Mrs Dark and Mrs Black were cruel.
They had snatched him up one night, when he was wandering through the wet, damp streets of the London alleyways. He was looking for scraps.
As early as he could remember, he was born in a box, shivered in a box with sibling and was spat at when he darted between carts.
At first, he had wondered if he had been picked up by an old widow, as some of his siblings had been, years ago. But quickly, his instincts had him attempting to struggle out of the woman's iron grip. It felt wrong. There was something terribly wrong with the duo.
They had grabbed him roughly, ignoring his claws and teeth, shoving him into a tiny cage.
He had bit at the bars, hissing with fear.
Then a brutal fight had broke out, outside his confines. When the silence that followed became deafening, a silver figure came into view. A boy- though not like any one he had ever seen before- knelt by the cage, making soothing noises.
He pressed himself against the far side of the cage when the boy had opened his cage. The cat did not have good experience with humans. Most were quick to throw rocks or aim kicks his way. When the human stuck his hand further into the cage, he clawed at it angrily. To his surprise, the human did not strike out at him, nor curse, but patiently waited. After minutes of coaxing, he came forward, shivering and relishing the warmth of the human's hand.
"Hello, little one. I'm Jem."
His name was Church, according to the one with silver hair. He was a nuisance, according to the one with dark hairs and cruel words. It was obvious which one he preferred.
Church was brought into a lovely house, that smelled particularly strange. A pretty woman with a scar had taken him from the arms of his rescuer and whisked him off to a bath –yeuch- before gently toweling him dry and taking him to the kitchens to be fed scraps. He couldn't remember being this full ever and was beginning to wonder if the silver-haired one was an angel.
In the following months, he became accustomed to padding through the halls of "the Institute" as Jem had told him. He relished laying on steps and startling the one his friend called "Will".
He rather liked his companions and their constant bustling ways.
Henry's workshop was a place he was very fond of. The man was constantly fussing about with new contraptions and making amusing exclamations.
Another place was the kitchen. Bridget and Agatha were always kind enough to feed him scraps and sometimes, Jem would hide choice cuts of whatever fish was in season for Church. He was rapidly gaining weight.
The library had perfect spots of sunlight and smelt of wood and ink. Jem and Will spent much time conspiring there and sometimes, Tessa would come and pet him as he read.
His favorite place, though, was Jem's room. It was orderly, the sheets were warm and Jem always had time to let Church nuzzle his cheek or nap in his lap. Sometimes, Church would paw at the container Jem kept his instrument in and Jem would mock-sigh before lifting the violin to his shoulder.
With a wink, he would ask,
"What music would be your pleasure today, Master Church? Chopin perhaps? Or perhaps the lively strains of Strauss or Mozart?"
Church would meow along to the draw of the bow to the strings, watching Jem's fingers fly over the instrument.
When Jem was sick, Church would curl up beside him, hoping to give his master warmth. His face would get pale, his fingers would get so cold and Church would wind around him, licking the callused pads to bring warmth to them.
Only then, was he and Will at a truce.
The one who smelt like magic and wore powders that shone and tickled Church's nose had come to find him.
Church had taken to crawling into the covers of the bed his old friend used to occupy. He could still smell the burnt sweet smell at the pillow and hissed angrily whenever anyone came in to attempt to change the sheets.
It wasn't that he didn't like the maid who had always been so gentle with Jem, but he couldn't bear to have them replace his scent with the plain, startling smell of lye and water as they tried.
When the strong hands pried the sheets off Church's head, he bristled, ready to claw at whoever was disturbing his nap.
"Church". Magnus's voice was firm. His clever fingers found the spot between Church's shoulder-blades that instantly relaxed him. The warlock carefully held the cat, looking him in the eye.
"We're going on a trip, alright, you little furball?"
Church looked at him with suspicion.
"Jem isn't going to be back, so I thought I'd treat you to a world-trip with the glorious me. I was thinking New York. You can find new smells, new sights and maybe meet some new feline friends."
In the end, Church had left the Institute with Magnus. Though it was still his home, many things had changed and he could not lay in Jem's bed forever. Besides, he had gotten so many of his own hairs around the room it was beginning to smell like him. He couldn't remember the feel of Jem's finger carding through his fur anymore.
It was time to go.
He loved the city by the sea, with a mirade of different accents, foods and fish. The New York Institute became his new home.
He still missed Jem though and no other human had his old rescuer's kindness, soft voice and clever hands. He was wont to sneak out of the Institute and find Magnus, the most familiar figure he knew.
In this way, years passed. Other Shadowhunters came and went and the most familiar family arrived.
Lightwoods, even over generations, still retained their fluid movements and clever, knowing eyes. It was comforting, being surrounded by the stability of Shadowhunter blood lines.
If he could talk, he would tell Alec he had the eyes of the man Jem loved. He would tell Isabelle she had the same inner strength as her namesake. He would even tell Max that his hair reminded him of the unruly nature of one particularly honorable Lightwood.
Instead, he spent most of his time in the library, nearly identical to the one that Jem always sat in with Will. The table-top were far too pristine so Church set about rectifying that issue by setting upon the surface with his claws in imitation of two bored boys.
Church's eyes perked up at the familiar but foreign voice. It was impossible though, was it not?
This voice belonged to one who was carried out of his room, by figures with long robes, who had cried out in pain and agony and whose voice was hoarse with use.
He had not heard that voice in years he could not even count. Sometimes, the only reminder that it was not a dream was the occasional times he would sneak out and meet with the gentle girl with brown hair. She would pet him, knowing all the places that pleased him the most. Jem had shown her one day and she had been a good student.
"Church, are you there?"
Church peeked over the edge of the shelf he had been napping on, confused and annoyed at the cruel trick that someone was evidently playing on him. His claws were sharpened and he would show human what it was like to be born a predator.
Still, the sight before him was not a trick.
This boy no longer looked like his old master, the one who had so gently carried him out of his cage. He didn't feel like the one who would sneak him snacks whenever he was able. He didn't smell like the boy who could wring the most beautiful music out of his violin that Church would lay on his bed and listen to, the warmth of the sun on his back. He didn't sound like the Shadowhunter who would quietly call out his name and laugh when Church moved to lick the tip of his nose.
But this was him. Church knew. A familiar, beautiful girl with brown hair stood by him. The Lightwood boy with blue eyes had evidently come to show them where he was. Seeing the trio made his heart ache in ways he couldn't explain.
Church had waited so long for this one, with his soft eyes and his easy smile.
With two bounds off the top of the bookshelf, Church leaped into the open arms which held more strength than he remembered, and nuzzled a cheek that was no longer as hollow as it was hundreds of years ago. He licked a temple that was no longer as dark and fragile.
Jem was back.