"I'm telling you, he's home," Alec repeats for the fourth time to an unconvinced Jace. They stand outside of Magnus's door, impatiently waiting for him to answer. Jace's hand is interlocked with Clary's, his dark runes contrasting her pale, freckled skin. Isabelle is off to the side, impatiently twirling her whip around, while Simon admires her with glossy eyes. Luckily, Jace had let Clary off of training today so that they could hang out with the others. They all needed some purely fun time after the last few weeks' events, but Alec had insisted on picking up Magnus along the way.
"Well, he doesn't seem to be home. I mean, Chairman Meow would've answered the door by now!" Jace shakes his head, laughing at his brother. Alec just sneers at him, then turns away, back towards the door. He has a key to the apartment, but doesn't want to intrude. It is possible that Magnus isn't home. He had said that he wanted to go shopping for some new glitter polish a few days ago . . .
"Stop arguing, you two," Clary adds, rolling her eyes. "We've been waiting here for a minute, Jace. Be patient," she orders him, laughing.
"Yeah, or I'll whip you!" Isabelle smirks, flinging her golden whip off to the sides, sparks arising from it as it flicks the air. Alec sighs and knocked on the door again, only to have his hand drop forward as the door swings open.
"Alec. What a lovely surprise," Magnus grins, leaning against the door frame. He turns to see the rest of the group, then throws his head back, laughing. "I guess it's nice to see you all, too. Come in, come in." The five of them file into the room, heading towards the large sofas that are now a vibrant blue, keeping up with Magnus's ever-changing color scheme. However, Alec stops in his tracks when he sees a tall, thin girl perched on the sofa. She's dressed in a long, Victorian style gown, although it doesn't seem out of time. It fits her. Her soft, brown hair is twisted into a perfect bun, scattered ringlets framing her face. She seems to be about the same age as the Shadowhunters, but a certain wiseness seems to vibrate off of her. She turns and smiles at the Shadowhunters as they walk in, then raises her eyebrows at Magnus.
"You must be Alec," she grins, rising from her seat and rushing over to greet the teenagers. Magnus gives her a warning glance, but she continues anyway. "And I presume these are your friends?" When Alec reluctantly nods, she clasps her hands together in delight. "Oh, I am so delighted to meet you all. I have heard such wondrous things about you!" Her gaze settles on Clary and she lets out a little gasp. "Oh, Clarissa. How wonderful it is to see you all grown up. I am acquaintances with your mother and knew you when you were just a small, little thing."
"Oh, you did?" Clary asks, excited by the new piece of information.
"Tessa, please," Magnus says, obviously annoyed with her little introduction. "Alexander, I'm so sorry, but now is not a good time. If you would come ba-"
"No, no!" Tessa interrupts, eyeing the warlock apologetically. "We can discuss this another time. But right now, I would love so very much if I could get to know your friends." There's something strange about the way she talks, Alec realizes, and assumes that she must be a warlock as well, presumably one around Magnus's age. "Please, do sit." Tessa gestures them back over to the couches, where the teenagers sit awkwardly across from her. Magnus gives in and sits next to Alec, who immediately gives him a confused look. He just shrugs and shakes his head.
"So, you are . . . ?" Jace asks wearily, sliding his hands behind his head and leaning back.
"Oh, I'm afraid I have forgotten to introduce myself. I am Theresa Gray, but you may call me Tessa. And you are?" she asks, leaning in with anticipation.
"Me? Why I'm Jace Herondale," he says confidently, although he still seems unsure of which last name to use.
Tessa's face seems to sink, her lips parting as she furrows her brow. She closes her eyes and sucks in deeply, pressing a hand against the couch to steady herself. "Tessa, I'm so-"
"No, no, it's perfectly alright. What a lovely name that is, Mr. Herondale," she murmurs, her voices filled with nostalgia. Magnus rests a hand on her shoulder, whispering something quietly to her. Alec strains to listen, but cannot make out anything.
"Did I say something?" Jace turns to Clary, obviously taking the blame.
"No, I don't think so. She just kind of blanked out," Clary assures him, looking worriedly at the confusing girl. Tessa turns away from Magnus and smiles again at the group.
"I'm sorry about that. I just . . had a bad feeling all of the sudden," she shakes it off, playing with a golden necklace hanging on her chest. It seems to be made of clockwork, forming an angel of sorts. Below it hangs a jade pendant, shining brilliantly against her pale skin. "You know, I used to live her in New York," she changes the topic, beaming at the group as she wraps herself in the memories. "Before I knew anything about the Shadow World. It was just my brother Nate, my Aunt Harriet, and me. It was quite a lovely time . . "
"What happened?" Simon asks hesitantly after a long pause, obviously curious to find out the rest of her story. "Did you move?"
"Why, yes, yes I did. In fact, I went to London in search of my brother. It's quite a long story, but let's just say my brother did not await me there." Her expression shifts, as if remembering a darker time.
"Tessa was taken by some . . . bad warlocks. They were aware of her power and wanted to use her to their advantage," Magnus fills in, his hand still placed gently on her shoulder.
"What type of power?" Isabelle questions, surveying the girl up and down.
"I can change shape into any person. Well, as long as I have something of theirs. But I didn't know it then. Not until the Dark Sisters took me." The Dark Sisters, Alec concludes, must've been the evil warlocks. He ponders the idea of changing shape, knowing all too well that that type of warlock isn't the usual case. "But then I was saved by an extraordinary man."
Silence hangs in the air as Tessa does not continue. Alec finally puts the pieces together-her stunned look when Jace introduced himself, her strange way of speech, and the way she looks as if she's remembering something painfully wonderful. "William Herondale," he whispers. Tessa's head swoops up and she stares at him in awe, blinking her wide eyes repeatedly, as if trying to see more clearly.
"Yes," she swallows. "Now if you must excuse me, I would like a cup of tea." She stands up from the couch, brushes down her skirts, and heads off towards the kitchen.
"Magnus," Alec whispers. "Is she okay? What happened with her?" For a moment, he has forgotten his anger towards William Herondale, who he assumed was one of Magnus's passed loves. It seems that's not the case.
The warlock tilts his head around to watch Tessa, who is slowly pouring herself a cup of tea, seeming to be caught in some sort of spell. "Tessa . . . is not like most warlocks. She is very different and has lived a troubled life. She was in love with a man by the name of James Carstairs. But he was very sick, and could only give her a short life. William Herondale was in love with her as well, but was unable to show it. To love is to destroy," Magnus explains quietly. Jace, upon hearing the phrase, leans in closer.
"What do you mean?" he inquires.
"William Herondale believed he was cursed. A curse that would kill anyone who loved him. He had to leave his family and keep his distance from the ones he loved. And in the process, he hurt Tessa very badly. And she loved him still, but could not bear to tell James so. He had such a short-"
"I'm sorry!" Tessa says politely, setting her teacup down on the coffee table. "Sometimes I cannot think straight without a good cup of tea." The group just stares at her, wide eyed and full of pity. No one dare speak. They watch her in silence, pondering the short tale Magnus has told them. Alec eyes Tessa mournfully, wondering how horrible it would feel to be in her position. To love someone who could not love you back. Or to love someone who would so shortly die when you were immortal.
"Now, enough about me! Tell me about yourselves. I do love a good story."