Hey guys! Here it is, the epilogue! I know a lot of you considered the last chapter to be the official ending of the story, which I guess it was because the contest ended, so I'm not going to write anything particularly long or sappy this time. (I think I used up a year's worth of sap in my replies to you all last time. I'm not going to bother denying it. It was emotional. I was emotional. A lot of you were emotional. It was one big sobfest.) So yes, now that that's out of all our systems, I hope you like this!
IMPORTANT: I changed it so that there's hardly any spoilers for those of you who haven't read The Infernal Devices, though the characters do play a big part in this and I'm still indulging those of you who have read TID as well - more in hints and references. I only explicitly give away two ships, but one is canon from the very beginning of TID and the other is implied in the blurb of Clockwork Angel (though I'm not confirming whether it's canon or not) so it should be okay for everyone to read. If you do feel wary about it, the part up to the first '-o-O-o-' break is completely safe and relevant for you all, so you can stop there. But yeah, the rest is fine really. Plus, the end has lots of cool MM-related news so I'd encourage you to finish it. Up to you :)
Anyway, thank you again (I'll do my main acknowledgements at the end) and enjoy this super-long epilogue! Also, I'll be online till roughly 12AM GMT if any of you guys want to talk :) If you're anon and you want me to reply to any questions, then I'll do so via a text post on tumblr so all you have to do is click on the link on my profile to the 'botbfic' tag and it'll take you to my responses. You can also directly ask me questions on anon on tumblr!
[Edit: I've also now updated my profile to make it more interesting. I'd forgotten how little it said before. Shameful, really.]
Disclaimer: I do not own TMI or any of its characters but I DO NOW OWN MY FIRST EVER FULLY COMPLETED FIC YAY!
Epilogue: Trying to find the ending
"Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern!" I yell, tapping my foot impatiently. Once, just once, couldn't we actually be somewhere on time? Granted, I'm usually the one to blame for our tardiness, but you'd think that on your aunt's wedding of all days you'd at least make an effort not to arrive half an hour late.
This time however, the blame falls entirely on my irritating older brother. I always knew he was vain, but spending two hours in the bathroom is a little extreme to say the least. In the end my parents just gave up and left, so now it's up to Jonathan to get us there in his own car. What is he so afraid of anyway?
"Camille already knows what you look like!" Jace laughs, hovering by the front door. "And you do realise that every second you spend in there is one more second she'll be left waiting for you?"
I'd almost completely forgotten we'd have to pick her up on the way. Great, now we'll be even later. At this rate, we may miss the entire thing. It's a good thing Charlotte didn't pick me for one of her bridesmaids, because she'd have my head on a stake for this.
"I'm ready!" Jonathan groans, finally leaping down the stairs. Of course, only the mention of Camille would get through to him.
Also referred to as: Jonathan's girlfriend.
As of the final of the Battle of the Bands contest a month ago, my brother is a taken man.
It hadn't occurred to me at the time why Jonathan should be so at ease. I was so wrapped up in my own little bubble with Jace at the time the winners had been announced – coincidentally not Mallard Massacre – that it hadn't seemed out of place for Jonathan to be smiling too. In my world, everything was sunshine and mangos. It was only afterwards when I'd reflected on the event that I'd realised things weren't right. Yes, Jonathan may not have been as devastated as he would have been a few weeks ago. Having Jace and the band back in his life was enough to keep him happy, but he should have been at least a little bit disappointed.
Luckily, it took him less time to tell us the truth than it had for Jace and I to tell him we were together. By the end of the following week he'd announced that Camille would be joining us for Christmas dinner. My mother all but fainted. As for my father, well, he was as vocal as you'd expect Valentine Morgenstern to be. Eventually it was Jace of all people who'd managed to keep the peace. He'd joined us for dinner too and every time my father's interrogation got too intense, he'd stepped in and changed the subject.
As disturbing as it is for me to admit, he's grown explicably closer to Valentine since the final. The name 'Gustav' hasn't been mentioned in my household even once after their triangle-induced bonding session.
In fact, I was the one who was more annoyed at him to begin with. He'd known about Jonathan's fascination with Camille for almost a year and yet he'd never chosen to mention it to me. Apparently the boys would always tease him whenever she was near, which is why he'd resorted to meeting up with her in the mornings this year.
And that's where I, albeit unknowingly, came in.
By the way I'd acted so embarrassingly around him before registrations, he'd thought that I had figured it out. I'll admit that I deliberately chose those moments to cause a scene because I thought he'd be uncomfortable around the girls, but I hadn't known quite how uncomfortable I'd made him feel. That's why, to try to throw me off the scent, he'd suddenly taken an interest in Isabelle. He wasn't that upset when she got together with Simon, because it was Camille he'd wanted all along. So all that time, Isabelle and Jonathan had just been using the other and they hadn't even known it.
If things hadn't worked out the way they had, they might have actually been pretty perfect for each other.
And so, it was on the day of the final that Jonathan finally plucked up the courage to tell her how he felt. She'd come at the request of Magnus – apparently they knew each other from years back – and Jonathan had found her during the final round of voting to confess his undying love. As it happened, she'd returned his sentiments and that's why my brother was practically glowing during the announcement.
Unfortunately, he hasn't stopped glowing.
"Jonathan," I gasp, watching him descend the staircase in his black suit and golden tie combo. "Are you wearing my blusher?" Gold is the colour scheme that Charlotte picked out, so all of the men in the family are wearing gold ties, while the women have some sort of golden accessory. Mine is a hairpin that Jace bought for me at Christmas, since he claimed he had to give me something sophisticated in front of my parents. The rest was all merchandise. Just the way I like it.
"What?" He shakes his head, attempting to cover some of his face with his hair. "Of course not. Don't be ridiculous."
"Yeah, Clary," Jace smirks, reaching out to pinch Jonathan's right cheek. "Don't be ridiculous. Jonathan has always had the cheeks of a baboon's backside. It's what makes him so beautiful."
"Close that distance and you can kiss your strumming hand goodbye," Jonathan snarls, glaring at Jace's outstretched fingers. He retracts his hand immediately, winking instead.
"If you guys are quite done with each other, I'd love to make it in time for the reception." I roll my eyes and make my way towards Jon's car, not waiting to see if the two boys are following.
Five minutes later, we're finally on the road. Needing more space for my dress, I've opted for the backseat while Jace sits up front with Jonathan. I didn't have as much trouble when it came to deciding what to wear this time, mainly because my mother had already picked it out for me and I had no say in the matter. Not that I have anything to complain about – she's far more knowledgeable in these matters than I am. The dress she chose is a rich navy blue, with a silk sash wrapped across the waist. I let it fan out around me on the seat, careful not to ruin it before I even arrive.
Camille doesn't live too far from us - a fact I'd tried to exploit all those months ago when Jonathan had threatened to make me walk home – so we don't have to make a diversion as we pull up outside her house. She's already waiting on the porch, the expression on her face a mixture between amusement and frustration. She's draped in what I can only describe as a red toga, though it looks far fancier…and would probably be better suited to the 1920s.
But what do I know?
She looks fabulous all the same.
Jonathan jumps out of the car to hold the door open for her, but she doesn't so much as glance at him as she slides in next to me.
"Hello, Jace. Hey, Clary," she smiles at me, brilliant white teeth glistening behind her blood-red lips. "You look great."
"Thanks," I grin back, taking a small amount of pleasure in the way that she's continuing to ignore my brother. He grumbles away to himself as he sits back in the driver's seat and revs the engine, while Jace nods at Camille. "But nothing compared to you."
"Well…" She shrugs, not disagreeing.
I haven't had all that long to get to know Camille, but from what I have learned, she's possibly one of the few people in the entire world who is more self-assured than Jonathan. In truth, that's probably why she's also one of the few people in the entire world who could ever deal with him. The only way to beat an ego like his is to have an even bigger one – the primary reason as to why Jace and Jonathan have been best friends for so long. Though, where with him it's just annoying, she manages to pull off her arrogance with charm. We actually get on pretty well.
"It's a pity," she continues. "That the wedding party won't be able to fully appreciate how much effort we've put in, what with us probably missing it and all."
"Yes," I smirk, noticing Jonathan's discomfort. Jace snickers at me through his side view mirror. "It's definitely a pity."
"All that time I spent doing my hair," she sighs, stroking her blonde curls. "I've been up since before sunrise, did you know that?"
"Really?" I gasp, still watching my brother. "What a sacrifice to make. Though, I guess it was sensible. Getting up a bit earlier if you know your hair is going to take long to style? What a novel idea. I wish more people thought like that."
"As do I, Clary. As do I. But alas, the world is full of idiots."
"That it is."
"Cam, I didn't mean…" Jonathan begins, his tone pleading.
"Wait!" Camille holds up her hand and he falls silent. "Clary, did you hear that?"
"Did I hear what?"
"Well, I thought I heard your brother's voice, but that's impossible. He said he'd be at my house by eleven. He can't be speaking now, he must be long gone."
"How strange. I just heard it again."
"Perhaps the exhaustion is finally getting to you?" I offer, trying to keep a straight face. "After all, you did lose so much sleep."
"You're right, that must be it. I'm hallucinating from the lack of rest."
"Oh how it haunts me!" She sucks in a breath, dramatically laying her hand across her forehead. "Please drive faster, Jace. The odours coming from this car can't be helping."
"Of course," Jace bobs his head. "I'll adjust the autopilot at once."
He smacks Jonathan across the head.
The car speeds up.
Almost an hour behind schedule – Jonathan got lost on the way and drove us to some institute instead – we finally arrive at the church. Camille rejects Jonathan's proffered hand and bounds up the steps on her own while I follow behind with Jace. The four of us then pause by the door to the chapel to try and figure out if the ceremony is still going on.
"I can't hear anything," Jonathan sighs, lifting his ear from the mahogany. "It's too thick. We're just going to have to go for it and try not to cause too much of a scene."
He pushes it open slowly and we brace ourselves as the altar comes into sight.
Every head in the room turns to face us as soon as we step over the threshold.
"Well, at least Camille's getting the attention she wanted," Jace whispers to me as I survey the scene.
Yes, everyone's facing us, but that now appears to be because the primary focus of the wedding isn't there. There's no one standing up at the front – no priest, no bridesmaids, no groomsmen and, most importantly, no bride and groom.
Did we miss it then?
I scan the crowd of faces for my parents who are sitting up at the front, then slowly walk towards them as the other guests turn away from us and resume their private conversations. We lose their interest just as quickly as we gained it. Isabelle, Simon and the others sit in the row behind my parents, both shaking their heads disdainfully; since Simon was originally going to be my 'plus one' before Jace entered the picture, Charlotte extended an invite to him too. The other Mallard Massacre members are here because of Jonathan's influence, though I doubt they've all even met my aunt.
I shift my attention from them and back to the front. My mother doesn't look angry so I use that to drive me down the aisle, awkwardly waving at the odd relative I recognise in the pews.
I sidle down next to her, the other three shuffling by my side.
"What's going on?" I mumble, adjusting my dress. "Where is everyone?"
"Charlotte's in the back," Mum says, leaning towards me. "Henry hasn't turned up yet."
"He what?" I gasp, swivelling to face the doors we just came through as if my uncle-to-be will magically appear by them.
"She arrived a little later herself, so we didn't think much of it to begin with. The last time I checked on her though, she said she still hadn't heard from him."
"He hasn't…I mean, you don't think he's had a change of heart do you?"
I don't know much about Henry Branwell, but the couple of times I have met him, brief although they were, he seemed to be completely besotted with Charlotte. Running away doesn't seem like something he'd do, at least, not away from her.
You see, I'd also come to learn that Charlotte's Henry was the same Henry who had bailed on Canard Cannibal at the semi-final of the Battle of the Bands. I knew he'd gone off to see his fiancé then, but it hadn't occurred to me at the time that his Charlotte could also be our Charlotte Fairchild. They are fairly common names, after all, and I had many other things on my mind.
Another thing I'd learned is that his mother is none other than my art teacher, Mrs Branwell. I'd suspected we got along so well because we were both redheads, but I now think there was more to it than that.
"No, I don't think he's gotten cold feet." Mum shakes her head, echoing my thoughts. "Plus, the other groomsmen are with him and no one can get a hold of them either. The next wedding isn't booked for a couple of hours yet so we've just been waiting."
"Do you think I should go and see her?"
"If you'd like to. She'd probably be more at ease with you anyway."
I nod and stand up, gesturing for Jace to stay put. Despite being my aunt, Charlotte is only twenty-three so I've always treated her more like an older sister rather than a strictly authoritative figure. Hopefully my presence might calm her down a bit.
I make my way around the back of the room, slipping into the side corridor my mother directed me towards. I count up to the third door along and knock.
A few moments later, it cracks open revealing a tall brunette with the most peculiar coloured eyes I've ever seen, aside from Jace's. They're a blue-grey, but the two colours intermix as if they can't make their minds up. She's also wearing a golden silk dress, the mark of one of Charlotte's bridesmaids.
"Hello!" She smiles down at me. "Are you from Henry's side? Is he here now?"
"Ah, no. I'm Charlotte's niece, actually."
"Oh!" She bites her lip. "Clary, isn't it? Sorry, it's just that I noticed your hair and I assumed…"
"It's okay," I laugh. "It is pretty distracting."
"Well, it's far more interesting than mine. I'm Tessa Gray, by the way. Come on in!" Tessa moves aside to let me through into the room. There are two other girls in gold standing nearby, but it's Charlotte I notice first. She stands at the far end of the room, gazing out of the window, her wedding dress flowing out around her.
Keeping with the theme, it's both white and gold. It's a brilliant white at the floor, but golden patterns of lace rise up around the skirts and over her back to wrap around the bodice. She turns when I enter, loose curls falling free from her bun.
"Clary!" Her face lights up, but the lines of stress are visible.
"Hey, Charlotte!" I move forward to hug her, avoiding her dress as much as I can. "You look stunning."
"As do you," she smiles knowingly, then glances down at her own gown. "Your mother has good taste."
"Wait…did she make that for you?"
"Aha, no. But she did design it."
"Wow." I had no idea she'd been working on anything other than her paintings recently.
"Henry will simply die of shock when he sees it," the blonde bridesmaid says. Charlotte introduces her as Jessamine Lovelace, while the other is Sophie Collins. I notice she has a jagged scar running down her cheek and it reminds me of something, but I can't quite place it. It adds to her look instead of marring it though, almost like she's the next Harry Potter. She tells me that the two of them both went to university with my aunt and then they met Tessa later on through Henry's friends.
"Speaking of…" Tessa's mobile begins to ring. "It's Will!" Charlotte looks up and we all gather round as she answers it. "Will? Yes, of course it's me. Who else is it going to be?" She rolls her eyes at us. "What on earth do you think you're doing? What?" Her eyes widen and Charlotte's breath catches. "What?... By the angel!... But what were you doing with that?...What do you mean?... Heavens, Will, why would you go and do something like that?...You WHAT!?...You are by the far the most idiotic, narrow-sighted…Fine. Just get here. Okay…Fine…Whatever…Bye."
She presses the 'end call' button a little too vigorously and huffs as she looks back up at us.
I know that feeling only too well.
"Ahh, young love," Jessamine laughs. Tessa ignores her.
"The good news is that they're fine and they're going to get here within the next ten minutes."
Charlotte lets out her breath.
"The bad news is, I'm going to kill my boyfriend."
"Get in line," Charlotte sighs. "Why is it that when something goes wrong, it's always William's fault?"
"I didn't say it was William's fault," Tessa says, on the defensive all of a sudden.
"Then whose was it?"
"Actually, they all…" She begins, but then her shoulders slump. "Fine. It was Will. He sourced the Rolls Royce they were going to drive up in from this vertically-challenged guy…"
"Wait," I stop her. "Let me guess. Six-Fingered Nigel?"
"Yes!" She raises her eyebrows at me. "How did you know?"
"Let's just say I've had a Nigel-related close encounter of my own." If I remember correctly, Six-Fingered Nigel was the same guy who was responsible for giving Will the car that he then passed on to Jace. The one we all lovingly referred to as 'the death trap.' I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Will hadn't learned his lesson; stubbornness appears to be a Herondale family trait. William will most likely be tied to Nigel for life.
"Poor you," she shudders. I'll bet she's had a couple of close encounters too. "Anyway, in true Nigel-related fashion, the steering wheel seized up and they drove into some ditch in the middle of the countryside. As a result, none of them could get any signal and instead of having the sense to walk to the closest point of habitation, they just waited around until a tractor turned up."
"Are you telling me my betrothed is coming to our wedding on a tractor?" Charlotte struggles to keep her breathing even once again. Perhaps we should loosen her bodice.
"No. The farmer called his friend to come pick them up."
The relief that follows is only momentary, because then Tessa adds: "His friend who is also a farmer and drives a slightly more roomy…combine harvester."
I turn to gauge Charlotte's reaction, but she's no longer next to me.
She's passed out on the floor.
By the time she's regained consciousness and calmed down somewhat, the boys finally arrive. Will bursts in through the door, followed closely by Gideon and Gabriel Lightwood.
"Crisis over!" He announces, raising his arms. "I have arrived. Now you can all put your minds to rest."
"Once I have put you to rest," Tessa fumes, storming up to him.
"Sweetheart, please, we have company," he grins wickedly, taking her hands. "Don't make me blush."
"Okay, I'm sorry. I'll admit, just this once…I may have misjudged the situation. Nigel assured me that-"
"I'm sure he did," Charlotte cuts in. "But we really don't have time for this right now. I'm supposed to be getting married and we can't keep Brother Enoch waiting any longer! Where's Henry?"
"At the altar with Jem – who, if you ask me, should have been the one to sort all of this out since he's best man and all. So really, if I hadn't intervened we wouldn't be here at all."
"Oh god, Will," Jessamine groans. "Please don't tell me you deliberately picked a dangerous car because you're still bitter about Jem being made best man over you?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Jessie. I got over that ages ago. And besides, if I were his best man, I wouldn't be able to walk Tessa down the aisle, now would I?"
"Speaking of…" Gideon pipes up. "We need to tell them."
"We don't need to tell them anything," Gabriel huffs, nodding at Will. "He does. He agreed to it, after all."
"What. Now." Charlotte sounds like someone who has been dragged through hell twice over and has then been locked in a room with several angry wasps and a goose. At least, I'd imagine only someone who has been through such trauma could produce the plain anguish in her voice.
"Right, yeah." For the first time, Will actually looks nervous. I've seen Jace like that plenty of times, but Will doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who is afraid of much. Perhaps a room full of these particular women would be his equivalent of several angry wasps and a goose.
I say a goose, because I doubt anything could rival the Herondale fear of ducks. Not even a wound up bride-to-be and an even more wound up girlfriend.
"Okay, so here's the deal." The rest of his words come out in a rush. "After the first farmer found us, he called his friend Farmer Gottshall to come and pick us up because he was headed in the opposite direction and it's very hard to turn a tractor around in such a narrow road. So anyway, Farmer Gottshall came along and initially the plan was for him to drop us in the next village where we'd call a taxi, but then we all got talking and time was short as it was, so he agreed to drop us all the way. On one condition."
"Ask him what the condition was…" Charlotte wheezes, turning to face away. She places her hand on my shoulder for support, both emotional and physical.
"What was the condition, Herondale?" Sophie asks.
"Erm." Wills shifts so he's out of Tessa's reach. "He'd get to walk one of you lot down the aisle."
"WHAT!?" All three bridesmaids shriek at once. Charlotte just stares absentmindedly into the distance.
"Curse you, William Herondale!" Tessa slaps his arm repeatedly as he attempts to shield himself. "Why would you go and make a stupid promise like that?"
"It was in the heat of the moment, okay?" Will yelps. "You had to have been there. And it's just a one-way thing, I swear! He'll walk to the altar and then he'll head straight back. You won't even notice him! Tell them, Gideon."
"I'm staying out of this!" Gideon backs away to stand by his brother.
"Look, he was talking about how he'd never had any children so he'd never be able to walk someone down the aisle and I felt sorry for him. Besides, there's four bridesmaids and only three groomsmen so technically there was an opening…"
"There's three bridesmaids, William!" Jessamine shouts. "Only three!"
"Three? But…" He looks around himself in confusion, counting the girls off on his fingers. "Tess, Sophie, Blondie…Clary!" His eyes land on me. "Clary. Oh shit."
"Nice to see you again too, Will," I glare at him. I know none of this drama personally affects me, but he's made Charlotte's day infinitely more stressful than it needed to be and it hasn't even officially begun. Plus, since Jace has been on his best behaviour recently, I've sort of missed being pissed off at a Herondale. His cousin will do.
"That's not what I meant, sorry. It's good to see you too, it's just-" He smacks himself across the forehead suddenly. "Cecy! Of course!"
"You know Cecily couldn't make it because of her horse-riding injury," Tessa says. "You of all people should have remembered that!"
"What have I done?" Will runs his hands through his messy black hair, pacing back and forth. Then he pauses mid-stride, his gaze falling on me again. "Wait, Clary!"
"Oh no!" I freeze, knowing what he's about to say. "I just came in to check on Charlotte and oh, look! She's fine!" I laugh awkwardly, sliding out from under her hand and then trying to move past Will. "You guys obviously have this under control so I should be getting back…"
"Clary, please?" He traps me with the full force of his dark-blue eyes, his lip beginning to tremble in what is only too familiar an expression to me. "You'd be helping me out so much. And through me, you'd be helping Jace, for we are family. Jace and I. We are of the same blood. The same flesh. We are family." He nods gravely, mouthing the word 'family' at me a third time.
What he doesn't realise is that if it weren't for Jace, I wouldn't have grown so resilient towards the Herondale charm and would have agreed immediately. It is a sad truth, but few humans could ever say no to a face like that. Tessa and I are two of them.
"Absolutely not." Apparently, Charlotte is a third. "This Farmer Gottshall will not be escorting my niece or any of my bridesmaids down the aisle. I have a better idea."
"So," Farmer Gottshall beams at us as we meet him outside the main hall doors. He's dressed in a pair of faded dungarees with a checked flannel shirt underneath, complete with a matching flat cap. You know, your average Shire wedding attire. "Which one of you fine fellows do I have the pleasure of walking down the aisle today?"
"The ancient mariner stoppeth one of three," Will grumbles, stepping forward. He begrudgingly takes the farmer's arm.
"Wonderful!" Gottshall claps. "I'll tell you, when Farmer Aloysius phoned me on the way to the fields and told me I had to pick up some wayward kids, I was downright miffed. Aye, was I miffed. But now, I thank my lucky Starks for that man. I get to walk my son down the aisle! Perfect weather for it too!"
"I'm not actually your son," Will mutters under his breath.
"Be nice, William!" Tessa nudges him from behind, dislodging some hay from his hair in the process. Must have been a fun ride on the way here. Since he has the privilege of walking with our bearded friend, I'll be accompanying Tessa down the aisle. Charlotte's plan was quite brilliant really.
"William, eh?" The farmer looks up wistfully. "Yes, a fine name. A fine name indeed for my son and heir."
"Heir?" Will perks up at this.
"Ah yes, if I had had a son he would have inherited so much from me. Acres of land, my prized combine harvester, my estate in Yorkshire and- well, technically it's Aloysius' estate, but his son eloped and disgraced the family name so all of his assets are also currently without a beneficiary."
"Is that so?"
"Indeed, we are truly forlorn farmers. Rich in coin but poor in heart. Such a travesty."
"Well then, I will not deprive you of this moment," Will says, sounding earnest. "I am honoured to have you at my side…Father. I hope that I can fill that son-shaped hole in your heart. For today, I mean. But you know what they say, once some holes are filled, they can never be emptied…"
Farmer Gottshall sheds a tear as he looks up at Will, while Tessa rolls her eyes. Once Gabriel has returned from fetching Granville Fairchild – Charlotte's father – we're ready to go.
"I think Will should lead the bridal procession, don't you?" Jessamine smirks, linking her arm with Gabriel.
"And I think you should shov…" Will begins, but then Farmer Gottshall looks over and he straightens up. "…el. You should really shovel all those leaves from your driveway. It's really not very good on the eyes, Jessamine. Anyway, Father, shall we?"
"We shall," Farmer Gottshall nods, throwing the doors open. He walks at the front with Will as the wedding march begins to play, followed by Tessa and I, Jessamine and Gabriel, Sophie and Gideon, and finally Charlotte and Granville. I notice Jace and Jonathan's mouths fall open as Will passes their row, the tear-filled farmer at his side. Jem and Henry are less surprised, but I can tell the two of them are struggling to keep straight faces. I catch Jace's eye and wink before standing off to the side with the other bridesmaids.
As soon as he's reached the altar, Gottshall removes his cap and looks around the room so he can cherish the moment, pulls Will into an unexpected embrace and then abruptly walks straight back down the aisle. I guess Will was right, it really was just a one-way thing. He narrowly misses Charlotte just as she comes into sight.
That wipes the grin straight off Henry's face and instead of amusement, his face is now filled with awe. She makes her way down the aisle gracefully, her eyes locked on Henry the whole time and that's where they stay until the ceremony is over and they've been pronounced man and wife.
The service is far less exciting than the drama that preceded it, but sometimes it's nice to have just a normal, peaceful wedding. No one lost the rings and no one forgot their lines. Also, no one was brutally murdered. Yep, very nice.
After sticking around for some pictures, we all head to the reception and since the venue is luckily just down the road, Charlotte's content with walking. No promises have to be made when walking. Most of the guests are already there, so it's just the main wedding party and family who are left to make our way.
Camille and Jonathan walk ahead of me and Jace, having made up after this morning. Apparently she was satisfied enough with the way that everyone had turned to look at her when we'd first arrived at the church, so she's forgiven Jonathan for making her wait. It still creeps me out to see my brother hand-in-hand with a girl, but I figure I owe him for the amount of times I've made him feel awkward for the same reason. I admit, however, that it's probably harder for him to see me with Jace than it is for me to see him with Camille. At least it's not Isabelle.
The reception is being held in the ballroom of a recently refurbished hotel – the Dumont, or Dumort as we used to call it. We all subconsciously huddle closer together as we approach the main entrance, still wary of the story that Jonathan told us at the sleepover on my birthday. I thought he'd made it up as he went along, but the slightly nervous way in which he moves behind Camille gives me reason to think otherwise. I latch onto Jace as we join the rest of the congregation inside, leaving Charlotte and Henry to prepare for their own grand entrance.
Since the hotel was practically derelict until just a few months ago, only the ground floor is currently in use so we've been instructed not to wander off, not that any of us need telling twice. The reason we were able to book it at all is because Charlotte's initial choice had accidentally been double-booked and so she'd had to find a different venue at short notice. It was actually Camille who'd told us she had ties to the new owners, so she'd arranged for them to let us use it before the hotel's official re-opening.
Despite the state of the rest of the building, the ballroom has been done up to perfection, with clusters of round tables for twelve arranged around the dance floor. The swing band that my mother had recommended to Charlotte – Madame Dorothea and the Card Pack – are already playing on stage.
The table we're meant to be sitting on is one of those bordering the dance floor. I take a seat next to Isabelle with Jace beside me, Jonathan and Camille sitting down next to him, and then there's those who are already seated: Magnus, Alec, Sebastian, Jordan, Maia, Simon and back to Isabelle. There's one spare seat since Sebastian didn't bring a date, but we're all secretly hoping to find someone for him tonight. Jonathan is the most keen on pairing him up so that, in his words, we can finally have a five-a-side football match. We've no sooner sat down than that the band suddenly switches songs and we have to stand up again for Charlotte and Henry's entrance.
We all gather around the dance floor as a magnificent cake is wheeled out into the centre and the newly weds stand behind it. They both place their hands on the knife that slices through it and then we all watch as Henry manages to make a spectacle of trying to feed Charlotte. Most of the cake ends up around her mouth rather than in it, but she doesn't look like she's ready to kill him just yet. I've got to credit her for having such patience. I don't think I could last ten minutes with a man like Henry.
After that, the band ask us to step back for Mr and Mrs Branwell's first dance, though Madame Dorothea corrects this to 'Mr and Mrs Branwell-Fairchild' at Charlotte's request.
"So," Jace says, threading his fingers through mine as Henry and Charlotte sway back and forth to 'I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing' by Aerosmith, a choice I thoroughly approve of. "Did I tell you how beautiful you look today?"
"No, but I believe you told my brother that he did."
"Ah, right," his cheeks go a little pink, not unlike Jonathan's this morning. "Well, if it's any consolation, I think you're more beautiful than Jonathan."
"Wow, Jace," I squeeze his hand, slightly tighter than necessary. "You really know how to make my day. This is why I love you."
"Hey! I don't recall you telling me I looked beautiful."
"Then I guess we're perfect for each other," I laugh, shaking my head.
"I am perfect, yes," he smirks, then leans down quickly to kiss me before my father turns around. Jace may have made progress with Valentine, but I have a feeling that making out with his daughter isn't acceptable just yet. He's still convinced that our relationship is strictly non-contact.
"Also, are you going to tell me what was up with Old Macdonald and my cousin earlier? I mean, at first I thought that Tessa had had some sort of terrifying surgery but then I saw her with you…."
"It's a long story," I say. "I'll have to let Will tell you himself."
"Tell him what?" Will jumps in between us, slinging his arms over the both of our shoulders.
"About your rugged man," Jace grins. "Not that I'm judging. If he makes you happier than Tessa then I'm all for it."
"Well, if his estate is as big as he claims it is then that may actually be the case."
"What?" Jace gasps, his eyes widening.
"Not in that way you pervert!" Will pushes Jace away from him, but keeps his arm around me. "He is like family to me. Family." Will looks at me when he says that again, nodding meaningfully. I notice other couples start to join Charlotte and Henry on the dance floor as their second dance begins, including Isabelle and Simon, my parents and most shockingly of all, Jonathan and Camille. I imagine that's her doing.
"Well, if that's what you like to do with family then I think I might disown you," Jace says, saluting at Jonathan as he whirls past us. My brother pokes his tongue out in response.
"You can't disown me, Jace. I'm older than you."
"Then I'm emancipating myself from your cousinship."
"Why is he so mean to me?" Will sobs, throwing himself at me. "He's the closest thing I have to a brother and yet he insists on treating me this way. What have I ever done to him?"
"Would you like me to write you a list?" It's Tessa who speaks up this time, appearing by Jace.
"Tess?" Will raises his head. "Don't take his side!"
"Why not? His side is far better than yours." She arches an eyebrow, then takes Jace's arm. "Hey, Jace, would you like to dance?"
"Of course," Jace grins, winking at the two of us. He leads Tessa out onto the dance floor, completely oblivious to Will's gasps of horror.
"Clary?" He turns his puppy dog eyes on me again.
"You know, I'd really rather stay out of this sibling rivalry." Since I have two left feet, I'm actually glad that Jace is dancing with Tessa. It keeps him from asking me.
"Oh come on, Clary. Please? After all that trauma I endured earlier with Farmer Gottshall, can't you do me one little favour?"
"It didn't seem that traumatic for you at the time," I point out. "If anything, you appeared to be rather enjoying it."
"I had to keep up appearances. Family is important."
"Why do you keep saying that?"
"Because it is!" Then his mouth quirks up at the corner. "And sooner or later, you're going to be a part of it."
"Will, I'm seventeen. Marriage is light years away."
"Maybe, but you don't know us Herondales. Once we find that one girl in our lives, that's it. There's no other. Be it in one year or ten years, you'll become one of us."
"We'll see," I roll my eyes, but I can't help the smile that begins to creep across my face.
"So, a dance for your future brother-in-law?" He holds out his arm. "It'd really annoy Jace."
"Purely because of your latter argument…" I sigh deeply, letting him take me onto the dance floor. Jace notices us immediately, his eyes widening; I guess he really hadn't expected me to go along with Will. This could be fun after all. "You should probably know though, I can't dance."
"Nonsense, everyone can dance embarrassingly at weddings. It's the done thing. If anything, you'd be ridiculed if you danced properly." He holds my hands, twirling me around as the band begins to play their upbeat swing music once again. "Right, are you ready to learn some of the most iconic dance moves of all time?" Will asks, stepping back. Then he places his arms out by his sides, his hands fisted and moves them back and forth in time with his swaying hips. "I call this 'The Towel.'"
"Are you serious?" I laugh, mindful of all the other people in the room.
"Deadly serious," he says. "Go on, give it a go."
I notice Jace looking over at us again so I decide to ditch the rest of my reputation and try to imitate Will, pretending that I'm drying myself with a bath towel.
"Very good," Will commends. "You'd make a convincing mime. Now for the next one, my own med school favourite, CPR." He places one of his hands on top of the other and then pumps his hands to the beat as if he were trying to resuscitate someone. I join in immediately this time, all traces of shyness gone. "Okay, you're ready for The Stethoscope."
This time, he presses two fingers to his left ear, and then waves his other fist as if he were trying to find someone's heartbeat. By the time he shows me 'The Oxygen Mask,' I have tears running down my cheeks and many other people seem to have joined in. Jem stands to Will's right, pretending to be his assistant in surgery and passing him invisible items. Magnus offers himself up as the patient, while Alec moves side-to-side awkwardly. However, on the other side of the floor, Jace seems to have built up a following of his own.
Jonathan, Jace, Tessa and Camille have some sort of martial arts-style dance routine going with the two boys throwing mock punches at each other and reacting exaggeratedly in poses that you'd likely find in The Matrix. As more and more people begin to join our mock-up hospital, equal numbers are flocking to the fight club, and Will and Jace seem perfectly aware of it. Meanwhile, Charlotte, Henry and the rest of the 'adults' dance in the middle of the floor, completely oblivious to the bloodbath that's about to commence.
I think we are about to have a dance-off.
At my aunt's wedding.
Will's first nomination for his side is Gideon Lightwood while Jace sends Sebastian forward. The two boys skirt around the happy couple, taking their respective hospital/fight-related moves to the next level, with Sebastian performing some sort of complicated kata and Gideon pretending he's trying to wheel a stretcher in between the other dancers. Sebastian clearly wins since Gideon quickly runs out of ideas – there's only so much you can do with a stretcher - so Will is forced to raise the stakes.
He sends out Gabriel with his signature 'Checking Pulses' move and Jordan comes out to meet him, alternating between high-kicks and punches. I see Charlotte eye them suspiciously at one point, but the boys notice almost immediately and return to more conventional moves until she looks away. In the end, Maia comes out to drag Jordan away so Gabriel wins by default.
"Time to send out the big guns…" Will smiles, turning to me.
"Nope," I shake my head violently. "I draw the line at ridiculous dance-offs."
"This isn't ridiculous! Jace and I have had this planned for ages!"
"You have?" I raise my eyebrows.
"Yes! Since Mallard Massacre very narrowly beat us in the Battle of the Bands contest, I challenged him to a duel. This was his choice of retaliation."
"Are you telling me Jace wanted a dance-off?"
"Didn't you notice his wink before he took off with Tessa?"
"I thought that was only because of Tessa…wow." Of all the ways Jace Herondale would settle a rivalry, this is definitely not the method I'd have betted for him to choose. No wonder Jonathan seemed so on board. Normally, he'd rather gouge his own eyes out than be seen dancing. If it's a matter of honour then, well, that would change things.
"So, Clarissa Morgenstern, will you fight for me? He'd back down straight away for you."
"Of course not! This is between the two of you and that's how it's going to stay. I'm not going to get caught up in your squabbles for the rest of my life."
"Ah," he grins. "So you admit it's for the rest of your life?"
"Shut up, William." I walk away from the dance floor, or battlefield as it's now become. I notice Tessa has also left Jace's side and now stands in more neutral ground with Isabelle and Simon, so I decide to join them.
"Good decision," she nods. "Herondale battles can get pretty messy. Someone's got to keep their head on."
"So this happens often?"
"Unfortunately, yes," she sighs. "Having such two massive egos in one family was never a good idea, but stick with me and you'll be fine. It's more fun to stand back and watch."
Tessa indicates towards the dance floor where Will has finally sent out his biggest weapon: Jem. In response, Jace has chosen Jonathan. They've pulled out all the stops for this one.
Jem and Jonathan fly around each other, their silvery shades of hair blurring into one. My brother moves with a surprising amount of grace for someone who is such a slob at home, weaving in and out of the crowd wielding imaginary swords. Meanwhile, Jem successfully evades the path of his swords with even more elegance, while attempting to use an invisible defibrillator on himself and then Jonathan. Neither parties appear to be tiring and other people have started to take notice, so it becomes clear that someone's going to have to end it soon before Charlotte catches on and murders them all.
To my surprise, that someone ends up being both Will and Jace themselves. The two patriarchs jump in to back up their respective best friends, with Jace bounding lithely out of the way every time Will comes too close with his own 'defibrillator.' The others close around to form a circle around the foursome, shielding the last battle from everyone else so we have to move forward to get a better view. I manage to sneak in beside Magnus and Alec.
Jem and Jonathan's personal fight continues, though it looks like Will's managed to get a hold of Jace and is now performing the Heimlich Manoeuvre on him.
"Not joining in?" I ask Magnus, squinting at the light reflecting off his gold sequined shirt.
"No," he laughs. "I can't really pick a side when it comes to those two; Jace is in my boyfriend's band, but Will and I go so far back. Plus, it just wouldn't be fair. My dancing skills would defeat each one of them in less than a second, thereby completely obliterating their rivalry and crowning yours truly as the ultimate champion of all. I wouldn't do that to their poor, fragile selves."
"That's very altruistic of you," Tessa comments.
"Alas, sacrifices must be made for the good of mankind. Speaking of…" He steps forward into the circle, prying Will and Jace apart. "Jace, it's time to accept your defeat. You were well and truly Heimlich-ed."
"What!?" Jace protests, his mouth agape. "That's not true, I was almost free! Plus, Jonathan and Jem are still going."
Magnus grabs the two pale-haired boys by their collars and pulls them to the side.
"Now, they're not."
"It's okay, Jacey!" Will pats my boyfriend on the back. "You fought bravely. At one point, I thought I'd never catch you. Actually no, that's a lie. You need to practice your footwork, bro."
"This doesn't mean you win!" Jace shakes his head. "We won the semi-final, so this just puts us on a tie. We have to have a decider."
"What's being decided?" Charlotte yells, pushing her way through into the circle.
"Nothing!" Will chuckles as the boys resort back to their normal dancing, though it looks more like the jig Carlton would do from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air whenever Tom Jones started playing.
"Nothing at all!" Jace chimes in. "We were wondering who was the best dressed today, but there's obviously no question that it's you."
"I should say so," Charlotte snaps. She narrows her eyes at the rest of us, before returning to Henry.
"Some other time then?" Jace asks.
"Some other time," Will nods, glancing over at Charlotte and Henry.
Tessa and I agree to keep an eye on our boyfriends for the rest of the night, but it seems that once they've gotten it out of their system, the two Herondales actually get along just fine. The party continues without much incidence, apart from when I catch Sebastian and Madame Dorothea making out on the way to the washroom. She can't be much older than her late 20s, but it'll take years of therapy for me to wipe that image from my mind.
I also thought I spotted Raphael the pizza deliveryman from the sleepover on my way back, but he passed by so quickly that I probably imagined it. It wouldn't make much sense for him to be here.
Before we know it, the sun has set and it's time to wave Charlotte and Henry off for their honeymoon. We congregate at the bottom of the steps leading up to the main entrance, waiting for the couple to come out.
"So," Will turns to Jace. "In all seriousness, how are things going with the band?"
"Not too bad," Jace says. "We had a bit of break after the contest because I had some errands to run for Angle Raziel. Part of the deal of letting us back in was that I'd be his personal assistant while Jonathan Shadowhunter was away. I actually looked in on some of Feline Tendencies' recordings."
"Is that so? Well, we did say that at least one of us should have our name on that EP. Maybe they'll mention you in their acknowledgements section?"
"Hilarious," Jace rolls his eyes. "But, for real, I think things are looking up now."
"Yeah," Jonathan adds. "This promoter approached us a couple of weeks back – Satrina Kendall – and she said she's interested in representing us. Have you heard of the band, Mark Of Cain?"
"Of course, I love that band! Well, I used to anyway. I heard Michael isn't the singer anymore?"
"No, he's not, but Raffe is pretty great. Gabriel and Sammael are still in the band though."
"Is Raffe the really hot one?" Simon butts in.
"Yes," I answer. Jace showed me a few videos of the band and the new lead singer is definitely nice to look at. He has the face and voice of an angel. "But you're lucky Miss Blackthorn isn't around to hear you say that. I think she's convinced you're gay."
"Hey!" Isabelle protests, latching onto Simon. "I can attest to the fact that he is most definitely not gay."
"Oh god," Jonathan clutches his stomach. "I can feel that five-course meal about to come up."
"Anyway," Jace takes over. "It turns out they're doing a continental tour in the summer and if things go to plan, we may be joining them on their national leg!"
"That's awesome," Will nods in appreciation.
"It is. If you play your cards right, we'll take Canard Cannibal out as our support act whenever we get round to doing a headline tour."
"That would truly be the greatest honour of all," Will says, placing his hand on his heart.
"I know it would. This is why I extend it only to you, my family."
"And this is what increases the honour. That we are family."
"Family means that no one gets left behind," Jace says solemnly, placing his hand atop Will's shoulder. "My band may rise to new heights of stardom, but I'll always make sure I'm nearby."
"And if you ever find yourself in need of urgent medical attention, I'll always make sure I'm nearby."
If extreme sarcasm is another Herondale family trait, I worry for my children.
Before they're given a chance to continue their verbal sparring match, Charlotte and Henry appear at the top of the steps. With a face almost as red as his hair, Henry removes Charlotte's garter and flings it into the crowd.
The frilly lace flies through the air, over the outstretched arms of most of the men to then go and land on Jonathan's head.
"Eww!" Jonathan cries, shaking it off and throwing it at Jace. "That's it, I'm definitely going to puke now."
He runs off to the side of the building while Jace twirls it round.
"I told you," Will whispers to me, waggling his eyebrows.
"Jace didn't catch it, that doesn't count."
"Only because Charlotte has poor aim. Fate intended for him to have it, just like I predicted." Then he begins humming the wedding march under his breath until Jace looks over and I have to stamp on his foot. I thought I had a rough deal, but Tessa must have to put up with so much worse having Will around. I honestly don't know how she does it.
Charlotte then prepares to throw the bouquet, so all the bridesmaids and the other women gather at the front expectantly. I decide to hang around at the back, despite Will's encouragement. Almost a head above everyone other than Tessa, Isabelle manages to catch the bouquet with ease, turning round to wave seductively at Simon. The poor boy looks as if he's about to faint.
With that over, we throw confetti at the couple as they bound down the stairs – though my father insists on tipping an entire box's worth over Henry – and cheer as they drive off in their taxi. They'll be heading off to their honeymoon in Alicante, Spain, tonight.
"Now what?" Jace looks around, noticing other people are beginning to head off too. He pulls me to him, the garter now resting on him as an armband.
"Well, I noticed that the band haven't packed up yet," Jordan grins, gesturing towards the hotel.
Yes, probably because Madame Dorothea is otherwise occupied.
"A load of instruments left unattended…" Will purses his lips. "That's rather wasteful, don't you think?"
"Yeah," Jace nods. "It's a crime against music."
Then the boys take off running, jostling each other on the steps to make it inside first.
"Don't start without me!" Jonathan gasps, pushing past us. Sebastian runs in just after him, though he's missing his tie and looks significantly more dishevelled than before. Even Simon joins in, picking up the swing band's saxophone, though I doubt he has any idea how to play it.
Camille, Isabelle, Magnus, Maia and Tessa join me at one of the tables farthest from the stage. Where our respective partners are bursting with energy, the five of us look completely drained, but we're all still smiling.
I cross my arms and sigh. If Will's right, I really am in for a lifetime of trouble, but as I watch the boys begin to set up, their faces bright and alive with excitement, I'm no longer terrified by that prospect.
Jace gives me a salute as he slings the guitar over his shoulder and I salute him back.
We don't know what the future will hold, but if we find ourselves as happy as Charlotte and Henry in five years' time, or even my parents in decades to come, it'll be worth it.
This is what I signed up for.
The moment I kissed Jace in the storage room that day, this is the future I'd created.
And to be completely honest with you, I can't wait.
Wow, almost 10 months since beginning this, I can't believe it's finally over! Before I say all my gushy thank-yous, some news:
Come this summer, I'm toying with the idea of writing tour diary entries for the boys on their blog as they travel the country with Mark Of Cain. It'll be from varying POVs within the band and if people like it enough, I'll upload it as a separate fic. So stay tuned for that!
I will also be posting outtakes and though I'm marking this story complete for now, they'll be a part of BotB, not a separate fic. The main ideas I'm playing with so far are:
Clary's date with Smeliorn
Clary's story about Jace (The bird, the statue and Magnandalf) [Chapter 13]
Jace's POV of the kiss [Chapter 17]
Jonathan's POV of the revelation [Chapter 27-28]
Let me know your favourites in a review, or if you have any other ideas then you can request them and I'll see what I can do. If you want anything from Valentine's POV, still let me know, but I'll post it as a part of From Switzerland With Love since that's already dedicated to him. Either way, I'm going to be having another break now to concentrate on my exams so I won't be posting anything more until the end of June-ish, but I'll be reading everything as I go along. That also means that if I don't reply to you guys tonight, I won't get round to it for a while unfortunately. But yeah, I'm still here. I'll just be silent for a bit.
I've also uploaded a new story - The Adventures of Jonathan and Jonathan - so feel free to check that out if you haven't already, as well as the Valentine spin-off which I will be continuing this summer as well. There are plans for another full-length story like BotB, either TMI/TID or a crossover, but I'm still playing with ideas so we'll see how that goes. Subscribe to my account if you'd like to get an e-mail whenever I do upload a new story.
And finally, phew. I know my author's notes always end up being so long, but it's because you guys give me a lot to say. I feel more in touch with you guys than a lot of authors on this site and I know this story wouldn't be as successful if it wasn't for your support, so for all the words I'm able to write, I'll never find the right ones to thank you all enough. But since this has become a fic of book-like proportions, I'd like to thank a few people in particular:
My sister, for getting me into the Shadowhunter series in the first place and then helping me proofread the first few chapters. I know you stopped reading as soon as things got romantic because the thought of me writing a romantic scene made you want to vomit, but cheers. My brother, for being sufficiently annoying enough to inspire my version of Jonathan. You can be cool sometimes. Just don't move the drum kit below my bedroom again to wake me up every morning. And my parents for giving birth to me. That was great.
Thanks to my bandmates for inspiring the dynamic of Mallard Massacre: (tumblr names) jadejake for all the amazing artwork, fawkesofalbion for staying up with me late at night as I panicked over the first kiss and so much more, and iswearimnotapervert for living the real-life rockstar boyfriend dream. I'm so jel. (Hey Phil, if you're still reading)
Thanks to my flatmates for putting up with my late nights and even later mornings, especially my roommate for all the times I kept her up with my wheezing laptop.
Cheers to my wee Scottish friend 'Narnia' for constantly pestering me for spoilers and being the closest thing I have to a beta ;) I am confident we will find each other husbands soon!
Also, thanks to Zack Hansen from TWA for being the coolest guy I've ever had the privilege of hanging out with and inspiring this entire story. Love you, dude.
And last but not least, you guys. This has been the most stressful thing I've ever done, but also the most rewarding. I can't wait to start working on my book and getting things rolling.
Once again, I love you all. (Oh and hail Conchita Wurst, queen of Europe!)
Till the next time...