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Authors: Cassandra Clare

Tags: #Social Issues, #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic, #General, #Other, #Historical

Clockwork Princess (7 page)

BOOK: Clockwork Princess
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She could hear Bridget’s voice drifting softly up from the kitchen below:

“Earl Richard had a daughter;
A comely maid was she.
And she laid her love on Sweet William,
Though not of his degree.”

Sometimes, when Bridget was in a particularly melodious mood, Sophie thought about stalking downstairs and pushing her into the oven like the witch in “Hansel and Gretel.” But Charlotte would certainly not approve. Even if Bridget
were
singing about forbidden love between the social classes just at the same moment that Sophie was cursing herself for clutching the curtain fabric tightly in her hand, seeing gray-green eyes in her mind as she wondered and worried—Would Gideon be all right? Was he hurt? Could he fight his father? And how dreadful if he had to—

The gates of the Institute creaked open, and a carriage rattled inside; Will was driving. Sophie recognized him, hatless, his black hair wild in the wind. He leaped down from the driver’s seat and came around to help Tessa out of the carriage—even at this distance Sophie could see that a bleak wreck had been made of her golden gown—and then Jem, leaning heavily on his
parabatai
’s shoulder.

Sophie sucked in her breath. Though she no longer fancied herself in love with Jem, she still cared for him a great deal. It was hard not to, considering his openheartedness, his sweetness and graciousness. He had never been anything but exquisitely kind to her. She had been relieved over the past months that he had not had one of his “bad spells,” as Charlotte called them—that though happiness had not healed him, he had seemed to be stronger, better….

The threesome had disappeared inside the Institute. Cyril had come from the stables and was dealing with the whickering Balios and Xanthos. Sophie took a deep breath and let the curtain fall away from her hand. Charlotte might need her, want her, to assist with Jem. If there was anything she could do … She pulled herself away from the window and hurried out into the corridor and down the narrow servants’ stairs.

In the hall downstairs she met Tessa, ashen and pinched-looking, hesitating just outside Jem’s bedroom. Through the partly open door Sophie could see Charlotte bending over Jem, who was sitting on the bed; Will leaned by the fireplace, his arms crossed, tension clear in every line of his body. Tessa raised her head as she saw Sophie, a little of the color coming back into her face. “Sophie,” she cried softly. “Sophie, Jem isn’t well. He’s had another … another bout of illness.”

“It will be all right, Miss Tessa. I’ve seen him very ill before, and he always comes through it, right as rain.”

Tessa closed her eyes. The shadows beneath them were gray. She did not need to say what they were both thinking, that one day there would be a time when he would have an attack and he would not come through it.

“I ought to be fetching hot water,” Sophie added, “and cloths—”


I
should be fetching those things,” said Tessa. “And I would, but Charlotte says that I must change out of this dress, that demon blood can be dangerous if it too greatly encounters the skin. She sent Bridget for cloths and poultices, and Brother Enoch will arrive at any moment. And Jem will not hear otherwise, but—”

“That is enough,” Sophie said firmly. “You will do him no good at all if you let yourself become ill as well. I will help you with the dress. Come, let us manage it, and quickly.”

Tessa’s eyes fluttered open. “Dear sensible Sophie. Of course you are right.” She began to move across the corridor, toward her room. At the door she paused, and turned to look at Sophie. Her wide gray eyes searched the other girl’s face, and she seemed to nod to herself, as if she had been proved right in a guess. “
He
is all right, you know. Not hurt at all.”

“Master Jem?”

Tessa shook her head. “Gideon Lightwood.”

Sophie blushed.

Gabriel wasn’t sure quite why he was in the Institute’s drawing room, except that his brother had told him to come here and wait, and even after everything that had happened, he was still used to doing what Gideon said. He was surprised at how plain the room was, nothing like the grand drawing rooms in either the Lightwoods’ Pimlico house or the one in Chiswick. The walls were papered with a faded print of cabbage roses, the surface of the desk stained with ink and scarred with the marks of letter openers and pen nibs, and the grate was sooty. Over the fireplace hung a water-blotched mirror, framed in gilt.

Gabriel glanced at his own reflection. His gear was torn at the neck, and there was a red mark on his jaw where a long graze was in the process of healing. There was blood all over his gear—
Your own blood, or your father’s blood?

He pushed the thought away quickly. It was odd, he thought, how he was the one who looked like their mother, Barbara. She had been tall and inclined toward slenderness, with curling brown hair and eyes he remembered as the purest green, like the grass that sloped down toward the river behind the house. Gideon looked like their father: broad and stocky, with eyes more gray than green. Which was ironic, because Gabriel was the one who had inherited their father’s temperament: headstrong and quick to anger, slow to forgive. Gideon and Barbara were more peacemakers, quiet and steady, faithful in their beliefs. They were both much more like—

Charlotte Branwell came in through the open door of the drawing room in a loose dress, her eyes as bright as a small bird’s. Whenever Gabriel saw her, he was struck by how small she was, how he towered over her. What had Consul Wayland been thinking, giving this tiny creature power over the Institute and all the Shadowhunters of London?

“Gabriel.” She inclined her head. “Your brother says you were not hurt.”

“I’m quite all right,” he said shortly, and immediately knew he had sounded rude. He had not meant to, precisely. His father had drilled into his head for years now what a fool Charlotte was, how useless and easily influenced, and though he knew his brother disagreed—disagreed enough to come and live in this place and leave his family behind—it was a hard lesson to put aside. “I thought you would be with Carstairs.”

“Brother Enoch has arrived, with another of the Silent Brothers. They have banned us all from Jem’s room. Will is pacing outside in the corridor like a caged panther. Poor boy.” Charlotte looked at Gabriel briefly before walking to the fireplace. In her glance was a look of keen intelligence, quickly masked by the lowering of her eyelashes. “But enough of that. I understand that your sister has already been delivered to the Blackthorns’ residence in Kensington,” she said. “Is there someone you would like me to send a message to for you?”

“A—message?”

She paused before the fireplace, clasping her hands behind her back. “You need to go somewhere, Gabriel, unless you want me to turn you out of doors with only the key of the streets to your name.”

Turn me out of doors?
Was this horrible woman actually throwing him out of the Institute? He thought of what his father had always told him:
The Fairchilds don’t care about anyone but themselves and the Law
. “I—the house in Pimlico—”

“The Consul will shortly be informed of all that transpired at Lightwood House,” said Charlotte. “Both of your family’s London residences will be confiscated in the name of the Clave, at least until they can be searched and it can be determined that your father left nothing behind that could provide the Council with clues.”

“Clues to
what
?”

“To your father’s plans,” she said, unfazed. “To his connection to Mortmain, his knowledge of Mortmain’s plans. To the Infernal Devices.”

“I’ve never even heard of the bloody Infernal Devices,” Gabriel protested, and then blushed. He had sworn, and in front of a lady. Not that Charlotte was quite like any other lady.

“I believe you,” she said. “I don’t know if Consul Wayland will, but that is your lookout. If you will give me an address—”

“I haven’t
got
one,” Gabriel said, in desperation. “Where do you think I could go?”

She just looked at him, one eyebrow raised.

“I want to stay with my brother,” he said finally, aware that he sounded petulant and angry, but not quite sure what to do about it.

“But your brother lives here,” she said. “And you have made your feelings about the Institute and about my claim to it very clear. Jem told me what you believe. That my father drove your uncle to suicide. It isn’t true, you know, but I don’t expect you to believe me. It does leave me wondering, however, why you would wish to remain here.”

“The Institute is a refuge.”

“Was your father planning on running it as a refuge?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know what his plans are—what they were!”

“Then why did you go along with them?” Her voice was soft but merciless.

“Because he was my
father
!” Gabriel shouted. He spun away from Charlotte, his breath becoming ragged in his throat. Only barely aware of what he was doing, he wrapped his arms around himself, hugging his own body tight, as if he could keep himself from coming undone.

Memories of the past few weeks, memories that Gabriel had been doing his best to press back into the very recesses of his mind, threatened to burst out into the light: weeks in the house after the servants had been sent away, hearing the noises coming from the upstairs rooms, screams in the night, blood on the stairs in the morning, Father shouting gibberish from behind the locked library door, as if he could no longer form words in English …

“If you are going to throw me out on the street,” Gabriel said, with a sort of terrible desperation, “then do it now. I do not want to think I have got a home when I have not. I do not want to think I am going to see my brother again if I am not going to.”

“You think he would not go after you? Find you wherever you were?”

“I think he has proved who he cares for most,” said Gabriel, “and it is not me.” He slowly straightened, loosing his grip on himself. “Send me away or let me stay. I will not beg you.”

Charlotte sighed. “You will not have to,” she said. “Never before have I sent away anyone who told me they had nowhere else to go, and I will not start now. I will ask of you only one thing. To allow someone to live in the Institute, in the very heart of the Enclave, is to place my trust in their good intentions. Do not make me regret that I have trusted you, Gabriel Lightwood.”

The shadows had lengthened in the library. Tessa sat in a pool of light by one of the windows, beside a shaded blue lamp. A book had been open on her lap for several hours, but she had not been able to concentrate on it. Her eyes skidded over the words on the pages without absorbing them, and she would often find that she was pausing to try to remember who a character was, or why they were doing what they were doing.

She was in the middle of beginning chapter five yet again when the creak of a floorboard alerted her, and she looked up to find Will standing before her, damp-haired, his gloves in his hands.

“Will.” Tessa set the book down on the windowsill beside her. “You startled me.”

“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” he said in a low voice. “If you are reading …” He began to turn away.

“I am not,” she said, and he stopped, looking back at her over his shoulder. “I cannot lose myself in words now. I cannot calm the distraction of my mind.”

“Nor I,” he said, turning fully now. He was no longer spattered in blood. His clothes were clean, and his skin mostly unmarked, though she could see the pinkish-white lines of grazes on his neck, disappearing down into the collar of his shirt, healing as the
iratzes
did their work.

“Is there news of my—is there news of Jem?”

“There is no change,” he said, though she had guessed as much. If there had been a change, Will would not have been here. “The Brothers will still not let anyone into the room, not even Charlotte.

“And why are you here?” he went on. “Sitting in the dark?”

“Benedict wrote on the wall of his study,” she said in a low voice. “Before he turned into that creature, I imagine, or while it was happening. I don’t know. ‘The Infernal Devices are without pity. The Infernal Devices are without regret. The Infernal Devices are without number. The Infernal Devices will never stop coming.’”

“The infernal devices? I assume he means Mortmain’s clockwork creatures. Not that we have seen any of them for months.”

“That does not mean they will not come back,” Tessa said. She looked down at the library table, its scratched veneer. How often Will and Jem must have sat here together, studying, carving their initials, as bored schoolboys did, into the table’s surface. “I am a danger to you here.”

“Tessa, we have talked about this before. You are not the danger. You are the thing Mortmain wants, yes, but if you were not here and protected, he could get you easily, and to what destruction would he turn your powers? We don’t know—only that he wants you for something, and that it is to our advantage to keep you from him. It is not selflessness. We Shadowhunters are not selfless.”

She looked up at that. “I think you are very selfless.” At his noise of disagreement she said: “Surely you must know that what you do is exemplary. There is a coldness to the Clave, it is true.
We are dust and shadows
. But you are like the heroes of ancient times, like Achilles and Jason.”

“Achilles was murdered with a poisoned arrow, and Jason died alone, killed by his own rotting ship. Such is the fate of heroes; the Angel knows why anyone would want to be one.”

Tessa looked at him. There were shadows under his blue eyes, she saw, and his fingers were worrying at the material of his cuffs, thoughtlessly, as if he were not aware he was doing it. Months, she thought. Months since they had been alone together for more than a moment. They’d had only accidental encounters in hallways, in the courtyard, awkwardly exchanged pleasantries. She had missed his jokes, the books he had lent her, the flashes of laughter in his gaze. Caught in the memory of the easier Will of an earlier time, she spoke without thinking:

“I cannot stop recollecting something you told me once,” she said.

BOOK: Clockwork Princess
11.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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