Charmed Role Reversal

The Adventure of the Charmed Detective

Prue's dream had been an amalgam of the bizarre and the normal, as dreams sometimes are.She dreamt she was seated in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, attending the 2000 Emmy Awards ceremony.She was wearing a somewhat conservative but quite fashionable black dress, which had drawn the TV cameras' attention when she entered the theater. At the podium, Sarah Michelle Gellar, in a cream colored, off-the-shoulder gown, took the white envelope, tore its seal and opened it.

"And the winner in the category of Best Female Witch," Gellar said, looking at the card she had taken from the envelope, "is...Prue Halliwell."

The orchestra started up an oddly baroque rendition of the Charmed theme song.

As the audience applauded, a beaming Prue astral projected from her seat onto the stage to accept the statuette. Gellar handed it to her and Prue began her acceptance remarks. She had just finished thanking Constance Burge for creating Charmed and her mother Patti Halliwell for passing along her powers to her when the Emmy suddenly leaped from her hand and changed into a monstrous demon. It began to menace the audience which started to cower. But Prue cooly showed no fear, made up a spell on the spot and vanquished the demon.

With the demon and the statuette gone, Prue was disappointed that she had nothing to show that she had really won an Emmy. But she did get a standing ovation from Hollywood's A-list audience for saving them from the demon's wrath.

Prue stirred in her bed and was relieved when she realized that it had been only a dream. Though she felt good from the recognition she had received for her role, the dream had nevertheless been surreal and unsettling. She was glad to be waking up in the familiar Manor with its reassurance of normalcy to counteract the dream's bizarreness. After a month in San Francisco, being Prue Halliwell had become quite normal.

Prue stretched one arm to the side and slowly opened her eyes. The light coming in through her window was dim. Hmmm...the fog looks strange this morning, she thought. It's giving the light an unusual color. It looks yellow.She turned onto her side to see the time. But her clock radio wasn't there. She tapped all around the night table with her hand trying to feel where the clock had moved but it wasn't anywhere to be found.

Prue leaned over and reached for the lamp on the night table.  She felt for the lamp's ornate knob and turned it.  But nothing happened.  She sat up and looked around.  She sensed that something was wrong with her room but in the subdued light she couldn't see what it was.


The sound was coming from the street.  Prue stood up and made her way to the window.  She pulled the shade aside and stared in disbelief.

A horse drawn carriage was passing by below the window, the horses' hooves continuing to make the clop...clop sound.  A man in a derby and long coat was standing next to a lamppost and holding a long stick.  He raised the stick to the top of the lamppost and extinguished the light inside it.

Prue turned away from the window and steadied herself against a chair next to her.  What's happened? she thought.  Where am I?  In the dim light she saw a purple robe lying on the chair. She picked it up and put it on, walked over to the door and stepped out into the hallway.

"You're up early today," the woman said to her.  She was in her fifties, three or four inches taller than Prue and a bit heavy.

"I...uh...uh...I...guess I am," Prue stammered.

"You're confused, aren't you," the woman said.

"Uh...uh...yes...I am," Prue said.

"It's the cocaine you injected into your arm last night," the woman said.

"Cocaine?!"  Prue exclaimed.

"You say it makes your mind clearer and sharper," the woman said.  "But it just as often leaves you confused.  I'll prepare something for you to drink that will make you feel better."

"'s not that," Prue said. "Don't bother."

"Oh, it's no bother," the woman replied.  "Never let it be said that Mrs. Hudson didn't do her very best to care for the famous consulting detective Mr. Sherlock Holmes."

Click speaker for Opening Credits Theme Song

Mrs. Hudson went downstairs to prepare the medicinal drink and Prue went into the second bedroom.  She went over to the bed to see who was in it.

"Piper, wake up," she said, shaking her.

"Ummm...what time is it?" Piper asked through half-opened eyes. "What happened to the clock?" She started to sit up.

"The fog in San Francisco isn't," Prue said.  "Do you want the bad news first or the bad news first?"

"Oooo...does it make a difference?" Piper asked, squinting.

"The bad news is that I’m not Prue Halliwell anymore," Prue said.

"That's bad news?"  Piper asked.  "That's means you're Shannen, again. Why is that bad?"

Prue shook her head 'no'.

"Because," she said, "now I'm Sherlock Holmes."

"What?!"  Piper exclaimed.

"And the other bad news is that we're not in San Francisco," Prue said.  "We're in London.  And there are horse-drawn carriages and gas lamps in the street.  And a yellow London type of fog has settled in."

"Sherlock Holmes - that's fiction," Piper said.  "How could this happen?  Do you think Phoebe was playing around with spells again?"

"With Phoebe you can never be quite sure," Prue said, "but no, I don't think so.  After bringing those vampires and TV show characters to San Francisco when she was testing her spell making  I don't think she'd play around again."

"How can you become Sherlock Holmes?" Piper asked.  "He isn't real."

"Neither are the Halliwells," Prue said, "and that didn't stop The Elders from turning us into them and bringing them to life.  And I just had a conversation with Mrs. Hudson, who owns the house that Holmes lives in. She seemed to be quite real."

"Where did you get that purple robe?"  Piper asked.

"From the same place that you got your mustard one," Prue answered, pointing to the robe on the edge of Piper's bed.

"Oooo...what a color," Piper said, with a grimace.

"How familiar are you with Sherlock Holmes," Prue asked.

"Not very," Piper said.  "I read The Hound of the Baskervilles once.  And I caught some of the British series' reruns on PBS a few years ago."

"I read the entire canon," Prue said,  "all sixty stories. I know Holmes' methods quite well.  But you'd better bone up quickly.  Because if I'm Sherlock Holmes, then you..." Prue picked up the mustard robe and tossed it to Piper, "are Dr. Watson."


Prue and Piper had dressed in the suits they found hanging in their wardrobes, a three-piece dark grey and a brown tweed, respectively. Then, having finished a breakfast of toast and pancakes that Mrs. Hudson had prepared, they had repaired upstairs to the sitting room.

"Mrs. Hudson owns this house and rents it to Holmes," Prue said.  "As such, she cooks his meals and does his housekeeping."

"Why doesn't she see who we really are?"  Piper asked.  "When I look in this mirror I still see myself."

"It's probably part of our always knowing and remembering what's going on, even when others don't, that the Charmed scripts established about us," Prue answered.  "If reality has been changed again, then we're seen as the characters we've become, just as we were seen as the Halliwells until now.  But as charmed witches, we can still see ourselves as we really are."

Piper looked at herself in the mirror and reflectively tried to pull up her hair. But then she realized that as Dr. Watson she had nothing to tie it up with and reluctantly let it fall back down.

"There must be a reason that we're here," Prue said, "and we're going to have to find out what it is."  She began looking through the beakers and test tubes, a few with liquids inside of them, that covered the small table.  Then she started going through the shelves in the bookcase that was against one wall.  An encyclopedia was on one shelf and what appeared to be catalogues and reference books covered four more.  Small jars of powder were on a sixth shelf and at the end of that shelf lay a magnifying glass.

"At least we know what date this is," Piper said, looking at the morning newspaper. "That is, if any of this is real. September 28th, 1889."

"Look at this," Prue said, picking up a sheet of paper that was lying on a chair.  "It's a telegram."

           Must see you regarding a matter of utmost urgency
           Will arrive early tomorrow morning. Confidentiality required
           Archibald Lethbridge

"It was sent yesterday," Prue said.

"You want to get involved in a case, Sherlock?"  Piper asked.

"That may be what we have to do to find out what's happened and why we're here," Prue answered. "And Watson never calls him 'Sherlock'.  He always addresses him as Holmes."

Piper adjusted the collar on her jacket.  "This brown tweed suit may have been the height of fashion for Victorian men," she said.  "But it was not designed for a woman's comfort."

"Don't complain," Prue said.  "You could have wound up having to wear a corset and a hoop skirt, instead."

Piper made a face and picked up the newspaper.  "The Times of London is a far cry from
The Chronicle," she said. "The front page is filled with shipping notices. And the arrivals and departures of people on them. The big front page news is that it hasn't rained since Monday. Wow - three whole days!"

"London normally has a good deal of rain this time of year," Prue said, "so that is news."

Mrs. Hudson gently knocked and came into the sitting room.

"There's a gentleman to see you, Mr. Holmes," she said, and handed Prue a card.

"The man from the telegram," Prue said.  "Send him up."  Mrs. Hudson nodded and left.  In a moment she returned, ushering a man into the room.

"Mr.  Holmes?" he asked, looking from Prue to Piper.  He was about thirty years old, of a good build but not heavy, with a fair complexion and a mustache.  He wore a dark brown suit and hat and carried his coat over his arm.  Piper thought she saw a look of despair in his eyes.

"I'm Sherlock Holmes," Prue said.  "This is my associate, Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as freely as before myself."

"I am glad to meet you," Lethbridge said.  "I trust you were expecting me."

"Indeed we were," Prue said, motioning for Lethbridge to sit down.  "You're a man of your word. Your telegram said you would be here early in the morning."

"I have not slept well the past two nights," Lethbridge said.  "It was therefore not difficult to catch a pre-dawn train from Oxford.  When I arrived at Paddington Station, I was fortunate to find a single hansom cab waiting.  I hired it and came directly here.  I have not even taken any breakfast."

"Then we'll give you something to eat," Piper said.  "Mrs. Hudson has enough left over from our breakfast."

"Wait," Prue said.  She had been looking Lethbridge over very carefully.  "I fear Mr. Lethbridge is much too agitated to eat anything just now.  Matters of family valuables and a family’s good name understandably have that affect."

"You're quite right, Mr. Holmes," Lethbridge said, his face showing his surprise.  "I have indeed come on a matter of great importance to my family and our valuable possessions.  And I cannot eat until you have undertaken to help me."

" did you come up with that, Prue," Piper asked, completely amazed.  "I mean Holmes."

"Elementary, my dear Watson," Prue said, relishing the opportunity to use that famous line.

"When Mr. Lethbridge came in it was quite apparent from his bearing that he is a gentleman," Prue continued.  "His well cut suit made from obviously high quality wool confirms that.  But his tie is half above and half under his collar.  And there are splashes of mud on the legs of his trousers.  They could not have been soiled on the way here as it has not rained in three days, as you noted, and so the ground is quite dry.  It must have happened some days ago.  A gentleman of Mr. Lethbridge's stature would not have been careless in his dress of a soiled suit and unkempt tie unless he was agitated and therefore distracted.

"Yet he took the time to affix his family coat-of-arms pin to his jacket lapel.  It is the same coat-of-arms that is on the card he presented.  And it is also on the ring he is wearing on his left hand.  That shows that he is mindful of his family's name and prestige and he wished that to be evident in our meeting.  Therefore, the matter involves something that may tarnish it.

"On his right hand he is wearing a ring with a large ruby.  Worn properly, perhaps, at a formal dinner.  But not the sort of ring one would wear dashing off in the pre-dawn hours to London to see me.  Rather, it would be kept in a safe place at home.  Wearing it here told me that he did not feel secure in leaving it at home.  Hence I deduced that the family valuables were at risk, as well. Quite simple, is it not?"

Piper's draw dropped, her mouth hung wide open and she stared at Prue in stunned silence.

"I told you I know Holmes' methods," Prue said to her in an undertone.

"Your reputation is well deserved, Mr. Holmes," Lethbridge said.  "Your remarkable deductive abilities have not been exaggerated."

"Now tell me the facts of the matter at hand," Prue said.

"The gem known as the Star of The Punjab," Lethbridge said.  "Have you heard of it?"

"I must admit that it does not come to mind," Prue said.  "Kindly look it up in my index, Watson," she said to Piper, pointing to the dockets of clippings and notes on the shelves along the wall.

"It will be simpler and quicker if I tell you of it," Lethbridge said.  "My grandfather Nigel Lethbridge served in India in the '20s.  Most of his time was spent in The Punjab in the area of Patiala.  It was there that he came across The Star.  There had been some small foolish attack on an East India Company outpost.  Grandfather's regiment was responsible for that area and they promptly went after the rebels and hunted them down.  Those who were not killed resisting were taken away to prison.

"Afterwards, as Grandfather was going through what had been their stronghold, he discovered a secret room.  In it he saw this magnificent gem.  It's colors of red, blue and green shone as nothing he had ever seen before.  A Punjabi in an Indian unit assigned to Grandfather's regiment recognized it and told him its name and the legend about it.  There was no one to whom it clearly belonged so Grandfather took it.  When he returned to England a few years later he brought it with him.  It became part of our family jewels at Abingdon Manor.

"The Star was kept in a drawer within a locked cabinet in my study along with other family valuables.  Two days ago, Merrick, my butler, was found early in the morning lying dead on the floor of the study. Books and papers had been taken from the shelves and cabinet and strewn about the room.  And the Star was gone."

Prue brought the fingers of her hands together at her chin.

"Do you know for certain that it was there the night before?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied.  "I was in the study looking at an important document that I keep locked away. The maid had just finished cleaning the study, emptying the ashtrays and sweeping the carpet.  I put the document back and opened the box The Star was kept in.  It was there."

"And you are certain that you locked it away afterwards?"  Prue asked.

"Quite certain," Lethbridge answered.

"Were any windows or doors broken in?"

"No," he said.  "The Manor House was intact."

"Have the police any theories?"  Prue asked.

"Indeed they have.  They have arrested my brother Royle."

"Why?" Prue asked.

"Royle and I disagreed about what to do with The Star.  He wanted to sell it and make use of the proceeds for some land speculation in North Yorkshire.  Its sale would fetch quite a tidy sum and he would have a bit left over even after his deal.  I was, and am, quite set against it.  It has been in our family for some sixty years.  And also, I was not safe for The Star to be out of my possession.

"Royle and I had quite a loud argument about it that night.  That was, in fact, what made me take The Star out and look at it again.  Because of that argument and the lack of any forced entry - Royle has a key to the cabinet just as I have - the police arrested him.  They said that he had thrown down the books to make it appear as if a burglar had been looking for valuables.

"Royle can be hot-headed and impulsive.  But he is no murderer, Mr. Holmes.  And he would not steal from his own family."

"Nothing else was taken?" Prue asked.

"No.  Not that I can see.  But as the cabinet was compromised I fear to continue leaving anything of value at The Manor."

"What did you mean when you said it was not safe for anyone else to have The Star?"  Prue asked.

"The legend that the Punjabi told Grandfather," Lethbridge replied.  "The Star has the power to render people completely docile with no mind of their own."

"How?"  Piper asked, being unable to sit quietly on the sidelines any longer.

"If someone holds the stone as it shines, and has the wherewithal to concentrate properly on one person or even on a group of people, they lose their free will.  They become docile and do as that person tells them to, enslaved to that person, with no independent thoughts of their own."

Prue glanced at Piper and exhaled.

"You may think me a fool to believe such a tale, Mr. Holmes," Lethbridge said.  "Grandfather did not believe it. But I...I have seen it happen."

"Tell us of it," Prue said.

"It was at a dinner we gave last year on the occasion of my dear wife Emma and my third wedding anniversary," he said.  "Royle had taken out The Star to show our guests.  He told over the legend, which was generally greeted with smiles and laughter.  But one of the guests did not laugh.  I was standing just to his side and I saw the serious look on his face.

"He asked Royle if he might get a better look at The Star.  Royle handed him the box in which it lay.  As he took the Star out of the box and held it I saw his brow furrow as if he was concentrating on something.  And the colors of the stone seemed to suddenly shine in a way I had not seen before.  After a moment he returned The Star to Royle.

"Two days later Royle was speaking to a friend in The Manor House.  They were talking about a solicitor in Wallingford who had suddenly become completely docile, unable to do anything on his own without being told by someone what to do."

"And you believe this was the result of that guest at the dinner using The Star's power?"  Piper asked.

"I'm convinced of it, Dr. Watson," Lethbridge said.  "I do not believe in such co-incidence."

"Nor do I," Prue said.  "The solicitor must have been examined by a doctor.  What was his diagnosis?"

"He was examined by two doctors," Lethbridge said.  "They were at a loss to explain his condition and eventually settled on the solicitor's proximity to a number of people who had recently returned from Burma.  They said that one of them must have been exposed to some rare tropical malady that affects the mind, though none of those people came down with the symptoms.  It was hardly a satisfactory explanation though it was accepted by everyone else."

"Do you recall the name of the person who asked to hold The Star?"  Prue asked.

"He wasn't someone I knew well," Lethbridge replied.  "He was a businessman who had been invited because of his ties to a neighbor.  I believe his name was Moriarty."

The expression on Prue's face changed and her eyes narrowed.

"You seem to recognize the name, Mr. Holmes," Lethbridge said.

"I fear that I may," Prue answered.  She thought silently for a moment.  "Was there a connection between Moriarty and the solicitor?"

"There had been some talk of the solicitor investigating some fraudulent business dealings that hurt one of his clients," Lethbridge replied. "But after what happened to him there was nothing further heard of it.  The object of his investigation could conceivably have been Moriarty but the name never came to light."

"What is the name of the solicitor?"  Prue asked.

"Alistair...uh...Spencer-Thomas.  Yes, that's his name."

"I will have to come and see the study and the Manor House," Prue said.

"Then you'll accept the case?" Lethridge asked. Piper saw a glimmer of hope in the man's eyes.

"Yes," Prue said. "It is of singular interest."

"Be assured, Mr. Holmes, that I will pay you whatever fee you ask."

"Let us first address solving the crime," Prue said, "and leave payments for another time.  I have to look into something first and I'll come to you later in the day."

"I must return to Abingdon immediately," Lethbridge said.  "With my poor brother in the constable's custody and the unsettling events at the Manor House I cannot stay away for long.  But there is another train at a quarter past one."

"Watson and I will be on it," Prue said.

"I will send a carriage from Abingdon to meet you at Oxford Station," Lethbridge said and stood up. "Thank you, Mr. Holmes.  I am indebted to you."  He shook hands with Prue and Piper and left.

"Enslaved and docile," Piper said.  "That sounds like something that might interest a demon.  But what did you mean when you said that you recognized that man's name - Moriarty?"

"Professor Moriarty is the arch-enemy of Sherlock Holmes," Prue said.  "He is a genius master of crime and behind all sorts of nefarious evil that Holmes encounters."

"We don't know why The Elders turned us into Holmes and Watson," Piper said, "but it has to be connected to some sort of real evil.  It makes no sense for them to make some fictitious evil real along with us."

"No, it doesn't," Prue said.  "This Moriarty must be real.  Yet the man's name cannot be ignored. As I said, I don't believe in such co-incidence.  Let's see what we can find in the catalogued data."

"Do you really think anything that's catalogued here is real?"  Piper asked.

"Some of it undoubtedly will relate to characters from Holmes' stories," Prue said, "just as some things that we've run into were based upon Charmed's episodes. But Charmed's past became the real past. So that should be true with Holmes, as well. Much of what is here should now be real, too."


"The things I found under 'Moriarty', and there are quite a lot of them, all deal with the fictitious professor," Piper said.

"Perhaps I've had better luck," Prue said.  "There is a newspaper clipping here catalogued under 'Spencer-Thomas' relating his illness and the doctors' diagnosis, just as Lethbridge described.  But there is a second clipping telling of a mysterious accident that preceded this incident by several weeks.

"The solicitor was walking with a client he represented when a carriage suddenly began hurtling towards them.  The carriage was empty and the horse was running on its own.  A witness swore that though Spenser-Thomas tried to get out of the carriage's way the horse turned to follow him.  It was only the intervention of his client, who pulled the solicitor into a doorway, that saved him."

"That sounds familiar, doesn't it," Piper said.  "Like the car that tried to run Phoebe down and veered after her even after Stuart had pushed her out of its way."

"The client's name was Parker St. Dennis," Prue said.  "I looked through the catalogues for anything about him and found one clipping.  Three years ago, he began importing tea and coffee and was looking for a partner to handle sales in London and East Anglia."

"Who did he take as his partner?"  Piper asked.

"It doesn't say," Prue said, "just that he was looking for one."  She looked at the clock over the mantel.

"We'd better get going if we're to make that train," Prue said.  She walked over to the coat stand, took down the Inverness cape and put it on.  She picked up a small mirror that had been lying on a shelf, looked at herself in it and, pleased with what she saw, went back to the coat stand and took the grey deerstalker cap.

"You're not actually going to wear that cap, are you?"  Piper asked with dismay.

"Of course I am," Prue said and put it on.  "Along with the cape, it's Holmes' trademark.  He wouldn't travel without it. And I am Sherlock Holmes."  Piper detected a glee in Prue's voice as she said that.

Prue slipped the magnifying glass into her pocket, then took down a brown hat from the coat stand and handed it to Piper.

"Don't forget your derby," Prue said.  "Watson wouldn't travel without it, either."

Prue opened the door and walked out of the room.  Piper stared at the hat in her hand.  She gingerly put the derby on her head as if it was a large and delicate egg that she was balancing.  She picked up the small mirror, squinted at her image and frowned.

"Oooo!" she said, making a face.  She put the mirror down, exhaled and followed Prue outside.

"Hold on to the bar handrail on the right side, only," Prue said as she and Piper went up the three steps and boarded the train. They proceeded towards the middle of the car and sat down. The train pulled out of the station and began it's northward trek. Piper had seen trains pulled by steam engines in movies but had never been on one. She found the engine's huffing and hissing, and the occasional blowing of its whistle, an interesting experience.

Prue was engrossed in thought and Piper decided not to disturb her. Instead, she looked out the window and enjoyed the rolling English countryside. This is so beautiful, she thought. I wonder how much of it has changed in our time, the future time, that we came from.

The train pulled into its first station and after a pause of two minutes pulled out and continued its journey. Presently a man came down the aisle and took the seat facing them. Piper spent some time looking him over.

He wore a dark frock coat and black derby hat and was in his early forties. He seemed a bit nervous to Piper as he pulled out his pocket watch three or four times. In between, she saw him pull a small bag from his coat pocket. From the bag he took out a tiny sandwich, which seemed to have little if anything inside it, and slowly eat it. When the train pulled into the next station the man stood up and left.

"That man was very informative," Piper said, deciding that she could play the deduction game as well as Prue.

"How so?" Prue asked, bringing her mind back to the train they were in.

"He was dressed in a respectable outfit," Piper said, "as a professional would be. But his fingers and hands were somewhat blackened. He must have tried to wash the grime from them as best he could but was not very successful. So he was clearly a working class man, a laborer, trying to pass himself off as a businessman. The gold watch had the initials RS engraved on it but the initials embroidered on his shirt were FSM. It seemed to be somewhat big on him, as did the coat, so it was probably borrowed from someone.  That's why the initials didn't match.  This was all because he was trying to make an impression of being a professional, which he really wasn't, for some important meeting.  His nervousness at trying to pull this off showed in his looking at the time so often."

"Bravo, Piper," Prue said.  "You're observing and trying to learn from Holmes' methods.  Good!  Your deductions are all wrong, of course."

"What do you mean they're all wrong, of course?"  Piper asked, indignantly.

"You observed his fingers but you did not notice they were well manicured.  Not how a laborer would bother to keep them.  On the left handrail of the steps that led up to this car was a patch of heavy soot. Probably something landed on it when they were loading the coal on board. I avoided putting my hand there, using only the right handrail and told you to do the same. That man must not have seen it and put his hand on that left handrail. Finding one hand dirty he tried to clean it off with his other hand which resulted in both palms and the bottom of his fingers being blackened. But there was no similar blackening around his nails, as would be found on a laborer's fingers.

"Dieting was not in fashion in Victorian England yet the man was eating a tiny sandwich with but the smallest spread of jelly," Prue continued. "His severely restricted diet was obviously due to some illness, which his drawn face indicated.

"Surely as a medical man you must have noted that, Watson,"  Prue added, giving Piper a half-smile.

"Ugh," Piper grunted and squinted back at her.

"His clothes not being his size was not because he had borrowed them," Prue continued," but because of the loss of weight his diet brought about. As for the initials not matching, it is quite the contrary. It is not uncommon to give a child the mother's maiden name as a middle name. Hence the last initial 'S' from the RS on the pocket watch does indeed match the 'S', the second initial, of FSM on his shirt.

"As for his repeatedly looking at the time on the watch that you attributed to his being nervous, he wasn't actually looking at the time but rather looking at the pocket watch itself.  And he held it open longer than needed to see just the time.  A watch that was a family heirloom would be inherited by a man's son but if the man's daughter had no male sibling she would inherit it.  Having no practical use for it herself - it is a man's watch - she would likely give it over to her son. 

"The watch was old, as befitting a watch that had been around for a few generations, yet the chain was clearly brand new. And the watch had obviously been recently polished.  It is logical that he had recently been given the watch and therefore had it polished. At the same time he had replaced the chain - perhaps it was lost or more likely broken after all those years - and was just now using it.  And therefore looking at it repeatedly and enjoying having the family watch.

"I should need more data for this to be conclusive," Prue continued. " I could only say what is the balance of probability, as Holmes would say, but it nevertheless is quite the logical explanation."

Piper squinted at Prue, folded her arms and exhaled.

"Don't feel bad," Prue said.  "Watson's deductions in the stories are always wrong, too."


The hansom was awaiting them as they alighted from the train.  They climbed aboard and in fifteen minutes were approaching Abingdon Manor House.  It sat on a small hill overlooking the estate that surrounded it for some distance on all sides.  The Manor House itself looked like it had been taken out of a picture book of old houses that Piper had once seen.  It was not grandiose, she thought, and was even a bit understated.  But it's three storeys and gabled roof seemed to comfortably serve as a more than respectable locus of the Lethbridge family holdings.

They were ushered into the Manor House by one of the servants and in a moment Lethbridge descended the stairs and joined them. After inquiring that all had been in order on their journey, he led them to a door off to the side of the staircase.

"This is the study," Lethbridge said as he showed Prue and Piper into the room.  A large ornate desk stood towards the back of the large room.  Behind the desk were four large bookcases standing against the wall.  A large matching cabinet stood in the center, two of the bookcases being on either side of it.  Impressive, Piper thought.

"Who has been in here since the butler was found?"  Prue asked.

"Just myself and Royle and the police.  The constable told me to let no one in while they were investigating.  After they arrested Royle the police no longer cared.  But as I decided to seek your help, I continued to keep everyone out.  I know that you require to see things just as they were."

"You did very well, Mr. Lethbridge," Prue said.  "Now show us where the body was found."

"Merrick was found there," Lethbridge said, pointing to a place to the left of the desk.

"That is well into the room and rather far from the doorway," Prue noted.

"Perhaps Merrick saw the door to the study open and went in to see why," Piper said.

"If one is stealing something in the dead of night," Prue said, "he would not leave the door open to be seen by anyone passing by.  And the way this room is furnished there is no place in here to hide. So if Merrick for some reason opened the door he would have seen the intruder immediately without having to come this far.

"Have the police determined the cause of death?" Prue asked, turning back to Lethbridge.

"They think he was hit in the head with a blunt instrument," Lethbridge replied.  "Though they admit he could have hit his head on the corner of the desk here."  Prue pulled out her magnifying glass and examined the edge of the desk.

"Was anything found on Merrick?" she asked.

"No.  In fact his pockets had been turned inside out."

Prue thought about that for a moment and then looked on top of the desk.

"Hello - what's this?" she asked, examining the ash tray on the desk.  "This is cigar ash."  She looked at it under the magnifying glass.

"Are you absolutely certain that no one has spent any time in this room since the murder?" she asked.

"Yes, quite certain," Lethbridge answered.  "I left explicit orders.  The servants wouldn't disobey my directive."

Prue pulled two small packets from her pocket and gently emptied the two pieces of ash into them.

"Tell me what everyone in Abingdon Manor smokes," Prue said.  Lethbridge was a little startled at Prue/Holmes' request.

"I smoke a Turkish blend cigar," he said.  "Royle favors a King of the World corona from Cuba."

"Is that it?"  Prue asked.

"Yes.  Except, of course, for the servants."

"I said everyone!"  Prue said impatiently.

"Well...uhh...the gardener smokes some non-descript inexpensive cigarette," Lethbridge said.  "And poor Merrick had an affection for American cigars.  From Virginia, as I recall.  That covers everyone."

Prue walked over to the bookcase and examined its contents.  She knelt down and looked at the papers and a few books that had been thrown to the floor.  Then she stood up and watched Lethbridge take out his key ring, select a small key from it and open the cabinet where the Star had been.  Prue came closer and examined the cabinet and the drawer.

"Do you know of Parker St. Dennis?"  Prue asked.

"Of course," Lethbridge said, "he is a neighbor.  His estate is some five miles the other side of Abingdon.  It is he who has the business ties with Moriarty that led to his invitation to that dinner."

"Kindly show me Merrick's room," Prue said.  Lethbridge led the way to a small but decent room.  A bed stood against one wall.  A cabinet and wardrobe against a second wall with a small writing desk and chair next to it.  Prue looked over what lay on the desk and then began going through the drawers in the cabinet.

She briefly looked at a few things in one drawer and then opened a second drawer.  She picked up a small yellow-colored bar and ran her fingers over it.  She put it back and pulled out a small cloth from the back corner of the drawer, revealing a book that had been underneath it.  Prue took out the book, looked it over and returned it to the drawer.  She looked through the other drawers and the wardrobe, then went back to the desk and picked up a key ring.

"I must know where these keys fit," Prue said.

"I can tell you that," Lethbridge said. "This one is for the Manor's front door and this smaller one is for the back door. This third key is for the wine cellar. The last one is for the barn."

"How can you be sure?" Prue asked.

"There are slight differences in the key sizes and shapes, Mr. Holmes," he said. "There is no mistaking one for the other."

"Did Merrick ever have occasion to borrow your keys?" Prue asked.

"He didn't need to," Lethbridge said.  "He had his own - the ones that you are holding.  Although there was one time a few weeks ago when he misplaced his set.  He borrowed mine to open the wine cellar and then brought it back to me.  But he found his later that day."

"Was Merrick satisfactory as a butler?"  Prue asked.

"Yes, he understood his duties," Lethbridge said, "though he occasionally did more for me, as well. He was very capable with his hands and he did odd and end tasks that required such dexterity.  He even repaired pages of an old book for me and the binding of a second one for Emma."

"I'm done here," Prue said.  "But I must see the study again for a moment."

"Of course, Mr. Holmes."  They went back into the study.  Prue approached the bookcases and cabinet and after a few seconds turned back to Lethbridge.

"Watson and I will go back to London," she said.  "You will hear from me no later than tomorrow."

"Shall I continue to keep everyone away from the study?" he asked.

"Yes," Prue said.  "Your foresight in doing so may yet save your brother from the hangman's noose."


"Some of the things that you spent time looking at didn't seem to be important," Piper said as they sat in the train heading back to London.

"I am glad of all details, whether they seem to you to be relevant or not," Prue said.  She saw Piper make a face.

"Don't be offended," Prue said.  "Holmes says that to Watson in The Adventure of The Copper Beeches."

"Well," Piper said giving Prue a look, "I still didn't see anything that could help us save Lethbridge's brother or find the Star. Or to figure out why we're here."

"You see but you do not observe," Prue said.

"Huh?"  Piper said.

"Holmes said that in A Scandal in Bohemia," Prue said.  Piper squinted at her.

"Oh.  Then tell me what you think happened based upon what you observed," Piper said.

"I have no data.  It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data," Prue replied.  "Holmes said that in A Scandal in Bohemia, as well.  I do have some data but not enough.  We must wait until there is more."

"Prue, you're talking too much like Holmes," Piper said.  "At Abingdon Manor with Lethbridge and now here with me."

"I told you I know all of the stories and his methods very well," Prue said.  "This is the role of a lifetime.  A role, as a woman, I could never get in Hollywood.  To play, to be, Sherlock Holmes."

"Don't get carried away with this," Piper said.  "We aren't really Holmes and Watson, you know."

"I suspect that to get to the bottom of all of this we soon will be," Prue said.


"I'm so glad you're back, Mr. Holmes," Mrs. Hudson said as they entered the house.  "Wiggins came by and wanted to see you.  I told him you weren't here and that he should come back.  I wouldn't let him into your rooms while you were out.  But he insisted on staying here.  He carried on such a ruckus that I relented and let him stay with me in the kitchen while I was cooking.  If you hadn't given him money to buy those shoes for his naked feet I don't know that I would have allowed him even that."

"You did very well, Mrs. Hudson," Prue said. "Dr. Watson and I will be in the sitting room. You can send Wiggins up in a moment."

"Very good, Mr. Holmes," she said.

"Who is Wiggins?"  Piper asked as they climbed the stairs.

"He is in charge of the Baker Street Irregulars," Prue said, opening the door to their quarters. "They are a dozen ragged street children, of which he is the eldest, who find out information and do all sorts of things for Holmes. In the stories they were barefoot but apparently I...uh, that is Holmes, has seen to it that they now have shoes."

Prue removed her Inverness cape and deerstalker cap as the door to the sitting room opened.

"Phoebe!" Piper shouted.

"Oh...ohhh...I am glad to see you!"  Phoebe said as she hugged Piper and then Prue.  "What is going on?  I woke up in the back of a warehouse with a bunch of children.  They thought I was a child, too and also their leader, and kept calling me Wiggins.  They told me Sherlock Holmes was waiting for me.  They gave me the address - 221B Baker Street - but it took me most of the day to walk here.  You can't get a taxi, or even a horse and buggy, without money."

"We've apparently been sent back in time by The Elders," Piper said.  "And Prue has been changed into Sherlock Holmes and I've become Dr. Watson.  And, it seems, this is not fiction. Reality has been changed again.  Holmes and Watson have come to life just as the Halliwells did."

"And just like that they sent us through time?"  Phoebe asked.  "We had to use a spell to go after Jôlét.  They could have saved us the bother."

"We have to do things ourselves," Prue said.  "They won't interfere unless it's something exceptional."

"We saw that in that episode where you were in jail for murder in the future," Piper said.  "We had to use a spell to get there but they sent us back without one when you were about to be burned at the stake."

"So The Elders can send us through time in real life because of that Charmed script?"  Phoebe asked.  "Their powers can't be based on that. They had to have been real before that."

"You're right," Prue said.  "It has to be the other way around.  They've been influencing the Charmed scripts to reflect their powers in anticipation of their needing us to stop the demons' plans."

"Hmph - we’ll have to tell Brad to give them writing credits," Phoebe quipped.

"By the way, have you read the Holmes stories?"  Piper asked.

"Uh, no, not really," Phoebe said.  "I did see a couple of movies on TV. And I was just reading a list of famous fictional quotations and some of Sherlock Holmes' were on it."

"We don't know what we're supposed to do here or why we have to be Holmes and Watson," Piper said.

"But we do have a case," Prue said.

"Just when in time are we?" Phoebe asked.

"Have a look for yourself," Piper said, handing her the newspaper.

"What's this?" Phoebe asked.

"I know," Piper said, "The Times of London is not exactly The Chronicle."

"What do you mean?" Phoebe asked.  "This is The Chronicle."

"What?" Piper exclaimed.

"Phoebe, we see the Times of London," Prue said. "If you see The San Francisco Chronicle...then you're having a premonition. What does it say?"

"The headline says 'Found Gem Stolen'," Phoebe said. "It says that the Star of The Punjab was stolen yesterday. It had been missing for one hundred eleven years and found three days ago. It was cleaned and prepared to be put on display and was stolen during the night. The only clue is what appears to be a flash of light striking the guard, who was seriously hurt, that the surveillance camera recorded before it was damaged. Does this mean anything to you?"

"This is the case we have at hand," Prue said.

"What's the date of the paper?"  Piper asked.

"June Twentieth," Phoebe said.

"The eve of the solstice," Piper said.

"What's so special about this Star?"  Phoebe asked.

"It can enslave people and make them docile," Prue said.  "Just what a demon with plans for major destruction on the eve of the solstice would want."

"And stolen one day before the eve," Piper said. "And that flash of light that hit the guard - it sounds like an energy bolt from a demon's hand."

"Now we know what we're supposed to do here," Prue said.  "Stop the Star from being found in our time.  If it's not found, then a demon can't steal it and use it on the eve of the solstice.  And the way we stop it from being found is by destroying it here in 1889."

"But if we do that we're going to be changing things in time," Phoebe said.  "We saw what happened when we did that once before.  You died."

"The Star was found four days before the solstice," Prue said.  "That's still in the future from the present we came from.  And we know that the future of the present can safely be changed. It's only the past that mustn't be changed.  So if we destroy the Star here then its being found in the future of the present we came from simply won't ever happen.  And since The Star was lost for all of the years between now and then, destroying it won't change anything that has already happened in our present's past."

"We still don't know why you have to be Sherlock Holmes to do that," Piper said.

"I think I do," Prue said.  She pulled out the packets of cigar ash from her pocket. "Holmes did extensive study on cigar ash.  He even wrote a monograph on it. In The Science of Deduction, he said that he catalogued one hundred forty forms of cigarette, cigar and pipe tobacco with color plates illustrating the differences. On these shelves, then, should be everything I need to identify the type of cigar these ashes came from and thereby identify who had been in Lethbridge's study. And that is how we will find the Star."

"A fictitious detective's fictitious research is going to help us stop a demon from causing major destruction in the real world?" Piper asked, shaking her head.

"It's really not any different than fictitious TV witches' fictitious powers stopping the demons," Prue said, "which we have done for the past month. And now, if you will excuse me, I have work to do."

Piper spent the next hour eating dinner with Phoebe and filling her in on the case.  They had just returned to the sitting room where they found Prue still working at the table.

"Would you please get me the tweezer that's in the drawer in the small chest?"  Prue asked.  "But please hurry."

"Sure," Piper said.  "Uh, the drawer is locked."

"The key is in the pocket of my cape," Prue said.  Piper went to the cape, went through each of the pockets until she found the key and took it out.

"Hurry," Prue said.  "I can't hold this much longer."  Piper went to the drawer, inserted the key and opened it.

"Quickly or all may be lost!"  Prue cried.

Phoebe watched Piper grabbed the tweezer and rush to Prue.

" have a tweezer," Piper said as she was about to hand Prue the one she was holding.  "At the far end of the table."

" I do," Prue said.  "But thank you anyway."  Prue took the tweezer from Piper, lifted something that was lying in a dish and placed it on a piece of paper.

"It is fitting together, is it not, Watson," Prue said.

"I'm Piper," she reminded her.  "And what is fitting together?"

"I've identified the cigar ash that we found in the study.  There is no doubt that it is Virginia ash.  The type of cigar that only Merrick smoked.  I estimate there was twenty minutes of ash there. So Merrick did not happen upon an intruder.  He had been there in the study for some time.  But what was he doing there?"

"Waiting for someone," Piper said.

"Excellent,Watson!" Prue said.  "Now why?  You'll recall I found a yellow substance in Merrick's drawer.  It was wax.  Wax that could be used to make an impression of a key.  Lethbridge said that Merrick had on one occasion misplaced his keys, or so Merrick said, and borrowed Lethbridge's ring.  But on that ring was also the key to the cabinet that contained the Star.  It would have taken Merrick just minutes to make a wax impression of that key.  He could fashion the actual key from it later."

"You're saying that Merrick was the one stealing the Star?"  Piper asked.  "That doesn't seem likely."

"How often have I said to you," Prue said, "that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

"'ve never said that to me," Piper said.  "But I suppose Holmes must have said it to Watson somewhere in the stories."

"And then there is the curious incident of Merrick's cries in the night to alert the household of the intruder," Prue said.

"Merrick did not alert the household," Piper pointed out.

"That was the curious incident," Prue said.

"Wait a minute," Phoebe said.  "I recognize those lines.  They're just like ones that were on that list of famous quotations.  You've changed it slightly but you're speaking Holmes' dialogue from one of his stories."

"I may be repeating myself," Prue said, "but it is as applicable here as it was in Silver Blaze. Having come upon an intruder, it would have been natural for Merrick to have called out to alert the household. But he did not."

Piper looked at Phoebe and shook her head.

"Prue," she said, "you think Merrick stole the Star?  Then who killed him?"

"Whoever he was stealing it for," Prue said.  "They may have had some falling out and as a result Merrick was killed."

"Then the Star is gone," Phoebe said.  "Whoever killed Merrick took it."

"No, he did not take it," Prue said.

"How can you know that?"  Phoebe asked.

"The key!"  Prue said.  "Where is the key to the cabinet?"

"The one who killed Merrick took that, too," Piper said.

"Why?"  Prue asked.  "If he already had the Star what further need did he have of the key?"

"Maybe he did it without thinking," Phoebe said.

Prue shook her head.

"Look at the drawer in the small chest that you just opened," she said.  "As you so aptly observed I already had a tweezer nearby.  I didn't need the one from the drawer.  It was just acting on my part.  You were rushed and my shouting made you nervous.  Where is the key to the drawer?"

"It's in the lock," Piper said.

"Exactly," Prue said."You didn't take it out and put it in your pocket, or anywhere else. Now think, Watson. That person had just killed Merrick and had taken the Star from the cabinet.  He is nervous and wants to get out of there quickly.  He would not lock the cabinet and take the key with him, as you just demonstrated.

"No," Prue continued, "he took the key because he did not have The Star.  After he killed Merrick, he took the key from Merrick's pocket - recall that they were turned inside out - and opened the cabinet.  But the Star wasn't there.  Merrick had hidden it, probably because he did not trust him.

"He looked through the cabinet - hence the papers thrown on the floor - but couldn't find it.  His only hope was that someone in Abingdon Manner would find The Star and return it to the cabinet. And when that happened, he'd be ready to use the key and take it."

Prue looked at the clock over the mantel.

"There is just enough time," she said.  "We must move with alacrity."

"Alacrity?"  Piper asked, giving Prue a look.

Prue took out a sealed envelope from her pocket and handed it to Phoebe.

"Take this to Lestrade," she said.

"Who?"  Phoebe asked.

"Inspector Lestrade at Scotland Yard," Prue answered.

"Where's Scotland Yard?" Phoebe asked.

"I've sent you there before, Wiggins," Prue said with a surprised look.

"I'm Phoebe...remember?" she said.

"Oh...right," Prue said.  "The hansom driver will know where it is."  She took silver coins from her pocket and gave them to Phoebe.

"Give the envelope to Lestrade and to no one else," Prue said.  "If he isn't there, find out where he is and bring it to him, even if you have to travel across half of London."  Prue took her Inverness cape down from the coat rack.

"Where are you going?"  Piper asked.

"To send a telegram," Prue replied.

"Uh...from where?"  Piper asked.

"The telegraph office," Prue said.  "We passed it on the way to Paddington Station this afternoon," she added in explanation after seeing the look on Piper's face.  "You saw what I saw but you did not observe."

Piper exhaled and squinted at Prue.

"Would you care to fill us in, Holmes, on just what you are doing?"  Piper asked.

"Preparing for tomorrow," Prue said, "when you and I shall return to Abingdon Manor."

"What about Phoebe?"  Piper asked.

"She'll remain here," Prue said.  "Wiggins never accompanies Holmes and Watson."

"Why are you doing all of his?"  Phoebe asked.  "I'll come with you, get a premonition of where Merrick put The Star and we'll be done."

"Were it that simple," Prue said, "The Elders would have just put the three of us inside Abingdon Manor right away and been done with it.  No, it's clear that Phoebe's premonitions can't be relied upon to find the Star.  This can only be solved by Sherlock Holmes."

"Then don't keep us in the dark," Piper said.  "What are you planning and how is whatever you're sending now going to help solve it?"

"I have no desire to make mysteries," Prue said, "but it is impossible at the moment of action to enter into long and complex explanations.  Holmes says that in The Adventure of The Dancing Men but it is quite true."

"And what do you want me to do while you're both out?"  Piper asked.

"Stay here and relax with an after dinner coffee, Watson," Prue said.  "There's a monograph I wrote on the affect of a person's trade on the shape of his hand, that you can read.  You may find it useful when next you try to observe people on trains."


"Where you have been?"  Piper asked as Prue came into the sitting room the next morning. "Phoebe and I have already had breakfast."

"There can be no question, my dear Watson, of the value of exercise before breakfast," Prue said.

"Since when?"  Piper asked.

"Since The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet," Prue replied, "when Holmes tells Watson that. And now I will have breakfast, too. I could smell the breakfast aroma coming up the stairs. Mrs. Hudson's cuisine is a little limited, but she has as good an idea of breakfast as a Scotchwoman."

Prue and Phoebe looked at Prue strangely.

"Holmes says that in The Naval Treaty," Prue said.  "It seemed equally appropriate to say it now." Piper squinted at Prue and then turned to Phoebe.

"Do you think if we asked them nicely," she said to Phoebe, "The Elders would send a Charmed writer back in time to us to give her some Prue dialogue to say that would at least made sense?"

"It will all make sense," Prue said.

"When," Phoebe asked.

"When everything is ready," Prue said.

"Stop being so cryptic, Prue," Phoebe said.  "There has to be something that we can do, also."

"No, there isn't," Prue said.  "One cannot rush-"

"No!" Piper said.  "I don't want to hear another Sherlock Holmes quotation."  She took down her coat and derby hat from the coat rack.

"Come on, Phoebs," she said, plopping the derby down rakishly on her head.  "Let's see if we can find what passes for a Victorian shopping mall.  That will give us something that we can do."

Phoebe took out the few coins she had left over from her pocket.

"I wonder if they have sales in 1889," she said, looking at the three half-crowns in her hand as she followed Piper out the door.


Prue pulled the pocket watch from her jacket and opened it.

"It's time, Watson" she declared.  "There is a train to Oxford in forty minutes.  We must be on it." She put on her Inverness cape and deerstalker cap and threw Piper her coat and derby.

"Piper," she said. "I'm Piper!"

"Come, Watson, come," Prue said.  "The game is afoot."

"The game is a...what?"  Piper asked as Prue hurried out the door.  "Hey, wait up," Piper shouted as she ran after her but Prue was already down the stairs.  "Wait for me, Prue...Holmes!"


Prue had been silently engrossed in thought during the cab ride to Paddington Station and the silence continued on the train.  Piper had tried once to remind her of who they really were but there had been no response.  Piper decided to leave Prue to her thoughts and set her mind to enjoying the passing late afternoon English countryside.

It was twilight when the train arrived at the station in Oxford.  The carriage was waiting for them and by the time they arrived at Abingdon Manor it was already dark.  Lethbridge greeted them as they came into the sitting room.

"Have you done exactly as I instructed in my telegram?"  Prue asked.

"To the very letter, Mr. Holmes." Lethbridge replied, handing Prue a newspaper.  Piper looked over her shoulder and saw that it was a local paper.  Gem Found at Abingdon Manor the headline declared.  Piper read the lead paragraph, which said that the Star of The Punjab had been recovered and returned to its secure location at the Manor House.

"I told everyone I met today that the Star was back where it had been," Lethbridge said, "and instructed everyone here to do the same.  Though I do not understand why you wished me to spread such falsehood."

"You retained me to help you and your brother," Prue said, "and you must trust me to do so."

"I certainly do, Mr. Holmes," Lethbridge said.  "I have complete faith in you."

"Good," Prue said.  "I must go up to Merrick's room.  I'll be just a moment.  Watson will stay with you."  Prue didn't wait for a reply and quickly left them.

"Sherlock Holmes has his methods," Piper said in explanation, though in truth she understood little more of what Prue was up to than Lethbridge did.  In a moment Prue returned.  She did not rejoin them but headed towards the back door of the Manor.  Piper followed her and saw her open the door and kneel outside.  She could not understand how Prue could hope to see anything on the ground in the dark.

After a moment, Prue stood up, came inside and locked the door.  Piper followed her as she headed back to the sitting room.

"You must go to your room and remain there," Prue said to Lethbridge.  "Under no circumstances are you to come down, no matter what you may hear, until I summon you.  Is that understood?"

"It is, Mr. Holmes," Lethbridge said.  "I will instruct the servants accordingly."

"Good," Prue said.  "Come Watson, let us prepare."  She headed to the study and Piper followed. Once inside, Prue closed the door behind them.

"As I noted yesterday, there is no practical place in here to hide," Prue said.  She took two chairs and placed them side by side to the left of and just past the desk.  One chair had a clear path to the cabinet in which The Star had been kept and she directed Piper to sit down in the second chair.  Prue turned down the gas in the lamps and the room fell completely dark.  She walked over to Piper and sat down in the first chair.

"This may be a long wait, Watson," Prue said.  "You must be absolutely silent the entire time.  Do not say a word no matter what you see.  And stay awake."

Stay awake, Piper thought.  Sitting in a pitch black room, not being able to move about, not even being able to speak.  Staying awake would take effort.

Time was passing slowly.  At least, it seemed that way to Piper.  She couldn't move to take out her pocket watch.  And even if she could, it would not have helped.  Illuminated watches hadn't been invented yet so she wouldn't have been able to see the time, anyway.  The only sound she heard was Prue's breathing next to her.

Then Piper thought she heard something else.  Something on the far side of the study.  Was that a footstep? she thought.  Then she heard it again.  Then she saw a small light.  A match had been struck and something had been lit.  A very small light, just enough to illuminate a few inches around it.  She saw the light move slowly towards the cabinet and then stop.  After a few seconds, she heard what sounded like metal clicking against metal.

In a flash, Prue jumped up from her chair and with a clear path to the cabinet sprung at the light.

"Now, Watson!" she cried and Piper raised her hand.  Then she jumped up from her chair, went over to the wall and turned up the gas.  As the lights came on she saw Prue standing by the cabinet, the drawer where the Star had been kept now partially open.

"If I ever forget to adequately recognize your contributions, Watson," Prue said, "just remind me of your most extraordinary power to freeze people."

Prue nodded her head and Piper raised her hand again.

The man standing next to Prue was almost six feet tall.  He wore a long dark coat over a vest over his slim frame.  His right wrist was shackled to a decorative ornate bar on the cabinet.  His forehead seemed to protrude and was made to seem even larger by his balding head.  He had wide eyebrows above piercing eyes, which were blinking.  He must have trouble adjusting to the sudden light, Piper thought.

"Allow me to introduce you Watson to Mr. James Moriarty," Prue said.  The man's left hand was pulling at the handcuff which seemed to be pinching his right wrist.

"I'm afraid I've had to adjust the handcuff so that it would fit tightly against your wrist and not allow you any room to wriggle free," Prue said.  Moriarty must have some problem with light, Piper thought, as she saw his eyes continue to blink.

"That won't work," Prue said.  "There is no escape."  Moriarty's blinking stopped and he glared at Prue.

"I expect that you are Sherlock Holmes," he said.

"I am," Prue said.  "This is my associate Dr. Watson."

"You have a reputation for being a brilliant detective who defeats criminals," Moriarty said.  "But I am no common criminal.  I am someone the likes of which you have never been up against.  I have abilities and powers you know nothing of."

"Come now, Moriarty, you underestimate me," Prue said.  "Having seen that I've chosen not to handcuff you to a chair that you could readily lift but rather to a cabinet bolted into the wall of the house that you cannot, surely you must realize that I am quite familiar with the powers of a warlock."

"A warlock?!"  Piper exclaimed.

"My research into criminal activities has led me to learn of many types of evil," Prue said.  "I understand a warlock's ways quite well.  I may even write a monograph on it, one day."  At that last remark, Piper squinted at Prue and shook her head.

"The tight fitting handcuff leaves you no room to separate yourself from it and blink out of the room, as warlocks do," Prue continued, "the way you just blinked in here.  And the way you blinked in here three nights ago when you came to meet Merrick.  You had arranged for him to give you the Star in return for some payment.

"What happened?  Did Merrick become greedy and ask for more than you had agreed upon?"  Moriarty remained silent.

"Won't say?"  Prue said.  "No matter.  You have used your warlock's power to create business opportunities and enrich yourself and to hurt those who might discover your deeds, as you did to the solicitor Alistair Spencer-Thomas.  He told your business partner, Parker St. Dennis, of his suspicions of your cheating him of profits.  St. Dennis obviously chose not to believe him without proof, else he would not have had you invited to Lethbridge's dinner.  And you wanted to make sure that no such proof would be forthcoming from the solicitor.

"Your attempt to kill Spencer-Thomas with the runaway carriage that you controlled with your warlock powers failed," Prue continued.  "But after you saw that the Star's power was real when you successfully used it on him, you decided that you must have it to use against anyone else who might uncover your activities.  And you came for the Star both times in the middle of the night to be sure you would not be seen so as to protect your reputation as a businessman.

"By I suspect your activities may be somewhat hampered in the future."  Prue walked over to the window, pulled aside the shade and waived her deerstalker cap back and forth.  Then she walked over to the study door and opened it.

"Mr. Lethbridge, come down to the study now," she called out.  She returned to stand between Piper and Moriarty as a tall, broad-shouldered man in a derby and open coat, accompanied by a constable, marched into the room.  A few seconds later Lethbridge hurried into the room and stood beside them.

"This is Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard," Prue said to Moriarty.  "It was good of you to come Lestrade and follow my instructions."

"My experience has taught me to respect your suggestions," Lestrade said.  "The constable and I stood away from the house where we could see that window through which you just signaled but where we could not see the back entrance."

"Excellent," Prue said.  "Mr. Moriarty had contrived with Merrick to steal the Star of The Punjab. They had arranged to meet here three nights ago and conclude their transaction.  The cigar ash that I found in the ashtray was that of Merrick's cigar.  You know, Lestrade, that I have done extensive research on types of cigar ash.  As the ash trays had been cleaned by the maid earlier that evening it could only have been dropped into them during the night by someone who had spent time in the study.

"Merrick had removed and hidden the Star before Moriarty arrived, then waited here for him to come. They had a falling out and Moriarty killed Merrick.  He took the key from Merrick's pocket and opened the cabinet but of course the Star was not there.  He then went through some of the other drawers and cabinets without success. 

"But he thought that Mr. Lethbridge might come upon it and so he took the cabinet key with him, planning to come back and take the Star when it was found. Hence my ruse of having Mr. Lethbridge tell the newspaper and everyone else he saw that the Star had indeed been found. I wanted Moriarty to hear about it and come back for the Star. And he did. There, in the cabinet keyhole, is the very key he took from Merrick."

"How did Moriarty enter the Manor House without breaking a door or window?"  Lethbridge asked.

"Merrick provided him with a key to the back door," Prue said.  "Check his pockets."  Lestrade felt Moriarty's pockets but came up with nothing.

"Not there?"  Prue asked.  "Ah, perhaps he dropped it as he came in.  Would you have the constable look around the back door."  Lestrade nodded and the constable left the room.

"Where is the Star now?"  Lethbridge asked.

"That is a secret that Merrick has taken with him," Prue said.  "I'm afraid we may never know."

The constable hurried back into the study and handed a key to Lestrade.

"I found it on the ground just to the side of the door," the constable said.

"Just as you said, Mr. Holmes," Lestrade said.

Moriarty turned to Lestrade and broke his silence.

"None of this is substantial," Moriarty said.

"Everything you've said, Mr. Holmes, is logical," Lestrade said.  "You've convinced me that Moriarty is the murderer and would-be thief.  But he is right.  This is not sufficient evidence to bring charges against him in a court of law, nor even to arrest him."

"I'm afraid you may be right," Prue said.  "But it is sufficient evidence to tear apart the case against an innocent man."

"It is, indeed," Lestrade said.  "I'll see to it that Royle Lethbridge is free by morning."

"And you will free me right now," Moriarty demanded.  Prue gave the handcuff key to Lestrade.  He walked over to Moriarty, removed the handcuffs and put them into his pocket.

"I suggest you leave immediately," Lethbridge said to Moriarty.

"Use the front door," Prue said, a pointed  reference to his having blinked his way in to the Manor House.  Piper watched as Prue and Moriarty stared at each.  She sensed some unspoken thoughts being transmitted between them.

"Until we meet again, Mr. Holmes," Moriarty said in an icy tone.  He picked up his hat that had fallen to the floor and stalked out of the room.  Lethbridge followed Moriarty until he had left the Manor, then returned to the study.

"I believe we are done here," Lestrade said.  "Good night Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson."

"Good night, Inspector," Prue said.  "And thank you for your invaluable help."

"No need to see us out," Lestrade said to Lethbridge.  "We'll find our way.  Good night."

"I am truly indebted to you, Mr. Holmes," Lethbridge said.  "You have saved my brother's life, and the family honor, as well.  Pray tell me your fee and I will write out a check for you."

"I also undertook to retrieve the Star of The Punjab for you," Prue said, "and in that I have failed.  I cannot accept a fee."

"Nonsense," Lethbridge said.  "I cannot be ungrateful to you.  If you will not accept your normal fee, surely there is something else I may offer you."

"There is one thing," Prue said. "You have a fine edition of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream on the third shelf. I must admit I have a weakness for certain editions and bindings. If you would present me with that volume I would accept that as fair payment for my efforts."

"That single volume?" Lethbridge asked incredulously. "You can have the whole set, Mr. Holmes. But I can give you much better and more valuable books."

"No, no," Prue said, "I am not a greedy man. And I have certain idiosyncracies, as Watson can attest to. If you wish to show me your gratitude then please let me have that volume."

"As you wish, Mr. Holmes," Lethbridge said, moving towards the bookcase.

"Don't bother," Prue said, "I'll get it." She stood on her tip-toes and stretched to reach the book and took it down.

"Ahh," Prue said, as she held it. "This will do fine. I suggest that you make known the type of person Moriarty is so that people will be careful in dealing with him. He has done other evil in the past to enrich himself and will do so again if given the chance. And now I believe we have just enough time to catch the last train back to London. If you would be kind enough to furnish us with a carriage to Oxford Station, Watson and I will be going."


Prue closed her eyes immediately upon entering the train compartment and appeared to fall asleep, the treasured volume of Shakespeare held tightly in her cape's inside pocket.  Piper was reluctant to disturb her with questions so she closed her eyes, too and dozed off.


Though the hour had been quite late Mrs. Hudson, upon hearing Prue and Piper return, had brought up fresh tea and biscuits. They sat in the sitting room enjoying the refreshments as Prue held the book.

"What is so special about that book of Shakespeare that you made up that story about collecting them?" Piper asked. And what do we now about finding the Star?"

"Come now, Watson," Prue said. "You know my methods. Have I not earned your trust?"

Piper exhaled. "No," she said, squinting at her.

"Perhaps I deserve that for keeping you in the dark," Prue said. "But do not begrudge me my flair for the dramatic." Phoebe raised her eyebrows and Piper squinted at Prue again.

"It is a singular volume," Prue said. "But recall that when I asked Lethbridge for it I did not refer to it as a book. For as you can see," she turned the book around, "its pages are not real." Prue smiled and lifted the book's cover.

"The Star of The Punjab," Piper said slowly, staring in amazement at the multi-colored gem sitting in a cut-out inside the fake book. " did you know?"

"Recall that when I went through Merrick's drawers I found a book tucked away in a corner, hidden under a cloth," Prue said. "A Midsummer Night's Dream. Why? I asked myself. Someone of Merrick's level would be more inclined to read some popular fiction. And if he did have a liking for Shakespeare, why was it hidden away in the corner of the drawer? It would be more likely to leave a book that was being read in a more accessible place.

"I thought I had seen similarly bound volumes in the study and when I went back there I quickly verified that.  When Lethbridge told me that Merrick was adept at binding and repairing old books I saw the possibility.

"Merrick prepared the fake book with the cut-out and placed it on the shelf.  He took the real book and hid it away in his drawer, lest it be noticed.  While waiting that night for Moriarty, he removed the Star from it's locked drawer and placed it inside the fake book.  Merrick either did not trust Moriarty or was going to increase his demand - we'll never know which it really was.  In either case, even if Moriarty would force him to give him the key to the cabinet he would not find the Star.  And Merrick could plausibly claim that Lethbridge must have taken it out.  But it was close by so that if all went well he could conclude the deal.  But I had to set the trap and see if Moriarty would come back to be sure I was right.  And to clear Lethbridge's brother."

"Why did you insist on taking down the book from the shelf yourself?"  Piper asked.

"I couldn't allow Lethbridge to touch the volume," Prue said.  "He would probably have noticed that the pages weren't real.  And even if he hadn't, he would have felt the difference in its weight from that of the real book."

"And the key to the Manor's back door that the constable found?"  Piper asked.

"It wouldn't do to have to explain warlocks and blinking to Lestrade or even to Lethbridge," Prue said, "though Merrick obviously had some understanding of it.  So when I left you and ran up to Merrick's room I took his key to the back door from his key ring.  When you saw me kneeling afterwards at the back door you naturally thought I was looking for something.  But I was actually planting the key there for the constable to find to make a plausible explanation as to how Moriarty got in."

"It seems so obvious and clear now," Piper said.

"Of course," Prue said." It always is after I explain it to you, Watson." Piper made a face and squinted at her.

"How are we going to destroy the Star," Phoebe asked.

"We can smash it," Piper said.

"That could leave over small pieces that might still have some power in them," Prue said.  "I have a better way."  She took a metal tray from a shelf, put it on the table and placed the Star inside of it.  She took a flask from another shelf and held it near the tray.

"This is a highly concentrated acid," she said.  "Move away."  Piper and Phoebe stepped back and Prue slowly poured the acid over the Star.  An acrid smoke began to rise from the tray as the Star began dissolving.

"There, it is gone," Prue said.

"Well done, Holmes," Piper said to her with a smile. A yellow light suddenly appeared in the room and surrounded each of them. In a few seconds it was gone. And so was the sitting room.

"We're back in The Manor, our Manor," Phoebe said.  "We're back to being The Halliwells."

"Goodbye Baker Street," Piper said.  "Hel-lo San Francisco."

Prue looked around her, sat back in the chair and exhaled.

"You had me worried there for a while, Prue," Piper said.  "You weren't just playing Sherlock Holmes.  You had become Sherlock Holmes."

"If Prue hadn't," Phoebe said, "she would never have been able to solve the mystery and find the Star and destroy it.  She had to become Holmes to think and act like him.  Just as we've had to become the Halliwells to think and act like them.  It's the same thing."

"Well," Piper said, "despite the biscuits we had I could still use something to eat." She sat there for a moment waiting.

"Right...there's no more Mrs. Hudson to prepare it for us," she said.  She stood up and headed for the kitchen.

"It was truly the role of a lifetime," Prue said, some melancholy in her voice.  "Living, thinking...being Sherlock Holmes. Saving innocent people and defeating evil. I don't think I'll have a role like that again."

"Oh, I don't know about that," Phoebe said.  "You have a role like that right now.  Playing, and being, Prue Halliwell, and saving the world from evil demons on the eve of the solstice.

Prue looked up at Phoebe and half-smiled.

"Come eat something with us," Phoebe said.  "You'll feel better."  Prue stood up slowly, exhaled and walked with Phoebe into the kitchen.


It was early the next evening when Prue joined Phoebe and Stuart at the kitchen table for dinner.  Piper brought over a large pot of split pea soup and placed it in the center of the table.

"I still find it strange that Moriarty had the same name as the criminal in Holmes' stories," Piper said, taking the soup ladle.

"Even the first name was the same," Phoebe said.

"And he looked just like the Sidney Paget drawing of Moriarty that accompanied some of the original stories that you showed me today, Stuart," Piper said, handing him the ladle.

"You don't think..."  Piper began, "...that...Arthur Conan Doyle named his character after the real Moriarty, do you?"

"Most of Holmes' stories appeared in The Strand magazine," Prue said. "It was the best and most successful popular magazine in England in that era.  Four One Five has access to on-line newspaper and magazine archives.  One of the archives had scanned in most of The Strand's issues.  I printed off a copy from May of 1891."

"That's about one and a half years after we were there," Phoebe said.

"There was an article in it about our James Moriarty," Prue said.  "It described him as a cunning master criminal and put forth rumors of all sorts of evil that he had perpetrated."

"Lethbridge must have taken your advice to spread the word," Piper said.

"It's a fact that Conan Doyle read The Strand regularly before he began writing the Sherlock Holmes stories," Prue said.  "He undoubtedly read that article about Moriarty."

"And when he needed an evil master criminal in his stories, that name came to mind," Phoebe said.

"You influenced the stories, Prue," Piper said. "Because of you, Conan Doyle gave Holmes the same adversary in fiction that you, as Holmes, had in real life. Your portrayal of Sherlock Holmes still exists."

Prue was silent but a small smile crossed her face.

"There have been writers over the years - notably Adrian Doyle and John Dickson Carr, among others - who have written additional Sherlock Holmes stories, as 'recorded' by Dr. Watson," Prue said.  "Now that you've been Dr. Watson, Piper, perhaps you'd like to try it, too. You could write about our little adventure. In keeping with the style of Holmes' story titles, you could call it
The Adventure of the Charmed Detective."