Daughters of Hesperia – Baby Steps (1.28)

It was the evening, and Gorgophone was demanding Polgara’s attention, grabbing at her and stomping her little feet. It had been a while since Polgara had dealt with such a child, but she did not mind, and instead crouched down to pick the girl up.

Meda had confided in her that Gorgophone might not take the move well, as she always seemed to want more of Meda’s attention, clinging to her legs and wailing if she were to be put down for a nap while her mother worked. But, as they both knew, this phase was usually just that.

Gorgophone snuggled happily into Polgara’s hair, clinging close.

“There, see? It is not so bad,” Polgara soothed, rubbing her back. “Now, you can come and be put to bed in my room.”

Gorgophone did not seem to pay much attention, and having worn herself out fussing, was easy to coax to sleep, for now. Polgara breathed a sigh of relief. This child would definitely be more taxing than the other two they were raising here.

Early the next morning, Diana heard a familiar whimpering as she drifted between sleep and wakefulness. She thought for a moment it might be Marcella, having woken to her daughter’s nightmares before.

But as she woke up further, she realised it could not be Marcella, for her daughter was too old to make a baby’s cry. She got up as quickly as she could, and hurried through to Polgara’s room, passing Polgara on the way.

“I must attend to Odysseus–” Polgara started.

“I shall see to Gorgophone.” Diana bowed her head, and Polgara gave her a thankful smile as she continued into Odysseus’ room.

They had decided to put Gorgophone’s bed in Polgara’s room, as she would disrupt Marcella’s sleep if they shared a room, and Diana’s room was not big enough for an extra bed. Polgara’s room had been the largest to start with, and it only made sense to let the trained Provider share a room with Gorgophone, who was the youngest of the children.

In the room, Gorgophone was wailing loudly.

“Ma-MA!” she cried out, her lip wobbling. “Mama, mama…”

Diana felt her heart fill up with sympathy for the little girl. She could remember a time when she had seen her sister go through the same thing, unable to understand where their mother was, and who these strangers were that were trying to take care of her.

So, she crouched down, trying to hug Gorgophone.

“It is alright–“

Gorgophone reeled back, shaking her head and pulling all of her limbs back. She looked, Diana thought, a little like a snail that retreated into its home.

“Want Mama!” Gorgophone demanded. “Mama!”

Well, that would be the problem, Diana thought ruefully. She was not Andromeda, nor could she lie and tell this little girl that Andromeda would visit today. Instead, she carefully stepped back, crouching in the doorway.

“I am Diana. I am your friend, Gorgophone.” She tried to think how better to say it in Artemisian, but smiled at the little girl. “Are you hungry?”

This seemed to calm Gorgophone down somewhat, and she blinked at Diana a little bit.

“‘Es,” she said, eventually.

“We can go eat with Polgara?” Diana offered, and this brought a smile immediately to the little girl’s face. She knew Polgara well, and nodded quickly.

When Diana came out of the room, trailed by Gorgophone, Polgara looked up thankfully from cleaning up Odysseus, who had clearly just been fed.

“Diana, you are such a help!” she said, immediately. “I am so sorry, but I could hear Odysseus crying and I must have woken up our little warrior. I did not mean to, but she was crying while I was sorting out Odysseus, and I could not bring him into my room.” She smiled down at Odysseus, who gave her a big, sunny smile back.

“It is good,” Diana told her, making sure that Gorgophone was alright before she sat down. The little girl ran over to Polgara, hanging onto her legs.

“Now, now.” Polgara knelt down, giving her a little cuddle before turning around. “I had better get you some food, hm?” She smiled down at her, walking away, which left the two toddlers staring at each other.

Diana was not quite sure why, but the two children did not play like Marcella and Odysseus had when they were young. Instead, it was like seeing two cats unsure of each other. Odysseus gave her a nervous look as Polgara came back with Gorgophone’s breakfast.

Gorgophone, for her part, was unusually silent, staring at Odysseus. She didn’t seem to know what to make of him, and was frowning at him with a serious little look on her tiny face. He looked back at her, unblinking, and then Polgara sighed.

“Gorgophone! Come here, your breakfast is ready.” She turned to Diana, shaking her head. “She thinks he is strange, I think. I cannot tell exactly what she is thinking, but they will get used to each other, I can only hope.”

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