Grandmum has a patience of a burning stick. Crackling and sharp and red.
"I have displeased you," she murmurs, arms outstretched, imploring. "I didn't mean to, Grandmum. I--"
"Hush, Drusilla," she snaps, oh, how she snaps. "One more word and it'll be your last." Her glare's enough to shred her to pieces. Like delicate ribbons. Like shrapnels of delicious, juicy flesh.
She doesn't know why, what she's done, just that Grandmum's angry, and there will be pain. Not the pain that her William brings about in her; not the pain that makes her scream like it's her birthday when he draws her blood with his nails and fingers and devotion. Not the pain that Daddy inflicts with his sharp lips and deadly words and velvet ropes. No. It hurts too much, makes her recoil in the worst of ways.
She doesn't like it when Grandmum's angry. Families shouldn't be mad at each other. It's all wrong and bad and it makes the good souls cry.
It is dark when she comes home from hunting. There's a dance in her step and a song in her heart, and she sways in rhythm to what only angels can hear. Angels and innocents and princesses like her. Such a lovely, lovely tune.
"And here you are. I thought you would've found your end by now. Such a pity."
Crackling and sharp and red, she thinks again.
"Don't be so cross, Grandmum. Not tonight." She smiles largely, like a princess about to bestow her offering to the queen. "I've a present for you."
"A present." Grandmum's so hard to please. It makes her think only Daddy with his tongue and eyes can appease her. Such a pity echoes in her head.
The sound of the tiniest of footfalls blares in the house. Then, "Mama?"
Her smile deepens, like a night forgotten by the naughty, naughty moon. "A present. Do you like it?" She moves closer to tell a secret: "Like jasmine and dreams, she is. Delicate and pure. I picked her just for you. Do you like it?"
Grandmum grasps her by the shoulders and squeezes, and oh! the pain. She's about to recoil when she feels cool lips against her neck, then against her mouth.
"She's lovely," Grandmum says with a hungry smile. And, lo! No anger in her eyes and face, now. "Shall we share her, then?"
"Oh, yes," she says, lacing their fingers together with glee. "Oh, yes."