Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Cry Me A River Prompt: Shattered Picture
Word Count: 1,337
Date Written: 12 August 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Spelling Entertainment, not the author, and are used without permission.
She's walking through their home, checking every window and door, when she spots the picture he held earlier. Her sisters are sound asleep, although how they can sleep after what they've been through tonight is a mystery to Prue. She tried to fall asleep. She tried every trick she knows, from warmed milk to reading the most boring volume she owns, and nothing helped. Every time she shut her eyes, she saw her father's face again. She saw him as he was tonight, willing to give his own life to save theirs.
Prue shakes her head as she stops before the photograph and gently lifts it in its frame. They all look so happy in this picture. She vaguely remembers the actual occasion when it was taken, but she knows they were happy. For a time, they were all happy. And then their father abandoned them.
She shakes her head again as tears prick her eyes. She just doesn't understand it. She's tried all night long to understand this latest twist in their lives, but she's no more able to comprehend it than she's been able to understand at any point during these last many years why her father left in the first place. She traces her mother's smile with her thumb. Her mom always tried to be so strong, but she knew she was shattered when Victor left. She remembers finding her crying late one night, holding her, and refusing to let go.
She remembers growing to be their family's rock from a very early age. It's one of the few things that hasn't changed. Piper and Phoebe still look to her for guidance, even if they don't realize it. It's still her place to protect them, which is why she can't sleep tonight. It seems like their lives are getting more and more dangerous every night, and they almost didn't survive tonight's encounter with the Warlocks. If it hadn't been for their father, they wouldn't have.
She knows Victor hurt, but she can only imagine the pain he must have felt. Her sisters would not have kept chanting if it had not been for her. If they had stopped, the Warlocks would have had them, so she'd had to keep them going. She used to dream of hurting her father as he'd hurt them, but watching the pain their spell had inflicted on him tonight had hurt her deeply in a place she hadn't known she still possessed. After all these years, after all he put them through, she still loves her dad.
Prue dashes the tears from her eyes and puts the framed photograph back down. She lied tonight. She should have told him the truth, but she hadn't been able to look into his eyes and tell him that she was the one who cut him out of the picture. She couldn't stand to see her mother hurting. She'd wanted to erase every memory of him in hopes that it would ease her mom's pain, but Patty herself had told her, when she'd caught her with the scissors and the picture, that she was doing wrong. She wasn't in time to keep her from ripping her father's picture apart, though.
She used to wonder if she still loved him. After what she saw tonight, she wouldn't be surprised if she still did. Prue sinks onto the couch and drops her head in her hands. Her fingertips massage her aching temples. It's all so confusing! She'd thought she hated him. She'd thought she could send him out of their lives without a second thought. She'd thought she could protect her sisters by herself, but yet, she'd needed her father to help her do that very thing tonight.
She could have killed him. She didn't, but still, it was a very real possibility. His screams still seem to echo in their living room even now. She fears she'll hear them for the rest of her life. She doesn't know if she would have had the strength to keep going with the spell if it hadn't been for his encouragement. He'd been more than willing to die; he'd been ready to die to protect them, not just her sisters but herself as well.
And yet, she'd hated him for so many years. Prue isn't sure when she started to cry, but her shoulders are shaking softly now with her quiet sobs. She came so close to killing her own father, but she'd had no other choice in order to protect her sisters! She used to tell herself that she had no choice but to hate him if she was going to protect her family and make her mother happy again. Patty herself had consoled her many times, and she and Grams both had told her she shouldn't hate her father. But none of it had done any good until tonight.
Now, Prue understands she never did really stop loving him. She couldn't. He was her father, despite everything else. No matter what wrongs he'd done, no matter how much he'd hurt her mother, he was still her dad. And she loved him.
A cry breaks from her lips, but suddenly, there are arms around her. "Sh, sh," Piper murmurs, stroking her long, black hair as gently as their mother had once stroked her, as gently as Prue has stroked Piper in the past when she'd caught her crying. Piper rocks her and kisses the top of her head as she sinks beside her onto the couch. "Sh. It's okay. He knows you love him."
For the first time, Prue doesn't try to argue that she doesn't love her father. Piper's always been able to see through her whenever she's tried to lie. She just nods against her, trying and failing to stop herself from crying. Another sob breaks free, and her tears coat the sleeve of her sister's nightgown. She does love him, but it almost wasn't enough tonight. His love for them almost caused his death!
What if . . . What if love isn't enough? What if her best intentions aren't enough? What if she isn't enough? What if she loses her sisters, lets them down, lets them be killed? What if she can't protect them after all?
Suddenly, Phoebe's there as well, her arms wrapping around Prue from behind. She can't even hate her any more, regardless of the fact that she stole her boyfriend and made them into Witches. She didn't know what she was doing when she read that spell. Phoebe's always been clueless and careless that way. She didn't mean any harm, and besides, they are Witches. They've always been Witches. It was only that they couldn't access their powers until Phebs read that spell. Their father confirmed that tonight.
He confirmed so many, many things that Prue's been running from her whole life. She's still crying, but her sobs have quieted. Her sisters are both hugging her, both stroking her, both murmuring things that are supposed to be consoling her, but the one thing that does is the love that Prue feels radiating from both of them. Love saved them tonight, and somehow, some way, it's going to have to be enough. Love's going to have to get them through this whole thing as Witches -- through their whole lives? Prue wonders --, because nothing else will ever be enough. Love saved them tonight, and it's going to have to keep saving them.
"I love you, Prue," Piper whispers, still stroking her hair.
"I love you too," she whispers back and then adds, "both of you."
She can hear Phoebe's smile ring in her answer, "Me three." There are three of them for a reason, and not just because they are the Charmed Ones. They are the Charmed Ones, but they're sisters first and foremost. Prue wipes her tears away as her determination takes control again. They are sisters, and their love as sisters will see them through this all the way to the end many, many years from now.