Title: My Dearest Jem
Summary: What lengths would Tessa go to in order to save Jem from his inevitable death? What would she sacrifice to save him? One-shot.
Tessa sauntered down the street slowly, taking in the sights. There wasn't much to see, as it was nearly dusk and the sky was a steel gray and the ground was damp and covered with dust. Then again, Tessa wasn't walking around for sightseeing, she just needed to get away.
It had been 3 months since Will had propositioned her, and they hadn't spoken much. Rather, she spent most of her days seeing the city with Jem, listening to him play his violin, or talking with him of her past life with Nathaniel and Aunt Harriet. Jem was an excellent listener, always knowing when to speak and when to be silent. He was never impatient with her, and she felt as though she could tell him anything. As they grew closer, she even spoke with him of her previous 'encounters' with Will. He listened patiently, though she could see him flinch when she mentioned their kisses and his fists would clench when he learned that Will had propositioned her. Even through this, he sat quietly and let her finish speaking. Sometimes she would cry, and he would hold her as she drenched his shirt with her tears.
Tessa had never met someone like Jem, someone so kind, so pure, so honest, so gentle.
Tessa had always thought she loved Will. Her heart would pound when he entered into a room, and her cheeks would flush when his deep blue eyes gazed into her lifeless gray ones. With Jem, however, she felt different. Her heart didn't pound as it did with Will, but it felt complete. It felt as though the missing piece had been replaced. She felt flutters in her stomach and his voice filled her with a warmth that she had never known. Maybe this was love, after all. Maybe her feelings towards Will were just desire and passion, but her feelings for Jem were warm and dreamlike and perfect, just as he was.
Every moment with Jem as precious, and she treasured them all. Spending more time with him, she began to realize how fragile his life really was. It seemed as though his illness spells were becoming more frequent, and she began to wonder what it would be like to live without him. The thought of a world without Jem tore through her chest like a knife and left her feeling empty and cold. The hollow feeling it left in her soul was unlike anything she had ever known.
She looked around the dark, gloomy streets and realized that her life would be this dull and lifeless knowing that he was not around. She could not bare the idea of living without him. She had grown to depend upon him. When she was unable to sleep, he would play her a lullaby that warmed her soul and eased her mind into pleasant dreams. When she was feeling down, he would place his hand upon hers, look into her eyes and remind her that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
Jem was, by far, the greatest thing that had happened to Tessa, which was why she was no currently wandering the streets. In the past week, Jem's supply of 'medicine' had been dwindling down. For some reason,his warlock supplier had vanished. Magnus was currently doing everything he could to locate another supplier or to find the missing warlock. Charlotte and Will had been looking for alternate sources, but everyone had yet to find anything that may help nurse Jem back to health.
Tessa had spent every night of the past week sitting at Jem's side as the coughing fits grew worse and worse. Jem no longer had the energy to rise from the bed. Sure, Jem still had some of the 'drug' left in his system, but it wouldn't last long. He only had enough to last one or two more days. After that, he would survive only on what was left in his body. Meaning, in other words, that Jem would be gone in less than a week. Tessa had only left his bed now, because Will insisted that he wanted time with Jem alone. His insistence had been the only words that he had spoken to her in weeks, and the pain of losing Jem made her unwilling to argue with Will. So she took to herself and decided to wander the streets, back to Blackfriars Bridge, Jem's favorite spot in London. A spot that Jem would probably never visit again.
The thought left Tessa feeling cold and empty, a feeling she hadn't experienced since before she knew Jem. It was unbearable to think that someone as innocent and precious as Jem would leave the world forever, yet cruel and wicked beings, like the Magister, lived on. It was a cruel and twisted fate.
What would become of my life without Jem? I loved everyone at the Institute like family, but it wouldn't be the same. I hardly ever spoke to Will anymore, and I'm sure that he would be infinitely more distant once Jem was gone. Jessamine could only hold one's interest for so long. Sophie was a pleasant friend, but nothing like Jem. No one can replace my Jem.
No one who could make Tessa feel as though her heart were on fire and her life were worth living. A life without Jem is a life not worth living, Tessa felt.
Tessa reached the Blackfriar Bridge, and sat down, looking quietly over the river, under the moon, and savoring the silence. This was where she felt Jem's presence the strongest. This place reached into her soul and comforted her, knowing that it would still remain even when Jem was gone.
Tessa felt a presence over her shoulder and turned to see a woman, with a black cape, standing to her right. Tessa felt her heart race, as she attempted to rise, hoping that she would not, again, be attacked at this location. After all, this time, she had been unreasonable and had walked the streets alone, which a lady of her sort should never do. Tessa hoped that she could be fast enough to get away. She jumped up, about to run, when the lady called her by name.
"Miss Gray, is it?" she asked, her voice scratchy and unpleasant, sending chills to her spine.
Tessa pretended to ignore the woman, as she turned to walk away swiftly.
"Do not run, Miss Gray. I have a proposition for you," she said, sounding sickly sweet, yet so unnerving.
Tessa slowed her walk but did not turn around.
"I have something, something that can help your friend. You do have a friend in need, do you not? A friend who has grown ill?"
Tessa froze. Her stomach clenched, and she shuddered from head to toe. How could this woman know of Jem?
Tessa turned to face her, warily.
"How do you know of this friend?"
"Ah, I work for the Magister. He knows of your friend. He knows all. He is very displeased with the stunt that you have pulled. However, he would like to offer you a deal. A deal that I think you will consider. If, of course, your friend means that much to you," she said, goading Tessa.
"I'm listening," Tessa spoke, crossing her arms in front of her, as the woman's presence gave Tessa a chill.
"The Magister offers the cure, the cure for your friend. He asks only for you in return," she said, smiling a wicked smile. Tessa toes curled at the sight, as it was the most unpleasant of sorts.
"Absolutely not. I do not trust the Magister one bit. This 'cure' is probably just a hoax to lure me to him, and I refuse to accept," Tessa said, turning to walk away.
"Oh, a hoax it is not, my dear, that I can assure you. The Magister does not lie about matters such as these."
"And how can I know you speak the truth?"
"I can provide a binding spell, a spell that detects any dishonesty on the others part. It is a spell that will bind both users to their word, ensuring that their words are true. It is my power, as a downworlder."
Tessa's heart began to race. A cure for Jem. A way to ensure that his smiling face would never leave this earth, at least not from an illness that he did not deserve. A way to keep someone so deserving of life in this world.
However, it would mean throwing away her life. It would mean possibly being used by the enemy. That did not matter, though. For Tessa knew that if the time came, she would be able to use the knife truly, rather than being used by the Magister to hurt those she cared for. If it came to that, she would be able to do it. She would have done so already, had she not thought of changing. She had been determined to take her life, and she would do it again if she must.
After all, her own life was worthless if she could not even protect a single friend.
The thought of it caused her heart to wrench. It would mean leaving the Institute forever. It would mean never again looking into Will's deep blue eyes or Jem's soft silver ones. It would mean never shopping for dresses with Jessamine, which even though it was cumbersome, she found she rather enjoyed it at times. She would never again have a mother, as Charlotte felt to her, or a crazy father, as Henry had become. She would especially miss the company of her new found confidante, Sophie.
What was the alternative, however? Staying in a place where Jem did not exist? Choosing her life over the life of the one she loved?
No, that was not an option. She would do this for Jem, because she loved him. Because the world deserved a soul like his to make it a brighter place. Because Will needed him more than he needed anyone. Because Tessa could not bear the idea of living without him.
Besides, as it has been said, Cowards die many times before their deaths;The valiant never taste of death but once.
To choose her life over Jem's life would make her a coward. She could not face herself day after day. She could not face those she loved, knowing that she could have saved someone they loved dearly.
"I have thought about it, and I accept your offer," Tessa said, boldly, unsure of what to do.
"Ah, the Magister has chosen a wise one indeed. You will not regret it," she said, removing one of her gloves. The hand underneath was nothing but bones, and they make a clicking sound as she moved. Tessa flinched at the sound but did not move. She would not rescind her decision.
"Let me begin the binding spell. If you do not follow through on your side of the bargain, you will surely die, and this potion will be deemed ineffective. Do you understand?"
"Yes," Tessa said, swallowing deeply.
"Good, then let me begin," she said wrapping her bony palm around my wrist, and pulling out a vial of a silver liquid.
She began a chant of words that I had never heard. Ancient words, perhaps, or possibly that of another language. Her chant sounded out and echoed in my mind. I closed my eyes, holding back the eyes, and willing it to be over.
"Miss Gray," she said, still ahold of my wrist.
"I swear to you that this potion will bring your friend to good health and cure him of his ailment, or the Magister and I will both cease to exist," she said, looking deeply into my eyes. Smoke began to swill around us.
"Miss Gray, do you swear that you will return to this location within the hour to become the bride of the Magister?
Tessa breathed deeply, as she attempted to calm the wrenching feeling her in gut.
"I swear it."
"And do you realize that if you do not return within the hour, this potion will be deemed worthless and you will cease to exist?"
"Yes," Tessa said, squinting to hold back the tears. She would not cry in front of this woman. She would stand her ground and be strong. She would be strong for Jem.
"Then the binding is complete. I hand to you this potion, deemed to heal the ailment of the friend to which you deliver it. I will contact the Magister, and the wedding shall be arranged. I bid thee farewell and I will see you soon, my worthy princess," she said, handing the vial to Tessa.
She replaced her black glove and entered into the alley, disappearing from Tessa's view.
Tessa took a moment to let a tear fall, before quickly beginning her run back to the Institute. She was not sure how she would tell everyone of her decision and still be able to make it back within the hour, but she was determined to do her best. Her decision would not be in vain, and Jem would finally be healed.
Tessa smiled at the thought of Jem's strength returning, of the deep colors that would arise within his eyes and his hair. She had grown quite fond of his silver tone, but she knew that this Jem would be even more attractive. With his strength returned, Jem would become the most startling creature to ever walk the earth. If only Tessa would be able to witness it herself. But, alas, no choices come without sacrifice.
As Tessa hurried back to the Institute, she imagined the number of women, whether mundane, downworlder, or shadowhunter, that would flock to Jem to seek his attention. She imagined the look on Gabriel's face when he realized that Jem had surpassed him in strength and had been cured of his ailment. She imagined the joy that Will would feel knowing that he would never lose his parabatai and the relief that Charlotte and Henry would feel knowing that their 'son' had been healed. She smiled, thinking of Sophie, and how she would be pleased knowing that the one she loved would remain.
"It's worth it," Tessa thought, as she considered all these things.
Tessa arrived back at the Institute, only now realizing that she could not enter in on her own. Her face flushed with embarrassment, for she had hoped to avoid contact with anyone before making her way back. She did not do well with goodbyes, and she didn't want anyone to try to stop her plan. After all, there was no way to undo it without killing both herself and Jem in the process.
Tessa knocked, hating that she was unable to enter on her own. Sophie let her into the home, and Tessa sighed with relief. She was glad that she would see Sophie one more time before leaving forever.
"Miss Gray, what are you doing alone on the street?"
"Oh, I was just clearing my head. I realize it was most improper of me, but I must tell you something, something urgent! Please come with me to my room."
"Yes, right away," she said, closing the door behind Tessa and following her down the hall.
They entered Tessa's room, and she looked around, taking all of it in. Her chest felt tight and heavy as she realized this would be the last time she would ever be here. She had never realized how much it had begun to feel like home to her.
"Sophie, I have to tell you! I have found the cure for Jem!" Tessa exclaimed, excitedly.
"Miss Gray, is this the truth?" Sophie asked, hope burning through her eyes.
"Yes, I speak the truth," Tessa replied, smiling at the hope she saw in Sophie. She knew that Jem would be left in good hands.
"Oh, Miss Gray! I am ever so delighted!" she squealed, throwing her arms around Tessa.
"As am I, but now I must prepare it. I must be alone, but I will deliver it to him in haste as soon as I am finished," Tessa stated, ushering Sophie towards the door.
"Oh yes, miss. Whatever must be done, please do so quickly. I will leave you to attend to your business. If you need assistance, you must only ask, and I will be right at your side," she said, about to leave the room.
"Yes, Miss Gray?" she asked, earnestly.
I ran to her and wrapped my arms around her tightly.
"You are a wonderful friend, and I know that you will be a wonderful match for Jem. Please treat him well," Tessa said, as a tear slid down her cheek.
Sophie flushed. "I appreciate your company as well. However, I cannot see how you can say such astounding things. Jem and I are not a match, as I am certain he favors you."
"Well, no worries. Be patient," Tessa said, smiling sadly.
"Yes, well, thank you, Miss Gray. I will be leaving now," she said, letting herself out.
Tessa quickly looked around the room for anything she might grab to take with her. She probably did not need clothing, as she was sure the Magister would provide her with any physical needs. And she did not plan on staying alive for long anyway. She refused to be the puppet to his game.
After gathering a few things, Tessa grabbed a piece of parchment and penned a letter to Jem.
She quickly turned away and began to make her way to Jem's room.
She entered quietly, hoping not to disturb him. She looked around and noticed that Will had placed himself in a chair next to Jem's bed.
Tessa felt herself stiffen, as she was unsure how exactly she would deliver this note without Will ruining her plans. She sighed with relief, however, when she noticed that both Will and Jem were sleeping soundly.
She quickly placed the note on the table near his bed, and she placed the vial on top. She took a moment to admire Will as he slept. He was much more peaceful. He did not appear to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders as he dreamed. Tessa smiled and hoped that Will would soon learn to let others in. She hoped that he would someday find a woman that might cause him to change.
Her focus then shift to Jem. Beautiful, marvelous Jem. Even though, in the light, he looked too pale and sickly for his own good, Tessa could still see his beauty shining through. The high cheekbones accented the silver of his hair and skin, and she smiled at the thought of it.
Tessa quickly walked over to him, leaned down, and placed a soft kiss upon his lips.
She heard the rustle of the covers as he shifted slightly.
"Tessa," he whispered, his voice sounding coarse, but he was unable to find the strength to open his eyes.
"Go back to sleep, my love," she whispered quietly, brushing his hair away from his forehead softly.
Jem's lips turned up into a smile, as he snuggled into the covers and drifted off.
Tessa walked over to the doors and looked back, one last time, at the two boys that she had grown to love so dearly.
"Mizpah," she whispered, as she turned and walked out the door.
Jem could feel the morning sun shining through his window, as he opened his eyes slowly to adjust to the light.
His body still felt weak, but the sun gave him strength, as it reminded him of Tessa. His dearest Tessa.
He looked over in the chair, expecting to see her, but instead it landed on his best friend, his brother, his parabatai. He remembered, briefly, that Will had insisted that Tessa leave so that he could spend some time with Jem last night. As much as Jem enjoyed Will's company, he had still been sad to see Tessa go. It was nice, though, to spend the evening with Will. The evening was different from usual, as Will spoke honestly and sincerely, never making a crude joke or gesture. He was surprisingly pleasant.
Now, however, as he looked over toward Will, he seemed far from pleasant. Will's face was white as a ghost, as he sat, ominously still, staring at the wall. His hands were clenched into fists, holding onto a piece of parchment.
"Will, what's wrong?" Jem asked, feeling a chill creep up his spine.
Will still sat, unblinking, as he handed Jem the parchment that he had been grappling.
Jem looked down and noticed Tessa's writing, and he began to read the words that his love had written:
My Dearest Jem,
I give you this vial as a gift from the Magister's new wife. I have exchanged myself for your cure. Please do not be angry with yourself for this. It is what I wish for myself. Knowing that you are alive and strong is reason enough for me to give up anything I have ever known. Please drink this and go on living. I will always be with you, in your heart. Please tell everyone how I love them so and thank them for everything they have done for me. Thank you, Jem, for always treating me as a human ought to be treated. Thank you for considering me a woman that was worth pursuing. Most of all, thank you for blessing me with a love more true and pure than anything I have ever known. Your love is what will keep me going day after day.
Please do not fret for me. I would rather live my life as the Magister's wife than to live in a world in which you do not exist.
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.
I love you,
Jem's face turned pale, and he felt himself begin to tremble. He dropped his head into his hands, and he began to sob.
His Tessa. She had sacrificed herself for him. She had given up her radiance for his life, and he was so undeserving. Why would he want to live without her? Why would he even want to go on, knowing that he would be going on without her?
How could she do this him? How could she do this to them?
Didn't she know that he would rather die than to sacrifice the one he loved?
Jem looked up at Will, and he noticed that a tear fell down his face. Jem had never seen Will cry, he had never even seen Will admit to feeling anything at all.
But, he couldn't blame him. Losing Tessa was the worst thing that Jem had ever experienced, and he knew that Will had loved her too.
The searing pain that ripped through Jem's chest at the loneliness of losing her caused him to go into another fit of coughs. He raised his hand to his mouth, and it came away red, like always.
This is what I deserve for ruining Tessa's life, Jem thought to himself, bitterly.
Will, coming out of his comatose state, grabbed the vial Tessa had left and shoving it towards Jem.
"I can't," Jem, croaked out, pushing Will's hand away and coughing up more blood.
"Jem, please, you have to," Will said, urgently.
"No, Will, you know I can't. Drinking that means...well, it means that she's really gone," Jem said, grabbing his chest, both from the pain of the cough and the pain that had begun to tear at his heart in his chest.
"Jem, please. This is what she wanted. Please don't make her sacrifice in vain," Will said, unscrewing the vial and bringing it towards Jem's mouth.
Jem's shoulders dropped, as he grimaced and opened his mouth, letting the silver liquid slide down.
The liquid felt like fire in his throat, and he gasped at the searing pain as it made its way down.
Jem fell to the floor, writhing in agony, as the searing pain spread to the tips of his toes to the top of his head.
"Jem! Jem! Are you okay?" Will said, frantically, kneeling next to him.
"Maybe it didn't work, let me find your medicine," Will said, getting up to grab the box.
"No!" Jem said, reaching his wrist out and grabbing Will's ankle. "It's working...I...I feel it," he said, weakly.
Jem lay still for minutes as the searing pain spread through his entire core, causing him to feel like a vat of lava. Then slowly, but surely, the pain began to edge away slowly.
The burning left first his toes, and then continued all the way up to the tip of his skull.
Will's eyes were wide as he watched Jem's skin darken to a yellowish bronze and his hair darken to a sharp black. Will stood in astonishment as Jem began to look like a new person.
Jem felt his strength returning, strength that he had not known since he had been a boy.
A few moments later, Jem sat up, finding it possible to breath deeply without pain crushing his every breath.
"Jem, it's amazing!" Will said, lifting his arms and examining his skin curiously. "You look completely different."
For the first time since Jem had known him, Will was finally beginning to show some true emotions.
"I know, I can feel it," Jem said, his eyes downcast at his hands, which now glistened with a bronze that hadn't been there since so many years past.
"Jem, you can't blame yourself," Will said, staring at the wall.
"Yes, well, easy to say when you're not the one at fault," he replied, looking up at Will.
"She loved you, Jem. She did this because she loved you," Will said, pain evident in his eyes. "So you need to live your life. Live your life for her, okay? Make sure her sacrifice was worth it," Will said, standing up to leave the room. "I'm going to go tell the others the good news," he said, walking out the door.
Jem felt a tear slide down his cheek. Oh, how he wished Tessa could be here to see him, now that he was strong again.
But he had a feeling that Tessa already considered him strong before. She had never wanted him to change, not for any reason other than the fact that she wanted him healthy. She loved him just the way he was. He smiled at the thought.
He loved Tessa, and he always would. For now, he would go on living, but he would never stop searching for her. He would never stop thinking of her. He would never give her up.
For as he had learned from Tessa, on the many days when she read Dickens to him as he lay ill-stricken in his bed, The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.
A/N: Okay, what did you think? Too long? Boring? Sappy? Please share your thoughts, whether praise or constructive criticism. I love to accept both.
*And a side note to the reviewer,-Dellie—I have not forgotten about A Kiss Tells All—I just have lost the plot in my mind (and my computer, since it crashed). I will do my best to one way work at it again. I have been swamped with my wedding and work and graduate school. But I have not forgotten, and thank you for your passionate reviews!