She slid her hand into Jace’s as they all headed away from the tent, Isabelle darting off to tell her brother to go fetch Magnus along as well. Clary had wanted to be alone with Jace earlier; now she wanted to be with everyone.
She had loved Jace for what felt like a long time now, loved him so much that sometimes she felt like she might die from it, because it was something she needed and couldn’t have. But that was gone now: desperation replaced by peace and a quiet happiness. Now that she no longer felt that every moment with him was snatched from the possibility of disaster, now that she could imagine a whole lifetime of times with him that were peaceful or funny or casual or relaxed or kind, she wanted nothing more than to walk down to the farmhouse lake with all of her friends and celebrate the day.
As they passed down over the ridge onto the path to the lake, she glanced behind her. She saw Jocelyn and Luke standing by the tent, watching after them. She saw Luke smile at her and her mother raise her hand in a wave before lowering it to clasp her new husband’s. It had been the same for them, she thought, years of separation and sadness, and now they had a lifetime. A lifetime of times. She raised her hand in an answering wave, and then hurried to catch up with her friends.
Magnus was leaning against the outside of the barn, watching Clary and Tessa deep in conversation, when Catarina came up to him. She had blue flowers in her hair that set off her sapphire-blue skin. He glanced out across the orchard, down toward where the lake shimmered like water held in the cup of a hand.
“You look worried,” said Catarina, placing her hand on his shoulder companionably. “What is it? I saw you kissing that Shadowhunter boy of yours earlier, so it can’t be that.”
Magnus shook his head. “No. Everything with Alec is fine.”
“I saw you speaking to Tessa, too,” Catarina said, craning her neck to look. “Strange to have her here. Is that what’s bothering you? Past and future colliding; it must feel a bit strange.”
“Maybe,” Magnus said, though he didn’t think it was that. “Old ghosts, the shadows of might-have-beens. Though I always liked Tessa and her boys.”
“Her son was a piece of work,” said Catarina.
“As was her daughter.” Magnus laughed, though it was as brittle as twigs in winter. “I feel the past weighing on me heavily these days, Catarina. The repetition of old mistakes. I hear things, rumblings in Downworld, the rumor of coming strife. The Fair Folk are a proud people, the proudest; they will not take the shaming from the Clave without retaliation.”
“They are proud but patient,” said Catarina. “They may wait a long time, generations, for vengeance. You cannot fear it coming now, when the shadow may not descend for years yet.”
Magnus didn’t look at her; he was looking down at the tent, where Clary sat talking with Tessa, where Alec stood side by side with Maia and Bat, laughing, where Isabelle and Simon were dancing to the music Jace was playing on the piano, the haunting sweet notes of Chopin reminding him of another time, and the sound of a violin at Christmas.
“Ah,” said Catarina. “You worry about them; you worry about the shadow descending upon those you love.”
“Them, or their children.” Alec had broken away from the others and was heading up the hill toward the barn. Magnus watched him come, a dark shadow against the darker sky.
“Better to love and fear than feel nothing. That is how we petrify,” said Catarina, and she touched his arm. “I am sorry about Raphael, by the way. I never got a chance to say it. I know you saved his life once.”
“And then he saved mine,” Magnus said, and looked up as Alec reached them. Alec gave Catarina a courteous nod.
“Magnus, we’re going down to the lake,” he said. “Do you want to come?”
“Why?” Magnus inquired.
Alec shrugged. “Clary says it’s pretty,” he said. “I mean, I’ve seen it before, but there was a huge angel rising out of it, and that was distracting.” He held his hand out. “Come on. Everyone’s going.”
Catarina smiled. “Carpe diem,” she said to Magnus. “Don’t waste your time fretting.” She picked up her skirts and wandered off toward the trees, her feet like blue flowers in the grass.
Magnus took Alec’s hand.
There were fireflies down by the lake. They illuminated the night with their winking flashes as the group spread out jackets and blankets, which Magnus produced from what he claimed was thin air, though Clary suspected that they had been illegally summoned from Bed Bath & Beyond.
The lake was a silver dime, reflecting back the sky and all its thousands of stars. Clary could hear Alec naming off the constellations to Magnus: the Lion, the Bow, the Winged Horse. Maia had kicked off her shoes and was walking barefoot along the lakeshore. Bat had followed her, and as Clary watched, he took her hand hesitantly.
She let him.
Simon and Isabelle were leaning together, whispering. Every once in a while Isabelle would laugh. Her face was brighter than it had been in months.
Jace sat down on one of the blankets and drew Clary with him, his legs on either side of her. She leaned her back against him, feeling the comforting beat of his heart against her spine. His arms reached around her, and his fingers touched the Codex in her lap. “What’s this?”
“A gift, for me. And there’s one for you, too,” she said, and took his hand, unfolding his fingers one by one until his hand was open. She placed the slightly battered silver ring onto it.
“A Herondale ring?” He sounded bewildered. “Where did you . . .”
“It used to belong to James Herondale,” she said. “I don’t have a family tree around, so I don’t know what that means exactly, but he was clearly one of your ancestors. I remember you saying the Iron Sisters would have to make you a new ring because Stephen hadn’t left you one—but now you have one.”
He slid it onto the ring finger of his right hand.
“Every time,” he said quietly. “Every time I think I’m missing a piece of me, you give it back.”
There were no words, so she didn’t say any; just turned around in his arms and kissed him on the cheek. He was beautiful under the night sky, the stars shedding their light down over him, gleaming against his hair and eyes and the Herondale ring shining on his finger, a reminder of everything that had been, and everything that would be.
We are all the pieces of what we remember. We hold in ourselves the hopes and fears of those who love us. As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.
“Do you like the name Herondale?” he asked.
“It’s your name, so I love it,” she said.
“There are some pretty bad Shadowhunter names I could have ended up with,” he said. “Bloodstick. Ravenhaven.”
“Bloodstick can’t possibly be a name.”
“It may have fallen out of favor,” he acknowledged. “Herondale, on the other hand, is melodic. Dulcet, one might say. Think of the sound of ‘Clary Herondale.’?”
“Oh, my God, that sounds horrible.”
“We all must sacrifice for love.” He grinned, and reached around her to pick up the Codex. “This is old. An old edition,” he said, turning it over. “The inscription on the back is Milton.”
“Of course you know that,” she said fondly, and leaned against him as he turned the book over in his hands. Magnus had started a fire, and it was burning merrily at the lakeside, sending up sparks into the sky. The reflection of the burning raced along the scarlet of Isabelle’s necklace as she turned to say something to Simon, and it shone in the sharp gleam of Magnus’s eyes and along the water of the lake, turning the ripples to lines of gold. It picked out the inscription written on the back of the Codex, as Jace read the words aloud to Clary, his voice as soft as music in the glittering dark.
“Freely we serve
Because we freely love, as in our will
To love or not; in this we stand or fall.”