Clary stood her ground, refusing to show how much Jonathan’s words affected her. She heard a small intake of breath from behind her and internally rolled her eyes.
Jonathan’s black eyes shifted, taking in her First Mate and Quartermaster who’d wrapped themselves even more tightly together.
“Ah, so the freaks know what I’m talking about, eh? Interesting choice there, Lightwood. Couldn’t find a woman who’d have you?”
Alec raised his chin and took a step forward, drawing even with Clary. “At least I know who I am, Johnny boy. And I have a man who loves me. Who in their right mind would have you without the exchange of currency?”
Ragnor closed his eyes and scrunched his face, shaking his head slightly. Magnus jerked on Alec’s hand, drawing him back to his side.
“That’s right, freak. Protect your little loverboy for now. You won’t be around him forever.” A malicious sneer crossed Jonathan’s handsome face as he glared at his sister’s officers.
“Jonathan! Quit fucking around. What do you want? I have nothing of yours, unless you count the ship we raided last week that was full of fruit. We still have some oranges left, if you’d like those.” Clary gestured casually over her shoulder, her head cocked to the side. “Otherwise, we have nothing for you here. Understood?”
His head tipped down as he glared at his younger and much smaller sister. Small sparks were lighting against her fingertips and her breathing was picking up in her anger. He smirked as he stood up straight and waved a hand lazily behind him.
“Oh, come now, sister mine. I’d like to talk. And I come bearing gifts!”
Two of his crew members stumbled up the gangplank connecting the ships, lugging two huge trunks that were promptly dropped onto the deck. Clary grimaced, already seeing the scuffs from the impact.
“Fine. Come with me.” The redhead nodded to her crew and turned to Magnus. “See that Ragnor gets a good meal. I take it that’s acceptable, brother?”
He nodded, clearly uninterested as Magnus and Alec led the chained man away, Isabelle sneering over her shoulder as she followed. Jonathan cocked his head as he watched her go, his lips pursed, one hand rubbing obscenely at his crotch.
“You women, always wanting to be more than you are and do more than what you’re able. There’s only one good thing you lot are made for.” He snickered as Clary threw the door into the wall.
“Lovely attitude, Jon. Remember you are on my ship. I may be a women, but I’m still the Captain.”
She led the way down the hall, her heart hammering in her chest as she pushed the door to her chambers inward. She prayed to the Angel that Isabelle had done what she’d asked and hidden the prince. Her eyes swept over the room and she heaved a small sigh when she saw no sign of the man ever being there.
She spun around, her hands crossed over her chest. “So, what do you want?”
– . – . – . – . –
Jace watched as the man stalked toward Clary. She stood her ground, her back ramrod straight, never flinching away from his glare.
“I want the boy. He’s mine.”
Jace’s heart stuttered and he shoved a fist into his mouth to stifle his gasp. The gap in the wood of the wardrobe was small, but he didn’t want to draw any unnecessary attention.
Clary’s scoff drew his attention to the siblings again. “What boy? I have quite a few men on my ship, but they’ve been with me for ages.”
“Stop playing dumb, Clarissa. It doesn’t suit you.” Jonathan’s shoulders trembled with rage as he stalked forward, pressing Clary into the wall. “You know perfectly fucking well which boy I’m talking about.”
He withdrew a dagger from his belt, flicking the tip casually with his thumbnail. “Or perhaps I should have my crew come aboard and tear your ship apart. Would you like that? There’s more than enough women to keep them entertained for weeks. It really wouldn’t be a hardship.” A chilling laugh echoed around the small room as Jace fought the urge to gag at the pirate’s words.
Jonathan leaned in, his large hand circling her neck as he brought the knife to her cheek.The point dug in dangerously and Jace sucked in a pained breath, terrified for the small girl. Sparks shot from Clary’s fingers and fizzled quickly into nothing. Jace observed silently as Jonathan glanced downward, his lips twisting into a cruel smile. “Oh, you didn’t think I’d come aboard unprepared, did you?! You see, I had Ragnor perform a simple little charm-as long as I wear this-” He held up a pendant from around his neck and Clary’s eyes widened in disbelief. “-you can’t work your little magic tricks on me. Fucking freak.”
Jace furrowed his brows, struggling to place the symbol that he was positive he’d seen before. It swayed on the silver chain, taunting the young prince with a memory that danced just on the outskirts of his mind. Jonathan sneered, his fingers tightening minutely against the slender column of Clary’s neck. “Father had the right idea. This really is all you’re good for.”
Jace felt a white hot boiling rage shoot through his veins, simmering hotly under his skin. He watched Clary’s face blanch as her brother ground his hips harshly into hers, his free hand coming up to paw at her chest roughly. Her throat pulsed as she swallowed convulsively, trying to fight back the overwhelming fear coursing through her.
“What? Are you afraid, Clarissa?” Jonathan’s hot, fetid breath grazed her cheek as he leaned in close. He ran his nose up her cheek, as if he could smell the fear wafting from her very pores. “You’re not exactly my type-much too small and skinny. No boobs, no ass, nothing really to distinguish you as a woman. But you have a few nice, wet holes that I’d be perfectly happy to put to use.”
Clary’s emerald eyes sparkled with tears as she struggled against her brother. Jace’s hand slapped against the wardrobe involuntarily while he tried to fight back the nauseous feeling welling in his gut. His eyes shot wide as he realized the mistake he’d made and Clary’s eyes frantically rolled toward him.
Jonathan’s black eyes swept the room, unsure where the noise had come from, though his black eyes settled in the general vicinity of the wardrobe. Clary’s finger twitched and Jace froze in place, though not from any outside force this time. He watched as Clary’s eyes darted toward her brother, then back to where he was hidden. Her head shook minutely, a silent plea to stay where he was. Jonathan rounded back toward her, his face screwed up into a maniacal version of his handsome features.
“Oh, that’s classic! Hiding something in plain sight, are we?”
Clary struggled, her tiny feet lifting off the floor as Jonathan flexed his arm. The sleeve of his tunic rode up and Jace grimaced at the lattice of stark white scars that ran it’s length. Clary kept her hands resolutely at her side, her eyes bulging with the pressure of her brother’s hand around her neck and Jace fought every instinct screaming at him to help her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. This is a ship. It creaks. Things move as that blue stuff underneath us tosses us around.” Her words were choked, though the sarcasm shined through. Jace fought back a pained smirk at her sass. He admired her fearlessness, though he was terrified of what her brother would do. He didn’t seem like the most stable of men.
“Let’s just see, shall we?” He abruptly released her and she fell, gasping to the wooden floor. Clary clutched her neck, sucking in deep pulls of precious oxygen. Jonathan stalked toward the wardrobe, his ostentatious coat billowing behind him as if a great gust of wind had blown in. His boots clicked along the wooden planks as he stepped closer, taunting Clary with pointed looks over his shoulder.
“Oh, little sister…what could possibly be behind door number one?” His eyes were wide, sparking with a hidden madness. Jace cowered into the corner, readying himself to fight and not at all prepared for it.
A sharp caw sounded from the hallway and Jonathan paused, his eyes rolling into the back of his head as his body seemed to sag.
“Varis! What is it?!”
Clary nudged the door open with her foot from her sprawled position, her back sagging down to the floor as the inky black bird hopped into the room. It cocked it’s head as if to ask it’s owner what he was doing. Jonathan held up an arm and the tattletale of a bird flapped its wings, shedding feathers that fell to the floor soundlessly.
Clary rolled her eyes, kicking out quietly at her brother. He smirked again and dodged her foot lithely.
“Come on, pet. Let’s see what Clarissa tried to hide from us.”
Clary’s eyes shot wide again, the emerald green depths glowing with terror. Jace flattened himself as much as he was able, though he kept an eye on the Captain. The blackness of the wardrobe only served to highlight the moment Clary’s fingers sparked and he gulped in a hopeful gasp.
Jonathan’s ring clad fingers curled around the gilt handle, the hinges of the old doors creaking in protest as he tugged harshly. And Jace squeeze his eyes shut, knowing that his time on The Institute was at its end.
Except-nothing happened. The air rushed in as the door swung open and the light shone through his closed lids. But there was no harsh grip, no victorious shouts, no pointed weapons digging into his flesh.
He cracked his amber eyes open. His teeth clamped down on his tongue, drawing blood as he fought back a confused yelp.
There was Jonathan Morgenstern, staring into the wardrobe where he was now fully exposed-but those black eyes slid right over him. Jace froze again, his eyes seeking out the small girl who’d suddenly become his lifeline. Her brow was beaded with sweat and her eyes showed the strain of whatever she was doing. But her body was completely relaxed, sprawled on the floor as if she hadn’t a care in the world.
“Satisfied, brother mine? I’m hiding nothing from you. Which is more than you’re capable of, birdbrain.” She scoffed as she fought her way to an upright slouch, sliding her ass across the floor to lean against the rough walls. “No wonder you’ve got that demented pigeon for a pet.”
Jonathan spun away and Varis took flight, swooping out the door with an indignant ‘caw’. “This isn’t over, little sister. I will have that prince, if it’s the last thing I do. Everything hinges on it. Everything.”
With a swift twirl, Jonathan disappeared. His voice echoed through the hall as he stomped carelessly back to his ship.
Clary sagged, her strength abandoning her in a single burst. Her head flopped forward and her hair created an auburn curtain around her face. Jace fought to steady his breathing, his limbs trembling as he crept carefully out of his hiding place.
Her head lolled to the side, her fiery tresses falling to reveal her right eye. The exhaustion was evident in the lines etched into her forehead and the twist of pain that curled her mouth. She sighed, her eyes drifting fitfully closed for a moment.
“He’s gone. He’ll be too humiliated to try again.” She grinned, though the expression didn’t reach her eyes. “You’re safe-at least for now.”
She planted her calloused hands beside her as she tried to stand. But she collapsed backward with an agonized moan.
“What-uh…what’s wrong? Can I help you? Get Magnus?”
“NO!” Clary’s eyes opened wide and Jace stepped out, carefully making his way to her side. He sank down onto his knees, his hands fluttering ineffectually over her. She batted him away with a small chuckled, though it clearly pained her to do it. “I’m just tired. I shouldn’t have even tried that with that damn pendant he had. Ugh. If only we could get Ragnor away from him…
Jace furrowed his brow, confusion settling into his mind. “What did you do though? He acted like he couldn’t see me.”
Clary shifted again, her face twisting in pain as she fought to get comfortable. Jace pursed his lips, his eyebrows drawing low over his tawny eyes. “This is ridiculous. You’re in pain.”
“It’s fine. I just ne-argh!”
Clary stifled a shriek as Jace popped to his feet, his arms scooping her up as he went. He smirked as she wiggled in his arms, an absurd notion of rightness settling somewhere in the center of his chest. He fell backwards onto the bed, cradling her to his chest as he scooted back to the wall.
“So, what did you do?”
He raised an eyebrow as she threw herself off his lap, her body sprawling heavily by his side. “Was that necessary?!?”
He smiled, his tongue peeking slightly out from between his perfect white teeth and Clary rolled her eyes. She shifted, snuggling down into the solitary pillow as she sucked in a deep breath.
“The reason he acted like he couldn’t see you is because he actually couldn’t see you. I threw up a glamour.” She sighed, squeezing her eyes shut as she ran a ran through her tangled hair. “Ugh, this is ridiculous. Can you pull my boots off, please?”
Jace crept to the end of the bed, taking a slender ankle in his grip and tugging at the leather boot. She wiggled her toes and heaved a sigh of relief as the shoe slipped off and Jace smiled at the simple joy she showed in such a minute action. He repeated the motion on her other foot, suppressing the urge to caress her surprisingly soft skin.
He settled back to his original spot, stretching his legs out in front of him as he crossed his arms lightly over his chest. They sat in silence as the waves rocked the ship, lulling the Captain into a peaceful slumber.
The sun made its way slowly through the sky, day turning to night as the moon made a bid for freedom from its dark prison. The pale silver light filtered through the porthole by his side and still the young prince continued to stare at the small pirate Captain sleeping by his side. For once he cared about someone other than himself. His lips quirked up in a small smile as he finally let go, drifting away into sweet dreams of his future.