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Penelope's Spell

Chapter Text

Clary opens her eyes. She’s lying in a field, soft grass tickling the insides of her elbows and legs; the sky stretches out, endless, above her. It’s the color of Alec’s eyes- pure, unadulterated blue, soft and deep and brilliant. She smiles without knowing why and rolls over onto her elbows, raising her head. Her hair falls around her shoulders, a soft red curtain, and she looks down at herself. She’s wearing a soft, sleeveless gold dress, silken and clingy but not indecently so, and down past her knees. She’s wearing gold pumps and she feels the weight of a necklace around her throat; when she pulls it out to look at it, she sees a thin gold chain with a ruby drop-pendant on the end. It glitters in the sunlight, and she feels happy without knowing why.

It was an engagement gift, her head whispers, a token from your lover before the proposal. A show of love.

Clary’s smile grows more genuine with a purpose behind it and she sits up, emerald eyes looking around. Empty space stretches around her and suddenly she’s scared; there’s nothing around her but field and sky, she has to be somewhere, she can’t afford to be late-

“Hey!”

Clary jumps and looks up. Isabelle is looking down at her, smiling gently, black hair falling over her bare shoulders- she, too, wears gold, but it’s edged in red and it makes her look like a flame in the strong sunlight. She bends down, reaches out a hand. “Need some help there?” she smiles, laughter ringing in her voice.

Clary takes her hand, and Isabelle pulls her upright. She sees the edge of a parabatai rune on the curve of Isabelle’s collarbone, and as their hands make contact, a little spike of heat goes through a small spot on the lower curve of Clary’s right hip. Clary stumbles as she gets her feet under her and the older woman- you’re twenty-three, don’t you remember your own age?- catches her with an arm around her waist, setting her upright. “Jeez, Clary, are you that nervous about getting married?” she says jokingly. “I don’t think it’ll be appreciated if you can’t even walk down the aisle!”

Clary blinks. Her head feels fuzzy and thick. “Wha… what?”

Isabelle looks at her, concern darkening her beautiful features. “Are you okay?"

You’re getting married today, silly! You’re marrying the love of your life, pull yourself together and get up there!

Clary smiles and puts a hand to her head. “Just… nervous, I guess.”

Izzy nods and smiles, and takes Clary’s hand. “Well, come on!” she calls over her shoulder, pulling Clary along. They run through the field, Clary somehow not stumbling or falling in her short heels, wind whipping through Clary’s unbound hair and making her dress flap. Isabelle’s dress is longer, down to her ankles, but there’s a long slit up the side and her legs are wrapped in ribbons, it seems; long streamers of ruby-gold cloth winding around her long, pale legs and up under her skirt, giving tantalizing flashes of pale skin. They stop in front of a manor-house, one Clary recognizes but can’t put a name to.

Fairchild Manor, the voice in her head supplies. You’ve lived here your whole life, and now you’re being married in the back yard. This is all you’ve ever wanted.

A small weight barrels into her legs and she stumbles. A male voice calls, “Val!” reprimandingly, and her head whips up.

Jonathan Morgenstern stands at the door, green eyes bright, dressed in a gold shirt and pants, pale hair tied back in a tiny ponytail. The weight against Clary’s legs is a little girl, red-haired and blue-eyed- Valentina, your little sister, Luke and Jocelyn’s daughter. Named for your dead father, dead in the battle against the Circle he spent his life fighting against. Your father was a hero, and your sister honors him with her name, her head murmurs. Clary bends down and scoops Val up, hugging her baby sister and kissing her cheek.

“What’s this, then?” she asks, wiping chocolate off Val’s cheek. Isabelle giggles.

“Did you eat the cake, Val?”

“No!” the little girl says, eyes twinkling. “Me an’ Jon ate the woses!”

“I found her face-first in the chocolate roses,” Jon explains dryly. “She’d gotten through half, so to make it even I ate the rest.”

Isabelle laughs and swats his arm. “Really, Jon! On your sister’s wedding day!”

Jon laughs and kisses Isabelle’s cheek. “Well, I’m irrepressible, you know that!”

Clary has a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach, watching them. It feels like her heart just plummeted through her ribcage and landed with a splash in her gut, and it feels awful. But maybe she’s reading too far into it…?

Why do you care? her head demands. She can’t answer it.

Isabelle steps away from Jonathan and takes Clary’s hand and pulls her toward the entrance to the back garden. There’s a trestle there, covered in roses. Isabelle plucks one and breaks off the thorns before smoothing Clary’s hair away and tucking it gently behind her ear. She smiles, hand brushing the curve of Clary’s cheek as it drops, and she leans in to press a soft, dry kiss to Clary’s temple.

“Good fortune on you,” she murmurs. “May the Angel bless you and your descendants.”

Clary looks at her with wide, shattered eyes when Isabelle steps away and walks off. Heart stuttering wildly, she looks at the dais, and her heart stops altogether.

Jace stands there, resplendent in gold and amber and silk, but all Clary can think is that she wants Isabelle to be standing there, waiting. Jonathan steps up to her, hand on her shoulder, and leans in to whisper into her ear: “Hey, help me out here: should I propose to Izzy after the ceremony, or wait until next week?” and the world falls out from under Clary’s feet.

She tumbles into the void, tears tearing at her eyes and Isabelle’s name a constant chant in her mind.

Chapter Text

Isabelle gains consciousness slowly, sensations filtering in one at a time: warm blanket tucked over her neck, hair spread under her cheek and obscuring the silky-soft pillow; the rattle and whoosh of a fan and soft huffs of air, quieter and not Isabelle’s own; honey and amber and citrus, drifting along in the air currents sent swirling through the air by the fan. There’s weight over her hip and warmth snugged up close against her back, and a sense of safety lying heavy and sweet over her. She opens her eyes, blinking slowly and trying to pull her brain back from the dark, soft abyss.

The warmth at her back shifts and a nose nuzzles past the hair at the nape of her neck, hot air making Isabelle shiver sleepily. One red curl falls into Isabelle’s field of vision.

“Mornin’, Izzy,” Clary yawns, nuzzling the spot right under her ear. Gold sparks curl in Isabelle’s stomach.

Isabelle feels her mouth curl into an absentminded smile. “Mornin’, Clary,” she drawls, sleep making her tongue heavy. “Wha’ time izzit?”

She feels Clary’s smile against her neck. “Eight. You slept in.”

“Me?” Isabelle laughs. “When did you ge’ up, then?”

Clary grins. “Seven thirty.”

“An’ you just… stayed here?” Isabelle asks, incredularity she can’t quite explain twisting in her stomach, waking her up.

Clary shifts and Isabelle rolls over to face her. Clary raises up on her elbows and gives Isabelle a look, eyebrows furrowing. “Izzy, I love waking up with you. We do this every morning. You okay?”

She’s telling the truth. This is a morning routine: you wake up later than she does because she keeps you safe, and you kiss until someone’s stomach growls on a good morning, no matter how your mouth tastes.

Izzy shrugs. “‘M fine,” she says, and tangles her fingers in Clary’s curls. She pulls the shorter woman down and presses their mouths together, lazy and easy; Clary goes pliant, humming happily in the back of her throat, and slides her hand behind Izzy’s neck to support her head. They separate slowly, pressing soft little kisses as they draw back and keeping eye contact when it’s over.

Clary’s tongue flicks over her lips and she screws her face up. “Ugh, we taste terrible,” she says with feeling.

Izzy cocks an eyebrow haughtily. “I beg your pardon? If either of us tastes terrible, it is most certainly you.”

Clary “gasps” and presses a hand to her chest. “Moi? Why Isabelle, I am offended!”

Izzy grins. “Too bad,” she says, and leaps out of bed, heading for the bathroom. Clary’s laughter follows her in until she shuts the door.

She brushes her teeth and walks out to an empty bedroom. There’s the sound of clinking kitchenware outside, and the smell of eggs, so Isabelle follows it. The apartment- that’s what it is- looks strangely unfamiliar, though she’s certain the layout is impressed into the soles of her feet.

You and Clary moved here two years ago, when you both decided the Institute wasn’t enough. You needed your own space, so you bought this apartment. You still go to the Institute on a regular basis, but a separate apartment that isn’t Magnus’s is always helpful.

She drags her fingertips along the wall as she walks, looking at the contrast between her pale skin and the stark black Voyance rune on the back of her hand and the soft teal-blue wall. She imagines Clary pressed against it, scarlet hair and flaming green eyes against the gentle blue, and shudders.

Clary grins at her when she enters the kitchen. “Less foul now?” she asks jokingly, flipping the scrambled eggs like a pro.

Of course she does. Eggs are her specialty.

Isabelle makes a face. “Wasn’t foul to begin with,” she mutters snootily. She walks across the kitchen and slides her arms around Clary’s waist, resting her chin on the shorter woman’s head. Clary huffs but Izzy can see the edge of her smile.

She doesn’t know how long they stay like that, pressed together quietly, just soaking in the other’s presence, before Clary clears her throat.

“Food’s done,” she says. Is it Izzy’s imagination, or does she sound a little hoarse?

Izzy steps back, waiting for Clary to scoop the eggs up and plop them onto the two plates waiting on the counter besides the stove, and picks one up- the purple one. She sits down at the table and Clary sits across from her. They eat in silence, too; Clary checks her messages on their phone and Izzy just watches and eats. Something doesn’t feel quite right, but for the life of her she can’t pin it down.

Clary finishes and puts her plate in the sink. “Simon texted,” she says, her back to Isabelle as she starts washing. “He’s at the Institute with Jace. A certain somebody wants to see his sister.”

Izzy blinks. Why does that feel wrong?

“‘Course,” she says, instead of voicing her thoughts. “Lemme finish up here-”

Clary swoops in and takes the empty plate. Izzy blinks; when had she finished? “I’ll do it,” the redhead says, waving her toward the hallway. “Don’t keep the boys waiting, you know how they get.”

Isabelle nods absentmindedly and gets up, walking back to the bedroom to get dressed. She pulls on a red blouse and black jeans and grabs her necklace from its sitting place on the bedside table before putting her stele in her pocket and walking down the hall. She doesn’t look inside the kitchen on her way past, but she hears the clink of dishes and Clary’s soft humming. She grabs her dark red sweater off the coat rack near the door and opens it, dropping her keys into the pocket of her sweater. She starts walking toward the train.

It takes about fifteen minutes to get to the Institute by train from her apartment. It takes less by walking, depending on how heavy traffic is, but Izzy likes the train. She people-watches and texts Clary silly little messages that would embarrass her horribly if anyone but her girlfriend saw them.

She walks the rest of the way to the Institute in silence, phone on vibrate in the pocket of her sweater, but Clary doesn’t text again. She knocks at the door and steps back to wait.

Simon opens it. His curls are messy and damp and she wonders if he was showering. His eyes are brighter than she remembers them, and almost-imperceptibly flecked with gold.

“They’re in the training room,” he says, jerking a thumb behind him. She steps over the threshold and he hugs her briefly before pulling away and walking down the hall, glancing once over his shoulder to make sure she’s following. She is.

Jace’s voice drifts down the hall from the open training room door. “Raise your arms a little more- good! Now sweep-”

Isabelle’s mouth twitches. Simon steps through the door and says- something; her ears feel strange, stuffed with cotton.

She walks through the door as well. The lights glare down and she blinks, trying to get her bearings.

Something thumps against her chest. Small arms wrap around her waist.

“Izzy!” Max cries. “They said you’d be here earlier!”

Izzy kneels down. “Walk took longer than I expected,” she explains, and kisses her baby brother’s forehead. “You and Jace training?”

She looks up at Jace expectantly. Her brother’s hand is tucked in the back pocket of Simon’s jeans, but she decides that as long as Max isn’t looking, it’s fine. It’s not like they’re kissing, or- no, okay, Jace is definitely squeezing now. A flush is spreading over Simon’s cheeks and nose and Jace is smirking like a cat with cream. She shoots her brother a severe look over Max’s head.

Wait.

Over Max’s head? She’s old enough to move into her own apartment, with Clary, and Jace is old enough to seemingly run the Institute with Simon at his side… and Max is eleven?

She blinks down at her brother. Her stomach is roiling, her vision blurring at the edges and going dark.

“Max? How old are you?”

He blinks at her. She glances lightning-quick at her brother and Simon: they’re standing still, unmoving, and their faces are cast in shadow.

“I’m eleven, Izzy,” Max says, sounding confused.

“And how old am I?” Isabelle asks, voice trembling.

Max draws back, out of her arms. Something inside her screams, No! She can’t protect him if he’s not close… “You’re twenty-two, Izzy. What’s wrong?”

She can’t speak. The ceiling lights break, shattered glass raining down around them but not making a sound; Simon and Jace, twined together, fade into shadow as Isabelle watches, horrified.

“Izzy?” Max asks, hand outstretched. She tries to move, tries to speak, but she can’t move even her eyelids; she watches like a statue as her little brother melts into shadow, and she can’t even scream.

Now she can move, but her legs are numb and the icy unfeeling is spreading. She looks down at herself: she is melting too. Her legs are gone, icy-hot shadows twining up her torso and curling along her arms. She tilts her head back, opens her mouth-

And the shadows fill it, stuffing her scream back into her throat-

And she disappears into a silent, freezing abyss, with nothing but her own unborn scream to accompany her. 

Chapter Text

"Jace? Jace, for God's sake, you can't keep doing this." A hand on his shoulder, shaking him, and Jace blinks his eyes open. There's a blur in front of his face, but once it backs up, Jace's eyes refocus. It's Simon, eyes worried behind his glasses. His curls are damp. "This is really bad for your back, you know."

Jace blinks. "Wha?"

Simon smiles. It's soft and wearily fond, and it makes Jace breathless for a long moment. "Stop sleeping in chairs, okay? We have a perfectly good bed, and at the rate you're not using it, you'll be having back problems before you're forty."

Jace blinks, looks down. He's curled up in one of the library armchairs, books scattered around him. "How late was I up?"

Simon shrugs. "I went to bed around... ten? You never came in." He leans forward, smooths a thumb under Jace's eye and tuts disapprovingly. "See, bags. I can't take care of you on my own, Jace. It's a two-person effort."

Jace sighs and swings himself around, unfolding out of the chair and stretching upward. "Not like it really matters in the long run," he says flippantly. He stretches his arms above his head, gratified to see Simon's eyes fixed on his exposed waistline. "I probably won't even make it to forty."

Simon's eyes darken and he frowns at Jace. "Don't say that."

"What?" Jace protests. "It's true."

Simon shakes his head, presses closer, gets into Jace's space and crowds him back into the chair. "It shouldn't be."

Simon's eyes bore into his, coffee-dark and flecked gold, grim and protective. A silent message: I won't let it be. Jace swallows.

"O-Okay. I... I'll try and find my self-preservation instincts."

Simon grins, slowly, and backs away. "Good," he says, sauntering out the door, "because you don't get to shower with me this morning."

Jace gapes. "What? Simon, that's not fair!"

Simon smirks back at him and wiggles his hips a little, grinning wider at the involuntary flick downward of Jace's eyes. "Nope, new rule: no shared showers when you sleep in chairs."

Jace pouts at him. Simon winks and saunters away triumphantly.


Isabelle and Clary come over for lunch. Clary's eyes are bright in her freckled face as she grins at Isabelle, and Jace wonders when one of them is going to propose. It's been four years, they really should be at least getting rings by now. He looks just the same at Simon, he knows that, but at least he's got the ring to shove in their faces.

He fiddles with it as he thinks. Something feels... strange, a feeling in the air like he's being watched, but Simon's in a conversation with the ladies and not paying attention to Jace (for once). His fingers slip along the engravings easily, the ease of habit giving the movements fluid grace. The ring is a simple silver band with herons flying around it, plus tiny symbols in between each intricately carved bird. Simon refuses to tell Jace what they mean; he's promised to tell him when he's dying, and while that's not a promise Jace usually wants to hear, he thinks if it's serious enough for Simon to make that kind of promise, he can wait. Simon's is similar, except instead of birds it's Celtic-knot hearts with flames curling around them. The same symbols mark the spaces between the hearts. Jace's ring is on his left hand, Simon's on his right, and when they hold hands the slender metal bands clink together. Jace loves the sound they make, and he knows Simon does too.

He rubs his thumb over the ring and tries to pin down the feeling. He can't think of anything that would cause this creeping sensation of unfriendly eyes.

Simon's hand lands on his shoulder. Jace does not jump. 

"You alright?" Simon asks quietly. Jace shrugs. Simon's eyes twinkle and his mouth pulls up into a forced little smile that would fool anyone but Jace. "Don't hurt yourself thinking, love."

Jace sputters and shoves Simon away. Simon lets himself be moved, laughing and looking at Jace with light, painfully open eyes, and Jace's throat clogs. He gets up, watching Simon's expression die into worried confusion, and walks from the room. 

Once he's in the hallway, he starts running.

He stops in the bathroom down the hall, door shut behind him and knees against the cool tile. He's curled forward, hair brushing against the floor, and his breath is quick and tight in his chest. His fingers splay against the tile, twitching intermittently like the legs of a dying spider. He stares blankly at the black and white porcelain.

I thought you were over it. You're supposed to be over it.

There are moments, less now than before, when it's... overwhelming. When the goodness of his present life is too much, and Jace has to leave and breathe and remind himself that it's okay to have this, it's okay to want it and take it and like it. 

Those times, Simon tends to sit outside the door and tell him he deserves it, again and again until Jace opens the door and Simon can hug him. 

But this time, when there's the familiar thump of Simon hitting the floor and the creak of his head falling back against the door, he doesn't say It's real or You've earned this. Instead, he says, "I'm sorry."

Jace blinks, bringing his head up. "Wh-what?"

He's quiet, terribly quiet, but whether or not Simon hears him, he continues. "I wasn't expecting it to drag you into this too. I mean..." His chuckle is shaky, almost bitter. "I guess Dreamer demons are more observant than I thought. I'll have to ask next time."

Jace blinks, voice caught in his throat. What are you talking about?

"I know this isn't what you want," Simon sighs, and Jace scrambles up onto his feet. But Simon's voice doesn't stop, and Jace can't help but listen. "They're influencing it, making you see what they and I want, not what you want. I know you want Clary, and that's fine."

Clary? Jace hasn't wanted Clary since he was eighteen. What is Simon talking about?

"I'm sorry," he says again. "I want you to enjoy this, to like what your 'heart's deepest desire' happens to be. But this isn't yours. And you need to wake up, okay, because I don't want to put you through this if you don't want it too."

"Simon?" Jace breathes, and pushes at the door.

He can hear Simon getting up and moving away, and he opens the door to see him, standing with his hands in his pockets and his jaw tight.

"What are you talking about?" Jace asks, and Simon's jaw ticks.

"You don't want to know." His voice is bitter, so bitter, and his pockets tremble with his fingers. Jace stares.

"Simon-"

"Wake up, Jace." Simon's fingers cup his face, ring cold against Jace's cheekbone. Simon's eyes are dark, the little gold flecks brighter than usual, and they shine wetly. Jace's stomach lurches. Simon presses a kiss to his forehead.

"Come on, Jace. Wake up. Go."

"No," Jace protests, "I don't want to! I want to stay!"

Simon flinches, closes his eyes and opens them, and they're wetter now. "No, you don't. That's them talking." He swallows. "I know what you want, Jace, you've shown me so many times, and it isn't this. Isn't me. Wake up and go to Clary."

Jace tries to inhale, tries to respond, but his lungs aren't working right and his limbs are numb and the world around them is draining into blackness, the Institute and Simon too, until all that's left of Simon are his eyes and his voice.

"Go," he says, and Jace can feel the ghost of the ring on his face as he falls into the black.

Chapter Text

Alec groans, rolling over to slam his hand down on the "snooze" button. The alarm stops beeping and he sniffs in satisfaction, rolling back over to wrap his arm around Magnus' warm waist, rubbing his cheek against his boyfriend's fluffy hair. Magnus hums.

"Why did we have that?" he asks.

Alec grunts. "I d'nno..." He pauses. "Don' wanna know."

Magnus wriggles, turning in Alec's grasp. He is far too awake. "Alec, if it's for something important-"

Alec sighs, shoving himself up and away from Magnus. "I know."

He pushes himself out of bed to stumble over to the dresser, where his phone is. If there's something important, he'll have recorded it.

There's a single message beeping on the phone. Not acknowledged, so... Alec must not have written it himself.

It arrived at the same time the alarm went off.

That's weird, Alec thinks, but he's too tired to really think through it. He clicks on the text to see it.

It's from Simon.

Meet me in Central Park. Two hours. 

Alec blinks.

"Alexander? What is it?"

Alec puts his phone back down and gets back into bed, burrowing under the blankets and against Magnus. "Simon texted me to meet him in two hours. Don't know why."

"...huh," Magnus says. There's something off in his voice. "Alright."

He hesitates.

"Do you want to get up, or..."

Alec grumbles, tugging Magnus into his arms and back against Alec's bare chest. "Cuddles."

Magnus snorts fondly. "Of course."


They have, by all accounts, a perfect morning. They spend a quarter of those two hours cuddling, and then Magnus showers and gets dressed while Alec makes pancakes, because a) his pancakes are great and b) because they have an agreement that one of them will cook unless there's no time for it, in which case Magnus will snap something up. Magnus interrupts the making of the pancakes by nuzzling his cold nose into the nape of Alec's neck, and Alec squeaks jumps before smacking Magnus' arm with the spatula. They eat, and Magnus tells Alec about his latest ridiculous client, and Alec talks about Max's training and Jace's latest antic.

"I swear to Raziel, if it wasn't for me and Simon he'd have been dead years ago," Alec sighs, glancing toward the clock. Magnus nods, grinning.

"Oh- I need to go," Alec blinks, getting up from the table. "I need to meet Simon."

Magnus sweeps around the table, dragging Alec into a kiss and ruffling up the back of his hair. He pulls away, Cheshire-cat grin on his mouth. "Have a good time, darling. See you later!"

Alec grins. "Don't kill any of the clients!" he yells over his shoulder on his way out the door.

He walks to Central Park and stops at the entrance, suddenly realizing that Simon didn't specify where in Central Park. Just as he's reaching for his phone, it buzzes.

I see you. Coming over.

Alec looks up, blinking the sun out of his eyes, and then he sees Simon, waving at him. They keep eye contact as Simon jogs over.

"Hey," Alec says, and slips his phone back into his pocket. "Why am I here?" He glances around. "Is Jace-"

There's something odd in Simon's expression. "Nah," he says, and his eyes flicker weirdly, too quick for Alec to put his finger on. "Just you and me."

A shiver runs down Alec's spine. Something rings familiar in that line, in Simon saying it, in them being in a wide-open area with no one familiar around, and it doesn't give him a good feeling. He eases backward a little. "Simon? What's going on?"

Simon jams his hands into his pockets and looks up at the sky. "I'm sorry," he says abruptly, and another worm of worry squirms in Alec's stomach.

"Why?" Alec steps forward, grabs Simon's upper arm. "What's going on?"

Simon meets his gaze. Alec's never noticed the gold flecks in Simon's eyes before; weird, considering how bright and numerous they are, like tiny stars in a chocolate brown sky. "I wanted to let you enjoy it, for a while. I know you miss Magnus, that you didn't part well- I, I wanted to give you a reprieve before I brought you back."

Alec is staring. There's something rough and terrible stirring in the back of his mind, something with jagged edges, and he doesn't want to touch it, but Simon seems intent on bringing it out. "Simon. What are you talking about?"

Simon licks his lips, swallows. He takes a jerky step backward, but his eyes never leave Alec's. "Make a wish."

"What?"

"Just- just do it."

Alec cocks an eyebrow and takes a step back, releases Simon's arm as he considers his next course of action.

I wish the sky was green, he thinks. It's a silly, inane wish, as well as something practically impossible.

Simon huffs a little chuckle. "Oh my god, seriously?"

Alec jerks his head up.

The sky is the same green as Magnus' eyes. None of the other people in the park seem to notice anything odd.

Alec stares at Simon again. "What the fuck is going on?"

Simon's eyes are sad, and sorry. "This is a dream. A demon's fabrication, to be exact. None of it's real."

And then the sharp, jagged thing in Alec's mind bursts, and he is flooded with memories, and he stares at Simon.

"Are- are you-"

"I'm real," Simon says quickly, sincerity heavy in his voice. "I'm the real Simon, I'm not part of the dream."

"How do I know that?" Alec says suspiciously.

Simon chuckles. "Why would I tell you it's a dream if I'm part of it?"

That's valid. These kinds of demons don't want the victims to wake up.

"So... how did you get in here, if you're real?" Alec asks, curious. "I thought these dreams are supposed to be independent."

Simon shrugs. "They are. I, uh... I sort of... broke in? From the one it put me in. I... shattered? I think that's the right word- I shattered my dream, and then I... sort of ended up here." That doesn't sound like the whole truth, but Alec decides not to push.

"How do we get out?"

"You need to break the dream," Simon tells him. "This one's yours. If you break through, and escape... once you're awake, you need to kill the demon, and the others will be free."

Alec scowls at the vagueness, but then a question occurs to him. "If I break it... what happens to you? If you're here, then-"

Simon waves his hand. "Oh trust me, I'll be fine." He smiles. "You don't need to worry about me."

And there's something there, too, in that last sentence- the same niggling sensation that he had at the beginning of this, when he and Simon first came together here, and- and it's huge, and it makes his head throb.

"Alec!" Simon's hand is on his arm. "Alec, stop. You're hurting yourself."

Alec's trembling. "I- there's, there's something-"

Simon's eyes are huge and bottomless, and there's so much gold in them, and it makes something deep inside Alec twist and shake. "Don't."

Alec swallows. "How do I break it?"

Simon looks around them. "You don't think this is real, so... it should be broken already..." He frowns. "What's something that you believe would never happen in reality..."

"Jace being responsible?" he suggests. Simon laughs.

"No, you know he can do that if he has to. No, something so far from your grasp of reality that you can barely comprehend it."

Alec pauses, the question barely staying in his mouth: What did you think of? What's so far from reality that you can barely comprehend it?

But he does have an idea.

"I..."

Before he can say it, Simon's face twists. He looks like he's had an epiphany and doesn't like what he's realized.

"I've got an idea," he says, and Alec stares at him expectantly.

Simon's hand, which is still on Alec's arm, curls around his bicep. Simon meets Alec's eyes as he leans in.

"Sorry about this," he whispers, and Alec gets it right before Simon kisses him.

And

and

and

this isn't

no

this can't be happening

this isn't allowed to happen

this never happen(ed)s, this can't be real

he doesn't get to kiss him this isn't real no no no it's just another fold in the web

it's fake. it has to be. it has to be unreal.

 

Alec jerks away, gasping in shock and pain. His head feels like it's splitting into pieces, the world is crumbling into dust and shadow around them, and Simon's eyes are huge and bright and more gold than brown.

"I'm so sorry," he breathes, and doesn't reach for Alec as the ground beneath Alec dissolves and Alec falls

 

and opens his eyes

And jolts up, he was on the ground, he was asleep because it was a dream and he has to kill the demon to free the others-

The demon is there, a pillar of smoke and hisses and bright eyes, and Alec kills it quickly, anger and confusion only fueling him.

Angel, he needs a drink.

The others stir around him, Jace and Clary seemingly unable to meet each other's eyes while Isabelle trembles on the ground, arms wrapped around herself.

Simon is nowhere to be seen.

"Simon?" Alec calls, and finally Isabelle reacts, stands up and looks.

"Simon!" she calls, and there's a crunching noise from over the hill. Alec's stomach drops.

"Simon!" Clary yells, and all four of them are moving now.

"'M fine!" 

Clary sags, and Alec won't admit it, but he's relieved too. "What was that?" she calls.

"The countryside!" Simon replies, and then he's in sight, moving quickly. There's a line of blood on his temple, and his wrist is twisted, but as Alec watches and as Simon approaches, the gash on his head closes and his wrist turns back into alignment. Simon holds up his hand and grins at Clary. "Vamp powers, remember?"

Clary huffs and hugs Simon. "I was worried!"

Simon squeezes back before letting go and looking over the others. "What happened to you guys?" he asks, and Alec frowns. But Simon continues- "I- I think I was dreaming?"

Isabelle swallows. "It's a special kind of demon. They show you your deepest desires, and kill you in your sleep." She gestures at Alec. "He killed it."

Simon strides forward, sweeps Isabelle into a tight hug. She buries her face in his shoulder.

Alec pauses. Curiosity is burning in his stomach. "What did you guys see?"

There is a long pause. Clary is the first to respond.

"My wedding day," she says quietly, staring at the ground.

"Max," Isabelle chokes into Simon's shoulder, and Alec bows his head.

"Just... just a day," Jace says softly, and his eyes are on Simon and Isabelle. "Just... a really good day."

Alec swallows, because Clary and Jace are pinning him with their own stares now, and Simon's eyes are shut tight.

"Same as Jace," he says slowly, and sees Simon's shoulders relax. "Just a great day, but... it wasn't right."

Isabelle takes a deep, shuddering breath, and when she's facing them, her face is composed. "Where do we go from here?"

Simon points. "How about there?" Alec squints.

"Huh," he says, because hel-lo, giant castle.

Clary gulps. "Let's go."

There isn't much talking, after that. 

Alec doesn't meet Simon's eyes again for a long time. ((The voices might come back, and he's terrified of what they might tell him next.))

Chapter Text

They're going through the portal, and then

 

black

and smoke

and glowing yellow eyes

and pain in the back of his head

and Simon blinks his eyes open, and Jace is leaning over him, with a hand on his shoulder and a worried expression on his face.

"Jace?" Simon asks, because since when is Jace shirtless in Simon's bed, and also where are they right now because Simon doesn't recognize this room.

Jace's shoulders relax, which is a good thing because it means that Jace is relaxing too, but it's bad because the motion draws Simon's eyes to the rest of Jace and oh god, he's even prettier out of the black leather, they were right about everything, and shit, Simon needs to get a hold on himself.

"Were you having a nightmare?" Jace asks, not leaning away. His mouth is really close to Simon's.

Simon blinks, forces his attention off Jace's lovely mouth and onto his eyes. "Um- y-yeah, I think so."

Jace nods, and then- then his mouth is on Simon's forehead, and Simon's brain shorts out for a minute. When it comes back online, Jace is climbing out of bed and walkign toward the door.

"You'll be down soon?" Jace asks expectantly, and Simon blinks a couple times before nodding quickly.

"S-Sure!"

Jace grins and then he's gone, and Simon is staring at the doorway.

"The fuck," he says quietly.

He takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly, repeats a few times. And then he prods: ((Hey? Guys?))

There is no reply, and that's what scares him the most.

"Okay," Simon says slowly, thinking aloud. "I'm cut off, and- and Jace kissed me. Forehead, sure, but that was a kiss." He stands up, frowning, and glances at the doorway again. "And... I had a nightmare. But... I don't remember that thing. If it was a nightmare, it had to come from something, so-"

He pauses. Sighs.

"Fuck," he groans, and rubs his forehead. "Dreamer. Of course."

He needs to wake up, to leave. The others are most likely caught too, and they won't be as aware as he is. He needs to wake them up too.

He glances at the door again.

Jace...

No. No, he can't- it isn't real, it's a demonic illusion. He has a duty to his friends. He can't stay here.

Besides, and his fists curl, not like you don't have any other memories to back yourself up on. Not like Izzy.

He swallows, and braces his shoulders.

He wishes. It's a dream of one's deepest desires; whatever he wants will appear.

One. Oh. That would explain why he's cut off.

He checks the bedside table. His wish has been granted.

He picks up the knife, weighing it in his hand.

If you die in a dream, do you die in real life?

There are two options in these situations: kill the dream, or kill the dreamer.

Never again, Simon thinks to himself ((blank eyes and scarlet floors and so many screams)), and slashes his throat open.

 

the demon howls, and the room shatters into black, and Simon is Elsewhere.

He opens his eyes, and Jace's hand is in his back pocket, and for a second he's terrified. Did it not work? It should've-

Isabelle is crouched down in front of an eleven-year-old Max, and Simon understands.

Oh, Izzy, he thinks sadly.

Jace squeezes. Simon can't help the blush, but then Isabelle's eyes go big, and his mind is very abruptly off the hand.

"Max?" Isabelle's voice is muffled in Simon's ears, like he's hearing her from underwater. "How old are you?"

I'm part of the dream, he realizes, and the training room is shrinking, the shadows in the corners crawling up the walls and rushing toward them, but all Isabelle can focus on is her little brother.

Jace is pressed close against Simon, the hand still there, and Simon twists around with seconds to go before Isabelle's dream breaks.

He presses a kiss to Jace's jaw, and then he moves,

and Jace is running down the hall out of the kitchen, and Clary and Isabelle have stopped talking. Simon has a ring on his hand and all of them are years older, and Simon swallows.

"I'll go after him," he says, all those years of saying/thinking/meaning that echoing in his voice, and he's following after Jace (because he always does and always has and always will), and as he glances behind him, the kitchen dissolves.

Guess I won't be going back that way, he thinks to himself wryly.

He finds where Jace is without thinking, drawn by the necessity of the demon. He slides down to the floor and leans his head back, and then it hits him, because clearly he and Jace are together in this dream, and that hurts, because it's Jace's dream, and he doesn't want Simon. Shit, he thinks; he knew his pining was getting bad, but it being so strong it influences a demon's perception of Jace's feelings?

Well, there are the others, he thinks. They definitely play a role.

But still.

"I'm sorry," he says. If Jace replies, he doesn't hear it, so he keeps talking. "I wasn't expecting it to drag you into this too. I mean..." He chuckles shakily. "I guess Dreamer demons are more observant than I thought. I'll have to ask next time." 

If it can cut off the others in Simon, it should be able to cut off Jace's... but maybe it's different because Simon's are active? He really doesn't know.

"I know this isn't what you want." Simon curls his fists, shuts his eyes, forces the words to keep coming. "They're influencing it, making you see what they and I want, not what you want. I know you want Clary, and that's fine. I'm sorry," he repeats, helplessly. "I want you to enjoy this, to like what your 'heart's deepest desire' happens to be. But this isn't yours. And you need to wake up, okay, because I don't want to put you through this if you don't want it too."

"Simon?" Jace whispers in reply, and then the door moves slightly. Simon gets up, shoves his hands in his pockets and sets his jaw, and then Jace is standing in the doorway with a lost expression on his face. "What are you talking about?"

"You don't want to know." That's the truth, isn't it, it's always the fucking truth. No one wants to know, except maybe him and he's be happier if none of this ever happened, but Simon doesn't want to know and he can't help but know it, and the least he can do is keep it from Jace, and Isabelle and Alec and Magnus and Clary, because they don't want to know either.

((besides, it's against the rules to tell, and you know what happens when you break the rules~))

Simon's hands are shaking.

"Simon-"

"Wake up, Jace." And Simon is greedy then, reaching out to cup Jace's face. His ring shines against the golden tan of Jace's skin, and Simon's eyes are wet, he knows it. He kisses Jace's forehead, quickly, because it's probably never going to happen again. "Come on, Jace. Wake up. Go."

"No," Jace protests, "I don't want to! I want to stay!"

Simon flinches, closes his eyes and opens them, because that's not true. "No, you don't. That's them talking." He swallows. "I know what you want, Jace, you've shown me so many times, and it isn't this. Isn't me. Wake up and go to Clary."

The dream is dissolving, and Simon with it. One more to go.

"Go," he says, and Jace is melting into the shadows too, 

and Simon blinks. His phone is in his hand, and he's in his room, at his mom's house. 

Alec, he thinks.

Meet me in Central Park in two hours, he texts. He can give Alec that much time, surely, since it doesn't translate into reality the same way. And Alec deserves this much time with a Magnus, even if he isn't real. 

In the meantime, he decides to try again, reaching out inside himself and prodding. It takes so long, but he finds the problem.

There are walls. Huge, curving, glassy walls, and they're trapped behind the walls. Simon can't reach them, can't communicate, but they're there and they're okay, undamaged. He breathes easier.

The walls are a problem, sure, but he's fairly certain the walls will drop once the dreams are gone and the demon who created them is dead. If they aren't... Simon will need to look elsewhere for a solution. 

He checks the time, and climbs out his window. He walks to Central Park, slips his phone out to check the time once more, and then slides it back into his pocket and waits.

He sees Alec, eventually, and tells him so before going over. Alec's eyes catch his once he looks up from his phone, and somehow they don't slip away.

"Hey," Alec says, and slips his phone back into his pocket. "Why am I here?" He glances around. "Is Jace-"

"Nah," Simon says. Jace is rather indisposed at the moment, but he's fine. "Just you and me."

He wants to shudder, saying that, and he longs for someone other than Alec to be standing there, for the First him, because he and only he understands the weight behind Simon saying that. Alec doesn't, and hopefully, Alec never will, because Alec doesn't deserve the pain of knowing and remembering.

((but Alec will remember, eventually))

Alec moves back a little. Great, Simon's being creepy. His hands push into his pockets. He looks up at the sky; it's the same blue as Alec's eyes, but it's much easier to look at. Alec licks his lips. "Simon? What's going on?"

Simon forces himself to meet Alec's gaze. If he's going to be honest, he's going to look at Alec. "I wanted to let you enjoy it, for a while. I know you miss Magnus, that you didn't part well- I, I wanted to give you a reprieve before I brought you back."

"Simon. What are you talking about?"

Simon licks his lips, swallows. He takes a jerky step backward, but his eyes never leave Alec's. "Make a wish."

It'll work. It has to.

"What?"

"Just- just do it."

Alec cocks an eyebrow and takes a step back, releases Simon's arm. Simon doesn't allow himself to miss the contact.

Simon looks up as reality ripples and huffs a little chuckle. "Oh my god, seriously?" That's like... the most basic thing you could change. Wow.

Then he recognizes the shade of green, and that's- somewhere between heartbreakingly sweet and just heartbreaking.

Alec's staring at Simon again. "What the fuck is going on?"

Simon meets his gaze, sadness roiling in his stomach. Be blunt. "This is a dream. A demon's fabrication, to be exact. None of it's real."

He can see the moment Alec's memories return. "Are- are you-"

"I'm real," Simon assures him quickly. "I'm the real Simon, I'm not part of the dream."

"How do I know that?" Alec says suspiciously.

Simon chuckles. "Why would I tell you it's a dream if I'm part of it?" It's a valid point, and Alec seems to accept it.

"So... how did you get in here, if you're real?" Alec asks.

"I thought these dreams are supposed to be independent."

Simon shrugs. "They are. I, uh... I sort of... broke in? From the one it put me in. I... shattered? I think that's the right word- I shattered my dream, and then I... sort of ended up here." Liar, liar, pants on fire...

Alec, thankfully, doesn't prod at his lie. "How do we get out?" 

"You need to break the dream," Simon tells him. "This one's yours. If you break through, and escape... once you're awake, you need to kill the demon, and the others will be free."

Alec scowls, but then his face creases out into worry. "If I break it... what happens to you? If you're here, then-"

Simon waves his hand, forcing down the little bubble of happiness that results from He's worried about me!! ME!!! "Oh trust me, I'll be fine." He smiles, and tries to make it convincing. "You don't need to worry about me."

That's too much. The line, his line- that's too much for Alec's stretched-thin mind to take cleanly. The borders of consciousness are thin here, and Simon can see them pushing at Alec, trying to get out, and that won't do. He's pushing the rules enough as it is. He puts a hand on Alec's arm, pushes dominance into his voice. "Alec! Alec, stop. You're hurting yourself."

Alec's trembling under Simon's fingers. "I- there's, there's something-"

Simon feels the gaping pit inside himself where they usually are, feels the loneliness of always keeping the secrets crush down on him. But Alec can't know, can't be allowed to remember. It'll hurt him, so much, and it'll break the rules, and they need to get out and deal with Jonathan and Lilith. "Don't."

Alec, thankfully, obeys. He swallows, and Simon sees him push it all away, sees Alec center himself in the here and now. "How do I break it?"

Simon looks around them. "You don't think this is real, so... it should be broken already..." He frowns, racking his brain. "What's something that you believe would never happen in reality..."

"Jace being responsible?" Alec suggests. Simon laughs, but it rings hollow to him, scraped empty by the memories Alec doesn't have.

"No, you know he can do that if he has to. No, something so far from your grasp of reality that you can barely comprehend it."

Simon thinks, reverie almost broken when Alec starts, "I..." But then it hits him, and his stomach twists sourly.

"I've got an idea," he says, shoving back his reluctance. Alec stares at him expectantly.

Simon's hand, still on Alec's arm, curls around his bicep. Simon meets Alec's eyes as he leans in, and pushes away everything that isn't his, all the memories that don't belong to him but to them, the influences behind his storm of emotions.

He's Simon Lewis, and this is Alec Lightwood, and they need to get out of this dream. And this is a possible solution.

"Sorry about this," he can't help but whisper, and presses their mouths together.

The world bursts, and Simon can feel Alec's turmoil through his skin. Central Park crumbles and disappears around them and Alec jerks away, gasping, eyes huge and not in anything positive. Simon is silent for a moment, his own feelings utterly compromised. The world is almost entirely gone, and the demon-made walls shatter inside him, and they are back, their voices building and building inside him until it feels like the noise will split his skin.

"I'm so sorry," he says to Alec, and watches as Alec falls away, as the dream shreds around them, and doesn't fight as the memories flood over him and bring him to his knees.

 

He's lying on ashy ground, and there is a lot of noise over the hill, and his wrist is broken, probably from the fall through into this world. He gets up slowly, the noise levels in his skull still adjusting.

((Sorry,)) someone whispers. He shuts his eyes briefly.

((It's fine.))

There is no reply, and he stumbles then as the noise levels drop suddenly. His head drags along the jut of rocky hill, gashing it open, and the bones of a long-dead demon crunches under his staggering feet. He hears a shout, an external one. Clary.

"Simon!"

"'M fine!" he yells back, and starts moving.

"What was that sound?" 

"The countryside!" he calls back, and he's rounding the hill and he can see them, all four of them, not well but alive. He feels the rush of vampire healing, feels his wrist snap back into place, and holds it up for Clary's concerned inspection. "Vamp powers, remember?"

Clary huffs. They're close, now, and she hugs him. "I was worried!"

Simon squeezes back before letting go and looking over at the others. "What happened to you guys?" he asks, feigning the proper ignorance. "I- I think I was dreaming?"

He sees Isabelle's throat bob. Fuck, Izzy... "It's a special kind of demon. They show you your deepest desires, and kill you in your sleep." She gestures at Alec. "He killed it." 

Simon strides to her quickly, wrapping his faux-girlfriend and actual best friend in a hug. She hides her face against his shoulder and he rubs small circles against her back. I'm sorry, Iz, he thinks sadly.

"What did you guys see?" Alec asks, and everyone goes very quiet. Clary is the first to break the silence.

"My wedding day," she says, voice soft.

"Max," Isabelle chokes into Simon's shoulder. Simon presses a quick kiss to the top of her head, squeezes her body in his arms gently.

"Just... just a day," Jace says softly. Simon can't see where his eyes are, but he keeps his own shut. He can't bear Jace's gaze right now. "Just... a really good day," and fuck, Jace's voice is shaking, just a little.

"Same as Jace," Alec says slowly, and Simon's shoulders relax. Thank fuck, he's not saying anything. "Just a great day, but... it wasn't right."

Isabelle takes a deep, shuddering breath. Simon feels her draw her pain inward, compartmentalize it, push it into a drawer and lock that drawer. When she pulls away, she's good to go. She's always so good at that. "Where do we go from here?" she asks.

Simon's eyes flick over, and he points. "How about there?"

The giant castle is hard to miss when you aren't focused on your friends' recent trauma.

"Huh," Alec mutters.

Clary gulps. "Let's go," she says, forcing strength into her voice, her shoulders. Simon is so proud of her.

They go, and Simon doesn't look at Jace or Alec unless he absolutely has to. He's lost that right.