It was always a surprise that werewolves turned out to have such a deft touch with floral arrangements, Clary thought. Luke’s old pack—Maia’s now—had pitched in to decorate the grounds around the farmhouse, where the reception was being held, and the old barn where the ceremony had taken place. The pack had overhauled the entire structure. Clary remembered playing with Simon in the old hayloft that creaked, the cracked and peeling paint, the uneven floorboards. Now everything had been sanded down and refinished, and the post-and-beam room glowed with the soft glow of old wood. Someone had a sense of humor, too: The beams had been wrapped with chains of wild lupine.
Big wooden vases held arrays of cattails and goldenrod and lilies. Clary’s own bouquet was wildflowers, though it had gone a bit limp from being clutched in her hand for so many hours. The whole ceremony had gone by in something of a blur: vows, flowers, candlelight, her mother’s happy face, the glow in Luke’s eyes. In the end Jocelyn had eschewed a fancy dress and gone with a plain white sundress and her hair up in a messy bun with, yes, a colored pencil stuck through it. Luke, handsome in dove gray, didn’t seem to mind at all.
The guests were all milling about now. Several werewolves were efficiently clearing away the rows of chairs and stacking the presents on a long table. Clary’s own gift, a portrait she had painted of her mother and Luke, hung on one wall. She had loved drawing it; had loved having the brush and paints in her hands again—drawing not to make runes, but only to make something lovely that someone might someday enjoy.
Jocelyn was busy hugging Maia, who looked amused at Jocelyn’s enthusiasm. Bat was chatting with Luke, who seemed dazed, but in a good way. Clary smiled in their direction and slipped out of the barn, onto the path outside.
The moon was high, shining down on the lake at the foot of the property, making the rest of the farm glow. Lanterns had been hung in all the trees, and they swung in the faint wind. The paths were lined with tiny glowing crystals—one of Magnus’s contributions, though where was Magnus? Clary hadn’t seen him in the crowd at the ceremony, though she’d seen nearly everyone else: Maia and Bat, Isabelle in silver, Alec very serious in a dark suit, and Jace having defiantly discarded his tie somewhere, probably in some nearby foliage. Even Robert and Maryse were there, suitably gracious; Clary had no idea what was going on with their relationship, and didn’t want to ask anyone.
Clary headed down toward the largest of the white tents; the DJ station was set up for Bat, and some of the pack and other guests were busy clearing a space for dancing. The tables were draped with long white cloths and set with old china from the farmhouse, sourced from Luke’s years of scouring flea markets in the small towns around the farm. None of it matched, and the glasses were old jam jars, and the centerpieces were hand-picked blue asters and clover floating in mismatched pottery bowls, and Clary thought it was the prettiest wedding she’d ever seen.
A long table was set up with champagne glasses; Jace was standing near it, and as he saw her, he raised a glass of champagne and winked. He had gone the disheveled route: rumpled blazer and tousled hair and now no tie, and his skin was all gold from the beginning of summer, and he was so beautiful that it made her heart hurt.
He was standing with Isabelle and Alec; Isabelle looked stunning with her hair swept up in a loose knot. Clary knew she’d never be able to pull off that sort of elegance in a million years, and she didn’t care. Isabelle was Isabelle, and Clary was grateful she existed, making the world a little fiercer with every one of her smiles. Isabelle whistled now, shooting a look across the tent. “Look at that.”
Clary looked—and looked again. She saw a girl who seemed about nineteen years old; she had loose brown hair and a sweet face. She wore a green dress, a little old-fashioned in its style, and a jade necklace around her throat. Clary had seen her before, in Alicante, talking to Magnus at the Clave’s party in Angel Square.
She was holding the hand of a very familiar, very handsome boy with mussed dark hair; he looked tall and rangy in an elegant black suit and white shirt that set off his high-cheekboned face. As Clary watched, he leaned over to whisper something into her ear, and she smiled, her face lighting up.
“Brother Zachariah,” Isabelle said. “Months January through December of the Hot Silent Brothers Calendar. What’s he doing here?”
“There’s a Hot Silent Brothers Calendar?” said Alec. “Do they sell it?”
“Quit that.” Isabelle elbowed him. “Magnus will be here any minute.”
“Where is Magnus?” Clary asked.
Isabelle smiled into her champagne. “He had an errand.”
Clary looked back over toward Zachariah and the girl, but they had melted back into the crowd. She wished they hadn’t—there was something about the girl that fascinated her—but a moment later Jace’s hand was around her wrist, and he was setting down his glass. “Come dance with me,” he said.
Clary looked over at the stage. Bat had taken his place at the DJ booth, but there was no music yet. Someone had placed an upright piano in the corner, and Catarina Loss, her skin glowing blue, was tinkling at the keys.
“There’s no music,” she said.
Jace smiled at her. “We don’t need it.”
“Aaaand that’s our cue to leave,” Isabelle said, seizing Alec by the elbow and hauling him off into the crowd. Jace grinned after her.
“Sentimentality gives Isabelle hives,” said Clary. “But, seriously, we can’t dance with no music. Everyone will stare at us—”
“Then let’s go where they can’t see us,” Jace said, and drew her away from the tent. It was what Jocelyn called “the blue hour” now, everything drenched in twilight, the white tent like a star and the grass soft, each blade shimmering like silver.
Jace drew her back against him, fitting her body to his, wrapping his arms around her waist, his lips touching the back of her neck. “We could go in the farmhouse,” he said. “There are bedrooms.”
She turned around in his arms and poked him in the chest, firmly. “This is my mother’s wedding,” she said. “We’re not going to have sex. At all.”
“But ‘at all’ is my favorite way to have sex.”
“The house is full of vampires,” she told him cheerfully. “They were invited, and they came last night. They’ve been waiting in there for the sun to go down.”
“Luke invited vampires?”
“Maia did. Peace gesture. They’re trying to all get along.”
“Surely the vampires would respect our privacy.”
“Surely not,” said Clary, and she drew him firmly away from the path to the farmhouse, into a copse of trees. It was shaded in here, and hidden, the ground all packed earth and roots, mountain mint with its starry white flowers growing around the trunks of the trees in clusters.
She backed up against a tree trunk, pulling Jace with her, so that he leaned against her, his hands on either side of her shoulders, and she rested in the cage of his arms. She smoothed her hands down over the soft fabric of his jacket. “I love you,” she said.
He looked down at her. “I think I know what Madame Dorothea meant,” he said. “When she said I’d fall in love with the wrong person.”
Clary’s eyes widened. She wondered if she was about to be broken up with. If so, she would have a thing or two to say to Jace about his timing, after she drowned him in the lake.
He took a deep breath. “You make me question myself,” he said. “All the time, every day. I was brought up to believe I had to be perfect. A perfect warrior, a perfect son. Even when I came to live with the Lightwoods, I thought I had to be perfect, because otherwise they would send me away. I didn’t think love came with forgiveness. And then you came along, and you broke everything I believed into pieces, and I started to see everything differently. You had—so much love, and so much forgiveness, and so much faith. So I started to think that maybe I was worth that faith. That I didn’t have to be perfect; I had to try, and that was good enough.” He lowered his eyelids; she could see the faint pulse at his temple, feel the tension in him. “So I think you were the wrong person for the Jace that I was, but not the Jace that I am now, the Jace you helped make me. Who is, incidentally, a Jace I like much better than the old one. You’ve changed me for the better, and even if you left me, I would still have that.” He paused. “Not that you should leave me,” he added hastily, and leaned his head against hers, so their foreheads touched. “Say something, Clary.”
His hands were on her shoulders, warm against her cool skin; she could feel them trembling. His eyes were gold even in the blue light of twilight. She remembered when she had found them hard and distant, even frightening, before she had grown to realize that what she was looking at was the expert shielding of seventeen years of self-protection. Seventeen years of protecting his heart. “You’re shaking,” she said, with some wonder.
“You make me,” he said, his breath against her cheek, and he slid his hands down her bare arms, “every time—every time.”
“Can I tell you a boring science fact?” she whispered. “I bet you didn’t learn it in Shadowhunter history class.”
“If you’re trying to distract me from talking about my feelings, you’re not being very subtle about it.” He touched her face. “You know I make speeches. It’s okay. You don’t have to make them back. Just tell me you love me.”
“I’m not trying to distract you.” She held up her hand and wiggled the fingers. “There are a hundred trillion cells in the human body,” she said. “And every single one of the cells of my body loves you. We shed cells, and grow new ones, and my new cells love you more than the old ones, which is why I love you more every day than I did the day before. It’s science. And when I die and they burn my body and I become ashes that mix with the air, and part of the ground and the trees and the stars, everyone who breathes that air or sees the flowers that grow out of the ground or looks up at the stars will remember you and love you, because I love you that much.” She smiled. “How was that for a speech?”
He stared at her, rendered wordless for one of the first times in his life. Before he could answer, she stretched up to kiss him—a chaste press of lips to lips at first, but it deepened quickly, and soon he was parting her lips with his, tongue stroking into her mouth, and she could taste him: the sweetness of Jace spiked with the bite of champagne. His hands were feverishly running up and down her back, over the bumps of her spine, the silk straps of her dress, the bare wings of her shoulder blades, pressing her into him. She slid her hands under his jacket, wondering if maybe they should have gone to the farmhouse after all, even if it was full of vampires—
“Interesting,” said an amused voice, and Clary pulled back from Jace quickly to see Magnus, standing in a gap between two trees. His tall figure was limned in moonlight; he had eschewed anything particularly outrageous and was dressed in a perfectly cut black suit that looked like a spill of ink against the darkening sky.
“Interesting?” Jace echoed. “Magnus, what are you doing here?”
“Came to get you,” Magnus said. “There’s something I think you should see.”
Jace closed his eyes as if praying for patience. “WE ARE BUSY.”
“Clearly,” said Magnus. “You know, they say life is short, but it isn’t all that short. It can be quite long, and you have all your lives to spend together, so I really suggest you come with me, because you’re going to be sorry if you don’t.”
Clary broke away from the tree, her hand still in Jace’s. “Okay,” she said.
“Okay?” said Jace, following her. “Seriously?”
“I trust Magnus,” Clary said. “If it’s important, it’s important.”
“And if it’s not, I’m going to drown him in the lake,” Jace said, echoing Clary’s earlier, unspoken thought. She hid her grin in the dark.
Alec stood at the edge of the tent, watching the dancing. The sun was down enough now to simply be a red stripe painted across the distant sky, and the vampires had come out from the farmhouse and joined the party. Some discreet accommodation had been made for their tastes, and they mingled among the others holding sleek metal flutes, plucked from the champagne table, whose opacity hid the liquid inside.
Lily, the head of the vampire clan of New York, was at the ivory keys of the piano, filling the room with the sounds of jazz. Over the music a voice said in Alec’s ear, “It was a lovely ceremony, I thought.”
Alec turned and saw his father, his big hand clasped around a fragile champagne flute, staring out at the guests. Robert was a large man, broad-shouldered, never at his best in a suit: He looked like an overgrown schoolboy who’d been forced into it by an annoyed parent.
“Hi,” Alec said. He could see his mother, across the room, talking to Jocelyn. Maryse had more streaks of gray in her dark hair than he remembered; she looked elegant, as she always did. “It was nice of you to come,” he added grudgingly. Both his parents had been almost painfully grateful that he and Isabelle had returned to them after the Dark War—too grateful to be angry or scolding. Too grateful for Alec to say much of anything to either of them about Magnus; when his mother had returned to New York, he’d gathered the rest of his possessions from the Institute and moved into the loft in Brooklyn. He was still in the Institute nearly every day, still saw his mother often, but Robert had remained in Alicante, and Alec hadn’t tried to contact him. “Pretend to be civil with Mom, all of that—really nice.”
Alec saw his father flinch. He’d meant to be gracious, but he’d never done gracious well. It always seemed like lying. “We’re not pretending to be civil,” said Robert. “I still love your mother; we care about each other. We just—can’t be married. We should have ended it earlier. We thought we were doing the right thing. Our intentions were good.”
“Road to Hell,” said Alec succinctly, and looked down at his glass.
“Sometimes,” Robert said, “you choose whom you want to be with when you’re too young, and you change, and they don’t change with you.”
Alec took in a slow breath; his veins were suddenly sizzling with anger. “If that’s meant to be a dig at me and Magnus, you can shove it,” he said. “You gave up your right to have any jurisdiction over me and my relationships when you made it clear that as far as you were concerned, a gay Shadowhunter wasn’t really a Shadowhunter.” He set his glass down on a nearby speaker. “I’m not interested—”
“Alec.” Something about Robert’s voice made Alec turn; he didn’t sound angry, just . . . broken. “I did, I said—unforgivable things. I know that,” he said. “But I have always been proud of you, and I am no less proud now.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“When I was your age, younger, I had a parabatai,” said Robert.
“Yes, Michael Wayland,” said Alec, not caring that he sounded bitter, not caring about the look on his father’s face. “I know. It’s why you took Jace in. I always thought you two must not have been particularly close. You didn’t seem to miss him much, or mind that he was dead.”
“I didn’t believe he was dead,” said Robert. “I know that must seem hard to imagine; our bond had been severed by the sentence of exile passed down by the Clave, but even before that, we had grown apart. There was a time, though, when we were close, the best of friends; there was a time when he told me that he loved me.”
Something about the weight his father put on the words brought Alec up short. “Michael Wayland was in love with you?”
“I was—not kind to him about it,” said Robert. “I told him never to say those words to me again. I was afraid, and I left him alone with his thoughts and feelings and fears, and we were never close again as we had been. I took Jace in to make up, in some small measure, for what I had done, but I know there is no making up for it.” He looked at Alec, and his dark blue eyes were steady. “You think that I am ashamed of you, but I am ashamed of myself. I look at you, and I see the mirror of my own unkindness to someone who never deserved it. We find in our children our own selves again, who might be made better than we are. Alec, you are so much a better man than I ever was, or will be.”
Alec stood frozen. He remembered his dream in the demon lands, his father telling everyone how brave he was, what a good Shadowhunter and warrior, but he had never imagined his father telling him that he was a good man.
It was a much better thing, somehow.
Robert was looking at him with the lines of strain plain around his eyes and mouth. Alec couldn’t help but wonder if he’d ever told anyone else about Michael, and what it had cost him to say it just now.
He touched his father’s arm lightly, the first time he had willingly touched him in months, and then dropped his hand.
“Thank you,” he said. “For telling me the truth.”
It wasn’t forgiveness, not exactly, but it was a start.
The grass was damp from the chill of the oncoming night; Clary could feel the cold soaking through her sandals as she made her way back toward the tent with Jace and Magnus. Clary could see the rows of tables being set up, china and silverware flashing. Everyone had pitched in to help out, even the people she usually thought of as almost unassailable in their reserve: Kadir, Jia, Maryse.
Music was coming from the tent. Bat was lounging up at the DJ station, but someone was playing jazz piano. She could see Alec standing with his father, talking intently, and then the crowd parted and she saw a blur of other familiar faces: Maia and Aline chatting, and Isabelle standing near Simon, looking awkward—
Clary came up short. Her heart skipped a beat, and then another; she felt hot and cold all over, as if she were about to faint. It couldn’t be Simon; it had to be someone else. Some other skinny boy with messy brown hair and glasses, but he was wearing the same faded shirt she’d seen him in that morning, and his hair was still too long and in his face, and he was smiling at her a little uncertainly across the crowd and it was Simon and it was Simon and it was Simon.
She didn’t even remember starting to run, but suddenly Magnus’s hand was on her shoulder, a grip like iron holding her back. “Be careful,” he said. “He doesn’t remember everything. I could give him a few memories, not much. The rest will have to wait, but, Clary—remember that he doesn’t remember. Don’t expect everything.”
She must have nodded, because he let her go, and then she was tearing across the lawn and into the tent, hurling herself at Simon so hard that he staggered back, almost falling over. He doesn’t have vampire strength anymore; go easy, go easy, her mind said, but the rest of her didn’t want to listen. She had her arms around him, and she was half-hugging him and half-sobbing into the front of his coat.
She was aware of Isabelle and Jace and Maia standing near them, and Jocelyn, too, hurrying over. Clary pulled back from Simon just enough to look up into his face. And it was definitely Simon. This close up she could see the freckles on his left cheekbone, the tiny scar on his lip from a soccer accident in eighth grade. “Simon,” she whispered, and then, “Do—you know me? Do you know who I am?”
He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. His hand was shaking slightly. “I . . .” He looked around. “It’s like a family reunion where I barely know anyone but everyone knows me,” he said. “It’s . . .”
“Overwhelming?” Clary asked. She tried to hide the chime of disappointment, deep down in her chest, that he didn’t recognize her. “It’s all right if you don’t know me. There’s time.”
He looked down at her. There was uncertainty and hope in his expression, and a slightly dazed look, as if he’d just woken up from a dream and wasn’t entirely sure where he was. Then he smiled. “I don’t remember everything,” he said. “Not yet. But I remember you.” He brought her hand up, touched the gold ring on her right index finger, the Fair Folk metal warm to the touch. “Clary,” he said. “You’re Clary. You’re my best friend.”
Alec made his way up the hill to where Magnus stood on the pathway overlooking the tent. He was leaning against a tree, hands in his pockets, and Alec joined him to watch as Simon, looking as bewildered as a newborn duckling, was swarmed by friends: Jace and Maia and Luke, and even Jocelyn, crying with happiness as she hugged him, smearing her makeup. Only Isabelle stood apart from the group, her hands clasped in front of her, her face almost expressionless.
“You’d almost think she didn’t care,” said Alec as Magnus reached out to straighten his tie. Magnus had helped him pick out the suit he was wearing, and was very proud of the fact that it had a slender stripe of blue that brought out Alec’s eyes. “But I’m pretty sure she does.”
“You’re correct,” Magnus said. “She cares too much; that’s why she’s standing apart.”
“I would ask you what you did, but I’m not sure I want to know,” Alec said, leaning his back against Magnus, taking comfort in the solid warmth of the body behind him. Magnus put his chin down on Alec’s shoulder, and for a moment they stood motionless together, looking down at the tent and the scene of happy chaos below. “It was good of you.”
“You make the choice you have to make at the time,” Magnus said in his ear. “You hope for no consequences, or no serious ones.”
“You don’t think your father will be angry, do you?” Alec said, and Magnus laughed dryly.
“He has a great deal more to pay attention to than me,” Magnus said. “What about you? I saw you talking to Robert.”
Alec felt Magnus’s posture tense as he repeated what his father had told him. “You know, I would not have guessed that,” Magnus said when Alec was done. “And I’ve met Michael Wayland.” Alec felt him shrug. “Goes to show. ‘The heart is forever inexperienced’ and all that.”
“What do you think? Should I forgive him?”
“I think what he told you was an explanation, but it wasn’t an excuse for how he behaved. If you forgive him, do it for yourself, not for him. It’s a waste of your time to be angry,” Magnus said, “when you’re one of the most loving people I’ve known.”
“Is that why you forgave me? For me, or you?” Alec said, not angry, just curious.
“I forgave you because I love you and I hate being without you. I hate it, my cat hates it. And because Catarina convinced me I was being stupid.”
“Mmm. I like her.”
Magnus’s hands reached around Alec and flattened against his chest, as if he were feeling for his heartbeat. “And you forgive me,” he said. “For not being able to make you immortal, or end my own immortality.”
“There’s nothing to forgive,” Alec said. “I don’t want to live forever.” He laid one of his hands over Magnus’s, twining their fingers together. “We might not have that much time,” said Alec. “I’ll get old and I’ll die. But I promise I won’t leave you until then. It’s the only promise I can make.”
“A lot of Shadowhunters don’t get old,” Magnus said. Alec could feel the thrum of his pulse. It was strange, Magnus like this, without the words that usually came to him so easily.
Alec turned around in Magnus’s embrace so that they faced each other, taking in all the details that he never got tired of: the sharp bones of Magnus’s face, the gold-green of his eyes, the mouth that always seemed about to smile, though he looked worried now. “Even if it were just days, I would want to spend them all with you. Does that mean anything?”
“Yes,” Magnus said. “It means that from now on we make every day matter.”
They were dancing.
Lily was playing something slow and soft on the piano, and Clary drifted among the other wedding guests, Jace’s arms around her. It was exactly the kind of dancing she liked: not too complicated, mostly a matter of holding on to your partner and not doing anything to trip them up.
She had her cheek against Jace’s shirtfront, the fabric rumpled and soft under her skin. His hand played idly with the curls that had fallen from her chignon, fingers tracing the back of her neck. She couldn’t help but remember a dream she’d had a long time ago, in which she had been dancing with Jace in the Hall of Accords. He had been so removed back then, so often cold; it amazed her sometimes now when she looked at him, that this was the same Jace. The Jace you helped make me, he had said. A Jace I like much better.
But he was not the only one who had changed; she had changed too. She opened her mouth to tell him so, when there was a tap on her shoulder. She turned to see her mother, smiling at them both.
“Jace,” Jocelyn said. “If I could ask you a favor?”
Jace and Clary had both stopped dancing; neither said anything. Jocelyn had come to like Jace much better in the past six months than she had liked him before; she was even, Clary would venture to say, fond of him, but she still wasn’t always thrilled about Clary’s Shadowhunter boyfriend.
“Lily’s tired of playing, but everyone’s enjoying the piano so much—and you play, don’t you? Clary told me how talented you are. Would you play for us?”
Jace swept a glance toward Clary, so quick that she saw it only because she knew him well enough to look. He had manners, though, exquisite ones, when he chose to use them. He smiled at Jocelyn like an angel, and then went over to the piano. A moment later the strains of classical music filled the tent.
Tessa Gray and the boy who had been Brother Zachariah sat at the farthest table in the corner and watched as Jace Herondale’s light fingers danced over the keys of the piano. Jace wore no tie and his shirt was partly unbuttoned, his face a study in concentration as he abandoned himself to the music with a passion.
“Chopin.” Tessa identified the music with a soft smile. “I wonder—I wonder if little Emma Carstairs will play the violin someday.”
“Careful,” her companion said with a laugh in his voice. “You can’t force these things.”
“It’s hard,” she said, turning to look at him earnestly. “I wish you could tell her more of the connection between the two of you, that she might not feel so alone.”
Sorrow turned down the corners of his sensitive mouth. “You know I cannot. Not yet. I hinted at it to her. That was all I could do.”
“We will keep an eye on her,” said Tessa. “We will always keep an eye on her.” She touched the marks on his cheeks, remnants of his time as a Silent Brother, almost reverently. “I remember you said this war was a story of Lightwoods and Herondales and Fairchilds, and it is, and Blackthorns and Carstairs as well, and it’s amazing to see them. But when I do, it’s as if I see the past that stretches out behind them. I watch Jace Herondale play, and I see the ghosts that rise up in the music. Don’t you?”
“Ghosts are memories, and we carry them because those we love do not leave the world.”
“Yes,” she said. “I just wish he were here to see this with us, just here with us one more time.”
She felt the rough silk of his black hair as he bent to kiss her fingers lightly—a courtly gesture from a bygone age. “He is with us, Tessa. He can see us. I believe it. I feel it, the way I used to know sometimes if he was sad or angry or lonely or happy.”
She touched the pearl bracelet at her wrist, and then his face, with light, adoring fingers. “And what is he now?” she whispered. “Happy or wistful or sad or lonely? Do not tell me he is lonely. For you must know. You always knew.”
“He is happy, Tessa. It gives him joy to see us together, as it always gave me joy to see the two of you.” He smiled, that smile that had all the truth of the world in it, and slid his fingers from hers as he sat back. Two figures were approaching their table: a tall, redheaded woman, and a girl with the same red hair and green eyes. “And speaking of the past,” he said, “I think there’s someone here who wants to talk to you.”
Clary was watching Church with amusement when her mother sidled up to her. The cat had been festooned with dozens of tiny silver wedding bells and, in a vengeful rage, was gnawing a hole in one of the piano legs.
“Mom,” Clary said suspiciously. “What are you up to?”
Her mother stroked her hair, looking fond. “There’s someone I want you to meet,” she said, taking Clary’s hand. “It’s time.”
“Time? Time for what?” Clary let herself be pulled along, only half-protesting, to a white-draped table in the corner of the tent. At it sat the brown-haired girl she had seen earlier. The girl looked up as Clary approached. Brother Zachariah was rising from her side; he gave Clary a soft smile and moved across the room to talk to Magnus, who had come down from the hill holding hands with Alec.
“Clary,” Jocelyn said. “I want you to meet Tessa.”