Charmed Role Reversal



The Headless Halliwell of Sleepy Hollow

“Sensual?" Piper asked.

"Sensual," Leo said, softly.

A small smile crossed Piper's face as she looked into Leo's eyes. There they remained, each one's eyes fixed upon the other's for nearly ten seconds. Then Leo gave a slight sigh, and slowly looked down at Piper's hands, watching her fingers closely as they moved.

"Intimate," Piper said, her hushed voice barely audible.

"Intimate," Leo repeated, gently.

Piper raised her head and took a deep breath as she and Leo looked into each other's eyes again.

They remained that way silently, time and everything around them seemingly to have stopped as their eyes connected them to each other. A silence unbroken by words, their eyes conveying their unspoken thoughts.

A faint smile began to form on each of their lips. Their heads, without their even consciously realizing it, were almost imperceptibly moving closer to each other, the intended result to be a very sensual and emotional contact.

"WRECK!" Phoebe shouted excitedly, breaking the quiet.

"That's a double letter score on the 'R' - that's two points - plus four, one, three and five points for the other four letters in 'wreck'," Phoebe continued. "That's fifteen points. And it's a triple word score. That makes...forty-five points!"

Phoebe happily picked up the scoring pad and added the points to her score.

"Even with your twelve points for intimate, Piper, and Leo's eighteen points for sensual," Phoebe said, "this still keeps me way in the lead."

Piper reluctantly took her eyes off of Leo and looked at the Scrabble board. Then she looked at her tiles and sighed.

"I...can't seem to concentrate on the game," Piper said.

"You're distracted," Prue said with a small smile, looking at Leo.

"I...uh...I have to go," Leo suddenly said. The white light surrounded him and he was gone.

Piper stared at where Leo had been sitting and then turned to Prue.

"I...I didn't mean for Leo to leave," Prue said, defensively.

"Do you think Leo really took it that way?" Stuart asked.

"No," Phoebe said, assuredly. Then she looked at Piper. "Uh...maybe?"

Piper squinted at Prue, then sighed.

"Hmm...why don't we call Leo and -" Phoebe started to say when she was interrupted by a voice coming from another room.

"What's that?" Prue asked. They got up from the table and hurried into the parlor.

The television was on. And Leo was standing near it, the remote control in his hand. The face of a teenage girl filled the screen.

"And then, he came after me on his horse," the girl said. "He held his sword high above...where his head should have been. But...he didn't have a head...there was...nothing there. And..."

The girl stopped for a second and took a deep breath.

"I started to run but he was almost up to me," the girl continued. "Then Suzie grabbed me and pulled me into the thicket."

"And did he follow you?" an off-camera female voice asked.

"No, he couldn't," the girl said. "He tried to but the trees and branches are so thick over there he couldn't get his horse through them. That's why I have all these cuts and scrapes on my face and arms. And Suzie has them, too. From the trees and branches."

"You are a very lucky girl, Chloe," the off-camera voice said. "You and Suzie."

"I know," Chloe said.

The camera turned to a woman in her mid-twenties, with jet black hair, caramel skin and beautiful, soft features. The lapels of her rust blouse rested neatly on top of her camel colored tailored jacket. A microphone was in her left hand.

"A headless horseman?" the woman asked. "This would certainly be the place for one. Or for someone trying to use the legend to frighten, and threaten, people. Which is it? We don't know. But what we do know is that two young girls escaped injury or even death. And for that we can all be thankful. Who the rider that threatened Chloe is has now become the focus of a police investigation.

"Reporting live from Sleepy Hollow, New York, I'm Megan Jones, Fox News Channel."

"Uh...Leo," Piper said, "what's going on?"

"You orbed out of the scrabble game to put on the television?" Phoebe asked.

"Indirectly," Leo said. "I orbed out because The Elders called me. They told me you had to see that news report."

"Why?" Piper asked. "What does some person trying to frighten kids have to do with us?"

"It sounded like he was trying to do more than frighten them," Prue commented.

"OK...maybe he was trying to hurt them," Piper said. "But still, The Elders don't ask us to go after ordinary evil people."

"You're not dealing with ordinary people," Leo said. "You're dealing with a demon."

"You mean that...headless horseman...is really a demon?" Stuart asked.

"No," Leo said, "but the one who brought him there is."

"And he brought him there because...?" Piper asked, prompting Leo for an explanation.

"Because that's where the story of the Headless Horseman was set by Washington Irving," Stuart answered instead, "when he wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

"So this demon took a story and made it real?" Piper asked.

"If that's what he did," Phoebe said, "then we know who this demon is."

"Karallas," Prue said. "The demon who combines things that aren't real with things that are. Fact with fiction."

"The demon we thought took those people into the Flowers of Darkness story when we wound up in the middle of the Battle of Britain," Phoebe said. "Only that time the demon turned out to be Donato."

"But this time it has to Karallas," Prue said.

"So, we go find Karallas and vanquish him," Phoebe said.

"No," Leo said.

"No??" they all asked together.

"No," Leo repeated. "Karallas, or whoever the demon is, has already made the Headless Horseman real. Vanquishing him won't stop the Horseman."

"Then what do we do?" Piper asked.

"The Horseman is part of a story," Leo said, "and that story took place two hundred years ago. That's when the Horseman became real."

"You mean Karallas traveled through time?" Stuart asked.

"He didn't have to," Leo said. "As he can make fiction real, all he had to do was make the fictitious Horseman real when and where the story said he existed. And then he combined him with the reality of our time to bring him here.

"So," Leo continued, "you have to break the Horseman's connection to reality and make him fiction again. You can only do that at the time and place that he became real."

"In eighteenth century Sleepy Hollow," Stuart said.

"That's right," Leo said.

"And just how do we do that?" Piper asked.

"I don't know," Leo said. "But The Elders are sure you'll think of something."

"They always are," Phoebe groused.

"And you always do," Leo said, looking at each of them. "Their confidence in you is not misplaced." He paused for a second. "Nor is mine," he added.

Piper moved closer to Leo and looked into his eyes.

"Thanks," she said, with a small smile. They started to move closer to each other when Leo stopped.

"I...I have to go again," he said. "They're calling."

He gave Piper a gentle kiss and orbed out.

"We'd better get started," Stuart said, "before this eighteenth century Horseman does kill a twentieth century person."



Click speaker for Opening Credits Theme Song

"I'll get the time travel spell," Piper said. "Though we should know it by heart by now, we've used it enough times."

"Don't remind me," Phoebe said, and exhaled. "And I suppose I'll start looking through the Book of Shadows and see what I can find."

"What's wrong, Prue?" Stuart asked, seeing the look on her face.

"Something doesn't make sense," she said.

"Which part of this legend-to-life-making demon's evil don't you like?" Piper asked.

Prue shook her head slowly.

"All of it," she said. "You've read the story, haven't you?"

"Uh...yeah...as a kid," Piper said.

"I know about it," Phoebe said, "so I guess I must have read it once."

"And don't you remember the ending?" Prue asked.

"Uh...uh...something happens to, uh, a teacher...Ichabod somebody," Phoebe said.

"Ichabod Crane," Prue said. "He's chased out of town."

"By...the Headless Horseman," Phoebe said, with a hint of pride at remembering at least that part of the story.

"Who, the ending implies," Prue said, "doesn't really exist. It was only the man competing with Crane for a young girl's affections who made believe he was a Headless Horseman to frighten Crane away. And then he had the girl to himself."

"So...if the fictional Headless Horseman really wasn't a Headless Horseman," Piper asked, "how could Karallas make him into a real one?"

"Exactly," Prue said. "That's what's wrong here."

"Well," Stuart said, "it doesn't have to be fiction from the written story that Karallas used. It could be the Headless Horseman fiction from the movie."

"What movie?" Phoebe asked.

"Sleepy Hollow," Stuart said. "It came out last year...sometime in the Fall. Didn't you see it?"

"In the Fall," Piper said, "we were shooting Charmed. The only thing we had time for after twelve-hour days at the studio was to go home and study our lines for the next twelve-hour day."

"It was a good movie," Stuart said. "Johnny Depp played Ichabod Crane. They made some changes from the original story. One change was that Crane was now a constable from New York City sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the beheadings.

"But the more important change that concerns us," Stuart went on, "was that the Headless Horseman was real. He was a Hessian mercenary who beheaded Americans during the Revolutionary War. A little girl betrayed him to Patriot soldiers who in turn beheaded him. He later came back and rode around Sleepy Hollow beheading people."

"Are you suggesting that the fictional Horseman Karallas took to make real was from the movie?" Phoebe asked.

"I am," Stuart said.

"That's a bit far-fetched," Piper said, "that the demon is a fan of Hollywood and goes to the movies."

"No more far-fetched," Stuart replied, "than that he's a literary demon who reads the works of Washington Irving.

"And remember that Charmed episode," Stuart continued, "...uh...Chick Flick. The demon in that episode not only went to the movies, he was in the movies."

"I remember that one," Piper said. "We really had a lot of fun shooting that episode."

"Well...I guess it makes sense," Phoebe said, not sounding entirely convinced.

Prue exhaled.

"It's the only thing that makes sense if we're to believe The Elders," she said.

"They've been wrong before," Piper said. "Remember the Olakar Pyramid and the Stone of Xenon?"

"I'd rather not," Phoebe said. "We came this close to being killed because The Elders made a mistake." She held her up her right hand, her thumb and forefinger almost touching each other.

"And people in Sleepy Hollow are this close to being killed right now," Stuart said, "unless we do something. What that girl on the news saw did not come from The Elders."

"Stuart's right," Prue said. "We have to assume it's true and that it's the Horseman from the movie version of the story."

Piper exhaled.

"OK, I'll get the time travel spell," she said. "And I'll find the one to use on Karallas, too."

"When was the movie set?" Prue asked.

"In 1799," Stuart said. "From the looks of the sky and the trees, and the comments about the new century approaching in a few short months, it was sometime in the early Fall."

"There's something else we're going to need," Prue said. "Appropriate late eighteenth century clothing."

"The other times The Elders sent us to the past they put us in the right clothes," Phoebe said.

"I wouldn't count on it this time," Stuart said.

"If we were back home, we could get what we needed from Ray-Art Studio's wardrobe," Phoebe said.

"Or from any of the countless costume stores in Hollywood," Piper said. "Maybe The Elders would like to send us there on the way."

"There has to be one costume store in San Francisco," Prue said. "Come with me, Stuart, and help me find it. You'll have to try on your clothes there, anyway."

 

"Thanks again," Prue said, as she walked Kelly Anderson to The Manor's front door.

"Anytime, Prue," the young witch replied.

Prue opened the door and Kelly turned around.

"If The Elders didn't have me chasing after this warlock Bojan I'd come along to help you," Kelly said.

"We would have loved to have you with us," Prue said.

"Good luck," Kelly said. "And send my regards to George Washington."

Prue stared after Kelly then closed the door.

"No...she couldn't really know him," Prue said to herself as she went back into the living room. "Or...could she?"

"You look rather dashing," Phoebe said to Stuart as she came into the living room. "In an eighteenth century way."

"Thank you," Stuart said. "This is actually quite similar to what Johnny Depp wore as Ichabod Crane in the movie. Black frock coat and black vest with a white shirt."

"These dresses are the best I could do," Prue said. "They have to be full enough for us to be able to ride on a horse."

"That does bring up a small problem," Stuart said. "I can't ride."

"Really?" Phoebe asked, surprised.

"I know you all ride and think it strange that someone doesn't," he said. "I tried it a couple of times and didn't like it. I never did anything more with it."

"You'll just have to ride with me," Phoebe said, with a smile.

"The problem," he said, "is that men didn't do that back then. All men knew how to ride."

"We'll worry about that when the time comes," Prue said.

"Was that Kelly's voice I heard?" Piper asked, as she joined them.

"Yes," Prue said, "she got money for us to use."

"How?" Piper asked.

"Remember when we went back in time to rescue Leo and Stuart from the sirens," Prue said, "Kelly used her power to transfer what was written on one thing to another thing.

"I found pictures of post-Revolutionary War bank notes on an Internet site. I printed them and Kelly transferred them to our dollar bills. We did a little trimming to get them to the right size."

"If the people in Sleepy Hollow have seen the Headless Horseman," Phoebe said, "that's going to change history."

"We can't let that happen," Prue said. "We're going to have to convince them that he wasn't real."

"That may not be easy to do," Phoebe said.

"We'll figure something out when we get there," Prue said. "Let's get into our clothes and go."

 

"This is...rustic," Piper said, with a wince

"This is...beautiful," Phoebe said, with a smile.

Half of the trees were bare; the leaves on the remaining branches were in their crisp autumn brown. The sky was not dark but its light was muted with a thin but complete cloud covering. It was a classic country, autumn day.

"Smell that air," Prue said, taking a few deep breaths. "This is magnificent."

They were standing at the edge of the woods, just outside of the village. Beyond the woods to their right was a large windmill. Turning to their left, they could see the main, and only, street in the village. Small shops lined both sides, though there was plenty of space between them.

"I don't like time travel," Phoebe said, "but this...is worth the trip. Seeing America in 1799. George Washington is still President...wow!"

"Actually, John Adams is President," Stuart said. "Washington is back in Mount Vernon, Virginia - retired. Thomas Jefferson is Vice-President, which proved to be an unworkable situation. He and Adams were from different parties and agreed on almost nothing. The Twelfth Amendment was passed because of this -"

"I know that you know your history but let's hold the history lesson until we get back to The Manor," Prue said. "We're not here on a history field trip."

"Sorry," Stuart said. "I enjoy history and I can get carried away with it."

"We need to find out where the Horseman has been," Prue said, "and we need horses to get there."

"And we need to remember to change our English," Stuart said. "Though most of the people here are of Dutch descent - they're still using Dutch in some of their legal documents - we don't have to use that language. But we do have to use eighteenth century English phrases and words."

"Hmmm...I'm not really up on Early American Conversation," Phoebe said.

"As I study history, I am," Stuart said. "But you're actresses - you'll figure out how to play the roles."

They started to walk towards the village when Stuart stopped.

"I think its best if all four of us don't come into the village," Stuart said. "Four strangers suddenly walking in at one time may draw too much attention. Phoebe and I will go in. Wait here with Piper where you won't be seen."

"OK," Prue said, nodding her head, "you're right. We'll wait back in the woods out of sight."

"Come, Phoebe," Stuart said. "Sleepy Hollow awaits us."

They walked away from the woods and strolled into the village from its side, walking between two shops. As they approached the main street they came upon a man tying up a bag in his wagon. He stood about five foot-eight, with a slightly long, fair-complexioned face with large eyebrows and was about fifty years old. He wore a gentleman's clothes, from his fine waistcoat down to his white britches. His hair was tied back in a small ponytail.

"Good-day," the man said as they approached him. "You are not from Sleepy Hollow."

"No, we are not," Stuart said. "We are from New York City. I am Stuart Weston."

"Theodore Van Houten," the man replied, extending his hand. "And your lovely wife?" he added looking at Phoebe.

"My...uh...uh...wife..." Stuart stammered.

"Phoebe," she interjected, smiling pleasantly.

"Phoebe," Van Houten said. "A lovely, classical name. It has fallen into disuse for some years, though I do not understand why. People are becoming less sophisticated. Why just the other day I heard of someone in nearby Kinderhook who named his daughter Piper. Whatever could the man have been thinking."

"What could he have, indeed," Stuart said, glancing at Phoebe.

"But I do know someone who shares your name," Van Houten said. "Phoebe Warren."

"Did you say Phoebe...Warren?" Phoebe asked.

"Yes," Van Houten said. "Are you familiar with the name? She lives in Newport but, as I recall, her family comes from Salem in Massachusetts."

Phoebe stared at Van Houten in disbelief. The Warrens, Phoebe's Charmed ancestors from Salem, are real in 1799!

"As a matter of fact," Van Houten continued, looking carefully at Phoebe, "you have more than a passing resemblance to her."

Phoebe continued to stare at Van Houten in silent disbelief. Charmed's past had become real, she knew. But running into it in eighteenth century Sleepy Hollow was still a shock to her.

"She's a...distant relative of my... wife," Stuart said.

"I dare say not too distant with that resemblance," Van Houten said, still looking at Phoebe.

"You know her well?" Stuart asked.

"At one time I did," Van Houten said ambiguously, the hint of a smile on his lips. "You are fortunate to be related to such a fine woman."

"Thank you," Phoebe said. "You are most kind." And just what went on between you and my..uh...great-great...great-great-grandmother? she thought

"What brings you to Sleepy Hollow?" Van Houten asked.

"The story of the murder by the supposed Headless Horseman," Stuart said.

"What?" Van Houten was taken aback. "That news has already reached New York City? It is not yet three days since the first murder. How could this news have traveled so far?

"Oh, we will be ruined," Van Houten said, putting his hands to the sides of his head. "All will be afraid to come here and our farms and businesses will have no customers."

"It is not yet that bad," Stuart said. "We were a day's distance from New York when we stopped to rest. Another coach going in the opposite direction soon stopped there as well. We had some idle conversation with one of its passengers and he told us of what is supposed to have had happened here."

"There is nothing supposed about it," Van Houten said. "The Headless Horseman has claimed two lives."

"Two people have died!" Stuart said, looking to Phoebe. "This must stop!"

"If we knew but how," Van Houten said, sounding frightened. "But how do we stop that which is not human?"

"Nonsense," Stuart said. "There is nothing supernatural about these murders...nor the murderer."

"How would you know that?" Van Houten asked.

"Because that is what I do," Stuart said. "I break apart myths of supernatural doings and reveal the very simple truths that lay behind them. And that is why I have stopped here in Sleepy Hollow. To dispel the idea of a Headless Horseman."

"You...have done something like this before?" Van Houten asked.

"Indeed I have," Stuart said. "Many times."

"I must say I have not heard tell of such accomplishments," Van Houten said, with some skepticism.

"You would not," Stuart said, "as such villages that been fooled by tricksters will not let knowledge of their being taken in become known.

"Now, tell me of these two deaths."

Van Houten looked carefully at Stuart. Some perspiration appeared on the man's forehead and he pulled out his handkerchief from an inside pocket and dabbed his brow.

"The first to be killed by the Horseman was Kees De Haven," Van Houten said. "He was a wealthy landowner and also owned the mill just past the forest. It was in the forest, on his way home at night from the mill, where he was attacked and beheaded."

"And who saw this Horseman kill him?" Stuart asked.

"Young Janzen," Van Houten said. "He was riding in the opposite direction and saw it all happen before his very eyes. He turned round quickly and rode for his life as fast as he could back to the village. And told everyone of what he saw. A horseman coming straight at De Haven's wagon. With a sword raised high above where his head should have been. Only..." Van Houten stopped and dabbed his brow with the handkerchief again. "Only there was no head. There was nothing above his shoulders. And then he saw the Horseman behead De Haven with one swing of his sword."

"It was night," Phoebe pointed out, "and dark."

"There was a full moon," Van Houten said. "Some of us rode out together to the forest to see what had happened. We found Kees' headless body sprawled in his wagon. And in the bright moonlight, some twenty yards behind the wagon, we found...his severed head."

"A frightened lad's fanciful tale is hardly proof of such a being," Stuart said, continuing to discount the Horseman's existence. "Someone most certainly has done this evil deed of murder. But my experience leaves me no doubt that the hand on the sword was quite human."

"I truly wish that I had your confidence," Van Houten said. "But the second murder...no, you cannot deny it."

"How so?" Stuart asked.

"The widow Schuyler was driving her wagon from her farm to the village yesterday," Van Houten said. "Her daughter Emma, a girl of sixteen years, was with her. The Horseman came at them out of nowhere, chasing after the wagon. The widow drove the horses so fast that the wagon his a rock and turned over.

"The widow was thrown off to the side of the road, away from the wagon," Van Houten continued. "But Emma fell on the road in the Horseman's path. He was on top of her, his sword raised when her mother threw small stones from the road at him, to get him away from Emma. They hit the Horseman and his horse, which rose up on its hind legs. The Horseman must have been angered by this for he turned away from Emma and went after her mother, beheading her as he rode by her.

"Poor Emma screamed and ran into a thicket. The Horseman tried to follow her but the branches were too thick and his horse could not go into it."

Stuart glanced at Phoebe and gave her a knowing nod of his head. The thicket saved Emma from the Horseman, just as it would save the two Sleepy Hollow girls two hundred years from now, he thought.

"The girl came upon one of the horses that had broken loose from the wagon and rode it into the village," Van Houten said. He stopped and dabbed at his brow once again.

"She was as close to the Horseman as I am to you, sir," he said. "She saw his sword poised above her to swing at her...and she saw no head on his body."

"A teenage girl seeing her mother brutally murdered," Phoebe said, "would shock and confuse her. We will get to the bottom of this and show you who is really behind these atrocities."

"You share your husband's beliefs as well as his avocation," Van Houten said, sounding surprised. "These things are not a normal woman's concern."

"We Warrens are not normal women," Phoebe said. "We are...different."

"Indeed," Van Houten said. "It has been some time and I had forgotten...You are quite right. I see you have both an outer and an inner resemblance to your relative."

"We will need horses while we are here," Stuart said.

"You can get them from old Baanders just outside of town," Van Houten said. "But have you no luggage?"

"We do indeed," Stuart replied. "Our servant is attending them where the coach dropped us off. A bit outside of the village."

Phoebe saw Van Houten's quizzical look.

"The driver overheard our conversation at the rest stop," Phoebe said, "and was afraid to come any closer to the village."

"It has started," Van Houten said, "just as I feared."

"The sooner we can begin our investigation the sooner everyone outside of Sleepy Hollow will learn the truth," Stuart said. "That someone in Sleepy Hollow is responsible for these murders. And that very human someone will be revealed."

"Are you accusing one of Sleepy Hollow's citizens of being behind this?" Van Houten asked, taken aback.

"Someone here is behind it," Stuart said. "Though I know not who as yet, I will find who it is."

Van Houten hesitated for a moment.

"You will need a place to stay," he said. "I fear there is nothing in the village than can accommodate you. We occasionally get a single person passing through but not a husband, his wife and their servant.

"But there is the Kloeten house, which I have recently purchased. It is my intention to tear it down and expand the farmland but I have been occupied with other matters. You can be my guest there. It has not been used for some time...it may not be what you are accustomed to. Perhaps it would be better to be my guest at my home."

"That is most kind of you," Phoebe said, "but the Kloeten house will suit us fine. We need space to spread out our things without concern of being in anyone's way. And the quiet that will afford us will be invaluable for our task."

"Very well, as you wish," Van Houten said. "It is down the road towards the forest but on this side of the bridge. Baanders can show you the way when you get the horses."

"Thank you," Stuart said. "We are indeed indebted to your hospitality."

Van Houten looked at them silently.

"Just be right about all of this," he said. "For everyone's sake."

 

The Kloeten house showed ample evidence of its unlived in condition. The large sitting rooms and dining rooms, though furnished, were full of dust. The small kitchen and bedrooms were in no better condition.

Piper had finished tying up the horses and came inside to join the others.

"Van Houten was right about one thing," Phoebe said, a dust cloth in her hand. "All of this dust...this is certainly not what we are accustomed to."

"Let's make the best of it," Prue said. "We won't be here that long."

"If we can quickly find the Headless Horseman and use the spell on him," Piper said. "How are we going to find him?"

"By letting him find us," Stuart said. "If we -"

A knocking on the door interrupted him.

"Someone's found us," Phoebe said. "And I doubt the Horseman knocks before coming in."

"Prue - quickly into the bedroom," Stuart said. "No one here has seen you yet. And it may to our advantage to keep it that way. And Piper, take that cloth away from Phoebe. The Lady of the house does not clean. The servant does - and that's you. Oh - and you're back to being Holly again, not Piper."

"What? Why?" Piper asked.

"Because we don't want them to think we're from Kinderhook," Phoebe said, flipping the cloth to Piper. Prue hurried out of the room as Piper gave Phoebe a funny look. Stuart checked that all was in order, then went to open the door.

"Mr. Van Houten," Stuart said. "What a pleasant surprise."

"I came by to see that all was in order for your stay," he said.

"It is indeed," Stuart said. Van Houten was not alone. The man next to him was of medium height and somewhat muscular. He had a stern look on his somewhat round face and wore a brown frock coat.

"I have not had the pleasure of meeting your companion," Stuart said.

"This is Bartel Van Daalen," Van Houten said. "This is Stuart Weston," he said to Van Daalen, completing the introductions.

"Please come in," Stuart said, and the two men came inside.

"My wife Phoebe," Stuart said, turning his outstretched palm towards her. "This is Mr. Van Daalen."

"I am pleased to meet you," Phoebe said, a smile on her face. "It is an unexpected pleasure to see you again so soon, Mr. Van Houten."

"The pleasure is all mine, I'm sure," Van Houten replied. He turned to look at Piper.

"Our servant, Holly," Stuart said. "I'm afraid she has not had enough time to properly clean the sofa and chairs, so I cannot offer you to sit down."

"There is no need for us to sit," Van Daalen said, in a brusque tone. "This won't take long. Theodore has told me of your claims of dispelling myths. And that this Headless Horseman that has terrorized our countryside is no more than that. And what's more, you accuse one of our fellow residents of Sleepy Hollow of being the perpetrator of these murders."

"I have accused no one, as yet," Stuart said. "I merely stated that some person is behind this charade. And I shall uncover who that person is."

"Then you are accusing one of our villagers of murdering de Haven and the Widow Schuyler," Van Daalen said. "And I take offense at that, sir. As will the rest of Sleepy Hollow."

"Now, now, Bartel," Van Houten said, "let us not get out of hand. Mr. Weston has not accused anyone."

"There is no one else here to accuse, but us," Van Daalen said. "And I will not let him besmirch the good name of our citizens in his quest for fame and financial reward."

"I have not asked for a penny," Stuart said.

"And that is good, for you shall receive none," Van Daalen said. "It would, in fact, be best if you left Sleepy Hollow. We must concentrate on how to protect ourselves from this Horseman and not be mislead by your false claims and accusations." He turned and headed for the door.

"Good day, sir," he said, and stalked out.

"Well," Phoebe said, "he certainly likes hearing himself talk."

"Bartel is from a younger generation in Sleepy Hollow," Van Houten said. "He can be impetuous and blustery but he is a good man."

"And he can interfere with our work here," Stuart said. "Nevertheless, we shall continue. And we will uncover the truth of this Horseman."

Van Houten turned and went to the door.

"The truth," Van Houten said, then exhaled. "If the truth has not already shown its faceless presence. Good day, Mr. Weston, Mrs. Weston."

Stuart waited for Van Houten to leave, then called Prue to join them.

"We're not doing a good job of convincing them that the Horseman isn't real," Phoebe said.

"We'll leave that for later," Prue said. "I have an idea about that. But for now, let's concentrate on vanquishing the Horseman."

"And to do that, we'll need another spell," Stuart said. "Phoebe, we need you to come up with one that will challenge the Horseman, one that will be carried to him wherever he is in the forest."

"You mean like that Finding a Needle in a Haystack spell that we used two weeks ago," Phoebe said. "Only it's the needle that will be saying the spell so it will be found."

"That's right," Stuart said. "And the challenge will get his attention to want to find the needle."

"And the needle would be us," Piper said. "And then we use the spell to vanquish him."

"Sounds good," Phoebe said. "I think I remember most of that spell, at least how I had modified it. I'll work on it."

"And in the meantime let's work on...this dust," Piper said, frowning. "So that we don't have to all stand for the rest of the day."


The moon shone brightly over the mostly empty trees of the forest. Stuart, holding on tightly to Phoebe as he sat behind her astride her horse, could easily make out Prue's features as she rode beside them.

"How much further are we going?" Piper asked, riding behind them.

"As far as we can away from anyone who might be passing through the forest," Prue said.

"We haven't seen or heard anyone," Piper said. "This seems to be as far as we need to go."

"Maybe you're right," Prue said. She stopped her horse and dismounted.

"Remember to wait until the Horseman is reasonably close before we say the spell," she said. "We don't want him turning away before we're done."

"The words close and reasonably don't go together with a Headless Horseman," Piper grumbled.

"OK Phoebe," Prue said, "let the needle be found."

   "Four in the forest    

    Who challenge the Horseman's power,    

    Be shown to the Horseman

    This very hour."

"Umm..not bad," Stuart said. "If needles could be made to say it, there-"

The sound of galloping hooves cut Stuart off.

"Wow!" Piper said. "That was one powerful spell."

"And this vanquishing one will be even more powerful," Prue said.

The sound of the hooves was getting louder and nearer.

"Oh my goodness," Phoebe said. "There...he is."

They could see him clearly in the moonlight. His dark horse, his dark clothes, his sword reflecting, the moon's glow, raised high.

And the empty space above his shoulders.

They stared, transfixed, at the fast approaching figure.

Prue finally shook her head to snap out of it.

"Now!" she shouted.

   "Headless Horseman who rides to kill 

    With sword on high, swung at his will, 

    To the fiction whence you came, where you must dwell 

   Our powers now return you with this spell."

They finished the spell...and the Horseman kept coming.

"The spell didn't work!" Piper shouted.

"Hurry, freeze him!," Prue said.

Piper raised her hand and the Horseman and his horse froze, not ten yards from where they stood.

"Why didn't the spell work?" Piper asked.

"I don't know," Phoebe said, "but what do we do now?"

"I think we'd better leave," Stuart said. "Look!"

They saw the Horseman's arm that was holding the sword move a little.

"He's fighting to break free," Phoebe said. "Do you think he's like a ghost that doesn't stay frozen?

"Or maybe Karallas can't be frozen," Piper said, "and it was his power that made the Horseman real and went into him."

"Never mind why," Stuart said. "What matters...is that he's unfreezing."

"Ohhhh!" Piper and Phoebe shouted as Prue quickly mounted her horse as the Horseman unfroze.

"Let's get out of here!" Prue shouted and she took off. Piper was right behind her, while Phoebe and Stuart, holding on as tightly as he could, brought up the rear.

And then came the Horseman.

The three girls were expert riders and they pushed their horses masterfully through the forest.

As did the Horseman.

Stuart half-turned around and looked behind them.

"Ohh!...faster Phoebe!" he said, as he thought the Horseman was gaining on them.

They turned left and then right, following the road, pushing their horses ever faster, the Headless Horseman keeping pace with them, his sword held high above him.

But the girls managed to maintain the distance between them and the Horseman.

They came out of the forest and the small bridge lay ahead. Prue galloped towards the bridge, crossed it, then pulled up her horse. Piper, right behind her, did the same. They turned around and faced the bridge as Phoebe and Stuart came across it.

"Why did you stop?" Stuart asked, as he and Phoebe reached them.

"I know the story," Prue said. "The Horseman can't cross the bridge."

"That was one of the things they changed, " Stuart said. "In the movie, he can cross the bridge ...and he does."

As Stuart said that they saw the Horseman galloping towards the bridge... and onto it.

"Ohhhh!" the girls shouted and took off.

The Horseman had crossed the bridge and was galloping after them. The girls rode down past an abandoned hut then turned to their left as the road turned sharply. As they did, they saw the Horseman gaining on them.

And then they saw the Horseman and his horse disappear.

"Whoa!" Prue said to her horse as she pulled it up. Piper and Phoebe did the same. They turned around and looked at the spot where the Horseman had been.

"Where did he go?" Piper asked.

"He just...disappeared," Phoebe said.

"He couldn't just disappear like that," Piper said.

"He could..." Prue said slowly, "...if he was being taken from here and brought to another reality. The reality of Sleepy Hollow...in 2000."

"Karallas," Phoebe said. "This is when he combined him with reality, the fiction with the fact"

"The Horseman is gone," Piper said. "And with that our only chance to stop him."

 

Back at the Kloeten house, Prue and Piper had gone inside. Phoebe and Stuart were still outside and about to go in when they saw a carriage coming towards them. It pulled up along side them and stopped.

The woman in the carriage had an aristocratic bearing. She was in her late forties, with dusty blonde hair, a hat sitting properly on her head. A girl of perhaps twenty, with brown hair and almond-shaped equally brown eyes, sat beside her.

"Would you be Mr. Weston?" the woman asked.

"Yes, I am," he replied. "With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?"

"I am Lady Van Tassel," she said.

Stuart stared at the woman, his mouth half-open.

"You have heard of me?" she asked.

"I...I believe that I have," Stuart said, sounding dumbfounded.

"This is my daughter Catharine," she said.

"Uh...uh..." is all that Stuart could manage to say.

"And I am Phoebe Weston. It is a pleasure to meet you."

"Likewise," Lady Van Tassel said. "I am coming from the meeting that was just held in the village. It was called to devise a plan of what to do about the Headless Horseman and how to protect ourselves from him.

"There were those who said that you were causing us problems, accusing one of us of actually being the Horseman, and trying to set us against one another. Especially Bartel Van Daalen, Amos Harden and old Staas Prinsen.

"But I have never been one to follow the crowd," she continued. "Therefore, I had to come by and see for myself just who this Stuart Weston is that they were demonizing."

"I am no demon," Stuart said, recognizing the irony of his words. "I have not accused anyone in Sleepy Hollow of being the Horseman. And I have no wish to arouse mistrust amongst you. But it is my intent to prove that the Horseman is quite human, whoever he is, and unmask his pretense for what it is."

"You certainly do not appear to be anyone we should fear," Van Tassel said. "I should like to learn more of you and your charming wife. Would you join me for tea tomorrow?"

"We would be honored," Stuart said.

"My farm is down the road to the right, just past the bridge," she said. "At half past five o'clock. Until then...good evening."

"Good evening," Stuart replied as they drove off. He turned and walked into the house, Phoebe following him.

"You seemed stunned to see them," Phoebe said.

"I was," Stuart said, sitting down on the sofa. "Lady Van Tassel is in Washington Irving's story and in the movie. She is the key to the Horseman."

"So Karallas made Lady Van Tassel and her daughter real," Phoebe said, "when he made the Horseman real."

"No, he couldn't have," Stuart said. "The Van Tassels suddenly appearing in Sleepy Hollow out of nowhere, with a farm no less, would have caused an uproar. This is not like The Elders creating a Charmed history for you. They changed everyone's perceptions to effect that.

"But Karallas can't do that. Remember how Dalios boasted about his changing our perceptions in our dreams? He wouldn't have boasted if an ordinary demon could do it as well.

"And Washington Irving based his characters on real people who lived here. The Van Tassel daughter in the story was named Katrina Van Tassel. Katrina...almost identical to Lady Van Tassel's daughter, Catharine.

"No," Stuart continued, "Lady Van Tassel is real. And she is how we're going to stop the Headless Horseman."

"Go on," Prue said.

"In the movie, Lady Van Tassel was actually controlling the Horseman," Stuart said. "She sent him out to kill for her revenge on the people of Sleepy Hollow. And she did that by having the Horseman's severed head."

"His head?" Piper asked. "How did she get it...where did she get it from?"

"It's too long a story," Stuart said. "You'll have to see the movie when we get back home."

"So Lady Van Tassel is behind this Headless Horseman, too," Phoebe said.

"No," Stuart said. "Karallas couldn't change what real people did, But in the movie, the head was hidden in the Van Tassel house. And as the movie fiction has become real, that's where it has to be now, too, in real life. I'm sure Lady Van Tassel doesn't know that it's there. We have to find it and take it."

"And that's why you accepted her invitation for tea," Phoebe said. "To get us into her house."

"More specifically, to keep her occupied in her house," Stuart said. "We'll find some excuse for Piper to come, too. Then you can stay with her servants and keep them occupied, as well. While you, Prue, astral project into the house and look for the Horseman's head."

"And what do we do with the head when we find it?" Piper asked.

"We return it to the Horseman," Stuart answered.

 

"It has to be hidden someplace where Lady Van Tassel or Catharine wouldn't come across it," Prue said.

They were standing behind the Van Tassel house, hidden by a cluster of trees.

"Nor her servants," Stuart added. "That should eliminate a lot of places, such as the kitchen and the bedrooms."

"Give us about ten minutes to be settled and have their attention before you astral project in," Phoebe said.

"Right," Prue said, pulling out an antique pocket watch. "It's a good thing Van Houten left the Kloeten home as it was, watch included."

"Yes," Stuart said, pulling out the pocket watch that he also had. "It's a good thing, indeed."

Phoebe, Piper and Stuart made their way to the front door and knocked. A young woman opened the door.

"The Westons," Stuart said.

"You are expected," the young woman said. "Please follow me."

She led them into a small room, then through a large double door into a fine sitting room. Small tables had been placed in front of the armchairs.

"Please be seated," the young woman said, then left the room.

Phoebe looked at the fine tables and chairs, while Stuart admired the painting hanging on the wall.

"This is the real thing," Phoebe said. "Authentic Early American."

"Yes," Stuart said. "As is this painting of George Washington. There was a demand for his portrait in this time but it was still not yet that common for most people to have one. That the Van Tassels have this one is exceptional."

"Hello," Lady Van Tassel said as she came into the room. "Thank you for coming."

"We could not refuse such a gracious offer," Stuart said. "I hope you will forgive us for bringing Holly with us." He moved closer to Van Tassel.

"Holly is generally a good servant," Stuart said in a low tone so as not to be overheard, "but there are some things that would nevertheless benefit from improvement. I thought the opportunity to observe your servants would be educational for her."

"By all means," Van Tassel said. "I am much in favor of education for women. It is one more aspect of my independent nature."

"You are not alone in such beliefs," Phoebe said.

"My...wife is herself well educated," Stuart said.

"I surmised as much," Van Tassel said, a small smile on her lips.

"Claire," she called and the servant entered the room. "The Westons' servant Holly will assist you. Do show her how things are done here."

"Very well," Claire said. "Please follow me," she said to Piper.

"Though much of your time, I'm sure, has been taken up with the Horseman," Van Tassel said, "I trust you have nevertheless found a few moments to enjoy Sleepy Hollow's beauty."

"We have managed to do so," Phoebe said, "even as we have occupied ourselves with the task at hand. Sleepy hollow is indeed a lovely, quaint area."

"Quaint," Van Tassel repeated, with some surprise. "Though Sleepy Hollow is not New York City, I daresay we are not old fashioned."

Ooops, Phoebe thought. I'm using a 2000 perspective in 1799. I have to be more careful of what I say.

"I meant no offense against Sleepy Hollow," Phoebe said. "I used the word in the sense that this is a fine and true representation of what this part of the Hudson Valley is like."

Claire, carrying a tray, entered the room. Piper followed her with a second tray. Claire placed the tea cups on the small tables in front of Phoebe, Stuart and Lady Van Tassel. Piper placed plates of molasses pecan pie and gingerbread filled with raisins on the tables, as well.

"Thank you Claire...and Holly," Van Tassel said as they left the room. "Now," she said, "please tell me of your previous successes. And of your plans for the Headless Horseman."

 

Prue had astral projected into the back of a small storage room. She found a match and lit a candle that was lying on a box. Quickly she looked through the boxes nearby, then through a shelf full of various household items.

Nothing here, she thought to herself and astral projected back outside.

On her second projection she found herself in the basement. A lamp was burning and she could see large bins of vegetables lying about. She lifted a handful of vegetables in each bin and determined that there was nothing else in there. She looked through some closed crates that lined the walls but they contained only potatoes and carrots.

Then Prue saw a door on the back wall. She opened it and found herself in a small, second room. Three crates were stacked high against the far wall, while two others stood side by side near them. Prue opened the two crates, which had some type of cucumbers in them.

She pushed one of the crates on the floor towards the three stacked crates and stood up on it. She carefully took the top crate down and placed it on the floor. Opening it, she saw that it was half-filled with pecans. She repeated this with the second crate and found more of the same.

Prue looked at the third crate. It was under these two, she thought, both of which had pecans in them. No one would need go to the middle crate for the nuts. And therefore, no one would have any reason at all to go to the bottom crate. A perfect hiding place.

Slowly Prue pried off the lid of the bottom crate. A large canvas bag lay inside it. Carefully, Prue opened the bag.

 

Stuart pulled out his pocket watch.

"This has been most enjoyable, Lady Van Tassel," he said, "but we do not wish to overstay our welcome."

"You would not be doing that," Van Tassel said, "but I'm sure you are anxious to be home."

"Home will have to wait," Stuart said. "We have a few tasks to do that will keep us busy for some two hours. I don't expect that we will be home before half-past eight."

"I have been admiring your portrait of George Washington," Phoebe said.

"It is the work of Gilbert Stuart," Van Tassel said.

"His fame is already well known," Stuart said.

"Might I have a closer look?" Phoebe asked.

"By all means," Van Tassel said. She stood up and accompanied Phoebe to the portrait.

With Van Tassel occupied, Stuart took the pocket watch he was holding and placed it on his plate, then covered it completely with his napkin. He stood up and walked over to the painting.

"It is a magnificent portrait," Phoebe said.

"Holly," Stuart called. In a moment the door opened and Piper came into the room.

"We are leaving," he said.

"You are a most charming couple," Van Tassel said as she escorted them to the door. "I am so glad to have seen that Van Daalen and the others are quite wrong about you."

"You are most kind, Lady Van Tassel," Stuart said.

"Thank you again," Phoebe said.

"Do come again," Van Tassel said.

With the door closed behind them, they made their way to the cluster of trees in the back of the house. Prue was waiting for them.

"Did you find it?" Phoebe asked.

Prue opened the top of the canvas bag she was holding.

"oooo!" Piper said, making a face.

"People in 2000 Sleepy Hollow are in danger from the Headless Horseman," Prue said. "We have to move quickly."

"It's a good thing that Phoebe and I were able to find the movie's Tree of the Dead this afternoon," Stuart said, "so follow me." He looked at Phoebe as she mounted her horse. "Uh, I mean follow us," he said, as he mounted her horse as well and held on to Phoebe tightly.

They rode into the forest, taking turns as Stuart directed. In a few minutes they came across the twisted trunk of a dead tree. The few branches remaining on the tree stuck out at menacing angles.

"The Tree of the Dead," Phoebe announced.

"In the movie," Stuart said, "this is where the Horseman stays and from where he comes out to ride and kill. What he wants back is his head. When he gets it back, having what he wants, he goes into the tree and the opening is sealed forever."

Piper got off of her horse and walked around the tree.

"There isn't any opening there now," she said.

"In the movie, it was only visible when the Horseman came out and went back in," Stuart said.

"If Karallas made this tree become real," Piper said, as Prue and Phoebe got off of their horses, "why don't the people wonder where this tree suddenly came from?"

"It could be explained as having been recently burned in some way, perhaps struck by lightening," Stuart said. "They wouldn't look at it as a new tree, just changed."

"The sun is fast setting," Prue said. "Let's do this while we still have some light."

"I'll hold the head," Stuart said, moving about ten yards away from the tree. "But you stand back. This could still go wrong."

"We'll stand together," Phoebe said, as they moved to him. "No arguments allowed."

Stuart looked at them and exhaled.

"Let's call him and get this over with," Prue said, and they began the spell.

   "Across time and space, oh Headless Horseman 

    Hear now the words that we speak, 

    We return to you what you most cherish 

    The head of your body, that you seek."

There was a sudden flash of lightening, followed by a clap of thunder.

And then the sound of galloping hooves.

They looked down the road in the direction of the sound. And then they saw him.

His sword held high, a black clad rider on a black horse. Rushing towards them.

Their pulses racing, trying to suppress their fear, they watched him come closer and closer.

He was no more than thirty yards from them when Stuart opened the canvas bag, took out the Horseman's Head and held it up. The Horseman kept coming at them and was upon them when he pulled up his horse.

He stood there motionless for a moment, the sword still held high. Then suddenly he reached over and grabbed the head from Stuart's hand. He placed the head atop his torso and twisted it slightly.

And then his eyes opened.

He looked intensely at Stuart and the girls, going from one to another.

Then he turned towards the Tree of Death and galloped towards it. They saw the side of the tree open. The Horseman rode into the tree and the opening sealed behind him.

"Phew!" they all said together.

"That really worked," Phoebe said. "He's gone."

"It's a good thing you saw that movie," Piper said, "and knew what we had to do."

"Now let's get back to the Kloeten house," Prue said, "and get ready for the next part of our plan."

 

There was a knocking on the door. Stuart nodded to Piper and she went to the door and opened it.

"Good evening," Claire said.

"Hello Claire," Piper said. "Come in."

Claire walked in but a few feet and then stopped.

"Mr. Weston left his pocket watch on the table," she said. "Lady Van Tassel sent me to return it to you."

"On your table," Stuart repeated. "I had feared I lost it on the road this evening. Thank you for bringing it to me, Claire. And thank Lady Van Tassel for me."

"I will do that," Claire said. "Good night." She turned around and walked out.

"Right on time," Phoebe said. "You're telling Lady Van Tassel that we would not be home for two hours gave us just enough time to deal with the Horseman and be back here when Claire would bring the watch."

Claire got into her wagon and started down the road. She did not see a black clad figure slowly coming up behind her.

The wagon was well on its way when Claire heard the sound of hooves behind her. She turned and saw a figure in black, a sword held high, galloping after her. A figure without a head.

Claire snapped the reins on the horse to go faster. The black clad figure kept pace with her, the sword glistening in the moonlight. Frightened, Claire did not know what to do when finally she came around a bend in the road and saw the Van Tassel farm. Afraid to look back, she frantically drove the horse faster until she pulled up beside the house.

Not bothering to tie up the horse, Claire rushed into the house and bolted the door behind her.

 

The black clad figure slowly opened the door. Piper and Phoebe turned around to face it.

"It worked," Prue said, taking off the black cape that had covered her torso and her head. "Though these small slits for my eyes limit my field of view."

"Claire was duly frightened?" Phoebe asked.

"Yes," Prue said. "She will tell lady Van Tassel that the Headless Horseman tried to kill her. And that will establish for everyone that the Horseman waits to go after a single person in the forest. Especially if that person is a woman."

"And tomorrow I will gather the residents of Sleepy Hollow to the forest. And when you come after Piper, who will be all alone, I will "shoot" you and then show everyone that there was never a Headless Horseman, just a real person."

"And you're sure you know how to use this rifle," Piper said.

"I know enough to be able to shoot and miss Prue," Stuart said. "Then when she's fallen off of her horse "dead", I'll show everyone it was just a woman."

"And since no one here has seen Prue," Piper said, "they'll accept that it was this stranger and that it was all a fake. And history won't have been changed by the real Horseman."

"It's a good thing that Van Houten left everything in this house, not only the watches," Prue said. "Like this black cape and this sword."

"Let's get some sleep," Stuart said. "Tomorrow will be a busy day."

 

Stuart was outside the Kloeten house the next morning when a wagon pulled up.

"Good day, Mr. Van Houten," Stuart said.

"I do not yet know whether it is good," he replied. "The Headless Horseman was seen again last night."

"What happened?" Stuart asked.

"Lady Van Tassel's servant Claire was on her way home from here," Van Houten said.

"Yes, she came to return something to me," Stuart said.

"In the middle of the way the Horseman came upon her," he said. "She drove her horse as fast as she could and just made it back to the Van Tassel farm.

"So she was not harmed," Stuart said.

"No, she is safe," Van Houten said. "But this has shaken everyone. No one is safe. Van Daalen has called another meeting for today to come up with some plan to save us."

"I have a plan that will save you," Stuart said. "Have everyone meet me in the forest by the small clearing at five o'clock. And I will end this Horseman myth once and for all."

 

It five minutes before the hour of five when Stuart, Prue and Phoebe saw the village men make their way to the small clearing.

"You have called us here for more of your accusations against us," Van Daalen said. "It is only out of respect for Theodore that we have consented to be a part of your charade."

"It is not I who is making the charade," Stuart said. "But we will bring this to a swift conclusion.

"You have seen that this Horseman has been attacking every evening," he continued. "Single people, or at most two defenseless women. And now I will draw him out."

"Are you going to call him?" Amos Harden asked, mockingly, as the others laughed. He was in his late fifties, a weathered look on his narrow face.

"I have set the bait in the forest," Stuart said, "and the trap here. The bait is my servant Holly. She is riding around alone in the forest. A single person, a defenseless woman. The Horseman will not let such an opportunity slip by. When Holly knows she has the Horseman after her, she will lead him here to my trap."

Stuart stopped and raised his rifle.

"This will end here," he said. "And you will see that there is nothing supernatural about this evil murderer."

The sound of a horse approaching interrupted him. Stuart looked down the road and saw Piper riding towards them.

"Now hide off to the left side where you can't be seen," Stuart commanded the men. "I do not want to frighten the Horseman away."

Stuart moved to his right, hiding behind a tree together with Phoebe. In a moment Piper rode passed him, then turned and pulled up her horse. She dismounted and hurried over to Phoebe and Stuart.

They could see the black clad figure now, the sword held high above the headless torso.

Stuart aimed his rifle as Prue rode her horse at a medium pace. He was about to shoot when a shot rang out from far to his left. He turned and saw Van Daalen holding the rifle he had just fired. Prue pulled up on her horse and fell to the ground. She lay on her back, her sword still in her outstretched hand.

Stuart, Phoebe and Piper quickly ran to Prue. Stuart knelt down and pulled her cloak down to reveal her face - and blood on her chest.

"Oh my..." Phoebe said. "Prue's shot!"

Stuart thought quickly.

"Here is your Headless Horseman," he shouted as the village men approached them.

"It's a woman!" Van Houten proclaimed.

"A small woman," Stuart said. "Small enough to peek through these holes in her cape to see what she was doing while giving the impression of a taller rider without a head. There was no ghost nor anything supernatural involved here."

"It was just chicanery," one of the men said.

"We've got to get Prue to Leo to save her," Piper said quietly. They were a little distance from the village men, who  could not hear what they were saying.

"Let's say the spell and go home," Phoebe said.

"We can't let them see you use your powers," Stuart said quietly, "else everything we've done here will be undone. As will the time line.

"I'll move them away and distract them and then you'll say the spell."

"You have to be here with us to come back with us," Phoebe said.

"Never mind me," Stuart said. "Just get Prue back." He thought for a second. "And send the horses away with a noisy gallop before you leave."

Stuart turned to the people.

"Gentlemen, I have ended your horseman mystery," Stuart said as he started walking away from Prue. "And now I will take her body with me and find out what I can about her."

"You will not," Van Daalen said. "It was my rifle that has ended the Horseman's killings."

"It was my plan," Stuart said, walking closer to Van Daalen, the men gathering around them, "that brought the Horseman here. Without that plan your rifle may well have remained at your bedside, for all the good it would have done. And had done until I came to Sleepy Hollow."

"You have been little liked since you came here," Van Daalen said, "and will be even less liked if-"

The sound of horses galloping away interrupted him.

"What's that?" someone asked.

"The body...it is gone," Harden said.

"His wife, Phoebe, has taken the woman's body," one of the men said.

Van Daalen looked at the empty ground where Prue had lain and then looked at Stuart.

"Magistrate, I demand that you arrest Stuart Weston immediately," Van Daalen said.

"On what charge?" the Magistrate asked.

"Stealing," Van Daalen replied.

"Stealing?" Stuart asked incredulously. "I have taken nothing from you."

"You have stolen the body of this evil woman who killed people of Sleepy Hollow," Van Daalen said. "And also the proof of my glory."

"He wants to impress Catharine Van Tassel with his deed," one of the men whispered to another.

"I accept your demand," the Magistrate said.

"What?!" Stuart exclaimed. "That's insane. You can't!."

"I can," the Magistrate said. "And I have." He motioned to two of the men who then grabbed Stuart's arms.

"No!" a voice called out.

"Who said that?" the Magistrate asked.

"I did," a young man, standing in the back behind the people, said.

"You did? Van Daalen asked. "You are but a boy."

"And you are not even from Sleepy Hollow," Van Houten added.

"I am sixteen years of age," the young man said, "old enough to know of what I speak. I am passing through Sleepy Hollow on my way to Tarry Town, where I spend much time."

The young man walked through the crowd of men and stood near Stuart and the Magistrate.

"It is not yet twenty years," the young man said, "since we fought a war against the tyranny of Great Britain that suppressed our freedoms. As Thomas Paine so famously wrote in The Crisis 'We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in'."

The young man paused and looked around at the village men.

"What you do here today embodies neither freedom nor honesty," he continued. "You did not fight a war against the British Acts of Parliament that denied our liberties and against the British courts that ruled without justice, only to replace them with our own arbitrary interpretation of the law and hasty, capricious judgments.

"As Americans, who have enshrined your beliefs of freedom and the just rule of law in the Constitution under which we now live, you must set this man free."

The villagers stared at the young man but no one said a word.

"That was quite eloquent," Van Houten said to the young man, breaking the silence. "There is truth in what you say."

"He is right," another said. "Holding this man in custody will not serve honest justice."

"I too, agree," Harden said, albeit reluctantly. "We are Americans who hold our freedoms dear. They are not to be trampled upon for personal advantage."

The Magistrate looked around at the men and saw which way most were leaning.

"Very well," he said. "Free Mr. Weston."

"No!" Van Daalen said.

"Yes!" the Magistrate said, motioning to the two men who held Stuart to release him.

"You have a way with words," Harden said to the young man. "What is your name?"

"Washington Irving," he replied.

Oh my goodness, Stuart thought. I'm actually meeting Washington Irving!

"You should consider becoming a writer, like Paine," Harden said.

"I am indeed planning to be one," Irving replied.

Harden left Irving to join the Sleepy Hollow men as they were leaving and Stuart approached the young man.

"It is a pleasure to meet you," Stuart said, enthusiastically.

"I do not know why you should feel that way, sir," Irving said. "I have done nothing special."

Of course, Stuart thought. He hasn't done anything special...yet. He's not yet the famous Washington Irving.

"I mean...uh...because of your defense of me," Stuart said.

"I only did was right," Irving said.

"Well, I am indebted to you," Stuart said. "I shall never forget this day."

"Nor shall I," Irving said. "What has happened here could well give birth to something I may write about - a legend of a Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow."

 

Dusk was about to fall on Sleepy Hollow. Stuart was inside the Klouten house when there was a knock on the door. He hurried to the door, opened it and was taken by surprise.

"Kelly Anderson?" he said. "What...are you doing here?"

"I've come to take you home," the young witch said. "Piper and Phoebe thought it was not a good idea for them to be seen here again. So Piper gave me her dress and the time travel spell. And here I am."

"Is Prue all right?" he asked.

"Prue is fine," Kelly said. "Leo healed her."

"Weren't you busy chasing after some warlock?" Stuart asked. "That's why you couldn't come with us."

"Yes, Bojan," Kelly said. "I vanquished him. So I was free now to come here for you."

"How did you find this place?" he asked. "And without a horse?"

"A few of the men I asked didn't want to tell me where to find you," Kelly said. "I guess they still don't like you. But a young girl in a wagon knew where you were and she offered to bring me here. Her name is Catharine. I think she has a crush on you."

"Catharine Van Tassel," Stuart said. "Katrina from the movie. And she had more than a crush on Ichabod Crane. But I'm not him."

"Aren't you?" she asked. "You defeated the Headless Horseman. Two of them, in fact. Just as Crane defeated the Horseman in the movie. I can understand her feeling that way about you."

There was something in the way Kelly said those last words that caught Stuart's attention. No, he admonished himself. I'm not someone new who Kelly just met, the way I'm new to Catharine. Kelly's known me for some time. She couldn't have meant it that way.

"Life imitating art," he said, trying to explain away his actions.

"Are you anxious to go home?" Kelly asked, "I really like this period. It's so exciting being here in 1799. I'd love to stay here a while with you," and smiled at Stuart.

With me? Stuart thought. Uh...she couldn't have meant that the way it sounded...could she? Then...did she also mean her understanding Catharine's feelings about me the way I thought she did? Is Catharine not the only one with a crush on me?

"Uh...they're going to be worried about us if we don't go back soon," he answered

"No, they won't," Kelly assured him. "The spell Piper gave me will bring us back just one minute after I left them. They won't realize we spent any more time here. As far as they're concerned, what we do here will be as if it never happened. And as you have use of this house, we have where to spend the night."

Spend the night? Stuart thought. And then he remembered what Prue had told him about the future they had traveled to; the future where Horatio had revealed them as witches and where Stuart had been shot and almost died. In that future, Prue told him afterwards, Kelly had a very strong emotional and romantic relationship with him.

Stuart knew that when they stopped Horatio from revealing their secret they prevented that future, and his relationship with Kelly, from happening. But could the seeds of what that relationship would have been be what he's sensing in Kelly now?

"Well, I really should return the horses to Baanders, from whom we rented them, before we leave," Stuart said. "I'll have to bring them to his stable and drop them off without being seen. I was going to do that in the dark this evening but I suppose I could do that tomorrow night instead."

"Good. That will give us all day tomorrow - besides tonight." Kelly smiled again as she said that.

"So we have three horses and two riders," the young witch said.

"One rider," Stuart said. "I take it that you ride, but I don't."

"Then this is a perfect opportunity for you to learn how to ride," she told him.

"Uh, no...I don't think I can," Stuart said.

"Of course you can," she encouraged him. "And I would love to teach you."

"I'm uncomfortable on a horse by myself," he said.

She took Stuart's hand, gave it a squeeze and smiled at him. "You'll be fine," she said. "I'll be right here next to you. I won't let anything happen to you. Let's go."

Stuart hesitated, exhaled, then walked outside with her. Kelly helped Stuart mount his horse, then mounted hers.

She took Stuart's hand again, gave it another supportive squeeze, held it for a moment and smiled at him. Then she put the reins into his right hand.

Stuart couldn't help noticing how attractive Kelly was in her nineteenth century dress and hair style. Though she always looked nice when he saw her in 2000, there was something different, something special, about how she looked here. And now, he found himself helplessly unable to resist whatever she wanted.

What we do here will be as if it never happened. Stuart kept hearing Kelly's words in his head. The seeds of what that future relationship with Kelly would have been were in him, too.

"Now watch what I do " Kelly said, still smiling. "Don't worry about where I'm taking you. Just follow my lead."

With his left hand, he took Kelly's hand again and held it.

"I would gladly follow your lead...to wherever you want to take me," Stuart said, smiling back.

 

"So now how do we vanquish Karallas?" Phoebe asked. She was sitting on The Manor's living room sofa next to Stuart and Prue. Kelly, Leo and Piper were sitting on the end chairs and Kit was curled up in Phoebe's lap.

'We can't," Prue said. "With the Horseman gone, we don't have any way of finding him. He could be anywhere."

"Except in Sleepy Hollow," Kelly said. "He has no reason to be there anymore."

"Even though you didn't vanquish Karallas," Leo said, "you sent the Horseman back to his fiction. And that saved a lot people. Both in 2000 and in 1799. And history wasn't changed."

"I'm not so sure about the history part," Phoebe said. "When Stuart met Washington Irving, it sounded like he was going to write the Sleepy Hollow story because of what we, and the Horseman, did."

"So what he was going to write was based upon what he had already written, before this gave him the idea to write it in the first place," Piper said. "I know, Stuart. You're going to tell me it's a temporal cause and effect that can't happen."

"Actually," Stuart said, "I was going to ask if now we could get some screen credit in the movie. You know...'based upon an idea of Stuart Weston'."

Kelly and Prue laughed.

"Well, I think we don't have to worry about Karallas for a while," Piper said. "Having seen how we undid his plan for the Horseman, he probably won't try anything again for a while."

"I think you're right, Piper," Phoebe said. "Karallas isn't doing anything tied in to the solstice. So there's nothing pushing him to rush out and make fiction real again."

Meow, Kit said. She jumped down from Phoebe's lap and went into the parlor. She stood in front of the television.

Meow, she said, tilting her head to the right.

Kit stared at the blank screen on the television. Then she tilted her head again and gave a much louder 'Meow'. This time the television turned on.

The image on the screen was of a woman in her mid-twenties, with jet black hair, caramel skin and beautiful, soft features. The lapels of her cream colored blouse rested neatly on top of her royal blue colored tailored jacket. A microphone was in her left hand.

"...the spray coming out of the flower in the man's lapel made both girls feel sick and collapse on the sidewalk. According to a hospital spokeswoman, it was only the proximity of a city ambulance with paramedics who quickly applied emergency treatment, that saved the two girls from almost certain death.

"Three days ago," the woman continued, "someone dressed up as the Headless Horseman terrorized and almost killed two girls in Sleepy Hollow. And today, someone dressed in a purple suit, his face painted white, red lips and green hair, and with what was described as a maniacal smile, terrorized and almost killed Brenda McLean and her fourteen year-old cousin, Brittney, using a trademark lapel flower poison spray. A bizarre co-incidence? A copycat? Or...is there something else going on?

"The police wouldn't say. But our sources tell us that the police are baffled by what happened today. Maybe what the police need is a 'Bat Signal' searchlight to shine into the night sky for help. Because if Brenda Mclean's account of what took place is accurate, then the arch villain of the Batman comic books and movies, the fictional character The Joker...may not be just fiction...any more.

"Reporting live from Gotham City, this is Megan Jones, Fox News Channel."