This is from Jem's mother's point of view. She is going to remain unnamed for several reasons. One, because Clare hasn't given us a name for her. Two, because it doesn't feel right calling her Mrs Carstairs. And three, because I feel more comfortable keeping her nameless.
In here, she will be calling Jem 'Jian', which is his Chinese name. He also calls her Mama (as in the Chinese way), but his father as 'father', because I think he will switch between Chinese and English with his parents.
Her baby. Her little boy. Her Jian was hurt.
A guttural, blood-curdling scream was heard again. She felt her husband shift beside her, his face shadowed by regret and horror. Her wrists were burning from the shackles, her ankles chaffed and bleeding. She knew her husband was in the same state.
The two were in a dark room; the only light was a flickering candle which sputtered every time the wind blew. They were bound by metal chains which wrapped around their four limbs and closed in on their necks. They had been prisoners for a few days already, but hunger and thirst was forgotten as she tried again and again to think of a plan to let her most treasured person escape. That treasured person was in front of them, barely five metres away: their son, James Carstairs.
She had never really taken to calling him James. Only her husband did that. No. To her, he was Jian. Her precious, adorable son. He was so small, so tiny, so helpless. She needed to protect him. She needed to shield him from the horrors of the world. He was too young to experience them yet.
Unfortunately, Heaven did not agree.
Something stirred in the darkness and a pair of glowing red eyes appeared. She was not afraid of him. She was not afraid of the demon, Yanluo. She and her husband could take care of themselves. But with Jian here…
"Let him go!" she shouted. "Let my boy go!"
She struggled against the chains, but they only reached so far. If she and Jian both stretched, their fingertips would only be a few centimetres away from each other. He was right there, and yet she couldn't touch him. It was so infuriating, but she knew this was what Yanluo had planned.
"You and your mate killed my litter," the demon rasped. "So watch now as your own child suffers."
A scaly hand reached out slowly towards Jian. His brown eyes were wide with fear, but he did not utter a sound. He was trembling, but he locked gazes with his mother.
"Jian," she whispered. "I'll get you out, I promise."
Yanluo's hand encircled Jian's neck. The boy gasped; the demon's skin was burning him. He struggled against the chains, flailing about helplessly.
"James!" her husband roared. "You filthy being! Let go of him! Don't touch my son!"
Yanluo shuffled a little closer to the light, enough so that his whole arm was visible. Slowly, with seemingly great care, Yanluo forced Jian's head back. His other arm came into view, and within his vast palm was a small vial of something. The lid was already off, and with obvious pleasure, the demon tipped its contents into Jian's open mouth. Then, he let him go.
Jian spluttered for a second, before his face turned very, very white. Then, he started coughing violently, scratching at his cheeks and then clawing his chest. Another horrible, twisting shriek was heard.
"Get it out!" Jian bawled. "It hurts! Mama, get it out, please!"
She couldn't do anything. Her own son was begging her to help, but she was stuck. She forced her chains to its limits, trying, trying, trying to get to her little boy.
"Jian!" she cried desperately. "Jian! Jian!"
The boy was in a foetal position, curled tightly into a ball as his body rocked with pain. In the background, amidst her panicked yells, she heard Yanluo cackling. A fury and hatred like no other rose within her. How dare he? How dare Yanluo capture her own child to use against them? She would never forgive him. As soon as she was free, she would give Yanluo as much torture as she could possibly inflict.
A little part of her told her that she wouldn't be getting out of this bind. She ignored it.
Jian had grown quiet, save for the quiet sounds of his sobs, which then eventually stopped. His forehead was sweaty and his ragged clothes were stuck to his skin. Dimly, she noticed that there were tear tracks down her own face. This surprised her somewhat. It had been a very long time since she had cried.
"Jian," she said, hoping, hoping, hoping that he would answer her. He had suddenly grown too still for her liking. "Jian, answer me. Jian!"
A small hand moved, and to her relief, Jian opened his striking eyes again. He peered at his parents through a fringe of black hair, and when he saw his mother staring at him frantically, he said, "Mama. Father."
She almost cried.
"Let's go again, shall we?" Yanluo said. Dread bloomed in her heart.
"No!" she barked. "No! This is enough. You've done it enough times already."
The demon paused, then said, "This process has been repeated for a few days already. I think that is far too little."
Terror engulfed her. Jian would not be able to survive for long if this kept up. They had only been allowed a bottle of water once, but no food. Yanluo wanted to keep them alive–but just barely. She knew that he would kill her and her husband, but she would go to the demon world herself before letting Jian's life go to waste because of their carelessness.
"Father," Jian murmured again. He was barely conscious. Her fear reached its climax once again. If he went to sleep, would he ever wake up? Would her son succumb to the disastrous effects of Yanluo's drug? "Mama."
At the sound of his voice, she resisted the urge to start weeping hysterically. She was no mother. She had failed as his parent. No mother should have allowed her own child to become a prisoner of a demon. If she was a real mother, Jian wouldn't even be here. He would not be going through these horrors and fighting for his life. He would not be slumped here in a dirty cellar with poison coursing through his blood.
"Jian." A small sound escaped her lips. She heard Yanluo sigh.
"You half-breeds are boring me," Yanluo muttered. "I should just kill you now."
The scarlet eyes fixed onto her. She knew what was coming, but she tried to make on last effort to save her son.
"Let Jian go," she said again. "Let him go, and you can kill us."
"We should be enough for you," her husband continued. He sounded weary and so, so tired. Nevertheless, she still loved the sound of his voice. It was one of the things she had first noticed about him. The deep, calm tones that soothed her whenever she was harried, whenever she was upset, whenever she just needed to calm down.
Yanluo made no indication that he had heard them. He turned to Jian, who had grown agitated. "Mama," Jian said. "Father. No. What–what are you talking about? Don't go. Don't leave me."
"Watch, boy. Watch as the light fades from your parents' eyes. This as a warning to never take anything away from me again," Yanluo growled.
There was the sound of a heavy weight being moved, and Yanluo's two hands once again came snaking out of the darkness. It was coming towards her and the man whom she spent the best years of her life with.
"My husband," she said. She reached around blindly for his hand, and when she found it, squeezed it tight. "I'll see you in the afterlife."
"My time with you has been priceless," he murmured back.
Yanluo's hot fingers were on her neck. He was planning to snap it, then. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw that the demon's other hand was on her husband's throat as well.
"Jian," she said. Her little boy was staring at her in shock, as if he couldn't believe what was happening. "Jian, I love you. I love you so much."
"I've always been so proud to have you as my son, James," her husband said. She detected a smile in that statement.
"Wait," Jian whispered.
My beautiful, beautiful boy. You have been the joy of my life, a treasure that can never be replaced, she thought, gazing at him fondly. Yanluo's grip tightened. Live, Jian. Live on.
"Wait," Jian screamed. He threw himself against the chains, trying to reach her. "Mama! Don't go! Father!"
There were two sickening cracks.
And as the bodies slumped forwards, a heart-wrenching howl of anguish echoed through the room.
Huh. Why do I always write such sad fics for The Infernal Devices series?
I really hope the mother thing was realistic. I don't have any kids myself, so I'm not sure if this was accurate.