Clarissa Fray's real name is Clary Fairchild and Magnus Bane has met her before.
When she was younger, her mother used to bring her to Magnus's parents' apartment, and while the grownups talked about talismans, Magnus and Clary tried their best to be friends. What had happened in the end was that Magnus, eight years Clary's senior, had become more of a big brother to her. They'd take walks around the front yard, Clary mesmerized by Magnus's knowledge of different types of herbs. Magnus, the ever giving big brother, would take a few and pack them up for Clary to take home with her. Then the next week would come, and Clary and Magnus would do it all over again.
Until eventually, Clary and her mother stopped coming. Until eventually, Magnus moved to Brooklyn, opened his own shop, and very clearly did not become a medium like his parents.
But that, is besides the point.
Currently, Clary Fray lives in a two-bedroom apartment with four other roommates, who are all either at work or at school.
"And what do you do?" Magnus asks Clary.
He doesn't want to push if she doesn't remember him.
"I go to school, too. I'm in an art program," she says.
"Oh, how wonderful," Magnus says. "You always did want to be an artist."
"You know," Clary says, motioning for Magnus to follow her deeper into the apartment. "I knew I remembered you from somewhere."
"Early morning meetings every Saturday with my parents."
Clary nods, smile wide and friendly. Magnus has always liked that about her, how easily pleased she was. He thinks, maybe, if the work isn't too hard, he might just give her a discount.
Clary called because her apartment is haunted. Her bedroom to be precise. The one all the way at the end of the apartment, furthest to the left, down two hallways, and in between two closets.
The apartment is well-kept, decently sized for an upper East side, close to the Bronx, apartment. The front door opens into a hallway that ends in a living room with a closed door.
"That's where Alec and Jace sleep," Clary explains. "They're the most annoying, so they get the bigger room with the heaviest door."
In between the front door and Alec and Jace's bedroom is a third roommate, Simon's bedroom, the kitchen and a closet. At the end of the first hallway, to the right is a second hallway that ends in the bathroom. To the left of that is Clary's room that she shares with her girlfriend, Isabelle.
"A girlfriend?" Magnus asks. "How very interesting of you Clarissa Fray."
"Call me Clary," she says, but she high fives Magnus when he raises his hand.
Their apartment is pristine, but Magnus suspects that's only because he can't see the inside of the boys' bedrooms. Well, that is what he thinks right up to very moment when Clary opens her bedroom door and Magnus sees chaos for the first time in his life.
There are clothes everywhere, from the full-sized bed to the dresser that holds the TV. On top of the TV, hanging from the antenna is a single, white sock. Across the floor from the door to the two windows, there are sheets of papers, paint pots, a pile of shoes in one corner, and a small collection of used dishes.
"Sorry," Clary says, wincing at the look of horror on Magnus's face. "Isabelle was supposed to clean yesterday, but her meeting ran late."
"That's all right. Creative minds and such," Magnus says, spotting the only clean thing in the room. "Nice gecko."
The 15-gallon tank sits on a white vanity, to the right of a row of foundations and concealers. The inside of the tank has a single large rock, surrounded by smaller plants, with a bulb overhead. At that moment, the gecko is hanging out by the side of the tank towards the sunlight streaming through the blinds. There's not a fingerprint on the tank, no sign of dust surrounding the tank, but there's very clearly a line separating the gecko tank from the cosmetics on the vanity.
"I take it the gecko belongs to Isabelle," Magnus says, as he examines the foundation names.
"How did you know?" Clary asks, her eyes darting between Magnus and the gecko.
Magnus lets her wonder for a minute. He enjoys this part of the business, where his customers think they see something that shakes their entire world. It makes the actual ghost hunting sweeter, to see how not even in their wildest dreams could his customers imagine the things Magnus Bane can do.
"I can't speak to animals," Magnus says. "But I do know that Isabelle has oily skin and she should try the new Too Faced foundation. It has a very nice matte finish."
"Oh," Clary says. "Right."
Magnus finishes looking at the makeup on the vanity and turns around. Clary sits on the edge of her and Isabelle's bed, her red hair tied back into a ponytail. She's wearing old jeans and a large t-shirt stained with paint. When Magnus looks around the room, he can see her painting corner, at the end of the two windows, a half-finished drawing of her mother.
Magnus knows it's her mother from memories, but also because next to the painting stands Jocelyn Fray, her red hair tied loosely at the top of her head.
"Oh, Clary," Magnus says. "I'm so sorry."
What happened was this: Jocelyn ran from an abusive husband, changed her name, and paid Magnus's parents to keep said husband away. How his parents did it, Magnus can't say, but Valentine Morgenstern never found Jocelyn or Clary until the day Magnus buried his parents.
"He's in jail," Clary says. "Da--I mean, Luke, put him away. He testified at the trial. I wanted to."
From the other side of Clary, Jocelyn shakes her head.
"She wouldn't have wanted you to do that," Magnus tells Clary. "She doesn't think a child should have to testify against a parent. No matter what that parent did."
"How…? Wait," Clary says, jumping off her bed. "She's here? She's the one who's been haunting me?"
Jocelyn smiles, her eyes fond as she looks at Clary. She reaches out to touch Clary's hair and only smiles sadly when her hand goes through. Magnus has been doing this for going on ten years, in between the tarot card readings and the occasional fortune telling. Still, he doesn't think he will ever be over the heavy weight of a mother saying goodbye to her child.
"Tell her I love them," Jocelyn Fray says. "And that it's about time she cleaned her room."
Then, dramatic as can be, Jocelyn Fray is gone.
"Uh," Magnus says.
"Yes?" Clary asks. "What did she say?"
She's small and thin, a little wisp of a thing, but the deathgrip Clary has on Magnus's arm is going to bruise.
"First," Magnus says. "Ouch."
Clary lets go immediately. "What did she say? Is she still here?"
Magnus sighs. He has done this ghost hunting thing maybe ten times in the last ten years, because clearly people can't take advantage of talent even if it's right under their noses. He knows more or less what to do, the right comforting words, even when the ghost haunting the person just wants them dead. Especially then, because hauntings are more often than not, just family members holding a grudge. But even if Magnus hasn't seen Clary since he was thirteen, he still knows her.
"She said to tell you that she loves you. Plural," Magnus says. "And that you should really, really clean your room."
Clary laughs, eyes bright with unshed tears through her grin. "Yeah," she says. "I think I will."
For this time only, Magnus doesn't charge.