Charmed Role Reversal



A Ghost of a Chance

“Prue has a point," Piper said as she and Phoebe walked along the path in Crissy Field.
Though not yet finished, enough of the conversion of Crissy Field, the former Army airfield in the Presidio alongside the bay, into a promenade, shoreline park and bird sanctuary had been completed to allow people to take enjoyable walks on the Field’s paths. The waters of San Francisco Bay along the restored shoreline dunes and under the close-by Golden Gate Bridge were a beautiful blue in the noon sun.

“Being impetuous in a script didn’t mean anything beyond that Charmed episode,”  Piper continued, as two joggers passed them. “But here in real life, we’re not actresses reading lines. So even though we’ve been living our roles for almost four weeks, we can't become casual about our powers. We still have to be careful when we use them and not let our characters be impulsive the way they are on Charmed.”

"I am careful," Phoebe replied.  "I can recognize an innocent when I see one.  I don't just rashly-"

"Help!  Help!  He's after me.  Help me!"

Piper and Phoebe looked down as a tiny man, no more than two feet tall, scooted by them, calling for help.  He turned and ran to their right behind the cypress trees.  Before they could say anything another tiny man came running towards them.  As he passed them Phoebe stuck out her leg and tripped him, sending him tumbling in the sand.

The tiny man picked himself up and walked over to them.

"You let Chernsee get away," he said in a serious tone.

"Next time, pick on someone your own size," Phoebe said.

"Uh, he is the same size," Piper pointed out.

"Oh.  Then...next time pick on someone bigger than you," Phoebe said, in a lecturing tone.

"Like you," the tiny man said with a mischievous look.  He stuck his hand into his pocket, then took it out and threw sparkling dust on them.

"Oh!" they said as they both felt something strange.

"You should not have interfered," he said sternly, then ran off.

"Who...what are they?"  Piper asked.

"I don't know," Phoebe said.  "But whatever he just did to us, is my fault.  I should be more careful with my power.  I am too impetuous when I act."

"No you're not," Piper said.  "You are always careful."

They stopped and looked at each other.

"Did we each just say what I thought we said?"  Piper asked.  Phoebe nodded.

"What's going on here, Pipes?"  Phoebe said.

"Pipes??"  Piper asked.

"Pipes.  That's short for Piper," Phoebe said.  "Just like Phoebes is short for Phoebe."

"You've never called me Pipes," Piper said.  "Not on Charmed, and not while we've been here."

"I haven't?"  Phoebe asked, surprised.  "It just seemed like the natural thing to say."

"It would be...for me," Piper said.

"Uh oh...have we somehow switched with each other?"  Phoebe asked.

"No...I'm still Piper...I have my memory," Piper said.  "It's...our personalties, our characteristics...our thinking, that have been switched.  On the inside, I'm not who I was. I'm...just like you."

"You look the same," Phoebe said.

"So on the outside, I haven't changed.  I still look to everyone like my real self," Piper said.

"So...I'm Phoebe on the outside...and you on the inside?"  Phoebe asked.

"But no one will be able to tell," Piper said, as the affect of it hit her.  "We look the same to everyone.  But inside, we're really each other.

"Oh my goodness," Phoebe said. "I've been transformed into The Parent Trap's Hayley Mills."



Click speaker for Opening Credits Theme Song

The first tiny man came out from behind the cypress tree where he had hid.

"Good," he said, "he's gone."

"What are you," Phoebe demanded, "who was that and what did he do to us?"

"We're elves," Chernsee replied.  "That was Rangor.  He has the biggest and most successful cookie and cracker bakery in all of Elfdom."

"You bake cookies and crackers?"  Phoebe asked.  "That's only a myth in TV commercials."

"Like most of your human folklore, it's real," Chernsee said.

"Just like demons and charmed witches," Piper said under her breath.

"Rangor switched you because you upset him by letting me get away."

"Why was he after you?"  Phoebe asked.

"I borrowed his recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  I've been, uh, less than successful with my recipes lately.  Using his will help me sell my cookies and capture a big share of the market."

"You stole it," Phoebe said.

"So much for your recognizing innocents when you see them," Piper said.

"We have a saying in Elfdom - 'all's fair in love and cookie competition'."

"Hummm...that's an original cliché," Piper remarked.

"You're a thief," Phoebe said.

"Oh - those are harsh words," Chernsee said. "I prefer to think of myself as an entrepreneurial competitor."

"Thief," Piper said.

"Well, I have to be going," Chernsee said and started to turn away.  "Time to prepare my batter for the cookies."

"Whoa," Phoebe said, grabbing him by his collar.  "I'm a witch and if you try to run away I'll batter you into elfian sized chocolate chips and personally deliver you to Rangor for baking in his oatmeal cookies."

"Batter into elfian sized chips?"  Piper said, wincing.  "Phoebs, you've got to lay off the cutesy dialogue.  It's lines like those that make me wish our writers had been sent here with us."

"How do we undo this switch?"  Phoebe asked.

"By waiting," Chernsee said.

"Waiting?" Phoebe asked.

"After twenty-four hours, it will reverse and you'll switch back to being yourselves," he said.

"You mean we have to be like this for twenty-fours hours?"  Phoebe said, getting upset.

"Unless..." he said.

"Unless what?"  Piper asked.

"Unless you let someone know that you've been switched," he said. "If you do that...then...the switch becomes permanent."

"What!?"  Piper exclaimed.

"It's part of your punishment for upsetting Rangor," he said. "You not only have to be someone else but you can't explain to anyone why you're different."

"But you know we were switched," Phoebe said.

"You didn't tell me - I saw Rangor do it - so that doesn't matter," Chernsee said. "You're lucky Rangor switched you with each other.  He was going to switch me with a frog."

"Poor frog," Piper said.

"There has to be a way to undo this without waiting twenty-four hours," Phoebe said.  "Can't you just throw some of that sparkling dust on us?"

"Elf dust," Chernsee corrected her.  "The Elfian Council won't let me have any.  And even if I had some, it wouldn't help.  They took my powers to use it away from me."

"Why?"  Phoebe asked.

"It was right after I spiked Rangor's butter cookies with hot pepper," Chernsee said. "Or...was it after I turned up the heat in his bakery and melted his ovens?  Hmm...maybe it was after I nailed his door shut and he couldn't get his cookies out of the tree."

"Oh great," Phoebe said.  "We get the one elf in the world who's impudence is outweighed only by his impotence."

"You'd better let me go now," Chernsee said.

"Oh no," Phoebe said.  "You're coming back with us to tell Prue and Stuart what happened."

"I really think you'd better let me go," Chernsee insisted.  "Unless you want to get trampled."

"Trampled?  By whom?"  Phoebe asked.

"Hanris,” Chernsee said. “He has the second largest bakery.  I burned his whole batch of shortbread cookies this morning.  And he's coming after me - with all of his workers."

"Ohhhhh!!!"  Piper and Phoebe cried as two dozen elves ran into them, knocking them over.  Chernsee pulled himself from Phoebe's grip and started running.  The other elves ran right after him, running over Phoebe and Piper in the process.

"Oww!  Piper said, as she started to get up.

"Arrgh.  They may be tiny but their shoes are big and heavy," Phoebe said.  "What are we going to do now?"

"We don't know where they are so we can't go after them," Piper said.  "We'll just have to manage getting through today not being ourselves."

"This is too much," Phoebe said.  "It's not enough that I have to worry about demons while trying to remember that I'm not really Phoebe.  But now I have to remember that I'm not really Piper, too."

"Oooo...that's just how the writers would have me complain in this situation," Piper said, wincing.  "Maybe I don't really miss them so much after all."

 

 "How was your walk?"  Stuart asked.

"It was OK," Piper said.

"Gina called," Prue said.  "She asked when you're coming down to the club.  Something about checking inventory before tonight."

"Hmm...what I really want to do is take a walk over the Golden Gate Bridge," Piper said. "I haven't done that since we came here.  You know the bridge and like walking over it, Stuart.  How about taking me for a tour of it?"

Stuart gave Piper a strange look.  "Uhh..." he said and looked over at Phoebe.

"What about the club's inventory?"  Prue asked.

"I'm sure it'll be fine," Piper said.  "I'd much rather have Stuart show me the bridge."

Prue looked at Piper dumbfounded.

"Uh...that's OK," Phoebe said.  "I can go down to the club.  It's important that everything be OK for tonight."

Prue and Stuart looked back and forth between Piper and Phoebe.

"Are you both...all right?"  Prue asked.

"Of course we are," Phoebe said.  "Aren't we Pipes?"

"Pipes??"  Stuart said.

"We're all right," Piper said.  "Couldn't be better.

"Shall we go?" she asked Stuart.

"Uh...I...guess so," he said, looking confused.  "We'll be back...uh-"

"Later," Piper said.  "'Bye."  Prue stared at them as they walked out and closed the door behind them just as Leo orbed in.

"Leo - you're just in time," Phoebe said.

"I am?" he asked.  "For what?"

"To help me check some things at the club," Phoebe said.

"Uh...I don't know if I have enough time for that," he said.  "Where's Piper?"

"Stuart is showing her the Golden Gate Bridge," Prue said, realizing from Leo's expression that it made no more sense to him than it did to her.

"It will take only a little while," Phoebe said, giving Leo what he thought was a curious look. "And even less time if you help me."

"Uh...maybe just a little bit.  If they don't call me away," Leo said.

"Good," Phoebe said.  "It will be faster if we just orb over there.  I've never done that with you."

"Uh..." Leo exhaled, feeling more confused by the moment.

"Good," Phoebe said. She went over to Leo and put her arms around him. "OK. I'm ready. But, shouldn't you hold me too? I wouldn't want to fall off along the way."

Leo looked at Prue in confusion and shook his head slightly. Then he put his arms around Phoebe, an awkward expression on his face.

"There - I feel better now," Phoebe said.  "Let's go!"

Leo looked at Phoebe, her head against his chest, then looked again at Prue, who just stared at them. The white light came and they both disappeared into it.

"It's not me," Prue said to herself. It's them. It's definitely them."

 

 "- really great," Piper said as she and Stuart walked into The Manor. "I don't know why we haven't done that before. Let's go hang out on the cable cars.”

"No," Phoebe said, before Stuart could say anything. "I need your help, Pipes. I have to pick up Lorna Palmer's daughters from school and stay with them. I told you their mother was away."

"How old are they?"  Prue asked.

"Nicole is eleven and Marion is nine," Phoebe said.

"You should be able to handle them by yourself," Prue said.

"But I also promised that I would cook dinner for them," Phoebe said. "And for their father, too.  And I don't know what to make."

"Phoebe, you're a great cook," Prue said. "What's the problem?"

"I am...aren't I," Phoebe said, seeming unsure. "But...I don't feel that way right now. You have to help me, Piper."

"What is it with you two today," Stuart said.  "You seem mixed up.  It's as if you've each-"

"Decided to really help each other," Piper said, cutting him off before he could say any more. "And so I'm going to go get some things at the store while Phoebe picks up the girls. And then I'll, uh, help Phoebe prepare dinner."

"You've been complaining that your culinary talents haven't improved since becoming Piper here...and you're going to help Phoebe?" Prue asked, trying unsuccessfully to understand.

"It's a good way for Piper to practice," Phoebe said. "Isn't it, Pipes?"

"Uh, yes. A very good way," Piper said.

 

Nicole and Marion helped Piper clear off the dinner plates. Both girls were slim but not underweight. Nicole had an oval face and dark brown hair and stood a good three inches taller than her lighter-haired, broader-faced, nine year old sibling. They put the plates into the sink, went back to the table and sat down again.

"And now, some ice cream for dessert," Phoebe said, as she put down the small plates in front of the girls. "Would you get the scoop, Pipes?"

Piper went to the drawer and took out the scoop.

CRASH!!

They all turned to look at the floor, where one of the dessert bowls lay shattered.

"What happened?"  Piper asked.

"It...just took off by itself and fell to the floor," Nicole said.

"Bowls don't move by themselves," Phoebe said.  "Not unless Prue's around."  Piper put the scoop down on the counter and knelt down to examine the broken bowl.

"Look out!"  Phoebe shouted as a second bowl went flying off the table, crashing next to the first one.

"Ohh!"  Piper cried.

"Are you OK?"  Phoebe asked.

"Yes.  It just...caught me by surprise," she replied.

"This isn't good, Pipes," Phoebe said. "Something's going on.  Who besides Prue has kinetic powers...and is also invisible?"

Piper thought for a moment, then stared at the other side of the kitchen behind Phoebe and the girls.

"How about...a ghost?"  Piper said, slowly.

"Did you say...ghost?"  Phoebe asked, hoping she hadn't heard right.

"I...think...I just saw one," Piper said.

"Where??"  Phoebe asked.

"Over...there," Piper said, pointing behind them and they turned around to look.

"There's nothing there," Phoebe said.

"But...there was," Piper said, trying to accept what she saw.  "It was an apparition.  I could see her...and see right through her, too."

"What’s the chance of there suddenly being a ghost in this house, Piper,” Phoebe said. “Maybe you just thought -"

BANG!

"Ohh!" Piper cried again. The scoop had flown across the room and hit the door, then fell to the floor.

"Ghosts can do that, can't they?" Piper said.  "When they start to make their presence known?"

"That's what they do in the ghost stories on television," Nicole said.

"This isn't television," Phoebe began to say, but stopped. "Then again," she said, remembering that they were Charmed witches, "maybe it is."

"I'll call Prue and tell her to look in The Book of Shadows," Piper said, picking up the cell phone and walking out of the kitchen.

"Has this ever happened before?" Phoebe asked.

"No," Marion said, "we've never had things fly off of the table like that."

"Well, don't be frightened," Phoebe said.  "Whatever it is we'll handle it."  She knelt down, picked up the broken bowls and threw them into the garbage can.  Then she turned around to pick up the scoop.

"OHHHH!!!  Piper!" she shouted.  Piper, the cell phone still in her hand, came back into the kitchen.

"Prue - yes I'm sure," Piper said.  "Now I'm very sure.  She's right here - next to the girls."  The apparition stood beside Nicole and Marion, two hands reaching out towards them for a few seconds and then disappeared.

"Hurry, Prue," Piper said.

 

"Here it is," Prue said.  "Ghosts."

She lay the turned page down and began to shake her head as she read.

"This isn't good," she said.  "The only way to vanquish ghosts is to destroy their connection to wherever they are or to whomever they're trying to hurt.

"We don't even know who this ghost is," she continued, turning to Stuart, "let alone its connection to the girls or to their house."

"Doesn't The Book of Shadows say how to find out?"  Stuart asked.

"No," Prue answered, looking into The Book again.  "It says there's a potion you can use temporarily until you do find out.  Throwing the potion across the path between you and the ghost will keep him from coming after you for a little while."

"Maybe there's more in The Book of Shadows somewhere else," Stuart said.

"I doubt it would be in two places," Prue said.  "And anyway, we don't have the time to look through the rest of it.  This potion is all we have so help me make it.  Maybe it will buy us enough time to figure out the connection."

 

 "Maybe we should get the girls out of the house," Phoebe said.  "We can take them to The Manor."

"OK," Piper said and Phoebe went to open the door.

"It won't open," she said, turning the knob back and forth.

"Let me try," Piper said.  She tried turning the knob and the lock but couldn't unlock the door.

"I don't believe this," Piper said.  "We're locked in a house where we're being menaced by a ghost and we can't get out.  That only happens in predictable Hollywood formula movies.  It doesn't happen that way in real life."

"We don't really know what does happen in real life," Phoebe said.  "The only ghosts we've ever faced have been in Hollywood."

"OHHH!"  Phoebe was startled as she turned around and saw the ghost approaching the girls.  Piper raised her hand and the ghost froze.

She appeared to be in her late twenties, dressed in a billowing blouse and skirt, her hair down to her shoulders.  And she was looking straight at the girls.

"Don't be frightened," Phoebe said to them.  "Piper has...has a power.  And she's going to use it to protect you.  And my...other sister, Prue has one, too.  And she's going to be here soon."

"Do you have a power also?"  Nicole asked, matter of factly.

Phoebe hesitated.  "Yes...I do.  We...we use our powers to protect people from evil.  I know this is all a lot for you to understand.  I'll try to explain it to you later but right now there isn't time for that."

Nicole and Marion looked at each other.

"You don't have to explain it," Marion said, as they turned back to Phoebe.

"Tell us what we should do," Nicole said.

Phoebe and Piper were taken aback by the girls' calmness.

"Uhh..."  Phoebe began to say, but Piper interrupted her.

"She's fighting being frozen," Piper said.  "Take the girls upstairs.  I'll stay here and watch her."

"Be careful," Phoebe said.  She motioned the girls to go in front of her and took them upstairs.

Piper took a deep breath.  "OK," she said, looking at the ghost.  "If this was a movie, the script would give me a monologue with some cute dialogue to say now.  Maybe something introspective, about you and me.  About relating to each other. Or maybe something- ohhh!"

The ghost unfroze and started looking around.

"Where are the girls? Give me the girls!" the ghost said.

"Whoa..." Piper said. "Uh...uh...who are you?"

The ghost looked straight at Piper. "Fiona."

"I'm Piper. Now that we've introduced ourselves -"

"Where are the girls?!" Fiona said, raising her voice.

"What do you want from them?" Piper asked.

"Life," Fiona answered. "My life!"

"Your life?  What do the girls have to do with your life?"

"They're going to give it back to me," Fiona said, in a distinct Scottish accent.

"I don't understand," Piper said.  "What happened to you?"

Fiona gave Piper a long look.

"I was young," she said. "I was in love.  And they took it all from me."

"Who took...what?"  Piper asked.

"They said I wasn't good enough for Ian," Fiona said. "Our clan wasn't important enough in the Scottish Highlands. We were too far beneath the Clan MacNaughton.  They wouldn't let us be together, wouldn't let us marry, wouldn't let us have a life together.

"When Ian insisted he would marry me anyway, they sent men after me to scare me off. They hit me and took away my heart. I started to run away from them. I ran and ran through the Drumashie Moor but they ran after me.  In the dark, I lost my way and fell off the edge of the cliff into the loch. I was hurt and couldn't get out of the water. As I lay there drowning, I put a curse on whoever took my heart. And I would take my life back from them."

"Your heart?" Piper said, confused. "But...what does this have to do with the girls?"

"They are young," the ghost said. "They have full lives ahead of them. A life that I can use to give me back the one that was taken from me. And let me be with Ian."

"When did this happen?" Piper asked.

"Seventy-six years ago," the ghost answered.

"Ian is surely dead now, too," Piper said. "Even if you got your life back you couldn't be with him."

"There are two girls," Fiona said. "One will give me my life back. I'll use the other's life to bring Ian back."

"Why tonight?" Piper asked. "Why did you wait all of these years?"

"This is the night they chased me over the cliff, the night that I died," Fiona said. "Every year on this night I came and searched the house of who had my heart.  I searched for a child under twelve who had a full life yet to live, whose life had not yet been formed and that I could mold to fit me.  A child of their clan from whom I could exact the revenge of my curse.  And every year there was none.

"Until tonight. Tonight my chance has come. My chance to live again has come."

"What happened to you is terrible," Piper said.  "But the girls have nothing to do with any of it. They didn't hurt you.  You can't just take their lives from them."

"They have my heart.  And my curse is on them," Fiona said.  She turned from Piper towards the stairs.  "I will have my life back."

"No," Piper said.  "I'm not going to let you hurt them."

"Stay out of my way," Fiona said.  "Your life is too far spent to be of use to me.  But if you interfere I'll take it from you anyway."

Piper raised her hand and Fiona froze.  Piper stared at her for a moment and then ran upstairs.

 

"Should I ring the bell?"  Stuart asked as he let go of the locked front door.

"This is faster," Prue said, waving her hand and moving the bolt in the lock.

"Phoebe?  Piper?"  Prue called as they came in and Stuart closed the door behind them.

"Prue," Piper said as she came down the stairs.  "How did you get in?"

"I used my power to move the bolt," she answered.

"We couldn't open the door to get out," Piper said.  She went to the door and tried again but still couldn't open it.  Prue waved her hand at it but now the bolt wouldn't budge.

"I don't understand this," Prue said.  "We can get in but we can't get out."

"We're locked in," Stuart said, "just like in-"

"A bad movie," Piper said.  "I know.  I hope you have something to use against the ghost."

"Just a temporary potion," Prue answered, shaking her head.  "We can't vanquish the ghost unless we find the connection that brought her here."

"The ghost's name is Fiona," Piper said.  "She was forced over a cliff by people trying to break up her marrying someone name Ian.  She wants to take her life back by using a curse she put on whoever took her heart.  And somehow that's connected to this house and to the girls."

"Took her heart?"  Prue asked.  "What does that mean?"

"I don't know," Piper said.

"Where's the ghost now?"  Stuart asked.

"I don't know that either," Piper answered.  "I froze her twice but she fought it and un-froze, the second time faster than the first time.  I don't know how much good my power will be against her if we don't vanquish her quickly."

"The girls!"  Fiona screamed as she suddenly appeared.  Piper raised her hand and froze her again.

"I don't know how long this will last," she said.

"Whatever 'her heart' is, we have to find it," Prue said, "and destroy it.  Go upstairs and look through all the rooms for anything it could be.  I'll look through everything down here."

"OK," Piper said.

"Take one of the vials of the potion," Stuart said, handing it to Prue.

"How many did you make?"  Piper asked Stuart as they went up the stairs.

"We had only enough ingredients for two," he answered.  "We'd better find her heart fast."

Prue opened the drawer in one of the lamp tables.  She went through the few things in it and not finding anything relevant closed it.  She started to go to the second drawer when she sensed something.  She turned and saw Fiona unfrozen and heading towards the stairs.

"No you don't," Prue said.  She pulled out the vial and emptied it in a line across the room in front of both herself and the staircase.

Fiona tried to cross the line but the potion's power stopped her.  She glared with anger at Prue and then disappeared.

 

"Nothing in your parents' room, nothing in your room," Phoebe said, as they walked out of the girls' bedroom and stood in the hallway.  "That leaves the guest-"

"The girls!"  Fiona cried.  She appeared in the middle of the hallway.  Stuart and Piper were on one side of her, near the bedrooms and Phoebe and the girls were on the other side of her near the staircase.

"Take them down the stairs," Piper shouted to Phoebe.  "I'll freeze her and then use the potion."

Phoebe grabbed the children by their hands and ran down the stairs with them.

Fiona started after them and Piper raised her hand to freeze her.  Fiona froze for a second, then unfroze and continued after the girls.

"I can't freeze her anymore," Piper said.  "Use the potion."

Stuart threw the vial of potion at the staircase.  It landed on the first step, spilling across it, its vapors blocking Fiona.  Unable to follow the children, she turned in anger towards Piper and Stuart and pointed her hands at them.

"I warned you not to interfere," she said, turning her hands as she spoke.

Stuart and Piper felt pressure tighten on their bodies.  Piper raised her hand with difficulty but Fiona didn't freeze at all this time.

"Back!"  Piper managed to cry.  They backed up the hallway to Nicole's room but the door slammed shut behind them.

"It...arrgghh...won't open," Stuart said, trying to turn the knob.  As Fiona drew closer, they felt her outstretched hands reaching them and the pressure on their bodies mounting.  There was no way out and the pressure left them with no strength to even try.

"Arrgghh!"  Piper screamed, her back to the wall and her eyes closed tightly in pain.  She felt the air being squeezed out of her lungs. Stuart's eyes were also closed and his mouth was open but the pain stopped any sound from coming out of it. They both felt themselves losing consciousness and started slowly sliding down the wall to the floor.

Then suddenly, hundreds of tiny twinkling stars appeared and quickly began covering them.  When they were completely covered they became as one with the stars, twinkling just as they did.  Piper and Stuart slowly began to fade and then only the stars were left.  Then they too faded and Fiona stood alone.

 

"Fiona is upstairs," Phoebe said as she herded the girls into the dining room.  "Piper was going to freeze her."

"Her power may not work anymore," Prue said.  "We have to find Fiona's heart fast."

Phoebe and Prue opened drawers in the breakfront and started going through their contents.  Phoebe opened another drawer as Prue opened a bottom door below one of the drawers.  She stopped, stared at something on the shelf and slowly picked it up.

It was a piece of crewelwork, about eight inches by ten inches, with a space left in the center in which there was a picture.  And it was in the shape of a heart.

"Fiona's heart," Prue said.

"What is this?"  Phoebe asked the girls.

"This came from our cousin in Inverness, Scotland," Nicole said.  "She sent it to us along with some other things she found in the attic of our mother's great-aunt after she died."

"Who's picture is it?"  Phoebe asked.

"Our mother wasn't sure," Marion said.  "She said it may have been a much older cousin she never knew."

Prue lifted out the photograph and turned it over.  "From Ian MacBrayn to Fiona Cariston," Prue read aloud..

"MacBrayn was our mother's name before she married our father," Nicole said.

"This is it," Prue said.  "Whoever chased Fiona and took this heart away from her were from Ian’s family, the MacBrayns. They must have brought the heart back to their house and hidden it in the attic so as not to leave behind any clues about their connection to her death.”

"And it was forgotten by everyone," Phoebe said.

"Except by Fiona," Prue said.  "And her curse is on Nicole and Marion because they are the MacBrayn’s decedents. We have to destroy it."

"The children!  I'll have my life again!" the voice cried behind them.

They turned and saw Fiona floating down the stairs towards them.

"Hurry," Prue said.  They ran into the kitchen as Fiona followed them.

"Where are the matches?"  Prue asked.  She waved her hand at Fiona to throw her back but it had no affect on her.

"In this cabinet on the second shelf," Nicole said.  Phoebe opened the door and grabbed the matches. She quickly lit one and held it to the crewelwork.

"NO!!"  Fiona shouted.  Phoebe lit a second match to it and as the flames quickly spread Prue dropped it into the sink.

"NO!!"  Fiona cried again.  The heart was quickly turning to ashes and as it did they watched Fiona begin to shimmer and then, after a moment, disappear.

"She's gone," Prue said.

"Piper.  And Stuart," Phoebe said, worry in her voice.  She quickly ran upstairs, calling their names, as she checked every room.

"They're not upstairs," Phoebe said as she came back down.  "I can't find them anywhere."

 

Piper felt something wet against her ear.  "Ahh..."  She slowly stirred and opened her eyes.

"Hey...hello," she said.  She was lying on the ground, propped up against a rock.  She moved his mouth away from her ear, slowly stood up and gently ran her hand across his face and cheek.

"You're beautiful," she said.  She ran her hand down his neck and snowy white mane.  It was the finest palomino horse she had ever seen.

"You're big.  You must be seventeen hands."  He was saddled and she took the reins in one hand and looked around.  A trail led off to her right through an open field, a few small trees dotting its sides.

"Let's go," she said to him and led him slowly down the trail.  After a minute she stopped and looked at him.  "Hmm..."  She placed her foot in the stirrup and mounted.  She felt comfortable in the saddle.  But more than that, she sensed the horse was comfortable with her.

"OK," she said and the horse began trotting down the trail.

She felt so good to be riding.  There were no other thoughts in her mind, no other existence.  Just the horse underneath her, the sun shining above her, the fresh air around her.

The horse clearly knew the way and she rode on for ten minutes until she approached a ranch house. Just to the side of the house was a corral and the horse headed towards it on its own.

Four other horses stood inside the corral and as she drew near, two of them slowly ambled over to the fence.  Piper dismounted, came closer to the railing and leaned over to touch one.  It was a gold champagne Tennessee Walking horse and she ran her hand over his muzzle and face.

"You want to be my friend?" she asked, as the horse edged closer to her.  The second horse threw his head over the railing to get her attention and she saw that it was a Friesian, a distinctive white star on its forehead.

As the third horse came over to join them Piper looked at him in awe.  He stood nineteen hands tall. His long, white feathered legs offset his bay body and his slow, almost majestic, high stepping gate kept her gaze fixed on him.  No matter how many times Piper had seen Clydesdales she never stopped being impressed by them.  She tentatively stretched out her hand to his cheek and the horse turned his head to accommodate her.

Piper was filled with contentment and joy such as she had never felt before.  An incredible contentment and joy that could only come from the sudden realization of un-articulated dreams.  She would be happy to do nothing else but spend all of her time with them.  The four horses were the most magnificent, most beautiful horses she had ever seen.

Until she saw the fifth one.  As if timing his grand entrance to have her full attention, he slowly circled the far side of the corral and came around from the left of the others, allowing Piper an un-obstructed view of him.

If the other horses had endeared themselves to her, this one made her fall in love with it.  Its graceful movement, high tail carriage and dished head left no doubt as to what it was.  But it was its color that combined with these other characteristics to capture her heart.  This was an elegant, almost pure white, grey Arabian.

She slowly moved towards him, unable to take her eyes off of him.  She knew there was only one thing she wanted to do.  Turning, she picked up a saddle, opened the corral gate and walked inside.

 

"Fiona isn't coming back," Prue said to the girls.  "You don't have to be afraid."

"I know," Nicole said, the seriousness in her voice surprising Prue.  "I knew you would defeat them. You're part of The Good.  And if The Good tries hard it defeats evil."

Prue glanced at Phoebe.  "It's not always that simple," Prue said, turning back to them. "And...we can't find Stuart and Piper.  We...don't know what happened to them."

"They're part of The Good, too," Nicole said, "so they're all right.  Harmony would have seen to that."

"Harmony?"  Phoebe asked.  "Who's Harmony?"

"Harmony is our fairy godmother," Marion said.

"Your...fairy godmother?"  Prue asked, unsure she had heard right.

Nicole nodded.  "Harmony told us that The Good can defeat evil if it's un-selfish and doesn't try to avoid the evil."

Phoebe squinted, then exhaled and turned to Prue.  Not avoid evil? she thought.  As in not wanting to be sent home instead of fighting demons?

"Nicole...where do you see Harmony?"  Prue asked.

"In our room," she answered.  "At night, when we're in bed, before we fall asleep."

"And you see her every night?"  Prue asked.

"Almost every night," Marion said.

"Do your parents know about Harmony?"  Prue asked.

Nicole shook her head.  "Harmony said fairy godmothers are special just for children."

"I would like to speak to her," Prue said.  "If she did something...with Piper and Stuart, I need to know what happened to them."

"Prue," Phoebe said, taking her aside.  "Fairy godmother?  That's just part of their imagination."

"That's...that's just what Piper would say," Prue said.  "This has been happening all day."  She put her hands on Phoebe's arms and looked her in the eye.

"Cozying up to Leo, needing Piper to help you cook, running things yourself at the club, even squinting the way Piper does.  And Piper wanting to spend the day with Stuart..." Prue stared at Phoebe.

"You're...more Piper than Phoebe.  You and Piper somehow...you've been switched with each other."

"What..."  Phoebe said, "that's ridiculous.  Of course I'm Piper.

"I mean...I'm Phoebe.  I didn't say I was Piper.  I never said that.  You didn't hear me say that.

"I am Piper...I mean Phoebe.  I am...Phoebe."

Prue looked silently at Phoebe for a moment.

"You're switched," Prue said, nodding.  "At least, part of you is.  No matter what you say, I know that something's happened.

"You're Phoebe," Prue said. "But you are...somehow...also Piper."

Phoebe took a deep breath.

"I'm Phoebe.  At least, I think I still am.  Our personalties, our characters...our feelings, were switched.  By an elf named Rangor.  But we remained ourselves in our memories, in...who we were.  At least, we were supposed to.

"But I've been becoming more like Piper all day.  And she's becoming more like me.  It's supposed to last until tomorrow...if we don't let anyone know about it."

"Why did Rangor do this?"  Prue asked.

"It's...a long story," Phoebe said, "and now isn't the time for it.  We have to find out what happened to Stuart and...Piper."

Prue nodded and went back to the girls.

"Nicole...you said we're part of The Good.  Even though we're not children, we have to see Harmony to find out what happened to the other part of The Good - Piper and Stuart."

Nicole looked at Marion who nodded.  "Come," Nicole said, and led them into her room.  The two little girls sat on Marion's bed and held hands.

"Harmony, Harmony, please come to us," they said, then repeated it.

Twinkling stars appeared beside their bed.  They began to take a shape, the shape of a woman, and after a moment the stars were gone.

She stood there in a gold and pink hooped gown, her long golden hair flowing from under a tall silver crown, a long wand with a star on top in her hand, a benign smile on her face.

Prue stared at her and shook her head.

"I...I know her," she said, with disbelief, to Phoebe.  "I...I know that fairy godmother."

"Are you...the fairy godmother?"  Phoebe asked.

"Yes, I'm Harmony, the fairy godmother," she answered, pronouncing each word carefully.  Her voice, with a distinctly refined lilt, was calming, re-assuring and protective.

"Do you know what happened to Piper and Stuart?"  Phoebe asked.  "They were-"

"Saving the children," Harmony said before Phoebe could finish.  "I sent them to the Land of Wishes."

"The Land of Wishes?"  Prue asked.  "What's that?"

"Everyone has a place where he wants to be," she answered.  "A place created from the heart, from dreams, from wishes deep inside.  Wishes they may not have even clearly understood themselves.

"I sent them to theirs."

"Why?"  Prue asked.

"Because they were about to be killed," Harmony answered.  "They un-selfishly put the children first and saved them.  So I sent them away to a place where they would be safe."

"Why didn't you send Nicole and Marion there?"  Prue asked.

"Fiona's connection to them stopped them from leaving the house," Harmony answered.

"Why did you send them to...the Land of Wishes?"  Prue asked.  "Why didn't you just send them...outside of the house?"

Harmony tilted her head to her right and smiled.

"Hold up your hand and freeze the children," Harmony said.

"Freeze them...why?"  Prue asked.

Harmony tilted her head the other way and just smiled.

"I can't freeze them," Prue, frustrated, answered.

"Even if their lives were in danger?"  Harmony asked.

"I can't...that's not my power," Prue said. "My power is to move things."

"My power is to send someone to the Land of Wishes," Harmony said, in a re-assuring voice of explanation, tilting her head again to the right.

"Everyone who is part of The Good brings his or her own power to the fight against evil.  Each of us uses that power to defeat a part of evil.  You used yours to vanquish Fiona.

"Some can reach out to their power and use it in their normal lives.  Others have to go through a change, through a transformation, to realize their powers."

There was the sound of a door closing coming from downstairs and Prue turned to Phoebe with alarm.

"It's OK.  That must be Nicole's father," Phoebe said.

"Nicole?  Marion?" the voice came from downstairs.

Stars started to form around Harmony.

"No - wait," Prue protested.  "We have to talk to you."

Harmony started to blend into the stars.

"Come to our house," Prue said.  "Please!  We live at-"

"The Halliwell Manor," Harmony said.

"You know where we live?"  Prue asked.

"There's no place like home," Harmony answered in an instructive tone, almost completely gone now.  "I know where everyone's home is."

"Up here, Daddy," Marion called out as Harmony disappeared.

"Nicole, Marion...what happened tonight," Phoebe said, "what you saw us do...that's just between us.  OK?"

"Of course," Marion said.  "The Good have to be kept hidden so that they can fight evil better."

"Thank you for saving us," Nicole said, as she handed her picture to Phoebe.  "Pictures connect people together and I want us to have a connection."

"Hi.  Uh...Phoebe Halliwell?" he asked as he came into the bedroom, a little confused at finding two women.

"I'm Phoebe.  Nice to meet you, Mr. Palmer.  This is my sister Prue.  She stopped by to help out."

"Oh, hello," he said. "Uh, the name's Neil.  Look...this was all so nice of you.  I don't really know how to thank you.  I hope being here tonight didn't cause you any trouble."

"No...uh, not at all," Phoebe said, forcing a smile.  "We had...no trouble at all."

"So, what did you do tonight?" he asked the girls.

"Phoebe cooked dinner for us and Prue told us a ghost story," Nicole said.

"Ooo...sounds scary," he said.  "But you know it was only a story.  I don't want you to be frightened about ghosts."

Nicole turned to Phoebe and Prue and gave them a half smile.

"We know, daddy," she said, turning back to him.  "We weren't frightened at all.  We knew that at the end The Good would win."

 

It was a slight breeze, just barely a wisp, but Stuart felt it.  He stirred and opened his eyes halfway.  There was sunlight and something else but his mind couldn't determine what it was.  So he opened his eyes all the way.

He was lying on the ground and as he started to sit up he recognized that the thing besides the sunlight was a house.  A camera lay atop a rock to his right.  As he started to get up he turned around away from the house and looked upon the scene before him.

He was standing on a bluff overlooking a somewhat narrow but long lake.  Tall mountains stood on either side of the water, the lake curving slightly back and forth between them.  It was an absolutely stunning view.  The late afternoon sun was slightly to his left and the sunlight bounced off both the mountain and the lake, giving a picture postcard scene.

Waterton Lake, he thought.  This looks exactly like the Alberta park he had so enjoyed.  There were about fifty yards to the edge of the bluff and he wanted to get closer.  He picked up the camera and looked it over.  Seeing that it was loaded with slide film, he walked about twenty yards towards the edge, stopped and raised the camera to his eye.

Whirrr...whirrr...whirrr.  He let the camera set itself and concentrated on the composition as he fired off three shots.  Then he turned around, walked back up to the house and went inside.  Large picture windows, with comfortable seats alongside them, faced the lake.  To his right, a cozy fire was burning in the fireplace, though the weather wasn't at all cold.

Stuart walked through the house and came out the front door.  A winding path going down the hill began off to his right and, camera in hand, he began to follow it.  When he reached the bottom of the hill he couldn't believe his eyes.

A harbor and marina full of small boats stood before him. How could there be a lake on one side and a harbor on the other? he thought. But then he decided he didn't care. These were things that he enjoyed so much - the harbor, the lake, the camera.  All that mattered was that they were there.

He started to walk on the pathway that went around both sides of the harbor. As he took the pathway towards the right, he felt that the harbor seemed familiar and yet strange at the same time. And then he realized that it wasn't a single harbor at all but a combination of harbors and marinas. He recognized Fisherman's Wharf's Inner Lagoon, the Dana Point Marina and the Balboa and San Diego harbors incredibly all rolled into one.

Stuart felt so calm, so relaxed.  There was no other place he could possibly want to be.  There was no other place - except this one.

 

The ride had been like no other she'd ever had.  Piper had felt as one with the Arabian - one body, one motion, the countryside passing by a perfect backdrop for this unbelievable experience.  This was the horse she had always wanted, the ride she had always yearned for, though she had never consciously realized it until then.

As she headed towards the house she looked over the garden that extended from the front around the side to the back of the house.  Azaleas, red and yellow roses, nova gold marigolds and Forsythias stood side by side along the garden's edge.  Behind them, a low hedge of closed red, white and yellow four o'clocks ran against the wall, waiting for their daily solar alarm to wake them up.  Beautiful, she thought.  Tending this garden will be so enjoyable.

She walked into the house and paused in the vestibule as a framed movie poster, hanging on the wall, caught her attention.

Kevin Costner      Holly Marie Combs

in          

Leap Year        

"Hmmm...above the title billing," she said, quite pleased.

Below were two-thirds shots of the two stars, one hand of each slightly raised towards the other's hand, a look of concern on each of their faces. Between them were pages of a calendar, each page offset enough from the one beneath it to make out the months. January, August, March, October and May could be seen on top of each other in that order.

When time itself leaps around

is the future already your past?

or will the past become your future?

 That sounds ominous, Piper thought. It's a good thing no one can really travel through time.



"Was Harmony...talking about us? About our transformation into witches?" Phoebe asked, as she shut The Manor door behind her.

"I don't know," Prue said, shaking her head slightly. "But I do know that she was talking about herself. I told you...that voice, that face, that costume...I know her. That's...that's Billie Burke."

"Who?"  Phoebe asked, as they walked into the parlor.

"Billie Burke, the actress," Prue said. "She was famous, and made a lot of movies, in the '30s and '40s.  But the role she's most famous for...is as Glinda, The Good Witch of the North, in The Wizard of Oz.  I've watched that movie so many times.  And that's exactly how she looks in it."

Phoebe squinted at Prue.  "The Wizard of Oz?" she asked. "It was hard enough to accept Charmed becoming real...to accept our being changed from actresses playing witches into being the real things.  But this is too much.  Piper and Stuart get sent to some kind of wishful Never-Never Land out of Peter Pan...and a famous movie musical comes to life?

"Not that I wouldn't mind having another witch around," Phoebe continued.  "Someone experienced, someone who could advise us ...maybe even take our place.  But...she's  not a witch anymore.  She's a...a  fairy godmother."

"And she's not from the Charmed cast," Prue said.  "So she shouldn't be here."

Prue exhaled.  "And she's also been dead for thirty years," she added.

"That...doesn't seem to matter," Phoebe said.  "Leo's been dead for over fifty years and he's here. If, uh, there really is...a Leo."

“That’s why the girls were un-fazed by seeing the ghost and our powers,” Prue said. “They’re used to seeing magic.”

“They must love Charmed...uh, or did when it still existed,” Phoebe said.

Pink colored stars appeared and began to twinkle and after a moment Harmony appeared.

"Harmony," Prue said, "we want to thank you for saving Piper and Stuart.  But we need you to bring them back."

"I can't bring them back," Harmony said.

"What do you mean you can't," Prue said.

"They have to choose to come back from the Land of Wishes," Harmony said.  "I can't force them to do that. They have to understand that their home, that where they came from, is the best place for them to be.  And then decide that they're ready to come home."

"Just like Dorothy had to do in The Wizard of Oz," Prue said, with wonder.

"And they haven't chosen to come home?"  Phoebe asked.

"No," Harmony said." They don't want to be anywhere other than where they are. They've blocked out the real world from their minds."

"You have to send us to the Land of Wishes," Prue said, "so that we can get them to come home."

"There isn't just one Land of Wishes," Harmony said. "There is a separate, unique Land for every person. Piper and Stuart each have their own, just as you would have if I sent you there. You wouldn't, and you couldn't, be together with them."

"Then you have to let us talk to them," Prue said.

"I can do that for you," Harmony said.  "You would not be there with them but you would be able to see each other enough to speak to each other."

"I'll talk to Piper," Prue said.  "Phoebe will be able to influence Stuart."

"But remember," Harmony said, "they have to want to come home on their own."

  

Stuart and a woman were standing together with their backs to Phoebe, looking out the picture window.  That’s odd, Phoebe thought. Harmony said that you can’t get into someone else’s Land of Wishes. How did this woman get here?

As Phoebe called his name Stuart turned around, stared at her and shook his head slightly.

"I know that things seem to be wonderful here, but this isn't real," Phoebe said.

"Who...are you?"  Stuart asked, continuing to stare at her.

"It's me, Phoebe.  Don't you remember me?" Stuart kept staring at her but said nothing.

“Stuart, what you’re seeing, what you’re feeling - all of this - isn’t real,” Phoebe said. “You’re in a make-believe world. You have to come back with me to the  real world.."

“Alyssa,” Stuart called. The woman next to him turned around and Phoebe gasped. 

The woman was her.  Phoebe was looking at her own double. She was looking at herself.

"Everything here is real, isn't it Alyssa?"  Stuart asked.

Phoebe stared in disbelief at the second Alyssa. I’m so much in Stuart's heart, she thought, that somehow...I’m part of this, too.  But how can that be?

"Of course it's real, honey," Alyssa said.

"That's what I thought," Stuart said, turning back to Phoebe.

"Oh, boy," Phoebe said, and exhaled.  "This is not going to be easy."

 

"Why do you look so...strange?"  Piper asked.

"Because I'm in the real world and you're not," Prue answered.  "Piper, you have to come back with me."

"There's no Piper here," she replied, shaking her head. "I'm Holly Combs." She motioned with her hands towards the movie poster.

Prue looked at the poster and exhaled in amazement as Holly went out the door. She walked over to the garden and Prue 'followed' her.

"Holly, you're in the Land of Wishes," Prue said. "It's created from your dreams, from your desires. But that's all this is - a dream. None of this is real."

"It's real," Holly said. She knelt down, took a Forsythia in her hand and gently ran the petals through her fingers.

"It's real.  It's wonderful.  It's..."

"Perfect," Prue said.

"Perfect," Holly said, nodding her head in agreement.

"Too perfect," Prue said. "The real world isn't perfect. The real world has pain and evil that isn't here.

"But the real world has good that isn't here, either. The good that you do for the people who need your help. The good that you do by saving innocents from demons."

Holly stood up and Prue saw her muscles become tense.

"The good that you did tonight when you saved Nicole and Marion," Prue said.

"Nicole...and Marion," Holly repeated. The wall her sub-conscious had erected to block out the real world began to crack.

"You can't live in your dreams," Prue said. "You have to come back to the real world. Yes, it's changed. We’re not actresses, now. We're witches and our powers are real. And we have to really protect innocents the same way we do when we we're just acting on Charmed. But it's still the real world.”

“How did I get here,” Holly asked.

“Marion’s fairy godmother sent you here to save you from Fiona,” Prue answered.

“Fiona,” Holly repeated as more of the real world came back to her.

“Everything here...is so wonderful,” Holly said. “It’s...what I...” She paused and looked around her.

“I’m so happy...I don’t want to leave this.”

“I know,” Prue said. “The horses, the garden...the movie.” She stopped as her thoughts wandered. “I’d love to be in Hollywood right now making a movie. Or making anything.” She sighed.

“But I can’t,” Prue continued. “Not yet.

"Holly, we're friends.  I've never told you to do anything that was bad for you.  And I never will.

“I’m telling you...you have to come back with me.

"We can't avoid life.  But if we're lucky, we can make it better.  For a lot of people.  Maybe even for the whole world.

"You have to come back to being who Holly Combs really is.  And doing what she has to do. And that means being Piper Halliwell.

"You can't hide in the Land of Wishes forever."

Holly looked over to the corral and began slowly walking towards it.  She stopped about five yards in front of it and looked at the horses inside.  She closed her eyes for a moment, opened them and took a deep breath.

"OK," she said, unhappily.  "I'll come."

 

"So how did you get Stuart back?" Prue asked.

"It's a good thing Stuart doesn't know that much about acting," Phoebe said. "The Alyssa he dreamed up didn't have much range. I did a few characters that were opposites of each other and challenged her to do them, too. When he saw how bad her acting was I was able to convince him that she wasn't the real me."

"And now that you are all back," Harmony said, "you can continue to protect people from evil. Not everyone can do that."

"Yes," Phoebe said, "but you should be asked if you want to fight evil, if you're ready for it. We should have been asked first. There should be a choice.  You had a choice, didn't you?"

"You always have a choice," Harmony said.  "But if you truly understand what the choice is, what it means, then you realize that you really don't have a choice, at all.

"There is one thing I want to ask you," Prue said.  "Is your name really Harmony?"

"That's the name the children call me," she answered, gently nodding.

"And...is this...how you really look?" Prue asked.

"You and the children are comfortable seeing me this way," Harmony said. "I can appear in other ways to those who are not and see me differently in their hearts and inner wishes."

"Then how we see you...is how our imagination wants to see you," Phoebe said.

"So I...was wrong," Prue said disappointed to Phoebe and exhaled.  "I would have bet anything that she was Billie Burke."

"And lost the bet," Phoebe said, matter of factly.

"Betting is a bad practice," Harmony said looking straight at Prue.  "Even though you would have won."

Prue stared at Harmony as her already broad smile grew even broader.  Her eyes twinkled as she waved her wand and faded into the stars.

"Uhh..."  Prue stammered, pointing back and forth at the now empty space, "I  was...uhh...that was...uhh...she really is...Billie..."

"Well," Piper said, "now you're ready for a guest shot on Celebrity Jeopardy. Category: Witches for two-hundred.  Answer: famous movie witch who was turned into a real-life fairy godmother.

"Hmm," Phoebe said. "Witches for four-hundred. Answer: famous TV witch who was turned into a real-life witch...and never heard from again." She sighed.

"I just wish she would have left a pair of ruby slippers for us," Phoebe said.

"We're not ready to click them yet," Piper said.  "We still haven't followed all of the yellow-brick road."

"Uh huh...only there's a demon instead of a wizard at the end of ours," Phoebe griped.  "And we're going to have to face him whether or not we want to."

"Uhh...I'm getting a headache trying to remember who you really are when you sound like who you really aren't," Prue said.  "When is this munchkin spell...uhh...I mean this elf spell going to end?"

"It was supposed to end noon tomorrow," Piper said, "unless we let someone know that we were switched.  You figured it out from how we were acting so now its going to last forever."

"Forever?  Why?"  Prue asked.

"It's a punishment for-" Piper stopped as twinkling stars appeared near the floor.  They watched  something begin to take shape inside the stars.

"I...I don't believe it," Phoebe said.  They stared at them silently for a moment in disbelief. Finally, Phoebe knelt down and picked them up.

"You wanted a choice," Prue said, still staring at them in Phoebe's hands.  "That...that must be it."

Phoebe looked at Piper and then at Prue.  She sat down, pulled off her shoes and slowly slipped  on to her feet what she had picked up.

The ruby slippers shone and sparkled at the corners as Phoebe stood up.

"This is it," Phoebe said.  "Harmony's given us the ruby slippers. This is our ticket home. We don't need The Elders, we don't have to be here anymore.  We can...just go home."

"I...I don't know," Piper said.

"You don't?" Phoebe said in surprise.  "Pipes, you've wanted more than any of us to go home, to be yourself again."

"I know," Piper said.  "I know...and I do.  But...but that was before our characters got switched.   I do want to go back.  I don't want to be here.  But...but I feel...I can't just leave."

"Why not?"  Phoebe said.  "They didn't ask us when they brought us here.  We don't have to ask them when we go home."

"And the ruby slippers means going home.  This means no more demons, no more elves, no more ghosts...no Frubos, no Jôlét, no Marco.  No one trying to kill us, any more.

"It means getting back to my parents.  It means getting back to our normal lives.  Our real lives."

"Our real lives," Prue repeated.  It sounded so good.

Back to my horses, Piper thought.  To acting.  To playing Piper Halliwell on a Charmed set.  That's where I belong. I don't really belong here.

Or...do I? she thought.  She took a deep breath. How can I not think about what these demons are going to do if we don't stop them.

"I don't want to be, but I am, Piper Halliwell," Piper said.  "And therefore...I  have to protect all of those innocents from whatever the demons are planning to do."

"Let's think about this before we do anything," Prue said.

"Think about what, Prue?"  Phoebe asked.  "This means...no more Prue.  This means your being Shannen Doherty again.  And only Shannen Doherty.  And this means the only danger we'll face from demons is flubbing our lines with them during a Charmed take."

Being Shannen Doherty, being herself, again.  Being home.  Prue closed her eyes and saw her house. She could smell it...she could almost touch it.

She opened her eyes.  It was all there, right there, in the ruby slippers on Phoebe's feet.  Three taps and she'd be home.

But could she do it?  What about the danger from the demons' plans of major destruction?  What about the people that needed her protection?  Needed their protection?  Prue took a deep breath.

"I want to go home, too," Prue said.  "But...we can't abandon all of these countless innocents who need our help."

"We're not abandoning them," Phoebe said.  "There are others with powers.  We've just seen that."

"We each have our own particular power," Prue said, reluctantly repeating Harmony's words.  "If someone else's power could stop these demons, The Elders wouldn't have taken us and changed us. You've felt that way, and said that, all along.  It's become our responsibility."

Phoebe bent her head slightly and covered her face with her hands.

"I...I'm so confused, I don't know what I really feel anymore," she said and then put her hands down.

"I'm Alyssa Milano...and I'm also Phoebe Halliwell...and now I'm Holly and Piper, too. All mixed together. Who am I??"  Phoebe closed her eyes for a moment.

"The only way it will end, the only way I can be myself again, is by going home," Phoebe said.   Piper held her breath as she and Prue watched Phoebe pull her feet together.  Phoebe stared ahead, looking beyond them, and clenched her hands.

She stood like that for ten seconds, not moving a muscle.  Then she exhaled, separated her feet and, looking at Prue, shook her head.

Piper and Prue looked at each other and exhaled in relief.

"What changed your mind?"  Prue asked.

"That," Phoebe said, pointing to what she had been staring at, the picture of Nicole lying on the table.  "Harmony was right. When you understand what the alternative would be...then you know that there is no choice."

Piper went over to Phoebe and put her arms around her.  "It's OK, honey.  I'm all mixed up, too. But we're together.  We'll be OK."

As Phoebe threw her arms around Piper and they hugged each other little stars suddenly covered them. They twinkled for about five seconds and then disappeared.  As they let go of each other they looked down at Phoebe's feet.

"The ruby slippers are gone," Phoebe said.

Piper exhaled.  "We were so close to getting home, weren't we Phoebes," she said.

"We were," Phoebe said.  "But this wasn't the right time...or the right way."

They stared at each other, Piper squinting and Phoebe slightly tilting her head.

"Uh, Phoebe...how do you feel about cooking?"  Piper asked.

"Cooking?  Um...I enjoy it.  Why, are you hungry Piper?"  Phoebe stopped.

"Piper...Piper," Phoebe said.  "I called you Piper. Not Pipes.  Pipes...doesn't sound right, anymore."

"We've been switched back," Piper said. "We have our own personalities back. But how? Rangor's spell was supposed to last forever."

"The ruby slippers," Prue said. "They did bring you home, after all. Home to yourselves."

"If they would have undone whatever The Elders did to us in making us witches," Piper said, "then they could undo what Rangor's spell did to our characters."

"But I didn't tap my heels," Phoebe said.

"Maybe that's why they did work," Prue said. "The slippers took you home because you chose not to tap them. You chose to stay and save the innocents."

"A guess we have a fairy godmother helping us, too," Phoebe said.

"We'll need her," Piper said. "Now that we're not going home, we need all the help we can get."

"I said that she's not from the Charmed cast so she shouldn't be here," Prue said, "but I was wrong. She's been here all along in the real world, before The Elders modified it with Charmed's characters. Using her magic with children like Nicole and Marion."

"Do you think her magic would work against demons?"

"I don't know," Phoebe said. "But what I do know is that what we went through tonight has left me tired - and hungry. I need something to munch on."

"Hmm...me too," Piper said.

"I have just the thing," Prue said.  "I picked it up on the way home today and didn't have a chance to put it away." She went over to a bag on the table.

"Here," she said, taking a familiar package out of the bag.  "The best chocolate chip cookies around."

"No!"  Phoebe said emphatically, looking at the picture of the elf on the package.  "Not those!"

"Uh...no," Piper said, motioning her hands with her palms up to keep them away.  "In fact, I changed my mind.  I'm not really hungry, after all.  I'm just going to go to sleep."

"Me too," Phoebe said.  "Good night."

Prue stared at them incredulously as they headed up the stairs.

"I  know it's not me," she said, shaking her head slightly.  "It's still them."

 

"Well -- I would never've found it if it hadn't been for you," the lion said.

"I think I'll miss you most of all," Dorothy said.

"Are you ready now?" Glinda, in her pink dress, asked, the tall silver crown on her head and the long wand with a star on the end in her hand.

"Say goodbye, Toto," Dorothy said as she waves Toto's paw.

"Yes, I'm ready now."

"Then close your eyes, and tap your heels together three times," Glinda said.

Dorothy clicks them together and Glinda waves her wand.

"And think to yourself -- 'There's no place like home; there's no place like home; there's no place like home.'"

"There's no place like home," Dorothy says along with her.

"There's no place like home.  There's no place like home," Dorothy repeated.  "There's no place-"

Then suddenly it all froze.  Dorothy, Toto, everyone and everything, froze.

Prue sat motionless as she looked at the frozen scene, her face illuminated from the light of the TV screen in the darkened room. She was leaning back in the corner of the sofa with her legs curled underneath her, her finger still on the pause button of the VCR's remote control.  She stared at the scene silently for a while, then sighed.

"We'll be going home one day, too," she said to herself.  "Soon.  One day...soon."