Clockwork Prince (Page 44)

Clockwork Prince(44)
Author: Cassandra Clare

Knowing what she knew now, Tessa could see the resemblance. A unt Harriet had blue eyes, faded fair hair; even the shape of her face was like Nate’s. With a smile she came and bent over Tessa, putting a hand on her forehead, cool against Tessa’s hot skin.

"I’m so sorry," Tessa whispered. "A bout Nate. It’s my fault he’s dead."

"Hush," her aunt said. "It isn’t your fault. It is his and mine. I always felt such guilt, you see, Tessa. Knowing I was his mother but not being able to bear telling him. I let him get away with anything he wanted, until he was spoiled beyond saving. If I had told him that I was really his mother, he would not have felt so betrayed when he discovered the truth, and would not have turned against us. Lies and secrets, Tessa, they are like a cancer in the soul. They eat away what is good and leave only destruction behind."

"I miss you so much," Tessa said. "I have no family now. . . ."

Her aunt leaned forward to kiss her on the forehead. "You have more family than you think."

"We Will almost certainly forfeit the Institute now," said Charlotte. She did not sound brokenhearted, but distant and detached. Tessa was hovering like a ghost over the infirmary, looking down at where Charlotte stood with Jem at the foot of Tessa’s own bed. Tessa could see herself, asleep, her dark hair spread like a fan across her pil ows. Will lay asleep a few beds over, his back striped with bandages, an iratze black against the back of his neck.

Sophie, in her white cap and dark dress, was dusting the windowsil s. "We have lost Nathaniel Gray as a source, one of our own has turned out to be a spy, and we are no closer to finding Mortmain than we were a fortnight ago."

"After all that we have done, have learned? The Clave Will understand-"

"They Will not. They are already at the end of their tether where I am concerned. I might as well march over to Benedict Lightwood’s house and make over the Institute paperwork in his name. Have done with it."

"What does Henry say about all this?" asked Jem. He was no longer in gear, and neither was Charlotte; he wore a white shirt and brown cloth trousers, and Charlotte was in one of her drab dark dresses. As Jem turned his hand over, though, Tessa saw that it was still spotted with Will ‘s dried blood.

Charlotte snorted in an unladylike manner. "Oh, Henry," she said, sounding exhausted. "I think he’s just so shocked that one of his devices actual y worked that he doesn’t know what to do with himself. And he can’t bear to come in here. He thinks it’s his fault that Will and Tessa are hurt."

"Without that device we might all be dead, and Tessa in the hands of the Magister."

"You are welcome to explain that to Henry. I have given up the attempt."

"Charlotte . . ." Jem’s voice was soft. "I know what people say. I know you’ve heard the cruel gossip. But Henry does love you. When he thought you were hurt, at the tea warehouse, he went almost mad. He threw himself against that machine-"

"James." Charlotte clumsily patted Jem’s shoulder. "I do appreciate your attempt to console me, but falsehoods never do anyone any good in the end.

I long ago accepted that Henry loves his inventions first, and me second-if at all."

"Charlotte," Jem said wearily, but before he could say another word, Sophie had moved to stand beside them, dust cloth in hand.

"Mrs. Branwell," she said in a low voice. "If I might speak to you for just a moment."

Charlotte looked surprised. "Sophie . . ."

"Please, ma’am."

Charlotte placed a hand on Jem’s shoulder, said something softly into his ear, and then nodded toward Sophie. "Very well. Come with me to the drawing room."

As Charlotte left the room with Sophie, Tessa realized to her surprise that Sophie was actual y tal er than her mistress. Charlotte’s presence was such that one often forgot how very smal she was. And Sophie was as tal as Tessa herself, as slender as a Will ow. Tessa saw her again in her mind with Gideon Lightwood, pressed up against the corridor wall, and Tessa worried.

As the door closed behind the two women, Jem leaned forward, his arms crossed over the foot of Tessa’s brass bed. He was looking at her, smiling a little, though crookedly, his hands hanging loose-dried blood across the knuckles, and under the nails.

"Tessa, my Tessa," he said in his soft voice, as lul ing as his violin. "I know you cannot hear me. Brother Enoch says you’re not hurt badly. I can’t say I find that enough to comfort me. It’s rather like when Will assures me that we’re only a little bit lost somewhere. I know it means we won’t be seeing a familiar street again for hours."

He dropped his voice, so low that Tessa wasn’t sure if what he said next was real or part of the dream darkness rising to claim her, though she fought against it.

"I’ve never minded it," he went on. "Being lost, that is. I had always thought one could not be truly lost if one knew one’s own heart. But I fear I may be lost without knowing yours." He closed his eyes as if he were bone-weary, and she saw how thin his eyelids were, like parchment paper, and how tired he looked. "Wo ai ni, Tessa," he whispered. "Wo bu xiang shi qu ni."

She knew, without knowing how she knew, what the words meant.

I love you.

And I don’t want to lose you.

I don’t want to lose you, either, she wanted to say, but the words wouldn’t come. Lassitude rose up instead, in a dark wave, and covered her in silence.

Darkness.

It was dark in the cell, and Tessa was conscious first of a feeling of great loneliness and terror. Jessamine lay in the narrow bed, her fair hair hanging in lank ropes over her shoulders. Tessa both hovered over her and felt somehow as if she were touching her mind. She could feel a great aching sense of loss. Somehow Jessamine knew that Nate was dead.

Before, when Tessa had tried to touch the other girl’s mind, she had met resistance, but now she felt only a growing sadness, like the stain of a drop of black ink spreading through water.

Jessie’s brown eyes were open, staring up into the darkness. I have nothing. The words were as clear as a bell in Tessa’s mind. I chose Nate over the Shadowhunters, and now he is dead, and Mortmain Will want me dead as well, and Charlotte despises me. I have gambled and lost everything.

A s Tessa watched, Jessamine reached up and drew a small cord from her neck over her head. A t the end of the cord was a gold ring with a glittering white stone-a diamond. Clasping it between her fingers, she began to use the diamond to scratch letters into the stone wall.

JG.

Jessamine Gray.

There might have been more to the message, but Tessa would never find out; as Jessamine pressed down on the gemstone, it shattered, and her hand slammed against the wall, scraping her knuckles.

Tessa did not need to touch Jessamine’s mind to know what she was thinking. Even the diamond had not been real. With a low cry Jessamine rolled over and buried her face in the rough blankets of the bed.

When Tessa woke again, it was dark. Faint starlight streamed through the high infirmary windows, and there was a witchlight lamp lit on the table near her bed. Beside it was a cup of tisane, steam rising from it, and a smal plate of biscuits. She rose to a sitting position, about to reach for the cup-and froze.

Will was seated on the bed beside hers, wearing a loose shirt and trousers and a black dressing gown. His skin was pale in the starlight, but even the light’s dimness couldn’t wash out the blue of his eyes. "Will," she said, startled, "what are you doing awake?" Had he been watching her sleep, she wondered? But what an odd and un-Wil -like thing to do.

"I brought you a tisane," he said, a little stiffly. "But you sounded as if you were having a nightmare."

"Did I? I don’t even remember what I dreamed." She drew the covers up over herself, though her modest nightgown more than covered her. "I thought I had been escaping into sleep-that real life was the nightmare and that sleep was where I could find peace."

Will picked up the mug and moved to sit beside her on the bed. "Here.

Drink this."

She took the cup from him obediently. The tisane had a bitter but appealing taste, like the zest of a lemon. "What Will it do?" she asked.

"Calm you," said Will.

She looked at him, the taste of lemon in her mouth. There seemed a haze across her vision; seen through it, Will looked like something out of a dream.

"How are your injuries? Are you in pain?"

He shook his head. "Once all the metal was out, they were able to use an iratze on me," he said. "The wounds are not completely healed, but they are healing. By tomorrow they Will be scars."

"I am jealous." She took another sip of the tisane. It was beginning to make her feel light-headed. She touched the bandage across her forehead. "I believe it Will be a good while before this comes off."

"In the meantime you can enjoy looking like a pirate."

She laughed, but it was shaky. Will was close enough to her that she could feel the heat emanating from his body. He was furnace-hot. "Do you have a fever?" she asked before she could stop herself.

"The iratze raises our body temperatures. It’s part of the healing process."

"Oh," she said. Having him so close to her was sending little shivers through her nerves, but she felt too light-headed to draw away.

"I am sorry about your brother," he said softly, his breath stirring her hair.

"You couldn’t be." She spoke bitterly. "I know you think he deserved what he got. He probably did."

"My sister died. She died, and there was nothing I could do about it," he said, and there was raw grief in his voice. "I am sorry about your brother."

She looked up at him. His eyes, wide and blue, that perfect face, the bow- shape of his mouth, turned down at the corners in concern. Concern for her.

Her skin felt hot and tight, her head light and airy, as if she were floating.

"Will," she whispered. "Will, I feel very odd."

Will leaned across her to put the mug down on the table, and his shoulder brushed hers. "Do you want me to get Charlotte?"

She shook her head. She was dreaming. She was nearly sure of it now; she had the same feeling of being in her body and yet not in it as she had had when she was dreaming of Jessamine. The knowledge that it was a dream made her bolder. Will was still leaning forward, his arm extended; she curled against him, her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes. She felt him jerk with surprise.

"Did I hurt you?" she whispered, belatedly remembering his back.

"I don’t care," he said fervently. "I don’t care." His arms went around her, and he held her; she rested her cheek against the warm juncture of his neck and shoulder. She heard the echo of his pulse and smelled the scent of him, blood and sweat and soap and magic. It was not like it had been on the balcony, all fire and desire. He held her careful y, laying his cheek against her hair. He was shaking, even as his chest rose and fell, even as he hesitantly slid his fingers beneath her chin, lifting her face . . .

"Will," Tessa said. "It’s all right. It doesn’t matter what you do. We’re dreaming, you know."

"Tess?" Will sounded alarmed. His arms tightened about her. She felt warm and soft and dizzy. If only Will really were like this, she thought, not just in dreams. The bed rol ed under her like a boat set adrift on the sea. She closed her eyes and let the darkness take her.

The night air was cold, the fog thick and yel owish-green under the intermittent pools of gaslight as Will made his way down King’s Road. The address Magnus had given him was on Cheyne Walk, down near the Chelsea Embankment, and Will could already smel the familiar scent of the river, silt and water and dirt and rot.

He had been trying to keep his heart from beating its way out of his chest ever since he had found Magnus’s note, neatly folded on a tray on the table beside his bed. It had said nothing beyond a curtly scrawled address: 16 Cheyne Walk. Will was familiar with the Walk and the area around it.

Chelsea, near the river, was a popular haunt for artists and literary types, and the windows of the public houses he passed glowed with welcoming yel ow light.

He drew his coat around him as he turned a corner, making his way south.

His back and legs still ached from the injuries he had sustained, despite the iratzes; he was sore, as if he’d been stung by dozens of bees. And yet he hardly felt it. His mind was full of possibilities. What had Magnus discovered? Surely he would not summon Will if there were no reason? And his body was ful of Tessa, the feel and scent of her. Strangely, what pierced his heart and mind most sharply was not the memory of her lips under his at the ball, but the way she had leaned into him tonight, her head on his shoulder, her breath soft against his neck, as if she trusted him utterly. He would have given everything he had in the world and everything he would ever have, just to lie beside her in the narrow infirmary bed and hold her while she slept. Pul ing away from her had been like pul ing his own skin off, but he’d had to do it.

The way he always had to. The way he always had to deny himself what he wanted.

But maybe-after tonight- He cut the thought off before it bloomed in his mind. Better not to think about it; better not to hope and be disappointed. He looked around. He was on Cheyne Walk now, with its fine houses with their Georgian fronts. He stopped in front of number 16. It was tall, with a wrought iron fence about it and a prominent bay window. Set into the fence was an ornately worked gate; it was open, and he slipped inside and made his way up to the front door, where he rang the bell.

To his great surprise it was opened not by a footman but by Woolsey Scott, his blond hair in tangles to his shoulders. He wore a dark green dressing gown of Chinese brocade over a pair of dark trousers and a bare chest. A gold-rimmed monocle perched in one eye. He carried a pipe in his left hand, and as he examined Will at his leisure, he exhaled, sending out a cloud of sweet-smel ing, cough-inducing smoke. "Final y broken down and admitted you’re in love with me, have you?" he inquired of Will. "I do enjoy these surprise midnight declarations." He leaned against the door frame and waved a languid ringed hand. "Go along, have at it."