XXX ALL CHARACTERS BELONG TO CASSANDRA CLAIRE XXX
For Sweet William, who deserved his happy ending. For Tessa, who gave it to him. And for Jem, who we know will have his.
If there was ever a reason for Theresa Herondale to run, it was the look on her great-great-grandson's face as he spun back towards that painting.
She threw a glance at the entrance of the room, which she had unfortunately wandered too far from. Yet it seemed far worse to cowardly bolt back through those doors, specially after all the things they'd been through.
There were amends to be made and stories to be told.
Tessa swiveled back towards the painting and discovered that the sun was now high enough to shed a beam on the boy. It left her breathless: that bit of celestial theater, a perfect frame for her angel boy. His face was all deepened and defined by strategic shadow and light. His hair was a halo worthy of their heavenly origins. He'd never looked more untouchable.
"You get that from me." Her voice echoed in the room, yet for all that Jace reacted, she wasn't sure she'd spoken at all.
She could feel herself tensing. She suddenly felt trapped. But she was in her own element, surrounded by the treasures her family had plundered, not a cell. As there was no hope for escape, nor a reason to abandon this boy, she stood stoically, but with her heart in her hand.
It occurred to her that she hadn't been this helpless in a lifetime. Standing here, she felt as if she were carrying a torch through a long tunnel where she could only see a few feet in front of her at a time, and occasionally demons jumped out at her, or she stumbled across forgotten treasures, or just missed falling into some bottomless pit.
Jace didn't say anything else. He had one hand pressed tight to his ribs and because she couldn't see his face anymore from this angle, she wasn't sure of what would come next.
"You know the story, don't you? Of how Jonathan Shadowhunter, his heart pure, begged the Angel Raziel to grant him power to cleanse this earth of demons. Thus, the Nephilim, made but not begotten." She knew he understood the Nicene Creed. "Another story says that Satan was cast from Heaven together with his angels. The very first demons, the Great Ones, who sired all others. My father was one of those Great Ones, Eidolon, and I was begotten."
Tessa spun on her heels, heading for an ornate ivory throne that had once belonged to a jinn responsible for plague that had nearly wippened out Europe. She sat down, eyes firmly on her feet. She didn't want to look at Jace out of fear of his disgust.
"A Great Demon and a mundane will make a warlock, but Great Demon and a Shadowhunter will make something else entirely. A Shadowhunter fully capable of magic. If the child survives that is. When my mother was pregnant with me, the Magister gave a gift that he claimed would save her baby. It was a pyxis of sorts, a prison, for a Son of God. The Angel Ithuriel."
There was a shuffling, and Tessa looked up to watch Jace slowly turn towards her. But he didn't walk to meet her; he waited for her to come to him. So she did, stood up and walked until she was just short. And then tentatively, as though he were a skittish animal, she rested her hand flat over that place when the Herondale star had been burned into the flesh of all her direct descendent. The Mark of Ithuriel.
"He was my guardian angel. His whole existence for eighteen years was to ensure death never reached me. His life force was tied to mine. I carried him in a clockwork necklace never far from my heart. And then there was a night, when I fell asleep against Will, and Ithuriel burned him too so that a part of his angelic fire, would always be with the people I loved most. My son, my daughter, my grandchildren…you."
Apart from the sway of his breath, his body was as unyielding as adamas. His hand remained pressed to his ribs. He looked down at her; she couldn't read his expression.
"I killed the Magister, Jace. I Changed into Ithuriel, I Became an Angel and I nearly died from the fire that runs in their veins. It's a beautiful suffering, that. Angels always were, always are, and always will be. They are everything and Him. Changing into Ithuriel was what freed him from his prison and in return, he never stopped watching over mine." She pressed her hand harder against that birthmark. "Over you."
She hadn't slept well in nearly a fortnight. As she stood there motionless, she couldn't help but feel as hollow as a bell without a clapper. She wanted him to say something, do something. She held her breath for a moment so she wouldn't feel the hurt of his rejection so hard.
How she hated the silence.
"Is that why he came for me?"
His words shattered her façade. Her eyes burned and the tears began to gather like raindrops.
Tessa nodded. "When Valentine called, Ithuriel had to answer. You are blood of my blood. He was your guardian angel. He wanted no harm to come to you, either."
"He's—" Jace shook his head. She noticed that he was shaking, too. "I couldn't save him at Wayland House. He looked so tired, Tess. I gave him—"
"I know what you did, Jace." She drew closer to him, and closer, so that her body just brushed his, slid her hands down, slipped them through his arms, hooked her arms around his waist. And held him. "You freed him again from the shackles of this world. He returned to his Father."
She could feel his tears against the side of her neck.
"It's not your fault, Jace. Ithuriel was a victim of Fate and his own calling. He did what he was intended to do, protect humanity."
After a moment, his breathing deepened. She closed her eyes and breathed him in. Sunshine.
His hands remained stubbornly by his side. So she held him until he surrendered, which mercifully wasn't long since, despite the fact she was pressed against his bigger body, the cold inside her was insistent. He sighed, the tension eased from him, his body molded to hers. And after a moment, he rested his cheek against the top of her head, and his arms went around her.
He breathed in and out, in and out, and it felt like a gift to feel it, to ease the tension from him.
She pulled him closer. This strong man had come to her for strength, and she knew only gratitude for Ithuriel and Will and Magnus whom they'd made her strong, too. She had courage and strength to spare for this boy.
Her only weakness was him, after all.
"If you have to blame someone, blame me," she murmured, with some difficulty since her cheek was pressed against the wall of his chest. "It's all right if it's too much."
Maybe Jace was too proud to admit his fear and his sadness, maybe his disappointment.
But his arms tightened around her.
She suddenly wanted to look at him, to see him again in the wake of her epiphany. She leaned back in his arms and touched her fingers to his jaw, then his brow and his nose. "You have Ithuriel's eyes, but you are so much Herondale it takes my breath away. Are you disappointed, Jace? Are you angry that I am your family?"
Jace rubbed his chest, directly over his heart, which felt as if it might explode at the sense of wholeness. He didn't want to start crying in front of her. Recently, it felt as if all he did was cry in front of her. "I prayed for this. I prayed that somehow you—I wanted you to be my family. I needed it, Tess. Like air. Like I need Clary. I need you too."
A strangled noise escaped her throat and then tears began to fall freely down her face. "Come with me."
She pulled free of his embrace and turned towards the door.
"But…" Jace was frozen, looking up at Will as if he loathed the idea of leaving his great-great grandfather's portrait.
"I can tell you all about him. I can give you all of his things. He'll never be far from you, Jace. But I want you to see something."
He looked back at Will before he slowly followed her out of the room and out of the mansion. Outside, it was cooler and the wind blew harsher. The climb up the hill was hard on her as the wound was still open. She'd long ago lost Ithuriel's constant protection.
"I brought you to this house instead of Herondale Manor because I wanted you to see that we can be who ever we wish to be." She halted and together they looked over the land that had belonged to her family for centuries. "Starkweathers ruled through fear and death. They killed Downworlders who never harmed mundanes simply because they were different. Starkweathers thrived on that hatred, but I am a Starkweather and I could not love Magnus anymore than I already do. Downworlder or not. I chose to be myself."
Jace continued to look over those Shadowhunter lands, the land their people had cared for since it was given to them by Raziel. Here they had built their home. This place was a living connection to their past and their future. "It feels different, somehow. Now."
Tessa nodded. "Before…" she sighed and shrugged. "You weren't ultimately responsible—you were one step removed. But now you are starting to see things as I do. You're starting to feel what I feel when I stand here and look out over this place—and you are aware of what it really means."
For a moment, they were silent, seeing, sensing, feeling, then she said, "You and I are different from others, even Clary. They are so many generations removed from the Angel that they bond they feel with Heaven isn't as strong as ours. My father may have lost his love for humanity and terrorized this earth, but he was still a Son of God. I am a child of an Angel and you are blood of my blood. And you are Ithuriel's blood, too."
Jace tilted his head, listening, but didn't interrupt.
"When Will turned forty, a difficult age, by the way, he said something to me that I will most likely never forget. He said that if I had to live forever than I would have to find something to work towards. Something to cherish and love for eternity so that I would never lose myself like some immortals have been known to do. I think," Tessa said, feeling his presence like an anchor, "that every moment you and I spend together, whether alone or looking inward, or doing our duty, it's like we are doing exactly what Ithuriel and Raziel would have wanted from us. We are doing what we are meant to do and what we should want to do. It shouldn't just be about us…it should be about those we can protect. That is Heaven's Mandate."
Jace's lips quirked, half grimace, half smile. "Angels on Earth."
Tessa smiled. "In a way."
She slowly sank to the ground, with a blessed smile on her face. Jace sat with her. She wondered how often this would happen between then and suddenly—
"I know what you are thinking."
She looked at him. Raised a brow.
"You are wondering if I'll be immortal too, because of the blood."
She didn't want to give him the satisfaction of now knowing her so well. "It crossed my mind a while back."
"If I am, I'm glad I'll have eternity with you and Clary. I don't want you to be alone ever again," he whispered softly and that nearly broke her down again. She reached for his hand across the grass and smiled tightly. "Incidentally, don't ever take a dagger meant for me."
As immovable as a mountain, and equally impassive, Tessa merely looked at him, arched an arrogant brow. He'd gotten that from her.
When he refused to back down, to cave below her superiority, Tessa did an unlikely thing. She rolled her eyes. "I would flatten the world to protect you. Don't forget that. I've already lost so many of the people I loved, Jace. I don't think I could survive if I lost you too."
"I'll do my best to avoid getting caught by that murderous maniac. Again."
In the now peaceful stillness of her mind, the thought that had jarred and jangled as, months before, she'd raced back to New York and then back to the Shadowhunter world, reminded her of the uncertainties, the loneliness, she'd left behind.
Since then, through Jace, she had reclaimed some of that happiness she'd only felt when she'd been with Will and their children. A happiness she'd thought she lost when he'd passed away. An happiness she'd never even felt in those fleeting moments with Jem.
"I have no right to ask for anything else, but if I could ask anything else of Heaven," Jace whispered softly, "I would ask that you'd be happy forever, Tess."
Her heart tightened in her chest and her hand reached across the grass for his. She didn't dare imagine any more happiness in case someone tried to steal this from her.
"Tell me a story," Jace finally said. "Tell me all the stories. Tell me all about Will. Tell me about your children. Tell me about my family. Tell me everything."
"I have the perfect one. About Herondales, Lightwoods, and Fairchilds."
She nodded, hoping he wouldn't see her lip tremble. "It's a love story."
"I bet I know how it begins." With this inherited Herondale charm, Jace nodded. As he opened his mouth to speak and recited to her favorite book verse, Tessa knew she'd finally have a chance to live, and love, again. She leaned her head against his shoulder as Jace's voice, so much like Will's, broke through the sound of the wind and floated up to him. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."
There was a shift in the air.
Zachariah felt it.
And he knew who it was…as if he could sense it bone deep. Or was it soul deep.
He looked over his shoulder and saw that blond haired, golden-eyed child standing below the arches of the City of Bones.
She told you.
The boy nodded, sheer determination lighting up his eyes. Never before had he looked so much like Will and Tessa, all burning star and angelic fire.
"I'm going to find a cure for you. I am going to find a cure. I swear to you."
And just like that, Zachariah knew that here stood another Herondale he would always love. And his chance at redemption.
I wanted to thank all my readers for the support they've shown while this story was being written. I first started writing Things all the way back in 2011. It wasn't meant to be this long but I loved writing these characters. I hope you've enjoyed the end. I know I did. Leave me a review. Tell me if you liked this end. Tell me which chapter was your favorite and what you are looking forward to from City of Heavenly Fire. Tell me what you thought of CP2. And finally, stop by The Herondale Girl and pay Gabriel and Cecily a visit. As always, I leave you with all my love. This has been wonderful for me.