AN: It's been a long time again, soooorrrrrrrrry. So here's a long, dramatic chapter with drama. I fail at writing fight scenes so epically and I've taken some liberties with Warlock powers here :') Thank you so much for the reviews, seriously. They make my day.
Lyrics & title from Soldier by Ingrid Michaelson.
I don't believe in anything but myself
I don't believe in anything but myself
But then you opened up a door, you opened up a door
Now I start to believe in something else
But how do I know if I'll make it through?
How do I know? Where's the proof in you?
The country house lay in a valley, forested on either side. It was the perfect place to hide. The only clear way up to the house was a gravel path that cut through the woods and led up to the wrought iron gates that closed the house off from the rest of the world. They would have to climb over the 10 foot iron perimeter which wouldn't be difficult, but the grounds were crawling with demons, at least twenty of them and Will was willing to bet the house was just as heavily guarded. The Magister would leave nothing to chance, not with Tessa.
They were crouched in a little copse looking down at the house, Magnus was off checking the perimeter, Gabriel had bet him it would have anti-magic charms on it. Will closed his eyes, trying desperately to calm himself. He'd charged blindly in to worse than this but those times the most that was at stake was his own skin now there was Jem, Tessa, Magnus (who Will wasn't really worried about) and Gabriel.
He glanced over at the older boy who was watching the various demons that patrolled the grounds with the precision of a hawk.
"What if it's a trap," Gabriel had whispered to Will last night as they sat leaning on each other, gazing in to the flames. "I mean the Magister wants to destroy Shadow hunters, maybe he knew this would happen, maybe he planned on it," his voice was quiet but Will could detect the tremor in it. "Will, what if we're walking in to a trap? What if Tessa and Jem are already dead and we're just going to be slaughtered? What if he's attacking the London incident right now?"
Will had been torn in two. There was the part of him that wanted to scream because Gabriel was probably right, they were going to die, all of them. And Will didn't much care about himself but Jem and Tessa and Sophie and Gideon and Charlotte and Magnus and Gabriel, they all deserved better. They deserved to live happily. Tessa and Jem deserved to get married, Sophie deserved to be happy with Gideon, Charlotte deserved to raise her child and Gabriel just deserved to be happy.
Then there was the other part; the part that had held Jem when they were younger and Jem had had nightmares about his parent's death, the part that still remembered what it was to be a big brother, a protector, the part that had held Cecily's hand as she'd taken her first few faulty steps, the part that would never make Tessa choose between him and Jem, that part had wanted to say no. We'll be fine. You'll be fine. I won't let anything happen to you. And that part had wanted to hold Gabriel closer and that had terrified Will.
"We'll be fine," Will had said.
And Gabriel had trembled against him, "I don't see it, Will." He'd said miserably. "We won't be fine, nothing will ever be fine, nothing has ever been fine."
"Gabriel, shut up." Will had murmured, placing a messy kiss on the other boy's cheek. He wasn't sure why he had done it, but it had worked. And he had woken up with his fingers intertwined with Gabriel's.
They hadn't said anything about it.
Gabriel looked up at him suddenly and Will realised he'd been staring. "What?" Gabriel hissed.
"Nothing," Will muttered, trying his best to hide the blush he was sure he could feel creeping up his cheeks. Gabriel was frowning at him and Will knew he was about to question him further when Magnus appeared, breathless.
"You were right," he said, glaring at Gabriel as though the wards were his fault. "The whole thing is charmed against magic. I'll be pretty useless in there but for the most basic of charms."
Will sighed; he had been hoping having a warlock on their side would give them an advantage. "Any idea where they're being kept?" he asked.
Magnus shrugged. "There's a coal shoot so they have a basement but it's a big house. They could be anywhere."
"Right, brilliant," Gabriel muttered and Magnus glared at him again.
"Watch it, Lightwood," he hissed. For a moment the two stared at each other then Gabriel looked away and Magnus looked proud of himself.
"Should we wait for nightfall?" Gabriel asked, sounding so much like a character from an adventure story that Will almost chuckled.
"No," Will said, smiling slightly. "In books they always wait for nightfall, the trees give us enough cover, they'll not be expecting us to attack during the day." Then he added, "And Jem doesn't have his medicine."
"Do we have a plan?"
"Nope," Will replied.
"So you want us, an almost useless warlock and two reckless, young shadow hunters, one who is currently recovering from an extremely traumatic incident, to lay siege to a country house filled with God knows how many demons in broad daylight without a battle plan." Magnus said dryly.
When Will nodded Gabriel laughed, "William Herondale, you are without a doubt the most insane person I know."
"Likewise," Magnus agreed, then he stood up, "Right, shall we go then?" he asked with the air of someone inviting them home for tea.
Gabriel and Will stood up too, drawing their blades and Will noticed that the other boy was trembling slightly. He touched Gabriel's arm. "We'll be okay." He said, firmly.
Gabriel swallowed and turned to him slowly. "I think I believe you." he said.
"Get up," the demon ordered, tugging on Tessa's arm roughly. "Leave him."
Tessa wanted to protest but she hadn't eaten, hadn't drunk in so long. Her head spun when she stood up and she stumbled. "Jem..." she mumbled.
The demon cackled, "Your silver boyfriend will be dead soon."
Tessa looked down to where Jem lay, chest rising and falling with shallow breaths. He hadn't woken up since they brought him back last night. Tessa felt rage flair up inside her and she lashed out weakly. The demon laughed again and evaded her easily, catching her wrists and twisting them painfully. Tessa cried out and Jem stirred.
"Let me go!" she cried.
"Now, now, little miss warlock," the demon hissed, "The Magister wants you alive but he didn't specify what condition you should be in." And with that the demon twisted her left wrist sharply until she heard a snap and screamed.
"Tessa..." Jem mumbled groggily, brow furrowed as though he were trying to wake.
The demon glared at Jem and turned back to Tessa with a slow smile, "I could kill him right now, slow and painful. Right here. Or you could come with me. You're to put on your pretty frock for the Magister. He's coming to collect you tonight."
"I'll go with you," she said quietly. The demon tugged on her broken wrist and Tessa's head span. Hurry up, Will. She thought, prayed. Hurry, Will, hurry. We won't last much longer.
The demon dressed her and shoved her back in to the cell and Jem looked up, awake. "Tessa!" he cried with so much relief that Tessa felt her heartbreak. "I thought they'd taken you, I thought you were gone!"
Tessa dropped to her knees, cradling her broken wrist to her chest and ran a hand through Jem's starlight coloured hair, matted with dirt and blood. "Jem, oh, Jem, they're taking me tonight. They're going to kill you and the Magister...Jem I don't know what he'll make me do." She whispered. "I'm so weak, Jem."
Jem looked at her. "There is nothing weak about you, Tessa and there never will be."
"I don't know what to do, Jem." She half sobbed.
"Will once told me that when he didn't know what to do he pretended to be a character from a book," Jem rasped. "But Tessa, I think whatever you do you'll make the right choice."
"I don't want to let the Magister use me," she said.
He smiled and lifted his hand to cup her face. "Then don't."
"Will will be here soon," she said softly and Jem smiled and nodded.
"Yes, he will be."
Will and Gabriel had covered themselves with as many runes as they could think of. Silence, swiftness, strength, courage, stamina. They had a vague plan of sorts, Magnus would deal with the demons in the grounds, leaving the way (mostly) free for Gabriel and Will, then Gabriel would deal with most of the demons in the house and Will would find Jem and Tessa. They were to meet back at the copse if they got separated in anyway.
Will was worried, terrified. Magnus would have limited use of his magic and he knew Gabriel wasn't fully recovered from what had happened to him. He knew it by the way he'd twisted and whimpered in his sleep and the way he'd squeezed Will's hand tightly, like a life line. But as he looked at them now he didn't see any of that. He saw soldiers. He wondered if he was leading them to their death.
"Ready?" Gabriel asked, green eyes meeting his.
Will licked his lips and took a deep breath. "Yeah."
They charged. Well, they ran down the hill towards the fence and manage to vault over it. From there it happened in flashes, in slow motion. There was the sound of a demon crying out; sounding the alert, there was the messy slurping sound it made as Gabriel's blade tore out its throat. There were brightly coloured flashes to the left of him, Magnus' spells. He took down two demons and then spun to take down a third, keeping his eyes fixed on the house. He had no idea where the demons where coming from but suddenly it seemed like there was an impossible amount of them running at him and Will was on autopilot. Parry, thrust, tear, dodge, stab, kick, dodge, move, twist. And all the while his brain was repeating get to Tessa, get to Jem, get to Tessa, get to Jem.
"Will, Gabriel! Go now!" Magnus cried and Will spun quickly to see the warlock's whole body glowing with shimmering red-orange energy. Gabriel was somewhere to his left and Will didn't need telling twice. He met Gabriel's eyes briefly before they both sprinted towards the house, slashing left and right at the demons that continued to pour out at them. Somewhere in the back of Will's mind he wondered how much energy Magnus would have left to escape.
They reached the house and Will kicked down the front door just in time. The explosion shook the house and heat burnt their backs. Will wanted to turn back to make sure the warlock was okay but he didn't get a chance too, as soon as they stepped inside they were beseeched by demons and automatons. He was back on autopilot, tear, dodge, kick and he was tiring, faster than he'd thought he would. He had no idea how many he'd killed, if he'd been hit, adrenaline was searing through his veins and all he could think was, Tessa and Jem. Tessa and Jem are here. He paused for a fraction of a second to seek out Gabriel in throng and it was enough time for a demon to rake its claws across his chest.
The sharp, sudden pain bought him sharply back to reality and the enormity of his situation crashed over him with the force of a tidal wave. There were too many, they didn't even know where Tessa and Jem were. They were going to die. They were going to be torn apart by demons. Choking on fear Will clumsily swiped at the demon that had clawed him.
He turned, still swiping. Gabriel was fighting his way towards him. "Will, look!"
Will did. At the end of the long hall was a door that hung open. A door that revealed a set of stairs leading down to the dark basement beneath the house. Gabriel reached him, "Will, they'll be down there," he panted.
Will looked around hopelessly, "There are too many, Gabriel."
"You have to try!" Gabriel said, green eyes flashing angrily as he turned and disembowelled another demon. "We'll hold them off for as long as we can."
We? Will stabbed the demon in front of him and twisted to see brightly coloured flashes from the doorway, Magnus. But he couldn't just leave them here, they'd be slaughtered. Gabriel seemed to read his mind and shoved him hard towards the door.
"Go," he roared with such force that Will found himself obeying. He made it to the door and turned only to see the door swing shut as Magnus Bane sent a flash of gold towards it.
Will was plunged in to darkness and he scrambled for his witchlight stone, his heartbeat roaring in his ears. He couldn't hear any movement and when he finally drew the stone out he found the corridor empty. He made his way gingerly down the stairs and began down the narrow passage, peering into each mini cell as he passed. Now that he was away from the fight he could feel every wound. He could feel injuries burning across his whole body. There was blood dripping down his face from a gash on his forehead and his chest was sticky and wet and stung. His left leg throbbed dully whenever he moved it and when he put weight on it he felt dizzy. He didn't dare look at it.
He was beginning to feel sick. They weren't down here. The cells were all empty. And then he reached the second to last one. The door was ajar and he drew his blade before pushing it open.
"Tessa!" Will cried, intending to run to her but he stopped because in the other corner of the cage was a demon, holding Jem's lifeless body.
"Take one more step, Shadow Hunter, and I kill him." the demon said quietly in a low voice.
Will froze, "Let him go." He spat.
"Or what?" the demon drawled, "You're half dead anyway. Your friends upstairs are definitely dead. The Magister will be arriving later tonight for your pretty girlfriend and he'll be very upset with you." the demon smirked. "Drop the blade Shadow hunter. You can't do anything to me."
Will let the blade fall from his hands and clatter to the stone floor below. He'd come this far. This far.Just to fail. "I'm sorry Tessa," he said, eyes fixed on the bloodied blade. "I'm sorry, Jem."
The demon laughed and kicked the blade away. "Now, what shall I do with you, hm? I could kill you. Or I could string you up for the Magister's entertainment and let him watch you scream."
Will kept his eyes fixed on the floor, willing himself not to cry, to scream with frustration. So. Close.
"It'd be such a nice wedding gift for your pretty girl, don't you think?" the demon said.
Will closed his eyes. Gabriel was probably dead.
"She'd love it. Maybe I could let you watch your friend die first. He's your parabatai, isn't he? You failed him. You failed her, how does that feel Shadow hunter?"
Will bit his lip.
"She'd-" the demon faltered.
Will looked up.
Tessa was standing, Will's blade in hand and buried deep in the demon's throat. "Villains always monologue," she said, voice cracked and dry, with a small smile.
Will didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Instead he swallowed them both and stepped forwards to take Jem's limp body from the demon's hands. Tessa stepped back letting the demon's body crumple. "Can you carry him?" she asked.
Will nodded, "Can you walk?" When she nodded he turned and they left the cell together, at a run.
"There's a way out this way," Tessa called. "It's the way they brought us in."
Will followed her holding Jem tightly. He weighed so little, too little. Their way out was mercifully free of demons and Will managed to make his way up to the copse before his knees buckled and he set Jem down. "You're alive," he choked and Tessa sobbed and held him. "You're both alive."
"I knew you'd come," Tessa whispered. "I knew it. I knew it."
"Are you hurt?" Will asked when they pulled apart.
"Not badly. But Jem..."
Will nodded hurriedly and drew a clumsy iratze on his parabatai's chest. "His medicine," he said, "There's some in my bag." He stood, swaying slightly. "I have to go back; I have to find Magnus and Gabriel."
Tessa looked too tired to argue so Will jogged back to the house, cursing himself for not drawing his own iratze. When he reached the grounds he only saw one figure, Magnus.
Magnus shook his head, eyes slightly sorrowful. "I haven't seen him."
For a few moments Will stood frozen before he turned and darted back in to the house.
"Will!" Magnus called after him but Will didn't stop. He bounded through the demon filled grounds and leapt through the open door way to the long low hallway that led to the basement stairs. It was littered with dead demons he ran to the place Gabriel had pushed him away. The door to the stairs was still shut. He glanced desperately around him for any sign of the shadow hunter amongst the demons, please, just today, let it all be okay. He was almost sobbing when he spotted Gabriel in the tangle of bodies. He dug him out, bloodied and bruise.
"Please," he whispered as he searched for a heartbeat. "Please."
He found one.
"Oh, Gods," he whispered in relief. "Thank Raziel."
Gabriel stirred under Will's hands. His green eyes fluttered open, hazy and dull. "Knew you'd come back for me," he mumbled.
Will smiled, no longer caring if he was crying. "I told you we'd all be okay." He said somewhere between a laugh and a sob.
And so it goes, this soldier knows
The battle with the heart isn't easily won
And so it goes, this soldier knows
The battle with the heart isn't easily won
But it can be won