Ashley approached her mother's office in extreme trepidation. She held a letter in her hand, one addressed to her mom. She had opened it out of curiosity and was almost sorry she had read it. Knocking timidly on the door she waited for her mom to grant her entrance. Receiving it Ashley mustered up her courage and entered.

"Ashley, darling." Helen said catching sight of her young teenage daughter. "You do know that you don't have to knock in order to see me."

Ashley only managed a small nod, dreading to give her mother the letter.

"What is it?" Helen asked worriedly after seeing how distraught she looked. Not saying anything Ashley held out the letter and Helen took it delicately. Reading it over quickly a frown spread on her face. She looked up to find Ashley watching her nervously.

"Oh Ashley." Helen sighed. "I assume this came in an envelope?" At her daughters nod Helen took a moment to consider her next words but she was cut off when Ashley finally spoke.

"I know it was addressed to you but it's from my school. And it's about me so I had a right to know what it said." She defended childishly.

Helen stood and walked over to Ashley and led her to one of the sofas. "Here sit down for a moment."

They sat and Helen took Ashley's small hand in her own, noticing how clammy it was. She must have been really nervous about confronting her about this, especially since her indiscretion was so obvious. Ashley's head hung in defeat and Helen's heart clenched.

"Mom, I kn-" Ashley began but Helen stopped her.

"Ashley, listen to me. I don't blame you for wanting to know what it said. However you did open a letter that was specifically addressed to me. You know that I share everything with you and this would have been no exception." She stopped to gauge her reaction.

Ashley finally looked up. "I know mom, and I'm really really sorry."

"I know you are." Helen said soothingly, running her hand over Ashley's platinum blond hair affectionately. She let her hand rest on Ashley's shoulder gently.

"Now, what to do about my little delinquent?"

Ashley looked sharply at her mom, ready to defend herself when she noticed the playful smirk on Helen's lips and the mischievous glint in her eyes. Ashley giggled despite herself and Helen's smirk became a full blown smile.

"I'm not a delinquent mom. My science teacher just doesn't like me."

"What makes you suspect that?" Helen asked curiously. She removed her hand from Ashley's shoulder and watched Ashley struggle with the question.

"Because she's always correcting me." Ashley finally answered scornfully.

"I do believe that is her job Ashley."

Ashley rolled her eyes and Helen had to refrain from laughing. "What I mean is that she does it even when I'm right. She always finds something wrong with my answers and then she announces it to the class; gleefully."

Helen mulled over that for a moment. "What else has she been doing?"

"Oh you know, the usual I-hate-anyone-smarter-than-myself stuff." Ashley responded sulkily and then huffed a sigh.

"Ashley." Helen reprimanded sternly. "As much as she may or may not deserve such comments, remember that she is your elder. More than that she is your teacher and thus deserves a modicum of respect."

Ashley mumbled something that sounded rude but Helen let is slide. She knew sending Ashley to a public school would stir the waters and for the thousandth time she doubted her decision on the matter. She couldn't blame Ashley for her obvious frustration. In fact Helen was surprised that this was the first letter she had received to date. She had expected something like this to happen much sooner and had even convinced herself that they would both come out of this whole school experience unscathed. Given Ashley's home life and Helen's personal guidance on her earlier education, the young blond was well beyond her current grade level, as well as her peers' maturity level.

Helen sighed heavily which caused Ashley to look up at her.

"Mom I'm sorry. I've tried so hard to fit in, but I can't change who I am." She looked down at her tightly clasped hands and Helen could tell she was fighting to control her overactive teenage emotions.

She reached over and pried Ashley's hands apart and clasped them in her own.

"Ashley." She spoke gently but Ashley remained with her head down. "Look at me."

At that Ashley looked up and Helen saw the tears pooling in her daughters eyes. She placed her hand softly on the side of Ashley's face.

"You never have to apologize for who you are; to anyone, especially me."

"Okay." Ashley replied, her voice choking on the word. She took a moment to compose herself and Helen pulled her hand away to give her space. "Now what mom?"

"Now I go and give this Ms. Mueller a call to set up our conference. It's only fair to hear her side of the story Ashley." Helen said in response to Ashley's rather loud groan.

"Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you." Ashley wagged her finger for good measure.

Helen laughed. "I doubt she will do anything to warrant such a statement."

"I hope so, for her sake." Ashley stood and made her way toward the door. Before exiting she turned back to Helen who had made her way back over to her desk to retrieve the letter.

"Oh and if she does, just give her the old Magnus charm." Winking rather boisterously she left the office leaving behind a very amused Helen.