My friend Lauren agreed to let me base Clary's dress on a dress that she owns, if you'd like to see pictures of it (and a picture of how I imagine Jace to look), they're on my profile page. I hope you enjoy this! :)

Birthdays

Clary sat on the edge of her bed, her face in her hands. Today was a disaster. She had been forcibly coerced into a shopping trip with Isabelle and had spent hours traipsing through endless department stores and boutiques. Isabelle would thrust garments at her and usher her towards the fitting rooms where she would proceed to criticise every single one, picking out faults Clary would never have noticed on her own.

"This one makes you look like you have wide shoulders."

"Hmm, the colour washes you out a little bit."

"What a tacky material..."

"Isabelle!" Clary had eventually snapped. "Would you just pick one please? The faster we get my dress out of the way, the more time we'll have to look for yours," she pointed out.

"Don't be silly, Clary," replied Isabelle, rifling through a rail of yet more dresses. "I have my dress. And since you're so sick of borrowing my clothes, I thought we could get you your own for tonight. And anyway -" She held up a hanger. "I think we've found the winner!"

It was this dress that Clary wore now, anxiously envisioning the night to come. It was Jace's 18th birthday and the Lightwoods (partly out of guilt on their part, Clary thought) were throwing him a party. She had a very strong feeling it wouldn't be the kind of party that normal teenagers looked forward to when they came of age. Clary tried very hard to picture Jace at one of the house parties she and Simon had once attended. She failed miserably, but the image of him getting blind drunk and falling down some stairs almost raised a smile. The image of him getting blind drunk and playing 'Seven Minutes In Heaven' with some silly blonde cheerleader did not.

Standing up miserably, Clary contemplated her appearance in the mirror for what felt like the hundredth time. Admittedly, the dress Isabelle picked out had been the best of the day. Clary felt that maybe it was the nicest item of clothing she'd ever worn. It was a floor-skimming green satin, almost the precise colour of her eyes. The back dipped low and had criss-crossing straps which looped over her shoulder and met in the middle of the dress at the front.

Isabelle, of course, had taken charge of the hair and make-up. Her vivid red curls had been moussed so that her hair resembled a crown of fire, before being swept to the side and pinned in place. With her already bare back, Clary's neck and shoulders felt oddly cold and exposed. Her eyes had been rimmed in some kind of gold shimmery powder and outlined in black, making them appear oddly prominent. Clary was not used to looking like this, it still surprised her when she caught sight of herself.

She felt overdressed and silly. And she knew that Jace would think she looked overdressed and silly too. She would have attended this stupid party in her jeans and a hoodie if she could, but Isabelle had looked daggers at her when she even flippantly suggested it.

There was a knock on Clary's bedroom door and she went to answer it, hoping she could master walking in her shoes before she arrived at the party. It was Isabelle, looking perfect as always in a tight black dress with her equally black hair swept up in an elegant knot. She looked about five years older. And I just look like a kid playing in her Mom's dressing up box, Clary thought gloomily. She tugged at her dress nervously, but Isabelle was looking her up and down with a satisfied expression.

"I told you it was a winner. Come on, the cab is outside," she said, pulling Clary from the doorway. Clary closed her Institute bedroom door behind her and followed Isabelle down to the foyer area where Alec was waiting. He appraised Clary and his sister was oddly appreciating eyes.

"You both look really nice," he said, a little awkwardly, as though he'd not given a compliment in a while and had forgotten how to do it. Alec himself was dressed all in black, his expensive-looking shirt slightly open at the collar and untucked from his trousers. His lovely dark hair, the same shade as his sister's, had undergone some kind of taming process but still looked a little ruffled. The past few months had seen Alec experience quite the personality transplant – he now loped with an easy grace almost redolent of Jace, but seemed to genuinely smile much more than his adopted brother. Clary wondered whether a certain rainbow-haired warlock were to blame for this transformation.

"So do you, dear brother," said Isabelle, swooping down the rest of the stairs. "Where's Jace?"

"He left about half an hour ago. Guests are already starting to arrive and he had to go and greet them with Mom and Dad," he said, heading for the elevator. Easy conversation continued between the siblings until they reached the front doors, where a taxi was waiting for them. All three of them clambered into the back, Isabelle gave the address to the driver and they were off to what, Clary thought, would surely be a thoroughly uncomfortable night.