Disclaimer: This is some... heavy fluff.
There was absolutely nothing, no trace of civilization anywhere near Lake Lyn. I supposed it made sense since the waters of Lake Lyn were poisonous to all Nephilim but it still surprised me that such a beautiful and idyllic place would be utterly devoid of any development. Especially in Shadowhunter country, a country full of people overly concerned with aesthetics.
"I would build a house over there, in that gap in the trees," I said, pointing to the opposite bank. The spot I'd selected was a natural gap in the tree line, opening up to the open field beyond. The slight rise and the trees would make for a beautiful view that still offered plenty of privacy.
Jace did not respond. He was too busy sharpening his weapons for the second time that morning to indulge my day dreaming.
It was the morning of our fourth day on the lake. Jace had tried to send fire-messages to Alec but he and Izzy had apparently cloaked their location and, with no way of knowing where they were, there was also no way to know if Alec would even receive the message.
The second day in the woods, Jace had begun to grow agitated. Now on the fourth day he was downright unpleasant and his words were sparse.
I sighed, dramatically. "Shall I gather some materials to see if we'll be able to stay dry tonight?"
I had built a crude shelter out of branches and some river mud that stank and provided very little by the way of shelter. I'd constructed the little lean-to against the trunk of a massive felled tree and despite the amount of work I'd put into it, it was barely large enough to hold Fiero's tack, our packs, and just one of us. Jace in a display of chivalry or just because of the smell, had offered to sleep outside with the saddle blanket.
Again, he didn't respond.
"Okay, well, I'm going to run some errands. Don't wander off," I said, rolling to my feet. "And don't wait up for me."
Things were odd. And odd beyond the obvious stressful parts. Jace had never felt this sort of uncertainty before and he found it grating.
He was surrounded by uncertainty. He was uncertain where his parabatai was, he was uncertain what Valentine would do next, he was uncertain they would stay hidden from the Clave, he was uncertain what exactly Jaci wanted from him. And it was that last uncertainty that drove him to mindlessly see to his weapons. His seraph blades, at least, he was certain of.
Jace watched Jaci disappear into the underbrush. Only after she was gone did he realize he was glowering at the trees themselves. What had gone wrong since that first night in the woods?
Jace allowed himself to get lost in the memory, to recall the feel of holding Jaci in the river, the way she'd pressed into him for warmth after he'd dove in to unnecessarily save her. The curve of her…
He wanted to go back to that moment, standing in the river and freezing his ass off, and change the outcome. Why had he been so stupid and just walked away? With how she had been looking at him, water streaming down, lips slightly parted… He should've kissed her.
But instead he'd ran away. And Jaci had followed him with that perfect, delicious kiss.
And she'd pulled off his shirt. And what had Jace done? Again, he'd run. Making some stupid excuse about the horse.
Jace flung the seraph blade he'd been working on at a tree. The blade hit with a dull thunk and fell to the forest floor, chipped. Jace ran his hands through his hair. The edge had been too brittle, he'd sharpened it too much.
"What is wrong with you, Wayland?" he grumbled.
"Easy there, Herondale, I wasn't aware that that was the reason you'd suggested marriage," Jaci said coolly, striding out of the trees with her arms full of pine boughs. "You were just after my last name."
Jace got to his feet, smirk at the ready, prepared to feign disinterest, to brush everything off. "I would think you'd want to take mine. Jaelyn Wayland does sound a bit like the character from a children's story." He frowned. "It's a horrible name, actually."
"Wow, thanks," she drawled, dumping the boughs in front of him. "With an argument like that, how could I consider anything else?" She raised an eyebrow.
And that look, that playful look. It was that look that made him fall in love with her more.
Jaci mirrored his expression. "Is everything okay?"
Jace went to pick up his damaged seraph blade but felt a wave of resistance as he tried to reach for it, as though he had suddenly passed through a particularly dense patch of air. He glanced at Jaci and saw her eyes half closed, lips moving as she spoke in Seraphtongue under her breath, too quiet for Jace to hear.
"Let me go," Jace said flatly, fixing her with a stare.
She shook her head infinitesimally but the slight break in her concentration was all Jace needed to break free of the rather weak spell. He stooped to grab the blade and then turned to face her, twirling it idly in his hands. He wasn't annoyed by her magic but he was intrigued.
"Why'd you do that?" he asked evenly, studying her face.
She blinked and shook herself, as though awaking from a deep slumber. "You've been avoiding talking to me. I wanted to catch your attention."
Now was Jace's turn to raise an eyebrow. "You could have just asked."
"Okay then," her eyes met his and Jace noticed the ring of gold at the center of the green was shining like molten metal. "Why have you been avoiding talking to me?"
Jace grinned lazily. "There, was that so hard?" He placed the blade back in his weapons belt. "And I'm not avoiding talking to you. See? We're talking right now."
And in the next moment she had him pinned against a tree, holding a stick to his throat, her right knee digging into his left thigh just above the knee. Her face inches from his, eyes livid, small wisps of hair were escaping her braid at the temples and she looked equal parts wild and beautiful.
"No more evasions," she growled. "Why are you avoiding me?"
Jace stared into her eyes for a moment, relishing the feel of her pressed against her. Of the weight of her, the power of her. Without making a choice, Jace decided to do what he'd been longing to do, in one easy movement, he'd flipped them so that Jaci was pinned to the tree, knocking her pine weapon aside and he kissed her – deeply.
And Jaci was kissing him back. Her hands in his hair, on his shoulders, pulling him closer. She took his lower lip in her teeth and bit, just enough to sting the smallest bit. Jace grabbed her braid and pulled, exposing her long, smooth neck. He buried his face there, kissing and nipping, the rasp of a few days' stubble drew a low moan from someplace deep and animal in Jaci.
Her hands were on his chest and she mumbled something and his shirt was gone. Those hands were free then to trace ever scar, every rise and fall of muscle, connect every freckle. Jace pulled back from her neck and watched her face while she explored with an achingly soft touch. Her eyes grew dark as her hands reached his belt.
Jaci glanced up at him, eyes filled with the same fire he felt.
"May I?" she asked.