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.”