DISCLAIMER: Clary, Jace, and the entire world of the Mortal Instruments belongs to Cassandra Clare. I'm just borrowing it for a short while, to satisfy my need for more Clary/Jace moments :) Thank you for reading!
It was not long before he could hear the steady inhale and exhale next to him, before Clary had fallen into a world of dreams that he could only hope included him, even in some small way. He rolled to his side, propping himself up on his elbow, never letting her fingers slip from his.
The sliver of light from the street was tiny and dim but just enough to illuminate the soft silk of her dressing gown. He watched, almost mesmerized, at the slow rise and fall of her chest. A pang in his heart echoed as he wondered how long her heart would beat; would she survive this oncoming war? Would anyone?
Jace grit his teeth together, determination tearing through him almost violently. He would never let Clary be harmed. And there was only one certain way to rid their world of tomorrow's onslaught of fear and violence.
The truth had seeped through him for most of the day. As soon as he had slipped the bloody thread from Clary's jacket, he knew what his path must be.
"For you," he whispered softly. He took his free hand and ghosted his fingertips over her cheek. She murmured in her dream then, turning her face towards his palm, seeking his touch upon her skin again.
He bit his lip. She had never said he could touch her and he was not about to wake her to ask. Her fingers twined with his pulsed once, twice, and slowly he slid his body closer to hers. He cupped her cheek in his hand once more and she rested her head against it.
"Jace," she whispered. He froze, his body suddenly tense and still. Was she awake? Her eyes remained shut and he held his breath, counting the eyelashes that rested softly upon her cheeks. Her eyes neither fluttered nor opened and she did not speak again.
He was about to breathe out a sigh of relief, to roll back across the bed and try to fall asleep with just her fingers in his own, but then she moved.
Still not waking, Clary turned her body into his, her head resting softly on his chest as one of her knees slipped between his. His heart pounded loudly in his chest, so loud he was certain she would wake from the beating against her cheek. But she did not wake; she rested her entire body against Jace's, rested as though his body was somehow providing her a warmth and rest she could not find in her dreams.
Her free hand, so tiny and cold against him, hugged him closer. Jace brought his free hand behind her head, scooping the back of her neck and tugging softly on the tangled hair that got caught on his fingertips. He lowered his head, pressing his lips softly to her forehead and exhaling deeply.
"I love you," he said softly. He could have been speaking to an empty, dark room for how conscious Clary was at the moment but he could not care. The girl he loved was cradled against his chest and Jace, unbreakable, unshakeable Jace, felt the tremble of tears beneath his eyes and the crack of pressure in his throat. He crushed her as softly to his chest as he could without waking her, tried to swallow the lump that was slowly rising in his throat.
Clary's breathing was heavier now, her heart beating faster against Jace's. And still she did not wake.
"I'm afraid," Jace whispered. "I'm afraid of what will happen if I fail. I'm afraid…" his voice broke and the unfamiliar sting of a warm tear slipped down his cheek. "I'm afraid of losing you."
He buried his face in her hair then, taking a deep breath of her and gulping it down as if it were oxygen.
The tiny fingers still twined between his gave another sharp pulse and Jace knew she had heard him; somewhere in her dreams, she knew.
Tomorrow their lives could be over. Tonight, as he cradled her against him, tonight they could go on forever in their dreams.