Clockwork Princess By Cassandra Clare
(The Infernal Devices #3)
"Would you?" said Gabriel to Will, hotly. "If it was your family?" His lip curled. "Never mind. It's not as if you know the meaning of loyalty —"
"Gabriel." Gideon's voice was a reprimand to his brother. "Do not speak to Will in that manner."
"He began it," Cecily said, jerking her chin at Will, though she knew it was pointless. Jem, Will's parabatai, treated her with the distant sweet kindness reserved for the little sisters of one's friends, but he would always side with Will. Kindly, but firmly, he put Will above everything else in the world. Well, nearly everything.
Jem knotted his fingers in the material of Will's sleeve. "You are my parabatai," he said. "You said once I could ask anything of you."
Jem drew the bow back and let the arrow fly; it struck the creature in the side. The massive demon worm writhed in agony, undulating as it swept its great, blind head from side to side, uprooting shrubbery with its thrashings. Leaves filled the air and the boys choked on dust, Gideon backing up with his seraph blade in his hand, trying to see by its light.
"It's coming toward us," he said in a low voice.
And indeed it was, the arrow still protruding from its wet, grayish skin, humping its body along with incredible speed. A flick of its tail caught the edge of a statue, sending it flying into the dry ornamental pool, where it shattered into dust.
"By the Angel, it just crushed Sophocles," noted Will. "Has no one respect for the classics these days?"
And the gold of her ruined wedding dress.
"A very magnanimous statement, Gideon." said Magnus.
Magnus waved a hand. "All Lightwoods look the same to me."
Will's eyes met Tessa's as she came closer, almost tripping again over the torn hem of her gown. For a moment, they were in perfect understanding. Jem was what they could still look each other straight in the eye about. On the topic of Jem, they were both fierce and unyielding. Tessa saw Will's hand tighten on Jem's sleeve. "She's here," he said.
Jem's eyes opened slowly. Tessa fought to keep the look of shock from her face. His pupils were blown out, his irises a thin ring of silver around the black. "Ni shou shang le ma, qin ai de?" he whispered. "Are you hurt, my love?".
"Though Will was saying earlier," Tessa added, "that heroes all come to bad ends, and he could not imagine why anyone would want to be one, anyway."
"Ah." Jem's hand squeezed hers briefly, and then let it go. "Well, Will is looking at it from the hero's viewpoint, isn't he? But as for the rest of us, it's an easy answer."
"Of course." His voice was almost a whisper now. "Heroes endure because we need them. Not for their own sakes. If Will…"
"Wo wei ni xie de," he said, as he raised the violin to his left shoulder, tucking it under his chin. He had told her many violinists used a shoulder rest, but he did not: there was a slight mark on the side of his throat, like a permanent bruise, where the violin rested.
"You — made something for me?" Tessa asked.
"I wrote something for you," he corrected, with a smile, and began to play.
"You are not really dying," Will said, the oddest tone to his voice, "are you?"
Will rose slowly to his feet. He could not believe he was doing what he was doing, but it was clear that he was, clear as the silver rim around the black of Jem's eyes. "If there is a life after this one," he said, "let me meet you in it, James Carstairs."
"There will be other lives." Jem held his hand out, and for a moment, they clasped hands, as they had done during their parabatai ritual, reaching across twin rings of fire to interlace their fingers with each other. "The world is a wheel," he said. “When we rise or fall, we do it together.”
Will tightened his grip on Jem's hand, which felt thin as twigs in his. "Well, then," he said, through a tight throat, "since you say there will be another life for me, let us both pray I do not make as colossal a mess of it as I have this one."
Tessa put a hand against the wall as she made her way numbly down the stairs. What had she almost done? What had she nearly told Will?
Gideon touched her cheek, lightly, with the tips of his fingers. "Did you know your name means 'wisdom'? It was very well-given."
Tessa craned her head back to look at Will. "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 tight 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."
"If Jem dies, I cannot be with Tessa," said Will. "Because it will be as if I were waiting for him to die, or took some joy in his death, if it let me have her. And I will not be that person. I will not profit from his death. So he must live." He lowered his arm, his sleeve bloody. "It is the only way any of this can ever mean anything. Otherwise it is only -"
"Pointless, needless suffering and pain? I don’t suppose it would help if I told you that was the way life is. The good suffer, the evil flourish, and all that is mortal passes away," Magnus said.
"I want more than that," said Will. "You made me want more than that. You showed me I was only ever cursed because I had chosen to believe myself so. You told me there was possibility, meaning. And now you would turn your back on what you created."
He turned at the familiar voice and saw Tessa. There was a small path cut along the side of the hill, lined with unfamiliar white flowers, and she was walking up it, toward him. Her long brown hair blew in the wind — she had taken off her straw bonnet, and held it in one hand, waving it at him and smiling as if she were glad to see him.
His own heart leaped up at the sight of her. "Tess," he called. But she was still such a distance away — she seemed both very near and very far suddenly and at the same time. He could see every detail of her pretty, upturned face, but could not touch her, and so he stood, waiting and desiring, and his heart beat like the wings of seagulls in his chest.
At last she was there, close enough that he could see where the grass and flowers bent beneath the tread of her shoes. He reached out for her —
"I am not at your beck and call," Magnus said. "I helped with de Quincey because Camille requested it of me, and Will once, because he offered me a favor in return. I am a warlock. And I do not serve Shadowhunters for free."
Will began to move toward the door to join Charlotte. Halfway there, he turned back, and crossed the room to Tessa: "Please," he said, "while I am with him, 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?"
"You know," Cecily said, "you really didn't have to throw that man through the window."
"It has been the privilege and the honor of my life to know you."
"What are you doing following me around the back streets of London, you little idiot?" Will demanded, giving her arm a light shake.
Cecily's eyes narrowed. "This morning it was cariad, now it's idiot." (Note: Cariad is a Welsh endearment, like 'darling' or 'love'.)
"Oh, you’re using a Glamour rune. There's one thing to declare, you are not afraid of anything when you live in the country. But this is London."
"I'm not afraid of London," Cecily said defiantly.
Will leaned closer, almost hissing in her ear *and said something very complicated in Welsh*
She laughed. "No, it wouldn't do you any good to tell me to go home. You are my brother, and I want to go with you."
Will blinked at her words.
You are my brother, and I want to go with you.
It was the sort of thing he was used to hearing Jem say.
Although Cecily was unlike Jem in every other conceivable possible way, she did share one quality with him. Stubbornness. When Cecily said she wanted something, it did not express an idle desire, but an iron determination.
"Do you even care where I'm going?" he said. "What if I were going to Hell?"
"I've always wanted to see Hell," Cecily said. "Doesn't everyone?"
"Most of us spend our time trying to stay out of it, Cecily. I'm going to an infrit den, if you must know, to purchase drugs from vile, dissolute criminals. They may clap eyes on you, and decide to sell you."
"Wouldn’t you stop them?"
"I suppose it would depend on whether they cut me a part of the profit."
She shook her head. "Jem is your parabatai," she said. "He is your brother, given to you by the Clave, but I am your sister by blood. Why would you do anything for him, but you only want me to go home?"
"How do you know the drugs are for Jem?" Will said.
"I'm not an idiot, Will."
"No, more's the pity. Jem- Jem is like the better part of me. I would not expect you to understand. I owe him. I owe him this."
"So what am I?" Cecily said.
Will exhaled, too desperate to check himself. "You are my weakness."
"And Tessa is your heart," she said, not angrily, but thoughtfully. "I am not fooled. As I told you, I’m not an idiot. And more’s the pity for you, although I suppose we all want things we can’t have."
"Oh," said Will, "and what do you want?"
"I want you to come home." A strand of black hair was stuck to her cheek by the dampness, and Will fought the urge to pull her cloak closer about her, to make her safe as he had when she was a child.
"The Institute is my home," Will sighed, and leaned his head against the stone wall. "I can’t stand out her arguing with you all evening, Cecily. If you're determined to follow me into Hell, I can't stop you."
"Finally," she said approvingly. "You’ve seen sense. I knew you would, you're related to me."
Will fought the urge to shake her.
"Are you ready?"
She nodded, and he raised his hand to knock on the door.
"Will?" Charlotte Fairchild eased the door of the Institute’s training room open. "Will, are you in there?"
A muffled grunt was the only response.
The door swung all the way open, revealing a wide, high-ceilinged room on the other side.
Her throat ached: adoration, heartbreak, in equal measure. "Kiss me," she said. "Please."
No one can say that death found in me a willing comrade, or that I went easily.
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.
(written on a wall in blood in Clockwork Princess)
Gabriel would not soon forget the look that spread over the man's face at that: there was satisfaction in it, but there was little surprise. It was clear he had expected nothing else, and nothing better, from the Lightwood boys.
Slowly, Jem put the violin back in its case, and laid the bow beside it. Only then did he turn to Tessa. His expression was shy, though his white shirt was soaked through with sweat and the pulse in his neck was pounding.
"Did you like it?" he said. "I am not good with words, so I wrote how I felt about you in music."
"Tess?" A soft voice at the door; she looked up and saw Will there, silhouetted in the light from the corridor.
"Jem told me what Ragnor Fell said about my father," Will said. "That for my father, there was only ever one woman he loved, and it was her for him, or nothing. You are that for me. I love you, and I will only ever love you until I die —"
“You do not want to help us,” Will said to Magnus. “You do not want to position yourself as an enemy of Mortmain’s.”
“Well, can you blame him?” Woolsey rose in a whirl of yellow silk. “What could you possibly have to offer that would make the risk worth it to him?”
“I will give you anything,” said Tessa in a low voice that Will felt in his bones. “Anything at all, if you can help us help Jem.”
Magnus gripped a handful of his black hair. “God, the two of you. I can make inquiries. Track down some of the more unusual shipping routes. Old Molly —”
“I’ve been to her,” Will said. “Something’s frightened her so badly she won’t even crawl out of her grave.”
Woolsey snorted. “And that doesn’t tell you anything, little Shadowhunter? Is it really worth all this, just to stretch your friend’s life out another few months, another year? He will die anyway. And the sooner he dies, the sooner you can have his fiancée, the one you’re in love with.” He cut his amused gaze toward Tessa. “Really you ought to be counting down the days till he expires with great eagerness.”