"So by this point he had already proposed?"
"He proposed the second time we met." Jessamine sounded breathy. "He said he knew there would never be another woman for him. And he promised that once he had enough money, I would have just the life I had always wanted, that we would never worry about money, and that there would be ch- children." She sniffled.
"Oh, Jessamine." Charlotte sounded almost sad.
Jessamine flushed. "It was true! He loved me! He has more than proved it.
We are married! It was done most properly in a church with a minister-"
"Probably a deconsecrated church and some flunky dressed to look like a minister," said Charlotte. "What do you know of mundane weddings, Jessie? How would you know what a proper wedding was? I give you my word that Nathaniel Gray does not consider you his wife."
"He does, he does, he does!" Jessamine shrieked, and tried to pul away from the Sword. It stuck to her hands as if it had been nailed there. Her wails went up an octave. "I am Jessamine Gray!"
"You are a traitor to the Clave. What else did you tell Nathaniel?"
"Everything," Jessamine gasped. "Where you were looking for Mortmain, which Downworlders you had contacted in your attempt to find him. That was why he was never anywhere you searched. I warned him about the trip to York. That is why he sent the automatons to Will ‘s family’s home. Mortmain wanted to terrify you into ceasing the search. He considers you all pestilential annoyances. But he is not afraid of you." Her chest was heaving up and down. "He Will win out over you all. He knows it. So do I."
Charlotte leaned forward, her hands on her hips. "But he did not succeed in terrifying us into ceasing the search," she said. "The automatons he sent tried to snatch Tessa but failed-"
"They weren’t sent to try to snatch Tessa. Oh, he still plans to take her, but not like that, not yet. His plan is close to realization, and that is when he Will move to take the Institute, to take Tessa-"
"How close is he? Has he managed to open the Pyxis?" Charlotte snapped.
"I-I don’t know. I don’t think so."
"So you told Nate everything and he told you nothing. What of Benedict? Why has he agreed to work hand in glove with Mortmain? I always knew he was an unpleasant man, but it seems unlike him to betray the Clave."
Jessamine shook her head. She was sweating, her fair hair stuck to her temples. "Mortmain is holding something over him, something he wants. I don’t know what it is. But he Will do anything to get it."
"Including handing me over to Mortmain," said Tessa. Charlotte looked at her in surprise when she spoke, and seemed about to interrupt her, but Tessa hurtled on. "What is this about having me falsely accused of possessing articles of dark magic? How was that to be accomplished?"
"The Book of the White," Jessamine gasped. "I-took it from the locked case in the library. Hid it in your room while you were out."
"Where in my room?"
"Loose floorboard-near the fireplace." Jessamine’s pupils were enormous. "Charlotte . . . please . . ."
But Charlotte was relentless. "Where is Mortmain? Has he spoken to Nate of his plans for the Pyxis, for his automatons?"
"I-" Jessamine took a shuddering gasp. Her face was dark red. "I can’t-"
"Nate wouldn’t have told her," said Tessa. "He would have known she might have been caught, and he would have thought she’d crack under torture and spil everything. He would."
Jessamine gave her a venomous look. "He hates you, you know," she said. "He says that all his life you looked down on him, you and your aunt with your sil y provincial morality, judging him for everything he did. Always tell ing him what to do, never wanting him to get ahead. Do you know what he call s you? He-"
"I don’t care," Tessa lied; her voice shook slightly. Despite everything, hearing that her brother hated her hurt more than she had thought it could.
"Did he say what I am? Why I have the power I do?"
"He said that your father was a demon." Jessamine’s lips twitched. "And that your mother was a Shadowhunter."
The door opened softly, so softly that had Magnus not already been drifting in and out of sleep, the noise would not have woken him.
He looked up. He was sitting in an armchair near the fire, as his favorite place on the sofa was taken up by Will. Will, in bloody shirtsleeves, was sleeping the heavy sleep of the drugged and healing. His forearm was bandaged to the elbow, his cheeks flushed, his head pil owed on his unhurt arm. The tooth Will had pulled from his arm sat on the side table beside him, gleaming like ivory.
The door to the drawing room stood open behind him. And there, framed in the archway, was Camil e.
She wore a black velvet traveling cloak open over a bril iant green dress that matched her eyes. Her hair was dressed high on her head with emerald combs, and as he watched, she drew off her white kid gloves, deliberately slowly, one by one, and laid them on the table by the door.
"Magnus," she said, and her voice, as always, sounded like silvery bel s.
"Did you miss me?"
Magnus sat up straight. The firelight played over Camil e’s shining hair, her poreless white skin. She was extraordinarily beautiful. "I did not realize you would be favoring me with your presence tonight."
She looked at Will, asleep on the sofa. Her lips curled upward. "Clearly."
"You sent no message. In fact, you have sent me no messages at all since you left London."
"Are you reproaching me, Magnus?" Camil e sounded amused. Gliding behind the sofa, she leaned over the back, looking down into Will ‘s face.
"Wil Herondale," she said. "He is lovely, isn’t he? Is he your newest amusement?"
Instead of answering, Magnus crossed his long legs in front of him. "Where have you been?"
Camil e leaned forward farther; if she had had breath, it would have stirred the curling dark hair on Will ‘s forehead. "Can I kiss him?"
"No," said Magnus. "Where have you been, Camil e? Every night I lay here on your sofa and I waited to hear your step in the hall, and I wondered where you were. You might at least tell me."
She straightened, rol ing her eyes. "Oh, very well. I was in Paris, having some new dresses fitted. A much-needed holiday from the dramas of London."
There was a long silence. Then, "You’re lying," Magnus said.
Her eyes widened. "Why would you say such a thing?"
"Because it’s the truth." He took a crumpled letter from his pocket and threw it onto the floor between them. "You cannot track a vampire, but you can track a vampire’s subjugate. You took Walker with you. It was easy enough for me to track him to Saint Petersburg. I have informants there. They let me know that you were living there with a human lover."
Camil e watched him, a little smile playing about her mouth. "And that made you jealous?"
"Did you want me to be?"
"Ça m’est egal," said Camil e, dropping into the French she used when she truly wanted to annoy him. "It’s all the same to me. He had nothing to do with you. He was a diversion while I was in Russia, nothing more."
"And now he is . . ."
"Dead. So he hardly represents competition for you. You must let me have my little diversions, Magnus."
"Otherwise I shall become extremely cross."
"As you became cross with your human lover, and murdered him?"
Magnus inquired. "What of pity? Compassion? Love? Or do you not feel that emotion?"
"I love," Camil e said indignantly. "You and I, Magnus, who endure forever, love in such a manner as cannot be conceived of by mortals-a dark constant flame to their brief, sputtering light. What do they matter to you? Fidelity is a human concept, based upon the idea that we are here but for a short time. You cannot demand my faithfulness for eternity."
"How foolish of me. I thought I could. I thought I could at least expect you not to lie to me."
"You are being ridiculous," she said. "A child. You expect me to have the morals of some mundane when I am not human, and neither are you.
Regardless, there is precious little you can do about it. I Will not be dictated to, certainly not by some half-breed." It was the Downworlders’ own insulting term for warlocks. "You are devoted to me; you have said so yourself. Your devotion Will simply have to suffer my diversions, and then we shall rub along quite pleasantly. If not, I shall drop you. I cannot imagine you want that."
There was a little sneer in her voice as she spoke, and it snapped something inside Magnus. He recal ed the sick feeling in his throat when the letter had come from Saint Petersburg. And yet he had waited for her return, hoping she had an explanation. That she would apologize. Ask him to love her again. Now that he realized he was not worth that to her-that he never had been-a red mist passed before his eyes; he seemed to go mad momentarily, for it was the only explanation for what he did next.
"It doesn’t matter." He rose to his feet. "I have Will now."
Her mouth opened. "You can’t be serious. A Shadowhunter?"
"You may be immortal, Camil e, but your feelings are vapid and shall ow.
Will ‘s are not. He understands what it is to love." Magnus, having delivered this insane speech with great dignity, stepped across the room and shook Will ‘s shoulder. "Will. William. Wake up."
Will ‘s hazy blue eyes opened. He was lying on his back, looking upward, and the first thing he saw was Camil e’s face as she bent over the back of the sofa, regarding him. He jerked upright. "By the Angel-"
"Oh, shush," said Camil e lazily, smiling just enough to show the tips of baby fangs. "I won’t hurt you, Nephilim."
Magnus hauled Will to his feet. "The lady of the house," he said, "has returned."
"I see that." Will was flushed, the col ar of his shirt dark with sweat.
"Delightful," he said to no one in particular, and Magnus wasn’t sure whether he meant he was delighted to see Camil e, delighted with the effects of the painkil ing spel Magnus had used on him-certainly a possibility-or simply rambling.
"And therefore," said Magnus, squeezing Will ‘s arm with a meaning pressure, "we must go."
Will blinked at him. "Go where?"
"Don’t worry about that right now, my love."
Will blinked again. "Pardon?" He glanced around, as if he half-expected people to be watching. "I-where’s my coat?"
"Ruined with blood," said Magnus. "Archer disposed of it." He nodded toward Camil e. "Wil ‘s been hunting demons all night. So brave."
Camil e’s expression was a mixture of amazement and annoyance.
" I am brave," Will said. He looked pleased with himself. The painkil ing tonics had enlarged his pupils, and his eyes looked very dark.
"Yes, you are," Magnus said, and kissed him. It wasn’t the most dramatic kiss, but Will flailed his free arm as if a bee had landed on him; Magnus had to hope Camil e would assume this was passion. When they broke apart, Will looked stunned. So did Camil e, for that matter.
"Now," Magnus said, hoping that Will would recol ect that he was indebted to him. "We must go."
"I-but-" Will swung sideways. "The tooth!" He dashed across the room, retrieved it, and tucked it into Magnus’s waistcoat pocket. Then, with a wink at Camil e that, Magnus thought, God alone knew how she would interpret, he sauntered out of the room.
"Camil e," Magnus began.
She had her arms crossed over her chest and was looking at him venomously. "Carrying on with Shadowhunters behind my back," she said icily, and with no apparent regard for the hypocrisy of her position. "And in my own house! Real y, Magnus." She pointed toward the door. "Please leave my residence and do not return. I trust I shall not have to ask you twice."
Magnus was only too pleased to oblige. A few moments later he had joined Will on the pavement outside the house, shrugging on his coat-al he now owned in the world besides what was in his pockets-and fastening the buttons against the chil y air. It would not be long, Magnus thought, before the first gray flush of morning lightened the sky.
"Did you just kiss me?" Will inquired.
Magnus made a split-second decision. "No."
"On occasion the aftereffects of the painkil ing spel s can result in hal ucinations of the most bizarre sort."
"Oh," Will said. "How peculiar." He looked back at Camil e’s house.
Magnus could see the window of the drawing room, the red velvet curtains drawn tight. "What are we going to do now? About summoning the demon? Have we somewhere to go?"
"I’ve got somewhere to go," said Magnus, saying a prayer of silent thanks for Will ‘s single-minded fixation on demon summoning. "I have a friend I can stop with. You go along back to the Institute. I’ll get to work on your blasted demon tooth as soon as I possibly can. I’ll send a message to you when I know anything."
Will nodded slowly, then looked up at the black sky. "The stars," he said. "I have never seen them so bright. The wind has blown off the fog, I think."
Magnus thought of the joy on Will ‘s face as he had stood bleeding in Camil e’s living room, clutching the demon tooth in his hand. Somehow, I don’t think it’s the stars that have changed.
" A Shadowhunter?" Tessa gasped. "That’s not possible." She whirled around and looked at Charlotte, whose face mirrored her own shock. "It isn’t possible, is it? Will told me that the offspring of Shadowhunters and demons are still born."
Charlotte was shaking her head. "No. No, it isn’t possible."
"But if Jessamine has to tell the truth-" Tessa’s voice wavered.
"She has to tell the truth as she believes it," said Charlotte. "If your brother lied to her but she believed him, she Will speak it as if it were the truth."