When it started, she didn't even realize it.
It was early in the morning. Judith was being fussy, crying big crocodile tears as Beth tried to calm her down, whispering soothing words in the girl's ear and rocking her in her arms. While this would usually work, it was having no effect on the infant on that particular day. In fact, Beth could have sworn that it was making things worse.
The blonde heaved a sigh, wondering what else she could do. She had already tried feeding her, changing her, and playing with her, and had only earned a yellow rubber duck to the face for all of her efforts. After several hours of this, anyone else would have given up and taken Judith to Rick, but Beth was not about to back down. Maggie had always told her that she was as stubborn as an elephant's leg.
Beth preferred the word 'persistent'.
So she set the screaming baby down gently in her crib while she glanced around the room, looking for a solution to her current problem. First, she tried turning on the mobile above the crib.
Judith cried louder.
Sensing her charge's disappointment, she turned the mobile off and grabbed a stuffed bear near her feet, waving him in front of Judy's face and smiling at her. For a moment, the child stopped her crying and reached for the toy with her chubby baby hands. Beth happily gave it to her, breathing a sigh of relief as she did so.
"There's a good girl," the blonde cooed, unable to keep the grin off her lips.
She barely had time to dodge the bear as Judith threw it back at her head.
Beth realized, as she sank to the floor with her back against the crib, that she'd celebrated her victory too soon. Judith was crying again, and louder than before, as if punishing her for even thinking that something as paltry as a stuffed bear was enough to quiet her. She really should have seen it coming. The rubber ducky had been her first warning.
The blonde leaned her head back against the crib, closing her eyes momentarily. She would not, under any circumstances, give up. Even if she went deaf from Judith's cries. And from the way things were going, that seemed very likely.
She took a deep breath, opened her eyes…and was forced to close them again. Something was shining directly in front of her, reflecting the pale sunlight coming from the small window. She placed her hand in front of her eyes, managing to block some of light, and crawled over to the shiny object that was resting near the door of the cell.
It was a silver rattle, beautifully made and obviously very expensive. A relic of before. She picked it up, marveling at the small, intricate carvings of songbirds on the top of the rattle. There was a smudge of dirt on one side of it, marring its otherwise perfect surface. She wiped it off with the bottom of her shirt, returning it to its former glory. How had she not noticed this here before? She was aghast that she could have missed something so beautiful after spending so much time in Judith's room.
Obviously, there was something wrong with her eyes.
Deciding that she had nothing to lose, she lifted herself up off the floor and headed back to the crib, rattle in hand. She shook it in front of Judith, careful to keep her head back this time. If Judy decided to throw this back at her, Beth was sure she'd get a concussion.
At the sound of the rattle, the baby's crying lessened. Judith tilted her head slightly, watery eyes looking curiously at the silver toy. She reached out with both hands, pulling the top of the rattle to her mouth as Beth held onto the handle, still not one-hundred-percent trusting the mischievous infant.
However, as soon as Judith started sucking on the rattle, the crying stopped and there was nothing but happy gurgling sounds coming from her. Judy laughed as she shook the rattle between her fingers, snot dripping down onto it in happy glee. Beth beamed at the little girl as she grabbed a Kleenex and wiped the snot from her face.
"Aw, are you happy now, baby girl?" she asked Judy softly, smiling brightly at her.
Judith's only response was to shake the rattle even harder than before, causing Beth to laugh and place a gentle kiss on her forehead.
"I'm sorry I didn't get this for you sooner," she murmured, glancing back at the cell door where she'd spotted the rattle in the first place.
When she reflects on this scene later, she'll realize how stupid she was. How she shouldn't have just dismissed it and gone on her merry way, how she should have taken the time to realize that the rattle being there was no accident.
But hindsight is twenty-twenty. And on that day, her thoughts were focussed only on getting Judith to stop crying and nothing else.
How was she to know that this was the first sentence in his love letter?
A/N: Hi everyone! This is my first story on the site. It'll be a multi-chapter fic, likely not exceeding 10 chapters, but we'll see. Review if you care to do so. I'm always happy to hear what people think.