Clockwork Prince (Page 55)

Clockwork Prince(55)
Author: Cassandra Clare

Or saw ye the lad that I love best,

And his name it is Sweet William?’"

I may murder her, Tessa thought. Let her make a song about that.

"Well, you have to tell us now," said Charlotte, smiling. "Don’t leave us dangling in suspense, Jem!"

Jem raised their joined hands and said, "Tessa and I are engaged to be married. I asked her, and-she accepted me."

There was a shocked silence. Gideon looked astonished-Tessa felt rather sorry for him, in a detached sort of way-and Sophie stood holding a pitcher of cream, her mouth open. Both Henry and Charlotte looked startled out of their wits. None of them could have been expecting this, Tessa thought; whatever Jessamine had said about Tessa’s mother being a Shadowhunter, she was still a Downworlder, and Shadowhunters did not marry Downworlders. This moment had not occurred to her. She had thought somehow that they would tell everyone separately, careful y, not that Jem would blurt it out in a fever of joyous happiness in the dining room. And she thought, Oh, please smile. Please congratulate us. Please don’t spoil this for him. Please.

Jem’s smile had only just begun to slip, when Will rose to his feet. Tessa drew a deep breath. He was beautiful in evening dress, that was true, but he was always beautiful; there was something different about him now, though, a deeper layer to the blue of his eyes, cracks in the hard and perfect armor around himself that let through a blaze of light. This was a new Will, a different Will, a Will she had caught only glimpses of-a Will that perhaps only Jem had ever really known. And now she would never know him. The thought pierced her with a sadness as if she were remembering someone who had died.

He raised his glass of wine. "I do not know two finer people," he said, "and could not imagine better news. May your lives together be happy and long."

His eyes sought Tessa’s, then slid away from her, fastening on Jem.

"Congratulations, brother."

A flood of other voices came after his speech. Sophie set the pitcher down and came to embrace Tessa; Henry and Gideon shook Jem’s hand, and Will stood watching it all, still holding the glass. Through the happy babble of voices, only Charlotte was silent, her hand against her chest; Tessa bent worriedly over her. "Charlotte, is everything all right?"

"Yes," Charlotte said, and then more loudly, " Yes. It is just-I have news of my own. Good news."

"Yes, darling," said Henry. "We won the Institute back! But everyone does already know-"

"No, not that, Henry. You-" Charlotte made a hiccuping sound, half laughter, half tears. "Henry and I are going to have a child. A boy. Brother Enoch told me. I didn’t want to say anything before, but-"

The rest of her words were drowned out by Henry’s incredulous whoop of joy. He lifted Charlotte entirely out of her seat and threw his arms around her.

"Darling, that’s wonderful, wonderful-"

Sophie gave a little shriek and clapped her hands. Gideon looked as if he were so embarrassed that he might conceivably die on the spot, and Will and Jem exchanged bemused smiles. Tessa could not help smiling as well ; Henry’s delight was infectious. He waltzed Charlotte across the room and then back again before suddenly stopping, horrified that waltzing might be bad for the baby, and sat her down in the nearest chair.

"Henry, I’m perfectly capable of walking," Charlotte said indignantly. "Even of dancing."

"My darling, you are indisposed! You must remain abed for the next eight months. Little Buford-"

"I am not naming our child Buford. I don’t care if it was your father’s name, or if it is a traditional Yorkshire name-," Charlotte began in exasperation, when a knock sounded on the door, and Cyril poked his tousled head in. He stared at the scene of gaiety going on in front of him, and said hesitantly: "Mr. Branwell, there’s someone here to see you all."

Henry blinked. "Someone to see us? But this is a private dinner, Cyril. And I did not hear the bel ring-"

"No, she is Nephilim," said Cyril. "And she says it’s very important. She Will not wait."

Henry and Charlotte exchanged bewildered glances. "Well, all right, then,"

said Henry at last. "Let her up, but tell her it Will have to be quick."

Cyril vanished. Charlotte rose to her feet, smoothing down her dress and patting her disheveled hair. "Aunt call ida, perhaps?" she said in a puzzled voice. "I can’t fathom who else . . ."

The door opened again, and Cyril came in, fol owed by a young girl of about fifteen. She wore a black traveling cloak over a green dress. Even if Tessa had not seen her before, she would have known who she was instantly -known her by her black hair, by the violet-blue of her eyes, by the graceful curve of her white throat, the delicate angles of her features, the full swoop of her mouth.

She heard Will draw a sudden, violent breath.

"Hello," said the girl, in a voice both surprisingly soft and surprisingly firm. "I apologize for interrupting your dinner hour, but I had nowhere else to go. I am Cecily Herondale, you see. I have come to be trained as a Shadowhunter."