“I know you didn’t ask for this,“ Helen murmured, sitting on the edge of Henry’s bed.
"No shit,” he muttered into his pillow, his back to Helen and the door.
“But you were alone out there. I couldn’t leave you. Goodness knows what could’ve happened to you.”
“That doesn’t make it ok to kidnap me.” She tried giving him excuses but he shook his head. “Just leave me alone.”
Many years later
“Aunt Lillian was many things but she would keep her word when she could,” Erika explained as she handed Henry a note. “She found your parents.”
Henry looked at the paper in his hand, crisply folded once. This could be it, the moment he had waited for since that horrible day the whole Earth fell away from his feet and he’d been without a net. He’d meet his parents, learn what had happened, maybe even–
With a metaphorical sledgehammer he squashed that thought before it even had a chance to breathe. Taking a breath himself, he unfolded the paper.
A few months later
Drying his eyes, he called, “Yeah,” to the door, keeping his eyes studiously on the view out the window. He knew who it was, her voice unmistakable. Even now, after everything he’d said to her in an argument that had brewed for days, her voice was soft, like the blanket she’d wrap him in at night as a kid. “Hey, Doc.”
“Mind if I come in?”
Henry shrugged, feigning indifference, dying inside when he recognised the telltale pinpricks in the inner corners of his eyes. What the hell? It wasn’t even like he knew those people who’d answered the door, who’d heard his story, who denied point-blank he was theirs. Our child died on holiday in Dartmoor, Mr Foss, after a wolf attack. He never survived.
It went around his head like a badly edited tape, sneering and snide. He knew he was theirs, had sneaked a look at their DNA in their lost son’s police file, but the way the woman’s eyes didn’t spark with relief that he was alive made him drop the whole thing.
“Oh Henry, dear heart,” Magnus murmured, holding his hand. His resolve crumbling, he curled his body into hers, breaking fully when her arms wrapped around his shoulders. This wasn’t how it was meant to be…
… But maybe this was better.