Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Piper, minor Leo/Piper
Challenge/Prompt: lands_of_magic April Showers: Dark and Wind faerie_wish13 June 2017: Weather
Warning(s): AU, Future Fic, Character Deaths
Word Count: 2,335
Date Written: 20 June 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Spelling Entertainment, not the author, and are used without permission.
There was a time in her life when Piper had thought she would never be ready for this moment. She had not wanted it to come. She had never wanted to be the last of her sisters still alive, but this morning, they had buried her last living sister and tonight, they had held a ceremony to honor the Witch Queen who had once been the youngest Halliwell. They had all had so much power, Piper reflects, but in the end, it had done them so little good.
And now, she faces her ultimate test, alone. Her children had offered to be here with her, and she had been tempted to allow them to accompany her. But in the end, she knows this is something she can only face alone, and her children would only have been in trouble if she had allowed them to accompany her in this moment.
She's not headed to any particular place; she's not headed in any certain direction. It doesn't matter where she walks or rather or not she walks alone; she'll still have to face this test alone. No one can help her, and yet every one she's ever loved has helped her. She stops walking, deciding the time is now. She won't try to flee from it. She can't; wherever she might go, it will surely follow her.
Her hands balling into fists, Piper feels the photograph she holds crinkling. She has another copy of it, or she never would have brought it. It's here for one simple reason -- to remind her she's not truly alone -- but even without the picture of herself, Prue, and Phoebe, she'd still know she's not alone. Her sisters go with her wherever she is. So it has been with Prue and Paige since their deaths; so it will be with Phoebe. Appearances are often deceiving -- she knows that more than most --, and so it is now. She may appear to walk alone, but in truth, she's never alone.
The night is dark. There are no stars to light her way even away from the city out here on the beach, where Grams brought them all when their mother passed and where Prue first saw Death. It's a new moon tonight, which is ironic in and of itself, but there is no light shining on Piper tonight. She doesn't need it. She hears the waves slapping across the shore. Something somewhere in the night crashes, but she doesn't jump. There's nothing in this night -- or any night -- that a Halliwell can't handle.
She squares her shoulders and lifts her head, her resolve complete. Wind tugs at her long, dark hair and black clothes with steadily increasing force until it snaps the flashlight out of her hand. Piper lets it go. She hears it fall on the sand but doesn't bend after it. She doesn't need it, and even if she did, she has a feeling it wouldn't help her now. The time of her test has come, and nothing made by man can help her.
Piper keeps her head held high and proud as the wind batters her. Something screeches in the night, but she doesn't budge. A force flashes down upon her, but she keeps her ground. Words snatch in the rising wind around her, blowing over her, around her, inviting her, calling out to her. She keeps a tight grip on the photograph in her hand and keeps her soul calm.
Nothing made by man can help her nor can anything made by the Gods, but the reserve of power she calls upon tonight is blessed by the Gods and made by women. "Sister," they call to her, and she actually smiles as she answers, "I am not your sister."
They took her from them once before. They took her from Leo, Phoebe, and Paige. They almost took her from what was to be her future, but the same power that saved her then is what she calls upon tonight. "I am the sister of Prue, and Phoebe, and Paige," she calls, her voice and the wind rising with each word. She keeps her voice just barely above the sound of the air whooshing around her. "I am a sister but not of yours, and you can not have me!"
"We will see about that!"
"You do not like being alone!"
"I am not alone!"
"Ah, but you are! Poor, little Halliwell -- "
"Little sister -- "
"You are the last!"
"And you will die alone!"
"I am the last of my sisters, yes, but I am not alone! And I will not die alone! We four continued a long, proud heritage that will last long after all of your kind is defeated!"
"You joined with us once!"
"You liked the power!"
"I was young and a fool!" she snaps. "I did not understand life and death as I do now!"
The wind snickers at her. They're goading her, laughing at her, but it doesn't matter what they think. She will never succumb to grief again for she's seen that death is not the end. It's only the beginning of the next chapter of the rest of their lives. She's seen Grams, her mom, even Prue and Paige. She knows life goes on. Perhaps calling it life isn't exactly the best terminology, because they are no longer technically living, but in some ways, those she loves and has lost are living more now than they ever did before. They're existing freely and without the hindrances of this world, no longer fighting Demons or having to work at an actual job to get money to live on for money has no meaning to them. They are truly free, and most of all, they're together! And one day, when she breathes her last, as she will eventually, she, too, will be among their number. There truly is nothing to fear in death.
When He comes for her, and eventually He will, it will be not to merely take her from this world but to lead her to a truly joyous homecoming. Everyone she's loved and lost will be there: Grams, Mom, her dad, her sisters, Leo, Andy, Morris . . . even that sweet ghost they helped when they were first learning about the Supernatural. It will be a homecoming meant to rock Heaven itself, and the only thing standing between her and it now is whatever's left of her life here on Earth. She doesn't mind if the time speeds her by now, but she knows there's a reason why she's still here. She's still here, because she's still needed. Her children need her, and that includes Phoebe's children and Paige's as well as her own trio.
"You really don't need us, do you?" Piper gasps as a silver light appears before her. She knows it's not the moon. One of the many things she's learned to do as a Witch is to keep track of the moon's phases. There will be no moon tonight, but there's a shaft of silver light before her nonetheless, a shaft of light that pours down with silver grace upon a thing wearing her face, her image but not her heart, not her soul.
Piper smiles, and if that smile is at all forced, only she is aware of that fact. "I don't," she says and shakes her head with regal pride.
"Are you sure about that?" another of the voices asks, and before her, right by the side of the thing that wears her image, stands another wearing Prue's.
"You don't need us?" a third asks, appearing as Phoebe.
"You never did need me." The fourth materializes as a pouting Paige.
"You're right," Piper says simply but doesn't back down. "I will always need my sisters, but not you. That part of me that thought she couldn't continue in this life grew up a long time ago. I don't need you banshees. I don't need the supposed freedoms you offer. When my time comes, I will be granted true freedom."
"But what about us, Piper?" the wicked spirit wearing Prue's image asks.
"Don't you miss us?" adds the one with Phoebe's face. "Don't you want us back?"
"You never left me." Piper raises the hand still clutching the photograph of herself and her sisters and touches the picture to her heart. "You've always been right here -- or, rather, my sisters have always been right here, but you things aren't my sisters. That's why you don't understand, why you can't understand. You don't know what real love is. Real love is knowing that you're not alone. It's knowing that, no matter what happens in this world or to our bodies, our souls will forever be connected."
"Our souls don't die. They just move to a higher place. Those who die first visit those of us who still remain in the land of the living. We can't always see them, but they can see us and if we pay really, really close attention, we can feel them. That brush of a breeze we sometimes feel when entering a place they loved, the whiff our noses catch of their perfumes or colognes, the times we think we can hear their laughter or even their voices in our minds . . . None of it's pretend. It's all real. We just can't see them until the Gods let us."
"But what if they don't let you?" her duplicate asks quietly.
"But they will." Piper smiles. "They love us, care for us in Their own ways. When They think we can handle it, They'll let us see those we love again. They'll let us know they're there, but if we listen with our own hearts, not our minds, but our own hearts and souls, we know they're never far from us. Like now."
Her duplicate takes a step back. "What do you mean?" it hisses, but already the banshees are beginning to look at areas where Piper is not and hiss with growing nervousness.
Piper holds out her hands and lets the wind take the photograph from her. "My sisters are right beside me," she announces, "and our ancestors, from my Mother and Grams all the way back to Melinda Warren are behind us." There's a flash of light, not of lightning but of power, and for one brief moment, the entire beach is illuminated. True to Piper's word, it's filled with Halliwells all the way from the very first one to the most recent to have died. "We walk together. We are together. And we will never be alone."
The banshees hiss and vanish back into the wind. "See?" Piper asks with a smile, turning back around. She can't see those she loves, but she can feel them all around her. "I told you I'm not alone." Her head still held proudly, she starts the journey back to the city. She doesn't bend for the flashlight or try to chase down the photograph she let go. She has another copy of it at home any way, and besides, she doesn't need pictures to remind her of her sisters. She'll never forget them, and they will always be with her.
She can sense every one of her loved ones as she walks quietly along the beach. Their presence only lifts partially when a Jeep slides up to the walkway. "Mom?" Chris asks, peering out the window at her. Looking back at him, she's reminded of another boy, another son she loved, and she wonders how close to the young man she knew and loved before him this child will ever become. She doesn't know, but they're all the same and it doesn't really matter. He will always be her son, and a part of her will always be with him just as a part of her parents will always be with her. "Are you coming home?"
She beams up at him, genuinely happy. "I already am," she tells him and promptly ignores the look of confusion that clouds his face. She opens the door and climbs in, ready to go to the next part of her life. After all, the sooner she continues with her life here on Earth and with Chris and the rest of her children, the sooner she can reach eternity and spend it with all their beloved family.
In the driver's seat, Chris shakes his head and drives. He's thankful his mother is safe, but her words both confuse and concern him. Piper just settles down for the ride. He glances back at her through the rearview mirror and frowns again. She seems younger than he can remember her being in a very long time, and for just a moment, he thinks he sees some one sitting beside her. He rubs at the glass, and the image vanishes.
Piper faces him with an indulgent smile. "It's just your father," she assures him. He frowns deeper, and she almost laughs. Almost, but she stops herself just in time, biting her bottom lip to keep from laughing and concerning him further. He doesn't understand, but one day, she knows, he will. One day, he'll get to see all the wonders she has, and he'll come to understand, as she also has, that they are never alone. She feels Leo's hand curl around hers and lifts her fingers to his touch. She settles in with a content smile to wait both through the drive home and through the journey to the next step to her eternal life with all those she loves.
She remembers Grams telling her, with pride, that the women in their family keep their names. She never told her that they also never truly died, but she wouldn't have believed her or understood her at the time, just as Chris can not understand her now. But one day, he will. One day, he'll be in her place, and all will become clear to him as it has to her. They just have to wait.