Disclaimer: Don't own
Jace's vow is a direct quote from Songs of Solomon 4:9-12.
Jace stalked behind Meliorn into the party hall. Isabelle was speaking to the Fae, asking how long Chloe had been here, but Jace didn't hear the Downworlder's answer because his golden gaze found his girlfriend amongst those dancing.
Chloe twirled on someone's arm, but Jace ignored her dancing partner, the guy could be invisible for all he cared. Jace's gaze fixed solely on Chloe, drinking in the sight of her. She wore her hair up, vines holding it in place and almost seemed like a crown on her head. She wore odd earrings which gave the illusion that she had pointed ears like the Fae around her, and instead of the bell necklace Lois had given her, she wore one that made it seem like drops of honey glittered on her chest. He wondered how long she'd stopped wearing Lois' necklace… probably from the first day here given the fact that Lois had been unable to initiate contact even for a second.
Whoever was dancing with Chloe led her into a series of complicated twirls, and her dress caught in the light and sparkled as it spun out around her feet, revealing dainty, flat silver shoes which matched her gown. And what a gown. It was as if molten silver had been poured over her body, and it sparkled when the fae lights hit it in a certain way.
It was only when Chloe's partner dipped her, in a very random and odd move considering this sort of dance did not involve dips, that Jace frowned. She stared up at her partner, eyes wide, lips slightly parted, and the beginning of a blush creeping its way up her neck. Her eyes were on her partner and only on her partner, gripping him tightly with a little cry of surprise when he yanked her up and proceeded to once again lead them into a series of twirls that had no purpose other than to force her to grip onto him harder and pull closer to keep from tripping.
And while all of this bothered Jace, what really had his fists clenching was the fact that she had yet to sense him. Usually whenever they were close Chloe and he sensed each other immediately, and he'd zeroed in on her the second he'd arrived, but she had yet to notice him. Her gaze seemed completely for her dance partner, her expression part scandalized, annoyed, amused, and fascinated.
Jace found himself moving towards them before even realizing he was storming through the throng of merrymakers. Her dance partner, whose back was to Jace, reached out with a rune-covered hand and brushed away a strand of golden hair that had fallen loose from Chloe's up-do and brushed it away. Even from this distance Jace could see Chloe's eyes widen. She then broke out into a grin, one that looked highly amused, and he caught the tail end of what she responded to whatever he'd said.
"…so you think I should get back with my boyfriend for those reasons? Really?" She shook her head. "So all my morality issues with the whole situation don't even merit an acknowledgment?"
The guy responded something that got lost in the sound of merrymaking.
Chloe seemed even more scandalized and fascinated at whatever he'd said. "I swear, it's as if he's talking to me right now and not you." Her grin was cheeky. "Neither of you have any sort of common decency." Whatever her dance partner responded to that was short yet had her barking in laughter. "Because I have a conscience!"
"…who cares about the why?" Her dance partner's words were still really muffled, so that meant he was talking lower than Chloe.
The smile left Chloe's face as she stared up at him in contemplation. "Because it wouldn't be real, that's why." Her gaze lowered. "I couldn't stand it if I knew it wasn't real."
Jace frowned, wondering just what in the world those two were talking about.
Suddenly her dance partner stopped dancing and placed his hands on her shoulders. He leaned in and spoke in her ear, and then he left.
Chloe watched him go with a mixture of emotions on her face. Whatever he'd told her had visibly shaken her, and she wrung her hands in front of her nervously, her lips pulled in a grim line as her eyebrows nearly touched in a frown.
As the guy disappeared into one of the tunnels Jace watched Chloe suddenly freeze, her eyes wide, and then her gaze swung around to meet his. She stood frozen on the dance floor, just staring at him, almost scared. He didn't like that reaction, not at all.
In seconds he found himself standing in front of her, both ignoring the dancers all around them. "So…" Jace shoved his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. "You kind of look like my girlfriend, who I've been worried sick about since she upped and disappeared on us."
Chloe flinched for a second. "I see Magnus caved in and told Alec."
Jace didn't answer since it was more than obvious that that had been the case. "Can we talk?"
Chloe glanced around her before she nodded and motioned for him to follow her. Jace had never felt so odd, so worried, as he did. They walked in silence, leaving the dance hall and going through different tunnels, many of them guarded by Fae warriors who eyed him unhappily yet let him pass. They finally reached a door, which she pushed open to reveal a magnificent room.
Jace stepped in after her and gazed around, letting out a whistle. "Okay, so I'm seeing the appeal of staying here long term."
Taking in a deep breath, Chloe turned to face him, emotions conflicting on her face. "How are you?"
There was something odd about her that put him on edge. "Really? You're going to ask that?"
She licked her lips and looked away. "You don't have a right to be angry with me, Jace."
His lips parted. "Excuse me?" He cupped his ear and leaned forwards. "I don't think I heard you right. All that bullshit must be clogging my ears. What did you say?"
She hesitated before her green gaze found his. "You lied to me, repeatedly."
"You disappeared on me! I was terrified you were dead!" Jace snapped, unable to stop himself. "And then you just-!" He ran a hand over his face, trying to calm down, not to let this escalate to a shouting match. "I was worried."
"Clark told you I was fine," she whispered back. "You knew I was okay."
"I only had the Downworlder's word for it!" Jace snapped at her, unable to believe that she couldn't get that. "For all I know he could have been lying!"
"Why would he lie?" She snapped right back.
"I don't know!" He snarled, annoyed at himself. "I needed to hear from you, Chloe! You owed me that much!"
Chloe opened her mouth and then closed it, clearly swallowing back some choice words before she took in another breath before speaking once more. "I'm sorry if you felt hurt, but I didn't do what I did with that intention. I needed time to myself, time I knew you would've give me if you knew where I was." She hugged herself tightly. "I needed to decide things."
Something cold settled in his gut. "About what?" When she wouldn't look him in the eyes, he fought the feeling of dread bubbling inside of him. "About us?"
Closing her eyes, obviously trying to gather strength as those greens widened. "You don't love me."
His eyes narrowed as he stormed forwards and grabbed her hands, tightly. "I know I betrayed your trust, but I did it to protect you, because I love you. It was wrong, I should've told you, but I was trying to keep the one good thing in my life safe." He moved closer. "Before I met you I didn't believe in love, had never felt it before. But then you stumbled into my arms and I stared into your green eyes and something clicked inside of me. I could feel for the first time in my life." He couldn't understand how his words made her look more and more pained. "You awoke the ability to love in me, I don't be with anyone else, could never… the thought… I love you. I've loved you from the moment I first saw you and I'll love you till I die."
Chloe closed her eyes tightly, her body shaking. "You don't feel that way because of me." Her eyes opened and held his. "You feel that way because of Valentine."
Jace stilled. "What?"
Stepping back, Chloe put some distance between them as she slipped her hands from his grip. "Your father told me that the reason he told you I was his daughter was a test. He needed to see whether what he'd done to me had worked. He said I wasn't planned, but his experimentations on me when I was a fetus was basically towards a goal of his." Ahe hesitated, looking ill. "He'd known Jocelyn would most probably only be able to have one child, his son, and so if Valentine wanted to fill the world with his new and improved Shadowhunter race, he had to make sure that his son had a similar partner." Her voice trembled as much as her body did. "He had to make sure that both experiments would want to be together. And he succeeded." Tears filled her eyes. "You only love me because of something Valentine did to me that makes you love me."
"That's not true!" Jace snapped, unable to believe that she was listening to the filth his father had filled her head with. "No one can tell me what to feel or what not to feel!"
"You said so yourself, Jace," she cleared her throat. "You didn't even believe in love until you saw me – until something in me activated the ability to love inside of you."
"I didn't-!" He ran a hand over his hair. "I fell in love with you because you fascinated me. Not because of some weird chemical component! You could see me, you annoyed me, you worried me, you entertained me, you frustrated me to my wits' end!" He just couldn't get how she couldn't see it. "I had dreams about you every night!"
"Because of Valentine!" She snapped at him. "Whatever he did to me – that was why he said I was bound to the Morgenstern house! Why he kept making comments about certain things and people being so close to me! Don't you get it? You don't love me! Something in me is forcing, or even tricking you into thinking that you are."
Jace was floored. He was honestly speechless. By the Angel, she really believed that. She really thought that the only reason he felt the way he did for her was because of something his father had done to them when they were nothing more than fetuses in their mother's wombs. Valentine had whispered his words into her mind, and she'd spent this whole time by herself in the Fae Realm convincing herself of the validity of those words.
It pissed him off. "My father may be many things, but the chief of all is a liar. Given the fact that he tricked you into participating in the Infernal Conversion I would've thought you'd be a little less eager to believe everything that comes out of his mouth."
Chloe's eyes widened.
He stepped closer, knowing his anger burned in his eyes. "Lois and I lied to you about what we were doing. No matter our reasons we were wrong to do that, we knew it then and we know it now. You have every right to be pissed off at us for what we did. You have every right to punish us for breaking your trust." He came to a stop in front of her. "You do not get to let my father do exactly what Clark overheard him saying he needed to do. You do not get to break off your ties with us. Not over one mistake."
Chloe gulped. "I'm not breaking…" She stepped back and nearly toppled onto the bed behind her before she regained her balance. "For every lie your father tells, he tells a truth. The lie was that the Infernal Conversion was for the Mortal Sword. The truth was that he needed me to go through the ritual because of the hold I have over you, a hold he'd already tested and proved existed. He knows you're not by his side because of me, Jace, because I have some sort of hold over you."
Jace could see pain, fear and hurt written over her face, and it only served to fan the flames of his anger, although by now it was directed completely towards his father. How dare he do this to her? To him? Jace almost felt like he was reliving the death of his falcon, the falcon his father had killed the second it learnt to love Jace.
To love is to destroy, his father had instructed him. And to be loved is to be destroyed.
Was this yet another one of his lessons? Was this Valentine's way of showing Jace that anything he cherished could be, and would be, taken by his father because he found love to be a weakness?
"I'm moving into an upscale Downworlder apartment building, Magnus worked out everything for me and I should be moving there in a couple of days," she informed him. "I'm not going to Idris, the Clave and their summons can burn for all I care."
"What about Jocelyn?" Jace could understand Chloe wanting distance from the Institute and from Idris, but why was she not going back to Jocelyn? The woman was many things, but she cared about Chloe and had never done anything against her. "Why aren't you going back to stay with her? She's your guardian. The Clave won't like this." He didn't like this.
Something odd flickered over Chloe's face. "The Clave can rot." She then took in a deep breath, composed herself, and immediately contradicted her previous sentence. "The Clave has already made it known that they are uncomfortable with me living with Valentine's wife, they've removed her as my guardian if the kidnapping to Idris is anything to go by." She took in a deep breath. "If anything happened they'd say that she was influencing me. They already have and no doubt will use it again to justify their actions." She raised her chin. "They also can't say anything against me living amongst Downworlders considering it's proof that I'm not following Valentine's dictates. He'd want me as far away from Downworlders are possible."
"You're safer at the institute," Jace hurried to tell her.
"I was kidnapped from the Institute, I was handed to Valentine there," she replied in a hard tone. "I am not safe there."
"Then what about Lucian Greymark?" He gripped at straws. "He's a Downworlder whose proven his loyalty to the Clave."
"He's also proven just how frail he is," she snapped. "He was nearly killed by Agramon, Jace. He nearly died within the first hour I spent under his roof. I'm not putting him in that sort of danger again."
She'd thought all this through. She'd known every single thing he'd throw her way and had come up with perfectly good reasons as to why his suggestions were invalid. "I'm coming with you."
Chloe glanced away. "No, you're not."
"Try and stop me," he growled.
She still wouldn't look at him. "You belong in the Institute, you'd be miserable amongst Downworlders."
"I'd manage," he informed her.
She took in a deep breath. "We need some time apart."
"We've just had some time apart!"
"We need more," she insisted.
"The hell we do!" Jace was barely keeping control of his temper. He knew this wasn't the time to lose his cool, but he couldn't help himself. "Don't you get that there are always going to be something trying to get between us? First the lies about us being related, and then the lies about us only being attracted to each other because of my father! We can't-!"
"But what if they aren't lies?" Chloe yelled at him. "What if it's true?"
"I DON'T CARE IF IT'S TRUE!" Jace yelled right back at her.
Chloe's eyes widened in utter shock. "How can you say that?"
"How can I say that? How can I say that?" Jace gripped her shoulders tightly, staring deep into her eyes so she could see the seriousness in his golden orbs. "Chloe, this is how I can say that: I don't care if it's true."
She looked completely shaken.
He tightened his grip on her shoulders. "Chloe, I love you." He took in a deep breath. "That's not going to change. No matter what happens. No matter what the Clave or my father think or feel about it. I love you." He could see, clear as day, that his feelings were returned, but that she was scared, very much so. "If we were made for each other it really doesn't bother me. I don't feel manipulated. I don't feel forced. I don't feel like my free will was taken from me." He could see her flinch with every word, realizing that this was part of what she was so terrified about. "Do you love me any less because there's a chance that what you feel for me was manufactured?"
She looked blown away by the question, as if she hadn't even thought to ask herself that. "Of course not!"
"Then why should I?"
Chloe frowned, didn't respond, but there were still obvious questions and doubts.
"If I'm to be honest, not only don't I not mind it, but if it's true then I kind of like it," Jace admitted, carefully observing her shock with a sheepish expression. "It means I love someone who won't – can't – love someone else." He couldn't keep the grin off of his face. "If you ask me that's a good thing."
Chloe shook her head in awe. "You are completely missing the point."
"No, I get what you're worried about, and I get why you're worried about it," he assured her. "It just doesn't worry me."
She stared at him in shock. "How-?"
"You just told me something I already knew." Jace knew he shouldn't be smiling now, but he couldn't help himself. "You were born to be mine, and I was born to be yours." His grin grew. "How could that bother me? Ever?"
Chloe's lips parted.
Jace's hands slipped down her shoulder and wrapped around the small of her back, easing up against him, relieved there was no resistance from her. "Even if I was initially attracted to you because of something my father did, I'm in love with you for reasons that have nothing to do with him."
Chloe's hands moved to his chest, her fingertips light brushing over his heart as she stared into his eyes.
Jace could feel his anger, frustration, fear, desperation, resentment… every ill emotion that'd begun to fester inside of him since Chloe had disappeared begin to melt away now that he finally held her in his arms again. "I'm in love with you because you're the smartest person I know, because you take care of me no matter how much I complain about you trying to baby me." He stared into her green eyes. "I'm in love with you because your eyes are the prettiest shade of green I've ever seen, because you try to force me to have a relationship with Jocelyn not only because she's my mother, but because you don't ever want me feeling like I'm unlovable." He could see the shock on her face – shock that he'd figured that out. "I love you because even though you thought I was stalking you with intent to kill you, you still saved my life by placing all those iratze on me." He still couldn't believe that. "I love you because you're snarky, because you don't put up with shit, and because when that bitch of an Inquisitor hurt me you nearly lost your shit." The thought still made him grin. "I love you because of so many reasons, and none of them have to do with genetic modification, magic, Downworlder blood, or anything other than the fact that you are you."
Tears gathered in Chloe's eyes as she gulped, loudly.
He leaned down and rested his forehead against hers. "You can be pissed at me as much as you need to be, and I'll take whatever punishment you've got coming to me for my not telling you about what I was doing with Lois, but you can't… I can't…" He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. "You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace." He could feel the confusion in her, knew that she did not understand the vow or its significance, but that was okay for now. "How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride. How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice. Your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon." He opened his golden eyes to stare into her green ones as he finished. "A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed."
Silence filled the room as the only thing audible was their breaths.
Finally, Chloe spoke, her eyes wide, her voice soft. "You just did something Shadowhuntery, didn't you?" She gulped. "Those aren't just really pretty words, are they?"
Jace merely raised her hand and pressed a kiss to the rune seared in her inner wrist.
"Jace?" Chloe whispered as he nibbled on her inner wrist teasingly.
At the sound, Jace flicked his tongue against her rune before he leaned down and kissed her. Just like the Song of Solomon she was sweet to the taste, her lips dripping nectar, her tongue tasting of honey and milk. He tightened his grip on her as he pulled her closer, filling himself with her taste.
"Jace…" Chloe whimpered against his lips before she suddenly pushed him away, keeping him at arms-length, her hands pressed against his chest. "We need to talk about the Infernal Conversion."
"No one knows," Jace assured her. "Lois and I haven't told anyone, and neither has the Downworlder. The Clave doesn't know and won't know."
She looked surprised at that. "No, I didn't—what I mean't the Infernal Conversion did something to me."
Jace's eyes narrowed as worry filled him. "What do you mean?"
"My eyes, they turned black." She stared up at him. "I have demon blood in me, and the Infernal Conversion activated it."
He stared down at her green eyes. "Okay."
Her face scrunched up. "Okay?"
He nodded. "Okay." Jace cupped her face. "It's okay."
"It's far from okay," she whispered.
Seeing the fear and uncertainty in her eyes, Jace pulled her to his chest and held her close as he rested his chin on the top of her head. She hesitated for a second before she wrapped her arms around him tightly. He knew that things were going to be more difficult from now on, and for the first time he was honestly worried. There was no doubt in his mind that his father had survived, that he was somewhere working on the next phase of his plan, and this plan no doubt involved Chloe.
How was he going to keep Chloe safe when on one side the Clave threatened, and on the other side his father did?