Yet another oneshot. I know I said I would have more Gabriel-and he is in this one, in passing-but this little bunny came up and I had to write it. I'm still a bit iffy on the ending, but I'm told it was good. Many thanks to Team Jem Carstairs, for being my friend and wonderful Beta; Valkyrie-ShapeShifter666 for giving me the ideas of a cured Jem, a blonde-haired, purple-eyed Lightwood daughter, and a gold wedding dress-I honestly didn't know about that one.
Also, if you're interested, I have a link on my profile to a picture of what I think Jem might look like post-cure. And now, without further delay, on to the story. Do enjoy.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Clockwork Angel or any of its settings and/or characters. All of that belongs to the wonderful CC. I own only the plot.
She couldn't help but think that he was more handsome in that moment than she had ever seen him. His eyes sparkled and his soft hair was ruffled by the warm summer breeze. The dark of his hair and eyes set off his pale golden waistcoat. The cure had certainly done its work well. He stood straight, proud; beaming as though he were the luckiest man in the world and he knew it. When his gaze stopped upon her, she felt her stomach flip. Three years of receiving that look and he was still capable of melting her insides. She liked to think she was the lucky one.
There was Jessamine, in her cream colored gown. She was radiating excitement. She and Tessa had grown closer over the last few years. Tessa supposed fighting a clockwork army and facing down a pair of madmen together had done the trick. Jessamine's golden hair was pulled back into a mass of soft curls atop her head, woven with small white flowers. She was beautiful. Nest to her were the Lightwood sisters, Penelope and Evangeline. They were physical opposites, those two. Penelope, the eldest, was tall with a slim, willowy figure. Her long, white-blonde hair was curled back in similar fashion to Jessamine and her lavender eyes gleamed happily at Tessa. Evangeline-the sister who had apparently had some sort of interlude with Will-was short and just shy of being plump. Her dark hair was long and straight, refusing to stay curled and the flowers had long since fallen out. She quite a character, though. Where Penelope was quiet and polite, Evangeline was loud and brash. She was unafraid to make known how she felt and she did not care who was around to hear. She was so much like Will it was a bit unsettling. Her green eyes roamed the setting, taking in the guests and decorations.
She could see Will, looking rakishly debonair in his dark suit. His black hair was tousled attractively and his bottle blue eyes shone with mirth and a lightness she had not seen since she met him. He was happier now, these days, than when she had first met him. He had rid himself of the cruel, angry boy he was and had grown into the calm, but still mischievous man she saw before her. Despite their failed relationship, he was still one of her closest friends. Though, at the moment, his eyes were fixed on Evangeline, who was still observing everyone else. Tessa chuckled to herself, imagining the pair those two would make.
There was Charlotte in the front of the crowd, glowing in her red satin dress. Sophie sat next to her, free of her duties, stroking a purring Church, who gazed around with nothing more than mild interest. Tessa felt a pang in her chest, wishing Thomas and Agatha could have been there. She missed them terribly, but had the sense that they were watching the festivities from wherever they were. There were others present, as well. The Lightwoods; Benedict and his wife, Angelina-who had obviously lent her looks to Penelope-and beside the couple were Gabriel, looking handsome in a silver waistcoat that strangely complimented his eyes, and his large bear of a brother, Gideon. There were Penhallows, sitting relaxed and content. Aldertrees, Starkweathers, Morgensterns. Consul Wayland with his wife and children, even Magnus Bane was present. So many, that Tessa really couldn't recall ever having met, but the people she really ached to see were absent. Her mother, Elizabeth, and Aunt Harriet, fussing and cooing over her gown and the cake and the guests and her father, Richard, waiting to walk her down the aisle. Of course, Henry would give her away today and she felt her heart swell at the thought. Her family may not be here-her heart broke thinking of Nate-but she had Henry. Henry and Charlotte, Jessamine, Sophie, Will . . .
Her sweet, darling Jem, who looked so healthy and happy standing at the other end of the aisle, waiting for her to come to him. Jem, who had swept her off her feet with his kindness and simple understanding of how she felt about being what she was and losing her family and feeling so painfully alone. Jem, who had never failed to smile and reassure her, even as he lay sick in his bed from the poison. Jem, who had taken her all over London, sharing his secrets and pleasures and thoughts with her. Jem, who had courted her for two years, being the perfect gentleman he was and respecting her. Jem, who had taken her back to Blackfriars Bridge one year ago and fell to one knee. Jem, who had looked up at her with shimmering eyes-dark, the poison having been taken away and his color restored-and told her that he loved her and would she marry him? Of course she would. He was Jem.
Jem. Her Jem. Her James. Her love, her confidante, her best friend. Soon to be her husband, for as long as they had together. Her heart gave an uneven thump at the thought. Jem would be hers, for the rest of his life. She would become Mrs. James Carstairs.
A light touch at her elbow brought her attention to Henry, who looked so silly and handsome in his blue striped suit, waiting behind her with his left arm extended to her. He was practically radiating excitement and pure happiness and his smile was so contagious that she found it spreading on her own face. Her gray eyes met Henry's hazel and he asked if she was ready.
"I've been ready for a year now, Henry." she said, still grinning and Henry chuckled.
Tessa heard someone begin to play the organ, having received some signal that she hadn't seen and she moved with Henry to stand at the back door. The gold silk of her gown rustled. A few soft curls had escaped their chignon and fell to frame her face, tickling her rosy cheeks. She could smell the orange blossoms that Sophie had braided into her hair. They were in her bouquet, also, and she found herself studying the soft curvature of the petals. Henry noticed and nudged her gently, asking if she was all right.
"Yes, it's just that I've been waiting so long for this moment, now that it's here . . ." she trailed off, biting her lip.
"Never you mind your nerves, Tessa dear. I know exactly how you feel." Henry said. "I felt this way on my own wedding night, but I'll tell you-it's worth it." He offered her a winning smile and Tessa couldn't help but beam back. Reassured, she took a breath and nodded, signaling Henry to lead her out.
The wedding march reached its crescendo and all of the guests rose as she and Henry stepped out. Despite his outrageous apparel, no one was looking at Henry. Every set of eyes in the area was fixed on Tessa, but she could only see one pair. The darkest, deepest, most beautiful eyes belonged to Jem, who was staring at her as though he had never seen anything quite like her before, looking like something had stolen his breath away. He looked so handsome in his suit; the dark jacket and golden waistcoat. His skin had darkened to a peach tone and his Marks were visible on his hands and neck, like exotic tattoos. His hair was wind-blown and the sun-who had chosen to make a rare appearance-beat down on his dark head, making the espresso strands shine mysteriously. He was so beautiful, even without the ethereal silver tones of years past. He was healthy now and he had his whole life before him.
And he wants to share it with me, Tessa thought, failing to keep her heart from fluttering and her mouth from twisting up into a smile. Jem saw and smiled back at her, effectively stopping her heart before sending it galloping off right into his hands. She couldn't wrap her head around the idea that after today, they would belong to each other, and no one else. The thought made her giddy and satisfied. Mr. and Mrs. James Carstairs. She choked back her laugh and Henry shot her a slightly worried glance. She only smiled in response.
When they reached the end of the aisle, Henry paused, released Tessa's arm, and bent to press a kiss to her cheek. She thanked him and turned back to the altar, where Jem was standing, drawn up proudly and gazing at her with unadulterated love and respect and sheer awe. She blushed beautifully came to a stop right in front of him, unable to take her eyes off his face. Ecstasy and pure love rolled off of him in waves that broke upon her as the ocean might crash over rocks and she basked in it. She had never felt happier or more content in her entire life than she did in this moment. After losing her parents, Aunt, and then, finally, Nate, and being brought to London and fearing and fighting for her life, Tessa had often wondered who she really was and where she belonged. Now she knew. Standing here, eye to eye with Jem, seeing the love in his eyes and the smile on his face , was where she needed to be. Anywhere he was, anywhere he would go, by his side was where she belonged.
She did not hear the words when the Inquisitor began speaking the old, traditional lines, asking the ceremonial questions. She saw Jem's lips move, heard his voice when he repeated them back to her. His voice did not tremble. He did not hesitate in the slightest. He was firm and confident, soft and gentle; pouring everything he felt into those few sentences. Tessa had to take a very deep breath and swallow twice to get the tears back down. When her turn came, she was just a smooth as Jem had been. She spoke her sentences flawlessly, if not slightly breathless. Her hands trembled, though, and Jem reached out and folded them into his own, giving her the same crooked, encouraging smile she had grown accustomed to. And then it came.
"I do." Jem's voice was soft, like a silken caress to her ears and never would she have thought two small words would make her so happy.
"And do you, Teresa Gray, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband? To love and cherish him in times of darkness and light, in sickness and in health, for rich or for poor, as long as you both shall live?"
"I do." The words passed her lips and Tessa broke into a smile. She felt her heart swell until she might burst and the glow in Jem's eyes warmed her from the inside out. She felt weightless and happy and so in love, that she wondered how she could contain any of it.
"By the Angel Raziel, I pronounce you man and wife. You may now-"
Jem did not wait. His lips descended on hers in a way that was both fierce and gentle. Her arms came up around his neck and her hands tangled in his hair and she kissed him back for all that she was worth. In their kiss, in that single gesture, she could taste him and his promises of a happy life together. Promises that no matter what might come their way, he would be there and love her through it all. Promises that nothing would take them away from each other, not even the Angel himself. He was hers, and she his, for all the years to come.
When they broke apart, their eyes met and all that existed was each other. The din of cheers and whooping guests sounded miles away. Tessa thought she could hear Will shouting obscenities about their honeymoon, but she couldn't be sure. All she could see was Jem. His eyes were alight and his lips pulled up into the most dazzling smile. She smiled back, closing her eyes as he touched his forehead to hers.
"I love you, Tessa." he whispered, drawing the tips of his fingers down her face. His hands slid around her waist to pull her flush against him, and she laughed breathlessly, wrapping her arms around him. He nuzzled her neck affectionately.
"I love you, too, James." she felt him smile against her throat where he had placed a kiss there. He pulled back then, eyes still shining, and grinned devilishly. Tessa opened her mouth to ask why he was smiling that way, but her voice came out in a surprised cry when he swept her up into his arms and set off down the aisle, back inside the Institute.
"Jem!" she cried, though the smile on her face took away any possibility that she was actually angry with him. All he did was laugh and she was transfixed by the sound. It was deep and loud and rich and pure and it was the most wonderful thing she had ever heard. As they passed, the guests threw grains of rice and orange blossom petals and all around was laughter and smiling faces and the warmth of the brilliant sun. Tessa could only smiled and press a kiss to Jem's cheek as he let her down onto the floor of the ballroom. He was still laughing. Tessa didn't think she'd ever seen him so happy and carefree.
The room quickly filled with guests and so many people came to congratulate them that Tessa wondered if it would ever end. So many smiling faces and happy words. She could hear music begin to play-apparently Shadowhunters dabbled in the musical arts-and saw couples drift toward the center of the ballroom. Henry snatched Charlotte away from the Penhallows and drug her out to dance; Jessamine had consented to a dance with Gabriel; Will had ensnared Evangeline and Penelope was caught up in a handsome boy with light brown hair. Perhaps he was a Wayland. Tessa felt a light tough at her waist and soft strands of hair tickled her ear as Jem leaned in to whisper in it.
"May I have this dance, my wife?" he asked, and Tessa's heart fluttered at hearing the word 'wife'. She giggled and gave her consent.
"Of course, my darling."
Jem beamed down at her before taking her hand and sweeping her out into the center of the dance floor. Surrounded by a sea of swirling silks and long hair, and the sweet music of the violins weaving through them, Jem pulled Tessa close and lead her in a waltz. They smiled and gazed into one another's eyes and soon everything faded. The cadence of the violins and the swish of gowns and the clicking steps of shoes and the hum of voices all melted away until all that was left were Jem and Tessa.
Gazing at her, he thought she was the most radiant, divine being he'd ever encountered. The gold silk of her dress shimmered in the light and the neckline was low enough to expose her slender neck and fine shoulders; the ivory skin smooth and flawless. Her brown hair was an elegant twist of curls and braided orange blossoms. The smell of the flowers mixed with her own distinct scent and her gray eyes had brightened to an almost silvery glow and her smile was so bright and happy and loving that Jem found himself enamored with her, falling in love all over again with the beautiful creature before him.
Tessa knew that she had found her prince. All of the novels she had ever read came back to her now, with their dashing and witty heroes. Gentlemen of merit and honor, courageous and brave, who would always come to the aid of their ladies fair. Handsome knights in shining armor upon brilliant steeds who rode day and night, through rain and snow and blistering heat; slay dragons and all manner of monstrous creatures to get to their princesses and claim their happily-ever-after. And Jem had done this. He had fought countless demons and rogue, bloodthirsty vampires and an army of clockwork creatures and a madmen bent on claiming her for his own. He had done this for her; to keep her safe from harm and near to him. He had come to her rescue and now they had gotten their happily-ever-after. He was so handsome and kind and gentle a prince, that she felt her heart melt at just the sight of him.
They danced for what felt an eternity. It could have been minutes or hours, days or even years, but time had become irrelevant. Nothing could touch them here, in their own private little world. They were safe and happy and in love and wrapped up in each other. Tessa suspected it would be like this for the rest of their life. They would never want for anything, nor would they have any need. They would have each other and go from there. She thought of the young girls in her novels and how they spoke longingly of true love and marriage to handsome gentleman and how blissful it was and how nothing could ever compare; she found that they were correct, though it went so much deeper than that. More than mere poetry and the daydreams of maidens. This, what she had found in Jem, was real. It was real and tangible and it was hers; hers to keep and cherish and treasure for all her life.
It was hours before the wedding ended, officially. The other dancers had long since retired, leaving Jem and Tessa alone on the floor, lost in each other. Coming out of their trance, Tessa noticed Will, trying his best to charm young Evangeline-and not entirely failing-and Gabriel was just bending to press a kiss to Jessamine's gloved hand. Tessa was pleased to note that Jessamine's cheeks were stained a lovely shade of pink. She wondered if there would be anymore weddings, in the near future. Jem had pulled her into an embrace, his chin resting on the crown of her head. She relaxed into him. Together, they watched their guests mingle and idle, lingering on until exhaustion drove them to leave for their own homes. Poor Charlotte looked as though she might collapse where she stood. Sophie didn't look much better. Will, in an unexpected display of kindness, directed Sophie to her room to get to bed. She nodded, grateful, but paused on her way out to congratulate Jem and Tessa once more and bid them have a safe trip. Tessa smiled and pulled Jem over to where Will stood with Charlotte and Henry, and Magnus Bane, who was the only guest left.
"Are you both ready to depart?" he asked, smiling. He had offered to lend them a carriage and the use of his small mansion in the English countryside for the next couple of months. Very gracious of him, indeed, in Tessa's opinion, but she suspected he had a soft-spot for her.
"Of course Sophie and Jonathan, the Lightwoods' servant, helped to pack everything away." Jem said.
"Very good. I'll be waiting with the carriage." Magnus bid everyone a good night and strode outside.
Tessa turned to Charlotte and Henry, embracing them each in turn. "Oh, I'll miss you so much! Henry, do try to keep from blowing the Institute to pieces, won't you?"
Henry smiled. "I'll try my best, miss."
"You'll only be gone for a month or two, dear, we'll see each other soon." Charlotte chuckled, returning Tessa's embrace with warmth.
"Oh, I know. I'm being silly, aren't I?" Tessa smiled sheepishly, chuckling when she heard Jem laughing quietly behind her. She turned her attention to Will, who was stood off to the side, watching them with amusement and mirth in his eyes.
"Now, William, you behave yourself. No gambling and drinking and giving Charlotte an hard time."
Will made a pained face and clutched his chest. "Madame, you wound me. Have you so little faith in your friend?"
Tessa laughed. "Yes. Also, keep away from Six-Fingered Nigel. He's nothing but trouble. Do you understand?"
Will grinned. "Yes, Miss Gray. Rather, Mrs. Carstairs, I should say."
Tessa smiled brilliantly.
"It does sound wonderful, no?" Jem asked, coming up and taking her hand. "I rather like the sound of it myself."
Will chuckled and clapped his parabatai on the shoulder. "It does sound nice. You be careful, Jem, and enjoy your honeymoon thoroughly."
"Oh, Will." Tessa sighed. "Must you?"
Will's only response was to grin manically, to which Tessa only rolled her eyes and fought down a smile. Jem didn't bother hiding his.
"I will, thank you. And you be exceptionally cautious. I won't be here to get you out of any ridiculous situation or to prevent you from squabbling with Gabriel."
"You know, that last part doesn't sound so bad, really. Perhaps we'll be able to get our animosity out with you gone."
Jem sighed and muttered something along the lines of, "just don't kill the poor man" before saying goodbye once more and leading Tessa out to the carriage, where Magnus was lounging atop the driver's bench.
"Ah, there you are. I was beginning to wonder if you had changed your minds." he prattled, sitting up.
"Of course not," Tessa replied. "A few week away from this madhouse ought to do us some good."
Magnus smiled and Jem chuckled as he took her hand to help her up into the carriage. Will brought out the last couple of bags and placed them on the seat opposite Jem and Tessa. Going back to the front steps, he stood with Charlotte and Henry, waving to the carriage until it was completely out of sight, and then retreating into the Institute to retire for the evening.
Tessa sighed contentedly and leaning against Jem as Magnus set the carriage in motion down the road. He wrapped a lean, strong arm around her and kissed the top of her head. She snuggled closer, feeling the exhaustion begin to take over, flooding her mind and body. She yawned quietly.
"Are you tired?" Jem whispered, stroking her hair.
"Exhausted, really." Tessa murmured back, smiling. "I think I might have collapsed if you hadn't set me down."
Jem smiled against her hair. "Yes, I know how you feel. Tonight was splendid, though. Everything was perfect and you looked radiant. You still do, now."
Tessa's smile widened and she felt a light blush creep up on her face. "You exaggerate, Jem. Perhaps you've been dancing too long."
"Perhaps," he agreed mildly, dropping his voice so low that Tessa had to tilt her head closer to hear him. "But I do not think so."
Tessa's blush darkened and she closed her eyes, leaning her forehead on his. "You looked so handsome and healthy, tonight. Sometimes, I forget you look like this now and I expect to see silver hair and silver eyes. But if a difference in color is the price for your well-being, it is well worth it."
Jem let out a small hum of agreement. "I must agree. You cannot imagine how I felt, Tessa, the day they brought me the cure. The only thing I could think of was that now I would so many more years to spend with you. That one day, I would not double over in a fit of bloody coughing and lay on the brink of death. There is no poison in me, no addiction. I am free to be with you now, for more than just a small period of time."
"On the contrary, I felt much the same. I was so happy that they had found your cure and that you wouldn't have to suffer. It was horrific, to watch you smile and laugh and play your music one moment and then collapse on the floor, wracked with pain the next. I could only think that now you wouldn't be snatched away from me suddenly. We would have years to spend together."
Jem smiled. "And now you are my wife."
"And you are my husband." Tessa returned his smile and sighed into him when he pressed his lips to hers.
His lips were soft, undemanding, languorously caressing hers. He was gentle and she yielded, melting into him almost instantly. His kiss was loving and so tender that she felt she could cry. She found that she could become very used to kissing Jem. It was something she had never grown tired of, since the very first time on Blackfriars Bridge. It was as though she were born with a natural talent and when he kissed her she could only respond likewise. She felt all the love and affection and respect she had for him swell up in her and she poured every drop of it into that kiss.
He broke away slowly, giving her one last, lingering kiss before settling back against the seat and gazing up at her. He reached up and trailed his slim fingers from her cheek down to her exposed collarbone. She shivered delightfully. He offered a small smile.
"Ni hen piao liang." he murmured. Tessa caught his hand in hers, twining their fingers together. She pressed and gentle kiss to his lips and settled comfortably against him, relishing the feel of his arms settling around her. She yawned again, but she was so happy and content she couldn't be bothered to excuse herself.
Jem laughed silently, a slight shaking of his slender frame. "Have I ever told you that I loved you?"
Tessa smiled softly. "Only a thousand times, my dear."
"Only a thousand?" Jem said, with mock horror. "I must rectify this. I love you, Tessa Carstairs. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you."
Tessa chuckled tiredly. "You're so silly, James. But I love you, too. I love you, I love you, I love you. I always will."
Jem tightened his hold on her, leaning closer to whisper in her ear. "And I will always love you."
Outside the carriage, perched on the driver's bench, Magnus Bane smiled softly.
All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes
They're all I can see.
And that's that. What did you think? Please, leave a review and let me know. Also, I'm seeing a bit of GabrielxJessamine fluff in your future ;D
Until the next time, dear readers.