As anyone who follows Cassandra Clare on twitter knows, she loves to tease her fans. We waited impatiently for the Dirty Sexy Alley Scene (yes, I do believe that's a copyright) and now we shall do the same for the Dirty Sexy Balcony Scene. All this sexual tension; it could easily be fixed by a quick trip to South Carolina to touch some melons! But enough with the euphemisms. This is a little something I imagined that could lead up to that stolen moment, hopefully romantically set looking over the river (although when surrounded by the smell of putrid waste, maybe not so romantic.)
PS it was really freakin' hard to write in character for these guys and I lent my friend my copy of Clockwork Angel so I couldn't even refer to it, but hopefully this isn't too awful.
PPS. So I know technically I should probably address the things Will said to Tessa at the end of Clockwork Angel. I mention Tessa's melancholy and their separation in passing, but that is as far as I'm taking it, simply because I just want to write some untainted fluff for this wonderful pairing that deserve more fiction. I kind of do address that conversation in my other Will/Tessa piece, Agramon, if you're looking for that kind of thing. (Shameless plugging of self: achieved.)
Disclaimer: I own nothing, except the serious hots for any male with the sirname Herondale.
Her long, dark curls were twisted and clipped so they sat on her right shoulder. A few strands fell around her pale face as Sophie put the finishing touches to her hair and eyeballed her in the mirror.
"You look wonderful," Sophie said with a warm smile as she fussed around with Tessa's dress. It was an expensive light blue number Jessamine had picked out for her with the promise of it making her eyes stand out. Tessa thought it made her looked washed out, but it was too late to change. The Institute was humming.
"Thank you, Sophie," she replied, smiling at the reflection in the mirror of girl behind her. Tessa moved towards the window and peered out. Carriages were spilling open and shadowhunters were swarming through the doors. She knew that somewhere down there, Charlotte and Henry were greeting them all, although she suspected Henry was probably making something explode somewhere. She sighed. "We should probably go and help Charlotte welcome everyone in."
"I'll go," Sophie said, casting one last appraising look over Tessa. "Oh, I almost forgot." She walked over to the bed and picked up the mask that lay there. She handed it to Tessa with a smile. "Put that on and no one will even be able to tell it's you."
"Perhaps that's a good thing," she mumbled quietly. Sophie slipped out of the door and Tessa turned around with a sigh to fasten the mask over her eyes. The masquerade ball was in celebration of defeat of the vampires – something she felt was past the point of celebration now, but the Clave seemed insistent, and she suspected it was just because they enjoyed a party.
She felt nervous about going down there, entering alone. After all, she was an outsider and she knew she could never be one of them. Almost as if the thought had travelled, there was a knock at the door. She approached it and called from the other side without opening, "who is it?"
"Your escort for this evening, should you require one."
She could hear the smile in Jem's voice and relaxed against the door. "Jem."
"Good evening, Tessa. So, have I the pleasure of entering the ball with you?"
"My identity is supposed to be a secret," she replied, fumbling with the handle "but I suppose I'm willing to share my secret with you."
She opened the door and he was waiting with a sweet smile on his face, arm extended. He was dressed in a fine suit and his eyes glittered through his mask. His eyebrows rose.
"What?" Tessa said self consciously, patting her dress down.
"I wouldn't have recognized you if I hadn't been walking you out of your own room," Jem said thoughtfully. He smiled at her. "I suppose that is the point of the ball."
"The one night we can be ourselves."
"How do you mean?"
"Well," Tessa said "it's the one night you can be anyone you want to be, isn't it? No one knows who you really are."
Jem seemed to think this over and shot her a smile. "This is true." He chuckled and took her arm.
"You're in a good mood this evening," she said as she pulled her door closed and set off down the hall without any hurry.
"It is a fine one," he said, pulling open a door to a staircase "and the company is excellent."
Tessa blushed and picked up her skirts as she slowly descended the stairs. Jem followed her.
"Do you think Charlotte needs our help welcoming the guests?"
"I think Charlotte is very capable of handling herself," he said, with amused eyes "although the Lightwoods have been invited, so she may need our help later to pull Gabriel and Will off of each other."
Tessa felt her stomach drop to her feet as he mentioned Will. She had been doing her upmost to forget that he existed and it hadn't been easy. Will had certainly been helping her with that task; they had barely spoken a word to each other in weeks. After that night on the roof, well... Tessa had needed time to come to terms with the things he had told her.
They reached the bottom floor and the room opened up into the entrance way. It was filled with shadowhunters in their finest garbs, for one night only, their identity secret. Tessa headed into the crowd and turned to find that Jem had disappeared in the throng. "James?"
"Tessa!" Jessamine was heading straight for her. She forced a smile onto her face.
"You look simply... charming. I was right, of course. The dress does bring out your eyes. All you needed was my help to look presentable!"
Tessa quickly rearranged her features into a smile. "Thank you."
Spotting Charlotte by the door, Tessa muttered an apology and darted towards her as Jessamine saw someone she knew and was momentarily distracted. Tessa squeezed through the crowd, brushing past Gabriel Lightwood who was talking loudly and animatedly about some demon he had slain that very day.
"Great big brute of the thing, took it down with one swipe..."
"Died at the sight of you, did it Lightwood?"
Will's voice came from right beside her as she was pushing past Gabriel and she realised she was caught right between the two of them. She bumped into Will and glanced at him, as he muttered a sorry that didn't sound very repentant at all. She saw his eyes dart to her face and away from her again before they flicked back and met hers. Something in his dark eyes, just visible behind his mask, made her stop for a second; they were so open and unguarded, and she could have sworn –
He looked away from her, emotions firmly clamped down upon and turned his attentions back towards Gabriel, jaw tight. Tessa came about her senses and hurried toward Sophie, who had taken over Charlotte's stead and was welcoming in the last of the stragglers.
"Sophie," she said breathlessly, shaken from her encounter with Will, "do you need any help?"
"Are you alright?" the other girl asked, reaching out to touch her arm "you look a little shaken."
"I'm fine," Tessa said, forcing a smile into place "I just – well I was awfully bored up there on my own. I thought I'd come down and see if there was anything I could do."
"That's everyone, I believe," Sophie replied, looking out at the light rain falling through the London night. "I think it's almost time to dance."
Tessa felt uneasy at this. She hadn't experienced many dances before. She knew a little about dancing but not enough to know if she had any skill. The entrance way was slowly emptying and the hall was becoming full as the band started up. Tessa edged to the doorway and looked in. Everywhere there were masked gentleman bowing to ladies and asking them to dance. The floor was filling fast, but Tessa couldn't recognize anyone. The masks did their jobs well; although it was probably didn't help that Tessa didn't know half of the guests anyway.
"Would you like to dance?"
Tessa turned to the person beside her, a warm smile on her face. "Henry."
"You looked a bit lost," he said, looking down at her over the rim of his glasses.
"I was just trying to work out if there were any familiar faces out there," Tessa said, glancing back at the crowd. She saw Jem extract himself from it and head towards them.
"Ah, here comes one now," Henry said with a small smile. Tessa smiled at Jem as he reached her. She turned to speak to Henry, but he was gone.
"Charlotte must have called," Jem said with a shrug. "Anyway, you looked a little lost, so I was wondering if you'd like to dance."
"Funny," Tessa said, brow furrowing "Henry said that too."
He gave her a reassuring smile. "Come and dance, you'll soon feel better."
"I'm not very good," she said nervously.
"Nonsense," Jem said, "it's all in the leading."
She took his hand and he led her to the floor. He didn't pull her close or make her feel uncomfortable; they quickly fell into the crowd and became one of them. Tessa sighed with relief as her feet managed to follow his fairly easily and laughed, embarrassed, when Jem cocked an eyebrow.
"It's nice not to be just... watching" she shrugged. "And I've just discovered that I like dancing."
"Good," he said with a smile. He seemed to contemplate something for a second and then he looked at her in a way she couldn't read. "Tessa, I was wondering if -"
"May I cut in?"
Tessa and Jem both turned and saw Gabriel Lightwood standing behind Tessa, smiling politely. Jem's eyes narrowed but he looked down at Tessa to let her choose. She looked uncertain.
"Just once around the floor," Gabriel implored her, "that's all I ask."
Tessa bit her lip and nodded, stepping out of Jem's arms and into Gabriel's. Jem looked unhappy as he faded back into the crowd. Tessa tried to catch his eye and mouth an apology, but he was already gone. With a barely repressed sigh she turned to Gabriel and let him lead her in the waltz they were partaking in.
"So," he said, leading her around the floor "Tessa, isn't it? Ah, I forget myself. Miss Grey? The girl that shouted at me."
"I'm not here to scold you," he laughed good naturedly as they skirted around a shadowhunter whose date had lost a shoe "I just wanted to meet you formally. We've never been properly introduced."
"Oh," she said, the blush fading from her cheeks.
"Indeed." He stopped and looked around. "Ah, it seems as if we've had our turn. Must be a small floor. Would you like a drink?" he tugged her along behind him without waiting for an answer. Sophie was serving drinks and raised an eyebrow at Tessa as they approached, but stayed silent as she poured two drinks and handed them to Gabriel. He handed Tessa her glass and looked down at her.
"Now I know what you must be thinking," he said, sipping from his cup, "but I'm not at all like Herondale makes me out to be. The Lightwoods are a very respected family and I -"
"Talking about me again, Lightwood?" someone growled from behind them. Tessa spun and saw Will standing very close to her, staring daggers at Gabriel. He was still wearing his mask. She shot him a look of pure relief but he didn't even glance in her direction.
"Is he always this prompt?" Gabriel asked Tessa sarcastically, moving towards her, but before he could take a step, Will had stepped in front of her, blocking his path. She gasped quietly and looked down at his hands, which were curled into fists at his side.
"Go away, Lightwood, before I get rid of you myself."
Gabriel smirked "try me, Herondale."
Will made a sound not unlike a snarl and leant forward – before he stopped and glanced back at Tessa. Worry was written in her eyes as she glanced around at the crowd that was beginning to gather, and then straight into his eyes. They hadn't really looked at each other in weeks, and it took her breath away. His midnight eyes said everything she'd wanted to hear from him, until he blinked and took it all away from her – again.
He stepped away from Gabriel and away from Tessa, deliberately not looking at her. She bit her lip; they were back to this again.
"Wouldn't want to ruin Charlotte's party," Will said coldly, backing towards the doors of the hall. "Another time though, Lightwood. You can count on it."
Gabriel smirked as Will turned on his heel and fled the room, darting stealthily around the dancing couples. Tessa watched him go, heart pounding as she thought about going after him; she couldn't; he didn't want to know her, it wasn't proper.
But he doesn't look at anyone else like that.
Gabriel moved closer and took her arm. Snapping out of her reverie, she looked down at his hand on her arm and up at Gabriel's smiling face.
"Don't worry about Herondale, I'll deal with him another time."
Disgusted, Tessa pulled her arm from his hand sharply and turned away from him without a word. She hurried towards the door, hoping she could find where he went.
"Miss Grey?" Gabriel called as she left "Tessa?"
She ignored him and darted into the hall, the light spilling in on the darkness from behind her. She saw Henry descending the staircase and picked up her skirts, dashing to meet him.
"Henry!" she gasped, "have you seen Will?"
Henry was a million miles away, tinkering with something he'd just finished making. He walked straight past her, muttering to himself.
Tessa watched him disappear into the hall and cursed. Suddenly something stepped out of the shadows and stood at the bottom of the staircase.
"Will," she mouthed, moving down a step, closer to him.
"Tessa," he said, his tone serious. They stared at each other for a moment, eyes roaming over each other's faces hungrily. Both were deterred by the masks still on their faces.
"I'm sorry about Gabriel."
"You've nothing to apologize for," he said with a shrug "Lightwood is insufferable. He always has been."
She moved another step closer to him. "You know, I think I might be inclined to agree."
He cracked a smile. "I always knew there was something about you I liked."
She felt her skin heat up in pleasure at his compliment and was glad of the shadows to hide the blush. Will had moved to stand on the bottom step.
"Tessa, I... I am sorry."
Tessa didn't reply, but she knew what he was referring to. She had been fighting the desire to forgive him for weeks now, because she had barely been able to stand being so far away from him. Now, when they were so close, she could not bear to say anything to make him push her away from him again. They stood in silence for a moment before he cleared his throat.
"What are you doing out here?" he asked her, "Why aren't you enjoying the party?"
"Why aren't you?" she replied, fiddling with her necklace.
"It was becoming a little... challenging for me," he replied, taking another step up to her. They were close now, only a few steps apart.
"Oh," she said softly, moving down another step so her face hovered just about his. She swallowed loudly and watched his eyes follow the movement of her throat. When he looked back at her face, she could see an undisguised hunger in his eyes, a hunger that made her think of vampires, dusty attics and holy water...
His hand reached up slowly and pulled a strand of her hair towards him gently. Quickly, before she could blink, he had taken the next step up so they were face to face, their lips close enough to brush.
"I cannot describe to you," he said, eyes tormented and his voice broken, "the pain of seeing you in another man's arms."
"Gabriel is -"
"Not just Gabriel," he said bitterly, his voice laced with pain. "Any man."
Tessa's lips formed an oh shape and Will made a growling sound in the back of his throat, reaching out to pull her to him –
When suddenly, all hell broke loose.
All the lights went out, the hall filled with screams and something exploded. People were running in all directions, trying to find any source of light they could.
Will turned away from Tessa just as her eyelids fluttered closed with a deep sigh. She felt his hand caress her cheek gently before he was off, flying through the doors like an avenging angel. She heard him yell something along the lines of "you're shadowhunters, it's called a witchlight!"
Tessa took a deep breath, unsure whether to laugh or cry. She backed up a few steps into the darkness and sank to the floor as the lights reappeared below and Henry stumbled out, apologizing profusely.
"I really did think I'd gotten that fixed! Sorry, sorry!"
Tessa stood silently and hurried up the stairs, following the first corridor she came across. She was still getting used to the Institute and often found herself lost. She knew where she would go, though. Aside from the library, there was one other little place she'd found and fallen in love with.
The balcony had never been occupied when she'd come out. It looked over the river and over London, the streetlamps shining like a million little stars over the Thames and into the never ending distance. She came here to think; about Nate and her Aunt, about missing New York, about her identity, about her feelings for Will...
Just as she leant over the railing, the door opened behind her. She turned sharply and saw it was Will, looking just as surprised as she was.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"What are you doing here?" he shot back, letting the door close. Tessa turned with a sigh to look out on the night again.
"I come here to think."
She heard him moving behind her and then he was stood next to her, leaning over the railing too.
"I do that, too," he said, smiling slightly. "It's a good place for that. This is one of my favourite places in the Institute."
Tessa hid a smile, secretly delighted that they both shared this place and cherished it similarly. They fell into silence. The streetlights sparkled in a way that bounced off Will's eyes as her turned to her.
"Henry," he said, looking thoroughly amused "built something new. He thought it would detect demons, but it just turned out all the lights. He's very good at that. Maybe if he tried to make something is actually supposed to out the lights he'll accidently make something useful."
Tessa laughed and the breeze brushed through her hair, catching Will's with it. He stared at her for a moment and his eyes became darker, suddenly very serious.
"You look beautiful tonight," he said quietly, stepping away from the railing and closer to her. She looked down with a blush and he lifted her chin with his finger and thumb. Slowly, so slowly she dared not breathe, he tugged her mask from her face and threw it to the ground beside them. The cool air hit her face when the mask had covered it and made her shiver. His fingers moved to her hair and gently untangled the pins holding them place. The curls escaped as the hair pins joined the mask on the floor. Will's eyes were burning as he stepped even closer to her and ran a hand through her freed dark locks, cupping his hand behind her head.
"Will," Tessa gasped as his strong arm found its way around her waist and pulled her closer "Will, I -"
He silenced her by pressing his lips gently to hers, just soft enough to stop her from uttering another word. He felt her arms throw themselves around her neck as her body fell against him.
"Please," she said, looking up into his hooded eyes "talk to me, Will."
He pressed a chaste kiss to her throat and her head fell back in pleasure. She had never been touched like this before. "I shouldn't," he mumbled against her skin, inhaling her smell "I shouldn't love you, Tess, but I can't not."
He felt her body heave as she sucked in a gasp of surprise. She tried to reach out to him, to find his lips again, but he didn't let her. Instead, he reached up and unlocked Tessa's hands from around his neck.
Okay, so this turned out way longer than I'd planned, but that's cool. The last line is from the excerpt Cassie herself tweeted, so if you haven't read it yet... go find it! Google has everything.