By Leanne Golightly
I do not own the Infernal Devices series or any of its characters. This is just for fun. Everything shadowhunter belongs to the talented Cassandra Clare. No copyright infringement intended.
Sorry for the delay—I loaned my friend my copy of Clockwork Angel, and without it, I didn't have the original chapter to work from. Now I do, and I'm back on it.
I was here courtesy of an invitation from a rich idiot who thought I went to Oxford with him. All it had taken was a tie and a silly handshake, learned by observing Rupert from a distance over a week or so, and now I was in the Pandemonium Club.
It wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped. In fact, I was going to have to report that everything was reasonably above board...unfortunately. Nothing but a bunch of privileged mundanes sitting down for a social evening with a few civilized downworlders.
Rupert pointed to a table in the corner of the room and whispered, "You really must have a game of cards. Supernatural, they may be, but they're useless gamblers. I won forty pounds the last time was here."
I smiled. How many times had I heard that statement in establishments like this? They would allow him to win until he felt over-confident enough to wager large sums of money, and then they'd leave him penniless and destitute. Still...nothing that wouldn't happen in any similar mundane establishment, and therefore, not a breach of the Accords.
I only intended on visiting once, so I'd take the offending downworlders' money and scarper. It equated to natural justice in my mind.
"Sounds like great fun. Lead on." I wrinkled my brow. "Where do I purchase some chips for the game?"
This might be where my cover was blown—my funds were minimal, to say the least, and I didn't doubt that Charlotte would refuse an excessive claim for expenses, especially if it was gambled away.
Without pausing, Rupert pulled out a bag and put a number of disks of various colours in my hands. The evening was definitely looking up—it had to be said.
Following behind my redheaded "school chum," I tried to ignore the glances that came my way. And who could blame them? I was much more attractive than my companion and no doubt, subconsciously, my Shadowhunter nature made me stand out.
It wasn't easy being me. I chuckled as we arrived at the table.
"Please, do you mind if we join you?" Rupert asked in his distinctive accent. He had a rather unfortunate lisp. I imagined that he wasn't used to being so low in the social food chain, and I could see why some downworlders would condescend to enjoy an evening of flattery from the elite of the human world.
Seven pairs of eyes glanced up at me. Four of them human, one warlock—he was betrayed by the blue crest, like a hen's, on the top of his head, and two vampires. One of the vampires, a female with vivid green eyes, smirked and licked her lips.
"By all means. So nice to see you again, Rupert. Although I hope that this time, you will leave some money in our pocket books."
"Lady Belcourt..." Rupert leaned forward and kissed her hand.
"Who is your friend?" the warlock asked. His face was stern—which was rather ridiculous given that his impressive comb wobbled as he spoke.
"Master William Herondale, Sir. I must say how very honoured I am to be here this evening—"
Obviously, he'd heard enough mundanes fawning over him for one night. I did as he requested and waited for the cards to be dealt.
It did not escape me that I had a pair of green eyes trained on me the whole time, as they looked across at me over the top of her hand of cards. Lady Camille Belcourt—she was one of Charlotte's informants, and I had heard her name many times. This was the first occasion that I'd been able to meet her personally.
It didn't take long before Rupert was left as poor as I had been when we'd first entered the establishment. He stood up, his face somewhere between white and green as he considered the amount that he had just lost, and as he steadied himself, he bent down to whisper in my ear.
"You're doing significantly better than me. Make sure you win well, Will—I'm going to need the chips I initially loaned you to...settle some debts."
I nodded my agreement and went back to my cards, smirking at the towers of chips I had before me. It had to be said that I left that table a wealthy man; there was something to be said for pretending to be just a regular human tampering with the occult.
Rupert was in a chair with his head in his hands, but his mood brightened instantly when I furnished him with a rather large pile of chips—much more than he'd supplied me with in the beginning.
"So how do I go about turning these into gin?" I asked in good humour.
Rupert enthusiastically led me into another room, and directly to the bar. It didn't take long until I had a glass in my hand and my companion became much more entertaining, living it up like the future lord that he was. Not wanting to expose myself for a fraud, the only logical thing I could do was to join him. Although, I wisely avoided the brightly-coloured downworlder cocktails and stuck to what I knew.
Gin...and lots of it.
As I knew my winnings would be taken off me as soon as I stepped across the threshold of the Institute, I managed to make myself rather popular with mundanes and downworlders alike by making sure everyone's glasses were full of whatever their poison was.
I was sitting in a chair when the crowd around me parted, and Lady Camille Belcourt gracefully approached.
"Congratulations, Mr. Herondale. I see that your winnings are being put to good use." As she spoke, the regular humans around me stared at her in dumbfounded awe. Outwardly, I made sure that I reacted accordingly, although instead of the vampire beauty, I saw a woman that should have been dead a long time ago.
Demons. That was the one thing that all downworlders had in common, and the reason why I despised them. Vampires and werewolves were mundanes infected by a demon disease, and Warlocks came from both human and demon parents—their often useful powers came from their demon side. Even the fey...they were part-angel, like myself, but their demon side made them cruel and not to be trusted.
I might be flawed, but a demon was something I was not. What had happened to Cecily left me with the desire for revenge—I was here to eradicate and police. The only exception to my rule was Jem, and that was because he was an innocent victim. He was another Cecily.
As Lady Belcourt threw me a suggestive smile, I got to my feet, but her aesthetics didn't tempt me for a second. When she linked her arm through mine and asked me to take a turn about the room with her, I made sure that I didn't recoil...and I was as charming as I knew how to be.
I knew what she wanted, but allowing vampires to bite me was something that William Herondale didn't do. I was the one that did the biting. While she courted me, I feigned interest, and looked around the room for Rupert, who it seemed had inadvertently turned himself a lovely shade of bright pink and was begging a warlock to assist him.
I left him to it. Before Lady Belcourt could lead me into a dark corner to have her wicked way, I made my apologies and escaped, smiling at the look of indignation on the vampire beauty's face.
As Jem and I caught up with Tessa and Charlotte, Tessa was being her usual curious self.
"Is it a curse, being a vampire?"
Charlotte shook her head. "No. We think it is a sort of demon disease. Most diseases that affect demons are not transmissible to human beings, but in some cases, usually through a bite or a scratch, the disease can be passed on. Vampirism. Lycanthropy—"
"Demon pox..." I had to add my two penn'orth.
"Will, there' s no such thing as demon pox and you know it." Charlotte scolded. "Now, where was I?"
What followed from there was a theoretical debate about damnation, with the conclusion that Tessa, Jem, and I shouldn't discuss our theories with Lady Belcourt. To be fair, I thought that my belief that there was nothing beyond this life might sit well with her, but I was resolved to be on my very best behaviour.
There was a first time for everything.
As we stepped into the unconsecrated Sanctuary, we found Lady Belcourt sitting in one of the black armchairs, as well dressed as the first time we'd met. It briefly crossed my mind that she must have been a sight to be seen when she was alive.
I saw the moment when she recognized me. Shock briefly flickered in her green eyes, no doubt as she understood that I'd been an incognito Shadowhunter. Then she recovered, eyeing me slightly—I could imagine that she'd not forgiven my ungentlemanly disappearance before I'd even offered her a drink.
Charlotte made the introductions. "Lady Belcourt, please let me introduce you to Miss. Theresa Gray. Beside her is Mr. James Carstairs, one of our young Shadowhunters, and with him is—"
"William Herondale." Lady Belcourt smiled. "Fancy you coming to greet me."
"You know each other?" Charlotte was astonished—obviously, she didn't know the social circles that I moved in.
As it was, my ill-gotten gains came to light, and Charlotte was less than impressed.
"Will, that money you won was evidence. You should have given it to the Clave."
"I spent it on gin," I said honestly.
I shrugged and prepared my straight face. "The spoils of vice are a burdensome responsibility."
"Yet one you seem strangely able to bear." See, I could always rely on Jem to ease my ego by pointing out my strengths. We exchanged a grin.
Lady Belcourt discussed the Pandemonium Club and De Quincey's involvement. She seemed very keen to elaborate on how dangerous he was and his dislike of the Nephilim and the Accords.
Jem leaned in toward me and whispered to me. "I get the feeling that a certain someone is a little fonder of our kind." I had regaled him with the tale of my experiences of my first meeting with Lady Belcourt, and it seemed that he'd noticed the way she was looking at me.
With a smirk, I responded out loud. "Indeed. How could anyone despise us when we are so charming?"
De Quincey's pretence was confirmed, and Lady Belcourt also informed us that the Dark Sisters catered for the darker interests of the Pandemonium Club. However, she knew nothing of the automatons.
It seemed that the catalyst for her sudden imparting of this information...was Tessa, and she'd seen Tessa's brother at the Pandemonium Club. Despite the look of desperation on Tessa's face for more news, Lady Belcourt began discussing the parties that De Quincy held at his town house.
Parties where mundanes were tortured and killed.
"But the murder of humans by the Night Children is forbidden under the Law—" I pointed out.
"And de Quincy despises the Law..." Lady Belcourt drawled.
Charlotte had the tight-lipped grimace that only appeared when she was barely holding back furious anger—I was very familiar with that expression. "How long has this been going on, Camille?"
Apparently, it had been going on some time, and Lady Belcourt, was unwilling to put her own "life" on the line to assist us. For the Clave to take action, we would need to witness these wrongdoings ourselves.
Needless to say, we weren't expecting an invite any time soon.
Jem stepped forward. "Lady Belcourt, if you pardon my asking, what is it exactly that you want from Tessa?" If it was my job to ask the impertinent questions, then I guessed intelligent questions were my friend's forte.
It seemed that Lady Belcourt had an invite...which she would gladly pass on to our shape-shifting guest providing she could create a convincing disguise. It was an excellent plan. Not only could we witness de Quincy breaking the Accords, but we could search for evidence of his mechanical experiments.
Tessa, however, did not seem as keen on the idea. "Will, I don't—"
"I would go with you. I wouldn't let anything happen to you."
"Will, no. You and Tessa alone in a house full of vampires? I forbid it." Charlotte's lack of faith stung a little.
"Then who would you send in with her, if not me? You know I can protect her, and you know I'm the right choice—"
Charlotte refused to entertain reason. "I could go...or Henry—"
Lady Belcourt, however, did see the logic in my plan. "I'm afraid I agree with William. The only individuals admitted to these parties are de Quincy's close friends, vampires, and the human subjugates of vampires. De Quincy has seen Will before, passing as a mundane fascinated by the occult. He won't be surprised to find that he's graduated to vampiric servitude."
So de Quincy had been there. Lady Belcourt was right—almost everyone attending would have seen the attention she lavished on me. For me to turn up as her subjugate wouldn't surprise anyone. No doubt it would save her face after my rejection, too.
"Most of the rest of the Enclave wouldn't be able to pass convincingly as a handsome young human subjugate—"
"Because the rest of us all are hideous, are we?" Jem smiled, but I noticed an edge behind his humour. "Is that why I can't do it?"
"No. You know why it can't be you." The essence of demon flowed through his blood; it was impossible to hide the effect it had on his body.
Jem stared at me and I tried to read his expression. He looked worried. For me? He knew I was more than capable of looking after myself. Disappointment? That confused me, too—Jem wasn't exactly a social butterfly, and I doubted that he'd regret missing a party.
He shrugged and looked away.
The next party would take place on Saturday. Driven by the possibility that her brother, or someone that might know what had happened to him, Tessa blindly agreed to the plan.
"Have you ever changed yourself into a Downworlder? Do you even know if it's something that would be possible?" I asked.
"I could try." She turned to the vampire who was watching the exchange in interest. "Could I have something of yours? A ring, or a handkerchief, perhaps."
Jem passed Lady Belcourt's necklace across to Tessa. As she held it in her hand, she closed her eyes and took a sharp breath. For a moment, she concentrated. Tessa's brown hair tumbled into a cascade of pale blonde, her chest inflated and threatened to spill out of her dress at any moment—much to my delight, and her face became an exact facsimile of Lady Belcourt's, who looked like the cat that had gotten the cream.
Her double, Tessa in Camille's form, panicked and then slumped back into one of the armchairs, grasping at her chest and looking distinctly ill, even for a vampire double.
"Tessa?" Jem went to her side.
"Oh, God. I—my heart's not beating. I feel as if I've died, Jem."
He stroked her hand, and for some bizarre reason, the concern he was showing our visitor bothered me. Jem whispered something and I looked away.
Once Tessa composed herself, she shook off her artificial form and the warlock was back. One thing was sure—she would need to practice until she could pass herself off as the cool, calm, and confident Camille Belcourt.
It seemed that we would have assistance in the form of Magnus Bane, Lady Belcourt's warlock lover, who was familiar with the de Quincy town house. Her candidness about the nature of their relationship obviously shocked Tessa, and I struggled to hide my amusement at her reaction.
"If someone will escort me out. It grows late, and I have not yet fed." Lady Belcourt smirked, and part of me wondered whether I was her escort of choice—and if she was considering claiming the drink she obviously felt that I owed her.
As it was, Charlotte sent both Jem and myself. The look of disappointment on the vampire's face told me that she wouldn't try anything against two Shadowhunters.
Author's Note: I won't duplicate Will's POV of escorting Lady Belcourt out of the Institute, as that was elaborated on in the book. Therefore, I will point you that way if you want reminding of what happened. Cheers, me dears.