Clockwork Princess (Page 16)

Clockwork Princess(16)
Author: Cassandra Clare

"Charlotte has done nothing to deserve such a betrayal from me," Gideon said.

The Consul jabbed a finger toward him. "That is exactly what I speak of. Your loyalty is not to her; it cannot be to her. It is to me. It must be to me. Do you understand that?"

"And if I say no?"

"Then you lose everything. House, lands, name, lineage, purpose."

"We’ll do it," said Gabriel, before Gideon could speak again. "We will watch her for you."

"Gabriel-," Gideon began.

Gabriel turned on his brother. "No," he said. "It’s too much. You don’t want to be a liar, I understand that. But our first loyalty is to family. The Blackthorns would throw Tati out on the streets, and she wouldn’t last a moment there, her and the child-"

Gideon whitened. "Tatiana is going to have a child?"

Despite the horror of the situation, Gabriel felt a flash of satisfaction at knowing something his brother hadn’t known. "Yes," he said. "You would have known it, if you were still part of our family."

Gideon glanced around the room as if searching for a familiar face, then looked helplessly back at his brother and the Consul. "I …"

Consul Wayland smiled coldly at Gabriel, and then his brother. "Have we an agreement, gentlemen?"

After a long moment Gideon nodded. "We will do it."

Gabriel would not soon forget the look that spread over the Consul’s face at that. There was satisfaction in it, but there was little surprise. It was clear he had expected nothing else, and nothing better, from the Lightwood boys.

"Scones?" Tessa said incredulously.

Sophie’s mouth twitched into a smile. She was down on her knees before the grate with a rag and a bucket of soapy water. "You could have knocked me into a cocked hat, I was that startled," she confirmed. "Dozens of scones. Under his bed, all gone hard as rocks."

"My goodness," Tessa said, sliding to the edge of the bed and leaning back on her hands. Whenever Sophie was in her room cleaning, Tessa always had to hold herself back from rushing over to help the other girl with the tinderbox or the dusting. She had tried it on a few occasions, but after Sophie had set Tessa down gently but firmly for the fourth time, she had given it up.

"And you were angry?" Tessa said.

"Of course I was! Making all that extra work for me, carrying the scones up and down stairs, and then hiding them like that-I shouldn’t be surprised if we end the autumn with mice."

Tessa nodded, gravely acknowledging the potential rodent issue. "But isn’t it a bit flattering that he went to such lengths just to see you?"

Sophie sat up straight. "It’s not flattering. He is not thinking. He is a Shadowhunter, and I am a mundane. I can expect nothing from him. In the best of all possible worlds, he might offer to take me as a mistress while he marries a Shadowhunter girl."

Tessa’s throat tightened, remembering Will on the roof, offering her just that, offering her shame and disgrace, and how small she had felt, how worthless. It had been a lie, but the memory still held pain.

"No," Sophie said, looking back down at her red, work-roughened hands. "It is better that I never entertain the idea. That way there will be no disappointment."

"I think the Lightwoods are better men than that," Tessa offered.

Sophie brushed her hair back from her face, her fingers lightly touching the scar that bisected her cheek. "Sometimes I think there are no better men than that."

Neither Gideon nor Gabriel spoke as their carriage rattled back through the streets of the West End to the Institute. The rain was pouring down now, rattling the carriage so noisily that Gabriel doubted anyone would have heard him if he had spoken.

Gideon was studying his shoes, and did not look up as they rolled back to the Institute. As it loomed up out of the rain, the Consul reached across Gabriel and opened the door for them to exit.

"I trust you boys," he said. "Now go make Charlotte trust you too. And tell no one of our discussion. As far as this afternoon is concerned, you spent it with the Brothers."

Gideon climbed down out of the carriage without another word, and Gabriel followed him. The landau swung around and rattled off into the gray London afternoon. The sky was black and yellow, the drizzle as heavy as lead pellets, the fog so thick that Gabriel could barely see the Institute gates as they swung shut behind the carriage. He certainly didn’t see his brother’s hands as they darted forward, seized him by the collar of his jacket, and dragged him halfway around the side of the Institute.

He nearly fell as Gideon pushed him up against the stone wall of the old church. They were near the stables, half-hidden from view by one of the buttresses, but not protected from the rain. Cold drops assaulted Gabriel’s head and neck and slid into his shirt. "Gideon-," he protested, slipping on the muddy flagstones.

"Be quiet." Gideon’s eyes were huge and gray in the dull light, barely tinged with green.

"You’re right." Gabriel dropped his voice. "We should organize our story. When they ask us what we did this afternoon, we must be in perfect accord in our answer, or it will not be believable-"

"I said be quiet." Gideon slammed his brother’s shoulders back against the wall, hard enough for Gabriel to let out a gasp of pain. "We are not going to tell Charlotte of our conversation with the Consul. But neither are we going to spy on her. Gabriel, you are my brother, and I love you. I would do anything to protect you. But I will not sell out your soul and mine."

Gabriel looked at his brother. Rain soaked Gideon’s hair and dripped into the collar of his coat. "We could die on the street if we refuse to do what the Consul says."

"I am not going to lie to Charlotte," said Gideon.

"Gideon-"

"Did you see the look on the Consul’s face?" Gideon interrupted. "When we agreed to spy for him, to betray the generosity of the house that hosts us? He was not in the least surprised. He never had a moment’s doubt about us. He expects nothing but treachery from Lightwoods. That is our birthright." His hands tightened on Gabriel’s arms. "There is more to life than surviving," he said. "We have honor, we are Nephilim. If he takes that, we truly have nothing."

"Why?" Gabriel asked. "Why are you so sure that Charlotte’s side is the right one?"

"Because our father’s was not," said Gideon. "Because I know Charlotte. Because I have lived among these people for months and they are good people. Because Charlotte Branwell has been nothing but kind to me. And Sophie loves her."

"And you love Sophie."

Gideon’s mouth tensed.

"She’s a mundane and a servant," said Gabriel. "I don’t know what you expect to come of it, Gideon."

"Nothing," Gideon said roughly. "I expect nothing. But the fact that you believe I should shows that our father brought us up to believe that we should do right only if some reward was the result. I will not betray the word I have given Charlotte; that is the situation, Gabriel. If you do not want a part of it, I will send you to live with Tatiana and the Blackthorns. I am sure they will take you in. But I will not lie to Charlotte."

"Yes, you will," said Gabriel. "We are both going to lie to Charlotte. But we are going to lie to the Consul, too."

Gideon narrowed his eyes. Rainwater dripped off his eyelashes. "What do you mean?"

"We will do as the Consul says and read Charlotte’s correspondence. Then we will report to him, but the reports will be false."

"If we are going to give him false reports anyway, why read her correspondence?"

"To know what not to say," Gabriel said, tasting dampness in his mouth. It tasted as if it had dripped from the Institute roof, bitter and dirty. "To avoid accidentally telling him the truth."

"If we are discovered, we could face consequences of the utmost severity."

Gabriel spit rainwater. "Then you tell me. Would you risk severe consequences for the inhabitants of the Institute, or not? Because I-I am doing this for you, and because …"

"Because?"

"Because I made a mistake. I was wrong about our father. I believed in him, and I should not have." Gabriel took a deep breath. "I was wrong, and I seek to undo that, and if there is a price to be paid, then I will pay it."

Gideon looked at him for a long time. "Was this your plan all along? When you agreed to the Consul’s demands, in the Argent Rooms, was this your plan?"

Gabriel looked away from his brother, toward the rain-wet courtyard. In his mind he could see the two of them, much younger, standing where the Thames cut through the edge of the house’s property, and Gideon showing him the safe paths through the swampy ground. His brother had always been the one to show him the safe paths. There had been a time when they had trusted each other implicitly, and he did not know when it had ended, but his heart ached for it more than it ached at the loss of his father.

"Would you believe me," he said bitterly, "if I told you it was? Because it is the truth."

Gideon was still for a long moment. Then Gabriel found himself hauled forward, his face mashed into the wet wool of Gideon’s overcoat while his brother held him tightly, murmuring, "All right, little brother. It’s going to be all right," as he rocked them both back and forth in the rain.

To: Members of the Council

From: Consul Josiah Wayland

Very well, gentlemen. In that case I ask only for your patience and that you not act in haste. If it is proof you want, I will furnish proof.

I shall write again on this subject soon.

In Raziel’s name and in defense of his honor,

Consul Josiah Wayland

Chapter 7 Dare to Wish

If the past year were offered me again,

And choice of good and ill before me set

Would I accept the pleasure with the pain

Or dare to wish that we had never met?

-Augusta, Lady Gregory,

"If the Past Year Were Offered Me Again"

To: Consul Wayland

From: Gabriel and Gideon Lightwood

Dear Sir,

We are most thankful that you have assigned us the task of monitoring Mrs. Branwell’s behavior. Women, as we know, need to be closely watched so they do not go astray. We are grieved to announce that we have shocking tidings to report.

A woman’s management of her household is her most important duty, and one of the most important womanly virtues is frugality. Mrs. Branwell, however, seems addicted to expenditure and cares for nothing save vulgar display.

Though she may be dressed plainly when you pay a visit, we are saddened to report that in her leisure hours she bedecks herself with the finest silks and the most costly jewels imaginable. You asked us to, and loath though we were to invade a lady’s privacy, we did so. We would report the exact details of her letter to her modiste, but we fear you would be overcome. Suffice it to say, the money outlaid upon hats rivals the annual income of a large estate or a small country. We fail to see why one small woman needs so many hats. She is unlikely to be concealing additional heads upon her person.

We would be too gentlemanly to comment upon a lady’s attire, except for the deleterious effect it has on our duties. She skimps on household necessities to the most horrifying degree. Every night we sit down to a dinner of gruel as she sits at table dripping with gems and gewgaws. This is, you may conceive, hardly fighting fare for your valiant Shadowhunters. We are so weak that we were almost vanquished by a Behemoth demon last Tuesday, and of course those creatures are chiefly composed of a viscous substance. At our peak, and sustained with good victuals, either of us would be capable of crushing beneath our boot heels a dozen Behemoth demons at a time.

We very much hope that you will be able to render us assistance in this matter, and that Mrs. Branwell’s outlay upon hats-and other feminine articles of clothing that we hesitate in delicacy to name-will be checked.

Yours truly,

Gideon and Gabriel Lightwood

"What’s a gewgaw?" Gabriel asked, blinking owlishly down at the epistle he had just helped compose. Actually, Gideon had dictated most of it; Gabriel had merely moved the pen across the page. He was beginning to suspect that behind his brother’s dour facade lay an unsung comic genius.

Gideon waved a dismissive hand. "It doesn’t matter. Seal the envelope and let us give it to Cyril that it may go out with the morning post."

It had been several days since the battle with the great worm, and Cecily was in the training room again. She was beginning to wonder if she should simply move her bed and other furnishing into this space, as she seemed to spend most of her time here. The bedroom Charlotte had given her was nearly bare of decoration or anything that might remind her of home. She had brought almost nothing personal with her from Wales, not expecting that she would be staying for a lengthy time.

Here at least in the weapons room she felt secure. Perhaps because there was no room like it where she had grown up; it was purely a Shadowhunter place. Nothing about it could possibly make her homesick. The walls were hung with dozens of weapons. Her first lesson with Will, when he had still been blazing with rage that she was there at all, had involved memorizing all their names and what they did. Katana blades from Japan, double-handed broadswords, thin-bladed misericords, morning stars and maces, curved Turkish blades, crossbows and slingshots and tiny pipes that blew poisoned needles. She remembered him spitting the words out as if they were poison.

Be as angry as you want, big brother, she had thought. I may pretend I wish to be a Shadowhunter now, because it gives you no choice but to keep me here. But I will show you that these people are not your family. I will bring you home.

She lifted a sword down from the wall now and balanced it carefully in her hands. Will had explained to her that the way to hold a two-handed sword was just below the rib cage, pointing straight out. Legs should be balanced with equal weight on them, and the sword should be swung from the shoulders, not the arms, to get the most force into a killing blow.

A killing blow. For so many years she had been angry at her brother for leaving them all to join the Shadowhunters in London, for giving himself up to what her mother had termed a life of mindless murder, of weapons and blood and death. What was so poor to him about the green mountains of Wales? What did their family lack? Why turn your back on the bluest of blue seas, for something as empty as all that?