Chapter 9

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Jace’s arms ached as he lugged the heavily laden bags toward the ship. His muttered curses only spurred on Alec and Magnus’ laughter as they strolled arm in arm beside him, laughing each time he stumbled. Isabelle trailed a few feet behind, combing her fingers through silk scarves and trying on sparkly jewels as they passed.

“This was all highly unnecessary. Honestly, I’ve never seen such extravagance and I lived in a castle all my life.”

Jace rolled his eyes at the trio’s laughter, stumbling over yet another rock. He was still slightly unsteady on dry land.

“Nonsense. You need to…look the part, shall we say. This was all completely necessary.” Magnus fluttered his hand at Jace, scoffing offhandedly. “Besides, you can’t continue wearing Jonathan’s old rags. They are not the best fit.”

This time when he stumbled, he fell to his knee as he scattered bags everywhere. Alec rushed to help him gather their purchases as Magnus and Isabelle chuckled. “I’ve been wearing Jo-” Jace gulped audibly. “-his clothes?”

His hands began unconsciously clawing at this shirt, nearing ripping the fabric. Isabelle cocked an eyebrow, her lips drawing down into a bemused expression. “Why does that cause such a reaction? What exactly happened when you were locked in the wardrobe that day?”

Jace raised a curious eyebrow, looking from one pirate to the next in turn. “You’re not the only one she’s refused to speak to, princeling.” There was an air of sadness to Magnus’ words.

“I-well they spoke for a few minutes. He had a charm to counteract…whatever she does. And he…” Jace’s nose wrinkled in revulsion as he fought to once again repress the memories. “…he tried to-force himself…on her. Except not really. It seemed as if it was just to frighten her. But still…”

He shook his head slightly, wanting the images flashing behind his eyes to stop. His heart constricted painfully as he remembered the terror in Clary’s eyes as her brother pinned her to the wall.

“Oh, and he almost found me. But she used a glamour. Yes, that’s what she called it.” The pirates glanced at each other momentarily as Jace started walking again.

They fell in step silently as the group wound their way back toward the ship.

x . x . x . x . x

Simon groaned as Clary shot him a glare. He waved his spatula at her, flinging hot bits of whatever batter coated it. She cringed away and chuckled lightly as he shoved his glasses further up his nose.

“I cannot honestly believe you. You…you…argh!” He threw his hands up, releasing the kitchen tool to clatter noisily to the floor. He sighed, his hands on his narrow hips as he glared down at his best friend. “I can’t believe you lied to me Clary. For months! This-” He gestured toward her body with a sweep of his hand. “-doesn’t just happen overnight. Not to mention that you spent the night before last in my bunk. My eyesight sucks but it’s not that bad.”

The small pirate Captain hung her head. Her hair cascaded around her hunched shoulders, creating a curtain of velvety fire to shield her. Tears welled in her eyes as she fought back a sniffle.

Simon sighed, stepping forward to crouch down in front of her. She drew her knees up protectively in front of her, locking her arms around her legs. He brushed a soft curl away from her face, craning his head down to peek at his best friend. “I’m sorry, Clare. I just-I worry. After Jonathan came aboard…you just…”

He stopped talking, pursing his lips as he watched her shoulders shake with silent sobs. More than anyone, he knew the horrors that had been wrought upon her. He knew the torment her brother had subjected her to. His heart constricted painfully in his chest, breaking for his best friend.

Simon popped up, lifting the slight girl off the chair before spinning to sit. He cradled her to his chest and she clutched onto the soft linen of his shirt. Her breaths heaved and her small body shook as she cried, his hand running softly up and down the pronounced line of her spine.

It was in that exact position Jace found them more than an hour later. He skidded to a stop at the galley door, his eyes wide as his fingers tightened against the doorframe. Simon carefully disentangled one of his hands and held a finger to his lips as Clary’s head lolled forward.

Jace crept forward, careful of the third floorboard in that squeaked. He approached the duo silently, his amber eyes glaring at the chef menacingly. Simon rolled his eyes, glancing down at Clary for a moment.

He brushed a tendril of hair away from her face and Jace caught a glimpse of her long, pale lashes resting on her cheeks. Her breath shuddered slightly, as if her body knew better than to think it may be completely safe.

“Are you hungry?” Jace twisted his face into a frown at Simon’s words. He shook his head and pursed his lips.

“Alright, alright. Don’t get your knickers in a wad. She…needed a release, I guess.”

“And she needed to be in your lap to do it? I suppose you’re getting absolutely nothing from this whole…charade?”

Simon cocked his head, his lips quirking into a small grin. “I’d almost think you’re jealous, your majesty. Something you’d like to say to me?”

Jace sucked in a deep breath, about to release a whispered torrent of abuse at the man in front of him. But a hand clamped heavily onto his shoulder before he could utter a word.

“You stay. I’ll take her to your cabin. You two bury the hatchet…preferably not into each other. Clary would maim me if I allowed that.” Magnus stepped around him and bent to his knee in front of Simon and Clary. His face softened momentarily before he stood and scooped up the sleeping Captain in his arms. He turned, jerking his head silently between the two remaining men. His expression was clear-figure this out or I’ll do it for you.

Once Magnus had Clary a safe distance away, Simon stood. The men faced each other, neither willing to be the first to speak. A few minutes passed, Simon’s mouth twisted into a grin while Jace wore a scowl.

Finally, the young prince couldn’t take the silence. “FINE! You win!” Simon chuckled as he watched Jace throw his hands in the air. “What the fuck was that?!?”

“That would be the catalyst. Everything after this is going to be absolutely epic.” Jace raised an eyebrow in irritated confusion. Simon cocked his head to the side, his glasses sliding slightly down his nose. “You really don’t remember, do you?”

The young prince wrinkled his nose in exasperation. He threw his hands into the air, sighing as he popped his hip to the side. “Remember what?!?”

With a chuckled, Simon stepped forward and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Just go. Go talk. Just…go.”

Jace stumbled at the pirate chef’s ‘gentle shove’. Shaking his head, he retreated from the galley, exasperation and exhaustion seeping into every single part of him.

x . x . x . x . x

Her eyes were puffy and tight as her mind shot back into consciousness. Clary groaned as she stretched her body lethargically, scraping her fingertips along the rough wood of the wall.

Her emerald eyes cracked open, blinking as the light from the candles on the table invaded her sight. Her nose wrinkled in confusion. And her head whipped to the side wildly as she heard a soft chuckle from behind her.

“So, the sleeping beauty awakes.”

Her hand flew to her chest as she tried to tame the staccato rhythm her heart was beating. Jace smirked as he reached a fingertip out, pausing momentarily before he reached her cheek. She gulped in an oddly choked breath which he seemed to take as permission.

“You are. Beautiful.” The pirate Captain scoffed lightly as she shook her head. Jace’s brow wrinkled in frustration. “Why can’t you just accept that I think you’re beautiful?”

He watched as her already pale face blanched even further, the color draining until her lips nearly matched her skin.

“What-what did you say?”

“I think you’re beautiful. And I see the doubt and disbelief every time I-or anyone else-tells you. I just wish you could see it for yourself.”

Clary gaped open mouthed at the man laying beside her. Where the hell did that come from?

“I’ve ignored you for weeks. Why are you being so…nice?!?”

Jace grinned, showing off a slightly chipped incisor. “Life is too short to hold grudges. Well, grudges that aren’t worth my time.”

She scoffed. “Then you may not be happy with what I’m going to tell you. You may have certain-prejudices about the validity of this particular grudge.”

His brow wrinkled as he rolled closer to her, his body hovering over hers slightly as he gazed down at her. The golden strands of his hair fell forward, the soft flare of candlelight casting a halo around him.

His hand cupped her cheek and her eyes widened slightly. The molten gold of his eyes smouldered, as if his eyes had caught fire. The emotions roiling in those liquid depths confused her and made her stomach clench. His eyes darted to her lips and she sucked in a startled breath. Her tongue darted out to paint her suddenly dry lips with moisture.

“Please, Jace.”

Clary didn’t know what she was begging for. She wanted to feel. To feel something good and pure and just for her.

But it wouldn’t be fair. She couldn’t take advantage of his trust like that. She felt bad enough that he’d been on board for months without an explanation and she was fairly certain he’d want to leap overboard the moment she was done. She needed to tell him first. It was only right.

Her small hand pushed lightly at his shirt and he pulled back immediately, disappointment painted on every feature of his face. Her lips twisted into a small smile, despite the exhaustion she still felt and she struggled up to lean against the headboard.

“Please don’t misunderstand.” She held her hand out and he placed his large palm on top of hers. Her smile grew as she laced their fingers together. “I just-I don’t want you to think…I just-” Clary gulped in a deep breath while she collected her thoughts. “-I need to tell you everything first. If you still feel the way you think you feel now, then I probably won’t stop you.”

Jace rolled his eyes and chuckled. He settled perpendicularly to her as he leaned against the wall, pulling his knee to his chest. “I highly doubt anything you could say would change my mind.”

Clary grimaced. She brought a hand to her temples, rubbing at the headache beginning to rage through  her skull. “We’ll see.” With a heavy sigh, she straightened her back, crossing her legs in front of her like a child. With a small smile, she laid their still intertwined hands on her knee, unwilling to part with him quite yet. “What do you remember of your childhood?”

Jace blinked in confusion. “Uh-” He thought hard for a moment. “My first real memory had to be when I was about-oh…8 or 9 I’d say. It was the day my father gave me Nix. My horse.” He explained at Clary’s raised eyebrow.

“Nothing before that?”

The prince stared at her, searching his mind for anything to appease the hopeful look on her face. But he had nothing. There was absolutely nothing in the time before. His nose wrinkled in confusion and he shook his head spastically, as if trying to dislodge a memory-any memory at all.

Clary sighed again and hung her head for a moment, her fiery tresses creating a barrier between them. “What you’ve seen me-what you’ve seen us do-it’s magic.”

Startled at the abrupt shift in topic, Jace reared back slightly and yanked his hand away from her. He’d known there was something unnatural-supernatural even-but he still was shocked to have it stated so baldly.

“It’s an inherent trait. One that there is no rhyme or reason for. My father and mother both had magic. I have magic. Jonathan doesn’t.” She smirked. “That’s a particularly sore point for him.”

“I uh-can…imagine?” No. No he really couldn’t imagine. This was so far past the realm of his understanding.

As if she understood exactly what was going through his mind-and for all he knew, that might have been one of her powers-she glanced up, catching his eye. “You know, when I was younger we lived in Alicante.”

Jace’s eyes shot open wide, nearly bulging out of his skull as he struggled to keep up with her continual topic jumping. “You lived-in my father’s kingdom?!?”

A soft snort escaped the pirate Captain and she leaned her head backward against the headboard as her eyes drifted closed.

“Yeah, that we did. In fact, we lived in your father’s house.”

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