The twins' first day of school
A soft thud echoed in the hallway. Jonathan froze, his hand hovering over the waffles on his plate; Sebastian looked around for the source of the noise. Their mother turned from the kitchen counter and the waffle iron to see what was going on.
Still in pajamas with adorable bedhead, Clary stood in the doorway of the kitchen, hugging a small box to her chest.
"What are you doing up so early, Clary?" Sebastian asked.
"I have something for you." Sleepy green eyes looked from one twin to the other anxiously, as if not sure how her present would be received, before she busied herself with the latch of her treasure box. "I found them at the craft store. Wanted to wish you luck."
Jonathan scoffed—he was always the one who tried to play it cool—but Jocelyn could see the relief in his eyes as his baby sister approached the table to set down her mystery offering.
Her brothers crowded in to look. Three keychains lay inside, each with a small plastic letter and a painted metal charm: a lime green C and a set of binoculars, a blue S and a tennis ball, a red J and a baseball. Each, of course, corresponded to one of the Morgenstern siblings and their interest.
Though he didn't exactly say thank you, the grin on Jonathan's face was reward enough for his sister as he plucked his from the box, clumsy five-year-old fingers struggling to clip it a zipper of the new backpack their mother had picked for him. (He hadn't cared, really, what kind of backpack he ended up with; since he had been participating in so many sports camps, Jocelyn had finally given up and gone to the store without him.)
Sebastian remembered his manners better—he always did—and managed a quick "Thanks" as he held out the keychain and his backpack to their mother, silently asking her to attach it for him. She did so with a smile. Though he'd spent what seemed like hours trying to pick a backpack, Sebastian was really the easier child; he was easygoing and humble enough to ask for help whenever he needed it.
Wordlessly she reached over to her older son, nimble fingers easily accomplishing what his could not. (Yet.) Then she turned to her daughter. "What about you, Clary?"
The little girl frowned for a moment, thinking. She didn't have a school backpack yet, since it would be two years before she needed one—but she did have a small pack of her own, in which she kept paper, crayons, and binoculars. Realizing that her pack had zippers like her brothers' backpacks, she ran down the hall to retrieve it.
Still smiling, Jocelyn fastened the keychain for her daughter. When she looked up, Clary had turned those big green eyes—Jocelyn's own eyes—on her.
"I wanna come."
"Sweetie, you know you're not old enough to go to school with Jonathan and Sebastian." Noting the tears welling up in Clary's eyes and anticipating the tantrum that was sure to follow, Jocelyn hastened to add, "But you can ride in the car. Okay?"
"Okay!" All trace of tears clearing up immediately, Clary grinned and climbed into her seat at the table, reaching for the plate of waffles in the middle.
Two years later: Clary's first day of school
Juggling his briefcase, laptop, and notepad, Valentine Morgenstern got up from the breakfast table. "I'm off to work. You three have a good day at school—bring honor to the Morgenstern name, yeah?" (It was a familiar if confusing command; his children had long since stopped questioning their father's many eccentricities. He was often up for a game, when he was home; that was all that really mattered.)
"Okay, Daddy," Clary chirped, still circling the kitchen and admiring her new backpack and school shoes by the door. She had yet to settle down to eat breakfast.
"Sure, Dad," Jonathan and Sebastian mumbled. In sync, of course. They'd spent so long perfecting this skill once they realized how much it disturbed and annoyed their kindergarten teacher, it had long since become a habit that they'd seen no need to change.
After a quick peck on the cheek from his wife, Valentine was off.
"Clary, honey, eat something, okay? I promise you, it'll be a while before recess. I don't want you to get hungry before then."
"Recess is the best part of school," Jonathan offered. "Everything else is boring."
"No, it's not," Sebastian said. "We learn cool things in science. And there's art."
Suppressing a grin, Jocelyn looked over at the refrigerator door. It was adorned with all the usual elementary school works: macaroni houses, self-portraits of dubious accuracy, indecipherable scribbles with necessary captions, and the like. Among the boys' masterpieces were some of Clary's own—colorful, whimsical, almost forcefully cheerful depictions of the fascinating things she observed while exploring the wide world of their backyard.
She looked back at the table, where the kids were squabbling over the last waffle. "Looks like you three are ready to go. Shall we?"
Clary looked around the room anxiously. Now that she was finally here, she wasn't so sure about this kindergarten thing anymore. There were so many kids in the room—fighting over blocks, looking for the desk with their nametag, standing around talking.
After saying a quick hello to Clary's teacher—since Mrs. Herondale had been the twins' kindergarten teacher, neither she nor Jocelyn felt compelled to stumble through the obligatory but awkward parent-first teacher introduction again—Jocelyn had left, leaving her daughter with a quick hug and an encouraging smile.
Left to her own devices, Clary was examining the basket of paints when a loud ringing noise made her jump. She'd always come along when their mother picked up the twins from school, so she knew it was the bell, but she hadn't realized it was so loud.
"Ahem. Welcome to kindergarten."
Everyone turned to look at the stern-looking woman standing at the front of the room.
She managed a tight-lipped smile. "If all of you would please find your seats, we'll begin."
Clary finally located her nametag in the middle of the very first row. She sat down, hugging her backpack for comfort. (It might have been brand-new, but it was the only familiar thing in this strange setting.) Then she noticed that everyone else had put theirs on the ground by their seats, and she did the same, remembering her brothers' warnings not to be too different from anyone else. ("Of course we'll beat up anyone who's mean to you," Jonathan had said as Sebastian nodded in agreement. "But it would be easier if we didn't have to.")
"Why don't we all go around and introduce ourselves?" The teacher nodded as if to answer her own rhetorical question. "My name is Imogen Herondale, but the school insists that you call me 'Mrs. Herondale.' My son, Stephen, is a lawyer, so I like to do whatever I can to support him. It's a hard job, you know. Why don't we go around? Give us your name and your favorite thing to do."
Though her brothers had deemed first-day introductions "boring," Clary listened carefully, already forming judgments on the people she would be spending the next nine months with.
"I'm Simon Lewis," said the bespectacled boy on Clary's right. "I like video games."
Suddenly nervous, Clary cleared her throat. "I'm Clary Morgenstern," she began.
"Jonathan and Sebastian's sister, aren't you?" Mrs. Herondale suddenly cut in.
Clary nodded, trying to remember what her brothers had said about their kindergarten teacher.
"I'll be keeping an eye on you, young lady. You may look more angelic than your brothers, but I know their tricks, which they've doubtless passed on to you. Don't forget, I already know your parents!"
It was in that moment that Clary first realized what it meant to hate. She'd never before imagined feeling anything but respect and love for an adult; her acquaintance with that group had so far been limited to her mother, father, and Uncle Luke, all of whom were always patient and kind.
"Next," Mrs. Herondale said, nodding at the girl on Clary's left.
"Clary didn't get to say her favorite thing to do," the girl pointed out.
"Oh, all right. Clarissa, do tell us your favorite thing to do, then."
Eyes downcast, she shrugged. "Drawing," she said at last.
"Can we move on, then?"
Clary's neighbor tossed a dark braid over her shoulder. "I'm Isabelle Lightwood. You might know my brother Alec."
"Oh, you're Alec's sister." Unlike the twins, Alec Lightwood apparently had not been a thorn in his teacher's backside—at least, if Mrs. Herondale's restored smile was any indicator. "And what do you like to do, Isabelle?"
"I like dance and gymnastics."
As Mrs. Herondale nodded in approval and moved on, Isabelle turned to Clary. "I didn't think she needed to be so mean to you."
Clary nodded, trying not to let out any of the things she wanted to say about their new teacher. She didn't like Mrs. Herondale very much, but she'd been raised to be polite. Plus, Jonathan and Sebastian had warned that teachers could send you to the principal's office if you misbehaved; their tone had made it very clear that being sent to the principal's office was a bad thing.
"My brother calls me Izzy," Isabelle offered. "Wanna be friends?"
Clary smiled. Maybe kindergarten wouldn't be so bad after all.
Jace Wayland sat atop the monkey bars, swinging his legs. The playground monitor eyed him warily but didn't say anything. He wasn't technically breaking any rules, and it wasn't worth getting into it with Jace (or Jonathan or Sebastian) anyway.
His amber eyes scanned the playground, lighting up as they landed on a familiar redhead. "Clary! First day, right? How do you like school so far? Hey, have you seen Sebastian?"
Izzy in tow, she walked over to join him. "Haven't seen him. This is Izzy, by the way."
Clary's new friend was glaring up at the blonde. "Jace."
"Isabelle." He looked amused.
"You know each other?"
"We're neighbors," Jace explained. "And I used to be best friends with her brother Alec. Now there's a teacher's pet if I've ever met one. Speaking of—who'd you get?"
"Herondale," Izzy piped up before Clary could answer. "Man, you should have heard her. She totally doesn't like Clary."
Jace grinned. "What'd you do?"
"Nothing." At his skeptical look, Clary shook her head adamantly. "I didn't do anything. But I think Jonathan and Sebastian—"
"You called?" There was Jonathan, running up from the handball courts. Sebastian was just a few steps behind him.
"Herondale hates me," Clary informed them ruefully. "And I think it's your fault."
"More his than mine," Sebastian said.
"You helped," Jonathan pointed out. "Takes two to tango."
Jace laughed. "I don't think that's how you use that phrase, Jon."
"Don't call me Jon."
Evidently there was some tension between the two blondes. Only Sebastian seemed unaffected as he clambered up to sit beside Jace. Once he was settled, his gaze moved to his sister's companion. "Izzy, right? Alec's sister?"
She looked mildly surprised. "Yeah, that's me."
"Join us," Sebastian invited as Jonathan waved and returned to the handball tournament. "This is probably the best spot of the whole playground."
After exchanging a quick glance, Clary and Izzy both smiled and climbed up to check it out.
"Who're those girls sitting with Sebastian and Jace on the monkey bars?"
Alec spared the quartet a quick glance. "One of them's my sister Isabelle," he panted as he chased after the soccer ball. "I think the other's Sebastian's sister. I dunno her name."
The sound of shouts rose above the usual playground din.
"Clary—" Jace began, voice placating.
"You be quiet, Jace! I want to know why Sebastian lied to me!"
They were beginning to attract attention, but the youngest Morgenstern didn't seem to notice or care.
Sebastian looked exasperated. "I said I was sorry, Clary!"
"Sorry doesn't fix everything, Sebastian Valentine Morgenstern!"
"Ooooooh!" came a chorus from their audience. Most of them knew Sebastian and Jonathan, at least by reputation, so of course anyone new interacting with them became a Person of Interest too. And in just seconds, the playground was abuzz.
"That's their sister? She doesn't look anything like them!"
"Whoa there, Sebastian, better listen to her!"
"Sebastian has a middle name?"
Jace eyed his best friend. "You never told me you had a middle name."
Sebastian shrugged. "It's not exactly on my list of Top Ten Things to Tell New Friends. I can add it, if you insist."
"I do insist. How is it that I've known you for"—Jace paused to calculate—"a year, and this is the first I've heard of your middle name. And it's a little weird, don't you think?"
"It's my father's name," Sebastian said, used to this reaction. "Jace, you know that."
"Yeah, well, it's still weird."
"Says the boy who was too smart for kindergarten. You should know all about weird."
"Being smart doesn't make you weird," Clary piped up. She didn't know Jace nearly as well as her brother (though he was frequently over at their house), but it was the perfect opportunity to trot out a rather clever-sounding thing she'd overheard her mother saying once.
"See, Sebastian? Even your sister's on my side."
Just then the bell rang, and Clary reluctantly headed back to face another round with Herondale. But she didn't have long to stew since Izzy was at her side, chatting away.
The twins and Jace's graduation ceremony
Most parents don't cry at their kids' fifth grade graduation, and neither do the majority of siblings of the graduates. But while Valentine and Jocelyn Morgenstern were as dry-eyed as most of the other spectators, their daughter sniffled throughout the whole thing.
As soon as the ceremony was over, the two boys hurried over. "What's wrong, Clary?" they asked with twin looks of concern. (While they were given to saying the same thing at the same time, they tended to have different reactions; this was not one of those times.)
"You're graduating—you won't be here next year!"
Slightly annoyed, Jonathan ran his finger through his overlong blond bangs—he'd pleaded their (yes, meaning his bangs') case by insisting that this was how he wanted to remember his fifth-grade year, since they (yes, his bangs) had accompanied him throughout it—while Sebastian barely sighed as he wrapped his arms tightly around his baby sister.
"Look, Clary—" the older twin began impatiently.
"You've just finished third grade, haven't you? It'll only be two years, then you'll join us at the middle school. Won't you be glad to have these two off your case for a while, kid?"
"Don't call me 'kid,' Jacae!"
"A-ha! There's the real Clary!"
"You—!" Enraged, the redhead flew at her brother's best friend.
Laughing, he caught her as she tripped. "Careful, kid."
"Don't call me—"
"Yeah, yeah, I know. But seriously, Clary… I would've thought you'd be happy to have us out of here for two years. No overprotective older brothers cramping your style, and the teachers'd probably be more likely to give you a chance if these two aren't around every day, reminding them of that painful year. But… apparently not." He raised an eyebrow. "Care to tell why?"
"It just won't be the same," insisted the little girl.
"The boys all make fun of me," the little girl blurted. "They laugh, and say that I need my big brothers to hold my hand and protect me."
"I knew I should've—"
"Calm down, Jonathan," begged Sebastian. "Clary's right here—don't scare her like you did last time." ("Last time" had involved a very scary pissed-off older Morgenstern boy, and several of his sister's classmates begging for their lives. Only the younger twin's intervention had kept the situation from evolving into a massacre.)
"You'll be fine," Jace assured his best friend's sister. "Just win a coupla fights, then—" Suddenly he realized Sebastian, Clary, and Jonathan's parents were listening. Oops.
Though Jocelyn frowned, Valentine grinned. "That's right! Clary, just show those boys that you don't need your brothers to be your sword and shield, and they'll leave you alone."
Doubtful as she was, the redhead dutifully nodded. "Sure, Dad."
"Come on, I want to sit on the monkey bars one last time, for old times' sake!"
Jace hurried off after Sebastian.
"Hey, wait for me!" Crossing her arms over her chest, Clary scowled. She'd never catch up, and she knew it.
"Come on." Jonathan knelt down.
Delightedly his sister climbed on his back, wrapping her slender arms loosely around his throat. "Love you, big brother."
Jonathan squirmed as only a ten-year-old boy can squirm upon hearing the word 'love.' "Sure thing."
A few days later: summer vacation
"So, I finally got Mom to take me to the craft store."
Jonathan hit the pause button on his controller, and the boys looked up from their video game expectantly.
Clary was holding a small bag. "Got something for you guys. To, you know, celebrate your graduation."
She carefully tipped the contents onto the floor as the boys craned to look. There was only one keychain (adorned with a gold letter J and a basketball), but there were other charms: a tree and a soccer ball.
"The keychain's for Jace, since you don't already have one. The tree's for Sebastian—since you like to climb things." The twin in question grinned, thinking back to golden afternoons spent in the tall tree in their front yard, as well as school days on the monkey bars. "And the soccer ball's Jonathan's." The older twin grinned too, remembering the daily soccer matches he'd joined once handball got "too easy."
"What about you, Clary?" Sebastian remembered to ask.
She shrugged. "I'm waiting until I graduate. Maybe I'll get a—"
"How about we get it for you? Make it more special," Sebastian suggested.
"Works for me." She smiled. "So, are you guys gonna let me join you?" She flopped down onto the sofa next to Jace, who handed her a controller.
Clary's graduation ceremony
"Clary, Izzy, Simon, smile!" Jocelyn snapped pictures as fast as she could—knowing that she'd only be able to hold their attention for so long before they and the boys were off—while the twins and Jace marveled over the changes that two whole years had brought to their old school.
"Damn, they replaced the monkey bars!" Jonathan nudged his brother, grinning.
"Watch your language," Valentine warned.
"Not gonna cry at your own graduation?"
Clary looked up at a smirking Jace.
"Or did you use up all your tears at mine?"
"I wasn't crying."
"Sure you weren't, kid."
She shook her head. "Even if I was—and I wasn't—it would've been for my brothers, asshat."
"'Asshat'?" Jace snickered.
"Sorry, Dad. But that's what Meliorn—"
"Meliorn Queen? Seelie Queen's annoying brother?" Jonathan wanted to know.
"Yeah." Izzy scowled.
"So that's why you two challenged him to a handball duel." Sebastian shook his head in fond exasperation.
"Of course, if he keeps it up, he's in for worse next year," Jonathan said casually. "We'll teach him a thing or two about respecting us Morgensterns."
"On the upside, you'll be joining us, too," Jace reminded Clary.
She grinned. "Yup. Oh—do you guys have something for me?"
"Knew I forgot something." At the look on her face, Jace laughed. "Just kidding. Sebastian should've already added it."
Clary scrambled for her backpack, grinning when she saw the little basket that now dangled from her keychain. Long bike rides, Easter egg hunts, and her habit of collecting random objects that caught her eye on the sidewalk—the boys could hardly have done a better job of choosing.
A/N: Obviously, these characters aren't mine, they're Cassandra Clare's; I just borrowed them. The ideas and words are mine, though.
Just to clarify, Jonathan and Sebastian are identical twins—Jonathan's older—and Jace is Sebastian's best friend. He's a year younger than the twins, but he skipped a grade.
EDIT 4/14/2015: As re-readers will probably notice, I went through and totally rewrote this chapter. Hopefully it's improved now, but let me know via review or PM if you have any thoughts (including how it compares to the original version). In other news, I got an AO3 (same username, SailorVegeta13; you may wanna check it out since I've posted some oneshots there, which may or may not make it onto FFN) and am planning on posting this fic there as well, once I finish with a few more chapters.
Not sure yet when the next update will be: I'm still in the middle of rewriting these chapters; though I'm sure a lot of you would prefer that I keep moving forward rather than revising these, I find myself mentally incapable of doing so before I go back and improve these, slip in some foreshadowing/details/scenes that I've been wanting to insert, and overall clean it up to prepare for future chapters. Once I catch up to where I was, I'll probably be updating both FFN and AO3 at the same time.