"LESSONS IN WITCHCRAFT"
Leo Wyatt returned home that Saturday evening with one of his charges, Paul Margolin, by his side. The whitelighter and the witch had spent the last two days in San Jose, tracking a darklighter bent upon killing a future whitelighter. Following the success of their mission, Leo invited Paul over for dinner with him, his wife and her sisters. They found the Halliwell household in an uproar upon their arrival.
The main source of the fracas came from Leo’s wife, presently the oldest Charmed One. Piper seemed to be in the middle of some rant against the supernatural world. Which left Leo wondering what brought on this rant. “So you’re finally back,” Piper said in a voice tinged with acid. “Have a good time?”
Leo stared at his wife. Warily. “Not exactly,” he slowly replied. “This darklighter proved to be difficult to vanquish.”
“Especially since he proved to be a former whitelighter,” Paul added. “That was a bit of a surprise.”
A prim smile touched Piper’s lips. “Really? I don’t see why, considering it’s become increasingly difficult to notice the difference between the good guys and the bad ones.” She paused dramatically. “Even among demons.”
The last comment ignited Leo’s suspicions. He frowned at his wife. “Piper, what in the hell are you tal . . .?”
Phoebe interrupted. “Olivia and Cole were here, today.”
A long silence filled the living room before Leo retorted, “Cole? What the hell was he doing . . .?”
“Witchcraft lessons,” Phoebe continued. “Lessons on magical beings. Including demons.”
Leo took a deep breath and calmed down. “Oh yeah. I forgot. Um . . . what happened? I mean, did Cole say something that . . .?”
This time, Piper interrupted. “Oh, Cole told us a lot of interesting things, today. So did Olivia.” She glared at her husband. “Tell me Leo, did you know that warlocks were mortals? Or that they weren’t the only ones that blinked when teleporting?”
“What?” Leo demanded, stunned by the revelation. “I’ve never heard . . .”
Again, Piper interrupted. “Well, according to Olivia, her friend Nathalie Gleason is a teleporter that blinks. And the same is true about a friend of her parents’. And both are witches.”
Leo shook his head in disbelief. “Piper, I don’t . . .”
“Remember Jeremy?” Piper continued. “The warlock I had dated before we became witches? It turned out that he wasn’t a warlock after all. According to Cole, he was a half-demon. A half-demon, Leo! I was dating a demon!”
Leo stared at both Phoebe and Paige, who shrugged. He added, “Okay, so he was a demon. Why are . . .?”
“Oh that’s not all!” Piper retorted.
“Can I please finish one sentence?” Leo cried out in frustration. Piper stared at him with hard eyes. With a sigh, he added, “Never mind.”
Piper continued, “As I was about to say, has any of you ever heard of the Order of Gimle?”
The name brought up memories of a demonic order once mentioned by fellow whitelighters and one or two Elders. “Vaguely,” Leo answered. “It’s a demonic order. Why?”
Paige said, “According to Cole, the demons from this order are good guys. They defend innocents from evil. Like us.”
“He’s lying!” Paul exclaimed, his obvious distrust of the half-demon stamped on his face.
The youngest Charmed One stared at the New York-born witch. “He wasn’t lying.”
“How do you know?”
Rolling her eyes in contempt, Paige shot back, “Because Olivia has also heard of them! Her dad had even saved one member from being killed by some witches who thought he had killed one of their own.”
Leo’s emotions matched the disbelief and confusion that whirled in Paul’s eyes. “Olivia's dad had once helped a demon?” the witch demanded.
“Wait a minute!” Leo demanded, shaking his head. “Are you saying that Cole was telling the truth?”
Hands on her hips, Piper retorted, “What we’re trying to say is that at least one-third of our Book of Shadows might be wrong! Wrong, Leo! And you know why?” Speechless, the whitelighter shook his head. “Because some of our ancestors were probably dumb enough to listen to their whitelighters!” Piper’s eyes blazed with anger. “I mean, we did learn a lot of our stuff from whitelighers, didn’t we? Do you have any idea how humiliating it was to find out how wrong we were about a lot of stuff . . . after five years?”
Unable to respond, Leo turned to Paul for reassurance. But the male witch seemed just as speechless. After a long, silent moment, the whitelighter found his voice. “I . . . I don’t know what to say. I mean . . . are you sure that Olivia and Cole were right? Maybe they’re mistaken.”
“Or maybe not!” Paige shot back. “Why don’t you ask them, Leo? We’re supposed to be meeting Olivia and her mother at the McNeill home, next Sunday? We would have done so tomorrow, but Phoebe will be in Chicago in a few days.”
The whitelighter frowned. “Sunday? You mean for brunch?”
Paige shook her head. “Not exactly. Harry and the others are supposed to be attending some wedding in Palo Alto that day. Olivia and Mrs. McNeill is supposed to be joining them for the reception, later.”
At that moment, Leo decided to accept the offer and accompany the sisters to the McNeill home, next week. Paul volunteered to join them . . . much to Paige’s obvious displeasure. Not that Leo minded the extra company. He figured that Paul, like himself, was curious to learn what kind of lessons that the McNeills have been giving.
Mother and daughter stated at the two unexpected guests with surprise. “Leo? Paul?” Olivia said. “What are you two doing here?”
Gweneth McNeill added, “Are you two interested in lessons in witchcraft, as well?”
Leo shook his head. “Not quite. Uh . . . Piper and the others told us about that last lesson that Olivia and Cole had . . .”
“Oh, I see,” Olivia said, interrupting. “If you’re interested in knowing what we had discussed, the topic was daemons.”
Realizing that a major argument threatened to erupt, Gweneth suggested they all sit down in the chairs arranged in the garden. Leo and Paul had to wait for Davies, the family’s manservant to provide them with extra chairs. Once everyone had settled in their wicker chairs, Gweneth turned to her daughter’s former whitelighter. “Now, why are you so interested in the last lesson?”
Olivia replied, instead of Leo. “I suspect that this has something to do what Cole and I had told the Halliwells about the Gimle Order, Mom.”
“What about them?”
Paul frowned. “You’ve heard of this Gimle Order?”
“Well, of course!” Gweneth stared at the male witch. “Who hasn’t? The Gimle Order has been around for thousands of years. Probably millions. Despite the Source’s best efforts to destroy it.”
Leo demanded, “Then why haven’t they tried to take over the Underworld, now that it is no longer ruled by the Source?”
With an inward sigh, Gweneth wondered how Leo had survived this long as a whitelighter. “Dearest Leo,” she began in a tone usually reserved for a child, “I believe I should inform you on a few facts of life. One, the Source has never ruled the Underworld. Only the spirit of Death. Or Angel of Death, as many preferred to call it.” Leo opened his mouth to protest, but Gweneth continued, “And two, why on earth would any member of the Gimle Order be interested in becoming the new Source? They are not interested in becoming one of the dark nasties, just protecting others from them. Do you understand?” Leo looked slightly abashed, but nodded. “Good. Now that I have cleared matters regarding the Gimle Order, we might as well continue with the lessons.” She turned to her daughter. “What have they learned so far?”
Olivia took a deep breath. “Well, we’ve talked about the altar, magic circles, color magic, the pentagram, and magical tools. Bruce and Barbara taught them about herbal craft, and Gran talked to Paige about the role of a witch, the Wiccan Rede, elements and the Book of Shadows.”
“Nothing on mediation?” Gweneth asked.
“I touched on it, last week,” Olivia added.
Nodding, Gweneth continued, “Good. Now, what about protection magick?”
“No, not yet.”
“Right.” The middle-aged witch faced the Charmed Ones. “Let us discuss protection magick.”
Paige asked, “Is this for defending ourselves against evil?”
Olivia shook her head. “If you’re simply talking about protection from any supernatural bad guy, no.”
“Well, there are protection spells that can be used against them,” Gweneth added. “But I am referring to other kinds of protection magick . . . the kind that is used while working with spells and rituals.”
Phoebe blinked. “Huh?”
With a sigh, Olivia said, “What Mom is trying to say is that in dealing with magic, one might end up opening or facing . . . certain things many do not experience in the non-magical world. We use protection magick to protect ourselves from possible side effects while casting a spell or ritual.”
Gweneth added, “We also used it to shield ourselves from other dangers – especially from what we like to call psychic vampires. You know, people leaves us feeling tired or spent for no apparent reason, when we’re around them. They have the ability to feed off from our life force or energy. They are like the psychic versions of the incubus and succubus, or an actual vampire. And some of these beings are basically ordinary mortals, believe it or not. My personal names for them are psychic deadbeats or spongers.”
Piper chuckled. “That’s pretty good. And I’ve actually known a few.”
With a smile, the older witch added, “So have I. Of course, one of the safest forms of magick for such a danger is a protective white bubble. You can use a spell to form one, but meditation is just as good.”
“What about our powers?” Phoebe asked.
Gweneth’s eyes rested upon the middle Charmed One. “What about them?”
“How would you describe our powers? What kind of magic would you call them?”
The older witch gave her daughter a questioning stare. “Livy, I thought you had discussed psychic abilities?”
“She mentioned it,” Paige said. “But it was Andre Morrell who had talked about it, once.”
Piper frowned. “To be honest, I find it hard to believe that our powers aren’t really magic.”
“Why?” Gweneth demanded.
“Well, look at us. We’re all witches and we all have these . . . psychic powers. Isn’t that saying something?”
Gweneth shook her head. ‘Not really. Barbara lacks a psychic ability. And I can say the same about her father. My maternal grandfather was the same. Yet, Barbara and her father are talented witches. And so was my grandfather.”
“Besides,” Olivia added, “I’ve met people with strong psychic abilities.”
Paul added, “So have I.”
Olivia continued, “And so have you three. Leo told me about the seer who was on trial for murder, two years ago. Phoebe, didn’t you serve on the jury for that one?”
The middle Charmed One briefly glared at her whitelighter, who had the grace to look embarrassed. “Yeah. The defendant received premonitions . . . like me.”
“And there was that guy who was able to enter the consciousness of others, while asleep,” Piper said. “I think he was psychic. And he nearly killed Prue.”
Gweneth smiled. “There, you see. A psychic ability is not magic.”
“Would we need to use protection magick for our powers?” Paige asked.
“No, dear. Not for that.” Gweneth sighed. “But the next time you prepare a spell or potion, I suggest that you use protection magick. Or when you suspect that someone might be . . .”
“A magical deadbeat,” Piper finished with a slight smirk.
The middle aged witch added, “One more thing. About protection spells. Why don’t you have one around your house? Considering the number of times certain beings keep popping into your home, don’t you think you should consider creating one?”
The three sisters looked at one another. “Well . . . we . . . uh, we never bothered,” Piper finally said. “We’ve never thought about it.”
Phoebe added, “Besides, they backfire all the time.”
Gweneth stared at the witches with disbelief. Then she stared at Paul. “Do you believe this, as well?”
The New Yorker adopted a wary expression. “Uh . . . well . . . I haven’t had much luck with protection spells.”
“Good God! Are you all serious?” Gweneth then turned to the whitelighter. “Leo, surely you must have encouraged your own charges to learn how to prepare more effective protection spells?” Leo’s mouth opened, but not a word came from his mouth. “Never mind. Olivia or I will lend you a protection spell that you all can use. If it does not work, we’ll help you develop a proper one.”
Piper spoke up. “That’s okay, Mrs. McNeill. We’ve been able to manage without a protection spell.”
“I’d like learn a few,” Paige said. Her sisters glared at her. Gweneth smiled.
END OF CHAPTER 8