Home > Ghosts of the Shadow Market (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1-10)(5)

Ghosts of the Shadow Market (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1-10)(5)
Author: Cassandra Clare

James never looked relieved to see Matthew, or expectant. He only looked pleased. He opened the window and Matthew crawled in, upsetting both James and the book from the window seat.

“Hello, Matthew,” said James from the floor, in slightly sardonic tones.

“Hello, Matthew!” chimed Lucie from her writing desk.

She was a picture of dainty disarray, clearly in the throes of composition. Her light brown curls were half pulled out of a blue ribbon, one shoe dangling precariously from her stockinged toes. Uncle Will frequently gave dramatic readings from the book he was writing on the demon pox, which were very droll. Lucie did not show her writing around. Matthew had often considered asking her if she might read him a page, but he could think of no reason why Lucie would make a special exception for him.

“Bless you, my Herondales,” said Matthew grandly, scrambling up from the floor and making Lucie his bow. “I come upon an urgent errand. Tell me—be honest!—what do you think of my waistcoat?”

Lucie dimpled. “Devastating.”

“What Lucie said,” James agreed peacefully.

“Not fantastic?” Matthew asked. “Not positively stunning?”

“I suppose I am stunned,” said James. “But am I positively stunned?”

“Refrain from playing cruel word games with your one and only parabatai,” Matthew requested. “Attend to your own attire, if you please. Heave that beastly book away. The Misters Lightwood await us. We must hook it.”

“Can’t I go as I am?” asked James.

He looked up at Matthew with wide gold eyes from his position on the floor. His pitch-black hair was askew, his linen shirt rumpled, and he was not even wearing a waistcoat. Matthew nobly repressed a convulsive shudder.

“Surely you jest,” said Matthew. “I know you only say these things to hurt me. Off with you. Brush your hair!”

“The hairbrush mutiny is coming,” warned James, making for the door.

“Come back victorious or on the hairbrushes of your soldiers!” Matthew called after him.

When Jamie had flown, Matthew turned to Lucie, who was scribbling intently but who looked up as if sensing his glance and smiled. Matthew wondered how it would be, to be self-sufficient and welcoming with it, like a house with sturdy walls and a beacon light always burning.

“Should I brush my hair?” Lucie teased.

“You are, as always, perfect,” said Matthew.

He wished he could fix the ribbon in her hair, but that would be taking a liberty.

“Do you wish to attend our secret club meeting?” asked Matthew.

“I cannot, I am doing lessons with my mother. Mam and I are teaching ourselves Persian,” said Lucie. “I should be able to speak the languages my parabatai speaks, shouldn’t I?”

James had recently started calling his mother and father Mam and Da rather than Mama and Papa, since it sounded more grown-up. Lucie had instantly copied him in this matter. Matthew rather liked hearing the Welsh lilt in their voices when they called their parents, their voices soft as songs and always loving.

“Of a certainty,” said Matthew, coughing and making a private resolution to return to his Welsh lessons.

There had been no question of Lucie attending Shadowhunter Academy. She had never demonstrated any abilities like James’s, but the world was cruel enough to women who were even suspected of being the least bit different.

“Lucie Herondale is a sweet child, but with her disadvantages, who would marry her?” Lavinia Whitelaw had asked Matthew’s mama once over tea.

“I would be happy if either of my sons wished to,” said Charlotte, in her most Consul-like manner.

Matthew thought James was very lucky to have Lucie. He had always wanted a little sister.

Not that he wanted Lucie to be his sister.

“Are you writing your book, Luce?” Matthew asked tentatively.

“No, a letter to Cordelia,” Lucie answered, shattering Matthew’s fragile plot. “I hope Cordelia will come to visit, very soon,” she added with earnest eagerness. “You will like her so much, Matthew. I know you will.”

“Hmm,” said Matthew.

Matthew had his doubts about Cordelia Carstairs. Lucie was going to be parabatai with Cordelia one day, when the Clave decided they were grown-up ladies who knew their own minds. Lucie and James were acquainted with Cordelia from childhood adventures that Matthew had not been part of, and which Matthew felt a bit jealous about. Cordelia must have some redeeming qualities, or Lucie would not want her for a parabatai, but she was Alastair Loathly Worm Carstairs’s sister, so it would be strange if she was entirely amiable.

“She sent me a picture of herself in her latest. This is Cordelia,” Lucie continued in tones of pride. “Is she not the prettiest girl you ever saw?”

“Oh, well,” said Matthew. “Perhaps.”

He was privately surprised by the picture. He would have thought Alastair’s sister might share Alastair’s unpleasant look, as if he were eating lemons he looked down on. She did not. Instead Matthew was reminded of a line in a poem James had read to him once, about an unrequited love. “That child of shower and gleam” described the vivid face laughing up at him from the frame exactly.

“All I know is,” Matthew continued, “you have every other girl in London beat to flinders.”

Lucie colored faint pink. “You are always teasing, Matthew.”

“Did Cordelia ask you to be parabatai,” Matthew said casually, “or did you ask her?”

Lucie and Cordelia had wanted to be made parabatai before they were parted, but they were warned that sometimes you regret a bond made young, and sometimes one partner or other would change their mind. Particularly, Laurence Ashdown had remarked, since ladies could be so flighty.

Lucie was not flighty. She and Cordelia wrote to each other faithfully, every day. Lucie had even once told Matthew she was writing a long story to keep Cordelia amused since Cordelia was always so far away. Matthew did not really wonder why someone like Lucie found it difficult to take someone like him seriously.

“I asked her, of course,” Lucie said promptly. “I did not wish to miss my chance.”

Matthew nodded, confirmed in his new belief that Cordelia Carstairs must be something special.

He was sure that if he had not asked James to be parabatai, James would never have thought of asking him.

James returned to the room. “Satisfied?” he asked.

“That is a strong word, Jamie,” said Matthew. “Consider my waistcoat wrath somewhat appeased.”

James still had his book tucked under his arm, but Matthew knew better than to fight doomed battles. James told him about the book as they walked the London streets. Matthew enjoyed the modern and humorous, such as the works of Oscar Wilde or the music of Gilbert and Sullivan, but Greek history was not so bad when it was Jamie telling him. Matthew had taken to reading more and more literature of old, stories of doomed love and noble battles. He could not find himself in them, but he saw James in them, and that was enough.

They walked unglamoured, as Matthew always insisted they do in his quest to make Jamie feel less self-conscious after the disasters of the Academy. A young lady, arrested by Jamie’s bone structure, stopped in the path of an omnibus. Matthew seized her waist and whirled her to safety, giving her a tip of his hat and a smile.

Jamie seemed to miss the whole incident entirely, fiddling with something beneath his shirt cuff.

There were crowds protesting the mundane war outside the Houses of Parliament.

“The Bore War?” asked Matthew. “That cannot be right.”

“The Boer War,” said James. “B-o-e-r. Honestly, Matthew.”

“That makes more sense,” Matthew admitted.

A lady in a shapeless hat caught hold of Matthew’s sleeve.

“May I be of any assistance, madam?” asked Matthew.

“They are committing unspeakable atrocities,” said the lady. “They have children penned up in camps. Think of the children.”

James fastened his hand on Matthew’s sleeve and towed him away, with an apologetic hat tip to the lady. Matthew looked over his shoulder.

“I do hope affairs go right for the children,” he called.

James appeared pensive as they went. Matthew knew James wished Shadowhunters could solve problems like mundane war, though Matthew felt they were rather overstretched as it was with all the demons.

In order to cheer Jamie up, he stole his hat. Jamie burst into startled laughter and pursued Matthew, both of them racing and jumping high enough to amaze the mundanes, under the shadow of St. Stephen’s Tower. Matthew’s puppy lost his head, forgot his training, and dashed under their feet, yapping with the sheer joy of being alive. Their rushing footsteps outpaced the steady tick of the Great Clock, under which was written in James’s beloved Latin, O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First, and their laughter mingled with the gleeful chime and roar of the bells.

Later Matthew would look back and remember it as his last happy day.

* * *

“Do I sleep, do I dream, or are these visions I see?” demanded Matthew. “Why are Aunt Sophie and both of Thomas’s sisters taking tea in the same establishment as our private and exclusive club room?”

“They followed me,” said Thomas in beleaguered tones. “Mama was understanding, or they would have followed us directly into the club room.”

Aunt Sophie was a good sport, but that did not make Matthew feel any less uneasy about the advent of Thomas’s sisters. They were not kindred spirits, and they were liable to consider all the doings of their little brother both their business and very silly.

Matthew loved their club room and would brook no interference. He had chosen the materials for the curtains himself, made certain that James put the works of Oscar Wilde in their extensive book collection, and reinforced the corner that was Christopher’s laboratory with steel sheets on the walls.

Which led Matthew to another grievance. He regarded Christopher with a steely gaze.

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