Part note: I checked on several sites as well as my DVD collection and could not find any reference to the elf nanny’s name so I made one up.
The Charmed Ones and Leo appeared in the sun-room of the manor with Buffy and Dawn.
Dawn’s eyes went wide at the creature that pushed a baby stroller into the room. “Oh my god is that an elf?” she cried looking to Piper for confirmation.
“How rude,” snapped the elf putting her nose in the air, which was quite a feat for someone so small.
“Ah sorry,” apologised Dawn, “It’s just that I had no idea that elves existed. I’m sort of new to the witch thing.”
“Miss Astra, these are our cousins, Buffy and Dawn. Guys this is Wyatt’s nanny, Miss Astra,” Piper did the introductions before picking up her son. “And this little munchkin is my son, Wyat...” she began before in a swirl of blue and white light her son disappeared from her arms and appeared in Dawn’s, who had to quickly adjust her balance to stop him from falling to the floor. “Hey,” chastised Piper, “Wyatt, what have we told you about orbing into stranger’s arms. We don’t want a repeat of last week, do we?” she said taking him from Dawn’s arms and kissing his forehead before placing him back in the stroller. “Would you put him down for his nap please, Miss Astra?”
“Of course. I was just waiting for your return as I know how you like to see him first,” smiled Miss Astra before turning the stroller and leaving the room.
“Does he do that much?” asked Buffy.
“I suspect he can sense the whitelighter in Dawn. He is normally well behaved around people he does not know,” mused Leo.
“Yeah, could be a problem if he started doing things like that around people that don’t know about the supernatural!” said Dawn.
“He did last week. He conjured a dragon. It destroyed much of downtown,” sighed Piper glancing after her son. “The Cleaners erased him from everyone’s memory and only agreed to return him after we did some bullying and promised to stop him from doing such things in the future.”
“Cleaners?” enquired Buffy.
“They are like the magick police. It’s their job to stop magick becoming general knowledge,” explained Leo. “They are strictly neutral in the fight between Good and Evil but have authority over both sides if they feel magick could be exposed.”
“Let’s not dwell on any of that now,” said Phoebe. She turned to her cousins, “So did you wanna summon your mum now?”
“Yes,” answered Dawn before Buffy could say anything.
“Okay, let’s go to the attic,” said Paige leading the way.
Paige bent down and began lighting the candles, while Piper and Phoebe stood with Buffy and Dawn next to the Book of Shadows. “So how exactly does this work?” asked Buffy nervously. “Is it like a séance? Or will she be a ghost like Cordelia’s roommate was - invisible?”
“As witches we are able to see ghosts, if we’re supposed to help them in someway. Like this one time, this Chinese guy was murdered and we had to help him get to heaven before Yama could send is soul to hell,” smiled Phoebe looking at Piper.
“Not the time for stories of other sisters possible boyfriends,” snarked Piper. Buffy and Dawn exchanged a look that said there were lots of stories to be exchanged. “Anyway, Buffy. The answer is you will actually see your mum and if she wishes to leave the magick circle for a time she will become solid.”
“Okay,” interrupted Paige straightening and joining the others. “So all you need is to prick your fingers and allow a drop of your blood to fall in with the herbs and then recite the spell in the book.”
“We’ll all be down stairs, when you’re ready,” added Piper as she and her sisters headed towards the attic door.
“Aren’t you staying?” frowned Dawn.
“No. We know from experience how emotional this can be the first time,” answered Phoebe. “But we’ll be downstairs if you want to talk afterwards.” She closed the door and Buffy and Dawn could hear them descend the stairs.
“Are you ready?” asked Dawn after the two had stood quietly for several minutes absolved in their own thoughts.
“Honestly,” sighed Buffy. “I don’t know? But mum told Piper, she needed to tell us something. So...” she left it hanging.
“Right,” nodded Dawn picking up a pin and pricking her finger, she let a drop fall into the cauldron with the herbs. “Hope this doesn’t activate the Key,” she added somewhat nervously.
“Think it would take a little more blood,” smiled Buffy reassuringly as she took the pin from her sister and added her own blood to the mix.
As one, they recited the spell. “Hear me now. Hear my cry. Spirit from the other side, cross now the great divide.” They both held their breath as white lights began to swirl around within the circle and slowly formed into a transparent Joyce Summers nee Halliwell.
Smiling at her daughters, Joyce stepped from the circle and held her arms wide to them. Dawn looked at Buffy seeing the unshed tears mirrored there before as one they jumped into their dead mother’s arms. “It’s okay babies. I’m with you always,” she cooed hugging them.
“I-I missed you-you so much,” hiccupped Dawn hugging her mother tightly.
“I know dear,” smiled Joyce rubbing up and down her youngest daughter’s back. “But it was my time. It had to happen so that your sister had the strength to defeat Glory, although neither of you were meant to die. That was why your friends were able to bring you back, Buffy.”
“Huh?” frowned Buffy as she pulled away from her mother slightly, though still unconsciously stayed in physical contact with her.
Joyce took her daughters by the hand, “Come, let’s sit down while I explain,” she suggested leading them to the couch. As her daughters sat either side of her, Joyce began to explain, “Dawn, you were never this Key that Glory in her delusions was after.”
“What?” cried Buffy.
“Glory was a hell god but she was always insane even before coming to this dimension. When she arrived in Sunnydale searching for her key to getting home, the combined insanity of a god and the Hellmouth, caused reality to be warped to fit what she expected...”
“But how come my blood opened the portal to her dimension?” interrupted Dawn.
“It didn’t. It opened a portal to the domain of the elders and whitelighters, because you have whitelighter blood and Buffy that was why you were able to seal it, you have whitelighter blood too.”
“So I’m not the Key?”
“No dear,” smiled Joyce squeezing her hand.
“So what would have happened if the portal hadn’t been closed?” asked Buffy.
“I don’t know, dear. But I do know, if Glory had somehow managed to enter it, her evil would have cancelled out both good and evil,” explained Joyce.
“Wow,” exclaimed Dawn.
“Wow indeed,” chuckled Joyce.
“Is that what you wanted to tell us?” asked Buffy.
“Yes dear,” nodded Joyce. “So that you could stop worrying about your sister and this silly key thing.”
“When I dead. Was I really with you?” frowned Buffy.
“Yes dear. But that was not heaven but sort of a holding area, while they,” she looked towards the ceiling, “Decide where your soul is to go. You and I were a little different, since I could not go anywhere until your aunt Emily died and you because you were to come back here. You won’t remember, but when it was explained to you, you agreed to come back, even knowing how painful it would be,” Joyce hugged her daughters to her. “I’m so very proud of you two, how well you have coped.”
After basking in their mother’s arms for several minutes, Dawn looked into her mother’s eyes. “Are you going back now?”
“No, not just yet. I want to talk to you and your cousins first,” Joyce explained as they rose together and headed to the door.
Joyce descended the stairs with her daughters just as a tall blonde woman pushed her way past Phoebe, who had opened the door to her. A tall dark man entered behind her with an apologetic expression and mumbled, “Sorry, Phoebe,” as he followed the blonde into the living room.
“What’s going on?” asked Dawn as the three Summers’ joined their family.
The blonde turned on the teenager, “I have a court order to search your house...”
“Not my house,” smirked Dawn not liking the hostility coming off the woman. “And who the hell are you anyway?”
“Dawn, mind your language,” chastised Joyce.
“Sorry,” she blushed at her mother.
“I want all your names,” snapped the blonde.
“I don’t believe we’re obliged to tell you our names at this time,” put in Buffy.
“You do if I find evidence that you’re involved with all the mysterious deaths and disappearances,” countered the blonde.
“Dawn dear, why don’t you take the officer’s number and call your friend on speed dial five,” suggested Joyce mischief dancing in her eyes.
“Oh man this will be fun,” laughed Buffy taking a seat as Dawn smirked as she quickly made note of the blonde’s number and stepped into the next room.
“What was that all about?” asked Piper.
“I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise for...? What her name?” Buffy asked the dark man.
“Inspector Sheridan,” he supplied.
“And you are?”
“That’s our friend, Darryl,” answered Piper before the man could.
“I’ll be obligated if one of you accompany us as we search. We wouldn’t want to be accused of falsifying evidence,” snapped Sheridan getting annoyed.
“I’d wait for the phone call first if I were you,” suggested Joyce.
“What are you talking about?” frowned Darryl.
“You’ll see. Any minute now,” smiled Joyce as she watched her youngest daughter re-enter the room and sit next to her sister.
“Come on Morris. They’re just stalling,” growled Sheridan.
Just then Darryl’s phone began to ring. “I’d really get that if I were you,” suggested Dawn.
Darryl sighed as he snapped open his phone, “Lieutenant Morris ... Yes Chief ... I understand Chief ... I’ll bring her to you straight away Chief,” he shut his phone and looked at the smirking teenager. “How did you do that?” he glanced in the direction of his partner to make sure she was not close enough to hear, “Did you cast a spell?”
Dawn glanced at her cousins. “It’s okay Dawn. Darryl knows about us,” assured Piper.
“Okay, cool,” sighed Dawn. “No I didn’t cast a spell. I phoned one of our friends, who phoned one of his friends who talked to your chief.”
“And your friend is?” asked Darryl.
“The President,” giggled Dawn.
“WHAT?” swallowed Darryl.
“We have some very powerful friends, Darryl. You seem nice and anyway you’re our cousins’ friend, so please get your partner out of here before my friend follows through with his threat. Something about beat cops!” said Dawn.
“Right. Ah thanks,” he nodded nervously at the teenager before calling his partner back from her search. “Sheridan, the Chief wants to see us... NOW Inspector,” he raised his voice when his partner ignored him. The Captain was right; he did need to start getting more assertive?
“I’ll be back,” threatened Sheridan as she followed her partner out the door.
“Arnie said it better,” Dawn shouted back.
“Dawn, stop mocking the Inspector,” said Joyce.
“She started it,” pouted Dawn before falling into giggles again at the look on her mother’s face and hugged her. “I missed you so much.”
Joyce hugged her back, “And I missed you, pumpkin belly.”
“Mum,” whined Dawn.
“Pumpkin belly?” queered Piper trying to hide her smile.
“One Halloween, I thought it would be the coolest to dress as a pumpkin. But then a guy called Ethan decided to cast a spell to turn everyone into their costumes. I spent the whole night in fear that someone would step on me. Of course, mum didn’t know about the supernatural at the time and thought I looked so cute with my orange belly, she started calling me that.”
“Oh, I got turned into Cinderella by an evil witch once and got stuck in a pumpkin, you know that was supposed to be turned into the coach,” Phoebe told them.
“So how do you know the President?” asked Paige interrupted the story exchange.
“He helped us sort things out when Sunnydale collapsed,” explained Buffy.
“Plus Buffy and our friend, Faith, saved his daughter from a master vamp that had turned a couple of the secret servicemen to get to her,” added Dawn.
“Yeah,” laughed Buffy. “Save one President’s daughter and they can’t do enough for you.” The other joined in the laughter.
After they had quieted down, Joyce turned to her nieces while holding both her daughters’ hands but addressed the eldest. “Piper, I was hoping to request Dawn, and if she wishes, Buffy, move here so that you three can help teach them about their powers?”
“Of course,” agreed Piper. “The house next door is up to rent.”
“I suppose we could. As long as we can learn how to orb properly,” mused Buffy realising that their mother was more concerned about Dawn and her power than herself!
“Great. And there’s a very good high school just down the next block that I’m sure Dawn will like?” added Phoebe.
Everyone laughed at the sour look that appeared on the teenager’s face.
“I think your aunt Emily would like it if it could be arranged for Rory to spend the summer here as well, to learn how to use her powers, once Emily’s funeral is over and we can come up with someway to explain everything?” added Joyce.
“That will be easier than we thought,” smiled Leo. “It seems the elders knew we would have this problem and arranged to have her found as an abandoned infant. So we can just inform her that we found out about her and we were looking for her.”
A/N: Well we all knew this time was coming? Other than some pieces of the next part (which involves Lorelai and Richard’s arrival in Rome.) and some notes on future ones, that will be it for a while. But on the bright side I will be posting the next part of A Time To Live before Yule (21st).