Clockwork angel, p.64
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       Clockwork Angel, p.64

         Part #1 of The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
 
Page 64

 

  Everything.

  “No. ” Mortmain shook his head. He was fiddling with something—a ring on his right hand, made of silver. “I didn’t touch her. She did this to herself. ”

  “You lie. ” Will moved forward, the shape of the seraph blade beneath his fingers comforting and familiar in a world that seemed to shift and change around him like the landscape of a dream. “Do you know what happens when I drive one of these into human flesh?” he rasped, raising Jerahmeel. “It will burn as it cuts you. You will die in agony, burning from the inside out. ”

  “You think you grieve her loss, Will Herondale?” Mortmain’s voice was full of torment. “Your grief is nothing to mine. Years of work—dreams—more than you could ever imagine, wasted. ”

  “Then be comforted, for your pain will be of short duration,” said Will, and he lunged forward, blade outstretched. He felt it graze the cloth of Mortmain’s jacket—and meet no further resistance. He stumbled forward, righted himself, and stared. Something clinked to the floor at his feet, a brass button. His blade must have severed it from Mortmain’s jacket. It winked at him from the ground like a mocking eye.

  Shocked, Will dropped the seraph blade. Jerahmeel fell to the floor, still burning. Mortmain was gone—entirely gone. He had vanished like a warlock might vanish, a warlock who had trained in the practice of magic for years. For a human, even a human with occult knowledge, to accomplish such a thing …

  But that didn’t matter; not now. Will could think of only one thing. Tessa. Half in dread, half in hope, he crossed the room to where she lay. The fountain made its wretched soothing noises as he knelt down and lifted her into his arms.

  He had held her like this only once before, in the attic, the night they had burned de Quincey’s town house. The memory of it had come to him, unbidden, often enough since. Now it was torture. Her dress was soaked in blood; so was her hair, and her face was streaked with it. Will had seen enough injuries to know that no one could lose blood like this and live.

  “Tessa,” he whispered. He crushed her against him; it didn’t matter now what he did. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, where her throat met her shoulder. Her hair, already beginning to stiffen with blood, scratched his cheek. He could feel the beat of her pulse through her skin.

  He froze. Her pulse? His heart leaped; he drew away, meaning to lower her to the ground, and found her looking at him with wide gray eyes.

  “Will,” she said. “Is it really you, Will?”

  Relief crashed over him first, followed instantly by a boiling terror. To have Thomas die before his eyes, and now this, too. Or perhaps she could be saved? Though not with Marks. How were Downworlders healed? It was knowledge only the Silent Brothers had. “Bandages,” Will said, half to himself. “I must get bandages. ”

  He began to loosen his grip on her, but Tessa caught at his wrist with her hand. “Will, you must be careful. Mortmain—he’s the Magister. He was here—”

  Will felt as if he were choking. “Hush. Save your strength. Mortmain’s gone. I must get help—”

  “No. ” She tightened her grip on him. “No, you needn’t do that, Will. It’s not my blood. ”

  “What?” he said, staring. Perhaps she was delirious, he thought, but her grip and her voice were surprisingly strong for someone who should have been dead. “Whatever he did to you, Tessa—”

  “I did it,” she said in the same firm little voice. “I did it to myself, Will. It was the only way I knew to make him go away. He would never have left me here. Not if he’d thought I was alive. ”

  “But—”

  “I Changed. When the knife touched me, I Changed, just in that moment. It was something that Mortmain had said that gave me the idea—that sleight of hand is a simple trick and that no one ever expects it. ”

  “I don’t understand. The blood?”

  She nodded, her small face alight with relief, with her pleasure in telling him what she had done. “There was a woman, once, that the Dark Sisters made me Change into, who had died of a gunshot wound, and when I Changed her blood poured all over me. Did I tell you that? I thought perhaps I had, but it doesn’t matter—I remembered it, and I Changed into her, just for that moment, and the blood came, as it had before. I turned away from Mortmain so he couldn’t see me change, and crumpled forward as if the knife had truly gone in—and indeed, the force of the Change, doing it so quickly, made me quite sincerely faint. The world went dark, and then I heard Mortmain calling my name. I knew I must have come back to myself, and I knew I must pretend to be dead. I fear he would have certainly found me out had you not arrived. ” She looked down at herself, and Will could have sworn there was a faintly smug tone to her voice as she said, “I tricked the Magister, Will! I would not have thought it possible—he was so confident of his superiority over me. But I recalled what you had said about Boadicea. If it had not been for your words, Will …”

  She looked up at him with a smile. The smile broke what was left of his resistance—shattered it. He had let the walls down when he’d thought she was gone, and there was no time to build them back up. Helplessly he pulled her against him. For a moment she clung to him tightly, warm and alive in his arms. Her hair brushed his cheek. The color had come back into the world; he could breathe again, and for that moment he breathed her in—she smelled of salt, blood, tears, and Tessa.

  When she drew back from his embrace, her eyes were shining. “I thought when I heard your voice that it was a dream,” she said. “But you are real. ” Her eyes searched his face, and, as if satisfied at what they found there, she smiled. “You are real. ”

  He opened his mouth. The words were there. He was about to say them when a jolt of terror went through him, the terror of someone who, wandering in a mist, pauses only to realize that they have stopped inches from the edge of a gaping abyss. The way she was looking at him—she could read what was in his eyes, he realized. It must have been written plainly there, like words on the page of a book. There had been no time, no chance, to hide it.

  “Will,” she whispered. “Say something, Will. ”

  But there was nothing to say. There was only the emptiness, as there had been before her. As there always would be.

  I have lost everything, Will thought. Everything.

  20

  AWFUL WONDER

  Yet each man kills the thing he loves,

  By each let this be heard,

  Some do it with a bitter look,

  Some with a flattering word,

  The coward does it with a kiss,

  The brave man with a sword!

  —Oscar Wilde, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”

  The Marks that denoted mourning were red for Shadowhunters. The color of death was white.

  Tessa had not known that, had not read it in the Codex, and so had been startled to see the five Shadowhunters of the Institute going out to the carriage dressed all in white like a wedding party as she and Sophie had watched from the windows of the library. Several members of the Enclave had been killed cleaning out de Quincey’s vampire nest. In name the funeral was for them, though they were also burying Thomas and Agatha. Charlotte had explained that Nephilim burials were generally for Nephilim only, but an exception could be made for those who had died in the service of the Clave.

  Sophie and Tessa, though, had been forbidden to go. The ceremony itself was still closed to them. Sophie had told Tessa it was better anyway, that she did not want to see Thomas burn and his ashes scattered in the Silent City. “I would rather remember him as he was,” she’d said, “and Agatha, too. ”

  The Enclave had left a guard behind them, several Shadowhunters who had volunteered to stay and watch over the Institute. It would be a long time, Tessa thought, before they ever left it unguarded again.

  She had passed the time while they were gone reading in the window alcove—nothing to do with Nephilim or demons or Downworlders, but a copy of A Tale of Two Cities that she’d found on Ch
arlotte’s shelf of Dickens books. She had resolutely tried to force herself not to think about Mortmain, about Thomas and Agatha, about the things Mortmain had said to her in the Sanctuary—and most especially, not about Nathaniel or where he might be now. Any thought of her brother made her stomach tighten and the backs of her eyes prickle.

  Nor was that all that was on her mind. Two days before, she had been forced to appear before the Clave in the library of the Institute. A man the others called the Inquisitor had questioned her about her time with Mortmain, over and over, alert for any changes in her story, until she was exhausted. They had questioned her about the watch he had wanted to give her, and whether she knew who it had belonged to, or what the initials J. T. S. might stand for. She did not, and as he had taken it with him when he’d vanished, she pointed out, that was unlikely to change. They had questioned Will, too, about what Mortmain had said to him before he’d disappeared. Will had borne the inquest with surly impatience, to no one’s surprise, and had eventually been dismissed with sanctions, for rudeness and insubordination.

  The Inquisitor had even demanded that Tessa strip off her clothes, that she might be searched for a warlock’s mark, but Charlotte had put a quick stop to that. When Tessa had at last been allowed to go, she had hurried out into the corridor after Will, but he had gone. It had been two days since then, and in that time she had hardly seen him, nor had they spoken beyond the occasional polite exchange of words in front of others. When she had looked at him, he had looked away. When she had left the room, hoping he would follow, he hadn’t. It had been maddening.

  She couldn’t help but wonder if she was alone in thinking that something significant had passed between them there on the floor of the Sanctuary. She had woken out of a darkness more profound than any she had encountered during a Change before, to find Will holding her, the most plainly distraught look she could have envisioned on his face. And surely she couldn’t have imagined the way he’d said her name, or looked at her?

  No. She could not have imagined that. Will cared for her, she was sure of it. Yes, he had been rude to her almost since he had met her, but then, that happened in novels all the time. Look how rude Darcy had been to Elizabeth Bennet before he’d proposed, and really, quite rude during as well. And Heathcliff was never anything but rude to Cathy. Though she had to admit that in A Tale of Two Cities, both Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay had been very kind to Lucie Manette. And yet I have had the weakness, and have still the weakness, to wish you to know with what a sudden mastery you kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire… .

  The troubling fact was that since that night in the Sanctuary, Will had neither looked at her nor said her name again. She thought she knew the reason for it—had guessed at it in the way Charlotte had looked at her, the way everyone was being so quiet around her. It was evident. The Shadowhunters were going to send her away.

  And why shouldn’t they? The Institute was for Nephilim, not Downworlders. She had brought death and destruction down on the place in the short time she’d been here; God only knew what would happen if she remained. Of course, she had nowhere to go, and no one to go to, but why should that matter to them? Covenant Law was Covenant Law; it could not be changed or broken. Maybe she would wind up living with Jessamine after all, in some town house in Belgravia. There were worse fates.

 

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