And I mean a child character that is crucial to the plot, hangs around with the main character, but isn't the protagonist him/herself. In my novella, set in a fantasy universe, this child is three-years-old and journeys with the main character and her companions as they embark on a quest to reach a particular destination. It should probably also be noted that this child is not related to the MC or her companions. She was an orphaned kid, the sole survivor of a murder spree that claimed her family and the MC found her and took her. Problem is, I'm not sure how to properly write the child so she's more than just either the load (ie, someone only there for the MC to look after), or the MacGuffin (ie, the plot piece people desire. Well, one seedy person does desire this child, and the protagonist does want to protect her from that person, but that's not all this character is.) How can I depict the child as a well-rounded individual that won't make readers go, “Thank God! What was the point of her being there?!” once the story concludes and she goes away? Also, is her being three a little too young? Should I age her up to, say, 5 or 6? Would it be realistic if, over time, she developed an emotional bond with the MC and see her as a parent (or at least a sister/caretaker)? Thoughts? Disclaimer: I'm not, nor do I think I ever will be, a parent. So I've no clue at all.