Read Clockwork Princess Online

Authors: Cassandra Clare

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

Clockwork Princess (8 page)

BOOK: Clockwork Princess
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He looked at her in surprise. “Yes? And what is that?”

“That sometimes when you cannot decide what to do, you pretend you are a character in a book, because it is easier to decide what they would do.”

“I am,” Will said, “perhaps, not someone to take advice from if you are seeking happiness.”

“Not happiness. Not exactly. I want to help—to do good—” She broke off and sighed. “And I have turned to many books, but if there is guidance in them, I have not found it. You said you were Sydney Carton—”

Will made a sound, and sank down onto a chair on the opposite side of the table from her. His lashes were lowered, veiling his eyes.

“And I suppose I know what that makes the rest of us,” she said. “But I do not want to be Lucie Manette, for she did nothing to save Charles; she let Sydney do it all. And she was cruel to him.”

“To Charles?” Will said.

“To Sydney,” Tessa said. “He wanted to be a better man, but she would not help him.”

“She could not. She was engaged to Charles Darney.”

“Still, it was not kind,” Tessa said.

Will threw himself out of his chair as quickly as he had thrown himself into it. He leaned forward, his hands on the table. His eyes were very blue in the blue light of the lamp. “Sometimes one must choose whether to be kind or honorable,” he said. “Sometimes one cannot be both.”

“Which is better?” Tessa whispered.

Will’s mouth twisted with bitter humor. “I suppose it depends on the book.”

Tessa craned her head back to look at him. “You know that feeling,” she said, “when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing close around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage, and you cannot let go or turn the course aside.” His blue eyes were dark with understanding—of course Will would understand—and she hurried on. “I feel now as if the same is happening, only not to characters on a page but to my own beloved friends and companions. I do not want to sit by while tragedy comes for us. I would turn it aside, only I struggle to discover how that might be done.”

“You fear for Jem,” Will said.

“Yes,” she said. “And I fear for you, too.”

“No,” Will said hoarsely. “Don’t waste that on me, Tess.”

Before she could reply, the library door opened. It was Charlotte, looking drained and exhausted. Will turned toward her quickly.

“How is Jem?” he said.

“He is awake and talking,” said Charlotte. “He has had some of the
yin fen
, and the Silent Brothers have been able to make his condition stable, and to stop the internal bleeding.”

At the mention of internal bleeding, Will looked as if he were going to throw up; Tessa imagined she looked much the same.

“He can have a visitor,” Charlotte went on. “In fact, he has requested it.”

Will and Tessa exchanged a quick glance. Tessa knew what both were thinking: Which of them should the visitor be? Tessa was Jem’s fiancée, but Will was his
parabatai
, which was sacred in and of itself. Will had begun to step back, when Charlotte spoke again, sounding tired down to her bones:

“He has asked for you, Will.”

Will looked startled. He darted a glance at Tessa. “I—”

Tessa could not deny the little burst of surprise and almost-jealousy she had felt behind her rib cage at Charlotte’s words, but she pushed it down ruthlessly. She loved Jem enough to want whatever he wanted for himself, and he always had his reasons. “You go,” she said gently. “Of course he would want to see you.”

Will began to move toward the door to join Charlotte. Halfway there he turned back and crossed the room to Tessa. “Tessa,” he said, “while I am with Jem, would you do something for me?”

Tessa looked up and swallowed. He was too close, too close: All the lines, shapes, angles of Will filled her field of vision as the sound of his voice filled her ears. “Yes, certainly,” she said. “What is it?”

To: Edmund and Linette Herondale

Ravenscar Manor

West Riding, Yorkshire

Dear Dad and Mam
,

I know it was cowardly of me to have left as I did, in the early morning before you woke, with only a note to explain my absence. I could not bear to face you, knowing what I had decided to do, and that I was the worst of disobedient daughters
.

How can I explain the decision I made, how I arrived at it? It seems, even now, like madness. Each day in fact is madder than the one before it. You did not lie, Dad, when you said the life of a Shadowhunter was like a feverish dream—

Cecily drew the nib of the pen viciously through the lines she had written, then crumpled up the paper in one hand and rested her head on the desk.

She had started this letter so many times, and had yet to arrive at any satisfactory version. Perhaps she should not be attempting it now, she thought, not when she had been trying to calm her nerves since they had returned to the Institute. Everyone had been swarming about Jem, and Will, after roughly checking her for injuries in the garden, had barely spoken to her again. Henry had gone running for Charlotte, Gideon had drawn Gabriel aside, and Cecily had found herself climbing the Institute stairs alone.

She had slipped into her bedroom, not bothering to divest herself of her gear, and curled up on the soft four-poster bed. As she’d lain among the shadows, hearing the faint sounds of London passing by outside, her heart had clenched with sudden, painful homesickness. She’d thought of the green hills of Wales, and of her mother and father, and had bolted out of the bed as if she had been pushed, stumbling to the desk and taking up pen and paper, the ink staining her fingers in her haste. And yet the right words would not come. She felt as if she bled her regret and her loneliness from her very pores, and yet she could not shape those feelings into any sentiment she could imagine her parents could bear reading.

At that moment there was a knock on the door. Cecily reached for a book she had left resting on the desk, propped it up as if she had been reading, and called: “Come in.”

The door swung open; it was Tessa, standing hesitantly in the doorway. She was no longer wearing her destroyed wedding dress but a simple gown of blue muslin with her two necklaces glittering at her throat: the clockwork angel and the jade pendant that had been her bridal gift from Jem. Cecily looked at Tessa curiously. Though the two girls were friendly, they were not close. Tessa had a certain wariness around her that Cecily suspected the source of without ever being able to prove it; on top of that there was something fey and strange about her. Cecily knew she could shape-shift, could transform herself into the likeness of any person, and Cecily could not rid herself of the sense that it was unnatural. How could you know someone’s true face if they could change it as easily as someone else might change a gown?

“Yes?” Cecily said. “Miss Gray?”

“Please call me Tessa,” said the other girl, shutting the door behind her. It was not the first time she had asked Cecily to call her by her given name, but habit and perversity kept Cecily from doing it. “I came to see if you were all right and if you needed anything.”

“Ah.” Cecily felt a slight pang of disappointment. “I am quite all right.”

Tessa moved forward slightly. “Is that
Great Expectations
?”

“Yes.” Cecily did not say that she had seen Will reading it, and had picked it up to try to gain insight into what he was thinking. So far she was woefully lost. Pip was morbid, and Estella so awful that Cecily wanted to shake her.

“‘Estella,’” Tessa said softly. “‘To the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil.’”

“So you memorize passages of books, just like Will? Or is this a favorite?”

“I don’t have Will’s memory,” said Tessa, coming forward slightly. “Or his
mnemosyne
rune. But I do love that book.” Her gray eyes searched Cecily’s face. “Why are you still in your gear?”

“I was thinking of going up to the training room,” Cecily said. “I find I can think well there, and it isn’t as if anyone minds one way or the other what I do.”

“More training? Cecily, you’ve just been in a battle!” Tessa protested. “I know it can sometimes take more than one application of runes to entirely heal— Before you start training again, I should call someone to you: Charlotte, or—”

“Or Will?” Cecily snapped. “If either of them cared, they would have come already.”

Tessa paused by the bedside. “You cannot think Will doesn’t care about you.”

“He isn’t here, is he?”

“He sent me,” Tessa said, “because he is with Jem,” as if that explained everything. Cecily supposed that in a way it did. She knew that Will and Jem were close friends, but also that it was more than that. She had read of
parabatai
in the
Codex
, and knew that the bond was one that did not exist among mundanes, something closer than brothers and better than blood. “Jem is his
parabatai
. He has made a vow to be there in times like this.”

“He would be there, vow or not. He would be there for
any
of you. But he has not so much as come by to see if I needed another
iratze
.”

“Cecy …,” Tessa began. “Will’s curse—”

“It wasn’t a real curse!”

“You know,” Tessa said thoughtfully, “in its way, it was. He believed no one could love him, and that if he allowed them to, it would result in their death. That is why he left you all. He left you to keep you safe, and here you are now—the very definition, to him, of
not
safe. He cannot bear to come and look at your injuries, because to him it is as if he had put them there himself.”

“I chose this. Shadowhunting. And not only because I wanted to be with Will.”

“I know that,” Tessa said. “But I also sat with Will while he was delirious from exposure to vampire blood, choking on holy water, and I know the name he called out. It was yours.”

Cecily looked up in surprise. “Will called out for me?”

“Oh, yes.” A small smile touched the edge of Tessa’s mouth. “He wouldn’t tell me who you were, of course, when I asked him, and it drove me half-mad—” She broke off, and looked away.

“Why?”

“Curiosity,” said Tessa with a shrug, though there was a flush on her cheekbones. “It’s my besetting sin. In any event, he loves you. I know that with Will everything is backward and upside down, but the fact that he
isn’t
here is only further proof to me of how precious you are to him. He is used to pushing away everyone he loves, and the more he loves you, the more he will violently try not to show it.”

“But there is no curse—”

“The habits of years are not unlearned so quickly,” Tessa said, and her eyes were sad. “Do not make the mistake of believing that he does not love you because he plays at not caring, Cecily. Confront him if you must and demand the truth, but do not make the mistake of turning away because you believe that he is a lost cause. Do not cast him from your heart. For if you do, you will regret it.”

To: Members of the Council

From: Consul Josiah Wayland

Forgive the delay in my reply, gentlemen. I wished to be sure that I was not giving you my opinions in any spirit of precipitate haste, but rather that my words were the sound and well-reasoned results of patient thought
.

I am afraid I cannot second your recommendation of Charlotte Branwell as my successor. Though possessed of a good heart, she is altogether too flighty, emotional, passionate, and disobedient to have the making of a Consul. As we know, the fair sex has its weaknesses that men are not heir to, and sadly she is prey to all of them. No, I cannot recommend her. I urge you to consider another—my own nephew, George Penhallow, who will be twenty-five this November and is a fine Shadowhunter and an upstanding young man. I believe he has the moral certainty and strength of character to lead the Shadowhunters into a new decade
.

In Raziel’s name
,

Consul Josiah Wayland

4
T
O
B
E
W
ISE AND
L
OVE

For to be wise and love
Exceeds man’s might
.

—Shakespeare,
Troilus and Cressida

“I thought you’d at least make a song out of it,” said Jem.

Will looked at his
parabatai
curiously. Jem, though he had asked for Will, did not seem in a forthcoming mood. He was sitting quietly on the edge of his bed in a clean shirt and trousers, though the shirt was loose and made him look thinner than ever. There were still flecks of dried blood around his collarbones, a sort of brutal necklace. “Make a song out of what?”

Jem’s mouth quirked. “Our defeat of the worm?” he said. “After all those jokes you made …”

“I have not been in a joking mood, these past few hours,” Will said, his eyes flicking to the bloody rags that covered the nightstand by the bed, the bowl half-full of pinkish fluid.

“Don’t fuss, Will,” Jem said. “Everyone’s been fussing over me and I can’t abide it; I wanted you because—because you wouldn’t. You make me laugh.”

Will threw his arms up. “Oh, all right,” he said. “How’s this?

“Forsooth, I no longer toil in vain,
To prove that demon pox warps the brain.
So though ‘tis pity, it’s not in vain
That the pox-ridden worm was slain:
For to believe in me, you all must deign.”

Jem burst out laughing. “Well, that was awful.”

“It was impromptu!”

“Will, there is such a thing as
scansion
—” Between one moment and the next Jem’s laughter turned into a fit of coughing. Will darted forward as Jem doubled up, his thin shoulders heaving. Blood splattered the bed’s white coverlet.

“Jem —”

With a hand, Jem gestured toward the box on his nightstand. Will reached for it; the delicately drawn woman on the lid, pouring water from a jug, was intimately familiar to him. He hated the sight of her.

BOOK: Clockwork Princess
4.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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