Clockwork Prince (Page 24)

Clockwork Prince(24)
Author: Cassandra Clare

Henry blinked. "What do you mean?"

"Archimedes," Jem said, as usual knowing what Will meant, though not looking at him. "He was drawing a mathematical diagram in the sand when his city was attacked by Romans. He was so intent on what he was doing that he didn’t see the soldier coming up behind him. His last words were ‘Do not disturb my circles.’ Of course, he was an old man by then."

"And he was probably never married," said Will, and he grinned at Jem across the table.

Jem didn’t return his grin. Without looking at Will, or Tessa-without looking at any of them-he got to his feet and went out of the room after Charlotte.

"Oh, bother," said Jessamine. "Is this one of those days where we all stalk out in a fury? Because I simply haven’t got the energy for it." She put her head down on her arms and closed her eyes.

Henry looked bewilderedly from Will to Tessa. "What is it? What have I done wrong?"

Tessa sighed. "Nothing dreadful, Henry. It’s just-I think Charlotte wanted you to come with her."

"Then, why didn’t she say so?" Henry’s eyes were mournful. His joy over his eggs and inventions seemed to have vanished. Perhaps he shouldn’t have married Charlotte, Tessa thought, her mood as bleak as the weather.

Perhaps, like Archimedes, he would have been happier drawing circles in the sand.

"Because women never say what they think," said Will. His eyes drifted toward the kitchen, where Bridget was clearing up the remains of the meal.

Her singing floated lugubriously out into the dining room.

"’I fear you are poisoned, my own pretty boy, I fear you are poisoned, my comfort and joy!’ ‘O yes, I am poisoned; mother, make my bed soon, There’s a pain in my heart, and I mean to lie down.’"

"I swear that woman had a previous career as a death-hunter selling tragic bal ads down around the Seven Dials," said Will. "And I do wish she wouldn’t sing about poisoning just after we’ve eaten." He looked sideways at Tessa.

"Shouldn’t you be off putting on your gear? Haven’t you training with the lunatic Lightwoods today?"

"Yes, this morning, but I needn’t change clothes. We’re just practicing knife throwing," said Tessa, somewhat amazed that she was able to have this mild and civil a conversation with Will after the events of last night. Cyril’s handkerchief, with Will ‘s blood on it, was still in her dresser drawer; she remembered the warmth of his lips on her fingers, and darted her eyes away from his.

"How fortunate that I am a crack hand at knife throwing." Will got to his feet and held out his arm to her. "Come along; it’l drive Gideon and Gabriel mad if I watch the training, and I could do with a little madness this morning."

Will was correct. His presence during the training session seemed to madden Gabriel at least, though Gideon, as he seemed to do with everything, took this intrusion in a stolid manner. Will sat on a low wooden bench that ran along one of the wal s, and ate an apple, his long legs stretched out before him, occasional y call ing out bits of advice that Gideon ignored and that Gabriel took like blows to the chest.

"Must he be here?" Gabriel growled to Tessa the second time he had nearly dropped a knife while handing it to her. He put a hand on her shoulder, showing her the sight line for the target she was aiming at-a black circle drawn on the wall. She knew how much he would rather she were aiming at Will. "Can’t you tell him to go away?"

"Now, why would I do that?" Tessa asked reasonably. "Wil is my friend, and you are someone whom I do not even like."

She threw the knife. It missed its target by several feet, striking low in the wal near the floor.

"No, you’re still weighting the point too much-and what do you mean, you don’t like me?" Gabriel demanded, handing her another knife as if by reflex, but his expression was very surprised indeed.

"Well," Tessa said, sighting along the line of the knife, "you behave as if you dislike me. In fact, you behave as if you dislike us all."

"I don’t," Gabriel said. "I just dislike him." He pointed at Will.

"Dear me," said Will, and he took another bite of his apple. "Is it because I’m better-looking than you?"

"Both of you be quiet," Gideon called from across the room. "We’re meant to be working, not snapping at each other over years-old petty disagreements."

"Petty?" Gabriel snarled. "He broke my arm."

Will took another bite out of his apple. "I can hardly believe you’re stil upset about that."

Tessa threw the knife. This throw was better. It landed inside the black circle, if not in the center itself. Gabriel looked around for another knife and, not seeing one, let out an exhalation of annoyance. "When we run the Institute," he said, pitching his voice loud enough for Will to hear, "this training room Will be far better kept up and supplied."

Tessa looked at him angrily. "Amazing that I don’t like you, isn’t it?"

Gabriel’s handsome face crumpled into an ugly look of contempt. "I don’t see what this has to do with you, little warlock; this Institute isn’t your home.

You don’t belong in this place. Believe me, you’d be better off with my family running things here; we could find uses for your . . . talent. Employment that would make you rich. You could live where you liked. And Charlotte can go run the Institute in York, where she’l do considerably less harm."

Will was sitting upright now, apple forgotten. Gideon and Sophie had ceased their practicing and were watching the conversation-Gideon wary, Sophie wide-eyed. "If you hadn’t noticed," Will said, "someone already runs the York Institute."

"Alloysius Starkweather is a senile old man." Gabriel dismissed him with a wave of his hand. "And he has no descendants he can beg the Consul to appoint in his place. Since the business with his granddaughter, his son and daughter-in-law packed up and went to Idris. They won’t come back here for love or money."

"What business with his granddaughter?" Tessa demanded, flashing back to the portrait of the sickly-looking little girl on the staircase of the York Institute.

"Only lived to be ten or so," said Gabriel. "Never was very healthy, by all accounts, and when they first Marked her-Well, she must have been improperly trained. She went mad, turned Forsaken, and died. The shock kil ed old Starkweather’s wife, and sent his children scurrying to Idris. It wouldn’t be much trouble to get him replaced by Charlotte. The Consul must see he’s no good-far too married to the old ways."

Tessa looked at Gabriel in disbelief. His voice had retained its cool indifference as he’d told the story of the Starkweathers, as if it were a fairy tale. And she-she didn’t want to pity the old man with the sly eyes and the bloody room full of dead Downworlders’ remains, but she couldn’t help it.

She pushed Aloysius Starkweather from her mind. "Charlotte runs this Institute," she said. "And your father Will not take it from her."

"She deserves to have it taken from her."

Will tossed his apple core into the air, at the same time drawing a knife from his belt and throwing it. The knife and the apple sailed across the room together, somehow managing to stick into the wal just beside Gabriel’s head, the knife driven cleanly through the core and into the wood. "Say that again," said Will, "and I’ll darken your daylights for you."

Gabriel’s face worked. "You have no idea what you’re talking about."

Gideon took a step forward, warning in every line of his posture. "Gabriel -"

But his brother ignored him. "You don’t even know what your precious Charlotte’s father did to mine, do you? I only just learned it myself a few days ago. My father finally broke down and told us. He’d protected the Fairchilds til then."

"Your father?" Will ‘s tone was incredulous. "Protected the Fairchilds?"

"He was protecting us as well." Gabriel’s words tumbled over themselves.

"My mother’s brother-my uncle Silas-was one of Granvil e Fairchild’s closest friends. Then Uncle Silas broke the Law-a tiny thing, a minor infraction-and Fairchild discovered it. all he cared about was the Law, not friendship, not loyalty. He went straight to the Clave." Gabriel’s voice rose.

"My uncle killed himself in shame, and my mother died of the grief. The Fairchilds don’t care about anyone but themselves and the Law!"

For a moment the room was silent; even Will was speechless, looking utterly taken aback. It was Tessa who spoke at last, "But that is the fault of Charlotte’s father. Not of Charlotte."

Gabriel was white with rage, his green eyes standing out against his pale skin. "You don’t understand," he said viciously. "You’re not a Shadowhunter.

We have blood pride. Family pride. Granvil e Fairchild wanted the Institute to go to his daughter, and the Consul made it happen. But even though Fairchild is dead, we can still take that away from him. He was hated-so hated that no one would have married Charlotte if he hadn’t paid off the Branwel s to hand Henry over. Everyone knows it. Everyone knows he doesn’t really love her. How could he-"

There was a crack, like the sound of a rifle shot, and Gabriel fell silent.

Sophie had slapped him across the face. His pale skin was already beginning to redden. Sophie was staring at him, breathing hard, an incredulous look on her face, as if she could not believe what she had done.

Gabriel’s hands tightened at his sides, but he didn’t move. He couldn’t, Tessa knew. He could not strike a girl, a girl who was not even a Shadowhunter or a Downworlder but merely a mundane. He looked to his brother, but Gideon, expressionless, met his eyes and shook his head slowly; with a choked sound Gabriel spun on his heel and stalked from the room.

"Sophie!" Tessa exclaimed, reaching for her. "Are you all right?"

But Sophie was looking anxiously up at Gideon. "I’m so sorry, sir," she said. "There’s no excuse-I lost my head, and I-"

"It was a well -placed blow," Gideon said calmly. "I see you’ve been paying attention to my training."

Will was sitting up on the bench, his blue eyes lively and curious. "Was it true?" he said. "That story Gabriel just told us."

Gideon shrugged. "Gabriel worships our father," he said. "Anything Benedict says is like a pronouncement from on high. I knew my uncle had kil ed himself, but not the circumstances, until the day after we first came back from training you. Father asked us how the Institute seemed to be run, and I told him it seemed in fine condition, no different from the Institute in Madrid. In fact, I told him I could see no evidence that Charlotte was doing a lax job. That was when he told us this story."

"If you don’t mind my asking," said Tessa, "what was it that your uncle had done?"

"Silas? fell in love with his parabatai. Not, actual y, as Gabriel says, a minor infraction but a major one. Romantic relationships between parabatai are absolutely forbidden. Though even the best-trained Shadowhunter can fal prey to emotion. The Clave would have separated the two of them, though, and that Silas couldn’t face. That’s why he kil ed himself. My mother was consumed with rage and grief. I can well believe that her dying wish was that we would take the Institute from the Fairchilds. Gabriel was younger than I when our mother died-only five years old, clinging to her skirts still -and it seems to me his feelings are too overwhelming for him now to quite understand them. Whereas I-I feel that the sins of the fathers should not be visited on the sons."

"Or the daughters," said Will.

Gideon looked at him and gave him a crooked smile. There was no dislike in it; in fact, it was jarringly the look of someone who understood Will, and why he behaved as he did. Even Will looked a bit surprised. "There is the problem that Gabriel Will never come back here, of course," said Gideon.

"Not after this."

Sophie, whose color had started to return, paled again. "Mrs. Branwel Will be furious-"

Tessa waved her back. "I’ll go after him and apologize, Sophie. It Will be all right."

She heard Gideon call after her, but she was already hurrying from the room. She hated to admit it, but she’d felt a spark of sympathy for Gabriel when Gideon had been tell ing his story. Losing a mother when you were so young you could barely remember her later was something she had familiarity with. If someone had told her that her mother had had a dying wish, she wasn’t sure she wouldn’t have done everything in her power to execute it . . . whether it made sense or not.

"Tessa!" She was partway down the corridor when she heard Will call ing after her. She spun and saw him striding down the hal in her direction, a half smile on his face.

Her next words wiped his smile away. "Why are you following me? Will, you shouldn’t have left them alone! You must go back to the training room, right away."

Will planted his feet. "Why?"

Tessa threw up her hands. "Don’t men notice anything? Gideon has designs on Sophie-"

"On Sophie?"

"She’s a very beautiful girl," flared Tessa. "You’re an idiot if you haven’t noticed the way he looks at her, but I don’t want him taking advantage of her.

She’s had enough such trouble in her life-and besides, if you’re with me, Gabriel won’t talk to me. You know he won’t."

Will muttered something under his breath and seized her wrist. "Here.

Come with me."

The warmth of his skin against hers sent a jolt up her arm. He pulled her into the drawing room and across to the great windows that looked down over the courtyard. He released her wrist just in time for her to lean forward and see the Lightwoods’ carriage rattling furiously across the stone yard and under the iron gates.

"There," Will said. "Gabriel’s gone anyway, unless you want to chase after the carriage. And Sophie’s perfectly sensible. She’s not going to let Gideon Lightwood have his way with her. Besides, he’s about as charming as a postbox."

Tessa, surprising even herself, let out a gasp of laughter. She put her hand up to cover her mouth, but it was too late; she was already laughing, leaning a little against the window.