I own nothing. Also, Mr. Magorium and Eric aren't really in this. It's not their story, and there was no reason to include them.
Their relationship was not what anyone might call conventional. Firstly, it was because no one conventional would date a man like Henry twice unless they were more than conventionally desperate. Secondly because Molly couldn't have been happy with someone who really was conventional because she was so very non-conventional herself.
There was a reason that women avoided Henry the way friends avoided Eric. He was nervous and dull and socially inept. He spoke in statistics, the poetry of percentages- all figures, no feelings. Almost everyone had a part of them that craved the wonder of a toy store like the Emporium. That was why it was so popular- everyone wanted to believe in magic. But Henry was afraid of magic- not that he thought it would hurt him, but the idea of magic was so profoundly unsettling that it manifested in an uneasy agreement: he wouldn't believe in magic and magic wouldn't believe in him. Sometimes Molly wondered how he'd managed to get Magic to agree to that deal in the first place, for everywhere Henry went, magic had just happened, or was going to happen… five seconds after he left. It was maddening.
Molly was almost positive she could never love someone who didn't believe in magic.
In any case, Henry certainly wasn't in love with her, because the last time she checked, she wasn't a real or imaginary integer, though she was odd and occasionally even. Henry was simply lonely because his calculator couldn't hold a conversation with him and his computer was giving him the cold shoulder. He'd tried apologizing and then tried to pick a fight with it, but no one would take Henry seriously unless he had a complicated-looking form in his hand. His computer found the stapler more intimidating than the Mutant. He had, however, looked adorable when she'd caught him begging it to give him another chance.
Molly was almost certain that she wasn't in love with him, but there were moments when that surety wavered, seemingly almost as insubstantial as the air she breathed. Then she realized that air could be pretty darn substantial when one didn't have enough of it.
Such as now, when she was looking up, up, up into his eyes, and he was staring down, down, down into her heart. For some reason, whenever their eyes caught like this, he always smiled. Molly knew it must be for some boring, normal reason that he would do this, but she never asked. He would answer any question anyone asked him without even waiting to think about it, just the truth, straight up, too boring to have anything to hide. She liked to pretend there was some mystery to the Mutant.
The relationship that she seemed to spend so much time fretting about consisted of a bizarre ritual that began almost by accident. As the store closed one night, Molly had tripped down from the upper floor to lock the doors, only to see a light on in the office. The mutant was still hard at work, though it would probably take him years to labor through all of the late Mr. Magorium's bits and pieces of billets and papers. Molly peeped in at him, noting the perpetually stiff suit and the equally erect posture. A sudden destructive urge struck her so forcefully that she couldn't have resisted, even had she felt the inclination.
The 'tap' 'tap' 'tap' of the calculator covered her footfalls, but the movement caught the Mutant's eye. With distracted confusion he shifted his gaze, turning slightly to glance up at her even as the numbers shamelessly beckoned him back to his work. But the mood was on Molly now, and the Mutant wouldn't- couldn't escape. Her hand snaked out and gripped his gray tie, wrinkling it deliberately and smirking when he winced.
An outraged, "Hey" escaped his lips, but Molly ignored him for many reasons that don't really matter. She pulled at his tie, coiling the length around her fingers, gently but forcefully, until he stood. She loosened it just enough to make it look unkempt, nimble fingers dancing at the base of his throat. His collar was soon open and askew, his shirt half untucked and his left shoe untied. She smiled up into his panicked eyes and kissed him so he would stop complaining. Her fingers combed the wrong way though his hair and he didn't even try to stop her.
She left him there, leaning against the wall and breathing heavily. He looked thoroughly mussed, her lipstick smeared across the right side of his face and his once immaculate suit was a shambles. And every night since he had worked until dark, waiting in the office to submit to the ritual disarray. It suggested something about Henry that Molly hadn't considered, something so surprising that she had trouble really believing it was possible. Could it be, that Henry had changed- grown in some indefinable and uncharacteristic way?
So it was to test this bizarre hypothesis that today she would try something new. She turned off the lights in the shop, locked up the door to the city, and zigzagged her way towards the yellow glow under the blinds of the office window. The door was slightly ajar, a golden line in the dark, but when she entered she closed it behind her. The mutants slow tapping seemed to pause for a moment, but it might have been her imagination.
Molly glanced at him, but didn't approach as usual. There were no other chairs in the room, so she casually swept the messy piles of paper off the nearest desk and took a seat on top of it. She saw his shoulders tense as the sheaves whispered all over the floor. Then she waited. After only ten minutes, he began to fidget. Twenty minutes later and his use of the nearby eraser had doubled. At the half hour mark he capped his pen, placed it neatly next to his work, and stood.
"Why are you doing this?" he asked suddenly, and the room seemed to shrink two sizes.
Molly gazed up, up, up into his eyes and realized abruptly that they were blue, not the brown that she had more assumed than seen they were. Or perhaps they had changed too, because wouldn't she have noticed blue eyes standing out from all of the grays and browns of his personality? She absently wondered how long it would take before he realized that she wasn't going to answer him.
Finally he turned away and began putting files and folders into his case. His PDA and calculator followed closely behind. He slid the pen in amongst its identical brothers in the special side pouch. His cell phone fit neatly into the Velcro space to the left of his eraser caddy. Finally when it seemed there was nothing left to organize or stow, he placed the briefcase on the desk and walked over to stand before her. He cupped her face between his hands and leaned down to gently brush his lips over her cheek, trailing soft, warm kisses over her eyelids, across her forehead, and down to the tip of her nose.
When he stepped away from her, she looked down to find her sweater unbuttoned, half of it peeled back to reveal her shoulder. Her skirt was hitched up on the left side and her left shoe had fallen off, and she could feel her hair standing up at odd angles all over her head. And yet he was still smiling down at her, albeit a bit uneasily, his suit still as stubbornly stiff as when he'd entered the building.
It seemed as if she was suddenly seeing the Mutant as more than just an animate object, passively and voicelessly victim to her whimsies. He had feelings, but lacked expression. What made her so much more human than he? Perhaps it was because he was so hard to understand, or incapable of making himself understood. Personhood was the kind of thing people should just assume one possessed, after all. For just a moment she felt what it was to be Henry: To be so worried on the inside that he would do something wrong, that he didn't notice when he was doing something right. To be soothed by filling out paperwork, because there was only one right way and it never was disappointed in him. To love gray and brown because no body else would love them. To be so sensitive to the world that you became insensible of it. To feel so many conflicting urges all at once and be too afraid to give in to any of them.
That was Henry, and she was pretty sure she loved him.
Molly stood up and wrapped her arms around him, ignoring his surprise and his stiffness. "Why can't we talk like this more often?" she asked happily.
"We haven't said anything."
"I have a few more things I'd like to not-say to you."
"… I'm listening."