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Secondary Liberties

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[Fic: TID] Secondary Liberties - Jem/Tessa, R
Title: Secondary Liberties
Fandom: The Infernal Devices, [[CLOCKWORK PRINCE SPOILER WARNING!!]]
Rating: R, to be safe.
Word Count: 1520 approx.
Disclaimer: C.C. made the sandbox; I just play in it when I'm not busy sobbing over it.
Summary: After Jem asked Tessa the momentous question, they sought a way to explore what they
had begun that fateful night in Jem's room...

A/N: Dedicated to fadedclassic on tumblr, because we have bonded over Ms. Clare’s heart-wrenching chicanery. And the fact that very few people can inspire me to this level of steamy.


A strange and wondrous thing, to find themselves here again. Not in the same room—it was Tessa’s room—but to feel Jem’s hand on her bare thigh and his lips ghosting over her shoulder. Her fingers brushed against his ribs, unconsciously tracing rune scars over and over, and feeling the plains of his stomach that she’d only had the pleasure of knowing but once before.

It was a scandalous thing, to do it so intentionally. But it felt innocent, even as they plotted it. And it wasn’t even in so many words…

Tessa had noted that she always read by candlelight because it was her custom, she mourned the fact that her last taper was down to the wick. Jem had thoughtfully offered to find her some candles, but of course, it would take time to dig them up, so he wouldn’t be able to bring them to her until the evening… he said it with a smile, and a light happiness that was rare in him..

And brushed her hand as he said it.

And then Tessa smiled back. A smile with a question behind it, even as she felt her head nodding ever so slightly.

A question that was answered with a breathless laugh as Jem spun away to begin his search.

As she had turned from the sight of his retreating back, she’d met Will’s eyes, ever so unintentionally. It hurt, twisting her insides, and tainting the mischievousness with something darker.

But even if he understood, Will wouldn’t tell.

And Jem’s laugh still echoed faintly in the hallway, like a single candle innocently burning in a pitch-black cavern.

Warm breath, halting and affectionate against her ear, drawing her back to the present.

Tentative fingers following the twin chains around her neck, pausing at the jade nestled at her throat, finally resting on the wings of the angel between her breasts.

Her own hand lay over his heart, feeling it flutter madly beneath his skin, and guilt and sadness retreated.

He truly had brought candles, and the flickering light cast a warm glow over his silver hair and skin. Even his sickness seemed to be held at bay, as he steadied his breathing and pulled back to meet her eyes.

“Do you think I do not know that when you look into my eyes, it’s only to see how much of the drug I’ve taken?”

She would not have him think that of her now. She would not. For no one had a heart like his, or a gentleness to match. There was nothing in Jem undeserving of love or desire, and everything about his soul and body was beautiful in her eyes, and Tessa would have him know it.

So when his face flushed under the light, and his head ducked out of her sight, she ran her fingers through his soft hair and tugged, raising him up to meet her.

As he looked at her, Tessa felt foolish for ever wanting to change her appearance. For ever wanting to make her hair more golden, or her hips more round.

“Piao lang.”

It was a breathless whisper that curled in her ear and tumbled through to her heart.

“Beautiful,” she whispered.

It was not a mere translation.

It was a returned belief, fervent and unshakable.

She drew her arms down and her legs up, wrapping herself around him, drawing that warmth closer.

“You are, Jem. You are.”

The nightgown had long since fallen enough to bare her shoulder, and she felt his lips press to the space between her neck and collarbone.

She ran her fingers down his back once more as his hand returned to her leg, drifting upward.

“Tessa.”

More of a prayer than a question, drawn out of him almost unconsciously.

When her nightgown seemed to rise no further, his hand slipped under it and paused. He licked his lips and seemed to pull back as if to withdraw it, but her hand clasped his, holding it in place.

She remembered the embarrassment from the first time. The realization that she would have allowed him to do anything, anything at all. The pain of feeling it was the reason he wouldn’t speak to her.

But she knew that to be a lie now.

“If—” her own voice was raspier than anticipated, “If you can—so long as you can still look into my eyes tomorrow, and speak to me as you always have, I want you to touch me as you will, Jem. Please.”

Jem exhaled, and she realized only then that he had been holding his breath. Holding his breath and blushing all over again.

“If you won’t think that I’m… too forward for doing it. Like some cad that takes unchaperoned liberties with beautiful ladies in close-quarter carriages…”

Tessa laughed, and he joined her, leaning forward yet again and kissing her. With no room for giggles, the merriment shifted to a wistful moan in her throat, which only grew in intensity as she felt his fingers drift beneath the cotton once more, and finally touch the the juncture of thigh and hip.

It was sensitive there, so sensitive that it sent her trembling, and she was suddenly so very aware of how close that place on her body was to that ineffable region between her legs. But his hand only drifted higher, still hidden under the gown. She felt thin callused fingers glide over her stomach, rising and falling with the breath of her lungs, lovingly stroking each rib, finally stopping below her breast.

She kissed him then, and opened her mouth for him.

Be brave, she thought. Be bold with me and know that I want only your happiness, that I would protect it, that I—

“Ungh!”

As his hand gripped her over her heart, she felt her body catch fire, an intense yearning between her legs, so sudden and so fierce, that she had no choice but to clasp her body around his, drawing him nearer to ride out the ache.

Jem gasped, his eyes shut tightly, teeth gritted together.

“Oh, Angel. Tessa, don’t…”

She felt a hardness there, heavy and pressing. Jem’s breath was suddenly ragged against her ear.

“Jem?”

“I— I—”

“Just ask. Ask me anything.”

He paused to swallow before speaking again.

“Let me… let me move against you. Please. If only a little. I won’t do more than that.”

She nodded against his neck, more than a little breathless herself.

His body was light, his weight like a welcome coverlet, and when he moved, she writhed, her own body bending like a bow-string beneath him.

Her left hand worked through his hair—pin-feather, silver, silk. Her right fell from his shoulder to to the small of his back, patchworks of rune scars flexing under her palm, her fingertips skimming and exploring just beneath the hem of his trousers.

Apart from Jem’s panting breath and her own racing heart, she heard the click of metal chain, the two pendants brushing against each other on her chest.

She felt him draw away from her slightly, and she nearly cried out, only to see him bend and kiss the spot between his mother’s pendant and her own. His lips seemed to seer right through the gown, as if it were not there.

She caught his gaze then, a fever-fire that had nothing to do with drugs or sickness. A frightened joy that lit his entire body from the inside. His mouth formed words, and though his voice failed him, she could see the love written on his every movement.

There was more there. A promise. A future, a life, no matter how short. No matter the guilt or pain from outside places. Something theirs. Because he wanted it, to have and to share. And in that moment, Tessa wanted to let him know that she understood. Understood and anticipated.

“Husband,” she whispered.

“lǎopo.”

He lifted her then, shifting them both. Tessa felt light, as if she had angelic wings of her own for a mere instant, and the glow of the candle fell away as she craned her neck down, and her hair formed a curtain around them. She cradled his face in her hands, has he cradled her body in his.

A chaste kiss then, and a flurry of tiny kisses over her cheeks and eyelids and brow. Kisses in leu of the words that wouldn’t come.

Tessa wasn’t entirely sure how time passed, and she found Jem wrapping her in warm blankets and leaning over her to quietly blow out the candle on stand, but she reached out and pulled him near once more.

There would be other nights for staying, and other nights for never sleeping, but for that night, he could remain just a little longer. And so he held her, fingers tangling in long brown hair that would simply not stay plaited so long as he didn’t want it so.

Silver eyes reflected the moonlight through the window, and it was the last thing Tessa etched into her memory before the candle diminished to curling smoke and a warm and welcome darkness flowed over everything.

-fin.-

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