How Quaint the Ways of Paradox
Part 2: Promises,promises,promises
"How quaint the ways of paradox; At common sense she gaily mocks"
(Gilbert and Sullivan. Pirates of Penzance)
Phoebe sat in her office at the Bay
News, trying very hard to concentrate on letters dealing with relationship
problems to family catastrophes. She
read one 3 pages long complaining about the behaviour of a 15 year old boy and
was so tempted to write, he's a boy, he’s 15, he is doing what 15 year old
boy’s do, give him room to grow and just be there for him when he makes his
mistakes and be grateful that you don’t have to deal with the family brawls I
have to deal with, like this morning.
Phoebe promised herself that one day
she would remember to ask Cole why he felt the need to start family brawls at
breakfast. He was always good about supper but breakfast was regularly a
Piper had got into one of her this
family will have breakfast together at all costs moods. Paige was irritated at
being dragged out of bed after a late date and Cole was irritated at having to
sit down to breakfast, and maybe just irritated because Piper won that battle
and in a very edgy state since Francesca had revealed herself as a whitelighter.
He first chose to comment on Paige’s
new boyfriend disparagingly and then chose to turn his hurt and anger at
Francesca into a general comment about what he thought of whitelighters and
Paige took offence. She choose to tell Cole what she thought of him interfering
in her life, she choose to tell him that he was not a family member, just living
in the Manor on sufferance. He chose to list his grievances about the way he had
been treated by the Halliwell family. Piper chose to take offence at his
comments and inform him of every grievance she ever had about him.
Cole in danger of losing, knew
Piper’s vulnerable spots. He told her she was a bigger bitch than Prue. Leo
seeing Piper’s bottom lip quiver as she fought back the tears, jumped in to
protect his wife which reminded Cole of his grievances with whitelighters and
both males managed to get themselves into a face off over their roles in the
cause of Good and Evil. Phoebe jumped into to separate them and somehow she was
not sure how, the whole thing turned into Paige and Piper and Leo yelling at her
for getting involved with Cole and Cole yelling at her for dragging him back to
They all stalked off leaving Phoebe to
explain to Melinda who was still in her high chair that she would be wise if she
made sure she remained the only child of her generation and never fell in love.
Phoebe stopped typing a reply to the
mother who complained about her 15 year old son. One which explained he was just
15, he was overwhelmed by huge hormonal changes, coping with growing up and the
answer to all his problems was to realise he had a family who loved him.
She smiled to herself, thinking of the
almighty snit Cole had been in that morning because even if his presence caused
chaos and confusion and eruptions to her family the truth for her was Phoebe was
just happy to have Cole. It was all her dreams come true.
She had Cole, he was prepared to live
the life she wanted, and he was not evil. She woke up and he was there smiling
at her, she turned over at night, and he was there. She could call him and hear
the pleasure in his voice just to speak to her. They bickered and sometimes the
bickering erupted into highly volatile arguments that made the manor shake and
it was safe.
For a few minutes Phoebe gave way to
the dream of being safely and truly loved, not the fairy tale but the looking up
and seeing a smile of pure love for her and knowing he was happy because he was
with her. The dream of living with him, She smiled to herself when she thought
how she bitched about his clothes on the floor and never failed to hold them to
her as she picked them up.
A huge part of her happiness was
knowing that he was happy .And she believed him when he told her
that happiness as a way of life was not something he had ever experienced
before. She looked up and caught him watching her, the expression in his eyes so
gentle, so in love with her, Phoebe Halliwell.
It frightened her to be as happy as
she was because being that happy was somehow a gift that she felt may have to
many conditions. She worried for him, for what it would cost him. She found it
hard to believe that that this powerful magical creature could be content with a
life totally revolved around her or that destiny could leave him to such an
And she worried about what he had been
and whether there would be an accounting and she resented it for because he was
the sum of his parts and his heritage and unlike so many who had tried he had
risen above his birthright and when all she could see was how good he was, she
feared for him, she feared for their happiness.
And she suddenly thought of that lunch
last Friday and Francesca’s calm control of Cole and why she was there and
Phoebe was struck by a terrible and overwhelming vision of a life without Cole,
of a life where her sisters and Leo were terribly polite during breakfast and
she slept every night in a room that was warm because the window was shut and
she was alone, and she jumped up suddenly. She had to know.
Phoebe told them at work that she
needed personal time and slipped down to Cole’s office hoping that he was
still in court. In the elevator, she called him and was relieved to find the
phone turned off which usually meant he was.
Francesca was in the office for all
the world the perfect legal assistant, working away on a computer as if it was
what she really did. Phoebe supposed Leo did the same thing, working as a
handyman, and he did it well, so she should not be to surprised.
Francesca smiled pleasantly when she
saw Phoebe but said “Cole’s in court.”
“I know“ Phoebe said “I wanted
to talk to you.”
“I see“ said Francesca quietly
stopping what she was doing and looking up into Phoebe’s anxious big,
pleading, brown eyes.
“I wanted to ask you“ Phoebe said
trying to sound indifferent and failing “Why are you here?”
“Did Cole ask you do this?”
“He doesn’t know I’m here“
Phoebe said. Then she asked carefully “How nasty is being to you.”
“Very“ said Francesca said
“Its only because he feels
betrayed“ Phoebe explained “and well when he’s upset he doesn’t keep it
to himself very well. Well he still had a demonic nature and.. “ she trailed
“He’s not the first demon I’ve
guided dear“ Francesca said.
“He isn’t ?”said Phoebe
“No“ Francesca said “But this is
not a good place to talk about it. Would you like to go somewhere you feel
comfortable and we can talk about it? Not San Francisco.”
“Can you leave now?” Phoebe asked.
“I’m fairly certain my boss
won’t complain“ Francesca smiled “He isn’t that brave“ and Phoebe
tried to laugh but failed.
Francesca rang the reception area and said she was taking personal time closing the office and she and Phoebe walked out. In the elevator Francesca said "Any where you want to go?"
Phoebe shook her head. Francesca
reached out took her hand and orbed and Phoebe who easily accepted orbing with
Paige and Leo realised immediately that this was a very powerful whitelighter.
To Phoebe’s surprise they came out
of the orb in a beautiful piazza which Phoebe recognised as Rome .
“I’m Italian“ Francesca
explained and as it was late night in Rome, even in winter the Piazza was
bustling. They went to a small cafe and Francesca ordered in Italian.
“Even after all this time with Cole
I still have trouble getting used to flying around the world “said Phoebe the
little girl who thought she was running away to the end of the world when she
went to New York.
“What do you want to know dear?”
Francesca asked over a cappuccino.
“Who are you and what do you want
from Cole?” Phoebe asked working her way up to protecting her lover.
“My name is Francesca Rinaldi“
Francesca answered quietly “I personally want nothing from Cole.”
"He says he’s served his last
master and he isn’t going to fight for Good“ Phoebe said.
“I’m glad to hear it“ Francesca
"Francesca please" Phoebe
begged "Why are you here for him, with him? What do you think he is?"
“I know what he is dear“ Francesca
answered slowly , “he is a demon/human who walked through the fire of his own
making, facing the blackest and most evil depths of his nature. He is a
half-breed demon who walked away from evil and recognised his own humanity to
find the path to the light and is about to be summoned to his destiny as a
Guardian of the realm, to be asked to chose a long hard path of service to a
great calling, to arbitrate the Great Plan.”
“That’s crazy“ Phoebe said.
“Crazier than a particularly clever
lawyer in a San Francisco law firm being an ex demon and the one time Source of
Evil and sharing a bed with a witch, and a house with her sisters, her family“
Francesca smiled “and those sisters are the most powerful avengers of
innocents in the realm.”
“When you put it liked that“
Phoebe sighed “If he is this, this Guardian what does it mean.”
“He’s the umpire dear and its a
hard, hard calling, a lonely one
and a long one“ Francesca answered.
“But he’s an ex demon“ Phoebe
“Its always the demons dear”
Francesca explained “in this realm the half breeds, the ones who find great
power through their humanity and a desperate need to atone for the calling of
their birth. Those demons who walk through the fire, who have been evil, and
viewed evil are the only ones who are beyond temptation, beyond the seduction of
“I’ve never heard of these
Guardians“ Phoebe protested as if that confirmed they did not exist.
you dear?” said Francesca.
is it the half demons, the ones like Cole?” Phoebe asked losing her battle.
dear“ Francesca answered “They are bred by evil to be incredibly powerful
beings. But they are also bred to
die because there is a secret. The secret of their power is not their demon
heritage but their human one. The
myth they are told is that their human half is weak and must be held in check
but in fact when they access their humanity, they reach into a level of power
that is beyond the comprehension of most beings.
Evil breeds them for their cleverness but destroys them long before they
reach into their souls and find their humanity.”
“That’s.. evil“ Phoebe said
“I know dear“ said Francesca
“Sometimes just occasionally, one of these half-breed demons, develops a sense
have never heard any other demons beside Cole …being righteous“ said Phoebe
said “What happens to them?”
“Mostly they die" she said "They are killed by evil because
if we know they are turning so does evil, or they try to turn and fail and we
destroy them. And if they do they what Cole has done and somehow survive it,
they are called to a destiny as Guardians. In this realm there are always five,
or there should be. We have waited on Belthezor for a very long time"
Francesca said "You’ve met a Guardian.”
“I have not“ Phoebe denied.
“The demon Arturo“ Francesca
smiled “Ex demon Arturo.”
Phoebe gasped “Arturo“ she said
and then shook her head “Cole just wants to be with me“ Phoebe whispered.
“I know“ Francesca said “but
what he wants is not what he is being asked. Make no doubt dear I have guided
and advised these demon, ex demon Guardians for a thousand years“ she smiled
at Phoebe’s shock “Quite a few are called. Very few can accept.”
“And if he doesn’t accept what
then?” Phoebe demanded. “Will you leave him alone, let him go. Let us have a
“No dear“ Francesca said quietly
“If he does not chose to serve the Great Plan and make no mistake its his
choice and it’s a choice that requires great courage because it’s a very,
very hard road, he is lost to you, to all of us.”
“What do you mean?” Phoebe said
very quietly, frightened.
mean“ Francesca answered “that
Arturo will destroy him.”
Phoebe gasped, “because he doesn’t want to be the umpire, the arbitrator.”
“No dear. Because there must be five
and these powerful demons cannot exist outside the Great Plan.” Francesca
“That’s crazy“ Phoebe “He’s
to powerful , nothing can destroy him.”
quite to powerful“ Francesca said “Arturo can and make no mistake, will
destroy him if he choses not to answer his destiny.”
“He isn’t harming any one“
Phoebe said angry, hurting.
“Not at the moment“ Francesca
“To lose him because he does not
want to be the damned umpire“ Phoebe said.. “It’s crazy“ Phoebe
repeated. All but knocking the remains of her latte over. “He wants to be with
me“, she said “he wants a life with me. What is so dangerous about that?”
“Phoebe I have seen what Arturo must
do. Do you thinks Cole wants to go back to where he was“. Francesca gently
reached out to touch Phoebe’s hand “I saw the demon Asion make his choice.
He walked through the fire and when told of his destiny he said no he could not
and would not. I saw him sitting there on a bench in a small park in Vienna and
he looked up and said finish it Arturo. Finish it and give me peace. He was gone
a second later. And glad of it.”
“This damned Arturo will kill Cole
because he can’t face eternity as the umpire, the arbitrator of Good an Evil.
Because he just wants to be free of it all“ Phoebe cried.
“As a last resort“ Francesca said.
“He won’t do it until Cole has made his choice and Cole knows what he is
choosing. Be very clear it will be Cole’s choice, and much as I care about him
and would love, would be…want to tell him to stay because I care, that would
not be his choice, it be mine or she added gently "yours and not his and it
would be not be true.”
“That’s not fair“ Pheobe said
through her tears. “He won’t do it. Its not fair. We’ve been so happy“
Phoebe said “What’s wrong with living the life we’re having.”
“As I told you what he wants is not
all that relevant“ Francesca said “he has a calling. Phoebe I care about
him. He is dear to me. I don’t like demons, never have, nasty creatures no
humour all dark soul and grim“ She smiled “This boy is different but I care
enough about him to respect his own choice.”
“Its not fair“ Phoebe whimpered.
“No its not“ said Francesca “he
has his choices but they are very hard ones and so do you. You may have to make
some very hard ones about what is right and what is best. You’re going to lose
him dear" Francesca said "whether its today or next week or much
later. At some time you have to part, you’re not going to lose him to evil but
you are going to lose him to your humanity or to his.
"I do know that" Phoebe
smiled sadly, sniffing back tears. I"mmortal creatures and magic ones.”
She gulped Its hard. “Not just me, my sister too. Francesca“ she said
“Cole told me some fairy story about, about Arturo and another witch.. Is it
“Well Cole was not the first demon
to be inspired to cross because he fell love with a witch“ said Francesca
“but then again neither was Arturo. I’ve heard so many versions of that
story" she said. "There is some truth in all of them. But I don’t
remember it being a fairy tale“ Francesca smiled at the memory “Marie-Jeanne
was a beautiful woman. She was also my friend. Mostly I remember Arturo and
Marie-Jeanne as a highly volatile couple who fought their way through ten years
of a not very peaceful existence together."
“Not a fairy tale“ Phoebe said.
“Cole’s no fairy tale to live with“ she said little girl, pleading and
thinking how angry she had been with him over breakfast.
Francesca nodded understanding . “I
remember once“ she explained Arturo and Marie-Jeanne had a son , two children
actually and Marie-Jeanne also had a grand son only a little older.
Girls married young those days and she had four children with her first
“So this fairy tale heroine was not
a virgin?” Phoebe asked.
Francesca shook her head, not
misunderstanding the purpose of the question. She continued, “The boys were
about 8 or 9 at the time and I suppose as all little boys from time immemorial,
they wanted to learn how to fight with swords. Arturo taught them with the great
demonic ones. Marie-Jeanne was furious, as all mothers and grandmothers from
time immemorial, she felt that if her boys knew how to use weapons they would
want to go off to war. Arturo said that if they could not use weapons they could
not defend themselves or others. Marie-Jeanne and Arturo fought that one out
loud and long up and down the village and every corner of the cottage. Neither
giving an inch. It was so bad during the night that the headman pounded on their
door and told them to keep quiet because other people needed to sleep. He told
me it was worse when they quietened down because everyone else in the village
lay awake waiting for the next eruption.”
Francesca smiled and Phoebe was left
wondering what it would be like to understand history as your living memory, of
people and small lives and communities.
“Do you know“ said Francesca “I
think that was there last great battle. Shortly after Marie-Jeanne was lost when
she was trying to protect Arturo against some forces of Good who doubted his
turning and he walked through a fire of his own making and found the path to the
light. The path he now walks.”
“Who was right ?”Phoebe asked.
“Both“ said Francesca “The boys
died much later, in battle defending those who needed to be defended. It broke
Arturo’s heart. He lost his family and he lost those dear to Marie-Jeanne. The
calling doesn’t break the need for family, the truth of family.”
“Cole told me some story about
Arturo doomed to eternal damnation“ Phoebe said.
“That obviously didn’t happen“
said Francesca “but then again what did happen does not reflect all that well
as an argument for the righteousness of good so they never seem to tell that
tale well either.”
“Is there a difference between being
good and being righteous?” asked Phoebe quietly.
“There shouldn’t be dear but.. “
Francesca said. “Then again it is surprising how nearly all those demons who
accepted their calling to Guardians take the step into the future as good
falters. I sometime think their understanding of how fragile it is give them
strength for the role they take.”
“How does Arturo stand it, apart
from her?” Phoebe asked. “Did he just stop loving her, let it fade, put it
“I think he just loves her more“
Francesca said in matter of fact voice.
Phoebe swallowed “Do you know what
it is to be tied to some one like I am to Cole. To feel what they feel, to love
like I do, to be loved like he loves me?”
Francesca said gently “Its Mrs
Rinaldi dear“ Francesca said “I loved once and was loved for what seems two
minutes of my life, about 700 years
“Then you should know what it’s
like to lose a love, to have them taken away from you to go away from you.”
Phoebe bit out passionately.
“It feels like an eternity alone,
living on memories“ Francesca said “It feels as if their smile is as close
to you as if you saw it the last time you looked up. It feels like you walk a
path alone deserted, and it feels as if they walk every step with you, by you
side holding you safe. Yes Phoebe I may not have had a demon fight what his way
from the wastelands of hell for me but I know what it is like to love.”
“We were fated together, my fate was
his and now you say we must part“ Phoebe said.
“You will part sometime Phoebe“
Francesca said. “You are his fate. He turned from evil because of you, he
found the power from his humanity in the wasteland because of you, and he found
a way through the fire of his own making because of you. Arturo found him and
will give him his call to destiny because of you.”
“That’s not a comfort “said
“Cole doesn’t want to be caught
between the battle with Good and Evil“ Phoebe said sadly. “He just wants to
be good himself, not be the reason evil exists.”
Francesca smiled “What Cole wants
may not be why he choses what he will chose. And just so you are very certain,
Guardians are demons who have found the light. They are not there to ensure evil
exists, they are there to ensure that good endures no matter the cost, mostly to
Tempus sat on his throne, on the
throne of the Source that he was not, idly staring at the list of chaos caused
by out of control demon sects and hives and rogues in front of him. A part of
the demon in him considered that chaos was as good goal for Evil as any other.
Tempus recognised that Good was faltering, the randomness of the strikes, the
unpredictability and purposelessness of them having its devastating effect
But the part of him that had sought
power and control, knew that Evil in its purest form was the ability to use
power at a whim, to strike fear, to destroy, to deny, to reward, to give and to
take away, to have minions fall on the floor. That part of him, the strongest
part was offended.
Tempus did not care, if Evil won the
battle, if it meant he was lost. Tempus only cared that Tempus should rule, that
Tempus should have power, that for a small time at least the great demon craving
in him for power should be sated.
All Tempus cared about, was that
unless he could find a way to change the time line and stop the accursed witches
from destroying the Grimoire, Tempus himself would be lost. Which was all that
But Tempus did not know how to
retrieve the Grimoire. He had tried sending demons back to hide it before the
witches stole it, he tried making the sister bond of the Accursed Trio fail and
still, the Grimoire was lost, as would be Tempus if the chaos around him