Her long fingers bury themselves in the black stains on his shirt like porcelain shattering in reverse, and the glasses on her nose, being black and wide and a bit too big for her delicate button of a nose, smush against his chest, crushing a nipple.
“That’s because they’re yours, Grandfather!” she giggles, closing her big brown eyes and reaching for his thin face, her touch circling his sharp nose and lips, feeling her way across his scarecrow countenance.
While his granddaughter explores he closes his eyes too, lapping at the pool of her youthful exuberance, however false, like the dying man he doesn’t want her to know he is going to be.
“Uncle Dallyrasse gave me a note for you,” she murmurs with the acute, dumb animal shyness of a grass-eater as she sticks a hand in the pocket of her delicate lace cape dress. A falsehood he’s orchestrated, for his joy is closer to one hundred and fifty than the fifteen she appeared, and wiser than the entirety of the new Council that will soon form in his absence.
At least her beautiful deep chocolate eyes are still closed, no thanks to the gods. If she sees, just for one moment, the look he’s wearing, the tears that threaten to reveal themselves like the scent of new water on cracked soil, she’ll know in an instant.
Yes, he thinks, as he drowns in the touch of his child’s child, I must never let her know what I’m planning. They are watching us, even now. But they won’t hurt her yet, not until they relay my final statement. Which I haven’t yet made.