"If you're really tired, I could put you to sleep," he said. "Tell you a bedtime story."
“If you’re really tired, I could put you to sleep,” he said. “Tell you a bedtime story.”
She looked at him. “Are you serious?”
“I’m always serious.”
She wondered that if being tired had made them both a little crazy. But Jace didn’t look tired. He looked almost sad. She set the sketchbook down on the night table, and lay down, curling sideways on the pillow. “Okay.”
“Close your eyes.”
She closed them. She could see the after image of lamplight reflected against her inner lids, like tiny star bursts.
“Once there was a boy,” said Jace.
Clary interrupted immediately. “A Shadowhunter boy?”
“Of course.” For a moment a bleak of amusement colored his voice. Then it was gone. “When the boy was 6 years old, his father gave him a falcon to train. Falcons are raptors - killing birds, his father told him, the Shadowhunters of the sky.
“The falcon didn’t like the boy, and he didn’t like it, either. Its sharp beak made him nervous, and its bright eyes always seemed to be watching him. It would slash at him with his beak and talons when he came near: For weeks his wrists and hands were always bleeding. He didn’t know it, but his father had selected a falcon that had lived in the wild for over a year, and thus was nearly impossible to train. But the boy tried, because his father had told him to make the falcon obedient, and he wanted to please his father.
“He stayed with the falcon constantly, keeping it awake by talking to it and even playing music to it, because a tired bird was meant to be easier to tame. He learned the equipment: the jesses, the hood, the brail, the leash that bound the bird to his wrist. He was meant to keep the bird blind, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it - instead he tried to sit where the bird could see him as he touched and stroked its wings, willing it to trust him. He fed it from his hand, and at first it would not eat. Later it ate so savagely that the beak cut his palm. But the boy was glad, because it was progress, and because he wanted the bird to know him, even if it had to consume his blood to make that happen.
“He began to see that the falcon was beautiful, that its slim wings were built for the speed of flight, that it was strong and swift, fierce and gentle. When it dived to the ground, it moved like light. When it learned to circle and land on his wrist, he nearly shouted with delight. Sometimes the bird would hop to his shoulder and put its beak in his hair. He knew his falcon loved him, and when he was certain that it was not just tamed but perfectly tamed, he went to his father and showed him what he had done, expecting him to be proud.
“Instead his father took the bird, now tame and trusting, in his hands, and broke its neck. ‘I told you to make him obedient,’ his father said, and dropped the falcon’s lifeless body to the ground. “Instead, you taught it to love you. Falcons are not meant to be loving pets: They are fierce and wild, savage and cruel. This bird was not tamed; it was broken.’
“Later, when his father left him, the boy cried over his pet, until his father sent a servant to take the body of the bird away and bury it. The boy never cried again, and he never forgot what he’d learned: That to love is to destroy, and to be loved is to be the one destroyed.”
Clary, who had been lying still, hardly breathing, rolled onto her back and opened her eyes. “That’s an awful story,” she said indignantly.
Jace had his legs pulled up, his chin on his knees. “Is it?” he said ruminatively.
“The boy’s father is horrible. It’s a story about child abuse. I should have known that’s what shadow hunters think a bedtime story is like. Anything that gives you screaming nightmares-“
“Sometimes the marks can give you screaming nightmares,” said Jace “If you get them when you’re too young.” He looked to her thoughtfully. The late afternoon light came through the curtains and made his face a study in contrasts. Chiaroscuro, she thought. The art of shadows and light. “It’s a good story if you think about it,” he said. “The boys father is just trying to make him stronger. Inflexible.”
“But you have to learn to bend a little,” said Clary with a yawn. Despite the story’s content, the rhythm of Jace’s voice had made her sleepy. “Or you’ll break.”
“Not if you’re strong enough,” said Jace firmly. He reached out, and she felt the back of his hand brush her cheek; she realised her eyes were slipping shut. Exhaustion made her bones liquid; she felt as if she might wash away and vanish.
As she fell into sleep, she heard the echo of words in her mind. - He gave me anything I wanted. Horses, weapons, books, even a hunting falcon. - “Jace,” she tried to say. But sleep had her in it’s claws; it drew her down, and she was silent.
I think we learn a lot about Jace just from this little story. He gives a little bit away of who he is to Clary. No sarcasm, no walls, no fronts. He is simply himself here and this is why I love them. <3