Summary: A young Henry suffers through all the normal pre-adolescent doubts and insecurities, and he has one important question for Helen Magnus. Magnus' POV.
Spoilers: Henry's abnormality is mentioned, so that would mean minor for "The Five" and "Edward"
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Helen typically sat up with Ashley until the little girl was asleep. It was calming, helped her clear her mind of the events of the day and generally get into a more peaceful frame of mind before she took herself off to bed. Leaving the bedroom, she tiptoed so as not to wake Ashley, as light a sleeper as her father had ever been.
Closing the door carefully behind her, she was surprised to find herself not alone in the hallway.
"Good evening, Henry," she greeted the gangly boy, reaching out to ruffle his hair. "Can't sleep, dear?"
He shook his head, his expression unusually grave. "Can we talk, Doctor Magnus?"
"You know you can talk to me any time," she answered, offering her hand. "But, as it is rather late, why don't we take this conversation to your room?"
He slipped his hand into hers and followed her silently to his bedroom, two doors down from Ashley's. Magnus preferred to have her bedroom between theirs so she could keep an ear on each of them equally well. When he got a little older, she would move Henry to a more private bedroom. But her own door would, naturally, remain open to him twenty-four/seven.
Amazing how, in such a short time, she had gone from being completely alone in the world to having two wonderful children to love and to love her. She could hardly believe she had once been fearful of the idea of becoming a mother. Granted, she had to keep a careful eye on Ashley lest some trait inherited from her father made itself known. But so far Ashley was as sweet and gentle as a kitten and Magnus was starting to think that she might stay so after all.
"I need to get you new pajamas," she noted as they walked. "You seem to have had another growth-spurt when I wasn't looking. I'll take you shopping this weekend, okay?"
He made a face at the idea of being forced to spend any of his precious weekend free time doing something as girly as shopping, which made Magnus smile. He was growing up, all right.
In his room, she waited for him to lie down, then tucked him in and sat on the edge of the bed, staring down at him. He smiled up at her, but looked troubled all the same.
"What's the matter, Henry?" she prompted gently.
The boy hesitated for a several long moments, then blurted out, "Do I have a soul?"
She stared at him with wide eyes. "Henry! What on earth?" She shook her head. "Why would you even wonder about such a thing?" she wanted to know. "Has one of my patients been…"
"Not a patient, no."
"Who, then. Why would anyone else question that you have a soul? No one else knows that you're special. Do they?"
He shook his head. "I've been good and not told, like you said. Only…"
"My religion teacher says that animals don't have souls like humans do."
Magnus bent over and pressed her lips to the top of his head, pulling him into a tight hug. Sending the children to a Christian school had seemed better than sending them to a public school in terms of academics, but she should have foreseen certain theological issues coming up that would be especially difficult for Henry. Her own damned fault for not home-schooling the pair!
"First off, the idea that animals don't have souls is debatable in and of itself," she informed the boy. "I happen to believe that all of God's creatures have souls. However, that opinion is moot as you, Henry Foss, are as much a human being as I am. Therefore, you have a soul."
"But we're not really human, not either of us," he pointed out, cuddling into her.
"Why? Just because we're a little different? Henry, there isn't a human on the planet who isn't different from every other human on the planet. Not even identical twins are truly identical. Our differences are only a matter of scope, that's all. We are real human beings, I assure you."
He looked up at her, trusting as always, but also still uncertain. "But how would I know?"
She closed her eyes. She had never been terribly religious herself, although she had a degree of faith in God. But theological arguments had never been her strong-suit. She was more at home in the realm of hard science. Still, Henry needed an answer, some reassurance. She could have cursed his teacher, but the woman could not have known that her statement might lead to such a fears for a seemingly-normal boy.
Then it came to her, so simple that she could have laughed.
"Henry, darling, you know you have a soul because, if you didn't have one, you wouldn't worry about whether or not you did," she told him, smiling.
His adorable little face lit up at her words. "Really?"
"Absolutely, Henry. I've never lied to you before. Why would I start now, hmm?"
He threw his arms around her neck, clinging to her. "Thank you, Doctor Magnus."
She smiled and hugged him back. He may not have been her blood, but she loved the boy like a son all the same. "My pleasure, Henry."
"Can I stay at the Sanctuary forever?" he asked.
"Well, certainly, if that's what you'd like. Or, if you decide you'd rather, say, travel, there are Sanctuary houses around the world where you'll be welcome. And, it would make me very sad but, if you were to decide you wanted nothing to do with the Sanctuary at all, I would accept that decision as well."
"I would never decide something like that. I want to stay at this Sanctuary house forever and help you protect other abnormals."
"And that, of course, is your right. But you're a little young to be deciding what you want to do with the rest of your life, don't you think?"
"Nope. Staying here forever," he pronounced.
She smiled. "Very well, then. If that's what you think you want."
"I know it's what I want," he answered. "I'm going to stay here and hunt abnormals for you."
"Well, it sounds like you've got your future all planned, my fearless boy. And it's a good plan," she assured him.
She could do worse for an abnormal-hunter than a young werewolf. Now all she needed was to train Ashley up to follow in her footsteps as a physician to their patients, which would be no problem at all. She might only have been in preschool, but Ashley was already showing an interest.
"Get some sleep, Henry," she advised, content with the shape of their future. "And never doubt how special you are."
The boy yawned, blinking up at her. "If you say it, it must be true."
"That's right," she answered, waggling her finger sternly at him. Smiling, she climbed to her feet. "Sleep tight, my darling."
"Thank you, Doctor Magnus," he murmured as she headed towards the door.
"Any time, Henry."
"I know," he answered confidently.
She smiled at him as she went. He was a strong boy, would be just fine. He was simply growing into an adolescent, and that created speed bumps for even the most 'normal' of children. Henry was no different from any other boy his age, not in any way that counted. Of course he had problems with self-identity. He was changing. His world was changing. But it was something that every child went through and, for the most part, they emerged from it happier and more comfortable in their own skins. Henry would be just fine.
The next morning, she was wakened by the sounds of childish laughter. Yawning and stretching, she climbed out of bed and went in search of the sound, wondering what her two little monkeys were up to now. She had to look no farther than her bedroom window.
Ashley was chasing Henry and another young abnormal in what looked like a game of tag. The abnormal might have passed for human easily enough if not for the wings. She was reluctant to amputate until she knew if they were functional or not. His parents agreed with her assessment that they should proceed with caution, so he was staying at the Sanctuary until she could finish determining the wings' functionality.
When Ashley reached the winged boy and tagged him, he gave up, throwing up his hands in surrender. Henry, however, was no quitter. When Ashley reached him he turned around, grabbing her around the waist and lifting her high into the air as she squealed in protest.
"Playing nice down there?" she called out the window as Henry tormented Ashley just the way any boy that age would tease his baby sister.
"You're no fun!" Henry retorted, but he put the flailing girl down. "Ashley never plays nice! She cheats!"
Ashley let out another squeal at that pronouncement, stomping Henry on the foot.
"Ashley!" Magnus shouted, shocked.
Henry did not seem too bothered by the girl's action. He tackled her to the ground and started tickling her.
"Do I have to separate you two?" she demanded.
"You couldn't if you tried!" Henry answered cheekily, letting Ashley up. "She's my baby sister and I have a right to tease her if I want."
"Oh, is that the rule?" She shook her head. "Just play nice, you two. And I expect to see you at breakfast in twenty minutes!"
"But Mom!" Ashley protested, but Henry swatted her arm and she fell silent.
"Yes, Doctor Magnus," he agreed. "We'll see you in twenty minutes."
"You'd better," she warned, closing the window again.
She smiled to herself. Henry really was just like any other little boy that age. Healthy and, most importantly, happy. He would be just fine…