A/N: Okay, first off—unlike my other fics—this is not a modern-day/AU. I'd like to think it takes place before Clockwork Princess and sometime during Clockwork Prince.
AND it is not spoiler-free.
Will's curse is gone, but he's told no one yet. And Jessamine isn't a traitor, which kind of messes everything up, but let's just say that she was working undercover or something, I don't know. Oh, and Jem and Tessa aren't engaged or anything, sorry Jessa shippers.
This is probably really confusing.
So…yeah. I hope you enjoy :)
"Thank you, Sophie," Tessa said after Sophie tied the laces of her dress. She had been called for breakfast but had not been dressed in anything but her nightgown. Of course, Sophie had to dress her. But as usual, she put on a corset, and so later Tessa found herself in a lovely, yet simple, hunter green dress. It was short-sleeved and had thick straps which would be tied in the front and white lace outlining the sleeves.
"This isn't Jessamine's," she noticed.
Sophie shook her head. "No, Miss Tessa. However she did go shopping for you," she told her while reaching up to fix her hair. "How would you like your hair?"
"Just a bun, please," Tessa said. "Nothing too intricate. I only plan on catching up on a book I am reading for today." Sophie nodded, just faintly humming a tune. But Tessa then picked up on something Sophie had said. "Jessamine went shopping for me?"
Sophie nodded once to confirm. "Yes, she'd gone yesterday." She had begun working with swift, delicate fingers and Tessa felt her hair lift from the nape of her neck.
"Then I shall tell her my thanks." Tessa, upon noticing that it was taking a little longer than usual, snuck a glance at the mirror on top of her dresser, and spied the beginning of a braid at the base of the bun. Tessa sighed. "Sophie…"
"You look exquisite, Miss Tessa," she reassured. She bit down on her lip and narrowed her eyes with a concentrated look, before smiling proudly. "All finished." Tessa, again, looked at her mirror and turned to the side to get a better look at her hair. There were loose strands hanging purposely around her face, framing it, and there was a quick French braid twisting up to fit into a tightly held bun.
Tessa smiled gratefully. "Thank you, Sophie."
She curtsied with her head bowed. "It is of no problem, miss." And with that, she left the room, carefully closing Tessa's door on the way out.
Tessa patted the side of her head once and hastily pinched her cheeks to give them some color, for she looked a sickly pale. For the past few days, she hadn't been unable to sleep as soundly as she used to. Ever since the whole ordeal with Mortmain and his automatons had started, sleep had not been able to come easy to Tessa.
She had considered shutting the door and bringing in a candle so she could read for a while under the dim light. Once she had tried it, but her eyes could not bear it. She had to wear herself to exhaustion, but Tessa despised doing that. When she did sleep, she was being haunted from awful nightmares of large clockwork beings and blood. Blood everywhere.
It had come to that point where she decided on not sleeping at all. She would have loads of tea with extra sugar whilst everyone was getting ready for bed. It had worked when she decided staying in the library which was lit up with witchlight, so it had been easier to read then.
But of course, Will had come in and asked her what she was doing there.
"I could ask you the very same thing, William Herondale," she had replied. He grinned at her, but it didn't reach his eyes. She returned to reading her book and so he took one as well—one of the very few ones that were not nonfiction. And for the majority of that time, they were alone, reading in silence and just enjoying each other's company.
He had eventually gotten tired though, and admittedly, Tessa had too. But she didn't want to sleep. She didn't want those horrid creatures haunting her dreams.
Will had yawned, but drew up his arm and stifled it with the sleeve of his shirt. "Come along, Tess, and I shall escort you to your room."
"Thank you, Will, but I'd much rather stay here." He had looked at her suspiciously but she ignored him, looking as innocent as she could. She certainly did not expect Will to swoop her up into his arms. She shrieked and wrapped her arms around his neck, grasping on for dear life.
He was laughing.
She slapped his arm with her hand lightly, not caring how unladylike the action was, and she continued protesting and demanding him to put her down.
Will shushed her. "Hush, Tessa, you don't want to wake up everyone, do you?" Tessa pouted but stayed quiet. He was smirking.
He carried her across the twisted corridors until they finally stopped at her room. He pushed on the open door with his side and entered, carefully placing Tessa onto her bed. "Good night, Tessa."
She sighed. "Good night, Will."
And he left her.
But that night had been one of the few times where she had actually been able to get some sleep, even if she was hopped up on sugar from the tea.
She lightly placed her index fingers over the dark circles under her eyes, just ghosting above it. She sighed and quickly put on some makeup over it so it wouldn't be as noticeable, and smoothed out it gently so the powdery substance would not leave any evidence of it being there. But it was just powder. It wasn't enough and would eventually disappear.
Thankfully, she already had her boots on and laced all the way. She made her way towards the table and mustered up a smile. Charlotte had been there as well as Henry, Will, and Jessamine. Jem, though, had not shown up. Tessa frowned. She hoped he was alright.
Charlotte smiled, looking almost grateful for her presence. "Tessa, how nice of you to join us. Please, sit."
Tessa did so, taking a seat next to Will who stiffened at the proximity. She ignored it and didn't look at him. Bridget came by, singing one of her depressing songs, laying a plate before Tessa filled with breakfast.
"'Your steed was old, and we have got more,
Your steed was old, and we have got more,
Some other evil ye fear, O.'
'O, I have killed my father dear,
O, I have killed my father dear,
Alas! and woe is me, O!'"
Henry sat still, staring at Bridget with a horrified look on his face as she walked back into the kitchen.
"My goodness," Will spoke, aghast. "And I was having such a good morning." He suddenly leaned forward, looking at everyone as if he were about to tell a dark secret. His voice was dropped to a whisper as he said, "I say we toss her out on the streets tonight whilst she sleeps—"
"Will!" Charlotte exclaimed, indignant. His eyebrows shot up and he looked up, looking as acquitted as ever. Tessa held back a laugh, knowing Charlotte wouldn't be too pleased with her. She sighed, shaking her head before saying, "Where is Jem? I have something you all might want to hear."
Tessa took her fork and knife and began cutting the gargantuan egg that took up most of the plate. Henry seemed to be admiring his food and confessing his love for the egg aloud. Charlotte, sighing impatiently, told him to be quiet and eat, and so he did.
For once, they actually ate in silence. It was nice because Tessa was starting to grow a headache; she blamed the lack of hours in her sleep. She closed her eyes and took a moment to rub her temples rather tiredly.
"Are you all right, Tessa?" Charlotte inquired, her voice exposing a motherly concern. Tessa dropped her hands and put them in her lap, tangling her fingers together.
Everyone's eyes fell on her, including (for the first time that morning) Will's. She tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear and nodded, avoiding everyone's eyes. "I am fine, thank you."
Henry shrugged and they continued eating. Jem eventually joined them, looking as lively as ever. Tessa felt relieved. He didn't look too sickly. He was okay for now, but she wondered how much of the yin fen he took. No one was going anywhere today, Tessa didn't think. But his eyes were certainly bright.
He greeted them all and took a seat next to Tessa, smiling once before taking a glass filled with water and bringing it up to his lips.
"Jessamine, darling," Will drawled, "you're being awfully quiet this morning." He gave her an expectant look, with his hands together on top of the table and looked at her with a barely there smirk. Jessie glared at him once and he leaned back in his seat, raising his hands up in surrender with a mock-offended look. "Sorry I bothered," Will muttered, pulling his hands away from each other.
Minutes after Bridget arrived with Jem's breakfast, Charlotte told everyone at the table to join her in the drawing room, for she had something very important to announce. She then made her way there with Sophie following after her.
Jem then inquired, "What do you think could be so important?"
"I've no idea," Tessa replied, "but hopefully nothing too dreadful."
"Hopefully not," Will then said. "But with Charlotte you never know." He shrugged and stood up with his finished plate in his hands and brought it to the servants.
Jem arched an eyebrow. "What could you possibly mean by that, William?" His tone was full of amusement. Will lazily walked to the chair he was sitting in and pushed it in, ignoring the servants who insisted on doing it for him.
"I'm just saying that her announcements aren't always exactly filled with the best of news," he answered. "I'm off." And then he left, leaving Jem, Tessa, and Jessamine alone.
Jem and Tessa walked along the corridors until they reached the drawing room. Tessa wasn't exactly sure what was happening and thought that there might be some truth to Will's words. She hoped that nothing was wrong. When they entered, they found a cross-legged Will on a chair, Henry tinkering with a new invention of his, and an exasperated-looking Charlotte. She was pacing up and down the room.
"Lottie, you seem a bit tense," Henry noted, his eyes flicking up to meet her brown ones. She had, though. Charlotte was a hardworking woman who was being put under a lot of pressure with the current ordeal. "I'm just worried, is all."
Charlotte shook her head and then seemed to have noticed Jem and Tessa. She beamed, but then deflated a moment later. "Where's Jessie?"
Jem pointed behind him and answered, "I believe she went to her room."
She sighed. "Tessa, could you—"
She didn't need to finish, for Tessa held up a hand and nodded, gathering her skirts and leaving the room. Tessa walked hallways along hallways, until she met with Jessamine's room. She brought up her fist to knock once but she heard a sort of shuffling noise. Tessa, often being curious, wondered what that was about, but decided to ignore it. It probably wasn't anything after all.
She knocked on the door and suddenly heard a sharp intake of breath from the other side, and a strange muffled noise. Tessa's eyebrows knitted together, but soon recovered when Jessamine swung open the door and hid whatever was inside with it.
"Are you alright, Jessie?" Tessa asked, bringing her hands together.
Jessamine frowned. "I am fine, but why are you here?"
"Charlotte organized a meeting for us in the drawing room…"
Jessie sighed, placing a hand on the door. "Oh, Charlotte and her silly little gatherings. I do not want to take part in them, nor do I want to be affiliated with Shadowhunters." She sniffed.
Tessa frowned. She did not say a word on that topic for she was distinctly reminded of an electrum-laced parasol and a goblin. "I'm sure what Charlotte has to say will be quite important. She did say that."
"Fine," Jessamine huffed. Then she took a better look at Tessa and brightened. "I see you are wearing one of the dresses I bought you. I wasn't quite sure on your size but it seems that my estimations are correct." She looked very smug. "Much better than those ones we've gotten ages ago."
Tessa, not being as fond of fashion as Jessamine was, replied, "Thank you, by the way. For the dresses."
They began walking towards the drawing room. "Of course! I'll take any opportunity to go shopping." Tessa kept her mouth shut and after moments which felt like ages, they met with the room that inhabited the rest of the Nephilim.
Tessa took the seat between Will and Jem and Jessamine sat as an individual far off from them. Charlotte stood in the front with a look of intelligence. Even though she was nearly the size of a child, she held that air of authority that made her seem wiser and taller.
She began, "Benedict Lightwood is holding a ball—"
"Another one!" cried Will in disbelief. "How outrageous. That's the fourth one this year. And it's March!"
While Will looked displeased, Jessamine looked the total opposite. "I think it's splendid!" Jessamine countered. "I think we've attended not one of those four. And it's a wonderful idea, given the current state of affairs."
Will seemed to disagree. "Perhaps, but it displays his and everyone else's ignorance. How can you celebrate when we have Mortmain and his—creatures afoot? I say we don't go and plan our attack instead," he declared.
He had a point there. Jessamine made a sound of sound of protest.
"We haven't been able to go, Jessie, because we were not invited," Charlotte told her patiently.
Jessamine frowned. "Why not?"
Charlotte then looked very uncomfortable, and she grimaced. "It wasn't the 'type' balls people normally have."
Jessamine muttered under her breath, "I could hardly call Nephilim people. More like monsters."
Charlotte was absolutely irate. "That's enough, Jessamine. You are a Shadowhunter whether you like it or not! It's in your blood. How can you despise your own blood?" Jessamine was silent, and looked so vulnerable that Tessa thought she had looked like a child being scolded by a parent.
There was a heavy tension in the room at that moment. She saw Jem and Will exchange a look, silently communicating. Will's lips moved upwards, just barely smiling. Jem shook his head. Tessa always wondered how they'd been able to that. Did being parabatai give them the ability, or where they just that close?
Charlotte cleared her throat. "Anyway, we've been invited this time and we're going. It appears that the letter arrived later than expected, so it's on Thursday which is two days from now."
Jessamine stood up and squealed gleefully, walking over to Tessa. "How delightful! Tessa and I shall go shopping right this instant. You'll need ball gowns too, of course," she said, lightly touching her arm.
Tessa frowned. "But Sophie makes dresses too—"
She shook her head. "Nonsense. Come along, Tessa."
She sent a pleading look at the two boys. Jem offered a look of sympathy and Will wasn't even looking at her but instead, his lap. Tessa sighed but followed after Jessamine with her head hung low. "I suppose I'll be leaving then."
"Oh, and Tessa?" Will called. She spun around eagerly, hoping that what he will say might mean her great escape. For a moment he just watched her, and she was very confused. Then something flashed in his dark blue eyes. "Never mind. Have fun with Jessie."
She sighed. Accepting her fate, she went along with her.
"Oh, isn't this just the most gorgeous thing you've ever seen?" Jessamine beamed, modeling in a midnight blue gown with a bustle and an intricately designed bodice. The sleeves had gone midway with a modest neckline.
Tessa smiled politely. "It is rather pretty."
Jessamine nodded. "Yes, most certainly. I shall buy it then. But we must look for a dress for you."
She looked unsure. "Jessie, you needn't feel obligated to buy me a dress. I'm sure I can find something."
Jessamine was baffled. "Obligated? Please, as if." She scoffed, stroking her fingers along a dress. "And we just cannot have Sophie making a dress for you. That would be a disaster."
They were in a dress shop going out looking as mundanes. Jessamine had to wear gloves to hide the voyance rune on the back of her hand. Tessa was sitting by the window as Jessamine was trying out different dresses. Apparently the dark blue gown had been the perfect one for her, but she had said that with other dresses too. Hopefully this was the final one.
She felt slightly offended at Jessamine's words, however. She considered Sophie to be a friend, and having Jessamine say that about a friend…well…
"Tessa, come over here!" Jessamine said hurriedly. "I found the absolute perfect dress for you." Tessa stood up, smoothing her skirts and did as instructed. She inspected the dress. It was almost red, but was light enough to be a darker shade of pink. It had a low neckline, but not too low to show much cleavage, fortunately, and had small roses the same shade of the dress lining it. She ran her fingers down the soft satin that clung to the bodice and then continued to cascade into two layers of skirts. There were little swirls stitched into the fabric, not too noticeable but there and made it look more elegant. The only things covering her arms was this one bigger and final rose on each side in the middle of her upper arms that was connected to the neckline, and had not too big a bustle.
But Jessamine had been right. It looked perfect for her, but she still had yet to try it on.
Tessa held the dress in her hands as Jessamine scurried off to ask the workers there to help Tessa put on the dress. The moment she stepped inside the fitting rooms, she sighed and braced herself for the critical comments soon to come.
"You are remarkably tall," one lady noted. She scrunched up her nose. "I would despise being taller than most men."
"Ugh, and dark circles under her eyes." The second lady grimaced. "Have you been getting any sleep lately?"
She ignored them, not saying a word. Soon enough, the dress was put on, and it fit like a glove. When she stepped out and exposed herself to Jessamine, she clamped her hands over her mouth. "Yes. Absolutely." Jessie nodded. "We needn't look more, we will take these," she told the ladies.
Tessa sighed as she had to step back inside the fitting rooms where there were even more comments on her. But this time, they were surprisingly positive.
"I adore your hair color," the first lady told her. "It's very pretty."
"And her eyes are to die for! Gray with a bit of blue in them. Though you should really be getting more sleep otherwise no gentlemen will approach you," the second lady scolded.
Tessa involuntarily smiled. "I'll try," she told her. She was back in her other dress minutes later and Jessamine had already purchased her gown. The two ladies held Tessa's in their hands and brought it to the counter.
After they had bought it, Tessa said a quick, "Thank you!" before she left. The Institute's carriage was right in front of the shop and the Cyril helped the two ladies up before sitting in the front.
He looked so much like Thomas that it made Tessa's chest ache. Although their personalities were different, much like the Lightwood brothers. "Did you ladies find what you were looking for?" Cyril questioned.
"Yes, we did," Jessamine replied shortly before telling every detail to Tessa of what her hair and makeup would look like.
When they returned to the Institute, Jessamine ordered Sophie to put Tessa's dress in her closet. Tessa shook her head, horrified at Jessamine's sudden change of manners. She took the dress herself and walked to her room, only to be startled by a certain William Herondale.
"Is that the dress?" Will inquired. Tessa jumped and hid it behind her back. "I can still see it, Tess. You're going to have to do much better than that."
Tessa huffed, entering her room, and he followed. "You're not supposed to see it. Or I would at least prefer it if you don't." Will grinned at her, looking down as if he were talking to a child, even though their height differences weren't that far off. "Why are you here?"
The dress was now being put in the closet, and she made Will cover his eyes so he wouldn't look at it.
He took his hands off of his eyes when Tessa said it was fine to look. "Jem is ordering me to find something to wear for the ball." He sighed dramatically. Then his eyes widened. "Good Lord. I can't even imagine what Jessie must've been like."
She closed the closet doors and put her hands on her hips. "She wasn't all that bad," she said in her defense.
Will raised an eyebrow.
"Um, maybe just a tad bit." He chuckled before sitting down on her bed with a dramatic bounce. Her eyes shifted between him and the bed. Will seemed to have noticed this because he gave her a suggestive smile, to which she rolled her eyes to.
Tessa walked towards the door, gripping on the doorknob. "I'm going out for a stroll, so I suppose you're welcome to stay here, although I've no clue what you could possibly do to entertain yourself—"
"Ah, no you don't," Will interrupted.
Tessa stopped and stared at him. "Come again?"
He stood up, taking lazy steps until he finally reached her, leaning casually against her door frame. Tessa swallowed and took a not too noticeable step back. "Big city like London," Will said, gesturing at her window. "Lots of beardy"—he made a show of sculpting a beard from air—"old men on the search for attractive young ladies like yourself, and—"
"You think I'm attractive?" Tessa teased.
He ignored her and continued. "It's not safe out in the mundane world. That, and Mortmain is still wanting to get to you." Will was then being serious. Tessa looked down and sighed.
Mortmain, she thought distastefully, who wanted to marry me. To use me for my abilities. When this was all over, she never wanted to hear his name again, or anything associated with him. Tessa reached for her clockwork angel, gripping on to the only thing that could provide her comfort in times like these.
"However," Will continued, "if you were to be escorted by a Shadowhunter…" He looked at her expectantly, as if waiting for her to ask him to walk with her.
Tessa decided to be playful. "Jessamine, then?"
He glared at her before sighing out, "No."
"Right, sorry. Not Jessamine. Say… Henry?" she tried again, with an innocent look, as if she did not get the hint.
Will tossed his head back and groaned. "Tess…"
"Perhaps Charlotte. I think she would make excellent company." Tessa shrugged helplessly. Will shook his head fervently. She laughed, grinning up at him. "It would be a pleasure to walk with you, Will."
He looked satisfied. "Shall we go then?" She nodded, and arm in arm, they left Tessa's room and reached the doors of the Institute and exited.
Thursday: the day of the ball
Sophie had woken Tessa up earlier than usual. The majority of the time getting ready had been silence. She helped Tessa with her corset, getting in the dress, and the works. After that, she had applied makeup onto Tessa's face. Then her clockwork angel pendant was put on around her neck.
Then she did something a bit unexpected. In her hand, she pulled out pins with pearls at the very top. Tessa looked at them in astonishment. "Where did you get these? They're so lovely…"
She smiled, placing them into her upswept curls. "These were my mother's," she said shortly. "I want you to have them."
Tessa profusely declined. "I cannot accept them, Sophie! They're yours and were your mother's. If that is the case, then you must keep them. And I think you would look divine with pearls—I can even put them on you, if you like."
Sophie shook her head, putting the final few into her hair. "You can accept them and you will, Miss Tessa."
Tessa sighed. "If you are going to be persistent…"
Sophie grinned. "I will be very persistent, miss. Until you say you'll keep them."
Instead of continuing her refusal, Tessa just decided to keep the pins. "Fine. I will keep them."
"Good," said Sophie. "Now look at yourself. You're magnificent."
Tessa spun around, looking at the foreign face in the mirror. Sophie was right. She was magnificent, and could barely recognize the figure before her.
"Thank you so much," Tessa told her earnestly. Sophie curtsied and left the room, Tessa following.
The London Institute was all ready and had started to wait for their carriages. Tessa looked around curiously. Jessamine looked gorgeous, as usual, but she had a slight scowl on her face that managed to damage her looks just a little. Sophie had been dressed up as well, with a cream-colored silk dress that made her hazel eyes seem luminous. Charlotte had looked very beautiful also, with her lovely chocolate-colored gown, and they all wore white gloves.
But as she looked around, she noticed something very odd, and couldn't help herself. "Where are the boys?" she inquired. Charlotte smiled at her, as if grateful for a distraction. She opened her mouth to answer, but Jessamine spoke, cutting her off.
"They are taking a separate carriage. We'll be meeting them there. After all, wouldn't it be gentlemanly or very ladylike, seeing each other dressed like this and not at the ball." Jessie rolled her eyes. "Obviously, Tessa dear."
Then, Jessamine said, "But the real question here is why is the maid coming with us? Shouldn't she be staying behind and cleaning up the place?" Jessie smirked at her, and she scowled in return.
Charlotte gave her a disapproving look. "Now is not the time for this, Jessie. Sophie has as much right coming as you do."
Tessa sighed. Why must Jessamine always be like this? Especially around Sophie. She was awfully rude to her, treating her like trash.
Charlotte took a few steps forward. She looked out the doors and saw Cyril with the carriage and her eyes lit. "Finally. Onward, then," she said, beckoning the girls after her.
The carriage ride proved to be boring, for lack of better words. Throughout the ride, Jessamine was incessantly complaining and continuously asking for Cyril to drive slower, for she did not want the wind to ruin her hair.
Often, Charlotte would be the one to reason with her and Tessa could only observe. In the end, she decided she wanted no part of it, so she tore her eyes from them both and stared out the window. Therefore, it was boring.
Finally, they'd arrived at the Lightwood Manor. A sort of grand place, really, with the famous garden in the front and statues. It was breathtaking.
The moment they stepped inside the ballroom, Tessa's breathed hitched. She had never seen so many Shadowhunters in one room. There were women dressed in gowns that showed their Marks, flaunting them. Very much unlike Jessamine who wanted to do everything to hide them.
There was an amount of men that almost looked at them in disgust, as if they should be ashamed. Tessa saw no reason for them to be though. She was slightly put off at the sight.
The massive windows shone with reflected light, casting a golden sheen across the polished floor. The music had already started. They weren't late, but Jessamine asking Cyril to slow down sort of made them later than they would've liked.
But then suddenly, Tessa brightened. She spotted Jem playing with the band, a violin and bow in his hands.
"Are you enjoying yourself, miss?" Sophie asked from behind. Tessa smiled at her, eyes skimming over the vast selection of food on the tables.
"Sophie, you don't have to call me miss. Tessa would be fine." She took a fork and found a selection of strawberries. She jabbed it with the fork and put it into her mouth, chewing and savoring the sweet flavor.
Sophie frowned. "But it is improper for me to—"
Setting her fork down, Tessa took her gloved hand and gave her a reassuring smile. "I mean it. Please." She sighed, but silently accepted. Tessa let go of her hand and said in a low voice, "Now I believe that a certain Mr. Gideon Lightwood is staring at you like he's seen an angel." She grinned as Sophie flushed a dark red. "Go talk to him! He might ask you for a dance."
Sophie nodded and shyly began to walk over to him. Tessa sighed happily. They would thank her in the future.
A while later, Tessa had already been asked to dance six times and had accepted each offer. She had danced with Jem, one of the Morgensterns, one of the Blackthorns, and the rest she could not identify and had forgotten to ask for their names.
Tessa spotted Jessamine muttering grumpily to herself, and figured she might as well see what was wrong. She held onto her skirts and made her way towards her. "Are you all right, Jessie?"
She looked up and scowled. "Why are you here?"
"I just came to see what's wrong," she answered.
Jessamine sniffed. "Nothing is wrong with me, but not a single gentleman has asked me to dance for this set."
Tessa raised an eyebrow. Only Jessamine would be one to complain this early in the ball.
"And they've asked you before?"
Suddenly, Tessa received a tap on her shoulder. Surprised, she spun around a saw no other than Gabriel Lightwood, who was rocking up and down on his heels. Jessamine scrunched up her nose with a grimace.
"Hello, ladies," he said cheerily. "Are you both having a nice time?"
Jessamine looked over at Tessa, and they both shrugged. "Quite," Jessamine replied.
"Yes, as you may know, my father is very wealthy, and this is only one of the many ballrooms we have. Of course, he uses only the best for this occasion." Tessa awkwardly looked at Jessamine as he started rambling on about Benedict Lightwood's wealth and how he and his brother would be the ones to inherit it all. He could be incredibly arrogant, to Tessa's discovery.
Tessa stopped listening after a while, but then Gabriel asked her, "Would you like to meet my sister?"
She spluttered, "Tatiana?" Gabriel nodded in confirmation. "Oh. I suppose." He led her over to where a young lady with the features much like the rest of the Lightwoods stood. She was talking to a man close to her in age, perhaps a bit older.
"Tatiana, this is Miss Tessa Gray. And this is her husband, Mr. Rupert Blackthorn," Gabriel introduced.
Tessa smiled politely. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Blackthorn."
"Goodness, you are tall," Tatiana said instead, tsking and looking up at her.
She flushed. "Oh," was the only thing that came out of her mouth.
Thankfully, Tessa caught Will's eye from the distance and gave him a pleading look. He saw the Lightwoods and smirked, but quickly recovered and walked over to her, wrapping an arm around her.
Her skin heated from the warmth of his hands and the rest of her body ached for more. She tried to shrug him off without being too obvious, but he only tightened his hold. She gave the Lightwoods a tight-lipped smile.
"There you are, Tess," Will said good-naturedly, looking down at her with a fond smile. Then he switched his gaze from her to Gabriel and his sister, whispering, "She's always wandering off. So silly." Tessa felt a sudden urge to slap his arm.
Tatiana went absolutely rigid at the sight of him.
Gabriel looked at Tessa with an amused expression. "So, Will, is Miss Gray your new plaything?" Will shot him a dark look and Tatiana shook her head and walked off to her husband, unable to bear the sight of him any longer.
At the moment, Tessa was annoyed at the two boys in front of her. Will leaned back with a satisfied look on his face. And they began walking off. "Let us go, Tessa. I am growing tired of Gabriel's face. The ugly monster."
She looked up at him with a puzzled look. "He is not ugly. He's actually quite handsome."
Will stared at her with a look in his eyes that Tessa couldn't decipher. Then he must've snapped out of it in that quick moment. "Well I suppose I shall ask you for a dance so we don't seem suspicious to them."
"You weren't going to ask me anyway?" Tessa feigned offense, pouting a little.
"Of course I was." Will waved it off dismissively. She couldn't stop the heat rising on her face and the small fluttering in her stomach. He grinned at her.
A new song was about to start and Tessa looked at him expectantly. "Well?"
"Aren't you supposed to be asking me to dance? Really, Will." Tessa shook her head as if she were disappointed. She said in her best imitation of Jessamine's voice, "Manners, William."
Will's grin broadened, and he mocked a bow, making the gesture seem grander than it should be. "May I have this dance, Miss Gray?"
She laughed, a smile forming on her lips and curtsied in return. "You may, Mr. Herondale."
He took her hand gingerly and led her to the dance floor. Will placed his hands around her waist and her arms were wrapped around his neck. They began whirling around the room, mostly talking and laughing and sometimes, enjoying each other's company in silence.
"Thank you, by the way," Tessa said after he spun her.
A dark eyebrow lifted. "For?"
Tessa bit her tongue. "I mean this in the kindest way possible. For saving me from Gabriel. He was beginning to talk about him and Gideon inheriting his father's riches."
He sighed exasperatedly. "Angel, it was as if they were having some sort of a family reunion." She grinned, but it vanished quickly. She had not realized how close they were, and upon noticing the proximity, Tessa instantly became flustered. While everyone else dancing was at a respectable space, Will and Tessa's chests were nearly touching.
"Are you all right?" Will inquired, faltering in his steps. "We can stop, if you want."
Oh, Angel, help me now. "I'm fine, nothing's wrong." She had just noticed Will's attire, all blue, black, and white. It perfectly suited him, and something about Will dressing so formal made him seem even more attractive, causing Tessa to be even more flustered.
Will stopped, causing Tessa to do so also. "What is it, Will?" she asked with a frown. Then he took her by her wrist and they began walking in the direction of the exit. "Where are we going?"
"You are obviously not okay. I figured you might want some fresh air." He shrugged, not looking at her. Tessa blushed. If only he knew, she thought in her head, embarrassed. "See, you're flushed. Must be from all the people inside. It was, admittedly, a bit stuffy in there."
Tessa was dying on the inside.
The doors opened and immediately, Tessa shivered. It was freezing outside. She looked over at Will and he seemed casual. She opened her mouth in astonishment. "How are you not cold?"
Will stared at her in puzzlement before laughing. He pointed to his neck. "Thermal runes, Tess." She scowled at him and they took a seat on the bench. Undoubtedly the fresh air was much nicer compared to the inside of the ballroom. It did help. But then Will said: "If you are cold, you may wear my coat if you like," he offered, beginning to take it off.
She shook her head. She had read situations in books where the gentleman would do things such as that, but even if he wasn't cold, she didn't want him to give up his coat for her. "No, it is fine, you don't have to."
Will bit his lip, as if he were about to protest. He had been acting so differently lately. At first he had been so arrogant and quite rude. He was different now. Will's dark blue eyes no longer held a hard, sad feeling about them, and blazed brighter these days. He almost looked happy.
She just hoped that this wasn't a temporary phase.
"I insist," Will said in a low voice and took off the jacket in one move, and slid it over Tessa's shoulders. She made sure not to make eye contact, and she held it tightly against her with one hand.
She hadn't noticed this before, but his gloves were off, exposing his hands. She faced him, looking up with wide eyes, and he seemed to be lost in his own world. "Will," she whispered. He blinked, and then looked down. Unconsciously, Tessa seemed to have put her hand on top of his. She moved to draw it back, but gently, Will held it down with his own. She looked at him in surprise, and he began stripping her hand of its glove and laced his fingers with hers effortlessly, and she was surprised at how their hands fit together so perfectly, and why he would be doing this.
For a moment, Tessa just stared at their joined hands, no longer processing thoughts normally but instead stayed focus on the rough, yet comforting feel of his hands; how much farther away he was from her; his usual tousled hair not as messy as before, but just enough for it to be appropriate to a ball; how his eyes looked darker in the cloudy weather, but with something else too—something she'd be able to identify if he would just look at her…
"Tessa, I have to tell you something," Will said abruptly, snapping her out of her thoughts.
She looked at him questionably, trying to read his face. Searching his eyes, she asked him, "What?"
He opened his mouth to answer, but there was a loud crash and a few screams coming from the inside. They both stood up hastily and exchanged a look. Tessa picked up her skirts and they made their way to the entrance, Will's jacket still on her shoulders.
Tessa clutched onto Will's arm. The Shadowhunters inside were murmuring to themselves in curiosity as to why the lights went out. The only lights visible were the ones from the windows, yet they weren't very bright.
Somebody brought out their witchlight and there was a loud sigh of relief and the place began flooding with light.
"Oops," someone said. The lights came back on and there was a very embarrassed-looking Henry standing the center of the ballroom with the invention he was seen with not too long ago. The place was filled with groans and scolding at him.
Everyone was scattered to the corners of the room. Tessa and Will remained by the door, and she loosened her grip on his arm. Will was staring straight ahead and an angry glint flashed in his eyes. Tessa turned to see what he was looking at, and saw Benedict Lightwood, who was grinning smugly. His son Gabriel looked extremely puzzled, as well as Gideon.
"Ah, my good man, Henry," Benedict said loudly, patting him on the back. Henry stared at him blankly. He became the only man talking, everyone else just watching them. "See, I expected for this to happen." His gaze fell on Tessa, and she tightened her grip on his arm once again.
Benedict then turned and faced the people hiding in the corners and smiled mischievously. "Get ready for all the real excitement."
And just like that, a flood of automatons came in. Tessa widened her eyes and the room was filled with shrieks. It was then that Tessa realized that some did not bring weapons.
However, most did.
Many of them, including Will, had different sorts of weaponries such as daggers hidden in their belts or for women, blades hidden under their skirts and tucked in their garters. Some brought out seraph blades, but they didn't have the same effect as it would on a demon.
Will and Jem were next to each other in a moment, both blocking Tessa who was completely defenseless. Jem twisted the blade in the stomach of an automaton and it stared at him blankly before capturing him in a headlock and attempting to suffocate him. Jem gasped for air and Tessa screamed his name out and advanced towards him, but Will hissed, "Stay back!" And plunged the dagger into the back of the machine, causing it to stagger back, letting go of Jem, and approached Will instead.
Jem panted but quickly recovered, slicing the head off and Tessa could only watch in horror. Jessamine found her electrum laced parasol in the back of the room and brought it down on one automaton, causing it to shrink back away from her. The razor sharp tips brought down scratches on the artificial skin, and Jessamine recoiled in disgust.
Will was practically thrown against the wall and he grunted before kicking the attacker once in the leg, yet doing no damage. It remained passive-faced as he started throwing punches. Tessa looked over to Jem, who was trying to fight off two of them. Her worry for Will and Jem was high, and she felt incredibly useless. Her fingers twitched to find somesort of weapon, anything… And then she remembered. Knives! There were some knives by the table. If only she could get through the flood of people without managing to get caught…
She pushed her way through, increasingly aware with each step that there might be one behind her. She snatched the metal knife and, though not having a lot of experience, attempted to slice off the limb of an automaton. She was successful, and felt triumphant for only a moment before an automaton's hand pulled at her hair, causing the pearl pins to fall out. Tessa felt sick. Sophie's mother's pearl pins were now out of sight and were being stepped on.
Sophie. Where was she?
Then a sudden rush of anger filled her mixed with adrenaline, she cleanly cut through its arm. She tried to retreat from them but cold metal hands seized her wrists, and Tessa let out a yelp. Then seconds later, it was gone. Tessa spun around and saw an automaton collapsed on the floor, sputtering out oil, and she met eyes with Gideon Lightwood, her rescuer, and she asked him, "Where's Sophie?"
"Sophie?" he sputtered. Then he recovered. "I had her take one of our carriages to the Institute." He looked around frantically before shouting, "Run!"
And so she did.
She looked for Will, Jem, Charlotte, Henry, or even Jessamine at this point. The adrenaline rush was gone and Tessa was instead filled with fear. All those nightmares she had had became a reality, and Tessa was never more frightened at that moment.
She spotted a head of silver and carried her tattered skirts, scurrying after him. Will was free of the automaton she'd last seen him with. They both stood back to back, and Will shouted, "Take Tessa and get out of here!"
"William, I cannot leave you alone," Jem shouted back.
"And I cannot have you die," Will replied, his fist making contact with the face of an automaton. "Take her and go!"
"I'll stay, you take her," Jem said. "I'm well on my own." He ducked as one attempted attack and he sliced its chest.
Tessa screamed as metal arms encircled her waist and she kicked around, pounding her fists on its back as it began carrying her away. Jem and Will looked back at her and their eyes widened. Jem ran after Tessa and freed her, kicking back the automaton. A regretful look crossed Will's face and he swore rather loudly.
"Take her," Will growled, blood streaming down the side of his face and Jem nodded once, and he threw his arm around her shaking shoulders and he escorted her out, pushing the door and quickly shutting it so no automatons would get through.
Jem glanced anxiously at their carriage or a nearby horse. "Which one do we take?" he asked hurriedly.
"I don't know!" Tessa replied, her eyes wide. "We cannot walk…"
"We have to decide quickly," he said. If they take the horse, then the rest of the Institute dwellers will have to go on horseback, and that won't do. But if it were just the two of them…
"Horse," Tessa said, her tone final. "We'll take the horse."
Jem nodded and he got on from the mounting block and swung his leg over one side of the horse. He outstretched his hand and Tessa took it, and did the same, her ruined dress falling to the side. The horse neighed, and they galloped off to the Institute.
A/N: First chapter, yay! Definitely my longest first chapter. Sorry for the horrible title. If any of you have some ideas you'd like to share, PM me or review because I am absolutely terrible at coming up with them.
I hope you all liked this so far. If you did, please review, follow, and favorite so I can write more! :) Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: I do not own The Infernal Devices.