Author's Note: This is my first (and probably last as well) venture into the Sanctuary fanfiction world. I wasn't even convinced I'd ever want to post this at all, but I happened to like the way I developed this plotbunny a lot more than I thought. I hope you will enjoy this too, and I apologize if Helen comes off as OOC. Feedback, both positive and negative, as long as constructive, is very much appreciated.
Last time I checked English still wasn't my first language and this was not beta'd, therefore Microsoft Words and I are to blame for all grammar mistakes and imperfections.

Also, many thanks to PsychoMaddy for being the first to read this and give me a honest opinion on it. I don't know where I would be without my amazing friends.

She was…normal.

As the sunrise cast refreshing new light over the Sanctuary - the morning seeing her still in the lab since the night before - the realization hit her like a ton of bricks, when she stared at the result of yet another blood test.

Identical to all the others she had run through the night, it showed a perfect sample of DNA, clear of any anomaly or alteration. Compared to her own DNA, it presented complementary genes, attesting the blood relation between the subjects, but whereas some of her genes had been altered when she was injected the Source Blood, none of Ashley's genes displayed the same kind of alteration.

Her daughter, the most beautiful creature she had ever seen in her long life, the most special human being to ever cross her path, was utterly and completely normal.

She turned away from the screen when a soft sound came from the crib behind her. Her baby daughter was still sleeping peacefully, and while she observed her, Helen felt a deep tenderness invade her, along with a powerful feeling of guilt.

For the first time since she gave birth to Ashley, she regretted her decision to re-implant the embryo and bring the pregnancy to term at last. It was egotistical of her, she knew, but the definite knowledge that her longevity hadn't been inherited by Ashley - the implied awareness that she would have to bury her only child way before her own life would come to an end - crushed her.

Throughout the entire pregnancy, she had hoped, and wished, and prayed to whatever god may be listening, that her gift would pass on to her daughter somehow. But as it happens, every gift comes with a curse, and in spite of how she had wished for someone to fill the void in her life - someone to share everything with, a person who would keep the loneliness away - she had instead been doomed to the greatest sorrow a mother could ever go through: knowing that she will survive the child that means everything to her.

Tears filled her eyes as she watched her baby sleep, but she refused to let them fall. Dwelling on what was to come wouldn't do her any good; there was no way she could control the future anyway. Focusing on the present, on the joy of being a mother at last, was all she could do.

With a sleepy sound, Ashley turned her blond-haired little head and opened her baby blue eyes, reaching up and stretching her tiny fingers as if beckoning her mother to come closer. A beautiful smile spread across Helen's face at the sight, the unshed tears drying fast as she hurried to pick up her daughter from the bassinet.

Once again, she was struck by the resemblance already quite visible between them. The shape of Ashley's face, the colour of her hair; the similarity was disconcerting at times. Her eyes, on the other hand, were a haunting detail that Helen never wanted to really focus on. Her medical experience told her that all babies had such intense blue eyes during the first few months of their lives; her instinct told her that this particular shade of blue would never change, and she would still see John in her daughter's eyes every single moment.

Awake for her morning feeding, the baby instinctively searched hungrily for a breast, and her quest for nourishment came to an end once Helen unbuttoned her blouse expertly and started to feed her daughter.

Ashley's watery eyes looked up at her sideways as she squirmed and nestled up to her chest, her small hand resting on the upper side of Helen's breast as her tiny fingers flexed repeatedly in time with the way her chubby cheeks moved as she suckled.

Like it happened with every feeding, the beauty of the image cut deep into Helen's heart, and she thought that nothing could be more fascinating than knowing that your own body was providing nourishment for the tiny creature it had kept safe for nine months and then delivered into this world.

She thought that life was magic, what the human body could do was spectacular. And maternity was better than anything else she had ever experienced in the long one hundred and thirty-four years that she had been alive.

Maybe there would never be a way for her to change the course of destiny; perhaps she was indeed doomed to suffer the loss of her beloved child in the end. Maybe she just had to live with the sting of pain and regret that came from knowing that she could have avoided this.

But none of it mattered as the bond between them grew stronger, as she looked at the baby in her arms and for once she felt truly complete.