Margaret K. McElderry Book, Pocket Jeunesse
March 19th, 2013 (U.S.A.)
Marche 19th, 2015 (France)
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.
Tessa Gray should be happy — aren’t all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding to Jem Carstairs, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to the Magister, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan of destruction.
He needs Tessa.
Tessa knows Axel Mortmain, the Magister, is coming for her, but not where or when he will strike. Charlotte Branwell, the head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain first. And the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa’s heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, and Will knows he should force himself to find someone else to care for, he is as much in love with her as ever.
In the last words of a dying Shadowhunter reside the clue that might lead Tessa and her friends to Mortmain. But the Shadowhunters of the London Institute cannot stand alone, and in their homeland of Idris, the ruling body of the Clave doubt their claims that Mortmain is coming. Deserted by those who should be their allies and with their enemies closing in, the Shadowhunters find themselves trapped when Mortmain seizes the medicine which is all that is keeping Jem alive. With his best friend at death’s door it is up to Will to risk everything to save the woman they both love.
To buy Will time, the warlock Magnus Bane joins with Henry Branwell to create a device that could help them to defeat the Magister. As those who love Tessa work to save her, and the future of the Shadowhunters that resides with her, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself —for in the discovery of her own true nature, Tessa begins to learn that she is more powerful than she ever dreamed possible. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.
This family tree was featured in the first edition of Clockwork Princess.
Cassandra Clare has stated several times that this family tree of the Carstairs, Herondale, and Lightwood families is merely a found object within the series and is actually subjective and incomplete, seemingly containing only the characters from The Infernal Devices and their children, some of whom are set to be in The Last Hours, and their main descendants leading up to the characters featured in The Mortal Instruments. The family tree also did not include several female relatives (aside from the ones necessary for the immediate accompanying series) as the tree focused on the males who would carry on the family name. Part of the Carstairs records, said to be missing or lost, was also destroyed, possibly deliberately, for some reason.
It is also quite misleading, since the family tree only contains information thought true by whoever wrote it. Misinformation may include a political sham, secret, faked, arranged or fixed marriage(s) (though it may not be this), or marriage of convenience, adoptions, people being secretly dead, people being secretly other people, faked deaths, or people written in as dead when they, in fact, only turned or became Downworlders or mundanes, among other natures of mistakes—unintentional or otherwise. The real relationships, to be further explored in The Last Hours, may even be very different from the ones shown on the tree. The fallacies and pretenses of the found family tree will be clarified or made sense of by the end of The Last Hours.
source: Cassandra Clare’s Tumblr
“Tessa is awake!” Charlotte announced happily, darting through the door of her and Henry’s bedroom like an excited hummingbird.
Will, who had been sitting in the chair by Henry’s bedside, leaped immediately to his feet, the book he had been reading sliding from his lap. “Tess — Tessa’s awake?” he stammered. “And is she —”
“Yes, talking, and Brother Enoch has pronounced her quite well, if exhausted.” “I want to see her,” Will said, and began to move toward the door, but Charlotte held up a hand.
“Give her a moment, Will; Sophie is in with her, helping her dress.”
Will knew what “helping her dress” meant: if he burst in on them now, Tessa would be in the bath. A wave of desire, mixed wit the heaviness of guilt, hit him like a train. He sat down hastily, fumbling for the book on the floor.
Charlotte looked at him, her smile curling at the corner. Clearly he was providing her some small amusement. “Have you been reading to Henry?” she asked.
“Yes, some dreadful thing, all full of poetry,” Henry said peevishly. He was fully dressed, propped on the pillows of the bed with a pen in one hand and papers scattered all over the comforter around him. Will did not blame him for his peevishness. Tessa had been asleep, and Henry abed, for three days, when the Brothers gathered the members of the Institute around Henry’s bedside to tell them that though Henry would live, he would not walk again. Even with all the magic the Brothers had at their disposal, there was no more that they could do.
Henry had met the news with his usual fortitude, and a decision to build himself a chair, like a sort of invalid’s chair but better, with self-propelling wheels and all manner of other accoutrements: he was determined that it be able to go up and down stairs, so that he could still get to his inventions in the crypt. He had been scribbling designs for the chair the whole hour that Will had been reading to him from Idylls of the King, but then poetry had never been Henry’s area of interest.
“Well, you are released from your duties, Will, and Henry, you are released from further poetry,” said Charlotte. “If you like, darling, I can help you gather your notes —”
There was a knock at the door, and Charlotte, frowning, went to see who it was. A moment later she had returned, a somber look on her face. She darted a glance at Will, and a moment later he saw why: two Silent Brothers were trailing in her wake, and one of them was Jem.
Will’s chest tightened. Since the battle at Cader Idris, he and Jem had not spoken.
Will had been sure that they were all going to die, together, there under the mountain, until Tessa had blazed up in all the glory of the Angel and struck down Mortmain like lightning striking down a tree. It had been one of the most wondrous things he had ever seen, but his wonder had been consumed quickly by terror when Tessa had collapsed after the Change, bleeding and insensible, however hard they tried to wake her. Magnus, near exhaustion, had barely been able to open a Portal back to the Institute with Henry’s help, and Will remembered only a blur after that, a blur of exhaustion and blood and fear, more Silent Brothers summoned to tend the wounded, and the news coming from the Council of all who had been killed that day before the automatons who had attacked them had collapsed upon Mortmain’s death. And Tessa — Tessa not speaking, not waking, barely breathing. Tessa being carried off to her room by the Silent Brothers and he had not been able to go with her. Being neither brother nor husband he could only stand and stare after her, closing and unclosing his blood-stained hands. Never had he felt more helpless.
And when he had turned to find Jem, to share his fear with the only other person in the world who loved Tessa as much as he did — Jem had been gone, back to the Silent City on the orders of the Brothers. Gone without even a word of goodbye.
Though Cecily had tried to soothe him, Will had been angry — angry with Jem, and even, over the ensuing days, with Charlotte, for allowing Jem to become a Silent Brother, though he knew that was unfair: that it had been Jem’s choice and the only way to keep him alive. His anger had not been helped by his panicked worry over Tessa: though her physical injuries were minor, the shock to her system of what she had done had been great, and so was her pain. He had sat with her, on and off for days, taking her hand, begging her to wake up and see him, until Charlotte had had to rouse him from where he had fallen asleep half-sprawled across her bed.
Will stared at Jem now, hard enough to bore a hole through his head, but though Jem’s hood was down, exposing his face, he was looking away from Will determinedly. His hair had begun to return to its original dark color: the dark was mixed with the silver, strand beside strand, and his eyelashes were black again, too, and brushed against the runes on his cheeks when he lowered his eyes.
They were runes only the Silent Brothers bore: they looked to Will like injuries, like gashes across Jem’s face. He felt sick inside.
Charlotte, said Brother Enoch, and held out his hand: there was a letter, sealed with the seal of the Council. I have brought a message for you.
Charlotte looked at him in bewilderment. “The Silent Brothers do not deliver letters.”
This letter is of grave importance. It is imperative that you read it now.
Slowly, Charlotte reached out and took it. She pulled at the flap, then frowned and crossed the room to take a letter-opener from her bureau. Will took the opportunity to stare harder at Jem. It did no good. Jem did not return Will’s gaze; his face was blank; there was nothing there to hold on to. Will felt almost seasick — it was like having been a ship at anchor for years and being cut free to float on the tides, with no idea which direction to steer in. And there was Jem, his anchor, not looking at him or meeting his gaze.
The sound of tearing paper came, and they all watched as Charlotte opened the letter and read it, the color draining from her face. She lifted her eyes and stared at Brother Enoch. “Is this some sort of jest?”
There is no jest, I assure you. Do you have an answer?
“Lottie,” said Henry, looking up at his wife, even his tufts of gingery hair radiating anxiety and love. “Lottie, what is it, what’s wrong?”
She looked at him, and then back at Brother Enoch. “No,” she said. “I don’t have an answer. Not yet.”
The Council does not wish to wait.
“Well,” Charlotte said, and her voice was firm. “They will have to. Tell them I shall send an answer by day’s end.”
After a moment, Brother Enoch nodded, and turned to leave the room. Jem turned to follow.
And Will broke. He darted forward, and caught at Jem’s sleeve. The thick material of the parchment robes was slippery under his fingers. “That’s all?” he said, in a low, urgent voice. “You come back here, and you do not speak to me — or visit Tessa? Have you even formally broken your engagement, James Carstairs?”
Jem froze stock-still. Brother Enoch turned. He looked displeased, as much as any of the Brothers ever had expressions. A Silent Brother cannot marry or enter into engagements, he said, and Will could tell from the faces of those around them that he and Jem could hear the words, but no one else could. He has neither fiancée nor parabatai now.
Will’s hand was still on Jem’s sleeve. “You want me to tell her, then?” Will asked. Charlotte was looking at him, shaking her head, Will, no. He knew his anger was unfair, unwarranted — Jem and Tessa’s engagement was over, shouldn’t he be glad? — but he was not glad. Grief and rage spilled like water through the cracks in his broken heart. Jem, who never hurt anyone, hurting him, hurting Tessa — and what if everything that had happened between her and Will had happened only because she thought Jem was dead, only out of the desperation of grief and the passionate human need for comfort? What if she loved Jem and longed for him forever, knowing he lived but was gone from her, with never a word from him that might provide any sort of closing of that chapter of her life? How could she bear it — how could Will bear it? What kind of future could they have? And yet there was no future for him without Tessa. “James Carstairs, do you want me to tell Tessa you are done with her, if you will not do it yourself?”
“Done with her?” Jem wrenched his sleeve from Will’s grasp, and his eyes were wide and dark and hurt, the eyes of Jem-the-child, the dark eyes Will had known growing up. “I came here because Enoch told me she had awakened,” he said, and there was an anger in his voice Will had rarely heard before. “I asked leave to speak with her one last time. You know what I feel. I will not ever be done. Not in a hundred years. Not in a thousand.” He looked from Will to Brother Enoch, and then back again. “And yet I must be. I have no choice. It’s not like you, William, not to have compassion for that.”
Will swallowed. Everything in the room seemed to have dwindled down to this, there was only him and Jem. “I thought, perhaps — being a Silent Brother — might have taken from you your capacity to feel,” he said, and then burst out, “I could not bear it, a James Carstairs who does not feel. Not just for Tessa, but for myself. If she loves only you, if she wishes to spend her life mourning your departure, I can survive that, but not the death of your heart, or of hers.”
Jem looked at him, and in the depths of his dark eyes Will saw , for a flash, the Jem he knew. “Wo men shi jie bai xiong di,” Jem said. “You would know if my heart had died, and I would know the same of you. My departure, you say, though I shall still be in the world, and yet it is as if I take sail for some unknown island, some wild place where you cannot follow. But know,” he added, in a voice that only Will could hear, “I shall do what I can to make some provision that I might see you again, and Tessa again. For you are half my heart, and she is the other. As long as I have one of you to be my north star, my heart shall not die, and I shall remain your James Carstairs.”
“Will,” Charlotte said. She sounded worried. ”Will and J — Brother Zachariah, this is most irregular. Brother Enoch, I apologize —”
“I asked leave to speak to Will, too, before I came,” Jem said. “I was told I could have it as long as I did not speak to him or answer him while Brother Enoch was attending here to the matter of the Council.”
Will stared at him, and then at Brother Enoch, realizing with a sick drop in his stomach that he might have lost his only chance of speaking in private to Jem again — ever. Enoch’s face was blank, his expression giving nothing away.
“That is not fair!” Will said. “I addressed you first—”
Peace, little Shadowhunter, said Brother Enoch. The bonds of parabatai are understood by the Brotherhood. After all, we bound you with them ourselves. You have our leave to speak to him, one last time, before he goes.
source: Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
Now is the time of our comfort and plenty
These are the days we’ve been working for
Nothing can touch us and nothing can harm us
And nothing goes wrong anymore
As it turned out, Tessa had a flat she owned in London. It was the second floor of a pale white townhouse in Kensington, and as she let them both inside — her hand only shaking very slightly as she turned the keys — she explained to Jem that Magnus had taught her how warlocks could finagle their way into owning homes over many centuries by willing the properties to themselves.
“After a while I just started picking silly names for myself,” she said, shutting the door behind them. “I think I own this place under the pseudonym Bedelia Codfish.”
Jem laughed, though his mind was only partly on her words. He was gazing around the flat — the walls were painted in bright colors: a lilac living room, scattered with white couches, an avocado-green kitchen. When had Tessa bought the flat, he wondered, and why? She had traveled so much, why make a home base in London?
The question dried up in his throat when he turned and realized that through a partly open door, he could glimpse the blue walls of what was likely a bedroom.
He swallowed at that, his mouth gone suddenly dry. Tessa’s bed. That she slept in.
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you all right?”
She took him by the wrist and he felt his pulse jump under her touch. Until he had become a Silent Brother, it always had. He’d wondered during his time in Idris, after the heavenly fire had cured him, if it would still be like that with them: if his human feelings would return to him. He had been able to touch her and be near her as a Silent Brother without wanting her as he had when he was a mortal. He had still loved her, but it had been a love of the spirit, not the body. He had wondered — feared, even, that the physical feelings and responses would not come back the way they had. He had told himself that even if Silent Brotherhood had killed the ability of his feelings to manifest themselves physically, he would not be disappointed. He had told himself to expect it.
He shouldn’t have worried.
The moment he had seen her on the bridge, coming toward him through the crowd in her modern jeans and Liberty scarf, her hair flying out behind her, he had felt his breath catch in his throat.
And when she had drawn the jade pendant he had given her out from around her neck and shyly proffered it to him, his blood had roared to life in his veins like a river undammed.
And when she had said, I love you. I always have, and I always will, it had taken everything he had not to kiss her in that moment. To do more than kiss her.
But if the Brotherhood had taught him anything, it was control. He looked at her now and fought his voice to steadiness. “A little tired,” he said. “And thirsty — I forget sometimes I need to eat and drink now.”
She dropped her keys on a small rosewood side table and turned to smile at him. “Tea,” she said, moving toward the avocado-green kitchen. “I haven’t got much food here, I don’t usually stay long, but I have got tea. And biscuits. Go into the drawing room; I’ll be right there.”
He had to smile at that; even he knew no one said drawing room any more. Perhaps she was as nervous as he was, then? He could only hope.
* * *
Tessa cursed silently for the fourth time as she bent to retrieve the box of sugar cubes from the floor. She had already put the kettle on without water in it, mixed up the tea bags, knocked over the milk, and now this. She dropped a cube of sugar into both teacups and told herself to count to ten, watching the cubes dissolve.
She knew her hands were shaking. Her heart raced. James Carstairs was in her flat. In her living room. Waiting for tea. Part of her mind screamed that it was just Jem, while the other part cried just as loudly that just Jem was someone she hadn’t seen in a hundred and thirty five years.
He had been Brother Zachariah for so long. And of course he had always been Jem at the heart of it all, with Jem’s wit and unfailing kindness. He had never failed in his love for her or his love for Will. But Silent Brothers — they did not feel things the way ordinary people did.
It was something she had thought of, sometimes, in later years, many decades after Will’s death. She had never wanted anyone else, never anyone but Will and Jem, and they were both gone from her, even though Jem still lived. She had wondered sometimes what they would have done if it had merely been forbidden for Silent Brothers to marry or love; but it was more than that: he could not desire her. He didn’t have those feelings. She’d felt like Pygmalion, yearning for the touch of a marble statue. Silent Brothers didn’t have physical desires for touch, any more than they had a need for food or water.
But now …
I forget sometimes I need to eat and drink now.
She picked up the tea mugs with still-shaking hands and walked into the living room. She had furnished it herself over the years, from the sofa cushions to the long Japanese screen painted with a design of poppies and bamboo. The curtains framing the portrait window at the far end of the room were half-drawn, just enough light spilling into the room to touch the bits of gold in Jem’s dark hair and she nearly dropped the teacups.
They had hardly touched on the taxi ride back to Queen’s Gate, only holding hands tightly in the back of the cab. He had run his fingers over the backs of her fingers over and over as he began to tell her the story of all that had happened since she had last visited Idris, when the Mortal War, which she had fought in, had ended. When Magnus had pointed out Jace Herondale to her, and she had looked at a boy who had Will’s beautiful face and eyes like her son James.
But his hair had been his father’s, that tangle of rich gold curls, and remembering what she had known of Stephen Herondale, she had turned away without speaking.
Herondales, someone had told her once. They were everything that Shadowhunters had to offer, all in one family: both the best, and the worst.
She set the teacups down on the coffee table — an old steamer trunk, covered in travel stamps from her many voyages — with an audible thump. Jem turned to face her and she saw what he held in his hands.
One of the bookcases held a display of weapons: things she had picked up around the world. A thin misericorde, a curved kris, a trench knife, a shortsword, and dozens of others. But the one Jem had picked up and was staring at was a slim silver knife, its handle darkened by many years of burial in the dirt. She had never had it cleaned, for the stain on the blade was Will’s blood. Jem’s blade, Will’s blood, buried together at the roots of an oak tree, a sort of sympathetic magic Will had performed when he thought he had lost Jem forever. Tessa had retrieved it after Will’s death and offered it to Jem; he had refused to take it.
That had been in 1937.
“Keep it,” he said now, his voice ragged. “There may yet come a day.”
“That’s what you told me.” She moved toward him, her shoes tapping on the hardwood floor. “When I tried to give it to you.”
He swallowed, running his fingers up and down the blade. “He had only just died,” he said. She didn’t need to ask who he was. There was really only one He when it was the two of them speaking. “I was afraid. I saw what happened to the other Silent Brothers. I saw how they hardened over time, lost the people they had been. How as the people who loved them and who they loved died, they became less human. I was afraid that I would lose my ability to care. To know what this knife meant to Will and what Will meant to me.”
She placed her hand on his arm. “But you didn’t forget.”
“I didn’t lose everyone I loved.” He looked up at her, and she saw that his eyes had gold in them too, precious bright flakes among the brown. “I had you.”
She exhaled; her heart was beating so hard that her chest hurt. Then she saw that he was clutching the blade of the knife, not just the hilt. Quickly she plucked it out of his hands. “Please don’t,” she said. “I can’t draw an iratze.”
“And I haven’t got a stele,” he said, watching as she set the knife back on its shelf. “I am not a Shadowhunter now.” He looked down at his hands; there were thin red lines across his palms, but he had not cut the skin.
Impulsively, Tessa bent and kissed his palms, then folded his fingers closed, her own hands over his. When she looked up, his pupils had widened. She could hear his breathing.
“Tessa,” he said. “Don’t.”
“Don’t what?” She drew away from him, though, instinctively. Perhaps he did not want to be touched, though on the bridge, it had not seemed that way …
“The Brothers taught me control,” he said, his voice tight. “I have every kind of control, and I have learned them over decades and decades, and I am using them all not to push you up against the bookcase and kiss you until neither of us can breathe.”
She lifted her chin. “And what would be wrong with that?”
“When I was a Silent Brother, I did not feel as an ordinary man does,” he said. “Not the wind on my face or the sun on my skin or the touch of another’s hand. But now I feel it all. I feel — too much. The wind is like thunder, the sun scorches, and your touch makes me forget my own name.”
A pang of heat speared through her, a heat that started low in her stomach and spread through every part of her body. A sort of heat she hadn’t felt in so many decades.
Almost a century. Her skin prickled all over. “The wind and the sun you will get used to,” she said. “But your touch makes me forget my name as well, and I have no excuses. Only that I love you, and I always have and always will. I will not touch you if you do not want it, Jem. But if we are waiting until the idea of being together does not frighten us, we may be waiting a long time.”
Breath escaped him in a hiss. “Say that again.”
Puzzled, she began: “If we are waiting until —“
“No,” he said. “The earlier part.”
She tipped her face up to him. “I love you,” she said. “I always have and I always will.”
She did not know who moved toward who first, but he caught her around the waist and was kissing her before she could take another breath. This was not like the kiss on the bridge. That had been a silent communication of lips on lips, the exchange of a promise and a reassurance. It had been sweet and shattering, a sort of gentle thunder.
This was a storm. Jem was kissing her, hard and bruising, and when she opened his lips with hers and tasted the inside of his mouth, he gasped and pulled her harder against him, his hands digging into her hips, pressing her closer to him as he explored her lips and tongue, caressing, biting, then kissing to soothe the sting. In the old days, when she had kissed him, he had tasted of bitter sugar: now he tasted like tea and —toothpaste?
But why not toothpaste. Even century-old Shadowhunters had to brush their teeth. A small nervous giggle escaped her and Jem pulled back, looking dazed and deliciously rumpled. His hair was every which way from her running her hands through it.
“Please don’t tell me you’re laughing because I kiss so badly it’s funny,” he said, with a lopsided smile. She could sense his actual worry. “I may be somewhat out of practice.”
“Silent Brothers don’t do a lot of kissing?” she teased, smoothing down the front of his sweater.
“Not unless there were secret orgies I wasn’t invited to,” Jem said. “I did always worry I might not have been popular.”
She clasped her hand around his wrist. “Come here,” she said. “Sit down — have some tea. There’s something I want to show you.”
He went, as she had asked, and sat down on her velvet sofa, leaning back against the cushions she had stitched herself out of fabric she’d bought in India and Thailand. She couldn’t hide a smile — he looked only a little older than he had when he’d become a Silent Brother, like an ordinary young man in jeans and a sweater, but he sat the way a Victorian man would have — back straight, feet flat on the floor. He caught her look and his own mouth tipped up at the corners. “All right,” he said. “What do you have to show me?”
In answer, she went to the Japanese screen that stretched across one corner of the room, and stepped behind it. “It’s a surprise.”
Her dressmaker’s dummy was there, concealed from the rest of the room. She couldn’t see him through the screen, only a blurred outline of shapes. “Talk to me,” she said, pulling her sweater off over her head. “You said it was a story of Lightwoods and Fairchilds and Morgensterns. I know a little of what transpired — I received your messages while I was in the Labyrinth — but I do not know how the Dark War effected your cure.” She tossed the sweater over the top of the screen. “Can you tell me?”
“Now?” he said. She heard him set his teacup down.
Tessa kicked her shoes off and unzipped her jeans, the sound loud in the quiet room. “Do you want me to come out from behind this screen, James Carstairs?”
“Definitely.” His voice sounded strangled.
“Then start talking.”
* * *
Jem talked. He spoke of the dark days in Idris, of Sebastian Morgenstern’s army of Endarkened, of Jace Herondale and Clary Fairchild and the Lightwood children and their dangerous journey to Edom.
“I have heard of Edom,” she said, her voice muffled. “It is spoken of in the Spiral Labyrinth, where they track the histories of all worlds. A place where the Nephilim were destroyed. A wasteland.”
“Yes,” Jem said, a little absently. He couldn’t see her through the screen, but he could see the outline of her body, and that was somewhat worse. “Burning wasteland. Very … hot.”
He had been afraid that the Silent Brothers had taken desire from him: that he would look at Tessa and feel platonic love but not be able to want, but the opposite was true. He could not stop wanting. He wanted, he thought, more than he ever had before in his life.
She was clearly changing her clothes. He had looked down hastily when she’d begun to shimmy out of her jeans, but it wasn’t as if he could forget the image, the silhouette of her, long hair and long, lovely legs — he’d always loved her legs.
Surely he’d felt this before, when he’d been a boy? He remembered the night in his room when she had stopped him destroying his violin, and he’d wanted then, wanted so badly he hadn’t thought at all when they’d collapsed onto his bed: he would have taken her innocence then, and given up his own, without pausing, without a moment’s thought of the future. If they hadn’t knocked over his box of yin fen. If. That had brought him back, reminded him who he was, and when she’d gone, he’d torn his sheets to strips with his fingers out of sheer frustration.
Perhaps it was just that remembered desire paled in comparison to the feeling itself. Or perhaps he had been sicker then, weaker. He had been dying, after all, and surely his body could not have sustained this.
“A Fairchild and a Herondale,” she said. “Now, I like that. The Fairchilds have always been practical and the Herondales — well, you know.” She sounded fond, amused. “Perhaps she’ll settle him down. And don’t tell me he doesn’t need settling.”
Jem thought of Jace Herondale. How he was like Will if someone had struck a match to Will and gilded him in living fire. “I’m not sure you can settle a Herondale, and certainly not this one.”
“Does he love her? The Fairchild girl?”
“I’ve never seen anyone so in love, except for …” His voice trailed off, for she had come out from behind the screen, and now he understood what had taken her so much time.
She was wearing a dress of orchid silk faille, the sort of dress she might have worn to dinner when they had been engaged. It was trimmed in white velvet cords, the skirt belling out over — was she wearing crinolines?
His mouth opened. He couldn’t help himself. He had found her beautiful through all the changing ages of the century: beautiful in the carefully cut clothes of the war years, when fabric was rationed. Beautiful in the elegant dresses of the fifties and sixties. Beautiful in short skirts and boots as the century drew to a close.
But this was what girls looked like when he had first noticed them, first found them fascinating and not annoying, first noticed the graceful line of a neck or the pale inside of a feminine wrist. This was the Tessa who had first cut him through and through with love and lust commingled: a carnal angel with a corset shaping her body to an hourglass, lifting her breasts, shaping the flare of her hips.
He forced his eyes away from her body. She had bound up her hair, small curls escaping over her ears, and his jade pendant glimmered around her throat.
“Do you like it?” she said. “I had to do my own hair, without Sophie, and lace my own laces …” Her expression was shy and more than a little nervous — it had always been a contradiction at the heart of her, that she was one of the bravest and yet the shyest people he knew. “I bought it from Sotheby’s — a real antique, now, it was far too much money but I remembered when I was a girl you had said orchids were your favorite flower and I had set myself to find a dress the color of an orchid but I never found one before you were — gone. But this one is. Aniline dye, I expect, nothing natural, but I thought — I thought it would remind you.” She raised her chin. “Of us. Of what I wanted to be for you, when I thought we would be together.”
“Tess,” he said, hoarsely. He was on his feet, without knowing how he had gotten there. He took a step toward her, and then another. “Forty-nine thousand, two hundred and seventy-five.”
She knew immediately what he meant. He knew she would. She knew him as no one else living did. “Are you counting days?”
“Forty-nine thousand, two hundred and seventy-five days since I last kissed you,” he said. “And I thought of you every single one of them. You do not have to remind me of the Tessa I loved. You were my first love and you will be my last one. I have never forgotten you. I have never not thought of you.” He was close enough now to see the pulse pounding in her throat. To reach out and lift up a curl of her hair. “Never.”
Her eyes were half-shut. She reached out and took his hand, where it caressed her hair. His blood was thundering through his body, so hard that it hurt. She lowered his hand, lowered it to the bodice of her dress. “The advertisement for the dress said it did not have buttons,” she whispered. “Only hooks down the front. Easier for one person to do up.” She lowered her right hand, took his other wrist, raised it. Now both his hands were at her bodice. “Or to unfasten.” Her fingers curved about his as, very deliberately, she undid the first hook on her dress.
And then the next. She moved his hands down, her fingers intertwined with his, unfastening as she went until the dress hung open over her corset, folded back on each side like flower petals. She was breathing hard; he could not keep his eyes from where his pendant rose and fell with her gasps. He could not bring himself to move an inch more toward her: he wanted, wanted too much. He wanted to unplait her hair and wrap it around his wrists like silken ropes. He wanted her breasts under his hands and her legs around his waist. He wanted things he had no name for and no experience of. He only knew that that if he moved one inch closer to her the glass barrier of control he had built up around himself would shatter and he did not know what would happen next.
“Tessa,” he said. “Are you sure —?”
Her eyelashes fluttered. Her eyes were still half-closed, her teeth making small half-moons in her lower lip. “I was sure then,” she said, “and I am sure now.”
And she clasped his hands firmly to her sides, where her waist curved in, on either side of the flare of her hips.
His control broke, a silent explosion. He pulled her toward him, bent to kiss her savagely hard. He heard her cry out in surprise and then his lips silenced hers, and her mouth opened eagerly under his. Her hands were in his hair, gripping hard; she was reaching up on her toes to kiss him. She bit at his lower lip, nipped at his jaw, and he groaned, sliding his hands inside her dress, his fingers tracing the back of her corset, her skin burning through the bits of her chemise he could feel between the laces. He was kicking off his shoes, toeing off his socks, the floor cold against his bare feet.
She gave a little gasp and wriggled closer, into his arms. He slipped his hands out of her dress and took hold of her skirts. She made a noise of surprise and then he was drawing the dress up over her head. She exclaimed, giggling, as the dress came off most of the way but remained fastened at the wrists, where tiny buttons clasped the cuffs tightly. “Careful,” she teased, as his frantic fingers flicked the buttons open. He heaved the dress up and tossed it into the corner. “It’s an antique.”
“So am I, technically,” he said, and she giggled again, looking up at him, her face warm and open.
He had thought about making love to her before; of course he had. He had thought about sex when he was a teenaged boy because that was what teenaged boys thought about, and when he had fallen in love with Tessa, he had thought about it with her. Vague inchoate thoughts of doing things, though he wasn’t sure what — images of pale arms and legs, the imaginary feel of soft skin under his hands.
But he had not imagined this: that there might be laughter, that it might be affectionate and warm as well as passionate. The reality of it, of her, stunned him breathless.
She drew away from him and for a moment he panicked. What had he done wrong? Had he hurt her, displeased her? But no, her fingers had gone to the cage of crinoline at her waist, twisting and flicking. Then she raised her arms and twined them about his neck. “Lift me up,” she said. “Lift me up, Jem.”
Her voice was a warm purr. He took hold of her waist and lifted her up and out of her petticoats, as if he were lifting an expensive orchid free of its pot. When he put her back down, she was wearing only her corset, drawers and stockings. Her legs were just as long and lovely as he had remembered and dreamed about.
He reached for her, but she caught at his hands. She was still smiling, but now there was an impish quality to it. “Oh, no,” she said, gesturing to him, his jeans and sweater. “Your turn.”
* * *
He froze, and for a moment, panicked, Tessa wondered if she had asked him for too much. He had been so long disconnected from his body — a mind in a shell of flesh that went largely ignored unless it needed to be runed for some new power. Maybe this was too much for him.
But he took a deep breath, and his hands went to the hem of his sweater. He pulled it off over his head and emerged with his hair adorably ruffled. He wore no shirt under the jumper. He looked at her and bit his lip.
She moved toward him, wondering eyes and fingers. She glanced at him before she put her hands on him and saw him nod, Yes.
She swallowed hard. She had been carried this far forward like a leaf on the tide of her memories. Memories of James Carstairs, the boy she’d been engaged to, had planned to marry. Had nearly made love to on the floor of the music room in the London Institute. She had seen his body then, stripped to the waist, his skin pale as paper and stretched thin over prominent ribs. The body of a dying boy, though he had always been beautiful to her.
Now his skin was laid over his ribs and chest in a layer of smooth muscle; his chest was broad, tapering down to a slim waist. She put her hands on him tentatively; he was warm and hard under her touch. She could feel the faint scars of ancient runes, pale against his golden skin.
His breath hissed out between his teeth as she ran her hands up his chest and down his arms, the curve of his biceps shaping themselves under her fingers. She remembered him fighting with the other Brothers at Cader Idris — and of course he’d fought at the Citadel Battle, the Silent Brothers kept themselves ready to do battle, though they rarely did. Somehow she had never quite thought about what that might mean for Jem once he was no longer dying.
Her teeth chattered a little; she bit her lip to keep them silent. Desire was washing through her, and a little fear as well: How could this be happening? Actually happening?
“Jem,” she whispered. “You’re so …”
“Scarred?” He put his hand to his cheek, where the black mark of the Brotherhood still remained at the arch of his cheekbone. “Hideous?”
She shook her head. “How many times do I have to tell you that you’re beautiful?” She ran her hand up the bare curve of his shoulder to his neck; he trembled. You are beautiful, James Carstairs. “Didn’t you see everyone staring at you on the bridge? You’re so much more beautiful than me,” she murmured, sliding her hands around him to touch the muscles of his back; they tightened under the glancing pressure of her fingers. “But if you’re foolish enough to want me then I will not question my good fortune.”
He turned his head to the side and she saw him swallow. “For all my life,” he said, “when someone has said the word ‘beautiful’, it is your face I have seen. You are my own very definition of beautiful, Tessa Gray.”
Her heart turned over. She raised herself up on her toes — she had always been a tall girl but Jem was yet taller — and put her mouth to the side of his throat, kissing gently. His arms came up around her, pressing her against him, his body hard and hot, and she felt another pang of desire. This time she nipped at him, biting at the skin where his shoulder curved into his neck.
Everything went topsy-turvy. Jem made a sound low in his throat and suddenly they were on the floor and she was on top of him, his body cushioning her fall. She stared down at him in astonishment. “What happened?”
He looked bewildered as well. “I couldn’t stand up any more.”
Her chest filled with warmth. It had been so long that she had nearly forgotten the feeling of kissing someone so hard that your knees went weak herself. He pushed himself up on his elbows. “Tessa —“
“Nothing’s wrong,” she said firmly, cupping his face in her hands. “Nothing. Understand?”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “Did you trip me?”
She laughed; her heart was still pounding away, giddy with joy and relief and terror all at the same time. But she had looked at him before, had seen the way he glanced at her hair when it was down, had felt his fingers in it, tentatively stroking, when he had kissed her on the bridge. She reached up and pulled the pins out of it, throwing them across the room.
Her hair fountained down, spilling over her shoulders, down to her waist. She leaned forward so that it brushed across his face, his bare chest.
“Do you care?” she whispered.
“As it develops,” he said, against her mouth, “I don’t care. I find I prefer to be reclining.”
She laughed and ran her hand down and down his body. He twisted, arching up into her touch. “For an antique,” she murmured, “you would fetch quite a price at Sotheby’s. All your parts are quite in working order.”
His pupils dilated and then he laughed, his warm breath gusting across her cheek. “I have forgotten what it is like to be teased, I think,” he said. “No one teases Silent Brothers.”
She had taken advantage of his distraction to rid him of his jeans. There was distractingly little clothing between them now. “You’re not in the Brotherhood any longer,” she said, stroking her fingers across his stomach, the fine hair there just below his navel, his smooth bare chest. “And I would be very disappointed if you remained silent.”
He reached for her blindly and drew her down. His hands buried themselves in her hair. And they were kissing again, her knees on either side of his hips, her palms braced against his chest. His hands ran through her hair again and again, and each time she could feel his body strain up toward hers, his lips pressing against her own harder. They weren’t savage kisses, not now: they were decadent, growing in intensity and fervor each time they drew apart and came together again.
He put his hands to the laces of her corset and tugged at them. She moved to show him that it also fastened in front, but he had already reached around to grip the front. “My apologies,” he said, “to antiquity,” and then, in a most un-Jem-like fashion, ripped the corset open down the front and cast it aside. Underneath was her chemise, which she pulled up and over her head and dropped to the side.
Then she took a deep breath. She was naked in front of him now, as she never had been before.
* * *
Jem had the feeling that later his hands would sting (he’d never torn a corset apart before), but at the moment, he could feel nothing but Tessa. She was sitting astride his hips, her eyes wide, her hair pouring down over her bare shoulders and breasts. She looked like Venus rising out of the waves, with only the jade pendant to cover her, shining against her skin.
“I think,” she said, her voice gone high and breathy, “that I need you to kiss me now.”
He reached up to draw her down, catching hold of her slender shoulders. He rolled them over so that he was on top of her, balanced on his elbows, careful of his weight. But she didn’t seem to mind. She adjusted herself under him, curving her body to fit his own. The softness of her breasts pressed against his chest and the hollow of her hips was a cup to hold him and her bare toes ran down his calves.
He made a dark, needy sound low in his throat, a sound he barely recognized as coming from himself. A sound that made Tessa’s pupils expand, her breath come quickly. “Jem,” she said, “please, Jem,” and she turned her head to the side, pillowing her cheek on her unbound hair.
He bent over her. This much they had done together, before. This much he remembered. That she liked to be kissed in a line down her throat, and that if he followed the shape of her collarbone with his mouth she would cry out and dig her hands into his back. And if he had been terrified of what came next — not knowing what to do, or how to please her — it was washed away in the rush of her responsiveness: her soft cries as he ran his hands down her legs and kissed her chest and stomach.
“My Jem,” she whispered as he kissed her. “James Carstairs. Ke Jian Ming.”
No one had called him by his birth name in over half a century. It was as intimate as a touch.
He wasn’t entirely sure how the rest of their clothes were discarded, only that somehow they were lying on the wrecked remnants of her silk dress and petticoats. Tessa was not soft and pliant under him as he had long ago imagined but responsive and demanding, lifting her face to be kissed over and over, running her hands over him, each brush of her fingers igniting sparks in nerve endings he had feared long dead.
It was so much better than he had imagined. He was surrounded by her, her smell of rosewater soap and her soft skin and her implicit trust. It was not only that she trusted him not to hurt her; it was more than that. She trusted that his inexperience would not matter, that nothing mattered except that it was the two of them and they had always sought to make the other one happy. When he faltered and said, “Tessa, I don’t know how to —” she whispered against his mouth and placed his hands where they should go.
A sort of lessoning, but the gentlest he had ever received, and the best. He had not quite ever imagined this, that their responses would be mirrored, that her pleasure would magnify his own. That when he slid his hands up her legs she would wrap them around his waist of her own accord. That every thought would flee from his head except for the feel of her under him and then around him as she guided him to where he needed to be.
He heard himself cry out as if from a distance as he buried himself in her. “Tessa.” He clutched at her shoulders as if grasping for the shreds of his control. “Tessa, oh God, Tessa, my Tessa.” Coherency had left him completely. He babbled something else as well, not in English any more, he didn’t know what, and he felt her tighten her arms around him.
He was breathing in gasps as he moved, struggling desperately to hold onto himself, not wanting it to be over, not yet. His eyes were closed; light blazing behind his lids. So much light. He heard Tessa’s voice, whispering his name; they were so close, closer than he had ever believed possible. Her hands slid down his body to grasp at his waist. There was a thin line of concentration between her eyebrows; her eyes were squeezed shut, her cheeks bright scarlet, and when she tried to say his name again, a ragged gasp swallowed it up. One of her hands flew to her mouth and she bit down hard on her fingers as her body tightened around him.
It was like a match to tinder. The last remnant of his control evaporated. He buried his face against her neck as the light behind his eyes fractured into kaleidoscopic colors. He had carried the darkness of the Silent City with him even when he had left the Brotherhood. And now she had opened his soul and let in the light, and it was brilliant.
He had never imagined this. He had never even imagined imagining this.
When he came back to himself, he found he was still gripping her tightly, his head bowed down on her shoulder. She was breathing softly and regularly, her hand in his hair, stroking, murmuring endearments.
He drew away from her reluctantly, rolling to arrange the two of them so that they were lying face to face. Most of the daylight was gone; they looked at each other in a dim twilight that softened all harsh edges. His heart was beating hard as he reached out to swipe his thumb across her lower lip.
“Are you all right?” he said, hoarsely. “Was that —” He broke off, realizing to his horror that the brilliance in her eyes was tears. One rolled down her cheek, unchecked.
“Tessa?” He could hear the wild panic in his own voice. She gave him a quick, trembling smile, but then that was Tessa. She would never show disappointment. What if it had been awful for her? He had thought it was amazing, perfect; he had thought his body would break in pieces from feeling so much bliss at once. And he had thought she had responded, but what did he know? He cursed his own inexperience, his hubris, and his pride. What had made him think he could —
She sat up, leaning over the coffee table, her hands doing something he couldn’t see. Her unclothed body was outlined in the twilight, unbearably beautiful. He watched her with his heart stuttering. Any moment now she would stand up and pull on her clothes, would tell him that she loved him, loved him always but not that way. That theirs was not a passion, but a friendship.
And he had told himself that he could bear that, before he had come to the bridge to confess himself. He had told himself that he could take her friendship and nothing else, that it was better than not being near her at all.
But now that he knew, now that they had shared their breath and bodies and souls, he could no longer step back. To be only her friend, never to touch her again, would tear him into a million pieces. It would be more agony than the heavenly fire had ever been.
She turned back to him, holding something in her hands.
“Jem?” she said. “Jem, you are a thousand miles away!” She had wrapped a folded gray throw from the couch around herself; she sat down beside him; the tears were gone and she was warm and smiling. “Honestly, if what we just did didn’t get your attention, I don’t know what would.”
He stared at her. “But you were crying,” he said, finally.
She looked at him quizzically. “Because I am happy. Because that was wonderful.”
He expelled his breath in a rush of relief. “So it was — that was all right? I could get better, we could practice —”
He realized what he’d just said, and clamped his mouth shut.
A wicked grin spread over her face. “Oh, we will practice,” she said. “As soon as you’re ready.”
“I have no other appointments this evening,” he said gravely.
She blushed. “Your body may need time to — to recover.”
“No,” he said, and this time he allowed himself a small tinge of smugness. “No, I don’t think so.”
She blushed even harder. He loved making her blush; he always had. “Well, I need five minutes, at least!” she said. “And I need you to see this. Please?”
She held out a piece of paper to him. Her expression was surprisingly grave; it wiped his smugness away, and his desire to tease her, too. Not daring to speak, he took the paper from her and unfolded it.
She cleared her throat. “I may have been joking, earlier,” she said, “when I said I owned this flat under the name of Bedelia Codfish.”
He stared down at the deed to the flat on Queen’s Gate. It was made out in Tessa’s name, or something like it. Not Tessa Gray, however, or even Tessa Herondale. It was made out in the name of Tessa Herondale Carstairs.
“When I spoke to Magnus in Idris, after the Mortal War,” she said, “he told me that he’d dreamed that you were cured. You know how Magnus is. Sometimes his dreams are true. So I allowed myself to hope for the first time in a long time. I knew it was unlikely, if not impossible. I knew it might be many years. But you asked me to marry you, once, a long time ago. And in a way, this is our wedding night. A long-delayed consummation.” She smiled at him, biting her lip, clearly nervous. Her fingers worked at the blanket she held around herself. “I shouldn’t have borrowed your name, perhaps, but I have always felt in my blood that we were family.”
“Tessa Herondale Carstairs,” he whispered. “You should never worry about borrowing my name when you know that you can have it to keep.”
He let the paper slip out of his hand and reached for her. She tipped into his lap and he held her hard, against the choking sensation in his own throat.
She had never given up on him. He remembered saying to Will once that he had given him faith, when Will had none in himself. He had always hoped for better for Will, even when Will did not hope for himself. And Tessa had done that for him. He had long ago despaired of a cure, but she — she had always hoped.
“Mizpah, Tessa,” he whispered. “In truth, for surely God was looking out for us while we were parted from one another. And he has looked out for us while we both have been parted from Will and brought us back to each other.”
* * *
They slept, curled together, on the ruin of Tessa’s dress, and later moved to the couch. It was quite dark, and they drank cold tea and made love again, this time more gently and slowly until Tessa was clutching at Jem’s shoulders and begging him to go faster. “Dolcissimo, not appasionato,” he said with a smile of pure tormenting amusement.
“Oh?” She reached down and did something with her hand that he was clearly not prepared for. His whole body tensed. She giggled as his hands clawed suddenly at her waist, fingers digging in. His dark hair hung in his eyes; his skin shone with sweat. Earlier, she had closed her own eyes: this time she watched him, the change in his expression as his control broke, the shape of his mouth as he gasped her name.
And this time, she forgot to bite on her hand to muffle the sounds she made. Oh, well. Damn the neighbors. She had been quiet for nearly a century.
“Maybe that was more presto than I had intended,” he said with a laugh, when they were lying together afterward, wedged among the cushions. “But then, you cheated. You are more experienced than I am.”
“I like it.” Tessa kissed his fingers. “I am going to have a great deal of fun introducing you to everything. I can’t wait for you to hear rock and roll music, Jem Carstairs. And I want to see you use an iPhone. And a computer. And ride the Tube. Have you been in an airplane? I want to be in an airplane with you.”
Jem was still laughing. His hair was a terrific mess, and his eyes were dark and shining in the lamplight. He looked like the boy he had been, so many years ago, but different, too: this was a Jem Tessa had only just begun to know. A young, healthy Jem, not a dying boy or a Silent Brother. A Jem who could love her with all his strength as she would love him back.
“We’ll take an airplane,” he said. “Maybe to Los Angeles.”
She smiled. She knew why they had to be there.
“We have time to do everything,” he said, tracing one of his fingers down the side of her face. “We have forever.”
Not forever, Tessa thought. They had a long, long time. A lifetime. His lifetime. And she would lose him one day, as she had lost Will, and her heart would break, as it had broken before. And she would put herself back together and go on, because the memory of having had Jem would be better than never having had him at all.
She was wise enough to know that, now.
“What you said before,” she asked. “That Jace Herondale loves Clarissa Fairchild more than anyone you’ve ever known except someone — you never finished the sentence. Who was it?”
“I was going to say you and me and Will,” he said. “But — that’s rather a strange thing to say, isn’t it?”
“Not strange at all.” She cuddled in close against his side. “Exactly right. Ever and always, exactly right.”
* * *
The end and the beginning.
source: Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
Will/Tessa comic from Cassandra Jean and [Cassandra Clare]. Tessa comes back from her yearly meeting with Jem with some news for Will. Or: when James Herondale got his name. With guest appearances by Charlotte and Cecily, Anna Lightwood and Charles Fairchild”.
source: Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
Today will be the happiest day the two of you will ever have together.
Will Herondale sat in the window of his new bedroom and looked out at a London frozen under a chilly winter sky. Snow dusted the tops of houses reaching away toward the pale ribbon of the Thames, giving the view the feeling of a fairytale.
Though at the moment, Will was not feeling very friendly toward fairytales.
He ought to be happy, he knew that much — after all, it was his wedding day. And he had been happy, since the moment he’d woken up, even through having Henry, Gabriel and Gideon troop into his room and bother him with advice and jokes while he was getting dressed, all the way up to the end of the ceremony. That was when it had happened. That was why he was sitting on a window seat staring at winter-bitten London instead of downstairs by the fire kissing his wife. His brand new wife.
Everything had started out perfectly well. It wasn’t strictly a Shadowhunter wedding, because Tessa wasn’t strictly a Shadowhunter. But Will had decided to wear wedding gear anyway, because he was going to be the head of the London Institute, and his children would be Shadowhunters, and Tessa would run the Institute by his side and be part of all of his Shadowhunter life and they should begin as they meant to go on, in his opinion.
Henry, wielding a stele from his Bath chair, helped Will with the runes of love and luck he’d decorated his hands and arms with before he put his shirt and gear jacket on. Gideon and Gabriel joked about what a terrible bargain Tessa was getting in Will, and how they would happily take his place, though the Lightwood brothers were both engaged, and Henry was delightedly married with a small and loudly screaming son, Charles Buford, currently taking up much of his parents’ time and attention.
And Will smiled and laughed, and looked in the mirror to make sure his hair didn’t look disgraceful and he thought of Jem, and his heart ached.
It was tradition for Shadowhunters to have a suggenes, someone who walked alongside them up the aisle to the marriage ceremony. Usually a sibling or a close friend — and if you had a parabatai, the choice for suggenes was made for you. But Will’s parabatai was a Silent Brother now, and Silent Brothers could not be suggenes. So that place beside Will would remain empty as he walked the floor of the cathedral.
Or at least it would look empty to everyone else. To Will, it would be filled with the memory of Jem: Jem’s smile, Jem’s hand on his arm, Jem’s unwavering loyalty.
In the mirror, he saw a Will Herondale, nineteen years old, who looked composed and calm: inside his soul breathed grief and love. Until this last year, he had never thought that the heart could hold a full measure of sorrow and happiness at the same time, and yet as he grieved Jem and loved Tessa he felt both in equal parts. He knew she did, too, and it was a comfort to the two of them to be together and share what few others had ever felt, for though Will believed profound grief and profound joy could happen at the same time, as equal love did, he could not believe it was common.
“Don’t forget the cane, Will,” said Henry, snapping Will out of his reverie, and he handed Will the dragon-headed cane that had been Jem’s. Will carried it, the jade head smooth under his fingers, as they made their way downstairs and into the heart of the church.
Will came in through the back and moved swiftly to the altar, decorated with heaps of white flowers that had come from Idris. They filled the room with a scent that reminded him of Herondale Manor in the Idris countryside, a great pile of golden stone where he and Tessa would now spend summer months. His heart lifted at the thought.
It lifted further as he leaned Jem’s cane against the altar and turned to face the room: he had been afraid that the Enclave of London, in their prejudice and bigotry, would avoid the wedding: feelings about the fact that Tessa was half-warlock ranged from indifference to outright coldness. But the pews were filled, and he saw beaming faces throughout: Henry beside Charlotte, who had left baby Charles in the care of Bridget, her hat trembling with a mass of flowers; the recently married Baybrooks, the Highsmiths and Bridgestocks, Sophie moving to make room for Gideon and Gabriel, and even Tatiana Blackthorn, holding the blanket-wrapped bundle of her son, Jesse, and wearing an oddly familiar pink dress.
Will glanced toward the back of the church…