Clary's first Christmas as a Shadowhunter wasn't even really a holiday at all.
Whereas Christmas as always quite the event in the Fray household, that first year after her eighteenth birthday, the first year after Valentine and Jace and Izzy and everything with Simon… the holidays just passed her by. In fact, it wasn’t until she was out on patrol with Izzy one night that she noticed it, the lights in store windows and the music pouring from the shops.
Christmas. Just like that.
She stopped in the middle of the street, looking in the window at the tree and the sparkling lights, wondering how everything had changed so much. This time last year she’d been decorating a tree with her mom and Luke. Her and Simon had made a large batch of gingerbread, and then he’d come over for the big Hannukah/Christmas celebration they did. Honestly, her and her mom had never been religious. Christmas had always been more about celebrating the family they had. The fact that family was more than blood.
She wasn’t quite sure when that had fallen apart.
Clary looked up in surprise, taking in the sight of Isabelle Lightwood lit up by the vivid red, greens and blues of the Christmas lights. It caught in her hair and set a glow in her skin, and Clary idly thought that Izzy had never looked more beautiful. But that was trite and totally inaccurate, because Isabelle Lightwood was always a vision, silly lights or not. “Are you okay?” Izzy asked, concern colouring her tone as she reached out, her fingers lightly brushing Clary’s elbow, and Clary cursed the leather jacket she was wearing for depriving her of the feeling of Izzy’s fingers on her skin. It always made her feel safer, more secure. The gesture alone was more than enough for now, though.
Clary nodded softly, her eyes flicking back to the display in the window. It was late, and the store was closed, but she could still make out some staff inside cleaning up, a few late shoppers rushing around the street. But of course, none of them saw her, or Izzy. That was what a glamour rune was for.
And yes, this time she had silenced her phone.
“I just… didn’t realise it was Christmas,” Clary explained briefly. “There’s no decorations in the Institute…”
“Oh. We don’t really celebrate Christmas,” Izzy explained softly. “It’s not really a Shadowhunter holiday. Not that Shadowhunters take holidays. The demons won’t stop being a problem just because all the mundanes are off work for the day. If anything, those are the days we’re needed the most.”
“Oh. Okay,” Clary said softly, almost sadly. She’d always loved Christmas as a kid. Her mother and Luke had always made a big thing of it, and when she’d gotten older, when it had grown to include Simon and his family and all their Hanukkah traditions… she couldn’t really imagine her life without it. It didn’t seem right.
Maybe it explained a little of why Alec seemed so unsympathetic, though. And why Izzy seemed so closed off every time her mother was around. For whatever reason, Clary really couldn’t imagine Maryse Lightwood getting covered in icing helping her kids decorate a bunch of Christmas cookies.
For all their differences, for all their fights about Clary’s future, she suddenly felt very grateful for the fact that her Mom had actually given her a childhood. A real, mundane, childhood. Not the training camp it looked like Izzy had survived.
“We should keep moving,” Izzy suggested gently, and Clary nodded.
“Yeah, of course.”
There were no Christmas decorations that year. There was no baking, no celebrating, nothing. Just pain and loss and battling against Valentine and the Circle and all that came with it.
On Christmas Eve, Simon came over to see her. He gave her a set of paints he’d apparently seen months ago, before any of this had happened. They lit a candle together. Clary nearly cried, because in that moment, she was vividly aware of what they’d lost, through all of this. Everything they’d given up. And she could see Simon was aware of it too. Raphael still said he was raised a Catholic, and she admired that. But she could only imagine how Simon’s relationship with something that had been so important to him for so long had been rocked to the core since… everything.
She fell asleep on his shoulder, lying on the bed in Clary’s new room in the Institute, covered by a blanket.
When Izzy went in the next morning to find out why Clary was late for training, they were still fast asleep. And she let them stay that way, just tugging the curtains a little tighter closed for Simon’s sake. She’d tell Alec that Clary was sick and needed the day off.
It was the only Christmas present Izzy could give her.
By the time Clary’s second Christmas came around, she was determined that everything would be different.
As December arrived, she realised she wasn’t entirely sure how she was going to go about that. The Institute was definitely still off limits - Maryse would never stand for her putting trite nonsense around the hallowed halls of that place. But the thing was, after everything, her Mom and Luke had finally gotten a place together. After all, it wasn’t like they could just go back to the old flat, with the state it was in. But Luke had offered her the spare room at his place to start and well… that had become decidedly more permanent.
So as soon as the 1st of December arrived, Clary called Simon and they went to go and buy as many loud, tacky and colourful decorations as they could find. Clary then called a surprise family meeting by basically arriving on Luke’s doorstep with absolutely everything and proceeding to make his house look like someone had vomited a bag full of Christmas everywhere.
Artist or not, Christmas was no time for being picky, and especially not this year.
By the time they were done, they were laughing and joking and eating from takeout cartons and watching It’s a Wonderful Life on TV. And for a moment, she could forget everything. She could forget the starkly black runes painting war and blood on her skin, could forget the pale pallor of death that clung to her best friend, and the fact that she knew he slipped out for blood at eleven. She could ignore the scars on her Mom’s neck, and the fact that Luke got a call from the pack about something the next morning, and had to leave to handle that before work.
It was hard, but she could do it, if she really tried.
“Hey, thanks for the other night,” Luke eventually told her, when he caught her after that night, when she was out with Simon. “It was… really nice.”
Clary nodded, because of course, it was no problem. She had needed it just as much as Luke had, she had very few doubts about that. But then Luke had pulled her aside, and she could see that familiar parental concern in his eyes. He was worried about her. But then, he usually was these days. Shadowhunters weren’t exactly the safest.
“Clary… I get you’re trying to… I know it’s been hard. With everything changing. But you don’t need to pretend everything’s like it was. You can have whatever traditions you want. Old or new. It’s like your Mom always used to say. Christmas is what you want to make of it. It’s not about what everyone else does, or religion or anything. It’s about family. Whoever you decide that includes.”
Clary was still thinking about those words nearly three weeks later, when the first snow fell over New York for the year. It was thick and fast, which was unusual, but basically cancelled whatever travel plans any of them might have had. Even the great Maryse had to admit that it was nearly impossible to run patrols in this weather, and had brought them back to emergencies only, at least until the weather subsided.
When the snow finally stopped, it was thick and fluffy and at least two feet deep in places, which just made Clary a little envious. She’d used to go outside and play in that kind of snow. And instead she was inside. Training.
Two years experience or not, Alec still managed to find flaw in her, and was currently pointing out how her footwork was apparently letting her down. But Clary found herself completely and utterly distracted as Izzy burst into the room, wrapped up in a winter coat, before throwing one at Alec’s head, which gladly put him off of his lecture.
“Come on, I have a new training exercise for us, you can do this later,” Izzy told him, in a tone that didn’t stand for much arguing. Izzy held up another coat, and after a moment Clary realised it was probably for her. Raising an eyebrow, Clary moved forward, tilting her head a little.
“Izzy?” Clary asked cautiously, but Izzy just shook her head.
“Come on, let’s just go. Jace and Magnus are already waiting for us.”
“Magnus is here?” Alec asked, and Clary could have sworn his tone rose about two octaves at that. They’d been together for nearly as long as Clary had been around, and yet somehow Alec was still reduced to a stuttering nervous mess sometimes at the unexpected arrival of his boyfriend. Such as now, when he peeled the coat from his head, seeming taken aback at the thought.
“What, you think a snow drift is going to stop the High Warlock of Brooklyn travelling? He portalled over fifteen minutes ago. Now let’s go , hombre ,” Izzy encouraged, and Alec, apparently, didn’t need to be told twice. Clary had never seen him move out of training so enthusiastically.
“You are a life saver, Izzy,” Clary said empathetically, slipping her arms into the coat, and Izzy smiled.
“I know,” she said brightly, brushing the coat into place on Clary’s shoulders and she resisted the urge to blush. “Now come on! Let’s go, before we miss all the fun.”
And then, before Clary could do much, Izzy grabbed her hand, pulling her out of the room and towards the Institute’s front doors. Clary liked Izzy. A lot. Ever since things had broken down with Jace, Clary had promised herself that she wouldn’t be falling into any other crazy relationships. She was a Shadowhunter now. She had to put her job first, keeping her own way around the Institute. She couldn’t let dating get in the way of that. So she’d stood on her own two feet.
And either way, she definitely wasn’t attracted to Izzy, because that would be ridiculous. Not that it was ridiculous to be attracted to Izzy! Because she was beautiful and gorgeous and she had a fantastic sense of style and she always knew how to look like she could kill a man with a heel and still be happy. She was passionate and smart and Clary spent all her time trying to be half the woman Izzy was. But Izzy was Izzy and there was no way Clary could be into her because that would mean…
It was ridiculous. It didn’t make sense. She just admired Izzy, recognised she was beautiful and wanted to be her friend. Wanted her in her life. That didn’t mean anything.
When they got outside, she found Magnus, Alec and Jace sitting on the steps waiting for them, apparently as lost as Clary was. Izzy dropped Clary’s hand, moving out into the snow, and Clary watched the joy in Izzy’s eyes as she crunched the soft surface under her boots, leaving a trail in the otherwise pristine surface. She moved behind a nearby tree, seemingly looking for something as Clary sat down on the step. Alec and Magnus were sitting together closely, Alec’s long fingers playing with Magnus’ gloved hand, tracing patterns across his palm. Jace, as always, was toying with his stele, spinning it in between his fingers. Clary wondered how many he had broken as a kid learning to do that.
“Do you know what this is about?” Clary asked him, and Jace shook his head a little, shrugging.
“Beats me. She just burst in saying there was something we had to do and insisted we get out here. You know as much as -”
Before Jace could finish the sentence, something had smashed him in the side of the face, and Clary watched as a large glob of snow dripped down his face, landing in his collar. He yelped in discomfort, jumping to his feet, stele raised, even though that was more or less completely useless.
“What the-?” he asked, but before he could get an answer, Izzy was out from behind the tree again, this time pelting a snowball at her brother. Alec, though, was more prepared, ducking out of the way.
“Iz, what are you doing?” he asked.
“Training! Most hits wins and my team’s 1-0 up,” Izzy teased, before throwing another snowball at Jace. She aimed low and hard, causing him to groan a little as the ball of packed snow hit him squarely in the abdomen. “2-0,” she corrected.
“Yeah, and who’s on your team?” Alec asked, folding his arms.
“Clary, obviously,” Izzy said. Clary looked up, surprised. She would have expected her to pick Alec. After all, Alec arguably had the most experience with projectiles. Izzy winked at her, though, and Clary couldn’t help but smile. “You’re going to lose to us, obviously, but it’s okay. I asked Magnus to nurse your wounds later.”
Alec raised an eyebrow at her, shaking his head. “And what makes you think you’re going to win?”
Izzy threw another snowball at Jace. This time at his knee. She was precise, that was for sure.
Making a split second decision, Clary reached down into the snow on the step, forming a rough snowball before throwing it in Jace’s direction, making a run for Izzy and the safety of the tree.
“4-0!” Izzy crowed in delight, but groaned a little as Alec apparently finally got involved. At least, that was what the thud on Clary’s back told her.
“4-1!” he yelled across the space between them, and Izzy grabbed Clary’s hand, pulling her behind the tree as they laughed. She heard Magnus protesting about how he wasn’t getting involved in this, because designer pants weren’t made for snowball fights, and then seemingly being blackmailed into keeping score. Clary’s shoulder was pressed against Izzy’s and Clary smiled.
“I figure if I distract them, you can be our secret weapon and deal with them. It’ll be a hard battle, but we can do it,” Izzy promised her, her tone light. Clary smiled.
“Oh yeah? What makes you think so?”
“You’re Clary Fray. There’s nothing you can’t do,” Izzy promised her, before leaping out of cover, throwing more snowballs, and Clary giggled as she heard more yelps from Alec and Jace. Clary peeked out, watching them fight for a second.
“Come on Fray, you scared you’re going to lose?” Jace called to her, and Clary grinned. She scrunched up another snowball, throwing it forward and giggling as she heard Jace complain about a double attack.
Forty five minutes later, Clary and Isabelle won after Magnus informed them they were about 102-54 up and that Alec should probably stick to archery and being an attractive boyfriend. Jace, apparently, had never shown much talent at anything so his lack of snowball fight skills wasn’t a disappointment.
What else wasn’t a disappointment was the sight of Izzy, out of breath and delighted, lying back in a snowdrift. Clary collapsed beside her, taking in the sight of her there, looking like a true angel. Clary didn’t think she’d seen Izzy look so joyful for… well, for a while, anyway.
Idly, Clary began to move her arms and legs backwards and forwards, making a snow angel. Seemed appropriate at the very least. Izzy looked over at her with a slight chuckle, raising an eyebrow.
“What are you doing?”
“Making a Snow Angel,” Clary explained, as if it was obvious. Izzy looked just as confused though, and Clary laughed a little in surprise. “Have you never made a Snow Angel?”
“No. What’s that?” Izzy asked curiously.
“Here just… move your arms and legs like this,” Clary offered, continuing to demonstrate, shifting the snow out of the way. Cautiously, Izzy copied her, and Clary could feel their fingers almost touch as they completed the movement. After a few moments, Clary carefully got to her feet, offering a hand for Izzy, helping her up before turning her around. “See? Snow Angel,” Clary pointed out. Izzy chuckled lightly.
“It’s… not much like the Angels I see most of the time.”
“No. But it’s cute, and it’s Christmas so it’s appropriate,” Clary told her.
“I have a cute snow angel right here,” Izzy said, and Clary flushed after a moment, realising Izzy had to be talking about her . It didn’t make any sense. Especially not when the real snow angel was Izzy, her hair partially white from the snow, her cheeks red from exhaustion, and dripping a little from where Jace and Alec’s snowballs had hit her. Izzy looked gorgeous when she was all ready to go out, her lipstick perfect and an outfit to die for. But she looked just as gorgeous there and then. She looked real.
“This was… really fun. What made you think of it?” Clary asked, curious. Izzy smiled softly, shrugging.
“Simon said you loved Christmas. And after last year… I figured I could give you something wintery, even if I couldn’t give you everything else.”
Clary paused, taken aback. Izzy had done this… for her? That was incredibly kind and lovely but… why would Izzy want to do it for her? Because they were friends, obviously, but… Clary was touched. And really, she’d had more fun that she had done in a long time.
Before she could answer, though, Jace poked his head outside again, looking over to them.
“Hey, Magnus made hot chocolate if you guys want to come in. With marshmallows. And cream. And I’d also love not to be left alone with those two, they’re being cute and gross,” Jace complained, although Clary could tell he wasn’t really complaining.
“What are they doing, holding hands?” Izzy mocked, heading for the door.
“Yes! And kissing ,” Jace added like it was the crime of the century.
Clary chuckled, following Izzy inside. It wasn’t quite a Christmas tradition. But really, Clary wouldn’t mind if it was.
For Clary’s third Christmas, everything was different.
The Clave, it seemed, had finally stepped in once and for all regarding Maryse and Robert’s leadership of the New York Institute. They were in Idris more and more, and by August that year, Alec had formally taken leadership of the Institute. Permanently this time. Without an engagement to Lydia, or having to remove Magnus from his life. The Clave weren’t happy, and Clary got the impression Alec spent most of his time fighting against the institution that ran their lives, but she also got the sense that Alec was genuinely happy. He had the job he’d always wanted, Jace and Izzy by his side, and he had Magnus.
Izzy, Jace and her were also more than happy to cover the times when Alec couldn’t be at the Institute. After all, he didn’t even live there anymore. He’d moved in with Magnus ages ago, despite the protests. He’d wanted to move back when he’d taken control of the Institute, but Izzy had convinced him otherwise. Thanks to Magnus, Alec was never really more than a text message and a portal away. Which was hardly any further than the residential wing of the Institute.
Other than that, Clary had noticed that Jace and Simon had been spending a lot more time together lately. Whereas before she would have worried about them being together, she’d learned to relax after she caught Simon introducing Jace to Mario Kart, and had ended up laughing so hard she got stitches as she watched Simon beat Jace every single time. Jace had only gotten more frustrated when it turned out Izzy was a natural.
As such, Simon was far more welcome around the halls of the Institute than he would have been before, and Izzy had insisted that he come over that night, not really giving much of a reason why. Rather than question it, Clary had offered to go and collect him from the Du Mort, and they’d go and get some takeout for them all on the way back.
One very large bag of food and a pack of beer later, they’d made it back to the Institute. And Clary nearly swore she’d somehow managed to fall through a seelie portal into an alternate universe again, because this absolutely couldn’t be her universe.
Her universe didn’t include Shadowhunters celebrating Christmas, so there was definitely no sensible explanation for why Jace, Luke and Alec were manoeuvring a very large tree into place in the corner of the ops room, with Izzy instructing them as to placement. Clary looked to Simon for explanation, but he just shook his head a little, shrugging, as if to say he knew as much about all this as she did. Putting the food down on the nearest flat surface, Clary moved over towards Magnus who was the only one who seemed to be idle in all this. The four of them were dealing with the tree, and when Clary looked around she spotted her Mom, sorting through boxes and packets of tree decorations, laying them out on the table.
“What’s going on?” Clary asked softly, and Magnus looked over at her, smiling softly.
“Isabelle decided she wanted to have Christmas this year. She insisted. And it seemed she was able to recruit quite a few helpers,” Magnus explained briefly. “Of course, I was more than happy to help give the Clave yet another thing to complain about.”
“Isabelle did this?” Clary murmured softly, looking around at all the decorations spread around, at the group of people settling the tree into place.
“Oh, she was quite determined. Mentioned something about how it wasn’t fair that you didn’t get to celebrate the holidays how you wanted in your home.”
“Me?” Clary asked, her voice coming out as more of a surprised squeak than anything. What was Magnus saying… that Izzy had done all this for her? Magnus shot her a look, sighing a little.
“Clary, for someone so intelligent, it never fails to amaze me how completely oblivious you can be.”
And with that, Magnus was off, as apparently the tree was in place, and Jace was currently trying to convince Alec to let him climb on his shoulders so they could decorate the top of the tree. Rather than allow that, Magnus quickly intervened with his magic, gently floating a string of lights to the upper branches of the rather massive tree that had now taken up residence. Clary wasn’t even sure how they’d gotten it through the door.
Or maybe Magnus had helped with that too.
“Clary!” Isabelle called, bouncing over to her, hugging her briefly in welcome. “You brought food, thank god. I offered to cook but Alec and Jace seemed to think I needed to help with the tree more.” There was a slight pout on her face and Clary couldn’t help but giggle a little. She knew that Izzy was aware that her food wasn’t always the best, but she enjoyed cooking, which meant that Clary always encouraged her. She just played dumb because watching Alec and Jace panic and try to be nice was always worth it.
It had been an interesting year for her. Clary felt more secure in her position as a Shadowhunter than ever, and it seemed her mother was finally starting to accept the good she could do here, the difference they could all make. Relations with the downworlders had never been better, and Clary knew the core of that was Alec and Izzy. Izzy had been friends with the seelies for years, and it wasn’t exactly a secret that he was dating a warlock. They were getting more trust than ever, and relations with Luke and Simon only helped that too. It was nothing short of a miracle compared to only a few years ago.
But the other thing that had changed was her relationship with Izzy. It was subtle though. Never enough for Clary to identify anything significant. It wasn’t as if there’d been some seismic event to change everything. But they’d been spending more time together, just to be together. Izzy had finally taken her clothes shopping. Clary had given Izzy some art lessons, which had mostly ended in Izzy watching her paint. Clary had taken all of the Lightwoods to a baseball game - something they had apparently never done. She’d bought Izzy a hot dog and ended up covered in mustard in an event that had them both crying from laughter.
Izzy had fallen asleep in her bed when they’d decided to stay up one night and watch all of the Harry Potter movies. Izzy had drawn more runes on her than Clary could count, and somehow all of them seemed to feel more special than anything else on her body. Izzy had saved her life a hundred times over. Izzy… Izzy was everything.
And yeah. Maybe now Clary was willing to admit she didn’t want to be just friends with Isabelle Lightwood. That maybe she wasn’t… as entirely straight as she’d thought she was. But Clary had needed time to get used to that idea. To let it settle in her own head before she did anything about it. It had all been so messed up in her head. After all, she’d technically dated Jace for a while, hadn’t she? And she’d thought she’d felt something for him, but then… Clary always seemed to find Izzy more of a distraction than any man.
She’d had Simon to help her through that. Simon, who’d been so comfortable in his own sexuality for as long as she could remember. That was the one thing about him that had never wavered, never changed. And he’d got it. He’d understood. He’d been there for her when she needed him. When she became unsure about who she was, Simon still believed in her, which was all she needed to know.
“So what do you think?” Izzy’s voice cut through Clary’s reverie, and she shook herself out of it, smiling brightly.
“I think this is amazing,” Clary assured her, looking around at where everyone was decorating the tree, Simon having joined the group too. “Magnus told me what you said,” she added briefly. “Thank you.”
“I think it’s about time we got to celebrate something around here without feeling guilty about it,” Izzy reassured her. “Besides. It wasn’t so hard to get Alec on board,” Izzy promised her, before chaining her arm through Clary’s pulling her in the direction of the kitchen for plates and napkins.
“Really? How come?” Clary asked. Her relationship with Alec had improved miles from where it had started, but she still couldn’t see the ‘Clary wants to celebrate Christmas’ argument working very well with him.
“I told him he could hang as much of this as he wants,” Izzy told her, pointing up. They were in the archway leading off to the main hall of the Institute, and when Clary looked up, she could see someone had already done a little decorating here. Mostly because the whole beam above them was lined with mistletoe.
Clary paused, blushing a little as she realised they were directly underneath it. Together. Of course, Clary should probably seize the chance, but what if Izzy didn’t want it? What if Izzy was just pointing it out and didn’t quite realise the implications? But she had to, if she’d used it to get Alec to support them…
Before Clary could hesitate much more, Izzy reached out, grabbing her hand and pulling her a little closer. “We don’t have to, if you don’t want to,” Izzy murmured softly, smiling a little. Clary swore her throat went dry at that phrase, because that sounded… terribly optimistic. Didn’t it?
“Do you? Want to?” Clary asked, and Izzy laughed a little, free hand reaching up to brush a free tangle of Clary’s hair out of her face. Clary became vividly aware of how the softest touch could make her feel so much.
“I’ve wanted to since I saw you in that dress when we were going to meet Magnus. To get your memories back,” Izzy told her, and Clary’s heart skipped a beat. That was… years ago. Years. Izzy had been waiting years for her? But no, how could she have been? She’d been seeing Meliorn, and then Izzy and Simon had that brief fling and then…
Clary stopped thinking about it, though, because Izzy’s face fell minutely and she started to move away, towards the kitchen. Obviously, she read Clary’s hesitance for reluctance and well… that would never do.
So Clary used their still joined hands, tugged Izzy back to her chest, and leaned in to kiss her with everything she had.
Clary wished she could say it was a soft and sweet kiss, just a little one under the mistletoe, like you were supposed to. She wished she could say that they’d they giggled and gone to the kitchen and promised to continue all this later instead of what actually happened.
Only who was she kidding, of course she didn’t wish for that. Because she’d been waiting to kiss Isabelle Lightwood for years, and she was absolutely not going to waste her chance.
They kissed hard, passionately like it was the last time they could, even though it was the first. Hands roamed idly across bodies, and it certainly wasn’t the most elegant kiss ever, with teeth and tongues smashing and colliding in ways that wasn’t exactly pleasant. But it was Izzy in her arms, so whatever inelegancies she was showing didn’t really matter. Because it was Izzy. Which meant it was perfect.
Eventually when they broke apart, Clary heard Jace yelling ‘Finally!’ somewhere in the background, before yelping with pain, probably because Alec had hit him. If she’d looked over she would have seen Magnus smiling in approval, and her Mom and Luke just looking happy. Simon looked proud.
But Clary didn’t look over. Because she only had eyes for Isabelle Lightwood.
“Did you really get a whole Institute of Shadowhunters to celebrate Christmas just so you could kiss me?” Clary asked after a moment, grinning.
“No! Of course not!” Izzy protested. But after a minute, she laughed, joining Clary in her smiles. “Okay, maybe a little. But it was for you too. I want you to be happy here.”
“I am,” Clary promised her, reaching out for Izzy’s hand, squeezing it gently as she stepped in for another - altogether briefer - kiss. “I have you.”
And for the first time in a long time, Clary was grateful for all the pain and misery and torment Valentine had put her through. Because it had given her this. And if that was what she had to do to meet Isabelle Lightwood, she’d do it a thousand times.
“Come on. This place won’t decorate itself,” Izzy reminded her. Clary nodded.
Christmas had always been her favourite holiday. But now it had just gained another reason to be special.
Next Christmas, everything was perfect.
By the time they got to the end of the year, Clary had always been prone to some introspection anyway. It was that kind of time of year for it. Thinking about everything she’d done in the last year, everything they’d achieved, everything that had changed. And she might have thought everything had changed before, but this year they really had changed.
First and foremost, her and Izzy had finally gotten together, for real. Their first date had been to an ice rink in January, and Clary hadn’t been at all surprised to find that Izzy was as talented at skating as she was at everything else. After that, it had just been a series of dates and kisses and fairytale romance.
Well. Apart from maybe the sex. That definitely wasn’t appropriate for a fairytale. Jace still refused to forgive them, seven months later, for catching them at it in the training room. He said the last thing he needed to see was his sister and his former-girlfriend-slash-almost-sister at it in a place he had to go literally every day. They’d pretty much ignored him and made a point of kissing as much as possible in front of him. Everything was perfect. And Clary… Clary had never felt this way about anyone before. Izzy was everything to her. And Clary loved her.
Yes. They had said the words too. It had come out late one night when they were tangled up in bed, Izzy watching Clary sketch her. After that, it had definitely never gone back in, either.
As much as Clary might want to say this whole year was about her, though, it absolutely wasn’t, as there had been some fairly significant developments she wasn’t able to ignore.
Firstly, her Mom and Luke had finally gotten married at the end of January, which was long overdue and definitely more successful and beautiful than the last wedding she’d attended. Magnus had teasingly threatened to show up late and steal the groom again, but Jocelyn had threatened him with something so grievous that he was found in his seat long before the ceremony began. He did, however, make a point of kissing Alec in the middle of the aisle after the ceremony was over.
Speaking of weddings, Alec and Magnus were also now happily engaged, although insisting on waiting to get married until they could have a proper Shadowhunter ceremony. But that part seemed almost academic, since in March they’d become parents. Clary had been there when the little warlock baby had been dropped off on the doorstep. None of them had really known what to do until Magnus swept in and insisted he would take care of it.
None of them had expected ‘take care of it’ to mean ‘adopt him’ but no one was complaining. Not with how happy Alec and Magnus both were these days. Exhausted, true, but happy. They’d called him Max. Izzy had promptly burst into tears and hugged her brother tightly when he told her. Clary couldn’t think of anything more appropriate.
In April, Simon had insisted on taking Jace to Coachella. Jace apparently had a deep love of music that none of them had really been aware of until Simon coaxed it out of him. Jace had always been able to play piano, of course, but with Simon… they were playing together a lot, and it wasn’t unusual to find them nestled up together, sharing a pair of headphones.
When they left for the festival, Clary had made them promise to play nice. When they came back, they’d apparently managed to play so nicely that Clary caught them making out on the doorstep when Simon was saying goodbye. And the rest, as they said, was history.
Izzy constantly teased Jace about it, saying he’d gone for the wrong mundane back when all this started. Clary just thought it was sweet.
In late August, Clary learned that apparently Magnus and Alec didn’t know how to do anything by halves. Alec had gone to the Institute in Rio for a three day visit. They’d expected it to be a diplomatic mission. They Alec had come home with another child, that he and Magnus promptly proceeded to adopt as well. Rafael was older, and a Shadowhunter orphaned by the war. Apparently Alec felt responsible. Clary just thought they enjoyed parenthood too much.
All of that meant that by the time they made it to December, it felt like everything had shifted, and definitely for the better. The Institute looked like a professional Winter Wonderland, and Clary had little doubt that Magnus and Alec’s place was something similar. And for the first time, they found themselves facing Christmas with children involved. Which meant Clary had insisted on going the whole way this time. Presents, Santa, Christmas food. The whole lot.
No child should have a childhood without Christmas, warlock, shadowhunter or otherwise.
Clary had been running around buying presents for weeks, until she finally got something of a break in the way of babysitting. Her and Izzy had agreed to look after Max and Rafael for the day, and they were currently in the Institute’s kitchen, baking Christmas cookies. Rafael was helping, his brow furrowed in concentration as he painted everything with perfect precision. Izzy, although she loved to cook and was definitely improving with Clary and Jocelyn’s help, had opted out as someone needed to look after Max.
Clary had never quite realised how in love she was with Izzy until she saw her girlfriend with a toddler in her arms. It suited her. The love and adoration in her eyes. The affection. Izzy was… everything.
Jace took the kids to clean up whilst Izzy and Clary went about cleaning the kitchen, which was when Izzy nudged her lightly, hands tangling in the sink over the various spoons and bowls they were washing.
“You know, you’ve been so busy getting everyone else Christmas presents that you never told me what you wanted,” Izzy pointed out.
“Oh, I don’t need anything,” Clary assured her, running the sponge over a spoon and placing it in the dishrack, where Izzy collected it from. She looked decidedly unconvinced. “I just wanted to make everything perfect for the kids.”
“That doesn’t mean you don’t need anything,” Izzy insisted, and Clary smiled softly, shaking her head a little.
“I have everything I need right here,” Clary promised her, reaching out to squeeze Izzy’s hand gently. Izzy smiled, nodding.
They didn’t speak of the issue again, and Clary considered it something of an open and shut case. When they big day arrived, they all went over to Magnus and Alec’s considering it more neutral ground than the Institute, and also far easier than getting the kids to move around. They all exchanged gifts, Izzy kept to Clary’s wishes and didn’t get her anything, and the food was perfect. Simon and Jace ended up curled up in the couch like kittens, with a much smaller kitten wedged between them in the form of Max. Luke made awful jokes all day, and wore the loudest Christmas jumper he could find.
Everything was perfect.
Escaping the heat of the apartment, Clary moved out onto the balcony, taking in the sight of Brooklyn. It was peaceful. Probably the one day of the year it actually was. The air was frosted, but not quite cold enough to drive her back inside. But no sooner had she been out there than did Izzy arrive, slipping out with a blanket in her arms.
“Here,” she said quietly, tucking it over Clary’s shoulders. “You looked cold.”
“Thanks, cariño ,” Clary replied briefly, leaning up to kiss her briefly. Izzy had been teaching her Spanish for a while now. Clary wasn’t exactly a fast learner, but she’d picked up enough. Aware that Izzy’s outfit was hardly warmer than hers, Clary opened her arms, smiling as Izzy stepped into them, hugging her close.
“Everything went really well, didn’t it?” Izzy murmured softly. Clary nodded softly, resting her head on Izzy’s shoulder.
“Yeah. It did,” Clary sighed happily, glancing back in the window. “Everyone seemed so happy.”
“They are,” Izzy assured her. “I am too.” Izzy reached up, hands skimming Clary’s face, and Clary swore she’d never get bored of feeling that. “You… you have made me happier than I have ever been, Clary Fray.” Clary smiled softly, but couldn’t help but frown a little as Izzy dropped a hand away, pulling away from her embrace a little.
“No, no, everything’s fine. I just…” Izzy took a deep breath, and Clary could tell there was something she wanted to say, so stayed quiet. “You have made me happier than I could ever imagine. Before you arrived my life was… boring. I knew what it was going to be, but I didn’t like it. I tried to find freedom in little things, because I never thought I could have freedom in the big ones. But you… you changed everything. And then you let me love you, and you loved me back and…” Izzy took a deep breath. “I thought about what you said. About what you wanted for Christmas. So I wanted to know… if you’d marry me?”
Clary paused, the breath stolen from her lungs. She’d meant what she said about having everything she needed, but she hadn’t expected this , she hadn’t expected Izzy to take like that.
“Iz, are you just asking because-”
“No! No, no, of course not,” Izzy assured her before she could finish, cutting her off. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while. You just… gave me the opportunity.” She paused, biting her lip a little. “So will you? Marry me?”
Clary beamed widely, reaching out for Izzy, pulling her closer.
“Of course. Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.”
Izzy laughed, moving in to kiss her deeply.
It was Christmas. And in that moment, for the first time in a long time, everything was absolutely, beautifully perfect.