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