Clockwork angel, p.67
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       Clockwork Angel, p.67

         Part #1 of The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
 
Page 67

 

  “They hid you from Mortmain,” said Jem. “They must have known he wanted you. All those years he searched for you, and they kept you safe—first your parents, then your aunt. That is not the act of an unloving family. ” His gaze was intent on her face. “Tessa, I do not want to make you promises I cannot keep, but if you truly wish to know the truth about your past, we can seek it out. After all you have done for us, we owe you that much. If there are secrets to be learned about how you came to be what you are, we can learn them, if that is what you desire. ”

  “Yes. That is what I want. ”

  “You may not,” said Jem, “like what you discover. ”

  “It is better to know the truth. ” Tessa was surprised by the conviction in her own voice. “I know the truth about Nate, now, and painful as it is, it is better than being lied to. It is better than going on loving someone who cannot love me back. Better than wasting all that feeling. ” Her voice shook.

  “I think he did,” said Jem, “and does love you, in his way, but you cannot concern yourself with that. It is as great a thing to love as it is to be loved. Love is not something that can be wasted. ”

  “It is hard. That is all. ” Tessa knew she was being self-pitying, but she could not seem to shake it off. “To be so alone. ”

  Jem leaned forward and looked at her. The red Marks stood out like fire on his pale skin, making her think of the patterns that traced the edges of the Silent Brothers’ robes. “My parents, like yours, are dead. So are Will’s, and Jessie’s, and even Henry’s and Charlotte’s. I am not sure there is anyone in the Institute who is not an orphan. Otherwise we would not be here. ”

  Tessa opened her mouth, and then closed it again. “I know,” she said. “I am sorry. I was being perfectly selfish not to think—”

  He held up a slender hand. “I am not blaming you,” he said. “Perhaps you are here because you are otherwise alone, but so am I. So is Will. So is Jessamine. And even, to an extent, Charlotte and Henry. Where else could Henry have his laboratory? Where else would Charlotte be allowed to put her brilliant mind to work the way she can here? And though Jessamine pretends to hate everything, and Will would never admit to needing anything, they have both made homes for themselves here. In a way, we are not here just because we have nowhere else; we need nowhere else, because we have the Institute, and those who are in it are our family. ”

  “But not my family. ”

  “They could be,” said Jem. “When I first came here, I was twelve years old. It most decidedly did not feel like home to me then. I saw only how London was not like Shanghai, and I was homesick. So Will went down to a shop in the East End and bought me this. ” He drew out the chain that hung around his neck, and Tessa saw that the flash of green she’d noticed before was a green stone pendant in the shape of a closed hand. “I think he liked it because it reminded him of a fist. But it was jade, and he knew jade came from China, so he brought it back to me and I hung it on a chain to wear it. I still wear it. ”

  The mention of Will made Tessa’s heart contract. “I suppose it is good to know he can be kind sometimes. ”

  Jem looked at her with keen silver eyes. “When I came in—that look on your face—it wasn’t just because of what you read in the Codex, was it? It was about Will. What did he say to you?”

  Tessa hesitated. “He made it very clear that he didn’t want me here,” she said at last. “That my remaining at the Institute is not the happy chance I thought it was. Not in his view. ”

  “And after I just finished telling you why you should consider him family,” Jem said, a bit ruefully. “No wonder you looked as if I’d just told you something awful had happened. ”

  “I’m sorry,” Tessa whispered.

  “Don’t be. It’s Will who ought to be sorry. ” Jem’s eyes darkened. “We shall throw him out onto the streets,” he proclaimed. “I promise you he’ll be gone by morning. ”

  Tessa started and sat upright. “Oh—no, you can’t mean that—”

  He grinned. “Of course I don’t. But you felt better for a moment there, didn’t you?”

  “It was like a beautiful dream,” Tessa said gravely, but she smiled when she said it, which surprised her.

  “Will is … difficult,” Jem said. “But family is difficult. If I didn’t think the Institute was the best place for you, Tessa, I would not say that it was. And one can build one’s own family. I know you feel inhuman, and as if you are set apart, away from life and love, but …” His voice cracked a little, the first time Tessa had heard him sound unsure. He cleared his throat. “I promise you, the right man won’t care. ”

  Before Tessa could reply, there was a sharp tapping against the glass of the window. She looked toward Jem, who shrugged. He heard it too. Crossing the room, she saw that indeed there was something outside—a dark winged shape, like a small bird struggling to get inside. She tried to lift the window sash, but it seemed stuck.

  She turned, but Jem had already appeared at her side, and he pushed the window open. As the dark shape fluttered inside, it flew straight for Tessa. She raised her hands and caught it out of the air, feeling the sharp metal wings flutter against her palms. As she held it, they closed, and its eyes closed too. Once more it held its metal sword quietly, as if waiting to be wakened again. Tick-tick went its clockwork heart against her fingers.

  Jem turned from the open window, the wind ruffling his hair. In the yellow light, it shone like white gold. “What is it?”

  Tessa smiled. “My angel,” she said.

  EPILOGUE

  It had grown late, and Magnus Bane’s eyelids were drooping with exhaustion. He set Horace’s Odes down upon the end table and gazed thoughtfully at the rain-streaked windows that looked out onto the square.

  This was Camille’s house, but tonight she was not in it; it seemed to Magnus unlikely that she would be home again for many more nights, if not for longer. She had left the city after that disastrous night at de Quincey’s, and though he had sent her a message telling her it was safe to return, he doubted she would. He could not help but wonder if, now that she had exacted revenge on her vampire clan, she would still desire his company. Perhaps he had only ever been something to throw in de Quincey’s face.

  He could always depart—pack up and go, leave all this borrowed luxury behind him. This house, the servants, the books, even his clothes, were hers; he had come to London with nothing. It wasn’t as if Magnus couldn’t earn his own money. He had been quite wealthy in the past, on occasion, though having too much money usually bored him. But remaining here, however annoying, was still the most likely path to seeing Camille again.

  A knock on the door broke him out of his reverie, and he turned to see Archer, the footman, standing in the doorway. Archer had been Camille’s subjugate for years, and regarded Magnus with loathing, likely because he felt that a liaison with a warlock wasn’t the right sort of attachment for his beloved mistress.

  “There’s someone to see you, sir. ” Archer lingered over the word “sir” just long enough for it to be insulting.

  “At this hour? Who is it?”

  “One of the Nephilim. ” A faint distaste colored Archer’s words. “He says his business with you is urgent. ”

  So it wasn’t Charlotte, the only one of the London Nephilim that Magnus might have expected to see. For several days now he had been assisting the Enclave, watching while they questioned terrified mundanes who had been members of the Pandemonium Club, and using magic to remove the mundanes’ memories of the ordeal when it was over. An unpleasant job, but the Clave always paid well, and it was wise to remain in their favor.

  “He is,” Archer added, with deepening distaste, “also very wet. ”

  “Wet?”

  “It is raining, sir, and the gentleman is not wearing a hat. I offered to dry his clothes, but he declined. ”

  “Very well. Send him in. ”

  Archer’s lips thinned. “He is waiting for you in the pa
rlor. I thought he might wish to warm himself by the fire. ”

  Magnus sighed inwardly. He could, of course, demand that Archer show the guest into the library, a room he preferred. But it seemed like a great deal of effort for little return, and besides, if he did, the footman would sulk for the next three days. “Very well. ”

  Gratified, Archer melted away, leaving Magnus to make his own way to the parlor. The door was closed, but he could see from the light that gleamed beneath the door that there was a fire, and light, inside the room. He pushed the door open.

  The parlor had been Camille’s favorite room and bore her decorating touches. The walls were painted a lush burgundy, the rosewood furniture imported from China. The windows that otherwise would have looked out onto the square were covered with velvet curtains that hung straight from floor to ceiling, blocking out any light. Someone was standing in front of the fireplace, his hands behind his back—a slender someone with dark hair. When he turned, Magnus recognized him immediately.

  Will Herondale.

  He was, as Archer had said, wet, in the manner of someone who did not care one way or another whether it rained on him or not. His clothes were drenched, his hair hanging in his eyes. Water streaked his face like tears.

  “William,” Magnus said, honestly surprised. “What on earth are you doing here? Has something happened at the Institute?”

  “No. ” Will’s voice sounded as if he were choking. “I’m here on my own account. I need your help. There is—there is absolutely no one else that I can ask. ”

  “Really. ” Magnus looked at the boy more closely. Will was beautiful; Magnus had been in love many times throughout the years, and normally beauty of any sort moved him, but Will’s never had. There was something dark about the boy, something hidden and strange that was hard to admire. He seemed to show nothing real to the world. Yet now, under his dripping black hair, he was as white as parchment, his hands clenched at his sides so tightly that they were shaking. It seemed clear that some terrible turmoil was ripping him apart from the inside out.

  Magnus reached behind himself and locked the parlor door. “Very well,” he said. “Why don’t you tell me what the problem is?”

 
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