1. Her mother - or rather the female human whose body from which she spawned - is alive, and not dead. Has been not dead for more years than many of her friends would suspect. It's not like it matters though - if you called her up on the telephone and asked her about her daughter, the reply would not be about Ashley at college, or the awards she's won, or even the friends she's made - the reply would be "What daughter?" It's better to think of her as dead.
That's what Ashley's to her, anyway.
2. For as much as she tries to emulate him, Ashley doesn't remember her father. Oh, there's bits and pieces, flash of things - his hand on hers, showing her how to hold a dagger, the echo of his laugh over her head, the feel of him lifting her up and tossing her in the air. But not an individual memory, no.
3. What she does remember is Bernard - her father's mage. The one her mother would like to forget. When father died, Ashley knew he couldn't come around. But Ashley remembers things like school plays, spelling bees, sports days, things all the other parents came to but hers never did, and she knows she heard someone yelling her name, just like all the other parents did (just like all the other kids had). And she would finish her part, her word, her race, and look up through the crowd, and see his eyes. It didn't make up for her mother, then, didn't make all the winning worth it, but it did something. A quiet something, small and hidden, but strong enough to hold on to, in the quiet nights when a mother's arms refused to be there.
He wasn't allowed to come near her, her egg-donator had made sure of that. But Ashley could go to him, at least after she hit her 15th birthday and her rights were expanded. And she did. It didn't make up for not having a father, nor for her mother not being her mother, but it was something sweet and precious all for that. He had no children, but she knew if he was asked if he had a son or daughter, he would name her.
And if somebody asked if her father had made time to come to her plays, her spelling bees, her games, she'd say yes.
3. Bernard was dead before her 16th birthday. He shot himself, determined to not make anyone else kill him - they both knew that magic's price was coming to call on him, and had been for years. There had slight madness during all their meetings, a mania he tried to keep control of, wanting only to protect Ashley and not scare her. But she felt his hands shake in hers, and knew time was short.
When the funeral service was conducted, no one tried to move her from the family section. And when the will was read, leaving her a daughter's share of the estate, she smiled through her tears, knowing he had handed her her freedom.
When she was eighteen, she kept her father's family name, but took Bernard's for her middle.
4. The first time she picked up a hammer in a forge, she dropped it. On her foot.
Good thing she was wearing steel-toed boots.
5. She's loved Sydney in all their myriad forms: from the prickly mage he never quite got to know, to the sharp-tongued woman he loved as a treasure wife first and then as partner, to the indignant scholar, to the crafty girl who stands before her. But in truth, the one that she always laughs about and remembers most fondly, is the French noble. The one who, smart as a man he was, realized being a man in a French revolution was rather too dangerous, and dressed as a woman. A woman who decided that slow looking Irish redhead would be a good mark for a dumb and ignorant husband - and one who wouldn't look too closely under the skirts.
When he finally figures out he should have been looking closer at the breeches, Ashley's already spent five minutes rolling on the ground, laughing.
Umm, Ashley did a drive-by? Sydney is supposed to do one as well, but I haven't been to bed.