"We Are the Only Two Speakers of Our Language"
Grandmère is fluent in four languages and prides herself on speaking English when she is in England. But there are some things, she tells him, that can only be expressed in the language in which they are thought. She leaves him alone to contemplate that, paying him no attention as she unpacks her bags, revealing a wondrous array of shining pans and knives and implements. Sherlock wants very badly to see all of them put to their proper uses, not so much so that he can be useful but because Grandmère only ever does things well. When she's chopping fresh green things with her ebony-handled mezzaluna, he explains all the links he made, forming a chain of proof that Stephen Wilkes's mummy was sleeping with her chauffeur.
Grandmère is impressed – she calls him mon petit chou – and gives him a sprig of rosemary to keep. It stays in the pocket of his school uniform. He removes it only to sniff it, only when he needs a more rarefied air than is afforded by the dullards meant to be educating him.
"It's not fair that you only come at Christmas," Sherlock says, hoping she will notice that even with his soles flat on the ground, his nose still makes it over the kitchen worktop. "Amiens is not so very far away; we did it in Geography."
"Show me that you've mastered what I taught you last year, then," she demands, clapping her hands together and setting a cloud of flour hovering in the air.
"What?" he asks. Last year he had been just a baby, capable only of dumbly following her around and bragging about minor deductions.
"Use your nose," she says sharply. "Learn to deduce with more than just your eyes, mon petit."
Was he supposed to have learnt something from that rosemary, then? It had made his bedclothes sweet as long as the leaves stayed on the stem, but had not been entirely sweet itself, rather sharp and green somehow.
"Here," Grandmère says abruptly, pulling the small stepping-stool from between two of the wine-racks and setting it in front of the cooktop. "You have more sense than to let yourself be burnt. Tell me what you observe."
Small cubes of butter are melting in a copper-bottomed saucepan. She stirs it briskly, just three quick swirls, and as it goes foamy and soft a delicious aroma rises from the pan. "This is what you put in your chocolate squares to make them taste nutty," he realises, grinning at this wholly new way to gather information.
Grandmère taps his nose once and tucks a small morsel of chocolate in his mouth. "Someday you will discover why heat makes butter taste like nuts. For now it is enough that you know that it does, hein?"
"You know more than four languages, Grandmère," he says, trying not to let it sound like an accusation. The chocolate is rich and sweet in his mouth. "You know all of this." It isn't fair that there is so much to know, and he only has two eyes and one nose and one mouth and ten fingers.
Grandmère is silent, but she stirs the butter more than she needs to, he can tell. "There are times, mon ange, when knowledge is not a blessing." Her free hand steals up to the locket around her throat, and Sherlock feels the deduction's shining links unfurl in his mind: Grandmère felt tears coming to her eyes but a tug at the locket was enough to stop them, the locket contained pictures of Mummy and dead Aunt Serena, it was Mummy's drinking that made Grandmère sad. He doesn't like this deduction. It is wrong, watching Grandmère shrink into herself. He has to say something.
"Because it is like a knife," he says.
"Oh, my pet," she says, turning off the flames under the butter so abruptly that it feels like a cool wind brushes along his cheek. "You know the language too."
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