Clockwork Prince (Page 37)

Clockwork Prince(37)
Author: Cassandra Clare

"Jessamine would never agree to do it," said Charlotte. "Not now-"

Will gave her a dark look. "You are all in a lather, aren’t you?" he said. "Of course she wouldn’t. We Will be asking Tessa to reprise her starring role as Jessamine, A Traitorous Young Lady of Fashion."

"That sounds dangerous," Jem said in a subdued voice. "For Tessa."

Tessa looked at him quickly, and caught a flash of his silvery eyes. It was the first time he had looked at her since she had left his room that night. Was she imagining the concern in his voice when he spoke of danger to her, or was it simply the concern Jem had for everyone? Not wishing for her horrible demise was mere kindness, not-not what it was she hoped he felt.

Whatever that might be. Let him at least not despise her. . . .

"Tessa is fearless," said Will. "And there Will be little danger to her. We Will send him a note arranging a meeting in a place where we might fal upon him easily and immediately. The Silent Brothers can torture him until he gives up the information that we need."

"Torture?" said Jem. "This is Tessa’s brother-"

"Torture him," said Tessa. "If that is what is necessary. I give you my permission."

Charlotte looked up at her, shocked. "You can’t mean that."

"You said there was a way to dig through his mind for secrets," Tessa said.

"I asked you not to do that, and you didn’t. I thank you for that, but I Will not hold you to that promise. Dig through his mind if you must. There is more to all of this for me than there is for you, you know. For you this is about the Institute and the safety of Shadowhunters. I care about those things too, Charlotte. But Nate-he is working with Mortmain. Mortmain, who wants to trap me and use me, and for what we still do not know. Mortmain, who may know what I am. Nate told Jessamine my father was a demon and my mother was a Shadowhunter-"

Will sat up straight. "That’s impossible," he said. "Shadow-hunters and demons-they cannot procreate. They cannot produce living offspring."

"Then maybe it was a lie, like the lie about Mortmain being in Idris," said Tessa. "That doesn’t mean Mortmain doesn’t know the truth. I must know what I am. If nothing else, I believe it is the key to why he wants me."

There was sadness in Jem’s eyes as he looked at her, and then away.

"Very well," he said. "Will, how do you propose we lure him to a meeting? Don’t you think he knows Jessamine’s handwriting? Isn’t it likely they have some secret signal between them?"

"Jessamine must be convinced," said Will. "To help us."

"Please don’t suggest we torture her," said Jem irritably. "The Mortal Sword has already been used. She has told us all she can-"

"The Mortal Sword did not give us their meeting places or any codes or pet names they might have used," said Will. "Don’t you understand? This is Jessamine’s last chance. Her last chance to cooperate. To get leniency from the Clave. To be forgiven. Even if Charlotte keeps the Institute, do you think they Will leave Jessamine’s fate in our hands? No, it Will be left to the Consul and the Inquisitor. And they Will not be kind. If she does this for us, it could mean her life."

"I am not sure she cares about her life," said Tessa softly.

"Everyone cares," said Will. "Everyone wants to live."

Jem turned away from him abruptly, and stared into the fire.

"The question is, who can we send to persuade her?" said Charlotte. "I cannot go. She hates and blames me most of all."

"I could go," Henry said, his gentle face troubled. "I could perhaps reason with the poor girl, speak with her of the fol y of young love, how swiftly it fades in the face of life’s harsh reality-"

"No." Charlotte’s tone was final.

"Well, I highly doubt she wishes to see me," said Will. "It Will have to be Jem. He’s impossible to hate. Even that devil cat likes him."

Jem exhaled, still staring into the fire. "I Will go to the Silent City," he said.

"But Tessa should come with me."

Tessa looked up, startled. "Oh, no," she said. "I do not think Jessamine likes me much. She feels I have betrayed her terribly by disguising myself as her, and I cannot say I blame her."

"Yes," said Jem. "But you are Nate’s sister. If she loves him as you say she does . . ." His eyes met hers across the room. "You know Nate. You can speak of him with authority. You may be able to make her believe what I cannot."

"Very well," Tessa said. "I Will try."

This seemed to signal the end of breakfast; Charlotte darted off to call for a carriage to come for them from the Silent City; it was how the Brothers liked to do things, she explained. Henry returned to his crypt and his inventions, and Jem, after a murmured word to Tessa, went to gather his hat and coat. Only Will remained, staring into the fire, and Tessa, seeing that he was not moving, waited until the door shut behind Jem and came around to stand between Will and the flames.

He raised his eyes to her slowly. He was still wearing the clothes he had been wearing the night before, though his white shirtfront was stained with blood and there was a long, jagged rent in his frock coat. There was a cut along his cheek, too, under his left eye. "Will," she said.

"Aren’t you meant to be leaving with Jem?"

"And I shall," she replied. "But I need a promise from you first."

His eyes moved to the fire; she could see the dancing flames reflected in his pupils. "Then tell me what it is quickly. I have important business to get to.

I plan to sulk all afternoon, fol owed, perhaps, by an evening of Byronic brooding and a nighttime of dissipation."

"Dissipate all you like. I only want your assurance that you Will tell no one what transpired between us last night on the balcony."

"Oh, that was you," said Will, with the air of someone who has just recol ected a surprising detail.

"Spare me," she snapped, stung despite herself. "We were under the influence of warlock powders. It meant nothing. Even I do not blame you for what happened, however tedious you are being about it now. But there is no need for anyone else to know, and if you were a gentleman-"

"But I am not."

"But you are a Shadowhunter," she said venomously. "And there is no future for a Shadowhunter who dal ies with warlocks."

His eyes danced with fire. He said, "You have become boring to tease, Tess."

"Then give me your word you Will tell no one, not even Jem, and I Will go away and cease to bore you."

"You have my word on the Angel," he said. "It was not something I had planned to brag of in the first place. Though why you are so keen that no one here suspect you of a lack of virtue, I do not know."

Jem’s face flashed across her inner eye. "No," she said. "You truly don’t."

And with that she turned on her heel and stalked from the room, leaving him staring after her in confusion.

Sophie hurried down Piccadil y, her head bent, her eyes on the pavement beneath her feet. She was used to hushed murmurs and the occasional stare when she went out and eyes fell upon her scar; she had perfected a way of walking that hid her face beneath the shadow of her hat. She was not ashamed of the scar, but she hated the pity in the eyes of those who saw it.

She was wearing one of Jessamine’s old dresses. It was not out of fashion yet, but Jessamine was one of those girls who dubbed any dress she had worn more than three times "historical" and either cast it off or had it made over. It was a striped watered silk in green and white, and there were waxy white flowers and green leaves on her hat. all together, she thought, she could pass for a girl of good breeding-if she were not out on her own, that was-especial y with her work-roughened hands covered in a pair of white kid gloves.

She saw Gideon before he saw her. He was leaning against a lamppost outside the great pale-green porte cochere of Fortnum & Mason. Her heart skipped a little beat as she looked at him, so handsome in his dark clothes, checking the time on a gold watch affixed to his waistcoat pocket by a thin chain. She paused for a moment, watching the people stream around him, the busy life of London roaring around him, and Gideon as calm as a rock in the middle of a churning river. all Shadowhunters had something of that to them, she thought, that still ness, that dark aura of separateness that set them apart from the current of mundane life.

He looked up then, and saw her, and smiled that smile that changed his whole face. "Miss Col ins," he said, coming forward, and she moved forward to meet him as well, feeling as she did so as if she were stepping into the circle of his separateness. The steady noise of city traffic, pedestrian and otherwise, seemed to dim, and it was just her and Gideon, facing each other on the street.

"Mr. Lightwood," she said.

His face changed, only a little, but she saw it. She saw too that he was holding something in his left hand, a woven picnic basket. She looked at it, and then at him.

"One of Fortnum & Mason’s famous hampers," he said with a sideways smile. "Stilton cheese, quails’ eggs, rose petal jam-"

"Mr. Lightwood," she said again, interrupting him, to her own amazement.

A servant never interrupted a gentleman. "I have been most distressed- most distressed in my own mind, you understand, as to whether I should come here at all. I finally decided that I should, if only to tell you to your own face that I cannot see you. I thought you deserved that much, though I am not sure of it."

He looked at her, stunned, and in that moment she saw not a Shadowhunter but an ordinary boy, like Thomas or Cyril, clutching a picnic basket and unable to hide the surprise and hurt on his face. "Miss Col ins, if there is something I have done to offend-"

"I cannot see you. That is all," Sophie said, and turned away, meaning to hurry back the way she had come. If she was quick, she could catch the next omnibus back to the City- "Miss Col ins. Please." It was Gideon, at her elbow. He did not touch her, but he was walking alongside her, his expression distraught. "Tel me what I’ve done."

She shook her head mutely. The look on his face-perhaps it had been a mistake to come. They were passing Hatchards bookshop, and she considered ducking inside; surely he would not fol ow her, not into a place where they’d likely be overheard. But then again, perhaps he would.

"I know what it is," he said abruptly. "Will. He told you, didn’t he?"

"The fact that you say that informs me that there was something to tell."

"Miss Col ins, I can explain. Just come with me-this way." He turned, and she found herself following him, warily. They were in front of St. James’s Church; he led her around the side and down a narrow street that bridged the gap between Piccadil y and Jermyn Street. It was quieter here, though not deserted; several passing pedestrians gave them curious looks-the scarred girl and the handsome boy with the pale face, careful y setting his hamper down at his feet.

"This is about last night," he said. "The bal at my father’s house in Chiswick. I thought I saw Will. I had wondered if he would tell the rest of you."

"You confess it, then? That you were there, at that depraved-that unsuitable-"

"Unsuitable? It was a sight more than unsuitable," said Gideon, with more force than she had ever heard him use. Behind them the bel of the church tol ed the hour; he seemed not to hear it. "Miss Col ins, all I can do is swear to you that until last night I had no idea with what low company, what destructive habits, my father had engaged himself. I have been in Spain this past half-year-"

"And he was not like this before that?" Sophie asked, disbelieving.

"Not quite. It is difficult to explain." His eyes strayed past her, their gray- green stormier than ever. "My father has always been one to flout convention.

To bend the Law, if not to break it. He has always taught us that this is the way that everyone goes along, that all Shadowhunters do it. And we- Gabriel and I-having lost our mother so young, had no better example to fol ow. It was not until I arrived in Madrid that I began to understand the ful extent of my father’s . . . incorrectness. Everyone does not flout the Law and bend the rules, and I was treated as if I were some monstrous creature for believing it to be so, until I changed my ways. Research and observation led me to believe I had been given poor principles to fol ow, and that it had been done with deliberation. I could think only of Gabriel and how I might save him from the same realization, or at least from having it delivered so shockingly."

"And your sister-Miss Lightwood?"

Gideon shook his head. "She has been sheltered from it all. My father thinks that women have no business with the darker aspects of Downworld.

No, it is I who he believes must know of his involvements, for I am the heir to the Lightwood estate. It was with an eye to that that my father brought me with him to the event last night, at which, I assume, Will saw me."

"You knew he was there?"

"I was so disgusted by what I saw inside that room that I eventual y fought my way free and went out into the gardens for some fresh air. The stench of demons had made me nauseated. Out there, I saw someone familiar chasing a blue demon across the parkland with an air of determination."

"Mr. Herondale?"

Gideon shrugged. "I had no idea what he was doing there; I knew he could not have been invited, but could not fathom how he had found out about it, or if his pursuit of the demon was unrelated. I wasn’t sure until I saw the look on your face when you beheld me, just now . . ."

Sophie’s voice rose and sharpened. "But did you tell your father, or Gabriel? Do they know? About Master Will ?"

Gideon shook his head slowly. "I told them nothing. I do not think they expected Will there in any capacity. The Shadowhunters of the Institute are meant to be in pursuit of Mortmain."

"They are," said Sophie slowly, and when his only look was one of incomprehension, she said: "Those clockwork creatures at your father’s party -where did you think they came from?"