|Dreams of Reality
Author: Northern-Soul PM
CLOCKWORK PRINCE SPOILERS. Tessa has trouble coming to terms with Nate's death. Jem comforts her. Short and hopefully! sweet. R&RRated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Romance - Jem C. & Tessa G. - Words: 1,930 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 3 - Published: 12-22-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7663160
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
She hadn't thought much about what she was going to do after leaving the institute. A small distant part of her mind seemed to have held onto her brother Nate and assumed, however fruitlessly, that when this whole mess was sorted he would keep her safe and provide for her until she found her own stability in a suitable husband. It was a ridiculous notion she knew, but Tessa had been clinging to it all the same. But now Nate was gone; dead.
And Tessa was completely alone.
It was horrible, the feeling of aloneness that accompanied the grief and horror of watching her brother die in her arms, to have Nate's last words lingering in her mind like the ghost of him himself. I will burn Tessie. In his last moments he was more the brother she remembered than he ever had been since she first stepped foot in London. Naive, foolish even, but not evil, not vengeful. Just her brother Nate. And the thought of him never coming back, despite all that he had done, was carving a hole in her heart as surely as if a knife was piercing her flesh. She was spilling sorrow as one might spill blood, seeping and messy like a half healed wound.
So it was of no surprise to her that when she turned in for the night sleep was as evading as a dream in the morning light. And what little she did grasp was plagued with her brother's lifeless eyes screaming for forgiveness and mercy.
Her room was cold, the fire in the place long since turned to ash as Tessa huddled under her blanket, trying to force the latest dream from behind her eyes. It was useless. With each blink she could see the images as if they were painted against the back of her eyelids.
Agitated, she rose from her bed and wrapped her dressing gown around herself. She stoked the fire, willing life back into the embers before heading over to the window and gazing out over the sleeping city. Lights still shined from many windows despite the late hour. Tessa leant her head against the cool glass and closed her eyes. The window misted over with the heat of her breath.
"Stop it," she begged in a whisper, her fingertips coming up to brush against her eyes. "Just shut it off. This is silliness. Nathaniel was..." Cruel, evil, intent on turning me over to the Magister. "My brother," she finished on a chocked breath. "Oh Nate..."
Tessa's eyes flew open and she jerked her head back from the glass. She hadn't heard her bedroom door open but Jem stood there, his hand still on the knob and his kind face twisted in an expression of concern. He was dressed in his night clothes, obviously roused from sleep himself.
"Are you crying?" He asked as he moved towards her, closing the door quietly behind him. Tessa lifted a hand to her face, surprised when it came away wet. She hadn't even realised her grief had manifested itself as tears. She turned back towards the window embarrassed.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, not unkindly. She was weary and she didn't know if she would be able to deal with Jem's kindness without completely falling apart. He was always so good to her and he was so beautiful that it broke her heart. She didn't deserve him and in the moment she longed for Will's blunt honesty and crass demeanour rather than the sympathy in Jem's eyes that was sure to send her to her knees. She didn't want him to see her weak as she was.
"I saw the fire light and could hear you moving around. It's late. I only wished to make sure you were alright, but clearly you are not," Jem said, coming to a stop behind her. He was so close that Tessa could feel the heat of him against her back but still she did not turn. One look, one touch and she knew she would fall apart.
"I am fine," Tessa replied, her voice as steady as she could make it through the lie. "Do not concern yourself James. I simply woke and could not go back to sleep. The room was cold so I relit the fire and came to the window to watch the London lights." It was true, in part, excluding the reason behind her inability to sleep.
"Then how do you explain your tears?" Jem persisted. Tessa felt his hand move to push a loose curl behind her ear. His fingers lingered on the skin of her neck causing a quiet shudder. "I am worried about you Tessa. I can see in your skin and your eyes that you are not restful at night and now I find you crying."
"I am fine," She repeated but her body had slumped. She had no energy to carry on the lie convincingly and the gentle touch against her neck was too much – too sweet in a time when she could only despair.
"Look at me Tess." She was unable to disobey and turned her gaze to meet his compassionate eyes. His hand slid down so he was gripping her shoulder as his other arm came up to hold her other, as if to keep her grounded. Her eyes flickered at his gentle touch.
"I know you miss him," Jem said and gently stroked his thumb up the expanse of her neck, sympathy clear in his eyes. "Nathaniel," he clarified and Tessa jolted at the use of his name. No one had uttered it but her since he had died, at least not in her presence. Her eyes flickered down to the floor as she felt moisture gather in them again.
"Don't hide," Jem insisted, lifting her head with the hand that had previously been stroking her. His soft voice wrapped around her like a security blanket. "There is no reason to be ashamed of loving your brother and grieving his loss Tessa. But you cannot bear the burden yourself anymore. It is not healthy and everyone is concerned. You are not yourself."
"I am sorry," Tessa whispered her voice unsteady. "I did not mean to make everyone worry."
"Oh Tess," Jem breathed and pulled her against him. Tessa went willingly, resting her head on his chest and surrounding herself in his warmth as his arms encompassed her. Tears spilled unheeded from her eyes as she knew they would but she was powerless to stop them. "Not one of us wants your apology, we only wish for your smile once more. That's all we want, all I want." His hand stroked her hair as she shuddered against him, her fingers digging desperately into the back of his nightshirt as if he were about to fade away in front of her. He was so gentle, she thought, so delicate that he might just do that.
"I cannot sleep at night," she confessed into the front of his shirt. "I have dreams. I see Nate, dying. Begging for his life. And I remember the older brother I grew up with – clumsy and silly and protective and I can't not grieve that he is gone. I knew what he did, all the horrible, cruel things but he was my brother Jem, my brother. And I loved him. Does that make me a terrible person? For loving a monster? For wishing he was with us still?"
"No Tessa," Jem assured her, his grip tight as he buried his face in her hair so his breath brushed her ear with each word. "It makes you loving, caring and kind. It makes you Tessa. I would worry more if you did not mourn the death of your family. But, Tessa, you must let him go. I know it is hard to forget, to move on, but this guilt and hurt that you are carrying on your shoulders is weighing you down in the most horrific ways. You need to smile Tessa and you need to sleep."
She knew there was truth and logic in his words but still...
"I cannot sleep," she said. "I have nightmares every time I close my eyes, even if just for a moment."
Jem pulled back and for one horrifying moment she thought he was going to leave but he only clasped her hand in his.
"Come with me," he told her and lead her from the room and across the darkened hallway to his own bedroom. She followed blindly, trusting him even if she were confused at his actions. He drew her over to the bed and dropped her hand so he could pull back the blanket. Realisation dawned.
"Jem, we cannot," she protested and took a hesitant step back. "It is not proper."
"It is not more improper than what occurred here the other night," Jem replied and they both blushed scarlet at his blunt words. "But I promise not to touch you inappropriately. It's just sometimes the best thing for night terrors is a change of scenery, a blank canvass as it were. You can trust me."
She could trust him, she knew she could. It was that knowledge accompanied by sheer exhaustion that had her slipping off her dressing gown and crawling into Jem's bed. He pulled the covers up over her immediately, his cheeks tinged with pink as he smiled nervously. Tessa blushed, realising the skin she had uncovered by removing the gown but he had seen her in less so the embarrassment was short lived. She watched as Jem circled the foot of the bed before slipping under the covers himself. This was horrifically inappropriate and Tessa could almost feel Aunt Harriett turning over in her grave at the thought but if this were going to allow her a good night's rest then she didn't care. She would berate herself in the morning.
The two of them laid stiffly with a foot of space between them, both unsure as to what to do before Jem moved closer to her. Tessa turned towards him as he tentatively laid an arm on her waist and pulled her that much closer so she lay in the cradle of his arms.
"Is this okay?" he asked, his voice unsure. Tessa nodded and rested her head on his shoulder, her eyes already falling closed with fatigue as Jem's scent surrounded her. It was comforting and warm. She sighed when she felt Jem's lips press lightly against the crown of her head, then flutter against her closed eyelids before brushing tentatively against her mouth. She breathed him in and kissed him back lightly before burying her head in the juncture between his neck and shoulder.
"Sleep Tessa," Jem urged her quietly and she smiled for the first time in days as his fingers began a comforting dance on her back. "I'll be here when you wake up, I promise. I won't ever leave you."
He pressed another kiss to the top of her head as her breathing evened out, indicating she had finally fallen asleep. He kept up the gentle stroking with his fingers as he let his own eyes flutter shut a relieved smile on his face.
"I'll still be here Tessa," he repeated softly though she was unable to hear him through the heavy fog of sleep.
"I love you."
AN/ A little Jem/Tessa. Reviews are most appreciated! :)