Clary fretted nervously at the south entrance of Central Park, forcing herself to take deep breaths of the cool, winter air. She glanced at her watch, which still read 1:22, and hadn't changed since the last time she'd checked. Time seemed to be dragging, and she wasn't sure if she was glad for it or not. Part of her wished it to slow, because she hadn't chosen the right words, or she just wasn't ready to face Simon, or both. But the other part of her, the Shadowhunter part, couldn't wait another minute. She wanted to move, to speak, to be done with it. There were many battles within her, but, she supposed, that's what it meant to be a Shadowhunter.

After two more long minutes passed, Clary couldn't wait another second, and began down the snow-dusted path to the bench Clary and Simon had once called their own. As children they'd called it their secret bench, and pretended that no one could see it but them. They'd whisper secrets there, or fend off pirates and dragons and evil sorcerers. But as they'd grown older, they let go of the idea of secret worlds and hidden things, and it just became their bench. How things had changed.

And of course when the bench came into sight, he was there. She hadn't spoken to him in days, a fact that had caused her so much guilt she could hardly bare it. In fact, she had only offered to meet him because she couldn't take the guilt anymore, at least not his. She had many hidden thoughts, but she couldn't keep this one from Simon any longer.

As she neared, her mind was racing. A thousand thoughts ran through her mind, all of which pertained just to the last few weeks. They were a blur, days and nights running together like puddles of watercolor into one gray span of time. She was tired, and she hated the secrets she was keeping, but she was also happy. She couldn't make sense of it.

Simon flinched as she slid down next to him, as if he had only just noticed her presence. He seemed to be waking from a dream. He looked tired and far away. She took his cold hand to call him back.

"Clary," He sighed, and threw his arms around her. He had been dusted with snow, but he didn't seem to notice or care. He held no warmth, but the feel of him in her arms was something else- -familiar, like home.

"Where the hell have you been?" He muttered into her ear, and she smiled against his neck.

"I'm sorry." She said as she sat back, squeezing his hand more tightly. "I'm sorry for being a terrible friend, and deserting you, and not calling, and every other horrible thing I've ever done." She knew the list was hefty, but she didn't have long to talk. And she wanted some forgiveness before he found new reasons to hate her again.

"Well, good." He huffed. "And if I had something mean to say to you, I would, but I'm too happy to see you to be mad. But I'm not going to keep anymore secrets for you. I'm already the world's worst liar, and your mom is going to kill me if I keep anything else from her. I think she carries a tazer in her bra."

Clary laughed, and then shook her head, because he was right-she couldn't keep forcing him to keep her secrets. It was wrong, using him to cover for her. And it made her suddenly unsure. What she came here to tell him, he could not share. But keeping it from him, she knew, would be worse. Simon was the first boy she ever loved, and he deserved to know this.

"Simon, listen, I...I have something I need to tell you." She said, but the words sounded too stiff. Relax, she told herself. But she couldn't stop the shaking in her hands. Simon felt this, and the smile faded from his face.

"Clary?" He asked hesitantly. She tried to smile, and drew a deep breath. Now or never, she thought.

"These last few weeks, I told you I've been with Jace, in the infirmary. And I have been there, some." She looked up to meet his eyes. "But nothing was working. All the ideas, the Silent Brothers couldn't get any of them to work. Everyone Jace touched, it was like a spark. He was going crazy, Simon, and then, there was an idea-an idea that might work." She looked up to meet his eyes.

"Simon," She said plainly. "Jace and I are married."

"Married?" Simon blinked, mouth agape. He sat in Central Park, on a bench nuzzled between two trees overlooking a span of sidewalks and their inhabitants. Some time ago, he called this bench his favorite, but he had abandoned it for so long that it felt the title felt wrong. When he'd first arrived, he'd looked at it with a great amount of sorrow. It was not only a bench, he'd realized as he'd sat down, but a representation. Of the life he used to have, and one he would never get again.

But then Clary had appeared, just as she had said she would, and shared the news that suddenly made the bench the least of his worries.

"You're joking." He said, "Seriously, hilarious. You got me. The hidden cameras can come out now." But Clary pulled out no hidden camera. Instead, she shrugged the sweater from her shoulder and turned to give Simon a view.

On her arm, Simon saw, was a complex rune, one he had never seen before, not that he had much knowledge of them. But this one was gold, and seemed to shimmer in the gray afternoon haze. He leaned forward some, and gently brought his fingers to the base of the rune. It was warm to the touch, not like any other he had encountered. When he looked up, he saw Clary smiling warmly.

"Clary," He groaned, and hung his head into his hands, muttering a string of curses. "Clary!" He said again, this time with more force. He sat up, shaking his head in disbelief.

"No, no. I-I don't know what this is, but it's not good, Clary, it's-" He broke off, sighing angrily. He ran his fingers beneath the bench until he could feel the metal warming.

"Simon, listen." She said. He straightened some, and forced himself to look at her. "See, I'm fine. Let me explain."

He watched her for a moment, trying to see if she looked different. Her hair was the same, maybe a little longer. Her eyes were wide and normal, and she sat with one leg tucked under and the other swinging, like she always did. Despite what he wanted to believe, she seemed normal. Better, in fact, than before she'd left. But after missing her for nearly a month, he hadn't expected her to seem so...happy. So he nodded stifly, and let her explain.

"It was Brother Zachariah's idea." She began. "They'd been trying for weeks to find a way to separate the fire from him, but nothing was working. They realized that maybe it couldn't be done, maybe the fire would be in him forever. But then, Brother Zachariah thought that maybe...maybe a bond, of some kind, could connect Jace with someone.

"So they brought in Alec, and we thought maybe because Jace is his parabatai, he would be able to touch him without the heat. But, wasn't strong enough." Clary sighed, and Simon thought back to that day, when Isabelle had been in a huff of anger because the Silent Brothers wouldn't let anyone visit Jace, but then had asked Alec to come, with no reason. Simon had nodded and agreed that it was so incredibly unfair, as Isabelle had called it, but knew there was more to it. But he had held his tongue, because he promised Clary he wouldn't tell anyone that she was with Jace. It made sense now.

"So then-Brother Zachariah came in one day and suggested it, said that maybe it would work." She said hollowly, a faint smile on her lips. Simon leaned forward.

"And it worked?" He asked in disbelief, and she smiled more widely.

"Yes," She shook her head happily. "It's's like the fire is gone. And not just with me, Simon, everyone. Alec, Maryse. They both came, and it was like it was never there." Simon saw a gleam in her eye, and he was suddenly torn. He was angry, furious, really, but he saw how happy she was, too. Genuine happiness. She would have done anything for Jace, and he shouldn't have been surprised that she would do this, too. But it was almost too much for him to believe. Clary, married? He ran his eyes over her again, looking for something different. But he found nothing.

"When?" He asked.

"Last Wednesday." She replied. Eleven days. What had he been doing that day? Sitting in his apartment? Sleeping? How had something so monumental happened without him knowing?

"So then," He said as an afterthought, "You guys slept together."

"Simon," She gasped, and looked down, raking her fingers through her hair. He hadn't planned on saying it, but he didn't regret it, either. His love for Clary had long since gone from romantic to brotherly, but the thought of Clary's sex life with Jace was still enough to make his stomach churn. But then he sighed.

"Sorry," He mumbled, and shook his head. "I guess if it worked, I should be happy. And I'm going to try to be. I just need some time to think this over, okay?" He asked, and she nodded.

"I have to go anyway." She replied, "These few weeks have been insane, but it'll be better now. Jace can come home, I can home-" She paused. "How are things with your mom?"

"I don't you should be worried about my mom, Clary. I'm not the one who eloped."

"But you are a vampire. I'm serious, Simon. Are things better?" Better, Simon thought. What a vague word. A month ago, his mother wouldn't even look at him, claimed he was a disgrace. A demon in her son's body. Some eye contact would have been better than that. But he could see that Clary was concerned.

"We had Thanksgiving." He shrugged. "But then my mom started throwing food on the floor, saying how monsters didn't eat turkey. Which, I guess, is true." he added with a rueful smile. Clary rested her head on his shoulder sympathetically.

"I'm so sorry." She muttered. "We'll have Christmas at my place this year."

When he put his arm around her, it almost seemed normal. Like none of the events of the past few months had ever occurred, and they were just at their bench again. They would walk home together, maybe look at comics on the way. He would ask her about the science project, and she would borrow his English notes. He would call her that night to remind her that CSI was on, and they would continue living their absolutely normal lives, ones without vampires or shadowhunters or magical bonds. He longed to be average again. He had never wanted a life like this, with speed and strength and sight. He had grown accustomed to his glasses, his skinny legs, his mediocrity. He never wanted greatness. But now, there was nothing he could do about it.

Like she sensed the completion of his thought, Clary sat up.

"I've got to go." Was all she said, and then she stood.

"What? Go? What do you mean?"

"I mean I've gotta go." She shrugged, and then smiled, but it was not mimicked by Simon.

"Whoa, hey, wait up. What am I supposed to tell Isabelle? And everyone?" He questioned.

"You can't tell them anything, especially Isabelle. She'll be furious if she finds out you and Alec knew things she didn't. I promised Jace I wouldn't tell anyone. Not yet, until we can decide how to explain things."

"So then what do I do, Clary? Jace is just going to skip back, like nothing happened? What are you going to tell people? And what about your mom? I've been covering for you for weeks, saying you've been sleeping at my place when you couldn't be bothered to get home at night, saying you're busy when you couldn't be bothered to call." His eyes were wide with anger and frustration.

"You don't say anything to my mom. She knows it's been hard for me to not be with Jace-"

"But you have been with Jace." He reminded her.

"She doesn't know that. Listen, I'm sorry, Simon. I'm more than sorry. This has been crazy, and now it's even crazier, but it'll be better now, I promise. And I get if you're angry about this whole wedding thing, it's a lot to take in-"

"You think I'm angry about the wedding?" He cut across her words, and stood to match her eye level.

"Well, you're not exactly congratulating me!" She whipped back. This drew a disbeliving chuckle from Simon.

"Oh, you're right, how stupid of me!" He said in mock excitement. "Congrats, Clary! Or should I call you Mrs. Lightwood?" He spit.

"God, Simon, you're acting like a kid! Do you think this is what I wanted? To run away and and marry Jace, to keep all these secrets? I'm sixteen! I'm supposed to be going to dances and getting my driver's licsense! I did it because I love him, Simon! And that's what you do when you love someone. You do anything for them." She was blinking away tears now, and Simon turned away.

"I don't know what you want anymore." He muttered, and had his heart been working, it would have been beating quickly, he knew. Somewhere, deep down, he knew she was right. He knew that had it been flipped, and it had been Clary, he would have done anything.

"I'll see you later." She sighed, and turned quickly up the path she came. Simon put his hands up, maybe to call her back, but didn't. He threw himself against the bench, and ran his fingers through his hair.

And of course she was right, he thought. You did anything for the people you loved, and his anger had made him forget it. Hadn't he been the one to summon an angel just a few weeks before, knowing the dangers perfectly well? Hadn't he been the one to offer himself to Lilith as a sacrifice? Clary had been doing what she thought was right, and he'd been too blind to see it.

He thought of Isabelle. He'd been watching her worry for weeks, withholding the truth because he'd promised Clary he would. Because he loved Clary, so he'd had no choice. And Isabelle, well, he wasn't sure what he felt about Isabelle. They'd certainly been spending more time together, but it seemed like every time he came close to discovering his true feelings for her, it became clouded by what he was hiding. What would she do if she found out that he'd been lying? Of course, he hadn't known anything about Jace, only that Clary was with him. But somehow, Simon knew Isabelle would be furious regardless.

After a small pile of snow had collected on his knees, Simon finally stood. He brushed away the snow, and then pulled his phone from his pocket. He needed to talk to someone, explain his situation. He knew what he had promised Clary, but her news was too much to evaluate alone. As he flipped through his contacts, he remembered the time his sister had told him that if you want to tell someone a secret, tell a person who doesn't care, then they'll never tell a soul. At the time it hadn't made much sense, but now, he understood. He brought the phone to his ear.

"Jordan?" He said. "Yeah, it's Simon. I need to talk to you."

Despite her quick pace, Clary's legs felt like lead. It was a long walk to the cemetery, and the snowfall had thickened. She shoved her hands deeper into her pockets, wishing she would have brought gloves. She kept hearing Simon's words, again and again in her head: I don't know what you want anymore.

She wasn't sure how she had expected him to react. Shock, disbelief? But not anger. She knew he had every right to be angry for the past few weeks. Her disappearance, her lies. It was with the only excuse that she had to help Jace. But when it came to the wedding, she had expected some sort of support. Simon had always been the person to be there when everything else went to hell. In middle school, when she'd gotten into a week-long argument with her mom, she stayed at his house. When they started high school, he walked with her to every class until she found her way. He was always there for her, and she hadn't expected this day to be any different. And some part of her needed his approval. After all, he was her best friend. And if Simon didn't approve, no one would.

It was her mother she feared the most. Jocelyn had spoken of her young age of marriage of eighteen, and Clary was sixteen. But more than that, she knew her mother would not approve of the reason behind it. They'd done because it was the thing that would help Jace, but it shouldn't have happened like that. It shouldn't have been some task. She didn't want it to happen like that. But now it was too late.

When she finally reached the entrance to the cemetery, she didn't even hesitate. She had become so familiar to its dark stairs that she didn't even watch her step as she flew down them. It seemed like years had passed since her first visit here with Jace, but it had in fact been only months. But even after the many hours she'd spent there, it could never feel like a home to her. Maybe it was too quiet, or too dark. Even Jace's presence could not make it feel like home.

The path to the infirmary she had memorized, and then there he was, sitting on the edge of the bed with his head down. She watched him for a moment, the curve of his back, the way his hands were sat atop his head. What was he thinking, she wondered. Was he happy? Afraid?

"Are you not glad?" Clary jumped. It was Brother Zachariah. Of all the souls she had encountered in Silent City, Clary found Brother Zachariah to be the most human-like. He seemed to sympathize with her case, and had made Jace's dilemma his first priority in the last few weeks while the rest of the Silent Brothers looked for traces of Sebastian. Clary hadn't even had time to think of her brother, and she was glad for it.

Clary opened her mouth to reply, but found no words. Of course she was glad. But she was confused, and afraid. What if the fire had only been calmed, but not entirely extinguished? What if it came back with twice as much power as before? What if burnt him up entirely? Brother Zachariah seemed to sense her fears.

"Do you know what we say about fear in the Bone City?" He asked, and she shook her head.

"Fear destroys, so let it be destroyed." Even though the words were only in her head, they seemed to echo. It was a pleasant thought, sure, but Clary wasn't entirely sure she could destroy anything these days.

"Go, child, for he wishes to see you." And then he was gone, hidden within the shadows just as he had appeared.

Jace stood as he heard Clary's footsteps, a grin spread across his face. For weeks, a hollowness had replaced his usual cheery and somewhat smug expression, but since the wedding, it had returned with fervor. As Clary approached him, she laid her hands on his chest and pushed him back into his seated position on the bed, and slid onto his lap.

"You're freezing." He observed, laying his hands atop her's. For weeks, she had hungered for his touch. They had remained apart the entire time, other than the occasional hand holding, and even a few kisses. But Jace had not let her go any further in fear of hurting her in some way. And now, with nothing to keep them apart, Clary never wanted to let go.

"Maybe you could warm me up." She suggested in a low whisper, and he chuckled.

"Don't tempt me. I've got no self-control." He warned her. "Especially not around beautiful people." His breath was hot against her ear; it sent chills down her neck. She took his hands and guided them to the bottom of her spine. He slid his hands beneath her coat, and pulled it away from her, letting it fall to the floor.

"Where have you been?" He asked, and she pursed her lips, thinking quickly.

"Simon's." She said, and then added: "Don't worry, no one was home. I was looking for my watch, I left it there weeks ago." She knew it wasn't the best of lies, but he didn't seem to doubt her.

"Brother Zachariah said tomorrow's the day." Jace said with a smile, and Clary knew he was referencing to the day they would finally release him to go home. They'd been watching him carefully for several days since the wedding- -eleven, to be exact- -and had finally agreed he was clear to go.

"Then," He said in a murmur, his lips dangerously close to her's, "I'll take my wife away to the mountains." Clary rolled her eyes at the thought of being Jace's anything, though wife did have a nice ring to it. But she knew the line had not been his own. She'd read it somewhere during her training, a line grooms used after wedding their bride in Alicante. The thought of it suddenly made her mouth go dry.

She wrapped her legs more tightly around his waist, drawing a slight moan from Jace's throat. He stood up, and set her on her back on the bed, hovering over her. And then he kissed her, and Clary felt heat radiating off of him. Not of the heavenly variety, but the average kind. The kind that made her want him more.

Pretty soon her lips were on his neck, his shoulder, his chest. His body curved upward, and he lowered himself on top of her. His abdomen was hard against her own; she had missed the feel of it. His hands slid around her waist to the button of her jeans. She stiffened.

"Maybe we should slow down." She suggested, and he looked up.

"I think it's a bit late for that." He replied, which brought a redness to her cheeks. He lifted himself up and rolled over next to her.

She thought of what Simon had said at the park. When he'd said it, he took her by surprise. It was like, she thought, when someone asks you right after your birthday how old you are, and you forget that you're a year older. Except she hadn't been dealing with a birthday, but instead, her virginity. Or perhaps, the lack of.

She had always imagined it would something far grander, losing her virginity, but it had been no greater or worse than anyone had told her would be. If anything, she hoped it would get better. But now, she wasn't sure. She bit her lip.

"I'm sorry, I just-"

"Clary, it's fine." He said firmly, and then turned on his side to face her. He pushed away a stray hair from her face, and let his hand rest there for a moment. "If you want slow, we'll go slow." At this, she smiled.

"But," He added, "I read once that redheads have more sexual drive than anyone else. And I'm going to be awfully disappointed if that's not the case."

Clary replied with a roll of her eyes and a kick in his shin. But then, a kiss.

"But when this is all over, I'll take you away. We'll go somewhere, anywhere. I promise." He kissed her again, as if to seal the promise.

But what had he meant, all over? Clary knew he meant more than just getting settled at home again. He had meant Sebastian. They had avoided the cause for a few weeks while they focused on Jace, but now the fixing had been done, and her brother could not be avoided.

But she just nodded. She had only so long before things started crashing around her as they always did, and she did not want to be alone when the sky started to fall.