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.