed to occur, they knew the story was not over.


And they found out far to late, that as always, Belthezor kept his secrets, as he had been able to do for the 120 odd years of his life, kept his secrets from those closest to him, those he served and this time those who loved him, always kept his secrets and he did it again.


And Arturo cursed, because he had been very certain that Belthezor loved the witch and was not therefore evil, because demondom was right, there was no good soul, no hidden desire to break away from his heritage, just the Great Betrayer Belthezor doing what he did so well. Belthezor who ran from the underworld, used his witch to find his humanity and found a way to great power to become the Source and then as Destiny decreed, his witch and her sisters vanquished him.


Another half-breed demon who had a chance to turn, but became overwhelmed with the power of their humanity and failed.


There were times in his long life that Arturo found it hard not hate Evil, not to hate the nature of evil, not to want to give into his demonic nature and destroy it, to walk away from his calling, his atonement and destroy all that caused his pain. Even after all this time.




And that was that. Belthezor was gone and Arturo had his work to do.


Francesca returned a little after the time of the Great Immolation, to find Arturo seated on his balcony leaning forward lost in thought only casually aware of the noises of an early summer night in the hills of Greece. Arturo looked up as she orbed in. His smile was grim as she sat on her usual seat


”It’s a beautiful time of year” she said gently.


Yes” he agreed.


They shared a silence. Finally Francesca broke it to say quietly ”You have work to do.“


”Alas my dear” Arturo said still staring into the darkness in front of him ”I don’t. I found nothing.“


”You’ve tried” she asked concerned.


”I’ve tried” he said grimly. ”It isn’t there.“


”Where is it?” Francesca demanded.


”I have no gift of future or vision of the past” Arturo answered with grim humour ”I don’t know. I ‘m guessing but only guessing that the witches took it.“ The humour turned into an almost demonic laugh. ”Perhaps it would be a …good idea if you went and found out.“


Wordlessly Francesca orbed away. She returned by the morning light to see Arturo quietly reading a very ancient book. ”Well” he said harshly.


”The witches took it” Francesca replied.


”That is a complication” he said.


”Perhaps it was destiny” she said a little hesitatingly.


”I don’t know” he answered ”but there are damned good reasons why Good and Evil fight in a centred realm and stay away from the other’s domain.“


”The Seer called the Charmed Ones to the underworld, as I understand it“ Francesca protested.


”Trite but true my dear” Arturo said ”Two wrongs don’t make a right.“


”The balance” Francesca asked.


Arturo closed his eyes and called to the Spirit winds. Some time later he said ”The balance is not right.“


”But” she said. She knew Arturo well.


”It should be worse” he said ”What did they do with it?”


”The word was that it was destroyed” Francesca answered.


”How?” he asked sharply.


”I have no vision of the past or future, Arturo” she answered smarmily ”I don’t know.“


”Better you don’t have vision of the past or future” he snapped ”As far as I can see those who do stupidly and irresponsibly try to change the parts they don’t like and cause havoc.“


”No new Source” she asked.


”No he said ”and not likely at the moment is it. It will take a while. We have .. time. ”


”And destiny does have a way of finding its course” he said in matter of fact tone.


Francesca had known him a very long time. ”I’m sorry Arturo” she said understanding.


”I know my dear, destiny fate Kismet call it anything”. He turned away and walked to the balcony rail stray down into the beautiful valley of pine and olive trees below then looked up to stare at the blue water of the Gulf. ”I curse Belthezor Francesca” he said angrily ”I curse him. I had hope, for a little while I had hope. He was…just a little like me. I thought perhaps there was a chance of an ending Francesca. Not yet I know, but a chance. Sometime”.


She walked over and stood beside him, her stated her eyes reflecting his pain.


”I hope to God wherever Belthezor is, whatever hell he has fallen into, it is deep and he burns in agony.“ Arturo ground out ”Belthezor should have been able to find the courage Francesca. Of all the ones I’ve seen he should have found the courage to walk through the flame.“ Arturo suddenly calmed, denying his demonic heritage, ”But then again wherever he is, he probably has an easier road that if he chose this destiny.“


Francesca stood her hand resting on his. ”The Great Plan decrees there must be a balance Arturo. A Balance between Good and Evil.“


Finally Arturo turned around and with a smile that was purely the reflection of his human soul he said. ”Heresy though it may be Just for once,  it would be…. nice" he laughed, “it would be nice to know some one found a way for good to just win.  For all that is just and right to prevail, no battles, no consequences, no balance. Even in a small way”


”Heresy to the Great Plan, though it may be” Francesca smiled ”it would be nice just once for that to happen. Even in a small way.“