I never thought it could be so loud. Oppressive. Suffocating. But not this. All I could hear was everything he didn't dare say aloud.
"I'm-Clary I'm so-I don't-I'm so sorry, Clary."
Even after all that time apart, I always knew I'd find her again. She'd come back, and it would be like it was before. Sure, things would change, but our fundamentals would never shift. She would be there. Luke would be there. We would be a family again. It would be like it was before demons, shadowhunters, and the damned Clave.
No matter what had happened... no matter what we said or did to each other, we were there when it mattered. We fought and clashed and disagreed, but we didn't leave each other.
We. Didn't. Leave. Each. Other.
Yet here I stood, by her bloody, mutilated corpse, wondering if the screams in my head were hers or mine. Did she scream as his hand went through her chest? Did it hurt, or was she gone the moment his hands touched her heart? Did she know that when he walked into the room; she wouldn't be leaving it? What were her last thoughts? Did she wish for absolution? Did she think of Luke and the struggle they fought to just be together? Did she think of the life we could have led... if this world's darkness hand't caught up with us? Did she think about her son? The baby she lost before he was even born? Did she wonder about me? Wonder if I could do this... could stand here and look at her body and even consider a life without her in it? Did she think I was strong enough? Did she--
He stepped towards me as my knees gave out. Kneeling in her blood, gripping a stele that couldn't bring her back, I found myself choking on a sob. He stopped, as if realizing that nothing he could say or do would fix this, and moved back towards the doorway. I raised my hand, tears streaming down my face, and brushed the hair back from her face gently. I sat with her until the blood around me ran cold, and her body was icy to the touch. I closed her eyes, and kissed her forehead. As I stood, stained in my mother's blood, I met Alec's quiet eyes.
"C'mon. I have a demon to kill."
He stepped out of the way as I left the room; keeping his eyes focused on the door as he closed it quietly behind us. The mission was all that mattered at this point. I couldn't think, couldn't breathe past that. For surely if I did, I would be right back in that room, trying to hold onto something that was no longer there. And so I squared my shoulders, sheathed my stele and pulled out my seraph blade. The cooled blood crinkled and cracked as I moved, and I drew on those sounds as I made my wall through the halls. I would find the bastard and I would delight in sticking my blade in its demonic throat. Maybe as it burned to ash, I would remember how to breathe again.
We didn't talk as we searched the Institute. At times, I forgot Alec was even with me. He really was the perfect shadowhunter; living so long in the shadows he had become them. I could admire the choice of him as a weapon. Strong, fast, efficient. Her blood, that I now wore like a crackling armor, was proof of how deadly he could be. And I know-I know it's not his fault. The blood may be on his hands, literally, but he didn't do this. I know that. But the ache I get when I see him in the corner of my eye refuses to die, and all I want to do is sink my knife into something in hopes it'll silence the screaming in my head.
But when the screaming stopped, I almost wished for it back, because those weren't Izzy's beautiful dark eyes, but the demon's, filled with hate and malice and a rage that I knew would revel in ripping us apart. And suddenly, I heard a roar of anger echo through my mind at how unfair this was; losing my mother, and now Isabelle. Alec was shouting, holding his bow, but the words didn't register. I just gripped my blade (would it have a mix of my mother's blood and Izzy's by the time this was done?) Could I do this? Could I fight my best friend? Hurt her, if it came down to it? The eerie grin painted across her lips gnashed at my heart, and with a growl, she charged at me. Trying her best to land a blow that would leave me like my mother upstairs.
And I remembered the bleakness in Alec's eyes as he leaned against my mother's doorway, "What did I do-What did I-What did I do no-I didn't-" and the despair in his voice, as the consequences of something he didn't do, hit him like a freight train.
I clutched the knife tighter, and snarled, "Not Izzy."
The demon had taken my mother... but it wouldn't take Isabelle from my side as well. "You've got me, Clary. Always."
As Isabelle smacked at the bow Alec (he could never shoot her--would never hurt her willingly) and tackled him down to the ground, I struck. I winced as my blade slid easily in between her shoulder blades, and rode out her spasms of pain. I kept it in, even as her screams of pain washed over me like a tidal wave, and only when the mist of my mother's murderer burst from her wound, did I pull it out. The demon took shape over Izzy's trembling body, and as she fell towards Alec, I caught its shifting body with my blade and I screamed myself hoarse as I sunk the blade in deep. It screeched and burned and turned to a pile of ash at my feet. The blade dropped, and with the strength I had left, I made my way over to Isabelle's side. Alec was clutching her close, igniting her healing rune, and begging her to wake up. Watching the blood gather below her, I wondered if I would lose my mother and my best friend (but wasn't she-hasn't she always been so much more than that?) in the same day.
Her eyes fluttered, and as they opened and blearily caught mine, the air in my lungs rushed out, and I nearly choked under the force of it. I gripped her hand tightly, and leaned my forehead against her chest. At this point, Alec was probably supporting both of us, but I couldn't bring myself to care. I just breathed in her scent, focused on the weight of her chest moving up and down, and the sound of her breathing against my ear. The hand clutching hers fell to grip at her shirt, and I pulled her to me as tight as I could without jostling her. Alec was still holding her up, and one of his hands raised to grip my shoulder firmly. Between his steady grip, and a drained Izzy letting me cling to her (even when I can't hold myself up, I've got you, Clary Fray), I finally felt like I could breathe.
I barely noticed Simon pulling me up and into his arms and Alec doing the same for a dozing Isabelle. They carried us away from the room and other than the bloody streaks across the floor from Isabelle's wound; it was like the fight had never happened. Would it be so easy to forget? To move on from? I didn't know, but as I crawled into the shower (with Simon guarding the door-for what-I didn't know--but it seemed to make him feel better) and sat under the spray till all the blood (how i ended the day with the blood of one who had died and one who had lived) had been washed away, I vowed this would end. I wouldn't lose anyone else to my bastard of a father. I wouldn't give him the satisfaction of taking anyone else I loved from me. The next person to die would be him and I vowed to be the one to put the blade through his heart. Like he had done to her.
The water ran cold long before I managed to leave the shower, but I didn't care. The anger that burned deep inside me kept me warm. I pulled on my clothes, and as I passed Simon leaning against the wall (hugging him tightly and whispering that it was okay and he could go; while knowing he'd still be keeping watch anyways), I headed for Isabelle's room. Her wound was dressed and Alec had her on her front so she couldn't aggravate it anymore. Her sleepy eyes met mine, and she patted the spot in front of her. I eased onto the bed, feeling angry and raw, and let her reach out and trace my fingers. She didn't speak. There was nothing to say. She just traced my hand and waited till I calmed down enough to lay down beside her. There would be a time for anger. There would be a moment for rage and hate. But not now. He didn't get to have these moments. These were mine to hold; mine to cherish and find peace in.
I don't know what's next. But I do know, is that I'm here, and she's here, and we're together, and for now... that's enough.