They laid side by side, not touching and barely breathing. Clary’s fingers twitched as Jace gasped in another shuddering breath. His eyes were closed, squeezed tightly together as he breathed deeply.
“Jace, please say something.”
His head shook minutely, his lips pursing slightly.
Clary sighed, pushing herself up as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. “Alright. I’ll leave you. Come find me if you need to.” She pressed a soft kiss to his forehead, her hair brushing his bare skin.
And then she was gone.
x . x . x . x . x
It was later-much later-when Jace had calmed enough to crack his eyes open. The candles had burnt themselves nearly into nubs and he glared at the flickering flames.
Everything he knew was a lie. His entire life was a huge charade, cultivated by his father.
“Yeah, that we did. In fact, we lived in your father’s house.”
“Excuse me?!?!” He would remember this fiery haired temptress, surely.
Clary’s head dropped forward, her eyes glancing sadly at him. “I was born in the East Wing. So was my brother. My father and yours were as close as brothers. They grew up together and when your father took the throne, he made mine his advisor.”
Jace’s head was shaking from side to side, disbelief etched onto every part of his face. “That-that can’t be…I just…”
“This all leads back to what we can do. You have to understand, magic is…intoxicating to some people. Certain people have certain strengths and other people…the magic-changes them.” Clary leaned back again, slumping back onto the feather pillows. “For instance, Magnus can sense magic. He can sense it’s strength, it’s purpose, where it comes from. Alec excels at healing. I am particularly adept at manipulating the elements, which means I can control certain things-like when I froze you in place. I wasn’t actually freezing you-I froze the air around you, trapping you.”
Jace’s eyes were wide, his mouth gaping as he stared at the pirate. She paused for a few moments, clearly waiting to see if he had any questions. When his mouth snapped shut and he gulped convulsively on air, she sighed.
“Your father was fairly strong overall, no one power standing out. He-”
“NO! You’re lying! My father doesn’t have magic! It’s unnatural! He’s always told me that magic wielders are evil, unnatural deviants!” His breaths came in short, sharp bursts. His heart raced with an emotion he hadn’t felt in years-panic. This couldn’t be true.
His hands shot to his hair, gripping the tresses tightly as he began rocking slightly back and forth. Clary reached a hand out, pausing before she made contact. She pulled her hand back reluctantly as his eyes swung wildly toward her. “Please, Clary. Tell me you’re lying. Please.”
Her heart ached at his desperate plea, but she metaphorically stood firm. “I can’t tell you that, Jace. Your father and my father were raised together. They both had magic. Everything-gods-everything that happened…it was all my fault.”
Clary hung her head slightly, one hand massaging her temples. Her spine rounded, the weight of the immense burden settling down over her once again. “Normally, if a child has magic, it manifests somewhere between the ages of 10 and 13, though occasionally you’ll get a late bloomer somewhere in their 14th year. So, when Jonathan turned 10 our fathers started watching for any signs of magic. Imagine their surprise when a mere week later I started manifesting.” She scoffed, rolling her eyes at the memories. “You father was terrified. My powers were inexact and I had trouble controlling them. You thought they were the coolest thing ever though and of course I tried to impress you.” She paused again, peeking through the curtain of her hair to shoot him a small smile. “I had a fairly serious crush on you.”
Against his better judgement, Jace let a grin escape.
“About three months after my powers manifested, Magnus was brought to your father’s court by a slaver. Your father found out what he could do and made him examine everyone he could think of-you, me, Jonathan, Isabelle, Alec, Helen, Sebastian-”
Clary’s eyes drifted shut, a pained grimace on her face. “Please, just let me finish.” He nodded slightly, though she hadn’t opened her eyes to see. “When my father found out that Jonathan didn’t have magic, he was furious. It was a travesty that he wasn’t going to carry on the ‘Morgenstern legacy’. And then…then they found out…my magic surpassed them all. I was young and untrained, but Magnus said he’d never seen powers quite like mine. You father was terrified.”
Jace found himself enraptured, his earlier angst forgotten. It was as if he had regressed to childhood and his mother was telling him a bedtime story. “What happened then?!”
“Your father had my father put a block on you. Your magic was nearly as strong as mine, according to Magnus. And your father was absolutely horrified that you’d become more powerful than him. Once my father had effectively placed the block, we were banished. Along with every other magic wielder your father could find. That’s what I had Magnus searching for-whether the block was intact or on the verge of collapsing, like I thought.”
“I can’t-so, wait. I have magic?” The word caught in his throat, sticking like a dry lump of toast. Clary nodded. “And my father…had a block put on me so I can’t use them. And somehow messed with my memories? That’s what you’re telling me?”
Again Clary nodded, her eyes shining with sympathy. His hands shook as he fought through the memories of his childhood, trying to pick out any single instance that might have been suspicious. But he was at a loss. His childhood was idyllic-he was the crown prince, his parents doted on him and he never wanted for anything. And it was all a lie.
His head whipped up, the ends of his hair nearly stinging her face. “Undo it. Whatever block he had put on me, undo it. Now.”
The pirate Captain pursed her lips and laced her fingers together over her crossed legs. “Jace-it’s not that simple-”
“You said you were the most powerful of them all! You said that! You said I was powerful! I need-Clary, I need to know…please!” He’d risen to his knees, crawling toward her across the bed. His hands grabbed for hers and she scrutinized the agony etched into every line of his body.
“It’s close to collapse as it is. Are you sure you want to forcefully undo the block?”
Her eyes pleaded with him, willing the stubborn man into agreeing. But he just shook his golden head. “I can’t wait. I need to know now. Please?”
After a moment of silence, she bowed her head slightly in defeat. “I’ll see what I can do. Let me get Magnus.” She slowly stood, crossing to the door to speak quietly with whoever was outside.
The young prince paced from one wall of the small cabin to the other-one, two, three steps, turn, one, two, three steps. On and on he paced as they waited for the Quartermaster. Clary sat at the edge of the bed, her legs dangling a foot above the floor as they swung back and forth. She picked at her thumbnail, occasionally bringing it to her lips to chew on thoughtfully.
Alec was the first one through the door once it’d burst inward, followed closely by his lover. Simon brought up the rear, a look of pure terror on his face.
“Clary! You can’t be serious!” It was Alec who spoke, his eyes wide as he stalked closer to his Captain. “I know-” He paused, glancing toward the Prince warily. “Did you tell him finally?!?”
Clary nodded, crossing her arms indignantly over her chest as she rolled her eyes. “He wants us to undo the block. But…I don’t think I can in my…condition.” She waved a hand down her body and the four men winced. She turned to Jace, who was looking more and more bereft as the moments passed. “Using our magic can drain us. If you use too much in too short a time-or don’t take measures to recover properly-you get this. It’s not that I don’t want to help you, I do. I’m just not actually able to right now. But I’m hoping they can.”
She’d stood, stepping into the path of his pacing as she spoke. Her hands found his and steadied them, her eyes boring up into his as she tried to reassure him.
“Clare, if you want us to do this, it needs to be now. He’s about to combust from the anticipation.” She rolled her eyes at Magnus, though she knew his words were true.
Slowly, she pulled Jace to the bed. She pushed him down lightly and he followed, his eyes never leaving hers. She climbed up after him, nudging him up as she slid underneath him. His head rested on her legs as she began running her fingers through his hair. “Just relax. This shouldn’t hurt.”
Her eyes flicked upwards though his never wavered. He felt a pair of hands on his ankles and a set just above his knees. Then someone settled their weight onto his torso, their hands resting solidly on his chest, clasped above his heart. Jace flicked his eyes down, catching sight of Magnus on top of his before he looked back to Clary, a quiet desperation flowing through him as he waited for it to begin.
And begin it did. A slow warmth crept through him, radiating from the man above him. It suffused through him, building in intensity as it collided with the warmth from Alec and Simon. Clary watched as those golden eyebrows furrowed, his mouth parting minutely as his breathing picked up. His nostrils flared and his teeth ground together as he sucked in a harsh breath, his back bowing up slightly under Magnus’ weight.
Then his eyes squeezed shut as a scream ripped it’s way out of his throat, the raging inferno coursing through his veins as chaos erupted around him.