How Quaint the Ways of Paradox
Part 1: Time and Time Again
"How quaint the ways of paradox; At common sense she gaily mocks"
(Gilbert and Sullivan. Pirates of Penzance)
If you search long and hard, you sometimes find what you seek.
He flicked through the images of the life of Belthezor’s witch. And as he flicked through her life he saw that the strongest bond of all was the bond of the witches as sisters. He stopped for a second, watching the time just before Belthezor’s ultimate betrayal of the Triad when he all but brought the Accursed witches down by breaking the bond of sisterhood. He watched as the three swore and accused and lost their power. As they used their powers on each other and broke the bond.
Tempus smiled to himself. Much as he cursed the memory of Belthezor and abhorred the betrayal of the half bred monster, he knew that Belthezor had been smart, smart enough to destroy the Charmed Ones if he had not given into his true nature and betrayed the Triad.
And he wondered if Belthezor had given him the answer.
Not destroy the bond of sisters completely because Tempus needed them, needed the Accursed Sister Trio to vanquish the Old Source, vanquish Belthezor and set in place the Great Immolation. He needed to weaken the bond as sisters.
Tempus had watched humans for a very long time. When things went badly unless the bond was very strong, humans fell to blaming and accusing, humans fought and argued so that they just became interested in hurting the others, even when it was not in their best interest. In the moments leading up to the Great Immolation, the Three Sisters even in the real timeline where bickering and arguing under the strain and fear of the moment. If he could reduce the bond between the sisters then when the moment to steal the Grimoire came the bond, would falter, then the trust, if it was fragile at best would fall apart, and the sisters would lose the moment and the act of desecration to the Grimoire would fail.
If you search long and hard, you sometimes find what you seek.
It was the creaking fifth step that did it. How many times had Phoebe told herself to be careful not to stand on that step? It wasn’t that she was exactly scared of Grams or her sisters knowing what she was doing, she was after all 18 and she could screw who she wanted, as often as she wanted, and when she wanted and party any way she liked. It was just she hated looking at their miserable disapproving faces, judging her, letting her know just what a disappointment she was to them.
It was Grams beating her breast and crying pity because she failed to raise her orphan granddaughters properly and saying it in such a way Phoebe felt she was the failure because she had not let herself be raised properly. It was Grams implying Phoebe was a tart because she screwed around with a couple of guys, several guys, quite a few guys.
Hell Grams had no reason to judge, she screwed around with at least 6 different guys that Phoebe knew, only Grams called it marriage.
It was Piper looking at her, being Miss Prissy Pants. It was not like Piper never drank. Phoebe knew for a fact that Piper had only made it through her graduation dance with the aid of a 2 flasks of vodka hidden in the big inside pocket of Pattie’s black velvet evening cape that Piper had insisted on wearing to the dance. Phoebe knew that Piper was drunk because she had nursed Piper through a massive hangover, and covered for her while she spent the next day throwing up in the bathroom.
It was Prue looking at her like she was a dumb, useless no brain idiot who was not capable of understanding words that had more than one syllable. Why did Prue think going to collage and reading a few books about old furniture and pottery made her so smart?
Why did any of them have the right to look at her, well the way they were looking at her right now? The three of them stood at the top of the stairs glaring at her with revulsion on their faces. Grams was wearing a faded cotton nightgown that was probably the reason her last husband had stormed out of the Manor 2 years ago declaring he could no longer stand to deal with her obsessions.
“Oh Phoebe" Grams said "Its 4 in the morning, “ as if somehow or other creeping back to the Manor, drunk, pantiless and still stinking from her last partner at 3 in the morning would have made it all right.
“Shove it Grams“ Phoebe slurred “Its not like y.you never screw-ewded anyone at 4 in the morning.”
“Don’t you talk to Grams like that , she isn’t well“ Piper said “You’re drunk, police drop off again" She sneered "You already got a police record. “
“It’s only ggg’ography“ Phoebe giggled “Lotsa countries its just as legal ta drink as s screw when ya 18“
“That would be the only thing you ever learnt at school. “ Prue snarled. She stalked down the stairs and stood behind Phoebe and then gave her a mighty shove, almost knocking her over as she made Phoebe move.
Grams and Piper stood back as Prue shoved Phoebe upstairs.
“We’ll talk about this in the morning“ Grams said sadly as Prue pushed Phoebe past her.
Phoebe stopped at the top of the stairs and turned back “Ya think she said. "Jeez Grams How da ya know, I might be dead in the mornin’, you might be dead in the mornin’ “ Phoebe began to laugh “or I might run away and you’ll ever see me again. “ Phoebe caught the disgust in Piper’s eyes “I hate you“ she yelled at Grams over her shoulder , “Ya married whore. “
Prue gave her such a shove she landed on the floor beside her bed.
Phoebe passed out on her bed. She woke up a couple of hours later, at dawn. Piper was asleep in the other bed but whimpering restlessly. Phoebe opened her eyes feeling like shit, she looked at Piper’s neat side of the room and the tears began to fall. “I will run away to New York“ she swore, “I will. “
And she crawled out of bed to the bathroom. A few minutes later she came back to her bedroom and stealthily felt around her closet, finding her biggest back pack, she pulled an assortment of jeans and tops, a handful of underwear, 2 bras and stuffed them into it. She pulled out 3 packs of condoms from her sock drawer. She pulled her favourite pink parka from the closet and crept into the bathroom, where she threw into the backpack all Prue’s most expensive shampoos and hair care bottles.
She crept down the stairs, forgot about the creaking fifth one and winced when it made what seemed like a huge racket. She sneaked along the hall and in the dawn light found Grams purse on the hall table. She pulled out the wallet and opened it. There was over 500 dollars in it and Phoebe smiled. She recalled the carpenter guy who was coming to try and fix the stuck windows and doors in the Manor liked to be paid in cash.
Phoebe opened the front door. “New York thata way“ she said out loud.
“You walk out with that, don’t ever bother coming back“ Prue said behind her. Phoebe spun around and saw Prue and Piper watching her. Anger cursed through Phoebe.
Far away in the future Tempus watching waved his hand and a spiral of blue light spun into the dark mirror where he watched the small drama. Phoebe jerked as if she had been hit by a bolt of lightning, for a second she looked at her big sister Prue who she really loved and remembered all the times Prue had been there for her.
“You haven’t even got the guts to face Grams have you“ Prue snorted, because she was only 22 and not always as wise as she could be. “I’d like to slap your face you thieving little bitch“ she added.
“You wanna try Prue“ Phoebe challenged stepping toward her. “Go on I dare you just try, and see what you get. “
And something beyond Phoebe’s control caught her. She stopped "Go to hell" she said. “It was nice knowing you Prue“ she said. And turned and went out the door.
At the top of the porch, she turned back . Her sisters stood at the door watching her.
“You’ll never be welcome back here if you go Phoebe“ Piper said
“Bitch“ Phoebe answered. And struck by inspiration or premonition she called “You’ll call me back, you’ll beg me to come back and me, I’ll laugh like hell. Have a nice life“ she said, “It won’t be mine. Bye Prue“ she added.
Tempus watching rubbed his hands in glee.
The time line fractured. The witch who would not be Belthezor’s witch lived her life. The men and the booze. There were always men and booze, a pretty girl with a reckless, try anything attitude to life could always find a man, and something that would stop her thinking of the family and home she had left behind. There were nights without a bed, screwing in alleyways for money for food, there were jobs, menial jobs, there were good times, booze and laughter and wild parties, and there was the terrible night that Prue rang her and said Grams was dead.
Yeah thanks for letting me know Phoebe had said grim and hard because the toughest girl in New York did not cry for a six times married whore who never tried to find her when she left home at 18. Then quietly she said “What happens to everything now? “ thinking of her family heritage and not the price of it.
“You gave up any rights to the Manor or anything else here a long time ago“ Prue snapped.
“Bye Prue“ Phoebe said and 3 men and a lot of booze later could not quite find the oblivion she needed.
Tempus had his moments to watch the new timeline. A few months later, a dark haired girl with porcelain skin, knocked on the door of the Manor and somewhat fearfully tried to explain to the green eyed and beautiful woman who regarded her hostilely that she thought they were related.
The youngest sister, the one with the porcelain skin found the Book of Shadows in the attic, and the three sister witches fulfilled their destiny as Charmed Ones. The relationship the three sisters built was tremulous and difficult. The green eyed sister bitterly resenting that her mother, that her grandmother had never trusted her with the secret of another sister and she saw in this sister many of the weaknesses that she had so despised in the tart who ran away.
The middle sister insecure , always the one left behind, forgotten, uncertain never quite finding a way to truly succeed, lived in her big sister’s shadow, both hating her and admiring her. The youngest sister, the one with the porcelain skin, college graduate only child and survivor, resented being treated as a youngest sister, a baby who was not as wise as the others, resented having her opinions challenged, her ideas dismissed because those two totally dysfunctional sisters were born a few years before her.
The demon Belthezor, tried to seduce the green eyed witch and failed. He killed the Triad masters to protect himself and ran away claiming to be good. The middle witch married their whitelighter. The witches went after Belthezor finally realising that if the Book of Shadows said Belthezor could not be vanquished, they could destroy him by stripping his powers, and Tempus taking time to survey the changed timeline watched with satisfaction as Belthezor wandered the earth castrated, a eunuch, half a human barely real.
Prue died, curtesy of the honoured and lamented demon Shax and the Great Old Source. Phoebe came back for the funeral. She had not wanted to, but she was between work as sometime porn actress and underwear model as well as steady boyfriends, and was bored with the stream of non steadies in New York. Her father rang and asked her to be there for his sake and her heart was still not so hard that she could not hear the pain of a father who knew he had failed his family.
She went and watched Piper falling and crying all over that damned smug husband, and the porcelained skinned bitch acting like she had a right to the Manor, and Phoebe got the satisfaction of hearing Piper beg her to comeback to the Manor, of explaining the fate of the Charmed Ones, of pleading with Phoebe to accept her heritage whilst a hooded grim reaper tried to steal her soul.
The Charmed Ones reconstituted in manner of speaking but there were arguments between the sisters, doubts, the Whitelighter husband caught between their fights. The sisters finally confronted the old Source in a mausoleum, whilst the castrated form of the being who had once been Belthezor was called by the Seer to take the Hollow to achieve destiny. That being huddled in a corner during the Source’s vanquish, absorbed the spirit and essence of the Old Source, and took the demon Julie as his Queen.
The now middle sister, the one who would never be Belthezor’s witch let herself be seduced by demons and nearly fell to evil, only to be dragged back not through the love of her sisters but her own capricious nature. Tempus saw Belthezor face his destiny of vanquishment by the Charmed Ones and a little while later the events of the Great Immolation when the Seer tried to take the throne through the power of the Old Source’s spawn took place as they were destined to take place. Tempus at some level saw it all.
The three witches in the cage bickered and argued before the fear of the consequences if they did not work together gave them the impetus needed to find the Power of Three and the Great Immolation of the Seer and all the Upper Level demons began.
When it was over the three witches looked around the Source’s Coronation chamber at the piles of dust and incinerated demons. Paige put her foot to the iron bars and kicked hard. The door gave way and the three witches jumped out of the cage.
“You stinking selfish bitches“ Piper said turning on her sisters. “You call me down into that cage just to be sacrificed and get that cow of a Seer coronated."
“It didn’t happen so quit bitching“ Phoebe said.
“Don’t you speak to me like that“ Piper turned on her. “ If you weren’t such a whore screwing around with demons, running off to spend all your time with every sleazebag bad guy who licks his lips and gets his dick up when he sees your boobs, every last silicon bit of them, if you’d just stayed home, we could have got that cow of a Seer with Power of Three before it got to this. “
“Well if it’s a choice of being with sleazebag bad guys who get their dicks up or a sister getting hers up you, I’ll take the sleazebag, every time“ Phoebe snarled “You are the one who gets it up in that marriage aren’t you Piper. Has Leo even got a dick?”
“The way you’ve been throwing yourself at him lately, you’re doing your best to find out“ Piper snapped.
“Let the guy have some fun Piper he isn’t getting any with you“ Phoebe said.
“Shut up the pair of you“ Paige interrupted. “If you two arguing bitches had stopped behaving like the selfish sows you are, you’d have listened when I said I didn’t think we got the Old Source and we could have got that reincarnated demon eunuch before he even banged up the blond floozy demon. “
“Whine, whine, whine Paige All you ever do is whine“ said Phoebe.
Paige took a deep breath “You can never accept me you know, you just won’t listen to me, you hate the fact that I’m a whitelighter, you hate me being more powerful than you and able to sense things you can’t. You hate it that Mom loved some one else other than that low life, good for nothing father of yours. “
“Paige stuff it“ said Piper “Get over it. whine, whine, whine, all you ever do is whine. Mom dumped you okay, what are you bitching about, you got to grow up not sharing a room with a drunken tart. “
Phoebe elbowed her hard in the ribs and Piper punched her back.
“Hell Paige" Piper said “ you got all the good Christmas presents, and don’t tell me you didn’t. Adopted kids always get the best Christmas presents and Leo told me about all that stuff you had in your room when you went back. You got to be an only child for 17 years and your parents could afford to pay for heating in your house “
“Mind you“ said Phoebe contemplatively, “it was almost worth it to see that cow of a seer go up like that. Wow that was a great explosion. “
“Yeah“ said Piper “The way she was hanging there all destiny and light and then kapow, kaboom. The look on her face when the spawn blew her up. “
“And all those demons popping off“ said Paige. “All standing there like firecrackers. One at a time, bang bang bang. That was the freaking best vanquish ever. “
“Freaking fantastic“ said Phoebe.
“God we’re good“ said Piper.
And all three witches flung their arms around each other.
“Wow“ said Paige “Look at the Grimoire still there.”
“It looks like the balance between good and evil just swung in our favour.” said Piper.
Phoebe looked at it. “ Its time to get rid of that book once and for all. “
The Tempus of the time of the Great Immolation watched what happened as the witches took the Grimoire and rejoiced that his destiny was about to be fulfilled.