Another oneshot that came to mind!

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Disclaimer: Cassandra Clare owns all.

Clary took a deep breath as she stared up at the large Victorian chapel. It was run-down and fairly old; to a mere mundane the decaying and ruined church would have seemed like the perfect place to create mischief. It looked foreboding and daunting; a forbidden place that made them yearn to explore. But its true image, not clouded by glamour, illusion and artifice, was of a stunning Institute; alluring in its own appeal.

The New York Institute; to be seen by only the eyes of another world, one separated from the human existence. For the eyes of lycanthropes and vampires; of fairies, warlocks and witches; of the ominous and menacing demons that lurked in each shadow and damp corner. For the eyes of the warriors made of virtuousness and purity but with the same taste for righteousness as demons had for corruption. The warriors made to extinguish the darkness of the world and to keep the humans settled safely at night; children of the Angels.

The Shadowhunters.

Clary glanced down at her attire; the black jacket she wore crossed over her chest covering every inch of skin and fit her snuggly, the black stretch pants to match fit just as well but allowed for freedom to kick, flip, and jump with ease. The combat boots, made for easy escape and balance, were perfect as she stood on her tip toes before going back to the balls of her feet. Her fingerless, leather gloves made it easier for her to grip her blade as she curled her hands into fists before unclenching them.

Clarissa Fairchild had always known she was a Shadowhunter; it had been deep in her veins and engraved in her bones for as long as she could remember, from the moment she had picked up one of her mother's kitchen knives and hurled it perfectly across the room where it landed effortlessly in the roasted turkey. She had been only 6 at the time.

She sighed and tore a hand through her mess of deep red curls; like her mother, her curls were a profound color of red, not like the usual orangeish red but more like a mysterious auburn; though not exactly the color of such to be called auburn. It didn't resemble fire as much as it resembled a dark crimson.

Like blood.

Like death.

Like gore.

But, of course, who was to expect much out of her when she was his daughter. As the whispered voices of angered and suspicious Shadowhunter's said, she must have been part witch as well for the blood of innocent men and children were weaved into every curling strand upon her head. She could entice a man to her with her demonic eyes and reel him in before taking and destroying his soul. She could still hear them chanting now, hear their harsh whispers and pointed fingers; the feel of their callous stares.

You may look like your mother in image but you shall never be chaste. You have a dark heart; it is reflected in your eyes, Valentine's daughter.

Valentine's daughter.

She didn't know why they bothered, her mother and Luke. This was her 6th new Institute, her schooling had been put off for far too long by her mother, and this would just the same. They would take one look at her and turn away; they would see the evil that lay within her. The green eyes that were windows into her soul would be read and interpreted all before she even had a chance to introduce herself. But then again why would she have too? They would know who she was. Not the girl who was a powerful painter or the girl who was given a gift from the angels. She was the girl who had been conceived by Jocelyn and Valentine Morgenstern.

The girl that was to be damned.

Some would allow her to stay at their Institute out of some sick revenge to get back at a father who could have cared less if she was dead. He needed her for only one thing truly; that's what made her so special, her way with runes. She was a weapon, something uncontrolled and ruthless. Not even she knew how to control it and keeping back apart of herself never seemed to help her in Shadowhunter training.

A calm, cool hand lay in the small of her back as she turned her head. Her mother smiled down at her, only slightly taller because of the heeled boots she wore, and tried to give comfort from that one gesture. Clary had always wished she looked like she mother; a superior queen, her head held high and her face a perfect sculpture of elegance and beauty. Clary never held the air of confidence her mother did, as she walked now; the woman who was pointed at and talked about strutted toward the door of the Institute as if the building were to bow at her feet. Clary admired her, she wore the same label as her daughter; Valentine's wife.

Clary followed behind her, Luke directing her with a warm and fatherly hand on her shoulder. She soaked up all the affection Luke had to give, never needing anything else but his approval. If she could live up to his expectations it would be fine with her. He was practically her father after all. She could feel her body tensing as Jocelyn spoke her oath and the door swung open, her stomach swirling with nausea and nerves. Luke gave her shoulder an affection squeeze before throwing an arm around her shoulders and pulling her close. She curled into him instinctively just as she always did.

He placed a soft kiss to the top of her head when they reached the aged, fenced elevator. Clary had seen one similar to it in a movie once before. "Just be yourself." It was all he said, it was all he ever said. At first she used to exclaim that she was just being herself, that they never gave her a chance to show them who she was but it became too disheartening. She just waited now; for the inevitable.

As the elevator doors opened Clary felt her stomach fill with dread. Another family, another community against her existence, the feeling of disgust and repulsion was something Clary felt often from others and from herself. She had stared into the mirror and wished to become someone different; to become someone normal. But she was burned, like the sin was etched to her forehead for everyone to see.

Valentine's daughter.

Her mother walked swiftly from the elevator her soft curls lifting and softly falling down her back like red paint. Clary followed slowly behind; her mother wore her sin on her chest, like Hester did with her own adulterated sin. She never knew why; how could she be proud of the man she married? The man who she had shared a bed with? Had shared intimate vulnerability with? Clary hung back feeling more uncertain than she ever had before and Luke, as if sensing she needed the support, stayed back with her too.

She knew it was very unShadowhunter-like and cowardly but she found herself hiding her face in Luke's torso, letting her nose fill with the scent that she had always known Luke to have. He said nothing, just held her tighter; like he used to do when she was younger and had, had a nightmare or when the taunting became too much.


Clary could hear the surprise in a woman's voice, just as they usually were when they saw her. Her mother's voice was warmer than usual when she answered. "Maryse, it's wonderful to see you again."

"I wish I could say the same."

The icy tone in her voice said all that Clary needed to know. This would be just like all the rest of them; the stares, the harsh words, and the restless nights. "Maryse, please—"

"You shouldn't have come, Jocelyn, if he finds you here you will not only endanger yourself but everyone who also lives under this roof."

"What happened to taking in a Shadowhunter no matter the situation?" Her mother's voice was filled with cruel sarcasm matching Maryse's cold tone.

"This is not a situation; this is impending destruction. This is signing a death wish." Maryse answered in an incredulous tone.

"I thought out of everyone you would understand—"

"I understand perfectly what he has done. I think you forget, Jocelyn, I was also present for The Circle. I remember his false promises and underhanded schemes. I remember feeling as if I was a part of something bigger than whatever it truly was." Clary knew all about The Circle, the destruction and heartache it caused, but she said nothing as Luke squeezed her unconsciously tighter as if the demons of his past were coming for them and he was trying to protect her. But he couldn't, she knew that.

"This has nothing to do with you, Clary." Luke whispered against her hair but she couldn't help but feel guilty. He was tearing the world apart looking for her wasn't he? To use her for his own selfish gain.

"So, you would turn us away. We, who were your friends, your allies—" Clary could hear the desperation in her mother's voice but knew the finality of it all. They could not stay, they would have to leave. Yet again; another city, another place to call "home".

"I have no choice!" The woman yelled her voice filled with heartache and remorse. "Do you really think I want to do this? To simply turn my back on the woman who has never turned her back on me?" She sighed and there was a moment where no one spoke. "But you're asking me to endanger my family, Jocelyn. That's something I simply cannot do. You faced a similar decision once and you chose your daughter."

"Were we not family once?"

"You have to let them stay." Instead of the female voice from before it was a husky, deep voice that replied cutting off anything Maryse had to say. It sounded pleasant to the ears like velvet or cream.

Clary heard the woman sigh again; she could practically see the fingers that clenched the bridge of her nose. "Jace, please—"

"He's right, mom. You can't do that, not even for us." Another voice chimed in, this of much higher pitch but still as sultry as the first.

"You don't understand—"

"Never leave a man behind. That's what the mundanes say, isn't it? We're supposed to be stronger than them right? We are all Shadowhunters that makes us all family." The higher voice continued, it sounded like a girl but if she were young or not Clary had no clue.

"Besides, we're not untrained. I can take care of myself, in fact, let Valentine come. I'll take my blade and run it straight-through the bastard's heart."

"Now that is enough, Jace Christopher Lightwood, not another word!" The threat was clear and the authority from that one sentence had Clary frozen, her body automatically responding to the command. It was followed by silence and another guilty sigh. "As much as I wish it weren't true, the children are correct," Clary heard what sounded to be a snort but couldn't be sure. "I cannot simply turn you away although I truly wish to. You may stay, Jocelyn, but be warned; at the first sighting of Valentine you must immediately leave. He mustn't know you were here at all."

"Of course."

Clary didn't want to move as Luke pushed her forward, she wanted to stay wrapped in his arms; it was safe there with his warmth and affection surrounding her like a hug. But she wouldn't give them the satisfaction of knowing how much she hurt and loathed herself daily. She wouldn't let them see her weakness as she pulled out of Luke's arms and straightened out her black gear, which she had been forced to wear as a precautionary, and tried to walk with the strong form her mother always did.

She stopped in the doorway and looked back at Luke, who was staring at her with a peculiar look on his face. Almost like pride, though she had no idea why she would deserve it.

She nodded her head for him to follow as he flashed a grin at her and walked into the room behind her. Before her seated behind an official looking and nicely crafted maple desk was a tall, delicate-looking woman. Her black glossy hair was piled upon her head severely making her features look more dramatic. She was absolutely beautiful, even the scowl that seemed permanently placed on her face. She was intimidating, a woman of high stature like her mother; she had an air about her much like Clary's own mother and it almost made her feel a little more at home though it should have made her feel the opposite.

Seated perfectly in one of the lush chairs next to the desk was a young girl about Clary's age. Much like Clary she was the splitting image of her mother though less fragile looking. She looked sturdier and her eyes were a deep brown; not the piercing blue her mother had been blessed with. They regarded her with disinterest as if she were nothing special. Nothing of the usual detest she was use to, that always made her feel more comfortable. There was a boy perched beside her, more like a shadow; he had been blessed with the eyes of his mother as the deep blue oases prodded into her as if trying to unlock her mind. She could only make out one eye since the other was blocked by a chunk of lustrous black hair; as dark as ink. They must have been siblings.

They were the exact opposite of the boy that was staring deeply into her soul, the one with the glowing eyes of treasure. He was everything Shadowhunter's were supposed to resemble; purity, light, propriety. He held himself with a certain amount of honor. Not to mention, he was absolutely stunning. Although it seemed that there was something Clary found more enticing within his radiant irises; there was a certain vulnerability he held about him. As if he were bound to break at any moment and no one was allowed to see it. It was something she felt often. Out of all she saw that was what she found most beautiful about him.

"Maryse," Jocelyn said with a smile as she placed a hand lightly on Clary's clothed arm and pulled her further into the room; Luke, also, pushing her forward with a hand to her back. "I would like you to meet Clarissa. My daughter." She said the words with a bittersweet smile on her face; like she had always wanted them to meet but not under such pretenses. "Clary, this is my dear friend Maryse."

How dear could she be, mother? You haven't spoken of her before this and she doesn't truly want to let us stay.

Clary approached the woman behind the sturdy desk; she had her hands clenched into fists on top of the cherry wood as if she wasn't sure she was making the proper decision. She stuck her hand out in front of the intimating woman waiting for her to turn it away; this was Clary's own test. Would she slap it away from her like some did? Would she squeeze so tightly that it would all but break her knuckles? Would she barely touch her as if scared some sort of demonic disease would spread to her? Like Valentine's blood could infect her by merely touching Clary.

As if sensing the silent test Maryse studied Clary closely, her blue eyes seemed to grab everything that was floating freely around in her mind. Clary's face remained straight as Maryse stood from her seat and took her hand. Like two business partners, it was short but nice.

Most of all, it was normal.

Clary couldn't help the small smile that took over her face as Maryse returned it with one of her own taking Clary completely by surprise. "It's nice to finally meet you, Clarissa."

"Please," She answered before she could stop herself. "Call me Clary." She had never gotten the chance to say the words before; no one had ever called her just Clarissa before. They only used to call her "Valentine's daughter". She tripped over the words slightly trying to get the entire sentence out of her mouth.

Maryse seemed to sense her excitement since she nodded with a warmer smile than before. "Clary it is then." She gestured outward with her hand to the lounging teens. "This is my daughter, Isabelle." The dark haired girl raised her hand in a half-assed hello but Clary didn't mind in the least. She was ecstatic that Isabelle had waved at all. "And my two sons, Alec and Jace."

"I would be Jace," The blonde one spoke up as he pushed off of the fireplace mantel he was leaning against and gestured his hand out to the young man beside Isabelle. "And that would be Alec. You couldn't possibly mix us up. I'm the attractive one." He finished with a smirk that had Maryse sighing in exasperation, Luke letting out a laugh and causing the Alec boy to roll his eyes.

Clary grinned and let out a small giggle, something she hasn't done in a long time. Maryse just shook her head and turned back to her. "You can ignore Jace or at least try to—"

"Why would she want to ignore me? I'm dastardly charming."

"We all do." She finished as if he had never spoken. "There are a few more children here," Clary whipped her head around as Jace let out another snort which again Maryse ignored. "They should be in the training room if you want to meet them."

Clary didn't particularly want to meet anymore people; she had been silently hoping this was all of them because they seemed to genuinely accept her. Or at least not care who took part in giving her life. She really didn't want to test her luck, these people might tolerate her but others may detest her like they usually did. She didn't know if she could take another hateful glance, she might just shatter completely.

"Or Church can take you to your room if you'd rather get settled in?" Maryse said as if sensing Clary's distress, and gestured to the cat that sat licking it's paws.

Clary eagerly nodded. "Yes, thank you."

Maryse nodded knowingly before turning to her mother. "I assume Lucian and yourself would be sharing a room?"

Jocelyn blinked and, for the first time in a long time, Clary watched her mother become flustered. "Maryse, why would you—he and I—"

Lucian simply let out a laugh as he stepped around Clary to put an arm around Jocelyn's shoulders. Her mother's cheeks tinted a soft pink as she swallowed. "I've missed your bluntness, Maryse. It really is good to see you again."

Maryse melted some of the ice from her face like she had done earlier with Clary and softly smiled. "Yes, old friend, it is; though I wish it were under different circumstances."

"Yes," Lucian said with a firm nod. "As do I."

As he spoke the last words, his eyes fell immediately back to Clary as if he couldn't bear the thought of what her father was to do when he caught her. Something Clary herself rarely thought about.

But she couldn't seem to escape it in her nightmares.

Clary let her eyes creak open like a rusty, unused door. Sleep crusted around her eyes, gluing them shut and she made a disgusted sound as she smashed her fists into her eye lids rubbing the sleep away and blinking again. Her hair, which had been earlier tied back in a ponytail, had fallen out and was knotted and tangled around her head. She felt somewhat energized as she stretched and sat up right in the plush bed that she laid in; she had needed a nice rest after she had unpacked and become acquainted with her room.

It was small like all the other ones; she had a small bathroom and a dresser and closet that held all her clothes. The small twin bed was big for her small frame and dressed in plain bed sheets, the walls were white and bare. It was the same as all the other rooms she had stayed in and yet this one seemed more permanent. It seemed more concrete.

She cringed when caught a whiff of herself, she smelt like a truck driver and felt like one as she pulled herself up and dragged herself to the adjourning bathroom. Stripping the grimy clothes off her back, she stepped into the pulsing hot shower letting the steam fill the small room. Washing quickly she dressed just as fast before running a brush quickly through her red curling hair and stepping cautiously out of the room.

She took a breath as her bare feet padded down the hallway. She didn't know where she was going but she figured she would stumble across someone eventually; whether it was one of the faceless kids Maryse had talked about or her children.

Clary hadn't really taken the time to appreciate the home when she had first arrived. The furniture in each room was in dark chestnut wood and blacks, making it elegant and cool. No family portraits hung on any room's walls or pictures; it was very impersonal and cold. Except on Maryse's desk, she had seen pictures there.

A soft sound lifted through the air making the home seem less off-putting. Like the soft and harmonious community of chimes. It was lovely music that Clary couldn't seem to help herself but to follow. She walked slowly and quietly so not to make the player stop. It was a sad song with the combination of light keys and low keys, a melodious rhythm of harmony and sadness that pulled her in.

Clary peaked through the open door and let her eyes take in the beauty before her. The golden boy she had met before sat at a large black colored piano, his fingers moving effortlessly along the ivory keys, his head bobbing with every note that he stroked. His eyes were closed and the light from the crystal chandelier reflected off his hair in shining strands. He would have looked perfectly content if not for the music that was pouring through his soul and out his fingertips. He may have looked fine, happy even, she knew he was anything but as the song increased in tempo and slowed to a sullen chime.

That was the moment Clary knew there was more to Jace Lightwood than there appeared. She felt herself connect with him as his song slowed before falling silent with a soft bittersweet chime.

She wanted to tell him he played beautifully. That she had never heard such a sad, sweet song but she couldn't get her feet to move. She couldn't do anything but lean back against the wall outside the door and roll her head back as Jace started another song, just as melancholy and poignant as the first, and shut her eyes and soak it in.

She continued to listen to him play the rest of the following week; she would sit outside the room as he played every day, at the same time. She observed that he only played when no one was around, that he didn't let his vulnerability slip until late in the night when everyone else was fast asleep in their beds. She felt guilty for listening in but she could seem to help herself. She had to hear him play; it gave her a sense of peace she had never known before. It completed her in a way no one ever had.

The weeks seemed to go by quickly; almost so quickly she had no idea a month had passed until her mother had walked into her assigned room and announced that the smell of summer was in the air. How had it all gone by? Where had it gone?

This was all very new to Clary. She felt like a new born doe just standing for the first time, everything seemed wrong and wobbly. She didn't know exactly what to say or how to say it so she mostly kept quiet and to herself. She was more comfortable doing what she was good at; besides friends had never been her thing. She had one best friend and that was about it. She talked mostly to Maryse and the other adults but wouldn't dare approach the children. It was more out of instinct than necessity; she had been condition after so many long and grueling years of pain and emotional torment. It was second nature now to shy away from them; she found she could barely keep a conversation with any of the adults for long either; except for her mother and Luke, of course.

She had met the other students of the Institute the week before last –several weeks having gone by since her arrival at the New York Institute— and they had seemed wary of her at best but not disgusted. Except for Cleo, of course, but Clary would get back to her.

They had stood huddled in the training room when Maryse had shuffled Clary in, having taken the young girl under her wing, and right into the middle of the hungry lion's den. There were three more kids Clary had never seen before. The group's eyes felt as sharp as knives as they regarded her with curiosity.

"Kids," Maryse said with a cool voice Clary had come to grow used to. "This is Clarissa—"

"We know who she is." A tall, lengthy girl snarled with her arms crossed over her busty chest. Her artificially dyed blue hair was straight and hung just above her shoulders; it swirled around her head as clear and rich as a deep Caribbean sea. Her pouty lips with turned down in a frown and her perk nose was flared with misplaced rage. This was the reaction Clary had expected and didn't feel the least bit of satisfaction in receiving.

"Yep," Another voice spoke up as Isabelle Lightwood came into view. She had one elegantly painted hand on her perfectly-formed figure as she regarded the exotic blue-haired girl with undisguised dislike. "She's only one of the most badass Shadowhunter's there is." She strutted up to her, because Isabelle couldn't just simply walk, causing her hair to swing down her back like dripping ink.

"Except for me, of course." A deep voice spoke from above her head and Clary had to crane her neck to see Jace perched on one of the practiced bars set high up toward the curved ceiling of the training room. He smirked down at her with a devilish gleam in his eye and she silently wondered if he knew she listened to him play late at night. Something told her he did.

Isabelle rolled her eyes but gave no other indication that she heard him when she stood in front of Clary. "Clarissa, right?"

Clary swallowed her tongue or, at least, she must have because not a single word would come out of her mouth. Was she really such a badass if she couldn't even say a few words to some teenage Shadowhunter's?

"Actually," Jace pushed off the top bar and Clary almost let out a cry in horror. It was too high to jump from; it was one of the training bars they used for practicing flips, which usually involved being strapped to a sturdy harness to the ceiling. She watched with wide eyes as Jace fell, her body frozen with fright, and watched in disbelief as he landed graceful into a crouch before standing and walking forward, the crowd parting in awe around him giving him a straight path to the three women. "She prefers Clary."

She did, she remembered telling Maryse that exact thing. Isabelle was in the room then too, though it didn't seem that she remembered. So why had he? In fact, shouldn't the roles have been switched; Isabelle being the one to remember while Jace would forget?

Isabelle raised a dark perfectly plucked eyebrow at him, unaffected by the show unlike Clary and everyone else. Clary found herself unconsciously rubbing her own eyebrows.

How had he not gotten hurt? That kind of fall should have broken his ankle, at least, and yet he walked with no limp, no pained expression. Why wasn't Isabelle surprised in the slightest at this? Clary certainly was.

"Is that true?" All Clary did was nod a reply as both Lightwood siblings openly studied her; Jace's eyes much more unsettling than Isabelle's. There was something about the way he looked at her that suggested he knew what she was thinking and about the secrets she kept locked away.

"Do you even talk?" The foul blue-haired girl said as she regarded Clary with more disgust than before. Her features were certainly striking as she raised an eyebrow at Clary, the stud in her nose gleaming in the light overhead. She had an air about her that Clary wished she had; some of it was mystery and a sense of danger, all wrapped up in a very sexy package.

But Clary wasn't a mystery, everyone knew who she was.

Valentine's daughter.

And she certainly wasn't sexy, her legs were too short and her chest too flat to be beautiful but she was certainly cute. But that isn't what brought boys to you, being cute, that was all sex appeal. Clary had accepted she was inevitably going to die alone a long time again, taking the Morgenstern line with her. But it had to be better this way, less evil in the world that was sure.

She was taken by surprise when Isabelle turned sharply, her long hair smacking Clary and Jace in the face, her gaze narrowing on the blue haired fiend; her brown eyes flashing with mirth. Jace coughed and made a soft gagging sound as Isabelle's hair fell away from his mouth; he made a face at Clary who almost giggled in response. "She probably just doesn't want to waste her breath on you, Cleo. And frankly, I can't blame her. Talking to you has about the same effect as talking to a wooden stump; it's brainless, pointless and is a pathetic waste of half your life."

"Isabelle!" Maryse said in a scolding voice only able to be made by a disappointed mother as Jace and the others threw their heads back and laughed.

That was the first time she had met Cleo and Max (Isabelle, Jace and Alec's little brother).

That was the first instant that Clary knew she liked Isabelle Lightwood.

That was, also, the first moment that someone had ever stuck up for her.

Clary looked around her room slowly; this was her refuge, her place to go when the outside world got debauched. She would come to her room and surround herself with the smell of paint and fresh pencil shavings or the sharp flavor of ink on her paper. It was the only place where she found herself at completely at peace with the world; when her hand was effortlessly moving over the canvas and morphing scattered lines and darkened shadows into beings and art.

So why did it suddenly feel like a prison? Like it was trapping her, the walls around her seemed smaller as if they were closing in around her. When had the outside become more peaceful than the sanctuary she had built for herself?

When she heard Jace play the piano, she realized, and when Isabelle had stuck up for her. When Alec had knocked on her door and offered a plate of cookies he had ordered for her at Taki's; when Max had bounded into her room, his glasses askew and his black hair mopped around his head like a rag doll, his hand waving the new manga book he had gotten from Pizza Planet exclaiming that he had to take her there sometime.

When she started not to call the Lightwood's strangers anymore; when they went from being acquaintances to being friends.

Before she could possibly talk herself out of it and before the room closed in around her head, she opened the door and stepped out. She walked uncertainly down the dark and damp halls of the Institute following the sounds of chattering voices that floated from the dining area. Clary always ate in her room, it was safer that way; it was easier that way. She had always been fine with that, she had liked being alone.

The operative words being "had liked".

Now, she found she longing to be sitting around that long rectangular table, talking amiably about the day and such. She saw a dark haired, burly man she knew to be Robert (Isabelle, Alec, Jace, and Max's father and Cleo's uncle) sitting at the head; Maryse sitting directly opposite from him. Luke sat beside Robert as both men discussed something in loud voices that boomed throughout the room; Jocelyn sat next to Maryse as both women chatted happily and freely. Isabelle was making a face at Alec, who smiled back smugly. Jace let out a laugh that had his head thrusted backwards as Max jumped up and down in his seat, excited about something Clary would have loved to know about. Cleo sat directly across from Jace, her eyes following his every movement.

Something like jealousy and disgust—they were family after all, why were they flirting?—spiked up inside her as Jace looked up and gave Cleo his trademark smirk before flashing a wink her direction, to which she bit her lip and got a devilish gleam in her eye as they leaned closer to talk to each other in hushed tones across the table. It was that same emotion that pushed her into the open archway that led to the dining room. The talking creased almost instantly as everyone looked at her with wide eyes.

"Clary? Is something wrong, sweetheart?" Jocelyn said as she stood from her seat to walk toward her daughter, Luke doing the same. The shaking of Clary's head stopped them as she looked at everyone except Jace and Cleo earnestly.

"No," She shrugged as she continued in a low voice. "I'm just hungry. Do you think I could join you?"

Her mother blinked for a moment as if taken by surprise by the request. Clary couldn't blame her really, after 5 years of only eating in her room this was a big step and a major bombshell. A large smile broke out on her face as she clapped her hands together. "Of course!"

Maryse smiled kindly. "There's always room for you, Clary."

She smiled back at the elder woman as she made her way to the open chair next to Isabelle and directly across from her mother.

"Clary!" She turned her head and smiled sweetly as Max jumped up and down in his seat, his little arms waving in the air and his glasses getting jostled around on his head. "Clary! There's a spot across from me! Sit by me!"

She grinned as she took the seat between Alec and Cleo, who huffed and curled her lip up at Clary before scooting farther away from her, which didn't do well for Clary's self-esteem. It felt nice to be wanted, even if it was by a small 10 year old boy who only wanted to talk to her about manga.

"Well," Robert spoke up with an easy smile; his hair was an endearingly tangled mess like Alec and Max's as he gestured to his wife across the table. "Get this girl a plate, Maryse. We need to get some meat on her bones. I can almost see right through her!" He gave Clary an affectionate wink across the table, which she smiled at in return, before he turned back to Luke.

Alec smiled at her as he passed her a plate piled high with food. He must have seen the look of terror on her face because he let out a laugh and placed it delicately in front of her seat. "Don't worry. You don't have to eat it all." He shrugged as he took a large bite out of his mashed potatoes. "Besides, it's really good; my mom and Jocelyn made it. If Izzy had made it, then you'd have all rights to be terrified."

Isabelle let out a screech. "Hey! My cooking isn't that bad!" Alec didn't say anything else as he laughed full-heartedly, his hand clenching his shirt above his stomach, only to be cut off when a dinner roll impacted against his head. Clary had to put a hand over her mouth to keep the laugh from bubbling out.

He narrowed his eyes at his sister as she let out her own mocking laugh and in response to her cackle; Alec threw the dinner roll back at her.

"Alec and Isabelle Lightwood!" Maryse yelled from her seat. "Stop that right now."

"He started it." Isabelle started to say as Alec pointed his finger at her.

"She started it."

"Me?" Both siblings exclaimed as they pointed at themselves. "It was you!" They then pointed their fingers at each other, both finishing together as Clary let out a roaring laugh, Max followed along after her. She was clenching the sides of the table to keep herself from rocking as she tossed her head back. She watched both teens give her an astonished look that only made her laugh harder and soon everyone was laughing.

Clary felt whole, like she was a part of a family. She didn't know how she truly felt about that. She had never truly paid attention to things like this before at her old Institutes. She hadn't been paying attention to anything at her old ones really.

But if she had been paying attention to this Institute, as closely as she thought she was, she would have noticed that Jace hadn't taken his eyes off her since she had walked in.

"Okay focus, Isabelle."

"I am focusing."

"Well, you're not focusing very hard."

"I am focusing hard enough."

"If you were focusing hard enough you would have hit the target by now."

Isabelle let out a loud groan as she threw down one of knives in her hand; it implanted itself inches away from Jace's foot. "Why don't you stand over there?" She said motioning to the large dummy at the far end of the room. "I'm sure all I need is a little motivation."

Jace's trademark grin inched across his face as he uncrossed his arms and let his body form the universal sign of surrender. "Okay, okay. Maybe, that's enough for today."

"No, I can do it."

"Its fine—"

"No really," Isabelle smirked as Jace's eyes widened. "I insist."

"Now, Izzy, wait a minute—"

She smiled as she raised her dagger, her eyes glowing with playfulness as Jace smiled at her. "Let's see how fast you can move, Angel Boy."

Jace scowled as Isabelle bent and picked up her discarded dagger from before, Clary watched as Isabelle struggled a moment to lift it before it popped right out of where it sat in the wood. She twirled it delicately in her hands as Jace smirked and spread his legs out in a ready stance.

Clary watched wide eyed as Isabelle flung a dagger right at her brother, who flipped quickly out of the way. She had never seen anyone move so fast in her life as Isabelle and Jace laughed and continued with their game.

Clary saw the tragedy before it struck.

Max, in his excitement to play with the big kids, had run right into the middle of the large training area. Isabelle had already let the dagger go as she let out scream and reached out as if to stop it. Jace was too far behind Max to reach him in time no matter how fast he was. Clary felt the burn on her arm as her hand traced a rune, far too quick to be drawn correctly and shot out into the training room with the speed as fast as a vampire. She must have black out part of the way because one moment she was across the room and the next her hand shot out and grasp the hilt of the dagger, jolting her arm from the force of the throw and stopping the blade from approaching Max.

The room was silent as Clary took in deep breaths before Isabelle ran toward her brother. "Max!" The little boy stared up at Clary in wonder as Isabelle fussed over him, touching his cheeks and knocking his glasses right off his face.


"I'm sorry, Max." Isabelle pulled him close and squeezed him; the little boy was squirming in her arms trying his best to get away. "I'm so so sorry."

"Okay," Max said pushing her away. "I get it. You're gonna give me cooties!"

She smiled before turning to Clary, her brown eyes were watering and her face was the aptitude of gratitude. Before Clary even knew what was happening Isabelle had her arms wrapped around her neck and pulled her to her. She smelt like coconuts and other things tropical and Clary found she liked the scent; she found it calming as she wrapped her arms around Isabelle's toned figure.

"Thank you." Isabelle whispered as Clary nodded.

"It was no problem, Isabelle."

Isabelle looked up at her with a teary eyed smile, she must have truly been afraid because Isabelle never showed any vulnerability. Clary felt honored she was letting her see it now. "Call me Izzy. All my family does."

Clary felt a large smile take up her entire face. Did that mean she counted as family? Was she really apart of them now? "Okay." She said with a nod.

"How did you do that?" Max exclaimed as he latched onto her leg, his glasses were back on his nose and didn't look broken in the least, yet they tipped on the edge of his nose. "One minute you were there and then the next you were here! You went so fast!"

Clary giggled as the weight Max was applying on her leg made her stumble. "I don't know. I just kind of acted." She smiled as she ran a hand through Max's hair, which he only allowed because he was staring up at her in an astonished gaze. "I saw you and then I ran."

"Whoa." Max said as if she had just explained something deep and complex.

"Jeez, Max, give the girl some space to breath."

Clary turned quickly to the voice that was far to close at her back and stumbled right into Jace. Max's hold hadn't lessened and she couldn't move her leg as she tipped forward and fell right into Jace's arms, which caught her effortlessly. His chest was to her face as she watched a bead of sweat fall down the path to his exercise pants; she envied that sweat drop as it worked its way down Jace's rock hard core.

"Sorry." She breathed as Max leaped from her leg and she stood up straight, Jace's arms were still around her as He took a step closer, invading her personal space bubble completely.

"You know I could have handled it."

Clary actually blinked at what he said not entirely believing it. "Excuse me?"

"I could have helped Max; I didn't need your help, Valentine's daughter."

"Yeah?" Clary said, trying to hide the hole he had ripped in her heart, with her hands on her hips, she felt the rage she kept down bubbling to the surface. "Because where I was standing it seemed like a pretty fat chance of that happening." She was sick of this, she thought he was different but he was just like the rest.

Valentine's daughter.

She would show him.

"Jace!" Izzy spoke in astonishment as Jace wiped his hands down the sides of his pants like touching her could give him a disease.

"Then obviously you were standing in the wrong place." Jace said with that stupidly adorable smirk on his face. She didn't quite know if she wanted to smack him or kiss him.

Clary narrowed her eyes. "For the love of the Angel, Jace, just thank her and stop trying to save your fragile ego." Izzy said in a harsh voice but Jace didn't spare her a glance as he stared hard at Clary as if daring her; pushing her.

"Okay," Clary said her arms crossed over her chest. "You and me. Hand-to-hand combat."

"Oh, I would love to show you how it's done." Jace said as he brought his face closer to Clary's.

She scrunched up her nose as she stood on her tip toes, so not to let him think his size could intimidate her. "Show me what? How to lose?" She said her own smirk on her face.

Jace tossed his head back and laughed, the noise was a wondrous sound of velvet and honey. It was soaking into her veins like a drug as he turned his golden gaze back to her; it sparked with excitement as if he had wanted to fight her all along. She blinked confused for a moment; was he just baiting her to fight her?

"We'll see about that. In fact," Jace said as he flipped over her and land on the blue mat in the center of the room with as much grace as an angel. Clary felt her stomach drop slightly in excited fear; maybe she would finally meet her match. "Why don't we make this a little interesting?"

She raised her eyebrows to her hairline as her eyes regarded him with uncertainty. "Like how interesting?"

"A little bet, is all." Jace said nonchalantly as he inspected his fingernails, his eyes flashed up at hers as he threw her that infuriating smirk again.

"Oh I have to see this." Alec said from across the room as he walked into the training area, Max stood next to him fidgeting around like he wanted to join the fight too. Isabelle glared at her golden brother as he stared only at Clary.

"You got this, Clary. Teach this, egoistic bastard, a lesson or two." She smirked as she finally got Jace's attention as he placed his hand over his heart in mock hurt.

"Isabelle, it that really how you feel about me?" Jace said with a smile as she smashed her lips together as if to keep her own smile off her face as she threw him the bird.

Clary smiled to herself as Isabelle winked at her; she felt a rush of warmth go through her as Max began to jump up and down. "Go Clary!"

Jace let his mouth fall open. "What is this? My own family rooting against me!" He said in outrage as he looked at them all before settling on Alec. "Tell me, at least, my parabati is on my side."

Alec shrugged. "I like to remain neutral until someone wins."

Clary laughed as she turned her attention to Alec, who looked a little taken back by her laughter. She realized suddenly that he hadn't been joking at all. Of course, Alec rarely did joke. "Then your choice should be easy. You can start rooting for me now just to soften the inevitable." She said as she smirked at Jace, who stared at her with darken eyes.

His hair hung in damp curls around his head and his mouth parted in excitement as his gaze fell over her. Clary suddenly felt uncomfortable in her tight yoga pants and sport bra; but she wouldn't let him psyche her out. She knew his play.

Alec let out a laugh as he nodded his head at Jace. "I don't know about this one, Jace. You might just meet your match."

Jace's eyes were hot on Clary's body as he studied her; she tried to stop herself from fidgeting under her watchful gaze and hold her stance. "I know." It was all he said before he leaned his body back as if completely at ease and smirked at her. "Now about our bet—"


Jace shrugged. "Yeah, we are making this interesting, aren't we?" He said his teeth peaking through his lips as he pulled half his mouth up in a grin. "Are you afraid of losing?"

Clary laughed again, though it was forced as she shook her head. "Afraid of losing? To you?" She laughed again as Jace raised an eyebrow. "Not a chance."

"Well, alright then." Jace smirked as he walked toward her on the mat, Clary matching each step he made. "If I win you have to do one thing of my choosing, no matter the request."

Clary stared hard into Jace eyes as he held her gaze steadily. His gaze never moved away from hers and she felt the power behind it; the fire that burn behind those golden iris's. She would regret taking this bet if he won, she was sure. But if he didn't win, she had the potential to make him do anything. It gave her a lot of power and she enjoyed it; the thought of Jace Lightwood on his knees before her was all together too appealing to pass up.

"Deal and the same goes for me when I win."

"If." Jace smirked at her and grabbed hold of the hand she outstretched toward him. "You mean, if you win."

Clary smiled devilishly up at him and brought her face closer to him, pulling him toward her with a sharp tug with the hand she held in hers. His eyes widened as they stood chest to chest; Clary felt the thrill building in her abdomen being this close to him. Their chests were touching with each breath and their face's breathing puffs of air against each other's cheeks. She had never been so bold before; not ever in her life but there was something about the Lightwood's that made her feel free.

"No, I mean when."

With that she dropped his hand and spun around walking back to her place at the edge of the mat. She locked eyes with Cleo, who stood off to the side her eyes staring daggers into Clary as she crossed her arms over her chest, which was practically falling out of her sports bra and held that scowl on her face. Her blue hair was pile high on her head making her features sharper and causing her to look more like a model from a retro magazine than a Shadowhunter.

Clary crouched in her spot as Jace did the same, a small but manic smile on his lips like the idea of fighting her excited him more than the idea of sex with Cleo.

"Hey!" She said narrowing her eyes at Jace. "How do I know you'll keep your side of the bet?"

Jace rolled his eyes, his stupid smirk still on his face. "What kind of man do you take me for, Clary? When I say you have my word, you have it."

She stared at him another moment before she nodded and waited for him to question her honesty but he didn't as he continued to stare into her eyes.

Isabelle walked onto the mat and stepped between them breaking their trance, her hair flowed down her back as dark and soft as paint. "Okay, rules." She said holding up her hands. "No weapons, at all. Only hands and legs and the first person to get thrown from the mat loses, other than that there are no rules." She said beginning to step off the mat. "Oh and please try not to break any bones; I really don't want to have to get my steele. It's somewhere in my room—"

"It's lost forever then." Alec said as Max nodded beside him.

"Shut up!" Isabelle threw them a dark look that had both her brother's smiling. "And I really don't want to have to go find it."

Alec shook his head. "If any bones are broken, I have my steele; like a responsible Shadowhunter."

Isabelle spun around and took an intimidating step toward her brother. "Why you—"

"Isabelle!" Jace said with a smirk. "As much as I love hearing you and Alec bicker, and really I do, I would like to beat Clary and get my part in the bet now."

Clary threw her head back. "In your dreams, Lightwood."

"Dreams are for the meager; I'm more of a realist myself."

Cleo cupped her hands around her mouth. "C'mon, baby, show Morgenstern whose boss."

Jace smiled as Clary watched him closely. "With pleasure."

Jace gave her no indication that he would strike, he simply smiled and was flying forward. He really was quite fast but the rune on Clary's arm was still active and she managed to roll out of the way as his body fell forward to where she once was and rolled into a crotch. Clary took advantage of his turned back as she swung her leg up in an attempt to clip her heel into Jace's head. He spun, with the grace of a ballerina, and caught her foot with a smirk as he twisted it. Clary used the momentum to spin with her rotating limb, falling onto her stomach and rolling.

Jace's elbow slammed into the mat where her body had once been as she latched herself onto his back and hooked her arms around his neck, cutting of the supply of oxygen to his lungs. Before she could hook her legs around his torso, Jace bucked forward spending her flying over him and onto her back on the mat. Before she had time to regain the air that had been knocked out of her chest, Jace was on top of her. His legs locked like vices, straddling her waist, his hands latched on her arms and held them over her head as he brought his face close to hers. Sweat dropped from his hairline and down his face, which should have been disgusting but on him it was just sexy; his smirk seemed more powerful now as he ground down on her intimately. He seemed happy to have her in this predicament and in his arms without escape.

"Gotcha." He whispered against her face. Clary had to keep the shiver from rolling down her back as Jace's scent washed over her; a sweet mixture of mint and sandalwood and something raw, that reminded her of how much of a man he truly was.

"Not quite." Clary said as she arched her spine upwards and into him; Jace's eyes widened as he groaned.

"Clary," Jace said his voice wavering and shaking as she arched her back up again. "What are you—"

She swung her legs up and hooked them around his neck, pulling him off her with one tug. She rolled with the momentum and found herself seated on Jace's chest, to which he immediately threw her off. She smiled as Jace narrowed his eyes at her from the other side of the mat; she had arched her body to slide his strong thighs down her small figure so she could hook her ankles around him; something she had learned at her last Institute.

"Distractions are cheating." He said with a growl; his eyes darked with something Clary couldn't name.

She smiled in reply and shook her head. "I don't believe that was stated in the rules beforehand."

Jace growled again as he slowly stalked her this time, seeing that taking her head on wasn't going to work like it usually did. Clary was happy that she wasn't as easy to fight off as Jace had thought she would be. She moved in the circle with him as the danced around each other; throwing punches and hits before jumping back. They were simply playing a game now; they both knew it. Jace had a delight in his eyes Clary had never seen before as he swung his leg high aiming for her chest. She ducked easily and threw a punch toward his face, which Jace easily caught.

"Not the face." He said teasingly. "It's my strongest selling point, you know."

Clary laughed as she jumped over the well placed swipe of Jace's legs as he tried to take out her own. "Oh, I do know. I mean, it couldn't be your personality." She smirked as he caught her wrist and brought her body close to his own. "That's your weakest selling point."

She pivoted her body as she stepped on his foot and brought her hand up hard into his chin making his head snap up; he stumbled back a few steps from her before shaking his head and running his hand over his jaw. He narrowed his gaze on her in concentration. "Enough games."


Jace ran toward her as she prepared her body in a defensive stance but he took her by surprise as he flipped over her and landed swiftly behind, wrapping one lean, taut arm around her neck while the other was grasping her waist hard to his body. They slide against each other from the sweat on his hard chest and all over her back.

He had her trapped as she tried to use his weight against him; the thing she had observed about Jace was that he knew all the proper defensive methods and offensive methods to lock or unlock an opponent. She could feel her lungs screaming over for oxygen as she struggled; trying to clear the panic from her mind.

Thinking logically she knew her only strength was to take him by surprise, which is exactly what she did as she pushed back against him with all her weight pretending to try to slam her heel down on his toes; he moved his foot but not his head as she rammed her own against his nose.

The following crack was as loud as a gun shot throughout the silent room as Jace stumbled back and Clary fell to her knees taking in the oxygen she lacked, her throat would no doubt have bruises from the strength of his hold as Jace held his own face tenderly. When he took his hand away from his face she saw the blood that pooled like rivers down his mouth, his once perfect nose was crooked and starting to bruise.

Cleo sucked in a hard breath as she began to run forward. "Jace, baby, your nose—"

She stopped in her tracks wide-eyed however when Jace held up a hand to her; his eyes focused on Clary, who was staring back at him her own chest heaving. "I'm fine."

"But Jace, baby—"

Jace didn't give her a sideways look at he focused on Clary as if she was the only person around. "I said I'm fine, Cleo." He turned then and smirked. "And I'm most definitely not your baby." Clary felt bad for Cleo as the girl stumbled back and away from the mat as if her heart was breaking at the sight of Jace being hurt and was shattering at the words he said to her. She watched as Cleo shut her eyes in pain before locking on Clary's and hardened into something feral.

"Well, are you giving up Morgenstern?"

Clary turned back to Jace, who had gotten back into his stance. She shook her head as more blood slipped down his face and painted the blue mat in small drops. "You need to, at least, fix your nose, Jace. It has to be broken."

He narrowed his eyes. "If you were a demon I was fighting, do you think it'd give me a moment to myself to tend to my wounds?" Clary bit her lip to keep the smile from her lips as she shook her head. Those were the words from a true Shadowhunter. "Exactly. So, are you giving up?"

"Not a chance."

Jace smiled his whole face lighting up with it. Clary had no idea how he managed to still look beautiful with gore all over his face. "That's what I thought."

He was flying toward her again but Clary was ready as she leaped up and reached for one of the beams that hung suspended from the ceiling and lifted herself up. Jace stared up at her for only a moment before reaching for the beam she stood on and pulling himself up on it too. The beam was long and took up most of the elongated ceiling; it was a training beam for the beginner's that were learning their flips. Jace balanced easily on the beam as Clary swayed slightly.

He smiled as he kicked out at her feet, which she leaped over. The action had her arms pin wheeling as she tried to regain her balance. Jace took advantage of her instability as he kicked out at her chest, which had her stumbling backwards. He was letting himself get cocky, that was his first mistake, as he came toward her; his fancy footwork too hard to match. He kicked at her chest again but Clary was ready with time as she caught his foot just as he had done earlier to her and twisted it. He rolled with his twisting limb off the beam and toward the ground below. Clary, knowing she only had a small window of opportunity, grabbed the beam with her hands and pushed her body forward, her feet pointed straight out as Jace landed on the balls of his feet before getting knocked forward by Clary's momentum. He flew off the mat and onto the polished wooden floor with a skidding noise.

Everyone waited wide eyed as Jace sat up and shook his head, his mop of hair moving with him and making blood and sweat droplets spray across the clean wood. They waited still as Jace locked eyes with Clary, who crouched in the middle of the mat heaving, before he stood and came toward her. She readied herself for the harsh words and insults that would no doubt spray from Jace's mouth. Their game was done and he had lost; there was no way he would be able to live it down.

But as always Jace never did what she expected. He stopped in front of her and held his hand out in an offering of sportsmanship. She stared at it for a moment wondering if she should take it or not before her heart won over her head.

"That was the best sparring I've ever experienced." He smiled, his nose still bleeding and his hand wet with the stuff as he held her palm with him. "I accept defeat graciously until next time, of course."

Clary smiled as Max let out a yell in the background. "You? Accepting defeat? Unlikely."

Jace smiled his perfect grin as he brushed the wet curls from his face; Clary could feel her own hair sticking to the back of her neck and to her spine as she stared into his eyes. "You're absolutely right; I'm only saying this so that you'll never know that I went easy on you."

"Well, that's a relief." Clary replied with her own smile as Alec, Isabelle and Max rushed toward them. "Because I was going easy on you too."

Jace threw his head back and laughed before wincing as more blood rushed from his nose. Isabelle clucked as she pulled his arm harshly out from his side, Alec's steele at the ready in her hands. "Jace Wayland, what did I say about breaking bones? I said don't, didn't I? And look what you did anyway!"

"Me!" Jace exclaimed as he pointed at the smiling red-head. "She did it."

"And for another thing! Have you seen her neck? What were you trying to do? Kill her?"

Jace rolled his eyes. "I was trying to—"

"I don't want to hear it."

"Then why do you keep asking me!"

Max pulled on Clary's arm, bringing her gaze away from the bickering teens and down to him, as he looked earnestly into her eyes. "Can you teach me how to do that?"

Clary smiled down at him as she ran a hand through his hair and righted his glasses on his nose. She felt a rush of warmth as Max looked up at her with his big brown eyes and the way Isabelle fussed over her wounds. She loved the way Alec laid a hand on her shoulder and leaned into her laugh as he recalled something from their fight earlier. For the first time ever, Clary felt like she belonged. And she absolutely loved the feeling.

The slamming of a door made the room silence as they took into account that one of them wasn't here. Cleo had left and Clary knew she was beyond pissed.

That same night, she sat at the outside of the large two door entry and listened to the sweet sound of music that left Jace's fingertips. And because today had not turned out at all like she planed, this life had not turned out at all as she planned really; she stood immediately and walked into the room where he played without giving her any time to stop herself.

"You play wonderfully." She said as she stepped fully into the room.

Jace spun on the black piano seat with nonchalance and effortless grace swinging one jean clad leg around to straddle the bench in sat on; his face seemed content like he had known she was there all along. If not for the rapid beat of his pulse on his neck and the alertness of his eyes she would have never thought she snuck up on him. "Are you stalking me now? Because I don't remember you being out there when I first entered the room."

She ignored the sarcasm in his voice, something she noticed Alec and Maryse did most often. "How long have you played?" She said motioning with her head toward the large, black instrument.

"Oh this old thing?" Jace said with a wave of his hand as if it was the easiest thing in the world; like everyone could play the way he did, like Mozart. She didn't know if he was actually being modest or if he was simply yanking her chain. "My parents taught me how to play when I was younger. My father said it was a sure way to attract women, though he obviously didn't account for my chiseled features."

Clary frowned as she stepped further into the room, this move for her was extremely daring. In truth she hadn't been this close to another teen her age in a very long time, at least not one so easy going. She was used to harsh words and bruises from tough sparring. While she had hated it, she also found it beneficial; all of those rough combat lessons at her other Institutes had made her tougher, stronger.

But there was something different about Jace, almost as if he shared something secret like she did. Like he saw the broken pieces that were scattered inside her and acknowledged that he was scarred too. "I didn't know Robert could play."

"He can't."

Clary blinked and frowned further as Jace searched her face as if trying to locate something he couldn't. "Maryse then?"


"I don't understand…"

Jace shrugged, turning back to face the piano and resuming what he had played before. His fingers flew effortlessly across the keys as if dancing a seductive waltz. The notes, again, were bittersweet and filled with sorrow as Clary stepped closer. "I'm adopted." It was all he said, his back tensing at the words; but Clary could've guessed this was the case when she had seen Robert earlier and noted he looked nothing like his other son; the one with the golden eyes and shining hair; with the face that had to have been chiseled by the angels. It, also, made more sense as to why Cleo and Jace flirted so much; they weren't related as she earlier had thought.


The piano made a cringing noise as Jace swung around back to face her, his expression emotionless but his eyes screaming with a fiery blaze. His golden gaze churned with a fire she hasn't seen in him earlier. "Before you ask," He held up a hand as if stopping her from speaking but she had nothing to say. "Yes, they did die. Yes, I do miss them. And yes, they did grace me with magnificent, astonishing beauty and a wonderful wit." He finished with a cold smirk, his eyes daring her to pity him; daring her to say something that would step out of line.

Clary stared at him for a moment, not glaring or looking at him in bewilderment, just concentrating like she did when she wanted to paint something and get it just right. She gathered her thoughts before she shrugged her own shoulders. "Well, I'm the least entitled person to judge by parents."

Jace seemed to blink at her as if not sure what to say; like she hadn't said anything he thought she would say at all. "You know," He said it slowly as if not sure he wanted to say the words out loud. "You're not anything like I expected."

Clary smiled sadly lowering her eyes; she pulled the shirt she wore down before tugging at her black shorts. "Yeah? What did you expect?" Now she was daring him, to prove her right; that everyone saw her as evil. That everyone couldn't help but judge her based on the blood in her veins.

Valentine's daughter.

Jace frowned a moment before shifting a little on the benched seat. "I don't really know." Clary nodded her head not overly happy with the response but knowing it was not nearly as bad as it could've been. "But certainly not like you."

"Well, I've got to keep you on your toes somehow." Clary said with a forced smile but Jace gave her a genuine smirk as he patted the seat beside him.

"I can teach you to play." It was a statement, not a question.

"Can you?" Clary said teasingly as she found herself taking a step closer. "That's a mighty big challenge to accomplish." She had never teased anyone before; she found it excited her to be like this.

"No challenge is too big for the incredible, extraordinary, prodigy that is Jace Lightwood." He answered with a smile as he reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her closer to the seat next to him. She tried to ignore the flutter in her stomach and the tingling that sparked up her arm at his touch.

She'd never felt anything like it before, like her stomach was turning itself inside out and her palms were sweating abnormally. She prayed he couldn't hear the sound her heart was making as it pounded against her chest. She wondered if she had eaten something back before or if all the hot water from her shower had gone to her head to make her feel this way because Jace seemed completely at ease as he closed his eyes and moved his fingers in tune with her heart. His crown of golden blonde hair gently moved with the wind of the opened window, brushing against his cheek softly like the caress of a lover.

It hit her like a ton of bricks, Jace was beautiful. Sure, she had noticed before but she hasn't really studied him until this moment. His hair was curled to perfection and tousled in the ultimate I-just-rolled-out-of-bed-and-am-just-this-sexy look. His jaw was strong and square, his lips too poetic to be on a boy. The top formed the perfect Cupid's bow sticking out just slightly over the bottom, which lay pink and plump upon his face as soft as rose petals. His nose was straight and his blonde eye lashes lush and thick, just the way all girls envied. He truly was gorgeous and, judging by his enlarged ego, he knew it too.

And yet there was something about him that made her wonder if he wished he was someone different too? To give up his beauty for his parent's back? To be less broken inside? He had a vulnerability that screamed out to her own.

"How are you going to learn if you're looking at my face and not my hands?"

Clary blushed furiously as she watched him open one eye and peak at her before winking and resuming his stance. She stared hard at his hands from that point on, not daring to even peak up at him and feeling foolish for getting caught observing him. By the time he finished his set, Clary felt her eyes tense from strain. She had been concentrating hard, evident in the ache that had settled behind her eyeballs, but she had no idea how he managed to play something so beautiful.

"Well? Can you do it now?"

Clary looked at him bewildered as Jace gave her a grin; she noticed that he had a chip on his tooth. Her heart began to pick up speed as she thought about how that one imperfection just made him that much more beautiful. This warrior was broken; he had shown the world that already.

"Are you kidding me?" She gave Jace another astonished look. "Of course not!"

He laughed wholeheartedly, throwing his head back and dropping his mouth open. She expected him not to make a sound but he did. The sound of velvet and sweet melody flowed from his mouth entrancing her immediately. No wonder he played so well, he was practically a song himself.

He shook his head before he shifted back on the bench seat. "Come here." He patted the spot he had made between his legs. She eyed it warily before looking back up at him. He didn't say another word, simply waited as if he knew if he prodded too much she would refuse straight out.

She moved slowly, trying her best not to get too close or touch him as she sat on the very edge of the seat, her thighs lightly brushing his knees. "Don't be ridiculous, Clary. How am I supposed to teach you if you're all the way down there?" He gripped her hips; his fingertips dug into the protruding bone and pulled her back, the sensation of his touch made her freeze making it easier for him to settle her between his legs, their thighs crushed against each other and his chest placed steadily against her back. She could feel every dip and contour of his chest through their clothes and she didn't overall hate the hard abs she felt pressed against her. This was the closest she had ever been to a boy.


"Now place your hands above mine," His mouth was right next to her ear, his hot breath sent puffs of air caressing the back of her neck as he reached around her and placed his hands lightly on top of the keys. Clary watched him a moment before swallowing and placing her shaking hands on top of his praying he couldn't feel how sweaty they were. He could obviously hear her heart now, he was so close and it was going a mile a minute. "Perfect. It's just like dancing; I'll lead, you follow."

"I'm not the best at following, you know." She whispered and felt the shiver over take her at his breathy laugh against the back of her neck making her hair stand on end and erupting her skin in goose bumps.

"Humor me."

And just like that she was playing, her fingers dipped with his and glided across the ivory keys as his did. There was something so intimate about the way they played together, as if they were finishing their story, as if they completed each other.

One of Jace's golden curls brushed her cheek as she turned her head to look at him. He was so close she could have kissed him, if either of them moved even slightly their lips would brush. She watched as his head slightly bobbed, as if on its own accord, to the rhythm of the piano's melody. His golden eyes were closed and unseeing; but he was all she could focus on, holding her breath so he wouldn't know how close she was.

"You're not watching again."

She gasped when his words slightly brought his lips against hers. Jace's eyes shot open, she had no idea how he could tell she was watching him if his eyes weren't even open, and his hands stumbled over the keys making the piano choke and let out a cry. His fingers instantly slowed, Clary's slowing as well. She watched him with a heated a gaze as he did to her, making the air around her seem heavy and thick. She couldn't seem to get enough air to her lungs though her chest was brushing his with every intake of oxygen she took. Her heart was slowly climbing up her throat as she let him consume her.

"Sorry," She said moving back, she blinked and swallowed breaking whatever spell had fallen over her. "It's just that. . ." She trailed off a moment before slowly dropping her hands from atop his and moving his arm gently out of her way, absentmindedly taking note of how the muscles in his arms seemed to be tense under her hold, and stepping away from her. "Well. . ." She got up and took several steps backward, afraid of the emotions she was feeling and how her heart seemed to want to tug her back in the direction she had come; back into his arms. She let out a nervous laugh as she brushed a strand of red hair behind her ear. "You really aren't like anything I expected."

Jace, who had turned and was watching her with a predatory look in his eyes, let out a laugh at the comment. "Well, I've got to keep you on your toes somehow." She took note that she had said that to him, not 10 minutes earlier.

She felt the smile cross her face before she could stop it. "True." She said with a shrug of her shoulders. "I'm going to head to bed." She said nodding innocently and motioning with her thumb to the open door behind her.

"Is that an invitation?"

She felt her face flush completely and her entire frame shake slightly, not because the thought of Jace in her bed scared her but because it felt so right and it only excited her racing pulse more. He stared at her another second as if giving her time to answer before he shook his head, his curls moving with him in a swift motion that had them shimmering in the light. "It was just a joke, Clary."

Something about the look on his face suggested otherwise as she smiled. "Thanks for the lesson. I'm sure I'll get better with time." She said it teasingly, knowing she would never get good at playing the piano the way he did.

"I've got all the time in the world."

Clary bit her lip as Jace's eyes stared into her; it was unsettling like he could see all of the secrets she kept hidden behind locked doors, like he held the key to her very existence. "Well, I'll catch you later then." She said smiling softly at him, stilling moving her feet backward toward the open door.

Jace smirked at her, his eyes darkening from the light butterscotch she was use to, to a dark and glowing topaz. His eyes seemed to search her face as he watched her; didn't he know what he was doing? Didn't he see he was unsettling her? Didn't he hear the unsteady beat of her heart? Feel the sweat on her palms? See the blood rushing to her cheeks?

"Not if I catch you first."

The comment startled Clary as much as the wall that met her back did. She didn't look back as she rushed out the door, listening to the sound of his light laughter follow her out.

Sleep would not come.

It just wouldn't.

She laid there for, she didn't know how long, listening to the sounds of the nightlife outside her window; the cars that rushed by and the fluttering of birds wings against the wind. She sat up knowing it was useless to lay there forever and wait for something that wasn't coming.

She stepped out her door quietly, shutting it behind her and tip toeing past her parents' room which was directly across from hers. She passed Jace's room just as silently and wondered if maybe she should knock on his door and see if he wanted to go with her to the training room. But his earlier comment was still on her mind.

"Not if I catch you first."

It should have seemed threatening but it wasn't. It made her body tingle with pleasure and anticipation; why he thought he had to chase her was another story. Didn't he know all he had to do was call and she would come? He knew he could do that to any other woman, he had Cleo practically wrapped around his little finger as well, so he had to know. Didn't he?

In the end, she didn't tempt fate as she walked to the kitchen instead of the training room, remembering all too well how they had both fought. Hard and steady, hot and heavy; the way the sweat had glistened on his torso and the drops fell with every dip in his muscled abdomen. The way his slick, defined muscles had felt rubbing against her body in an undeniable friction.

It would just be too overwhelming. So, she walked with hurried steps to the kitchen where she knew there had to be something sweet to satisfy her need for something sugary. She frowned after 10 minutes of searching had turned up blank. She knew Luke had to have a stash somewhere; he couldn't go more than a day without something sweet. All she really needed to do was find it.

Opening the large refrigerator and shuffling through the things inside. She stopped when she spotted a can of cherry pie filling in the back of the cold fridge. It wasn't supposed to be there Clary observed and she took the can from its spot hesitantly, checking the expiration date.

She frowned when she saw it was fairly new and shrugged before digging the can opener into the top and ripping it clean off. She ate a spoonful of the cold, gooey filling and moaned in bliss. The cherries inside the filling were plump as she popped them into her mouth; she wondered if someone was planning on using the filing for an actual pie as she continued to eat it.

She knew she should have gone back to her room, but the thought had slipped her mind as she jumped up onto the counter top and swung her legs; looking out the window at the moon. It was larger than normal, taking up most of the sky in its white smoldering blaze. It left an afterglow on everything in the kitchen and radiated warmth throughout the room. Clary absentmindedly wondered what that was called again; when the moon was larger than most of the sky and seemed really close. She could entirely put her finger on it but she remembered her mother saying it to her once.

It was going to just bug her until she remembered.

"What are you doing?"

Clary let out a yell as she jumped and almost dropped the large can of pie filling across the floor. She turned quickly as Jace sauntered into the room; the luminosity of the moon making him look like an avenging angel as he stepped into the light. His blonde curls were tousled around his head as if he had just woken up and his eyes seemed to be emitting their own sort of light as her body was set on fire from the look he was giving her.

"Nothing." Clary said around a large mouthful of the delicious filling, she blushed down at her shorts and camisole she wore. She felt naked though she knew Jace had seen her in less; it took all the will power she had not to focus on his bared chest and at his face (both of which were strong selling points).

He focused his sharp gaze on the can she was trying to hide behind her body. "Are you eating pie filling?" He said it in an incredulous tone.

"No!" Clary answered a little too quickly as Jace raised an eyebrow at her. ". . . maybe. . ." She finished a little guiltily as Jace smirked at her. She slowly took the large can out from around her back. "But in my defense you live in a house full of sugar Nazi's. I couldn't find anything remotely sweet in this whole place."

Jace stared at her deeply; that was one of the things she liked about Jace. The way he focused on you, like you were the only girl in the world. Like nothing else mattered to him but you and whatever you were going to say. "I seriously can't believe you stooped this low." He teased her with a hooded smirk on his face, his toned and tanned chest reflected off the light shining from the enlarged moon; making it very hard to concentrate.

"Hey," She said as she spooned some more of the sweet filling and waved the spoon in front of him. "Don't knock it, 'til you try it."

Jace let out a laugh as she continued to wave the spoon in front of him as he stepped closer to her, the tops of his pajama covered thighs brushing her bare knee caps. His poetic lips parted as she brought the spoon closer to his mouth, before veering off and putting the silver into her own mouth. She moaned at the taste as Jace's mouth fell open in astonishment.

"You ate my spoonful." Jace accused her with a laugh, it was rich and deep. A sound she could listen to all day; the sound of Jace's voice in her ear, whispering against her skin.

She shook her head to make those forbidden thoughts leave as she smiled at him. "You're right, sorry." She dipped the spoon back in and took out another helping. "Here this time I'll give you some."

Again Jace's lips parted and again the food ended up in Clary's mouth.

"Clary!" Jace said with a laugh as she chewed the cherries with glee.

"I can't help it! My willpower is just so weak." She readied the spoon and held it out. "Okay, this time for sure." Jace grinned and raised his eyebrow playfully at her; his thighs were completely against her knees as he leaned into her. "I'm serious."

Jace waited a moment longer before narrowing his gaze in suspicion and opening his mouth, she brought the spoon toward his mouth as just as it was about to enter she drove it back and passed her own lips. She moaned again as Jace let out a hearty laugh, shaking his head and causing his hair to look like a golden flame.

"Wow, Jace, you're really missing out." Clary said as she swallowed her mouthful and grinned at him. "This filling is delicious; I bet it's got to be the best thing anyone's ever tasted." She gloated in his face as she took another spoonful, laughing to herself at the joke of it all.

Jace stopped chuckling as he watched as her tongue licked the spoon clean, his eyes grew darker as his gaze fluttered over her. The dark look he had gotten when they were sparring was back on his face; she was astonished to realize it was desire. The air around them became thick suddenly like when they had been playing the piano and Clary became shockingly aware of the weight that was being applied to her knees from his muscular thighs; his chest, which was shadowed from the dips and drops in each contour of raw muscle, called out for her to scrape her fingernails down. She could feel her heart pounding as if she had been or was running; her breath was coming out in fast puffs.

"I'll take that bet."

Before any reasonable thought came to her head, Jace's lips were suddenly and pleasurably against hers. His lips, which she had thought had always looked soft, were much softer than she realized. They felt like silk as the moved over her lips, nibbling and pressing on hers. She matched the pace he set perfectly as she tilted her head and took his mouth deeper into her own. The spoon clattered from her hand onto the counter top as her spread her fingers through his hair, which parted for her fingers to easily slip through. She dug her fingernails lightly into the back of his scalp as he groan and struggled to move closer.

His hands, which had been placed on the outside of her thighs with digging into her hips; one of them traveling up the side of her shirt and over her bare arms which erupted in goose bumps at his touch. She spread her legs to allow Jace to step closer as his palms cupped her face, making her lips part with his tongue as he truly tasted her.

She had never been kissed in such a way before. She'd been kissed once or twice on the mouth but they had been meaningless pecks that didn't even make her spark; Jace's kiss was setting her on fire. She moved her mouth with his as they pulled back for only a second to grab a gust of air and came back together. It was like they were becoming one being; like Jace was consuming all that she was. He was the only air she knew as her heart began to pick up pace; she placed a hand over his chest softly and feeling the hard skin under her palm made her pulse speed up more. She gasped in surprise her mouth dropping open again, which Jace took advantage of, as the speed of his heart matched the irregular beat of her own.

She had the same effect, he had on her. She'd never had that happen before.

He pulled back slowly, taking his sweet time as he dropped two more kisses against her lips and placed his forehead against hers. Their breath mingled together as their chest's brushed with every heaving gasp for air.

"You were wrong."

"Huh?" Clary's brain had shrunken to the size of a pea; she had no idea what he was referring to.

"The bet." He said with a breathless laugh as she threw him a confused look. "You said the pie filling was the best thing anyone's ever tasted but you were wrong." He pulled her closer until they were chest to chest and breathing as one person. "If anyone tasted you they would certainly know that the cherry pie filling is not the best thing they've ever tasted." His fingers dug into her hips as his eyes turned dark. "Which is impossible since you're mine; so no man should ever be tasting you."

"I'm . . . yours?" Clary said as she blinked vigorously again; hoping beyond anything that this wasn't a dream. But it couldn't be right? She was Valentine's daughter. She was damned; no man in their right mind wanted her. Not unless they also wanted a death wish.

"Of course." He said against her lips, dropping another kiss on her swollen mouth. "Don't you want to be?" She stared into his eyes as Jace frowned, his eyebrows furrowing as his face flashed with vulnerability.

Of course, she did that was the silliest comment she'd ever heard. But the real question was how could he. "But I'm Valentine's daughter."

"And I'm the former son of Stephen and Celine Herondale and current son of Robert and Maryse Lightwood. Does that matter?"

"Of course, it does." Clary said dropping her arms and closing her eyes. The moon seemed to brighten somehow and grow larger as it engulfed the window's entire frame and took up more of the dark night sky. "You were raised by good people-"

"And you weren't?" Jace answered grasping her face making her look at him and not at the distance she was putting between them. "You were raised by Jocelyn Fairchild and Lucian Graymark; they're good people too."

"Yes," She nodded feeling the tears that began to gather in her eyes. "But you don't have his blood in you. You have Stephen's blood. My blood burns, Jace. Some people think it's a disease and I find myself agreeing with them."

"Well I don't."

"Then your crazy."

"Crazy in love with you."

Clary widened her eyes as she stared at him. This had to be a dream, this could not possibly be real. How could this boy, this angel, want her? She was no one.

No one but Valentine's daughter. "That's impossible."

"How?" Jace said righteously as his hands firmly held her face. "How is it impossible? Because you're Valentine's daughter-"

"Yes," Clary said shoving him away from her, his hand falling from her face as he stumbled back in surprise. "Yes, that's exactly it. I know you hear the whispers. You know the stories about my other Institute's, I'm sure." She jumped from the counter and looked up at the moon. "You're as foolish as my parents; my mother wears her sin for everyone to see and Luke, he's just the same as her. As you." She said not turning back to look at him.

"Because they're proud of you." Jace spoke in a whisper as he came up behind her and placed his hands softly on her shoulders. He spun her around toward him slowly with no force at all, she could have stopped him if she really wanted to. Jace wouldn't have forced her to do anything but she simply didn't want to. "And why shouldn't they be? You're perfect, Clary. You're so different from your father; you're good. Why shouldn't they be proud of that. Why shouldn't I?"

She stared up at him in amazement as he stepped closer to her. She stumbled back into the counter; the marbled surface dug into her back as the moon created a wonderland around them. "I have a request."

She smiled and raised her eyebrow. "I thought the winner was supposed to get the victory request."

"You are but I'm taking it."

"Is that allowed?"

"No rules, rememeber?"

Clary found herself laughing as a few choice tears slipped down her cheeks. "Okay, loverboy, what's your request?"

"Love me."

Clary closed her eyes and laid her head against his strong chest her lips brushed over his bare skin as she spoke. "That's a silly thing to ask for."

She felt Jace stiffen under her forehead as he tensed. "And why is that?"

She brought her face away from his chest and looked up at him. He looked like a mournful prince as the moon created shadows across his face, sharpening his cheekbones and defining his jaw. "Well, it's a waste of a request."

"Is it?" She watched Jace swallow thickly.

"I would say it's a waste if you already have it."

Jace smiled as he dipped his face closer to hers. "Kiss me."

Clary laughed. "That's two requests." She said even as he was bringing his head closer to hers, she smirked at him as she locked her hands in his hair.

"Humor me."

Jace laughed again as his lips closed around hers under a lover's moon.