Clockwork Angel (Page 24)

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)(24)
Author: Cassandra Clare

In the dream she danced through whirling smoke down a corridor lined with mirrors, and each mirror she passed showed her a different face. She could hear lovely, haunting music. It seemed to come from some distance away, and yet was all around. There was a man walking ahead of her—a boy, really, slender and beardless—but though she felt that she knew him, she could neither see his face nor recognize him. He might have been her brother, or Will, or someone else entirely. She followed, calling to him, but he receded down the corridor as if the smoke carried him with it. The music rose and rose to a crescendo—

And Tessa woke, breathing hard, the book sliding off her lap as she sat up. The dream was gone, but the music remained, high and haunting and sweet. She made her way to the door and peered out into the hallway.

The music was louder in the corridor. In fact, it was coming from the room across the hall. The door was ajar slightly, and notes seemed to pour through the opening like water through the narrow neck of a vase.

A dressing gown hung on a hook by the door; Tessa drew it down and slipped it on over her nightclothes, stepping out into the hallway. As if in a dream, she crossed the corridor and put her hand gently to the door; it swung open under her touch. The room within was dark, lit only by moonlight. She saw that it was not unlike her own bedroom across the hall, the same large four-poster bed, the same dark heavy furniture. The curtains had been pulled back from one tall window, and pale silver light poured into the room like a rain of needles. In the square patch of moonlight before the window, someone was standing. A boy—he seemed too slight to be a grown man—with a violin propped against his shoulder. His cheek rested against the instrument, and the bow sawed back and forth over the strings, wringing notes out of it, notes as fine and perfect as anything Tessa had ever heard.

His eyes were closed. “Will?” he said, without opening his eyes or ceasing to play. “Will, is that you?”

Tessa said nothing. She could not bear to speak, to interrupt the music—but in a moment the boy broke it off himself, lowering his bow and opening his eyes with a frown.

“Will—,” he started, and then, seeing Tessa, his lips parted in surprise. “You’re not Will.” He sounded curious, but not at all annoyed, despite the fact that Tessa had barged into his bedroom in the middle of the night and surprised him playing the violin in his nightclothes, or what Tessa assumed were his nightclothes. He wore a light loose-fitting set of trousers and a collarless shirt, with a black silk dressing gown tied loosely over them. She had been right. He was young, probably the same age as Will, and the impression of youth was heightened by his slightness. He was tall but very slender, and disappearing below the collar of his shirt, she could see the curling edges of the black designs that she had earlier seen on Will’s skin, and on Charlotte’s.

She knew what they were called now. Marks. And she knew what they made him. Nephilim. The descendant of men and angels. No wonder that in the moonlight his pale skin seemed to shine like Will’s witchlight. His hair was pale silver as well, as were his angular eyes.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, clearing her throat. The noise sounded terribly harsh to her, and loud in the silence of the room; she wanted to cringe. “I—I didn’t mean to come in here like this. It’s— My room is across the hall, and …”

“That’s all right.” He lowered the violin from his shoulder. “You’re Miss Gray, aren’t you? The shape-changer girl. Will told me a bit about you.”

“Oh,” Tessa said.

“Oh?” The boy’s eyebrows rose. “You don’t sound terribly pleased that I know who you are.”

“It’s that I think Will is angry with me,” Tessa explained. “So whatever he told you—”

He laughed. “Will is angry with everyone,” he said. “I don’t let it color my judgment.”

Moonlight spilled off the polished surface of the boy’s violin as he turned to lay it down on top of the wardrobe, the bow beside it. When he turned back to her, he was smiling. “I should have introduced myself earlier,” he said. “I’m James Carstairs. Please call me Jem—everyone does.”

“Oh, you’re Jem. You weren’t at dinner,” Tessa recalled. “Charlotte said you were ill. Are you feeling better?”

He shrugged. “I was tired, that’s all.”

“Well, I imagine it must be tiring, doing what you all do.” Having just read the Codex, Tessa felt herself burning up with questions about Shadowhunters. “Will said you came from a long way away to live here—were you in Idris?

He raised his eyebrows. “You know of Idris?”

“Or did you come from another Institute? They’re in all the big cities, aren’t they? And why to London—”

He interrupted her, bemused. “You ask a lot of questions, don’t you?”

“My brother always says curiosity is my besetting sin.”

“As sins go, it isn’t the worst one.” He sat down on the steamer trunk at the foot of the bed, and regarded her with a curious gravity. “So go ahead; ask me whatever you want. I can’t sleep anyway, and distractions are welcome.”

Immediately Will’s voice rose up in the back of Tessa’s head. Jem’s parents had been killed by demons. But I can’t ask him about that, Tessa thought. Instead she said, “Will told me you came from very far away. Where did you live before?”

“Shanghai,” Jem said. “You know where that is?”

“China,” said Tessa with some indignation. “Doesn’t everyone know that?”

Jem grinned. “You’d be surprised.”

“What were you doing in China?” Tessa asked, with honest interest. She couldn’t quite picture the place Jem was from. When she thought of China, all that came to mind was Marco Polo and tea. She had the sense that it was very, very far, as if Jem had come from the ends of the earth—east of the sun and west of the moon, Aunt Harriet would have said. “I thought no one went there but missionaries and sailors.”

“Shadowhunters live all over the world. My mother was Chinese; my father was British. They met in London and moved to Shanghai when he was offered the position of running the Institute there.”

Tessa was startled. If Jem’s mother had been Chinese, then so was he, wasn’t he? She knew there were Chinese immigrants in New York—they mostly worked in laundries or sold hand-rolled cigars from stands on the street. She had never seen one of them who looked anything like Jem, with his odd silvery hair and eyes. Perhaps it had something to do with him being a Shadowhunter? But she couldn’t think of a way to ask that didn’t seem horrendously rude.