Here lies the grave of James Carstairs – a friend, a son and a brother. A man who died protecting another person. James died with bravery and honour.
A lot of graves usually don't have the cause of death written on the tombstone, but Will felt it was right to engrave it on there. Jem would have wanted it there. He was a light and open person.
Will could still remember his funeral, held five years before. That's right. William Herondale was twenty-two years old now – running his family business with his sister. And where was Tessa?
In New York. She had left after the funeral, leaving London to go to her aunt. Will understood of course, but it hurt. She had left. Leaving Will to deal with his demons alone.
The funeral was a somber occasion – like most funerals were. Will tried not to cry. He tried to be brave – just like Jem was, but he found himself crumbling. Tears, silent tears, slid down his cheeks. He had a feeling James was watching over him, smiling at him and giving all the comfort he could give. Even after death, Will knew that Jem would give all he had to help him.
"James Carstairs. He was my brother," Will had said. "He was a man, not a boy, but a man who gave everything he had to others. Jem sacrificed all that he had for me, for his friends, for his family. But he never once complained. Personal loyalty was his flaw. His only one flaw. After he had given so much of himself to others, he had nothing left for himself.
But Jem always put on a brave face. He never backed down," Will said. By this point, tears were flooding his eyes. Will shut them, blinking the salty water away. "During funerals, what would happen is that you would say nice things about the one who died and you would put the coffin six feet under. Well, I'm changing it up," Will announced. "Screw you, James!" he yelled at the top of his lungs.
Gasps sounded in the chapel, yet everyone remained silent. Tessa, who was sitting in the front row gave Will a knowing, sad smile. "You absolute, idiotic moron! And I would say even worse if we weren't in a church," Will screamed at the top of his lungs to the ceiling. Somehow, Will knew that Jem was smiling. This was Will's way of saying: I love you.
"Why, James? You could have had a happy life. A wonderful girlfriend, maybe even wife," Will said, looking at Tessa. "A nice home. Me, the godfather of your children, of course," Will smirked. He continued to stare at the ceiling as he spoke. "You promised me that you would be with me when we grew old with our wives and children and grandchildren. You said that we would be old and wrinkly and playing poker while we watched our children play."
Will's voice broke. His crying blue eyes became dazed, lost even. But his empty gaze sent chills over the crowd as he stared at the people gathered again. "You promised," Will whispered. "But I know, you will still be there. Even in death, you give your all," Will smiled wryly. "You're an absolute idiot, you know that, James?" Will asked, as if James was right in front of him. "But I love you anyways, because it is those things, your idiocy and loyalty, that make me love you, my brother. I am not going to say goodbye when I throw my rose into the grave along with your body. Because it is not goodbye. You're still here. Watching over us. You were always our guardian angel."
"Hey, bro," Will said. "Happy birthday," Will grinned. He was taking to a tombstone, but he felt as if Jem was sitting right on it, mirroring his grin. Will could still remember Jem's face – as clear as day, for he stared at the picture of the four of them – Will, Jem, Cecily and Tessa – every day before he left for work.
"You know Rebecca right – that girl from work. My secretary. She practically glommed onto me and was trying to kiss me! Can you believe it, James?" Will asked. "Everybody thinks hot secretaries are cool and whatever, but honestly? Eww. And I learned that she was actually thirty-four. Talk about desperate!" Will cried. He could imagine Jem's smirk and light laugh. "I know what you're going to say. That I'm completely and utterly irresistible and it's totally my fault," Will chuckled. "Or that I'm a psychopath but let's go with the former."
"I brought beer, Jem," Will said, lifting up two beer cans. He placed one on the tombstone and popped open his. Raising his can, he declared, "To hot secretaries – that actually aren't hot but cover themselves with an inch of makeup."
He took a swig of his beer and belched. "How much do you want to bet that you can't beat me?" Will challenged. It was pathetic, maybe, to talk to a dead person, but it was how Will coped.
"I place ten dollars on Jem," a new voice said. Will whirled around to see a woman, wearing a white pea coat with gray Uggs.
"Tessa," Will breathed.
"Jem was born in the winter," Tessa stated. "But he was always so warm," she smiled sadly.
Will grimaced. "You're back," he said simply.
Tessa smiled up at Will. Her hair had grown out, falling into darker tresses than before. "I'm back," Tessa said.
"For good?" Will asked hopefully.
Tessa only smiled slightly. "Nope," she said, grinning. Will's heart sank, frowning immediately. His heart was breaking all over again. "I'm going wherever you go."
Will looked up again, staring at the girl – now woman – that he had loved and still did and always will. The girl that Jem and Will both loved.
"I…" Will was shocked speechless.
"You hear that Jem?" Tessa asked, peering at Jem's tombstone. "I just shocked William Herondale into silence. That's number twenty-seven on my bucket list."
"You have a bucket list?" Will asked.
Tessa nodded. "After Jem… left," Tessa said – Will noticed she didn't say died, and he flashed back to his speech during Jem's funeral, "I started a bucket list. Human lives are short. And Jem made me see that. These past couple years – I finished most of it."
That was what she had been doing. "I went to Paris and stood on the top of the Eiffel Tower," Tessa said. "I visited every continent there was. I rode a rollercoaster and…"
"Really, Tess? A rollercoaster?" Will laughed.
"They're scary," Tessa defended. Will raised his hands in mock surrender. "There's just one thing I'm missing."
"What?" Will asked.
"To walk down the aisle, dressed in white and to meet the man I love at the altar. To say our vows and live happily ever after."
Will was stunned. And silent. "James. I just did it again. Double check on twenty-seven," Tessa grinned.
"Is that your subtle way of asking to marry me?" Will smirked.
"I guess so."
Will was surprised. Again. "But… we just met again. After five years."
"Distance and time does not diminish love, Will," Tessa said gently.
Love. Tessa said it. Love. The L word. But to Will, love was no longer that word. He now used it all the time. For his sister. For Jem. For his mother and even sometimes his father – who had laid off a bit.
For Tessa. "Don't I need to um… court you or something?" Will asked, rubbing the back of his neck.
Then Tessa began laughing. "Court me? What are we in? 1894?"
Will scowled. "But I'm doing this properly later," Will said.
"Whatever. We can go to Vegas if we wanted to," Tessa laughed. "All that matters is you, me and Jem."
Tessa once again eyed Jem's tombstone. "You brought me to this milestone, James. And I thank you – so much. Happy birthday," she said quietly.
Tessa and Will spent more time at the grave of their best friend, James Carstairs, laughing happily. Will hadn't felt like that in a long time.
"We should go, Will. It's getting late," Tessa said, standing up. Will checked his phone. It was late. Almost nine. Will nodded, taking Tessa's hand and lacing their fingers together. Will dropped a quick kiss onto Tessa's lips before walking away with her, the beer can still on Jem's tombstone.
As they continued to walk, Will looked behind him.
And there Jem was. But now he had silver hair and silver eyes – looking more ethereal than ever. He was dressed all in white and wings, beautiful and breathtaking wings billowed out from behind him. In one hand was the beer can and Jem took a swig of it.
Take care of her for me, angel Jem mouthed. Take care, my brother.
And Jem disappeared – along with the beer can.
Will smiled. He was a guardian angel. Jem was Sydney Carton - the one who sacrificed.
Thank you, Jem. For everything.
Tessa walked down the aisle – old friends surrounding her, standing as the blushing bride entered. Tessa was clutching her brother, Nathaniel Gray's arm, as they walked.
Jessamine and Cecily were walking in front of her. Her bridesmaids. Cecily had married Gabriel Lightwood. Jessamine with… her brother. But somehow Tessa wasn't surprised. Jessamine always seemed to have a crush on him. Sophie and Gideon had married long before and now it was Tessa's turn.
And there Will was, dashing in his suit, in fine black and white.
Tessa was indeed dressed in white – in a corseted Victorian lace dress. It was the same dress Tessa wore to the Halloween evening so long ago. This time, there was no masks. Everything was revealed. Her love for Will, his love for her – and the love everyone shared.
They said their vows. They kissed. They were bound.
It was that simple.
But Tessa and Will were bound long before that. But they were only a third of a soul. The last third belonged to Jem Carstairs, who was still there and always watching.
Several years later, when little James Herondale with his baby sister, Lucie, began running around the large backyard, James pointed to the sky.
"Do you see that, Lucie?" James asked in his cute five year old voice.
"What?" Lucie asked, straining to see what James was pointing at.
"I see wings."
In the end, it was Jem's story. :)
OMGEES. IT'S DONE.
IT'S. FREAKING. DONE.
can you believe this? Secrets, Literature and Sydney Carton is done.
And we had made it to FIVE HUNDRED REVIEWS. AND SOO MANY FAVOURITE AND FOLLOWS AND GAAH. WE DID IT! WOO!
Some of you may be unsatisfied because of the ending. I mean the wedding was fairly rushed - but it wasn't suppose to be ALL ABOUT TESSA AND WILL.
i made the last chapter about Jem, cuz he deserves it.
AND THIS CONCLUDES SLSC. byeees!