Liadan was forty days old.

Liadan was forty days old. Her winkled newborn face had softened and smoothed into the fair face of a baby, but its range of expression remained the same.

There was her sleeping face, with its furrowed brow and pursed lips, as if her dreams were worrying without being frightening. Then there was her awake face, red and wet, and which folded up to make room for the gaping pit that was her mouth when she screamed.

That was nearly the limit. Liadan had never smiled, and the mere idea of this ungrateful, self-​​absorbed infant ever smiling seemed laughably absurd to Flann. Eithne’s little black cat had more human feeling than this demanding creature.

But lately Liadan had developed a third expression.

But lately Liadan had developed a third expression, though it was no comfort to her mother. She seemed to have discovered that one need not scream even if one did not sleep, and she would sometimes lie quietly and stare.

Then, however, the corners of her mouth would turn down in mute disapproval, while out of her gray eyes would shine a mournful helplessness, as if she had already inherited her father’s thirty-​​three years of wisdom and sorrow.

Then, however, the corners of her mouth would turn down in mute disapproval.

Liadan did not approve of her mother. This was clear. She seemed to know things Flann would rather she did not, and somehow her knowing was like Brude knowing. She watched her with Brude’s own eyes.

Flann passed her hand over them as Osh did when he laid her down to sleep. He did the same to Flann sometimes, too, when he had decided she needed a nap and marched her up to bed or arranged her limbs artfully on the couch downstairs.

Flann played the game and dutifully closed her eyes for him when he did, but she never felt a greater desire to pull him down on top of her than when that gentle hand passed once over her face like a breeze and drew away, one soothing touch that would not be repeated, while she lay too helpless to pull it back again and too blind even to see it go.

Flann had to try and try.

But she thought Osh’s hand must possess a special elf magic. He could sometimes make Liadan sleep with a single stroke, but Flann had to try and try.

Liadan turned her face into her mother’s palm like a cat seeking a caress, but every pass of the hand only hid and revealed her stare. In the instant when the hand passed over the baby mouth and the baby nose, the faceless gray eyes could have been her father’s. They could have been Sebastien’s, too.

They could have been Sebastien's, too.

The disapproving frown, however, was Liadan’s own.

But Flann would not be moved. She was already a wicked woman. Her baby was forty days old. She had made up her mind, and what the men and women of her country wanted to do, they did. In spite of everything.

She had made up her mind.