Author's note: Alright, final chapter! Yes, getting two new chapters is the surprise I mentioned. It's because CP is out in four (FOUR! *squee*) days and I always wanted to get this story marked as complete before it came out. I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: For the twentieth and final time: The Infernal Devices is NOT mine! It's Cassie Clare's. Good gravy, people! Weren't the first nineteen chapters enough?
Just out of curiosity, did anyone notice that I never once repeated a disclaimer in all twenty chapters?
Epilogue: Agony & Acceptance
Jem would never remember much about Jinx's funeral. It was a very small affair; not many people had been close to her. Jessamine didn't even make an appearance. Or maybe she did. He honestly did not remember. There were only two things that remained clear in Jem's memory: the way Jinx looked like she could've been sleeping as those greedy flames licked around her small, defenseless body, and the conversation he'd had with her grandfather.
He didn't know when the Irish man had arrived and he didn't know when the man had left. Jem did remember his surprise when the aged man had walked up and introduced himself as Séighín Ó Bradagáin. No one had expected anyone from the Ó Bradagáin clan to attend Jinx's funeral, let alone the head of the clan. Jem's memory of the man's physical appearance was blurred, he wasn't sure why; perhaps because he could see Jinx's body burning down to ash behind the Irish man while they spoke of her.
Séighín had been, not surprisingly, completely unrepentant of not inviting Jinx to Ireland. "I couldn't do that to my family, lad," the old man had explained in his thick Irish brogue. "Surely you know what I mean."
Jem had fought to urge to strangle him. He hadn't trusted himself to speak for mild fear of saying exactly what he thought of the man, and had forced himself to settle for simply glaring at Séighín.
"You see, young Carstairs," Séighín had continued after it was clear Jem wouldn't respond, "her mother was the type of person who could change everyone she met. It was impossible to meet my Aithche and not be different for it, whether good or bad. She was…special, Aithche was. She had this fire about her that made you feel alive, that seemed to touch your very soul. Everyone who knew her either loved her or hated her. There was no middle ground to be found." He paused again, seeming to choke on the next words a bit. "She held us Ó Bradagáins together. Aithche was the only reason we could stand one another's company. It tore us apart when she died. My family's never been the same since she left us."
Séighín had reached out and latched onto Jem's arm then, and Jem remembered being vaguely surprised at the strength in his grip. As well as the intensity in his voice.
"I couldn't let that happen again. I could not allow some girl to bring my family back together only to tear us all apart again. For all I knew, little Ríona was exactly like her mother. It would've been the death of the Ó Bradagáin clan."
Jem had stared at the man and hadn't even tried to veil his disgust. "She was," he said in a voice trembling with emotion, even to his own ears. "Ríona was exactly like her mother. I won't claim to know Aithche, but when you described her, you described them both. And I don't regret loving Ríona. No matter how painful her death is, it was all worth it. She is—was worth this pain."
Séighín had only nodded and looked as though his actions were justified. "Exactly why I didn't invite her to Éire. My family is more important than a girl I don't know and I could not let that girl tear us apart. We've only just begun repairing the damage from Aithche's death. Ríona's would've ruined us."
The man had turned to walk away then, but seemed to think better of it. He stopped half-turned away from Jem, and said, "A word of advice, lad: you're never going to fully recover from this pain you're feelin'. I can see it in your eyes. I felt the same way when I attended Aithche's funeral. To this day, I still feel that pain. No one's worth that type of sorrow, young man, not even someone like her."
Séighín had tried to move away again, but Jem didn't give him the chance. He had caught the older man's arm, forcing him to face Jem once again. "I don't give a damn what you think of me. You can say whatever you like, but you'll never change my mind. Jinx was worth it. Your granddaughter was worth every last bit of this pain, no matter how long it lasts! And you have no right to say otherwise. You didn't know her like I did."
Jem vaguely remembered shouting something that wasn't very complimentary at the man, and then he felt strong hands on his arms pulling him away from the head of the Ó Bradagáin clan.
Everything else from that day was blurred in Jem's memory. The days that followed were the same indistinct haze in his mind; they stretched into weeks, weeks eventually into months, and Jem seemed to live in a daze—no, he wasn't even truly living. He still trained, still fought with Will, still assisted Charlotte whenever she needed it, but his actions were automatic, like the ticking of a clock. There was very little to distinguish one day from the one before or the one after. The only thing he could clearly remember about those weeks and months was the only thing that remained constant: the pain.
It made him feel empty, hollow, almost dead somehow, and yet he still ached; it was as though…Jinx's explanation was still the best he could think of. He felt as though someone had ripped his soul out of his body, tore it up into innumerable shreds, and returned to him nothing but the smallest of pieces, only just enough to keep him alive. He had mostly felt numb on the warehouse rooftop and at her funeral, but after he lost his temper with…that man, the excruciating agony had arrived in full force.
Speaking in general terms, it was the same way he had felt after his parents' deaths. This pain wasn't like the physical pain he constantly dealt with because of the drug; he couldn't simply ignore this emotional anguish. It penetrated deeper, it hung over his thoughts and clouded his awareness and judgment. Sometimes it made him want to scream, sometimes he wanted to do anything he could to bring them all back, no matter the cost. Memories of moments that could never happen again pervaded his every waking thought and even haunted his dreams.
But this wasn't the same pain he'd felt when he lost his parents. This was different. Not necessarily greater, just…different. It wasn't that one situation was easier to accept than the other and it wasn't that he loved Jinx more than he loved his parents; it was just that he loved Jinx in a different way, and the memories that hung over his thoughts were of a different form this time. When his parents had died, the memories that had haunted him had mostly been of his mother's caring, gentle touches; of weapons lessons with his father; of watching his mother and father spar; of mealtimes with them; those little moments that he'd always taken for granted had swirled through his thoughts, day and night. That same thing was happening again, but this time was…different. Exactly what made it different, Jem didn't know. The memories still focused on those little moments he'd taken for granted, like the way Jinx moved when she walked across a room, the way she would smile at him, the sound of her laugh, the determined look she got when a puzzle seemed to be outsmarting her.
Jem found that he could not remain in the drawing room for very long before getting lost in the memory of how she had looked that day before the fight with Agramon, when she had seemed to be glowing with peace and contentment. He would always smile at that memory, the pain of her loss momentarily forgotten—then he would realize that he could never see it again, and the agony would return with a vengeance. Her bedroom was worse. Whenever he stepped inside that room, it was almost like she was still there. He would simply sit on her bed, close his eyes, and he could almost hear her telling him her story once again. If he stayed long enough, he could almost hear her words fading into moans, almost feel her soft skin underneath his fingertips, almost smell her, almost see her the way she had looked that night. He could almost believe she was still alive.
Sometimes he would feel as though her memory was fading from his mind; he couldn't quite picture the exact color of her eyes, or he couldn't remember the sound of her Cajun drawl, and panic would set in. He didn't want to forget her. So he would run to her bedroom, where he knew he could always bring those memories back, and the pain along with them. He would feel so guilty whenever her memory seemed to fade like that. How dare he forget her, after all she'd freely given him, after all they'd shared? How dare he throw it all away? He could not forget her.
She had asked him not to.
But she had also made him promise that he would recover. There were days he almost hated her for that. How could she ask that of him? How could he possibly recover from losing someone like her? And it wasn't only her loss she asked him to move on from, it was also the loss of his unborn children!
Though he knew he shouldn't, there were times when he couldn't help wondering about those twins. His children…their children…Who would they have been, given the chance to live? Would they have looked like Jinx, with her dark skin and hazel eyes? Or would they have looked more Chinese, or perhaps British? Whenever his thoughts drifted down that lonely path, one question in particular always haunted him: Would they have inherited his addiction?
He never allowed himself to dwell on those thoughts very long. One could not change the past and wondering would only serve to drive him mad.
Jem never told anyone that Jinx had been pregnant when she died. Not even Will. He came close, on several occasions. Will was the only one in the Institute who didn't try to divert Jem's thoughts away from Jinx. He would let Jem sit and talk about her for hours on end; he would let Jem lash out and release the fury that seemed to build for no reason; he even left Jem alone whenever he felt like grieving by himself, even though Jem never asked him to leave.
To be completely honest, Jem was shocked. He had never thought that Will could be so understanding.
Jem was grateful for Will's efforts, he truly was, but sometimes he wished Will would stop. Those efforts made him feel as though he was caught between grieving for the ones he'd lost and caring for those who still lived. He knew he wasn't being the friend he should be to Will and he felt guilty for that; while on the other side of things, he couldn't even bring himself to think about accepting Jinx's death and simply moving on with his life. It seemed wrong somehow; it felt like he was betraying her memory, or brushing it aside as if it didn't matter anymore. As if she didn't matter anymore.
And nothing could be further from the truth.
He remembered experiencing a similar double-edged guilt after his parents' deaths. He'd had an escape then, though: his violin. Jem had poured his heart and soul, every last bit of emotion that had built within him into his music; that had been the only way to let it all out. Music had helped him deal with the loss of his parents—to a certain extent, it had helped keep him sane. But it wasn't helping this time. He had tried, after Jinx's funeral and then innumerable instances after that day, to release everything he felt that couldn't be put into words, to pour it into music instead, but he struggled. For the first time in his memory, playing his violin was not easy. The notes seemed to fight him; they came out sounding harsh where they should've been soft, high when they should've been low, or entirely wrong in an inexplicable way. But he didn't give up. Jem kept trying, he kept practicing, he kept trying to make it effortless again. He couldn't give up. He needed it, he needed a way to release all this emotion that couldn't possibly be expressed in words.
For six months, nothing changed. He felt helpless, because he knew he could never bring Jinx back and he didn't know how to keep his promise to her. He suffered from the soul-wrenching anguish that came with fully realizing exactly what he had lost that morning on the warehouse roof. He felt guilty, because of his lack of attention to Will and maybe, just maybe, there was something he could've done to save her. He became frustrated and angry some days, because he knew better than to look back and wonder, and because nothing helped ease the pain. There was no escaping this cacophony of emotions. He tried suppressing it, he tried welcoming it and wallowing, he tried everything he could think of. Nothing helped, nothing changed.
And then one day in early October—exactly one year after he'd first met Jinx—he took his violin to her bedroom. Jem had been avoiding that particular room for the past few weeks, hoping that it would help somehow. It hadn't. He knew that trying to keep her out of his mind would be futile today, so he succumbed to the burning need to remember. As soon as he stepped through the door, all of those memories and emotions he had tried to suppress came rising up in a flood, momentarily overwhelming him with their intensity. He closed his eyes under the onslaught and felt a tear slip down his cheek to drop onto his violin. Jem looked down at the simple wooden instrument in his hand, wondering why he'd brought it when it had done nothing but fight him for six months—and then he decided to try once more. He slowly moved to stand at the foot of the bed and lifted the violin to its place under his chin; he paused, the bow hovering just above the strings, and thought about what he would play for her.
Then he closed his eyes again and stopped thinking about it.
The bow slid across the strings, effortlessly evoking beautiful notes that danced through the air and twined around him. A hauntingly bittersweet melody emerged from those seemingly random notes to fill the room with equal parts love and pain, longing and acceptance. He didn't know where the inspiration came from. All he knew was that he had finally found the release he'd searched for these past six months. He poured his heart and soul into the heartbreaking yet sweet melody, and allowed it to ease his pain, if only for a moment.
Jem didn't know how long he played that night. When the melody eventually tapered off and the last note finally faded away, he stood still for another few moments and soaked in the silence. He expected the pain to return, and indeed it did, but it wasn't near as intense as before. He waited, still anticipating the sharp stab that always came. This time it did not come. A dull ache settled over him—but it was manageable. It didn't completely overwhelm his every thought. That was…odd. Definitely nothing like what he had become almost accustomed to.
Jem opened his eyes to find himself staring at the chest of drawers that stood guard beside Jinx's bed. He moved toward it without thinking, setting his violin and bow on the bed as he did so, and reached toward the topmost pull; the drawer slid out easily with only a slight protest of wood grating on wood when he lightly tugged on it.
It was still there, lying neatly folded on the bottom of the drawer, with only a thin film of dust present to mute its color.
He carefully—almost reverently—lifted Jinx's silk scarf out of the drawer and patted it lightly, making the dust puff into the air and rise up to his nose. A faint smell mixed with the dust and his eyes slipped shut once again under the onslaught of a surprisingly vivid memory. A memory of fresh air, of pure Irish rain in the countryside; he felt a sudden twinge in the general area of his heart, and yet the sharp stab of pain still did not come. He opened his eyes again and stared at the scarf for a moment before allowing his gaze to wander over the room. There were memories stored in every corner. Jem allowed those memories to wash over his thoughts, but that blinding agony still did not accompany them. A small smile tugged at his lips as he carefully set the scarf back she had left it.
Perhaps I am finally becoming ready to let her go.
For the first time since her death, Jem did not feel guilty about that.
Living grew easier after that day. There were still bad days, of course; days when he nearly screamed aloud because of the agony, days when he was still torn by guilt, days when he could not focus his thoughts on anything other than Jinx, but a new trend accompanied them now. He no longer felt hollow every time those extreme feelings passed, sometimes yes, but not every time. The depression that had haunted him and had made him live almost completely unaware of his surroundings started to recede. He found that he could laugh with Will again and not feel too guilty about it. He could truly appreciate the taste of food and the warmth of a cheerful fire again. He could play his violin and it was as effortless as breathing. The progress didn't all come at once, of course. It was slow. But it was still notable.
Jem felt the pain gradually lessen during the months following that October day; it never left, it probably never would, but it did lessen. It was still constant, yet it was bearable now. During those first six months, he had thought that he would never recover, that it would be impossible to accept her death and move on; now, he had days when he could think of her, smile at the memory, and then focus himself back on whatever it was he had been doing before the memory hit. Jem felt like he was finally learning to live again. He was amazed at that sometimes, simply because he hadn't thought it possible.
He didn't think it possible on Christmas, either. There were too many memories, too many powerful emotions related to that day to allow for improvement. Jem almost didn't attend the Christmas party; he only went because Will asked him to. It was torture. Everywhere he looked, he was reminded of Jinx. Mistletoe brought back the memory of their first kiss; occasionally a girl would pass by in a dress the same shade of deep blue Jinx's had been; the music evoked his memories of how good it had felt to hold her in his arms and dance with her. He couldn't genuinely enjoy himself when he was surrounded by those painful memories. And Jem had never once thought he would actually be grateful for Will being Will, but that night he was. He didn't know what Will did to Gabriel's sister; to be entirely honest, he didn't want to know. All he knew was the claim was serious enough for Charlotte to banish Will from the party, which gave Jem an acceptable excuse to leave as well.
Jem discovered something that night that he had never noticed before: He could not look at a pretty girl and admit in words that he thought she was pretty. He couldn't even admit it to himself. The thought would hardly form before he remembered Jinx the way she had looked that day before their fight with Agramon, when she had stood alight with a golden glow at the drawing room window, and he couldn't help comparing the new girl to her. They never measured up. Whether he was close to them or just looking at them from a distance, he couldn't help thinking about Jinx, thinking about how they weren't her. In his mind, Jinx was still the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen.
No girl ever escaped that scrutiny.
Despite the resurgence of her memory for that night, Jem continued learning to live again. His life gradually resumed the pace it had held before Jinx had burst into it and turned it upside-down. It wasn't predictable at all, but it was familiar. Falling back into his old routines felt good and rather comforting.
And then one night, in early summer of 1878, he met Tessa Gray.
He'd been absorbed in his violin until he heard the door to his room open. The song he played that night was not the same as the heartbreaking melodies he had been playing for the past year; this one was sweeter, hopeful even, and stemmed from the past eight months or so of recovery. At first he thought the interruption was Will, but then he turned to see this strange girl standing in his doorway instead; she was tall, and striking even in a dressing gown, with thick brown hair and a pair of—amazingly enough—beautiful gray eyes. He was surprised to see her, of course, but since the drug often made it hard for him to sleep, he welcomed any and all distractions. And he was curious about everything Will had told him about this mysterious shape-changing Miss Gray. So he indulged her questions and soon found himself completing entranced by the girl; she made him smile, laugh even. He was thoroughly enjoying himself, both before and after Will interrupted them—until that drug reared its ugly head.
Only after Tessa left his room did he realize that he'd never once thought of Jinx while she was there.
He puzzled over that until eventually slipping into a fitful slumber. Jem awoke the next morning feeling oddly energized and hurriedly readied for breakfast, because he knew she would be present.
And there she was, sitting proudly at the table next to Will, a picture of poise, even though she wore an ill-fitting dress. He didn't know what it was about this girl that made him do it, but he couldn't help smiling at her before falling into the discussion that was making its way around the table. It was only after he and Will left to investigate the abandoned brothel that he realized what it was that he found so oddly irresistible about Tessa Gray.
She had the same type of spirit as Jinx.
If any doubt ever entered his mind about that conclusion, all he had to do was remember her response to Will's claim of an assignation with a certain attractive someone.
Declare his intentions, indeed.
Jem hadn't known any girl except Jinx to talk to Will like that.
Days passed after that revelation and he grew to know more about this shape-changing warlock girl without a mark: He learned some of her fears when she first transformed into Lady Belcourt; he became more firmly convinced of her strength and her fighting spirit after the battle at de Quincey's; he tried to offer her some comfort after she learned that her brother was not a Downworlder…That moment, in the hallway outside Nathaniel's room, she seemed so disturbed by what she had felt during the fight and he wanted so desperately to see her smile. He didn't get the smile he wanted before Charlotte asked to speak with him in the library, but he hoped his words offered her at least a small bit of comfort.
Then came their walk on Blackfriars Bridge. It was so peaceful at first, as if they were the only two people in London. Jem hadn't meant to tell her so much about Will's past—or his own for that matter—but there was just something about Tessa that made him trust her. Walking with her and simply enjoying conversation with another person made that night one of the best he'd had in over a year. It couldn't last, of course, they were attacked by those infernal clockwork creatures and he couldn't sufficiently protect her because of that damn drug.
He decided to tell her the truth about his addiction after that attack because she deserved to know. Jem had found that something about Tessa was pulling him in, something was attracting his attention to her—he had felt this feeling only once before, with Jinx. Unlike then, he now recognized what he felt and he knew he couldn't wait three months to act on it this time. But he couldn't do anything about it until she knew the truth about his condition.
So he told her. And she didn't look at him any differently.
Before he fell asleep that night, a fragment of Jinx's final words echoed through his mind once more:
"Someone, someday…Another girl will come along who will see past your addiction, Jem, and you better not be hung up on me when that happens."
The thought of Jinx brought a twinge of pain. Jem knew it always would, but now he could smile at the memory. He could look back at the past, acknowledge it, and then let it go. He may always have moments when he wondered what their twins would have looked like, moments when he wondered how Jinx would've matured over a few more years, but it wouldn't consume him anymore.
After Mortmain's attack on the Institute, after Thomas's funeral, when he—or rather, Church—found Tessa alone in the music room, Jem almost told her how he felt. He almost said it. But his voice cracked, his thoughts suddenly flashed to what had happened to the last girl he'd fallen in love with, and he couldn't bring himself to say it. In that moment, he was a complete and utter coward.
Jem would tell Tessa how he felt. Soon. Just not quite yet.
Later that night, he realized what had stopped him from telling her. The drug was keeping him awake once again, so he dressed as quietly as he could and slipped out into the hallway, quickly and silently making his way to Jinx's bedroom. He found her silk scarf, still in the drawer where he'd left it all those months ago, and took it to Blackfriars Bridge.
He stood above the silent, ever-flowing Thames for a few minutes, allowing himself to get lost in her memory one final time, and then drew his stele.
Jem traced the rune for fire on the silk, whispering as he did so. "I promised you, Jinx, that I would recover. And I have." He lifted his face to the stars hidden behind London's constant cloud cover and smiled as he finished the rune. "You were right. That girl you spoke of found me. I am finally ready to love again."
The soft silk in his hand flamed, painting the bridge with flickering glows and shadows. Ash and sparks lazily drifted upward on the light breeze, rising toward those hidden stars, and Jem watched until the last of them faded away. He waited another moment, then turned to move away.
A sudden gust of surprisingly warm wind swirled around him, carrying the last live spark of flame directly in front of his eyes—and Jem froze. He lifted his eyes back up to the heavens, wondering if it had truly happened. Another small smile lifted the corners of his mouth as he slowly walked back to the Institute, pondering the strange occurrence. He would never tell anyone about it. Jem couldn't even prove to himself that it had happened, but he would always believe it had been more than merely his imagination.
That final gust of wind had carried a laugh. A single, joyous laugh that he knew so well.
And six simple words in a familiar drawl.
"Just don't forget about me, James."
Jem turned his face back up to the heavens for one final time that night before he entered the Institute. He could not help smiling again, for he felt truly whole for the first time in over a year.
I could never forget. I love you, Ríona Ó Bradagáin, and I always will. You will forever hold a piece of my soul, forever hold a place in my heart.
Ave atque vale, Jinx. You will be missed.
And there you have it. This story is officially complete! Now that you have read it all, you should be able to tell why I wanted to finish it before Clockwork Prince came out. This story does not change anything about what happened in Clockwork Angel. It simply offers an explanation for why Jem was such a chicken at the end. I did my very best to make sure everything in my story is compatible with CA. So, if you read this story after CP comes out and there's something that doesn't make sense or just doesn't work, know that it was my intent to make this story line up with how much information we're given in CA.
This isn't essential to the story, obviously, but while I was writing the "Agony" part of this chapter, I had the song "I Miss My Friend" by Darryl Worley playing on repeat. I highly recommend that you look it up on Youtube. It's a beautifully sad song, especially when applied to the death of a loved one.
I hope you enjoyed reading How Little We Know as much as I enjoyed writing it! Thanks to all of you who have stuck it out through all twenty chapters! Please review!