Clockwork Prince (Page 34)

Clockwork Prince(34)
Author: Cassandra Clare

"Shh," said Magnus, his book still open on his knees. "Listen to this: I am tired of tears and laughter, And men that laugh and weep Of what may come hereafter For men that sow to reap: I am weary of days and hours, Blown buds of barren flowers, Desires and dreams and powers And everything but sleep."

"Swinburne," said Will, leaning against the mantel. "Sentimental and overrated."

"You don’t know what it is to be immortal." Magnus tossed the book aside and sat up. "So what is it you want?"

Will pulled up his sleeve. Magnus swal owed a sound of surprise. Will ‘s forearm bore a long, deep, and bloody gash. Blood braceleted his wrist and dripped from his fingers. Embedded in the gash, like a crystal sunk into the wal of a cave, was a single white tooth.

"What the-," Magnus began.

"Demon tooth," Will said, his breath a little short. "I chased that blue bastard all around Chiswick, but it got away from me-not before it bit me, though. It left this tooth in me. You can use it, right? To summon the demon?"

He took hold of the tooth and yanked it free. Even more blood well ed up and spil ed down his arm, splattering onto the ground.

"Camil e’s carpet," Magnus protested.

"It’s blood," said Will. "She ought to be thril ed."

"Are you all right?" Magnus looked at Will in fascination. "You’re bleeding a great deal. Haven’t you a stele on your person somewhere? A healing rune -"

"I don’t care about healing runes. I care about this." Will dropped the bloody tooth into Magnus’s hand. "Find the demon for me. I know you can do it."

Magnus glanced down with a moue of distaste. "I most likely can, but . . ."

The light in Will ‘s face flickered. "But?"

"But not tonight," said Magnus. "It may take me a few days. You’l have to be patient."

Will took a ragged breath. "I can’t be patient. Not after tonight. You don’t understand-" He staggered then, and caught himself by seizing the mantel.

Alarmed, Magnus rose from the sofa.

"Are you all right?"

The color was coming and going in Will ‘s face. His col ar was dark with sweat. "I don’t know-," he gasped. "The tooth. It might have been poisonous . . ."

His voice trailed off. He slid forward, his eyes rol ing up. With an epithet of surprise Magnus caught Will before he could hit the bloody carpet and, hoisting the boy in his arms, carried him careful y over to the sofa.

Tessa, seated in the chair beside Jessamine’s bed, massaged her aching ribs and sighed. The corset was still biting into her, and she had no idea when she’d get a chance to remove it; her feet ached, and she hurt down deep in her soul. Seeing Nate had been like having a knife twisted in a fresh wound. He had danced with "Jessamine"-flirted with her-and had casual y discussed the fate of Tessa, his sister, as if it meant nothing to him at all.

She supposed it should not surprise her, that she should be beyond surprise where Nate was concerned. But it hurt just the same.

And Will -those few moments out on the balcony with Will had been the most confusing of her life. After the way Will had spoken to her on the roof, she had sworn never to entertain romantic thoughts of him again. He was no dark, brooding Heathcliff nursing a secret passion, she had told herself, merely a boy who thought himself too good for her. But the way he had looked at her on the terrace, the way he had smoothed her hair back from her face, even the faint tremble in his hands when he’d touched her-surely those things could not be the product of falsehood.

But then, she had touched him back the same way. In that moment she had wanted nothing but Will. Had felt nothing but Will. Yet just the night before she had touched and kissed Jem; she had felt that she loved him; she had let him see her as no one had ever seen her before. And when she thought of him now, thought of his silence this morning, his absence from dinner, she missed him again, with a physical pain that could not be a lie.

Could you really love two different people at once? Could you split your heart in half? Or was it just that the time with Will on the balcony had been a madness induced by warlock drugs? Would it have been the same with anyone? The thought haunted her like a ghost.

"Tessa."

Tessa nearly leaped out of her seat. The voice was almost a whisper. It was Jessamine. Her eyes were half-open, the reflected firelight flickering in their brown depths.

Tessa sat up straight. "Jessamine. Are you . . ."

"What happened?" Jessamine’s head rol ed fretful y from side to side. "I don’t remember." She tried to sit up and gasped, finding her hands bound.

"Tessa! Why on earth-"

"It’s for your own good, Jessamine." Tessa’s voice shook. "Charlotte-she has questions she has to ask you. It would be so much better if you were Will ing to answer them-"

"The party." Jessamine’s eyes flicked back and forth, as if she were watching something Tessa couldn’t see. "Sophie, that little monkey, was going through my things. I found her with the invitation in her hands-"

"Yes, the party," said Tessa. "At Benedict Lightwood’s. Where you were meeting Nate."

"You read his note?" Jessamine’s head whipped to the side. "Don’t you know how rude and improper it is to read another person’s private correspondence?" She tried to sit up again, and fell back once more against the pil ows. "Anyway, he didn’t sign it. You can’t prove-"

"Jessamine, there is little advantage in falsehood now. I can prove it, for I went to the party, and I spoke with my brother there."

Jessamine’s mouth opened in a pink O. For the first time she seemed to note what Tessa was wearing. "My dress," she breathed. "You disguised yourself as me?"

Tessa nodded.

Jessamine’s eyes darkened. "Unnatural," she breathed. "Disgusting creature! What did you do to Nate? What did you say to him?"

"He made it very clear you have been spying for Mortmain," said Tessa, wishing that Sophie and Charlotte would return. What on earth was taking them so long? "That you have betrayed us, reporting on all our activities, carrying out Mortmain’s commands-"

"Us?" Jessamine screamed, struggling upright as much as the ropes would all ow her. "You are not a Shadowhunter! You owe them no loyalty! They do not care about you, any more than they care about me. Only Nate cares for me-"

"My brother," Tessa said in a barely control ed voice, "is a lying murderer, incapable of feeling. He may have married you, Jessamine, but he does not love you. The Shadowhunters have helped and protected me, as they have done for you. And yet you turn on them like a dog the moment my brother snaps his fingers. He Will abandon you, if he does not kil you first."

"Liar!" Jessamine screamed. "You don’t understand him. You never did!

His soul is pure and fine-"

"Pure as ditch water," Tessa said. "I understand him better than you do; you are blinded by his charm. He cares nothing for you."

"Liar-"

"I saw it in his eyes. I saw the way he looks at you."

Jessamine gasped. "How can you be so cruel?"

Tessa shook her head. "You can’t see it, can you?" she said wonderingly.

"For you it is all play, like those dol s in your dol house-moving them about, making them kiss and marry. You wanted a mundane husband, and Nate was good enough. You cannot see what your traitorousness has cost those who have always cared for you."

Jessamine bared her teeth; in that moment she looked enough like a trapped, cornered animal that Tessa almost shrank back. "I love Nate," she said. "And he loves me. You are the one who does not understand love. ‘Oh, I cannot decide between Will and Jem. Whatever shall I do?’" she said in a high-pitched voice, and Tessa flushed hotly. "So what if Mortmain wants to destroy the Shadowhunters of Britain. I say let them burn."

Tessa gaped at her, just as the door behind her was flung open, and Charlotte marched in. She looked drawn and hollow with exhaustion, in a gray dress that matched the shadows beneath her eyes, but her carriage was erect, her eyes clear. Behind her came Sophie, scuttling as if frightened -and a moment later Tessa saw why, for bringing up the rear of the party was an apparition in parchment-colored robes, his face hidden beneath the shadow of his hood, and a deadly bright blade in his hand. It was Brother Enoch, of the Silent Brothers, carrying the Mortal Sword.

"Let us burn? Is that what you said, Jessamine?" said Charlotte in a bright, hard voice so unlike her that Tessa stared.

Jessamine gasped. Her eyes were fixed on the blade in Brother Enoch’s hand. Its great hilt was carved in the shape of an angel with outspread wings.

Brother Enoch flicked the Sword toward Jessamine, who flinched back, and the ropes binding her wrists to the bedposts unraveled. Her hands fel limply into her lap. She stared at them, and then at Charlotte. "Charlotte, Tessa’s a liar. She’s a lying Downworlder-"

Charlotte paused at the side of the bed and looked down at Jessamine with dispassion. "That has not been my experience of her, Jessamine. And what of Sophie? She has always been a most honest servant."

"She struck me! With a mirror!" Jessamine’s face was red.

"Because she found this." Charlotte drew the invitation, which Tessa had given over to Sophie, from her pocket. "Can you explain this, Jessamine?"

"There’s nothing against the Law about going to a party." Jessamine sounded equal parts sulky and frightened. "Benedict Lightwood is a Shadowhunter-"

"This is Nathaniel Gray’s writing." Charlotte’s voice never seemed to lose its even edge, Tessa thought. There was something about that fact that made it seem even more inexorable. "He is a spy, wanted by the Clave, and you have been meeting with him in secret. Why is that?"

Jessamine’s mouth opened slightly. Tessa waited for excuses- It’s all lies, Sophie invented the invitation, I was only meeting Nate to gain his confidence-but instead tears came. "I love him," she said. "And he loves me."

"So you betrayed us to him," said Charlotte.

"I didn’t!" Jessamine’s voice rose. "Whatever Tessa says, it isn’t true!

She’s lying. She’s always been jealous of me, and she’s lying!"

Charlotte gave Tessa a measured look. "Is she, now. And Sophie?"

"Sophie hates me," Jessamine sobbed. This at least was true. "She ought to be put out on the street-without references-"

"Do cease turning on the taps, Jessamine. It accomplishes nothing."

Charlotte’s voice cut through Jessamine’s sobs like a blade. She turned to Enoch. "The true story Will be easy enough to get. The Mortal Sword, please, Brother Enoch."

The Silent Brother stepped forward, the Mortal Sword leveled at Jessamine. Tessa stared in horror. Was he going to torture Jessamine in her own bed, in front of them all?

Jessamine cried out. "No! No! Get him away from me! Charlotte!" Her voice rose to a terrible wailing scream that seemed to go on and on, splitting Tessa’s ears, her head.

"Put out your hands, Jessamine," said Charlotte coldly.

Jessamine shook her head wildly, her fair hair flying.

"Charlotte, no," Tessa said. "Don’t hurt her."

"Don’t interfere in what you don’t understand, Tessa," said Charlotte in a clipped voice. "Put your hands out, Jessamine, or it Will go very badly for you."

With tears running down her face, Jessamine thrust her hands forward, palms up. Tessa tensed all over. She felt suddenly sick and sorry she had had anything to do with this plan. If Jessamine had been fooled by Nate, then so had she. Jessie did not deserve this- "It’s all right," said a soft voice at her shoulder. It was Sophie. "He won’t hurt her with it. The Mortal Sword makes Nephilim tell the truth."

Brother Enoch laid the blade of the Mortal Sword flat across Jessamine’s palms. He did it without either force or gentleness, as if he were hardly aware of her as a person at all. He let the blade go and stepped back; even Jessamine’s eyes rounded in surprise; the blade seemed to balance perfectly across her hands, utterly immobile.

"It is not a torture device, Jessamine," said Charlotte, her hands folded in front of her. "We must employ it only because you cannot be trusted to tell the truth otherwise." She held up the invitation. "This is yours, is it not?"

Jessamine did not answer. She was looking at Brother Enoch, her eyes wide and black with terror, her chest rising and fal ing fast. "I cannot think, not with that monster in the room-" Her voice trembled.

Charlotte’s mouth thinned, but she turned to Enoch and spoke a few words. He nodded, then glided silently from the room. As the door shut behind him, Charlotte said, "There. He is waiting in the corridor. Do not think he Will not catch you should you try to run, Jessamine."

Jessamine nodded. She seemed to droop, broken like a toy doll.

Charlotte fluttered the invitation in her hand. "This is yours, yes? And it was sent to you by Nathaniel Gray. This writing is his."

"Y-yes." The word seemed pulled from Jessamine against her will.

"How long have you been meeting him in secret?"

Jessamine set her mouth, but her lips were trembling. A moment later a torrent of words burst from her mouth. Her eyes darted round in shock as if she could not believe she was speaking. "He sent me a message only a few days after Mortmain invaded the Institute. He apologized for his behavior toward me. He said he was grateful for my nursing of him and that he had not been able to forget my graciousness or my beauty. I-I wanted to ignore him.

But a second letter came, and a third. . . . I agreed to meet him. I left the Institute in the middle of the night and we met in Hyde Park. He kissed me-"

"Enough of that," said Charlotte. "How long did it take him to convince you to spy on us?"

"He said that he was only working for Mortmain until he could put together enough of a fortune to live comfortably. I said we could live together on my fortune, but he wouldn’t have it. It had to be his money. He said he would not live off his wife. Is that not noble?"