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The scene that takes place during pages 170-174 of City of Ashes, in the chapter The Seelie Court, here from Jace’s point of view. I even gave it a name — “Because It Is Bitter.” Because boy, is Jace bitter here. “But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart.” — Stephen Crane “I know that I will not leave my sister here in your Court,” said Jace, “and since there is nothing to be learned from either her or myself, perhaps you could do us the favor of releasing her?” The Queen smiled. It was a beautiful, terrible smile. The Queen was a lovely woman; she had that inhuman loveliness that faeries did, that was more like the loveliness of hard crystal than the beauty of a human. The Queen did not look any particular age: she could have been sixteen or forty-five. Jace supposed there were those who would have found her attractive — people had died for love of the Queen — but she gave him a cold feeling in his chest, as if he’d swallowed ice water too fast. “What if I told you she could be freed by a kiss?” It was Clary who replied, bewildered: “You want Jace to kiss you?” As the Queen and Court laughed, the icy feeling in Jace’s chest intensified. Clary didn’t understand faeries, he thought. He’d tried to explain, but there was no explaining, not really. Whatever the Queen wanted from them, it wasn’t a kiss from him; she could have demanded that without all this show and nonsense. What she wanted was to see them pinned and struggling like butterflies. It was something immortality did to you, he’d often thought: dulled your senses, your emotions; the sharp, uncontrollable, pitiable responses of human beings were to faeries like fresh blood to a vampire. Something living. Something they didn’t have themselves. “Despite his charms,” the Queen said, flicking a glance toward Jace — her eyes were green, like Clary’s, but not like Clary’s at all — “that kiss will not free the girl.” “I could kiss Meliorn,” suggested Isabelle, shrugging. The Queen shook her head slowly. “Nor that. Nor any one of my Court.”
still staring at his sister. Relief pounded through Jace’s veins like blood. and sometimes vain. “If a kiss is all . . and watching Simon put his hands on her. And then been surprised he’d thought it. The ice in Jace’s chest turned into liquid fire. restlessly alive. Maybe it was knowing how people who enjoyed cruelty for the sake of cruelty thought. made him feel at once sick and faint and murderously angry.” He took a step toward Clary. She rested her hands on Simon’s waist. glimmering with delight: now this was what she was after. for all he knew.” she said firmly. Was she disappointed not to be kissed by Simon? Relieved as he was? He thought of Simon kissing her hand earlier than day and shoved the memory away viciously. She looked concerned. She was the one thing in his life that mattered more than anything else. . so obviously the Queen wouldn’t care about it. Jace wanted to ask her what she’d expected — kissing Meliorn wouldn’t have bothered her.” said the Queen. in a voice like the soft slice of a knife. who didn’t move away. Then Clary seemed to swim into focus: she was very pale. “I’m not kissing any of you. he’d thought with satisfaction. He supposed it had been nice of her to offer. wherever he wanted to. “No. he thought. ought to know better. She wasn’t some girl he barely knew anymore: she was Clary. “Just so it’s official. Jace wondered. but Iz. Isabelle was thoughtless. Look at me. at least. mundane boy. The urge to stalk up and rip the two of them apart was so strong he could barely breathe.” “That hardly seems necessary. Maybe she had. For a moment all he cared about was that he wasn’t going to have to watch Clary kiss Simon. . He looked away fast. If you love me. their agony. her green eyes darting everywhere.” said Simon. which was bad enough. drowning out what his friends were saying. Maybe it wasn’t just knowing the way the Fair Folk thought. He couldn’t stand the thought that she might feel sorry for him. the other boy practically choking on getting the words “I love you” out of his mouth while Clary looked around the room. and caught the eye of the Seelie Queen.” Simon stepped away from Clary. and he couldn’t help wondering what she was thinking. as if she’d done it a million times before. he clenched his hands at his sides as Simon took Clary gently by the arms and looked down into her face.Isabelle threw up her hands. Clary glanced back at him. What difference did it make to him what this girl he barely knew thought? That seemed like a lifetime ago. Get lost. She’s not interested in you. Their pain. Look up. you’ll look at me. he’d known it since he’d seen them together in that stupid coffee shop. to Simon. She’d had dealings with faeries before. He knew Simon loved her. “That is not what I want either. stepped forward. She tossed her dark hair back and scowled. her red hair slipping over her shoulder. reluctantly. but she wasn’t cruel.
“Well. she won’t be free. His eyes were big and dark and serious. And as my words bind my magic. but he ignored him. from Jace to Clary.” he said nastily.She crossed her arms over her chest. And that was the most dangerous thing of all.” Simon was bright red. But she didn’t look up. “Only that and nothing more. and as usual. I’m not kissing the mundane. But if—” “I guess it’s true what they say. “Why are you doing this?” “I rather thought I was offering you a boon. There are no straight men in the trenches. answered that.” Jace looked back at those eyes. “I knew it. he thought. Hopeless rage rose up in Jace’s chest. “Desire is not always lessened by disgust. the way she did when she was cold or upset.the way she was looking at Jace. like a favor. what was going to happen. If the kiss that Clary most desired wasn’t Simon’s.” Jace felt blood flood into his face. He was vaguely aware of Simon arguing that Jace and Clary were brother and sister. that it wasn’t right.” “That’s atheists. Simon was probably a good person. If she doesn’t desire your kiss. and he wanted to say thank you. “There are no atheists in the trenches. it was exactly what he ought to want for his sister. He loved Clary and he wanted to take care of her and make her happy.” she said. . “Forever’s an awfully long time. so you can know the truth. He’d probably make a spectacular boyfriend. Thank you. then . Nor can it be bestowed. Logically. But he couldn’t look at Simon without wanting to kill someone. he thought. as around him his companions argued about whether Clary and Jace had to do this. “While this is all very amusing. . jackass. found its escape in a sarcastic comment. and her eyes were like the sea before a deadly storm. “I’d rather stay down here and rot. to those most deserving of it. leaning forward so that her white neck and breasts were displayed above the neckline of her low-cut gown. don’t you?” “Of course not. “You want to kiss me. or what any of them would be willing to do to escape the Court. The Seelie Queen was looking at him. Jace knew.” Simon went from red to white. Jace’s heart started to pound. The conversation went on around them: who was going to kiss who. the kiss that will free the girl is the kiss that she most desires.” “Forever?” said Simon.” she said.” he said. To allow the Queen to give you . He met the Queen’s eyes with his own.” It was the Queen who interrupted them.
and lost. but other girls were beautiful.” said Jace. saying something. and as it always did.” He looked at Clary. Isabelle sounded exasperated. Clary looked up. She understood him. Simon was still talking. so very much a part of her. and wondered if she heard it. People fell in love. “A test. they shattered his heart. but there were other smart girls. “You don’t have to do this. too. exhausted. it’s a trick—” “Not a trick.” he said. There was no Jace Wayland more real than the one he saw in her eyes when she looked at him. Clary. laughed when he laughed. saw through the defenses he put up to what was underneath. Not that it mattered—there was no way to hide it. He had asked himself. She was smart. He had never wanted like this before.” “That’s right. be able to kiss her again. gasping and sweating? That when he thought. ‘Who cares. of not pulling her against him and taking this once chance. and kissing her the way he had thought he would never. Simon was arguing with Isabelle now as the Seelie Queen lounged back and watched them like a sleek. then finally. he was going to make it count. How had she looked at him and known.” Jace said. wanted. angry again. turning her to face him. staring at the blank walls of his room. the effort of holding back. however dangerous and stupid and unwise. . The calmness in his own voice surprised him. her hand wound in a curl of her hair.something you wanted — truly. Clary. He’d have bruises in the morning. She was biting her lip. and moved on. There had always been girls. and her wide green eyes rested on him. “It’s just a kiss. maybe. in the dead of night. he wanted to die or hurt or bleed so badly he’d go up to the attic and train alone for hours until he was so exhausted he had no choice but to pass out. amused cat. He moved toward her. as if they stood on a spotlighted stage in an empty auditorium. He could feel the tension in his own body. truly wanted — was to put yourself in her power. her eyes a brilliant green. She was beautiful. what made Clary so different. he could find all that somewhere else. he wondered? That this was what he thought about. and heard the roughness in his own voice. All he knew was that whatever he had to owe to Hell or Heaven for this chance. in his life. He put his hand on her shoulder. woke from dreams of. anyway? It’s just a kiss. about the fact that he might never get to kiss Clary again. and her cheeks were flushed. She had stopped biting her lip. the gestures so characteristic. really thought. bruises and cuts and scraped skin and if he could have named all his injuries they would have had the same name: Clary. Clary. the rest of the world fell away until it was just them. He didn’t know why he didn’t even want to. He didn’t know why he couldn’t. It was too much. But still.
but it was permission enough. Her eyes were still closed. over the sleeves of her damply clinging shirt. and he was pulling her against him. lost in the sensations that spiraled through his nerves and blood and bones. Stay with me. and it jolted him back to reality. fragile skin. don’t want him. But the words meant nothing. her hands still open.” she said. trying to tell her. unlocking her hands from around his neck and stepping back. His hands slid down to her waist. Her eyes were wide. all the things he could never say out loud: I love you. Her arms came up around his neck and he pulled her against him. kissing him as fiercely as he was kissing her. Want me. and it was half bitter triumph and half pleading. and the softness. His hands flattened against her back. don’t be with him. He clung to her more tightly. to her shoulders. her lashes coppery lines against her pale.He reached down and took her hands. All the self-control he’d exerted over the past weeks went. Behind her. if you like. and hugged herself as if she were cold. pressing her against him. His mouth came down on hers. but he did it. Isabelle was gaping at them. and he had no idea what he would have done or said next. the way she always did when she was upset. like water crashing through a broken dam. knotting his hands in her hair. he said to her with his eyes. and he didn’t know what she wanted. But there was no answer on her face. Simon looked as if he was about to throw up. He flicked his tongue along her lips. Her eyes fluttered shut. and this was Clary. usually more than he did. They might as well have been in a foreign language. opening her mouth under his. if it would have been something he could never have pretended away or taken back. with the press of his mouth on hers. and she was soft and pliant but surprisingly strong like no one else he’d ever held. He had never kissed a girl without knowing she wanted it too. My sister. but he heard a soft hiss of laughter — the Faerie Queen — in his ears. He slid his hands up hers. . He pulled away from Clary before he it was too late. Be with me. “I’ve never even been to England. she wrapped her arms around herself. the anxiety in her voice almost undid him. She’s my sister. Her lips were parted. He tried to read Clary’s face — did she feel the same? She looked as if she wanted nothing more than to turn around and run away. this — what had just happened between them — had exploded it into a thousand pieces like a meteorite blasting into the surface of the earth. Clary was staring at him. And that was it. don’t go with him. and leaned into him — barely. I don’t know how to be without you. If there had ever been any hope that he could have come to think of Clary as just his sister. and whispered in her ear. She glanced away from him. but she shivered. It felt like cutting his own skin open. and she tasted salt and sweet like faerie water. I love you and I don’t care that you’re my sister. and she was up on the tips of her toes. “You can close your eyes and think of England. winding his fingers with hers. Jace thought. I know you felt it.” he said. too. I know you felt it.
so much as the both of you. “Was that good enough?” he demanded. “We are quite entertained. That we would hurt her. “Did that entertain you?” The Queen gave him a look: special and secretive and shared between the two of them.Jace felt as if his heart was being squeezed by a fist. break her as you might break a twig between your fingers. But you. “But not. He whirled on the Queen.” she said.” . I think. who thought you could not be touched — you are the one who has been broken. the look seemed to say. You warned her about us.
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