Familiar quotes from Clockwork Angel. Everything borrowed from the Infernal Devices universe is owned by Cassandra Clare.
The early morning greeted them with shades of gray. Faces ashen and tear-streaked, they walked, footsteps hushed by the thick patches of grass. Nature, as if sensing their sorrow, muted the sounds of its subjects.
The figures in black comprised a small procession. No one talked - their lips dry and throats parched from the sobs that escaped their lips since the other night. Hands white and cold, they lifted the coffin, unmindful of the weight. Pain and soreness is but a small price to pay. They walked, feet moving forward. Eyes were set straight on the destination. The others hung their heads down.
Slowly, they lowered the casket to the dug area. The first to approach the hole was a small woman, her usually bright eyes now glistening with tears. She lost composure, sobbing almost hysterically. A redheaded man quickly engulfed the woman to his embrace, murmuring comforting words to no avail. The woman clutched the front of the man's coat, burying herself deeper to his chest. Her legs buckled from below her, causing her to kneel to the ground. The man still held her, his eyes closed tightly, as if in denial of reality.
The lower half stem of the flower she was holding was already crumpled. "I… I can't… throw this," she cried.
"Darling, you have to," the redhead's voice was pained.
"I—", she gripped his coat tighter, "G-Guide me?" She whispered, torn and defeated.
The redhead lifted the woman's hand, nearing it to the gaping hole on the ground. He loosened her hold of the stem, letting it fall to the dark. The woman took her hand back, covering her face and leaning back to the redhead.
Someone behind them moved forward. A slender woman walked, her posture stiff, as if holding back a great weight. She stood near the hole before lowering her face. Her dark hair cloaked her scar, where tears begin to track down to her chin.
"Goodbye," she releases her grip of her flower.
A muscular man moved by her side, his green eyes watching as the flower from the slender woman landed atop the wood. "You seem to lack words today."
The slender woman sighed, her voice soft. "I have not much left to say to him. I have said enough for the past few years I've known him."
"You can never say enough to one person, Sophie," he replied, taking her hand discreetly. He rubbed circles with his thumb, letting the strain on her muscles ease.
The men from the Clave who were asked to assist the burial stood far from them, waiting for the signal to fill the hole with soil. The four remained unmoved, an occasional gulp from the small woman.
He deserves to be rested here in the Institute. He died fighting for this, fighting for us. I shall be hell-bent on having the Consul's approval, if not the Clave, for him to be with us. His body may be gone, but his spirit remains. It always will, watching over us. The small woman's words rung in their ears. That was yesterday morning.
The arrival of the fifth member of their procession was noticed by the four. Slowly, they turned back, anticipating silver hues and slanted eyes, but instead they saw dark brown and gray.
Her steps were measured, as if wary of what would receive her. Her hair, ornately curled and pinned back, showed her face. Her eyes were puffy and rimmed with red, as if sleep did not visit her for nights. Reaching the four, she stopped.
"Tessa," the small woman collected herself and stood up. Stopping beside Tessa, she wrapped her arms around her slim frame. Tessa languidly let her head rest on the small woman's shoulder.
"Charlotte, I'm sorry," she said, her voice small. Charlotte hushed her.
Sophie joined the women, her long arms holding the two. They let Tessa cry, stream after stream of tears flowing freely down her face. They were endless, continually falling; it was as if she was purging herself of all the things that led them to where they stand that day.
I can't not say goodbye.
From the folds of her dress, Tessa took her angel. It was the same as ever, unscratched and ticking. Timeless, just like her. She wrapped her hands around it. For one last time.
Without hesitation, she flung it to the hole. It fell with a loud thud, like hitting rock bottom.
The days were silent, hollow and monochromatic. There was a hole in his heart, gaping wide and swallowing everything that dares to come close. Yet, it still beat, the thumps stronger than ever. His heart was energized, prepared to proceed to a life out of the bounds of time, but his soul is tired.
Tired. Broken. Not whole.
His violin case sat open near the window sill. His sheet music lay on his bed, stacked and untouched. In his hands was the container of the drug that used to sustain him. His other things were in pristine order. Leaving his room littered would only remind him of what he lost.
The past week passed adrift, the members of the household lost in their own thoughts. No one bothered to call for breakfast. No one bothered to be out of the Institute. No one bothered to lift a finger and reconstruct their old lives. As if their loss sapped their last reserves of energy.
Someone knocked on his door.
It was the first sign of connection that he had for the week. Hesitantly, he opened the door.
Tessa stood, her gray eyes staring straight to his silver ones. He read them – sadness, pain, hurting, loneliness, and love. His slender hand balled atop his heart. Her hands covered them as she pushed him back, closing the door as she entered.
"Talk to me, Jem," her eyes dropped.
He remained silent, drinking in her appearance. She was here, standing in front of him, very much alive and perfect. Yet his heart hurts, tingling and progressing to a stronger force as wave after wave of fresh anguish hit him, nearly knocking him off his feet. He cannot look at her and not remember him. Not when he asked him to take care of her forever, or to give her all she deserves with what he can do, or to just love her and be with her.
"I'm waiting for it to fade, but it never does," he began, his voice hoarse from disuse.
"I know," she murmured.
"It has been days, but never in the hours that passed since he left that the pain eased. I feel lost and uncured, worse than the days when yin fen is not in my system. He's gone, never coming back, and I am here. I must not be here. I shouldn't be here!" He shouted, beating his pale chest with his hands. Tessa reached for him, "Tell me I should die. Tell me I don't deserve this. Tell me it's my fault Will's dead!"
Jem knelt on the carpeted floor, the container falling from his grasp. He reached for it and started beating it, punching it, trying to destroy that utmost reminder of his old life. He howled, screaming his throat hoarse for Will. Come back, Will. Come home. Come back. Come back.
Tessa hugged Jem from behind, attempting in vain to hold him back. She could not – would not – stop him. She buried her face on Jem's back, the back of her eyelids burning images of Jem's grief, her ears ringing of his words. She wanted to call for Will too, but there was too much hurt between them that it would feel wrong. All she could do was kill Will, if not physically, emotionally. She was the reason why they were both a crumpled heap of sobbing mess against the carpeted wall of Jem's room.
Jem could not let Tessa hold him, but he could not let go of her. His will fought internally, consuming his thoughts and controlling his acts. He threw the silver case of yin fen to the far side of his wall, hard surfaces hitting together, producing a creaking sound. His hands were sore, his eyes wet and body drenched sweat. He tried to lie on the floor, but someone was holding him up.
The sound of his voice broke Tessa's heart, halves shattering, mimicking the fall of the clockwork angel against Will's casket.
I couldn't say.
It was all there is in the torn piece of parchment.
The birth of Vaughn Fairchild Branwell was of celebration for the members of the London Institute. Bridget prepared a sumptuous meal, now singing songs of happiness and longevity, which painted relief on the faces of the new parents. They would not want their son to be sent to sleep at night with songs of death and gore.
It was a dinner party, with the Consul invited. Tessa felt a pang as he sat on one of the empty chairs. Why it had to be on his chair, she had no idea. The fact that no one occupied the chair ever since he left already tortured her; the fact that someone was filling it, even temporarily, sent her to a hidden form of despair.
Everyone was engaged in a flurry of chatter. She did not join, hoping to escape as soon as she finished her food. It was downright rude to plan her escape and put it into action, but she could care less.
Tessa used the back door near the kitchen to exit to the back of the Institute. Lifting her dress so not to soil the hems, she ran to the direction of the tombstone.
Under the moonlight, she silently read the inscription on the stone. More than half a year had passed since she last stood on this place. She would usually look at it from her window, which had a perfect view of this place. Her fingers brushed the top of the stone, imagining it was his head of ebony that she was massaging.
"I'm leaving tonight, Will," She said, her hands never leaving the stone. "I'm leaving, and I don't think I'll come back."
For nights she rehearsed the words she opted to say. There were much, musings, regrets and apologies entangled with the other. While packing her bags, she ran them over in her mind.
Now, they were lost. Just like Will. Just like Jem.
"I love him Will, but I love you too. I can only promise to bring us home someday."
Kissing the top of tombstone, she walked away, never looking back.
The walk back to her room was a blur. She decided to visit their rooms.
No one entered Will's room since that night. No one, not even Bridget, had the heart to change its appearance. There was an unspoken agreement that Will's room must remain that way, as a reminder of the times he was still there. Tessa walked in, seeing the clutter Will made for the last time. Her eyes rested on the book in the middle of Will's bed.
The Tale of Two Cities.
Tessa felt the dog-eared pages. She should have known she'd find it there. She cradled the book in her arms, as if made of thin glass. Her nose inhaled the scents in the room. They were faint, old parchment and something that was distinguishably Will.
She is reminded of a part of Will's inscription in the book.
With hope at last.
Yes, with hope at last.
Tessa closed the door of Will's room, her feet bringing her to her next stop.
Scents were not the only thing that assaulted her at the sight of the room. Memories flooded, worth almost a year old, but clear and concise. Her eyes stung, but tears never came. They were tired, but bracing themselves for new sites of another world.
It was just as she remembered. The sheets and pillows were flat on the bed, evident of the long time the room was abandoned. Nothing was left of Jem's personal things. No trunk. No violin. No silver container. Her heart ached of emptiness.
Tessa clutched the whitish jade pendant that rested on her neck. She lifted it and kissed its cool surface before walking away.
Charlotte was waiting for Tessa outside her room. By her legs was the trunk that Tessa pulled out before dinner.
"You won't leave without telling us, will you?" The smallness of Charlotte projected frailty, sending a twinge on Tessa's chest.
"I can't do that to you. After all you've done for me," Tessa hugged Charlotte, straining against the elder woman's smaller stature. Charlotte's arms wound around Tessa. "Charlotte, I can't stay here anymore," Tessa confessed.
"I understand," Charlotte brushed Tessa's cheek. "Take care of yourself, dear. It's been an honor to get to know you."
"As I, yours," Tessa smiled. "Thank you… for everything."
Charlotte let Tessa go.
He hunted Yanluo.
Day after day, he looked for signs. He was tired to the bone, having been searching and fighting demons connected with his arch nemesis for days. He could not will himself to rest. The demon bade its time with his mother.
It was his time for revenge.
It was taking him years. Going after a greater demon is not an easy job. To do it alone is considered reckless and irresponsible; no one but he would dare, his heart fueled with desire to end the life of the root of his losses. He would not ask help from the Clave; they would find his mission foolish and fruitless, seeing as he had no parabatai anymore. Also, they would probably report back to the Branwells. He would not go to any of the Downworlders; the Clave had ears everywhere.
And Tessa is a Downworlder. It would seem wrong for him to ask aid from her kin.
But they were kin too. As fellow Shadowhunters, they were sister and brother by the Angel, but lovers also.
And their love was tearing him apart.
"I want you to be happy, brother, but I want to be happy too. You have to know what you're doing to me every time you feel her skin or kiss her supple lips. I want to be selfish, too."
Sometimes, he hoped for his ears to bleed to deafness. He never wanted to hear Will's words anymore. Even when the familiarity of the tone of his voice relaxed him, he could not help but think that it was his fault why Will never smiled again.
At night, there were nightmares. Never about Yanluo injecting demon poison in his system, or his mother calling him by his given name. It was all about Tessa and Will, images of them joined together in a passionate embrace, desires unbridled and defenses down. He always wondered why the tension between the two was tangible, comparable to the cackling fire and burning wood in the fireplace. They were all about volatility and consumption.
How could he match to that?
He was but a kindred spirit, a soul waiting to be redeemed. It was surrender and hopelessness for him, until Tessa came to his life. Well, I don't want you to die. I don't know why I feel it so strongly - I've just met you – but I don't want you to die. She gave him hope that engulfed his soul, arrested his senses but freed his will to live. He was given a choice – to depend on the drug for sustenance or to depend on love to survive, even during the hardest times. He chose the latter. He tried.
And until today, he was trying. Trying to live day by day without Will and Tessa. Trying to isolate himself as punishment for what Will did for him.
I can't stay.
Jem punched the wall adjacent to his bed.
I need you to teach me.
Those were the first words Tessa uttered to Magnus Bane after Will's death. The elder warlock was not surprised by her coming to him; as if he was waiting for her all this time. Tessa could remember the sparkle in Magnus's eyes as he linked arms with her and led her to his humble abode.
It was the time of World War II. As mundanes fought for freedom and independence, so do Shadowhunters wrestle with the stirrings on the Clave. Times are changing; the world is about to witness a new beginning.
Tessa wondered how many alphas and omegas will she witnessed. She wished to define how long forever is. It was easy to survive when you can wield magic. One moment you are here, the next you are gone. There is power in magic.
No wonder the late Magister used for his cause.
She wondered of the effectiveness of magic. How lasting could it be? Who could interfere with its potency? How possible it is to reverse the effects of magic? She knew why she was asking her questions.
Blindly, she sought for him, dragging herself amidst the changing tides of the world. Her first choice was on the mundane world, which would lead to a lot of trouble and avid persuasion because at that time, the world does not view women equally with men. She scouted the help from the Downworld, asking if they have seen a silver-haired man with Marks. The Downworlders huffed at her questions, telling her that Shadowhunter business is not theirs to mingle into. The Shadowhunters were the hardest, turning their back from her because she was not pure.
I know you feel inhuman, and as if you were set apart, away from life and love, but I promise you, the right man won't care.
Those words stung.
It was then that she retraced her steps back to Magnus.
The elder warlock was a good company, always having the oddest things up on his sleeves. He provided her knowledge; she provided him solace. At night, by the fireplace, both of them sat. He would sometimes tell her stories about the creatures he met. She would relive tales of the people she lived with before.
At one point, Tessa unnoticeably told him about Jem. She would usually avoid speaking of him, but that night was the same night she held him in his arms as he cried for Will. She recounted her thoughts, the emotions that coursed through her as she watched her fiancé breaking down. Tears hazed her vision as she remembered.
"Have I made the wrong choice, Magnus? Sometimes, I look back and remember the could-have-beens. What if I chose Will? What if he was still alive? Did his death put the answer in my hands? I just wonder sometimes, if I really loved Will. Will he still be here? Will Jem still be here?" She laughed humorlessly, her tear-stained face sad. "I just don't trust myself anymore."
Magnus knelt beside her, taking her small hands. "For a while, you might have thought I am biased with Will, but he made his own decisions. James made his. You made yours. Never lose trust in yourself. It's one thing you can assure yourself. If all else fails, you know yourself and what you can do. James took the leap, and you allowed him to take you. If you don't love him, how else could love be defined?"
It was the moment she knew she found a friend.
He found redemption.
It was in the mid 1970's. Done with the task of killing Yanluo, he packed his bags and decided to tour the world. His inheritance left him much, and the Clave paid him well for cleaning the mess the demons made. He was ready to take deep breaths and to search for himself.
Walking down the streets of Alicante, he observed his surroundings. Alicante is a beauty in his standards, small houses lined up on streets with Shadowhunters of all ages walking down the streets.
As he passed by one of the manors, he noticed one boy who seemed lost.
The boy's moped hair was combed back, giving the young one an air of aristocracy. He seemed finely dressed, not a stain on his shirt. He was holding a notepad and a pen, which was covered with scrawny handwriting. Jem reckoned the boys because he was biting his lower lip.
"Are you lost?" Jem gently inquired. The boy looked up to him.
Blue eyes, deeper than sapphire stones embedded in the crowns of kings and queens, gazed at him. Jem's breath hitched; the blue undoubtedly of the Herondales. Jem tried to get a grip on himself before the boy panics.
"I think I am, sir. Are you? Lost?" The boy asked back. Jem could recognize the tone of his voice. Undoubtedly Herondale.
"No. I'm on a journey, and this is part of my route," Jem explained. "May I ask what your name is?"
"My mother told me not to talk to strangers," the boy answered haughtingly. Jem almost laughed.
"I am no stranger. I am but a Shadowhunter with no intention of harming you. I merely want to ask your name because you remind me of someone I once knew," politely, Jem replied.
The boy thought over his answer and heard no lie. He offered his hand. "My name is Stephen, sir. Stephen Herondale."
Jem's heart beat furiously on his chest. Herondale. Herondale. The name rung in his ears. In his face was surprise, disbelief. How come? He dug in his mind for something – some proof that the boy really was a blood kin of his late parabatai.
"Do you know Cecily?" Jem questioned.
Stephen nodded. "Yes, sir. She is my great-grandmother."
Great-grandmother. But Cecily was a woman! How—
"If she was your great-grandmother, how did—"
"Because my grandfather was mundane. Shadowhunters prefer to take old and Nephilim names. You should know that, shouldn't you?"
Jem lifted his head, seeing the newcomer. Stephen's face quickly lit up, his small body hugging the woman. The woman patted his head before giving Jem a look. Recognition flashed on her face. She gazed at him in incredulity.
"James Carstairs?" Her voice was quiet. Jem nodded.
The woman's face broke in awe and happiness. She took Jem's hands into hers. "I have heard so much about you from my grandmother."
Jem let the woman shake his hand. "And you are?"
"Imogen. Imogen Herondale."
Cecily had lived and had a family. The Herondale line was carried on. Jem was looking at the two descendants of his parabatai. He was almost in tears, overwhelmed by what he has discovered. To think that out of all people, he had to cross ways with them. It must be destined, that the lineages of Carstairs and Herondales be intertwined.
Jem was not able to help himself. He took the two in his arms.
It felt close to home.
There was a series of loud knocks on the door.
Tessa was roused from her sleep. Looking at the clock, she groaned. It was way past midnight. Magnus promised her that he would not let his midnight escapades disturb her. Clearly, he was forgetful tonight.
Wrapping herself with a robe, as she was accustomed all these years, she trudged down the steps of Magnus's abode. She fixed her hair, detangling the waves. Removing the remaining traces of sleep in her face, she looked at the hole on the door.
At their porch, a redheaded woman stood, frantically looking back and forth. In her arms, she held a bundle of white cloth. Tessa was curious of what she was holding. Warily, she unlocked the door.
"The sound of the door opening made the woman look up. "Is Magnus Bane here?"
It was her physical features that struck her. Red tresses haphazardly tied to the back. Green eyes, hopeful and afraid, stared back at her. The gentleness and vulnerability reminded her of a pregnant Charlotte. Tessa's throat almost constricted.
"What in the Angel's name is—" Magnus began to whine.
"Magnus, I think I need your help here," Tessa called, her eyes never straying away from the woman.
Magnus approached the door. A flash of recognition passed his face. He gave her a welcoming grin. "To what do I owe this pleasure, Jocelyn Fairchild-Morgenstern?"
Tessa froze in her place.
Jem would always visit the Herondales whenever he's in Idris.
He would normally visit during the change of seasons on the mundane world. If not, he would be there on special occasions. The family adored him. Imogen was a good hostess, and so was her husband. Stephen called him his hero, always asking questions about his parabatai.
The new set of Herondales made it easier for Jem to open up and heal. They never filled Will's role in his life, no matter what blood run through their veins. Will is his parabatai, his brother, his sworn half.
At night, he would find himself in the library, finding solace on the shelves that held words from years ago. At times, he would just breeze through the corridors, inhaling the scents of leather and parchment, imagining his old life. At times, he would be in the mood to read. At first, he avoided the books that he knew Will and Tessa once read. But at one point, he stopped restraining himself, picking up a copy of The Tale of Two Cities and began reading. Two nights after, he picked another familiar title. Reading them seemingly patched his open scars, slowly closing them. There was closure, and it assured him healing.
Stephen once found him slumped in one of the library tables late at night. The boy, now at seventeen, obviously just came from some escapade with his girl, Amatis Greymark. Stephen would usually ask for wisdom from him, and Jem would share his words to calm the ecstatic Stephen. After the talks, Stephen would not notice the bittersweet smile on Jem's lips.
That night, however, was the eye-opener.
Stephen was nervous as he entered the library. He was dressed for sleep, his hands dug deep into his pockets. Jem noticed the furrow on his forehead and the pallor of his skin.
"What's the matter, young Herondale?" Jem would always address him as such.
Stephen took a deep breath. "I have a question."
"Speak, and it shall be answered."
"How do you ask a girl her hand for marriage?"
Jem was hit by waves of nostalgia. He brushed the family ring in his hand, his thoughts back to the moment when he and Tessa were to act as betrothed. It never entered his mind that time that the play pretend would be real.
A thought occurred to him. We are still engaged.
Guilt washed over Jem's body in buckets. They are engaged, and not because they are not together physically and haven't seen each other for almost a century, didn't mean that the engagement is invalid. The missing necklace of his mother proved that they are still bound by their promises of each other.
"Would it be fair that I have got no one to counsel me when I asked the woman I love for marriage, and you'll have me?" Jem attempted to lighten the mood, but his heart was heavy in his chest.
Such a selfish bastard.
"You are engaged?" Stephen's eyes were wide. Jem nodded.
"How so? You never mentioned… You do not look like you've been visiting your fiancée," Stephen mused.
"We may be immortal, but that doesn't mean we have to be together. You know my story, young Herondale. If I wish not to be found, then I won't be."
"You are a fool," Stephen judged, his words unwavering. "You are a fool for letting love slip by like that."
"Tell me why," Jem dared.
"If you love someone, stop fighting it. It will only hurt both of you. It doesn't matter if you're immortal or not. Are you even sure she's still walking on the same world as you? Immortals may live forever, but it does not mean that bodily harm won't happen. If you love her, fight for her, not fight her," Stephen explained in conviction.
"Won't it bother you that she loved, and probably still loves, your great-great-grandfather? You know William, the brother of Cecily."
Dropping the bomb did not faze Stephen. He glared at him with much hardness. "If she said yes to you and she never left you, who do you think she loves more?"
Jem was at loss for words.
Tessa watched as the festivities went on in full swing.
She was not really supposed to come. Magnus forced her, and she had no choice because he could threat her. She allowed herself to be dragged, but drew a line about her not being seen by anyone but him. Magnus complied, knowing how stubborn Tessa is.
She observed the Lightwoods, which Magnus pointed to her. He was so elated when he pointed to one of their brood. Tessa nearly lost herself; the blue eyes and the black hair was Will's, even if the face was not as striking as his. She was not able to breathe properly until Magnus introduced the boy as Alec, his boyfriend. Thoughts of Magnus lusting after Will years ago entered her mind; Magnus was quick to pick up and assured her that it was all coincidental. Next was Isabelle, with the same black mane but different eyes; she was strikingly like Sophie in appearance. Magnus told her of their recently deceased younger brother, and her heart ached for the family.
Tessa easily recognized Jocelyn, who was in the arms of a man. The woman was almost deliriously happy. Tessa smiled; she had not seen her like this with Valentine. Magnus told her about the man – Lucian Greymark, commonly known Luke, is the leader of the pack in New York. Tessa could not contain her smirk; Shadowhunters really had the streak of marrying out of their kind.
Her smugness failed when her eyes landed to a couple wrapped in a warm embrace.
She could easily make up the boy's face. The coloring of his hair may be different, but the strong forehead, the prominent jaw – they were unmistakable. He opened his eyes and gazed at wonder on the girl in her arms; she knew two people who looked at her that way, and this one is obviously related to one of them. The girl – Clary, she knew, because of her visits with her mother – returned the look. All of a sudden, as if Clary sensed her, she turned her head to Tessa's direction.
She used magic to be somewhere else as soon as possible.
Magnus would grill her once he returned, but Tessa would deal with her later.
Tonight was supposed to be a night of celebration, but it turned out to be a remembrance of what she lost.
For the first time in years, Tessa cried herself to sleep.
They met again during Tessa's visit on the book store the Greymarks owned.
Magnus was out again, probably fooling around with Alec. Tessa did not mind. The only thing she wished for now was books, and a lot of them. She would get herself lost in the pages of the books, let herself be carried away until she could barely remember the present.
Jem knew she would be there. He met Luke in one of his tours, learning about his condition and befriending him. He was one of the reasons why Jem trusted Downworlders better now. Modern day changes caused improvements with the treatment of the two races with each other.
Inhale. Exhale. He opened the door of the book store.
Jem patiently waited for Tessa to decide which books to purchase. He stood behind the shelf nearest the counter, trying to be inconspicuous despite the odd coloring of his hair and eyes. He pulled the hat closer to his head.
"That will be $487.50, Tessa," Jocelyn said, reading the computation from the cash register. Just as Tessa was counting her bills, Jem moved his hand out and placed a bill on the counter.
Tessa's eyes shot up.
Having a conversation with a fellow Shadowhunter on a coffee shop would have been odd for Tessa, if she does not know the man she was with.
Jem sipped from his mug, his thin lips resting on the rim. Tessa closed her eyes, controlling the coils of desire from her insides. The mere action aroused her. Years ago, on a different time and a different place, Tessa would drink in the grace Jem exudes with his every action. Now, more than a century since she last saw him, she was still enamored.
"How have you been?" Jem cautiously asked.
"I've been… Well," the seriousness returned. "How about you?"
"I've been searching for myself," Jem answered in honesty.
"And have you? Found yourself?"
A year after their reunion, they returned to the London Institute.
The new residents of the Institute welcomed them warmly. They were curious of the invitation they received from a Mr. Carstairs & Ms. Gray, friends of the late Charlotte and Henry Branwell, who are planning to visit the infamous grave of the Shadowhunter at the gardens of the Institute. They had not heard or studied of the surnames. At the arrival of the two, they were all surprised.
The two figures who stood in front of them were the same of the two figures who were painted on the portrait at the library. Jem and Tessa quickly visited that part of the Institute. They held each other for a long time after seeing the portrait. It was the three of them – Jem, Tessa and Will - immortalized by brushes and paint. Jem noticed the signature on the lower right side of the painting.
They asked the head of the Institute if they could bury something else beside the infamous grave. The head obliged, clearly in wonder of his visitors. They were left in their own devices.
It was Jem who dug a shallow depression beside Will's grave. He placed the old container of his yin fen, now empty and old, to the ground. He covered the hole with Tessa's help.
"Ave atque vale, William Herondale," he could finally utter.
Tessa took his hand.
Together, they went home.
It was not a peaceful reunion.
They volleyed words back to each other, scathing, hurtful, but honest. Sometimes, they both wondered if they had been too honest that it was destroying the remaining pieces of their relationship. Both of them would holler spiteful statements, crushing the heart of the other. Now that they have grown and changed, there was more heat – more tension – stored from years of separation.
Tessa never imagined slapping Jem. It was something she would preferably do to Will, if he was still alive. Tessa forgot that this man in front of her had years of sharpening his tongue through Will, and years of fighting vicious creatures that forced him to slip from the kind soul that he is. He learned to harbor hate, to let his anger get the best of him. He knew of revenge, of thirst for blood, of victor and healing alone. He fought so much in his life, and yet he survived.
Jem took note of Tessa being stronger and more closed-off. She was quick to retort and more calculated in her plans. He never took Tessa as indifferent; she was the most sensitive with regards to people close to her. Tessa tested him, building layer after layer of wall that he didn't hesitate to break. It didn't matter if his discoveries of her broke his heart. He was the one who left, and he took responsibility into fixing what was broken and making them stronger.
And they did it. They tried. They survived. They loved.
They fulfilled forever.
As she walked down the aisle, her hands on a bouquet of roses, she smiled. The double-doors opened. Tessa saw Jem, and he Tessa. He also smiled.
At long last.