CLOCKWORK PRINCESS- my version
It was the fall of a shadow that gave the man away as he stood, top hat pulled down over his eyes, in the center of the dark gravel of the road. They had not heard him coming; nobody could have, for he had not walked, nor run. He had simply appeared, calm and set in the face of the dark carriage engraved with flames and led by horses that approached, the crunching of the turning wheels and the horses' metal shoes as they grated the floor the only sound to be heard within the isolated street in the outskirts of York. The sky was a yellow grey, the most dangerous kind of cloud; the kind that promised violence, action. The figure inside the carriage was determined that he would note nothing else. Not the green hills around him, not the cold air that stung his cheeks and leaked through the cracks in the carriage, that frosted the dark side windows until he could no longer see clearly his surroundings. Most certainly not the man standing in his path.
No, while his heart raced against the patter of his horses' feet, spluttering as he inhaled and exhaled ragged breaths, he was resolved to ignore his fast approaching fate; ignore it the way in which a child might ignore the looming inevitability of their parent discovering the stains of food or drink on a brand new rug, or an unpopular politician might evade his eyes from the voting polls. Of course, Benedict Lightwood knew all too well the inevitability of what would befall him. He knew who the man in his way was, knew the tip of his hat, the pristine condition of his suit, the clench of his jaw, and he knew why he was here. Lulling his head back tiredly against the leather interior of his family's carriage, Benedict let out a sigh of defeat. He had not expected that he would really have been able to leave London safely; indeed, it had been a pleasant surprise that he had managed to pass the border into York without being discovered. But all pleasant things, as he had learnt, must come to an end.
The dapple grey and chestnut horses slowed, easing into a halt as the driver- a disposable mundane, and a servant of the Lightwoods- tugged at the reigns around their mouths. Benedict did nothing to stop him. It would do him no credit to try to pass by- to run. The Magister wished to confront him, and, because the Magister wished it, it was bound to pass.
"May I help you, Good Sir?" the driver called to Axel Mortmain, clutching uncertainly at the reigns of his horses. The man had not moved from his place at the centre of the road.
Mortmain looked up, the shadow over his face shifting to reveal a sharp nose and a sneering mouth. Benedict Lightwood watched from behind the curtains in the part of the windows that had remained immune to the effect of the cold weather, a shiver passing over him as he watched. The man did not look threatening in himself, not without the chilling power of his eyes behind him, and yet there was something about the way he held himself, his air of confidence, that was terrifying.
"Oh, you most certainly can," Mortmain said. "I believe this to be the carriage of one Mr Benedict Lightwood."
"Aye, Sir, you're not mistaken."
Mortmain threw a smile at the driver, a smile that Benedict knew was as unsettling as it was reassuring.
"In that case," he went on, "the favour I ask of you is a mere minute in his company." He gestured towards the interior of the carriage, going to tap on the cold window. "If you don't mind?"
No. Benedict shrunk back from the curtains, suddenly afraid that the other man would see his silloheutte. It was a useless fear; Mortmain was already well aware that it was he who sat safely in the back of the carriage, restless and worn, nails bitten til they bled. He had made as much clear.
He closed his eyes, breathes becoming shallow and brief as he heard his driver shuffling with the keys, stepping down from where he sat, tying the reigns of the horses to a thin rail for the moment, and soundlessly pulling the carriage door open, poking his robust looking head in, and speaking automatically without bothering to inquire as to his masters' sudden silence, his near catatonic state.
"Pardon me, Sir. You have a visitor. Will you see him?"
Lightwood didn't need to open his eyes to know that Mortmain stood behind the coach driver, his gaze burning ice across his skin. It was hopeless now.
"I will," his voice cracked, and he cleared his throat, hands shaking as he covered his mouth to catch the germs. "I mean, yes. You may…let him in, Dexton." Whether or not Dexton was the mans' name, Benedict did not know or care. He still had not opened his eyes- not even when he felt the carriage shift under the added weight of Mortmain stepping inside- heard the creak of him sitting down opposite him- and heard the snap of the door closing shut. Benedict opened one eye, searching for Dextons' figure from behind the windows, but he saw nothing.
"You need not look so glum, old friend," Mortmain's voice was riddled with cruel amusement. "Rest assured, we are completely alone."
Through a series of ragged breathes and shaking limbs, Benedict forced himself to open his second eye, and return his gaze. A low whimper escaped his throat as he did.
"Magister," he whispered; and then, with greater volume, "my lord, master, I-"
"A roadtrip, Benedict?" Mortmain interrupted, his grey eyes glinting. "And without the children, too. My, my, what's the occasion? A new lover you're going to visit, perhaps?"
"You…you know there is no one, Sir," Benedict said, looking faint. "You know everything…"
"Indeed," Mortmain grinned. "And yet, you still tried to escape me. Alas, you never were a brave man, Benedict. Never had much character in you. Its' why I chose you, you know."
An inhumane cry erupted from the other man, a cry for mercy, but Mortmain had none.
"Please," he cried. "Please, master, forgive me. You understand, they-they blackmailed me. Charlotte Branwell- William Herondale-your warlock girl, they tricked me, they gave me no choice! My son-"
"Your son," spat Mortmain. "Gideon, I presume you mean."
"He is no son of mine, Magister," Benedict said coldly. "He is a fool. A disgraceful fool."
"No," Mortmain said, a mad smile playing at the edge of his lips. A dangerous smile, like the edge of a seraph blade, Benedict thought. "He is a fool, oh yes, to believe in will of the Shadowhunters the way he does. Yet still he knew the consequences of his actions- what his betrayal will cost his dear father, his brother, his family name- himself. He is not a disgraceful fool, but a brave one. You ought to be proud, Benedict. He shows backbone. An irritating yet admirable feature in a man."
"My lord," Benedict mumbled, blinking back tears now. The Magister was not a most straightforward man. He dragged out his sentences, he prolonged the suffering of those who had wronged him- torturing them without so much as lifting a finger. This, this lingering, this aimless talk, was his punishment, Benedict knew.
"Do not fear, Benedict," Mortmain said, as if reading his mind. "You have betrayed me, and yet still, it has not cost me much but time. I am as aware as I ever was of the ongoings of the Clave- even inside the Institute, more so now than before. It is not as if I had ever placed a great gravity of importance in your hands. I can execute this plan with or without the Institute under my direct control."
"Of course you can," Benedict breathed. "Of course…no real inconvenience. I haven't…"
"And yet," his master said delicately, "I had so hoped that I would not have to. I so hoped that you would not fail me."
The other man did not speak.
"Benedict, Benedict," Mortmain sighed, malice in his voice. "Whatever have you done? You've brought it all upon yourself, you know. Dying a slow death of humiliation, in any case- and I could have saved you. You could have lived to see your sons grow into men." He laughed, a short, humourless laugh. "But then, why should any parent be afforded that honour when it was denied to my own? Denied by you. By filthy, disgusting Shadowhunters who thought they could just-"
True insanity, true anger, seemed to capture the Magister in a moment of blind hatred. And then he blinked, a smile returning to his features. Benedict let out a shuddering breath of relief.
"But it grows late," he said conversationally, "and I'm sure that your coachman grows ever impatient to be on his way. I should not trespass for much longer."
Benedicts' heart was hammering. What did that mean? Was he being released? Forgiven? Was Mortmain letting him go?
"Magister," he croaked, hesitant.
"Magister," Mortmain repeated, loudly, and with air of pride. "Master; to all, and to any. But, dear friend, due to your regrettable choices…no longer is it Magister to you."
Benedict stared at the man before him in a mixture of astonishment and overwhelming gratitude.
And then he saw Mortmain move, faster than any Shadowhunter or human could, faster than he would have thought possible; certainly too close for his own shaking hands to catch. He saw ten fingers reach towards him, towards his neck- heard a crash and felt a throbbing, sharp pain in his head, and a pressure on his wind pipe that pushed all the air from his lungs so that his throat was on fire, screaming and writhing for the damp, smelling air of England. As he choked over his Masters' gloved black hand, he caught the curious glint of silver in his smile, like a piece of clockwork. And then everything went horribly dark.