Clockwork Prince (Page 7)

Clockwork Prince(7)
Author: Cassandra Clare

Gideon took the blade. "Esta es la idea mas estupida que nuestro padre ha tenido," he said. "Nunca."

Sophie and Tessa exchanged a look. Tessa wasn’t sure exactly what Gideon had said, but "estupida" sounded familiar enough. It was going to be a long remainder of the day.

They spent the next few hours performing balancing and blocking exercises.

Gabriel took it upon himself to oversee Tessa’s instruction, while Gideon was assigned to Sophie. Tessa couldn’t help but feel that Gabriel had chosen her to annoy Will in some obscure way, whether Will knew about it or not. He wasn’t a bad teacher, actual y-fairly patient, Will ing to pick up weapons again and again as she dropped them, until he could show her how to get the grip correct, even praising when she did something right. She was concentrating too fiercely to notice whether Gideon was as adept at training Sophie, though Tessa heard him muttering in Spanish from time to time.

By the time the training was over and Tessa had bathed and dressed for dinner, she was starving in a most unladylike manner. Fortunately, despite Will ‘s fears, Bridget could cook, and very well. She served a hot roast with vegetables, and a jam tart with custard, to Henry, Will, Tessa, and Jem for dinner. Jessamine was still in her room with a headache, and Charlotte had gone to the Bone City to look directly through the Reparations archives herself.

It was odd, having Sophie and Cyril coming in and out of the dining room with platters of food, Cyril carving the roast just as Thomas would have, Sophie helping him silently. Tessa could hardly help but think how difficult it had to be for Sophie, whose closest companions in the Institute had been Agatha and Thomas, but every time Tessa tried to catch the other girl’s eye, Sophie looked away.

Tessa remembered the look on Sophie’s face the last time Jem had been ill, the way she’d twisted her cap in her hands, begging for news of him.

Tessa had ached to talk to Sophie about it afterward, but knew she never could. Romances between mundanes and Shadowhunters were forbidden; Will ‘s mother was a mundane, and his father had been forced to leave the Shadowhunters to be with her. He must have been terribly in love to be Will ing to do it-and Tessa had never had the sense that Jem was fond of Sophie in that way at all. And then there was the matter of his il ness. . . .

"Tessa," Jem said in a low voice, "are you all right? You look a mil ion miles away."

She smiled at him. "Just tired. The training-I’m not used to it." It was the truth. Her arms were sore from holding the heavy practice sword, and though she and Sophie had done little beyond balancing and blocking exercises, her legs ached too.

"There’s a salve the Silent Brothers make, for sore muscles. Knock on the door of my room before you go to sleep, and I’ll give you some."

Tessa flushed slightly, then wondered why she had flushed. The Shadowhunters had their odd ways. She had been in Jem’s room before, even alone with him, even alone with him in her night attire, and no fuss had been made over it. all he was doing now was offering her a bit of medicine, and yet she could feel the heat rise in her face-and he seemed to see it, and flushed himself, the color very visible against his pale skin. Tessa looked away hastily and caught Will watching them both, his blue eyes level and dark. Only Henry, chasing mushy peas around his plate with a fork, seemed oblivious.

"Much obliged," she said. "I Will -"

Charlotte burst into the room, her dark hair escaping from its pins in a whirl of curls, a long scrol of paper clutched in her hand. "I’ve found it!" she cried.

She col apsed breathlessly into the seat beside Henry, her normal y pale face rosy with exertion. She smiled at Jem. "You were quite right-the Reparations archives-I found it after only a few hours of looking."

"Let me see," said Will, setting down his fork. He had eaten only a very little of his food, Tessa couldn’t help noticing. The bird design ring flashed on his fingers as he reached for the scrol in Charlotte’s hand.

She swatted his hand away good-naturedly. "No. We shall all look at them at the same time. It was Jem’s idea, anyway, wasn’t it?"

Will frowned, but said nothing; Charlotte spread the scrol out over the table, pushing aside teacups and empty plates to make room, and the others rose and crowded around her, gazing down at the document. The paper was real y more like thick parchment, with dark red ink, like the color of the runes on the Silent Brothers’ robes. The handwriting was in English, but cramped and full of abbreviations; Tessa could make neither head nor tail of what she was looking at.

Jem leaned in close to her, his arm brushing hers, reading over her shoulder. His expression was thoughtful.

She turned her head toward him; a lock of his pale hair tickled her face.

"What does it say?" she whispered.

"It’s a request for recompense," said Will, ignoring the fact that she had addressed her question to Jem. "Sent to the York Institute in 1825 in the name of Axel Hol ingworth Mortmain, seeking reparations for the unjustified death of his parents, John Thaddeus and Anne Evelyn Shade, almost a decade before."

"John Thaddeus Shade," said Tessa. " JTS, the initials on Mortmain’s watch. But if he was their son, why doesn’t he have the same surname?"

"The Shades were warlocks," said Jem, reading farther down the page.

"Both of them. He couldn’t have been their blood son; they must have adopted him, and let him keep his mundane name. It does happen, from time to time." His eyes flicked toward Tessa, and then away; she wondered if he was remembering, as she was, their conversation in the music room about the fact that warlocks could not have children.

"He said he began to learn about the dark arts during his travels," said Charlotte. "But if his parents were warlocks-"

"Adoptive parents," said Will. "Yes, I’m sure he knew just who in Downworld to contact to learn the darker arts."

"Unjustifiable death," Tessa said in a smal voice. "What does that mean, exactly?"

"It means he believes that Shadowhunters kil ed his parents despite the fact that they had broken no Laws," said Charlotte.

"What Law were they meant to have broken?"

Charlotte frowned. "It says something here about unnatural and il egal dealings with demons-that could be nearly anything-and that they stood accused of creating a weapon that could destroy Shadowhunters. The sentence for that would have been death. This was before the Accords, though, you must remember. Shadowhunters could kil Downworlders on the mere suspicion of wrongdoing. That’s probably why there’s nothing more substantive or detailed in the paperwork here. Mortmain filed for recompense through the York Institute, under the aegis of Aloysius Starkweather. He was asking not for money but for the guilty parties- Shadowhunters-to be tried and punished. But the trial was refused here in London on the grounds that the Shades were ‘beyond a doubt’ guilty. And that’s really all there is. This is simply a short record of the event, not the ful papers. Those would still be in the York Institute." Charlotte pushed her damp hair back from her forehead. "And yet. It would explain Mortmain’s hatred of Shadowhunters. You were correct, Tessa. It was-it is-personal."

"And it gives us a starting point. The York Institute," said Henry, looking up from his plate. "The Starkweathers run it, don’t they? They’l have the ful letters, papers-"

"And Aloysius Starkweather is eighty-nine," said Charlotte. "He would have been a young man when the Shades were kil ed. He may remember something of what transpired." She sighed. "I’d better send him a message.

Oh, dear. This Will be awkward."

"Why is that, darling?" Henry asked in his gentle, absent way.

"He and my father were friends once, but then they had a fal ing-out-some dreadful thing, absolutely ages ago, but they never spoke again."

"What’s that poem again?" Will, who had been twirling his empty teacup around his fingers, stood up straight and declaimed: "Each spake words of high disdain, And insult to his heart’s best brother-"

"Oh, by the Angel, Will, do be quiet," said Charlotte, standing up. "I must go and write a letter to Aloysius Starkweather that drips remorse and pleading. I don’t need you distracting me." And, gathering up her skirts, she hurried from the room.

"No appreciation for the arts," Will murmured, setting his teacup down. He looked up, and Tessa realized she had been staring at him. She knew the poem, of course. It was Coleridge, one of her favorites. There was more to it as well, about love and death and madness, but she could not bring the lines to mind; not now, with Will ‘s blue eyes on hers.

"And of course, Charlotte hasn’t eaten a bit of dinner," Henry said, getting up. "I’ll go see if Bridget can’t make her up a plate of cold chicken. As for the rest of you-" He paused for a moment, as if he were about to give them an order-send them to bed, perhaps, or back to the library to do more research. The moment passed, and a look of puzzlement crossed his face.

"Blast it, I can’t remember what I was going to say," he announced, and vanished into the kitchen.

The moment Henry left, Will and Jem fell into an earnest discussion of reparations, Downworlders, Accords, covenants, and laws that left Tessa’s head spinning. Quietly she rose and left the table, making her way to the library.

Despite its immense size, and the fact that barely any of the books that lined its wal s were in English, it was her favorite room in the Institute. There was something about the smel of books, the ink-and-paper-and-leather scent, the way dust in a library seemed to behave differently from the dust in any other room-it was golden in the light of the witchlight tapers, settling like pol en across the polished surfaces of the long tables. Church the cat was asleep on a high book stand, his tail curled round above his head; Tessa gave him a wide berth as she moved toward the smal poetry section along the lower right-hand wall. Church adored Jem but had been known to bite others, often with very little warning.

She found the book she was looking for and knelt down beside the bookcase, flipping until she found the right page, the scene where the old man in "Christabel" realizes that the girl standing before him is the daughter of his once best friend and now most hated enemy, the man he can never forget.

A las! they had been friends in youth; But whispering tongues can poison truth; And constancy lives in realms above; And life is thorny; and youth is vain; And to be wroth with one we love, Doth work like madness in the brain.

. . .

Each spake words of high disdain And insult to his heart’s best brother: They parted-ne’er to meet again!

The voice that spoke above her head was as light as it was drawling- instantly familiar. "Checking my quotation for accuracy?"

The book slid out of Tessa’s hands and hit the floor. She rose to her feet and watched, frozen, as Will bent to pick it up, and held it out to her, his manner one of utmost politeness.

"I assure you," he told her, "my recal is perfect."

So is mine, she thought. This was the first time she had been alone with him in weeks. Not since that awful scene on the roof when he had intimated that he thought her little better than a prostitute, and a barren one at that.

They had never mentioned the moment to each other again. They had gone on as if everything were normal, polite to each other in company, never alone together. Somehow, when they were with other people, she was able to push it to the back of her mind, forget it. But faced with Will, just Will -beautiful as always, the col ar of his shirt open to show the black Marks twining his col arbone and rising up the white skin of his throat, the flickering taper light glancing off the elegant planes and angles of his face-the memory of her shame and anger rose up in her throat, choking off her words.

He glanced down at his hand, still holding the little green leather-bound volume. "Are you going to take Coleridge back from me, or shall I just stand here forever in this rather foolish position?"

Silently Tessa reached out and took the book from him. "If you wish to use the library," she said, preparing to depart, "you most certainly may. I found what I was looking for, and as it grows late-"

"Tessa," he said, holding out a hand to stop her.

She looked at him, wishing she could ask him to go back to call ing her Miss Gray. Just the way he said her name undid her, loosened something tight and knotted underneath her rib cage, making her breathless. She wished he wouldn’t use her Christian name, but knew how ridiculous it would sound if she made the request. It would certainly spoil all her work training herself to be indifferent to him.

"Yes?" she asked.

There was a little wistfulness in his expression as he looked at her. It was all she could do not to stare. Will, wistful? He had to be playacting. "Nothing. I -" He shook his head; a lock of dark hair fell over his forehead, and he pushed it out of his eyes impatiently. "Nothing," he said again. "The first time I showed you the library, you told me your favorite book was The Wide, Wide World. I thought you might want to know that I . . . read it." His head was down, his blue eyes looking up at her through those thick dark lashes; she wondered how many times he’d gotten whatever he wanted just by doing that.

She made her voice polite and distant. "And did you find it to your liking?"

"Not at all," said Will. "Drivel y and sentimental, I thought."

"Well, there’s no accounting for taste," Tessa said sweetly, knowing he was trying to goad her, and refusing to take the bait. "What is one person’s pleasure is another’s poison, don’t you find?"

Was it her imagination, or did he look disappointed? "Have you any other American recommendations for me?"

"Why would you want one, when you scorn my taste? I think you may have to accept that we are quite far apart on the matter of reading material, as we are on so many things, and find your recommendations elsewhere, Mr.

Herondale." She bit her tongue almost as soon as the words were out of her mouth. That had been too much, she knew.