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In Which the Witching Hour Comes and Departs

     Maddox was lost in thought as she dozed in her rocking chair. As she stroked her slowly growing belly, she mused on what the baby would look like. She was interested to know what sex the petite trublion would be — More especially whom her petite would take after the most. If the child was more like Helio, would her pregnancy become more dangerous than it already seemed it could be? And supposing the child took after her more, would some sort of magical impulses or energies make something go fatally wrong? She felt as though she were worrying herself too ragged about what could be, though. She was tired enough. She didn’t need the extra weight of future worries at that particular moment. She decided that since the pros outweighed the cons, she would keep her head focused on the good that would come out of it instead. Her mémé had a saying. She would gather her bébés on her lap and whisper to them, “Ne créez pas de blessures où il n’y en a pas, mes chéris. L’amour et la vie dehors.” Then she’d kissed them each on the cheek and turn them loose to play in the orchards. That time seemed so long ago, and Maddox was a grown woman. She had always said she’d follow her mémé‘s ways some day. Today would just have to be that day, being as she had no other real alternative.
     The more that she and Helio would discuss their child, the more excited she became about motherhood. The negatives could not bring her down and make her forget the wonders of being this happy. She was determined to make this event a celebration, not a dread. She had found a way to enjoy her wedding, rushed as it was. What made this situation any different? Marrying him had seemed so daunting and dangerous at the time, but every minute she was his wife was a moment of bliss that she wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Every problem would be viewed, from here on, as a reason to find a way to make the best of it. She began to hum an old lullaby, more out of nostalgia of her mother than for her baby. It simply wasn’t developed enough to understand yet. She’d had a few bouts of morning illness, and the only bodily problems she’d encountered as of yet were the change in her hair (as everyone had noticed, it was decidedly sunset orange) and the lassitude. Weariness. Between her sessions with Arnold and keeping up with her dancing in the sands of the Souk, she barely had enough strength to change her clothes and bathe before bed most days. She hoped that it wouldn’t get worse as time went on. Arnold tried to take care of her, but she truly didn’t want to inconvenience anyone just because she was a bit tired.
     On certain days, she’d trade practicing dance for visits from her loved ones and friends. So far, she’d seen Erehwon, Arnold, Helio, Hono and on one momentous occasion, Christine. She treasured the visits, because they made her time pass and she was passing time with people she adored. And besides, visits gave her time to be Maddox instead of Doctor Lionheart. Counseling Arnold was a job in and of itself and she needed unwind time just like everyone else in the big wide world. The things he’d been disclosing were sometimes unsettling, but she chose to be objective. Subjectivity would be unprofessional and as long as she was counseling him, she would be professional. He didn’t seem to mind, so she wanted to keep it that way. Let it never be said that she slacked on her job, even on break. He seemed to be waiting for her to react while he was speaking. He was waiting for her to yell at him, to scold him, to tell him that he should never have left… But as his psychiatre, her job was to listen and aid. Not to judge and scold, however much her motherly instincts screamed at her to do. She’d slipped a few times, showing him how much his story rattled her nerves, but she had recovered and reminded herself that the past was the past and done was done. She was making progress with him, no matter how it looked to Arnold. She was slowly helping him with the trauma he’d encountered and she was pleased with the progress, no matter how slow. When she’d sense him getting tense while telling a story, she would wait until he finished and gave him something to be annoyed with. She gave him homework, knowing that it would annoy him badly enough for him to forget being anxious and let the tension pass. He had enough problems with stress, why add? And besides, he had Njal to help him with stress. She didn’t care how, apparently their friendship was truly beneficial to them both.
     That wasn’t to say that her mind didn’t betray her and let discomforting thoughts slip through, however. Canergak was a main point of contention, for that. The old man had her teeth on edge ever since he’d introduced himself and the way he’d stared through Erehwon was enough to make her blood boil. She had a few choice names for the old man, but scélérat was the nicest one. She could only wonder what he would do and think when he heard about or saw her child. Or, more to the point, what he would want from her petite. Would she have to arm her child with knowledge of how to keep itself safe at such an early age? Would Helio have to make her child a warrior before it could walk? She had kept these thoughts to herself as of yet. She would speak to Helio about it when he came to see her tonight, she had promised herself. The only worry on telling him about her suspicions was his temper. Would he flame out of control? Would he tear off looking for the old man? She’d been so happy about her baby that she’d let her suspicions about the elderly scientist slide to the back of her mind… Until now. If there was one thing she was certainly sure of, it was what would happen to the bâtard du vieillissement if he stuck his crooked nose where it didn’t belong. She and her husband would find a way to make him rue the second he set his shaking feet on Babbage soil.
      She would see to her child’s safety and well being, even if she died in the process. Unfortunately if it came to that, The Militia would be the least of Canergak’s problems. Faerie fire would be the last thing he would see before darkness took him. Of that, she could be positive.

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