Clockwork angel, p.65
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Clockwork Angel, p.65

         Part #1 of The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
 
Page 65

 

  The rattle of carriage wheels on the cobblestones outside, signaling the return of the others from the Silent City, brought her out of her glum reverie. Sophie hurried down the stairs to greet them while Tessa watched through the window as they left the carriage, one by one.

  Henry had his arm around Charlotte, who was leaning against him. Then came Jessamine, with pale flowers wound through her fair hair. Tessa would have admired how she looked, had she not held the sneaking suspicion that Jessamine probably enjoyed funerals because she knew she appeared especially pretty in white. Then came Jem, and then Will, looking like two chess pieces from some odd game, both Jem’s silver hair and Will’s tangled black locks set off by the pallor of their clothes. White Knight and Black Knight, Tessa thought as they went up the steps and vanished into the Institute.

  She had only just set her book down on the seat beside her when the library door opened and Charlotte came in, still pulling off her gloves. Her hat was gone, and her brown hair stood out around her face in humidity-frizzed curls.

  “I rather thought I’d find you in here,” she said, crossing the room to sink into a chair opposite Tessa’s window seat. She dropped the white kid gloves on the nearby table and sighed.

  “Was it … ?” Tessa began.

  “Awful? Yes. I hate funerals, though the Angel knows I’ve been to dozens. ” Charlotte paused and bit her lip. “I sound like Jessamine. Forget that I said that, Tessa. Sacrifice and death are part of the Shadowhunting life, and I have always accepted that. ”

  “I know. ” It was very quiet. Tessa imagined she could feel her heart beating hollowly, like the tick of a grandfather clock in a great empty room.

  “Tessa … ,” Charlotte began.

  “I already know what you are going to say, Charlotte, and it is quite all right. ”

  Charlotte blinked. “You do? It … is?”

  “You want me to go,” Tessa said. “I know that you met with the Clave before the funeral. Jem told me. I can’t imagine they would think you should allow me to remain. After all the trouble and the dreadfulness I’ve brought down on you. Nate. Thomas and Agatha—”

  “The Clave does not care about Thomas and Agatha. ”

  “The Pyxis, then. ”

  “Yes,” Charlotte said slowly. “Tessa, I think you have entirely the wrong idea. I didn’t come to ask you to leave; I came to ask you to stay. ”

  “To stay?” The words seemed disconnected from any meaning. Surely Charlotte could not have meant what she’d said. “But the Clave … They must be angry… . ”

  “They are angry,” said Charlotte. “With Henry and me. We were utterly taken in by Mortmain. He used us as his instruments, and we allowed it. I was so proud of the clever and handy way I had taken charge of him that I never stopped to think that perhaps he was the one taking charge. I never stopped to think that not a single living creature other than Mortmain and your brother had ever confirmed that de Quincey was the Magister. All the other evidence was circumstantial, and yet I let myself be convinced. ”

  “It was very convincing. ” Tessa hastened to reassure Charlotte. “The seal we found on Miranda’s body. The creatures on the bridge. ”

  Charlotte made a bitter sound. “All characters in a play that Mortmain put on for our benefit. Do you know that, search as we have, we have not been able to find a scrap of evidence as to what other Downworlders controlled the Pandemonium Club? None of the mundane members have a clue, and since we destroyed de Quincey’s clan, the Downworlders are more distrustful of us than ever. ”

  “But it’s only been a few days. It took Will six weeks to find the Dark Sisters. If you keep looking …”

  “We don’t have that much time. If what Nathaniel said to Jem was true, and Mortmain plans to use the demon energies inside the Pyxis to animate his clockwork mannequins, we have only the time it will take him to learn to open the box. ” She shrugged a little. “Of course, the Clave believes that is impossible. The Pyxis can be opened only with runes, and only a Shadowhunter can draw them. But then again, only a Shadowhunter ought to have been able to gain access to the Institute. ”

  “Mortmain is very clever. ”

  “Yes. ” Charlotte’s hands were tightly knotted in her lap. “Did you know that Henry is the one who told Mortmain about the Pyxis? What it was called, and what it did?”

  “No …” Tessa’s reassuring words had deserted her.

  “You couldn’t. No one knows that. Only I do, and Henry. He wants me to tell the Clave, but I won’t. They already treat him so badly, and I …” Charlotte’s voice shook, but her small face was set. “The Clave is convening a tribunal. My conduct, and Henry’s, will be examined and voted upon. It is possible that we will lose the Institute. ”

  Tessa was appalled. “But you’re wonderful at running the Institute! The way you keep everything organized and in place, the way you manage it all. ”

  Charlotte’s eyes were wet. “Thank you, Tessa. The fact is that Benedict Lightwood has always wanted the place of head of the Institute for himself, or for his son. The Lightwoods have a great deal of family pride and despise taking orders. If not for the fact that Consul Wayland himself named my husband and me as the successors to my father, I am sure Benedict would be in charge. All I have ever wanted is to run the Institute, Tessa. I will do anything to keep it. If you would only help me—”

  “Me? But what can I do? I know nothing of Shadowhunter politics. ”

  “The alliances we forge with Downworlders are some of our most priceless assets, Tessa. Part of the reason I am still where I am is my affiliation with warlocks such as Magnus Bane and vampires such as Camille Belcourt. And you, you are a precious commodity. What you can do has already helped the Enclave once; the aid you could offer us in future could be incalculable. And if you are known to be a firm ally of mine, it will only help me. ”

  Tessa held her breath. In her mind she saw Will—Will as he had looked in the Sanctuary—but, almost to her surprise, he was not all that her thoughts contained. There was Jem, with his kindness and gentle hands; and Henry making her laugh with his odd clothes and funny inventions; and even Jessamine, with her peculiar fierceness and occasional surprising bravery.

  “But the Law,” she said in a small voice.

  “There is no Law against you remaining here as our guest,” said Charlotte. “I have searched the archives and have found nothing that would prevent you from staying, if you consented. So do you consent, Tessa? Will you stay?”

  Tessa dashed up the steps to the attic; for the first time in what felt like forever, her heart was almost light. The attic itself was much as she remembered, the high small windows letting in a little sunset light, for it was almost twilight now. There was a tipped-over pail on the floor; she maneuvered around it on her way to the narrow steps that led up to the roof.

  He is often to be found there when he is troubled, Charlotte had said. And I have rarely seen Will so troubled. The loss of Thomas and Agatha has been more difficult for him than I foresaw.

  The steps ended in a square overhead door, hinged on one side. Tessa pushed the trapdoor open, and climbed out onto the Institute’s roof.

  Straightening, she looked around. She stood in the wide, flat center of the roof, which was surrounded by a waist-high wrought iron railing. The bars of the railing ended in finials shaped like sharpened fleur-de-lis. At the far end of the roof stood Will, leaning against the railing. He did not turn, even as the trapdoor swung shut behind her and she took a step forward, rubbing her scratched palms against the fabric of her dress.

  “Will,” she said.

  He did not move. The sun had begun to set in a torrent of fire. Across the Thames, factory smokestacks belched smoke that trailed dark fingers across the red sky. Will was leaning on the railing as if he were exhausted, as if he intended to fall forward across the javelin-sharp finials and end it all. He gave no sign of hearing Tessa as she approached and moved to stand beside him.
From here the steeply pitched roof fell away to a dizzying view of the cobblestones below.

  “Will,” she said again. “What are you doing?”

  He did not look at her. He was staring out at the city, a black outline against the reddened sky. The dome of St. Paul’s shone through the mucky air, and the Thames ran like dark strong tea below it, bracketed here and there with the black lines of bridges. Dark shapes moved by the river’s edge—mudlarks, searching through the filth thrown up by the water, hoping to find something valuable to sell.

  “I remember now,” Will said without looking at her, “what it was I was trying to remember the other day. It was Blake. ‘And I behold London, a Human awful wonder of God. ’” He stared out over the landscape. “Milton thought Hell was a city, you know. I think maybe he had it half-right. Perhaps London is just Hell’s entrance, and we are the damned souls refusing to pass through, fearing that what we will find on the other side will be worse than the horror we already know. ”

  “Will. ” Tessa was bewildered. “Will, what is it, what’s wrong?”

  He gripped the railing with both hands, his fingers whitening. His hands were covered with cuts and scratches, his knuckles scraped red and black. There were bruises on his face, too, darkening the line of his jaw, purpling the skin under his eye. His lower lip was split and swollen, and he had done nothing to heal any of it. She could not imagine why.

  “I should have known,” he said. “That it was a trick. That Mortmain was lying when he came here. Charlotte so often vaunts my skill at tactics, but a good tactician is not blindly trusting. I was a fool. ”

  “Charlotte believes it’s her fault. Henry believes it’s his fault. I believe it’s my fault,” Tessa said impatiently. “We can’t all have the luxury of blaming ourselves, now, can we?”

  “Your fault?” Will sounded puzzled. “Because Mortmain is obsessed with you? That hardly seems—”

  “For bringing Nathaniel here,” Tessa said. Just saying it out loud made her feel as if her chest were being squeezed. “For urging you to trust him. ”

  “You loved him,” said Will. “He was your brother. ”

  “He still is,” Tessa said. “And I still love him. But I know what he is. I always did know what he was. I just didn’t want to believe it. I suppose we all lie to ourselves sometimes. ”

  “Yes. ” Will sounded tight and distant. “I suppose we do. ”

  Quickly Tessa said, “I came up here because I have good news, Will. Won’t you let me tell you what it is?”

  “Tell me. ” His voice was dead.

  “Charlotte says I can stay here,” Tessa said. “At the Institute. ”

  Will said nothing.

  “She said there’s no Law against it,” Tessa went on, a little bewildered now. “So I won’t need to leave. ”

  “Charlotte would never have made you leave, Tessa. She cannot bear to abandon even a fly caught in a spider’s web. She would not have abandoned you. ” There was no life in Will’s voice and no feeling. He was simply stating a fact.

 

Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll
  • 56 642
  • 0