Um…so I suck at updating. Then again, that's not exactly news.

Chapter 5 – Eighteen Seventy-Eight

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LONDON, ENGLAND

SEPTEMBER 23, 1878

Isabelle eyed Magnus' clothes grimly. "I can't believe you really live here," she said for the umpteenth time. "I mean, I knew you lived in London for a while, but not here-here. In seventeen-whatever."

"Eighteen seventy-eight," Jem offered mildly.

"I don't," Magnus said. "I live with Woolsey. Before that, I lived with Camille. Heavens above, that sounds rather boorish, doesn't it?"

"Don't leave out the bit when you could've lived with me," Will requested, still on the ground. "Kissing me and all, one would assume you are determined to sleep with all of Britain's lowest life forms."

"I didn't kiss you, you were merely delirious," Magnus said, at the same time Clary squeaked, "He kissed you?" Isabelle, however, just rolled her eyes. "Blue eyes, black hair," she mused. "Figures."

"Hmm?" Magnus distractedly plucked a stray thread from the sleeve of his elaborate purple coat. "You realize you're making absolutely no sense, darling."

Isabelle shrugged and plucked a sequin off her shirt, just to spite him. Clary, meanwhile, continued to gape. "Oh," she said weakly. "I – um – well, Magnus, that's certainly…um, unique of you."

"It was a shoddy kiss," Will said, as if no one had spoken. "Let me make this perfectly clear, I have no desire whatsoever to carry on with those who look like myself when under the covers – "

"Will," Jem said.

" – but even so, I must say that I'm rather disappointed in my subconscious' apparent lack of detail. Honestly. There was an appalling shortage of vivacity to it. Magnus, you kiss like a fish. Dear me, James, you look as though you've swallowed the fish. Has he kissed you too?"

"Don't be stupid," Jessamine shrilled. "Of course he hasn't."

"Ah, but Jessie," Will said gravely, "you spend so much time dousing yourself with rose water that you miss everything that goes on around you. Haven't you heard? It's all the rage, men sleeping with men, ladies such as yourself – "

"Will, that's enough," Jem said, sharper than he'd intended. "Magnus, why are you here?"

"Same reason you are," the warlock said sagely. "My sources have informed me that one of you fell in battle. I came to fix her up."

"You're a little late," Isabelle said sourly. "The Silent Brothers are already here."

"Pah." Magnus didn't even look phased. "Those dunderheads don't know the first thing about healing. Their pomp and circumstance is all rubbish – tell me, dear James, how many people have you seen die in their care?"

"A few," Jem said hesitantly.

"Thirteen," Will clarified.

"Sixteen," Isabelle countered immediately. "Novice."

"Braggart."

"Pigheaded man."

"Insouciant girl."

"Girl?"

"Shut up!" This came from Clary, who looked surprised at her own bluntness. Jem shot her a smile. "You'll get used to Will," he promised. "After a while, ignoring him becomes instinct."

"Yes, brilliant." Magnus interceded before Clary could reply. "As much as I adore hearing Silent Brother and Will-bashing, I need to heal someone."

"Then go." Isabelle finally relaxed in her chair, leaning back and crossing her ankles on Will's stomach. He grunted softly but otherwise didn't seem to care a whit, which Jem found slightly odd, albeit amusing.

"I can't," Magnus said simply.

"Cut the mysteriousness and tell us in plain, honest-to-God English why you can't," Izzy said.

"To test my idea, I need the blood of the benefactor. Or in this case, the one who wounded her. Which would be you."

"Test?" Will spluttered. "Idea? Magnus, are you even sure this'll work? Dear God, if you turn into Doctor Henry, I swear I'll bite another vampire."

The occupants of the room studiously ignored him, save for Isabelle, who thumped him on the chest with her heel. She shrugged calmly. "Yeah, okay. You only need, like, a shot glass' worth, right?"

"I believe so."

"Cool." Calmly, she pulled a pin out of her hair, allowing it to tumble down sensually. Jem swallowed, his jacket suddenly feeling a little too hot. She had come to the Institute with her hair in disarray from their earlier battle. Then, it had been distracting at best, but now...he averted his gaze shamefully, tugging on his lapels, realizing that he shouldn't have noticed that. He scowled as Will smirked up at him.

Isabelle, not paying attention in the least, held the pin up for Magnus' inspection. As it glinted in the lamplight, Jem saw it wasn't a pin but a blade, no larger than the width of his little finger. The warlock nodded his approval. "That'll do."

"Here goes nothing." Isabelle rolled her eyes even as she sliced the dagger across her open palm. Blood welled up from the incision, bright and rich. Magnus whipped a large vial from a pocket of his coat, which he proceeded to use to collect his due. He said something to Isabelle, and then the room at large before leaving, none of which Jem heard. The uncomfortable heat of his clothes had suddenly increased tenfold, lapping at his skin like a blazing flame. His mouth had gone completely dry, and his hands twitched. Hazy purple shrouded his vision.

Against his will, he shot out of his seat and ran from the room before he had time to either explain himself to the others or command his legs to stop. Magnus had already vanished from the corridor outside the library, something for which he was alarmingly grateful. As he dashed closer to his room and farther from the library, his head began pounding, his chest began tightening, and his hands curled into fists. By the time he'd reached his door, his breaths were coming in thick, heavy pants.

He knew what this meant. He knew exactly what it was, why he was reacting – and it scared him.

The demon mating ritual always began with blood. It was a call; when blood was spilled, a mate would be attracted. The yin fen had done to him exactly what he'd hoped wouldn't happen before his death – it had invested itself firmly inside of him. It was part of him now, no more merely topical medicine. He shared the beginning of the carnal trait that he so hated; the one that had killed his parents. Killed his mother.

It scared him to realize that he, James Carstairs, had found his mate in the bleeding girl downstairs.

()()()

Charlotte had always hated the infirmary. As a child, she'd watched her mother die on the very cot she was lying on; in later years, it had been her father's deathbed. Now, it was destined to be hers, she was sure of it. It was fitting, she supposed, as she was the last of the Fairchilds. If she couldn't honor her father's last wish to carry on the family line, the least she could do was fall in battle and die the way he had – a death of honor. It was what was expected of her, what had always been expected of her.

Dimly, she heard voices unhappily arguing. Magnus' sharp tone was unmistakable. She wasn't exactly sure of what he was saying, but she caught the words "angel" and "risky." Brother Enoch's soundless rebuke reverberated inside her heard, bouncing off the sides of her skull. Surprisingly, this hurt her. She tried to grit her teeth in pain, but stopped when she realized she couldn't feel much of anything anymore. There was a heavy pressure on her left hand – no, her right – she couldn't tell, it didn't matter anyway. The ache in her chest surpassed everything. Hands and voices would soon be behind her. Will and his secrets, Jem and his illness and sweet violin music, Henry and his everything…in only a moment, they'd all be gone and she would have nobody to worry about ever again.

For the first time in her life, Charlotte would be free.

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HEY GUYS. So this chapter is really short and kinda lame, and its sole purpose in life is to be dramatic and cliffhanger-y.

On that note, my brain apparently went MIA for a while and the plot bunnies all hopped away (blame high school), but I'm back, baby! Should have another update soon :)

Have an awesome weekend, everybody!