Hell would bring us heaven
@eugeniaslongsword okay technically that is a song lyric, I did take your advice, I just don't remember where it came from
@anarmorofwords here's one of the finished ones I hadn't posted originally
Brief mentions of the rumours surrounding the Carstairs family
Based on that post from a while ago saying that the enclave gossips should comment on how pretty Alastair is (if you remember the post please tag me in it, I can't find it)
Over the course of the few months Cordelia had lived in London, the exceedingly extravagant amount of parties that the Herondales threw acted more as a formality than an occasion. She certainly wasn't used to parties. The childhood she had wasn't filled with glimmering lights and the swirl of silks. A hand wrapped around hers, pulling her attention to the present.
Lucie's grip tightened as she turned to look at her, her face brimming with excitement, slightly red from dancing. Cordelia felt a small knot in her chest loosen. When she was small she was haunted by loneliness and secrets that she had been protected from. It felt as if that suffocating tenseness that accompanied her to every new place she had been uprooted to had finally released.
"I see James," Lucie said, rising to the tops of her toes, her voice bubbling over with joy.
It was nice to see her happy. The months passed, Cordelia had nearly forgotten what her smile looked like. Now, in the golden light of the ballroom with the twirling crowds of dancers the smile hadn't left Lucie's face since their arrival.
"Daisy," Lucie continued, tugging on her arm, carefully picking her way through dancers while using her free hand to hold up her skirts. "What bothers your mind?"
Cordelia shook her head, drawing to a stop as they reached James and his friends. "It's not a bother Lucie. I'm happy. It's strange to be happy and not feel worried."
Lucie's eyes were bright. "You deserve to be happy. You give so much of yourself trying to help others-" She stopped to tuck a lock of Cordelia's hair behind her ear. "You deserve all the happiness in the world."
Cordelia inhaled sharply, her chest twisted with a thrilling sort of happiness. "Lucie-"
A loud clink sounded from the front of the room Cordelia noted with relief. She wasn't sure what she was meant to say.
"Today!" Will Herondale started, raising his voice from where he was standing on the makeshift stage. "We celebrate the end of London's recent torment! As a show of gratitude for you all," his eyes flicked to Cordelia and his children at that, "We rejoice with those we have not lost and continue to hold close."
The music resumed immediately after the statement, the ballroom filling with chatter instantly. A hint of melancholy accompanied Will's words, faces that she would never see again flashed behind her eyes. Cordelia turned to Lucie.
"I see my brother. Do not move," she said, her voice firm. Dropping Lucie's hand she wove through party goers to the large marble arches that hung over the entrance. Trying to calm her beating heart and the redness on her face her brother was sure to notice she approached one of the pillars. Alastair was half obscured by shadows which Cordelia assumed was entirely on purpose. Next to him stood Kamala Joshi, who dipped her head in greeting when Cordelia approached.
"Layla," Alastair turned surprise flitting over his features, "Shouldn't you be with your friends?"
"You should come with me dadash."
Alastair's eyebrow arched but before he could refuse Kamala gripped his arm.
"We should? You wish to approach her?"
There was an emphasis there that she didn't understand- and clearly wasn't meant to- but Alastair didn't appear annoyed, the only traces of emotion on his face showed worry.
"Well I can pointedly ignore her. You seem to have experted that, perhaps you should provide me with advice on the matter."
Cordelia looped her arm through her brother's and grinned up at him. "You do give excellent advice in the art of dismissing another."
"I severely regret coming to this party."
"Who would provide me a boost in morale if not you?" Kamala laughed, lifting her skirts to make their way back.
By the time they'd made their way back to Lucie, who had faithfully remained where Cordelia had seen her last, the crowd had thinned slightly. Alastair and Kamala stayed a little ways away as Cordelia approached the table her friends had claimed, the food they had smuggled from the kitchens layed out in resemblance to a feast.
The close proximity in the ballroom made it all the more easier to hear the neighboring tables and their discussions.It was barely discernible at first but Cordelia latched onto the sound immediately once she'd picked up on her brother's name.
Their family wasn't a stranger to gossip, the rumours that had followed no matter what end of the earth she had moved to never ceased. Her brother had it far worse than she could comprehend. Gripping her napkin tightly, she listened.She placed the voices almost immediately, it being the same group of women she had encountered at her first ball in London. Memories of their judgemental words rushed back, but they didn't seem to be passing vile gossip.
"The Carstairs have been in town for months, Catherine are you truly only noticing now?" Rosamund. Her hold on the napkin tightened in anticipation.
She noticed then that she was not the only one making an attempt on eavesdropping. Matthew's back was straightened, his head tilted to the direction of the voices and Thomas's face looked nearly as tense as her own.
"How was I meant to notice? The safety in this city hasn't been flourishing exactly. You had never uttered a word of him either, Rosemund."
Matthew looked slightly amused, but stayed silent. The rest of their table hadn't paid a wit of attention to the surrounding conversation.
Cordelia heard Rosamund sigh. "He is quite handsome isn't he?"
Cordelia dropped her fork in surprise, a loud clatter rung in her ears. She swallowed back her laughter, simply shaking her head when questioned. Lucie gave her a puzzled look before her eyes fixed to a spot behind Cordelia.
Expression clearing, she leaned forward to whisper to both her and Thomas "They'd been talking of him for a while, I do not believe they're aware of-" she broke off, a curious look on her face. "Well anything really."
Cordelia vigorously shook her head burying her face in her hands to stop her laughter from escaping. Looking at Alastair would be far too disastrous and likely end in her dissolving into hysterics.
Matthew and James were staring at the other girls table and Cordelia locked eyes with Lucie and then Thomas, who was clearly also trying to maintain a straight face.
Clearing her throat and attempting neutral politeness Cordelia asked "Mr. Lightwood? Ms. Herondale? Please do me the honor of accompanying me to the dance floor."
Thomas nodded seriously and clasped his hands together. "It would be our pleasure. I think it would serve beneficial to bring your brother as well."
Cordelia solemnly stood from the table with and pulled Lucie along with her, Thomas trailing a little behind.
Giggling, Cordelia managed "The shock on their faces," she gestured vaugely back to James and Matthew, "I never knew Rosamund Wentworth could indirectly cause me joy."
"Really they shouldn't have been quite that shocked," Thomas said quietly, glancing at his friends before approaching Alastair.
Her brother shot them a confused look from where he was leaning on the pillar, occasionally glancing at Eugenia and Kamala who were excitedly discussing beside him. When they drew closer he murmured "They've been flirting for the entire time we've been here. And every other ball preceding this one."
"They'll figure it out," Thomas said, glancing fondly at his sister before offering Alastair his hand.
Alastair accepted, laughing "I take it horrendous flirting skills run in the family then?"
"I wasn't horrendous."
"Five months of 'courting' before you uttered a word of your feelings. I dare say say your sister is succeeding far more than you did."
"I seem to have succeeded just fine on the contrary."
Bickering, they departed to the dance floor where a slow waltz had struck up. Lucie watched them for a moment, smiling softly before she snorted a laugh. Following her gaze she spotted Rosamund staring at Thomas and Alastair, her jaw halfway to the floor.Cordelia forced herself not to double over laughing and lose any sense of public manners entirely.
"They were talking of your beauty earlier as well." Lucie said after a moment, her eyes fixed to the dancing couples.
"Do you really wish for me to say it Cordelia?"
"Of course not darling," Cordelia turned to look at her. "I understand perfectly well."
Lucie's face flushed darker, but her eyes remained on Cordelia's. "Splendid. In that case, Ms. Carstairs, you should accompany me to dance."
Laughing, Cordelia straightened her skirts and curtsied formally. "It would be my pleasure."
Tagging: @adoravel-fenomeno @thewarthatsavedmylife @eugeniaslongsword @alastair-esfandiyar-carstairs1 @foxglove-airmid @littlx-songbxrd @alice-got-the-blues @writeforjordelia (lmk if you want to be added or removed)
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Lost in the shadows - Chapter 7
Taglist @nott-the-best @foxglove-airmid @alastair-esfandiyar-carstairs1 @justanormaldemon @styxdrawings
Lucie’s parents were putting away the groceries when the four of them entered the house. Thomas quickly texted his parents he was with the Herondales and wasn’t sure when he’d be back. Will and Tessa had noticed something was not right immediately, and while Will was making some tea, Tessa sat down on the couch with her daughter.
‘What happened, Lu?’ she asked.
Lucie recounted the story of seeing Jesse Blackthorn, and Thomas couldn’t help but think it was all connected somehow. She had never seen Jesse until now, just after a washing woman had told him his grandfather’s debt was not paid. That was not a coincidence.
‘What if Jesse came back from being dead somehow?’ Thomas asked.
‘None of you saw him, did you?’ Lucie asked.
Thomas, Cordelia and Alastair all said no.
‘He was a ghost,’ Lucie said. ‘So he’s still very much dead. And he didn’t stay around to talk. I thought he was going to, I thought he wanted to, but then he was gone. And I don’t understand any of it. Why here, why now? I thought he’d moved on to wherever dead people are supposed to go, and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a ghost who’d returned from there.’
‘You might not have been wherever Jesse’s ghost was before,’ Thomas offered, but Lucie determinedly shook her head.
‘He would have come for me,’ Lucie said. ‘I know what we had wasn’t really romance, but he was still a dear friend and he would not have left me. I looked everywhere for him. And he’s never been here in his life, it makes no sense for him to come to this place.’
‘It must be connected to my grandfather’s debts,’ Thomas said, and he recounted the story for Cordelia and Lucie. He suspected Will and Tessa already knew most of it, but Lucie and Cordelia knew nothing and Thomas was afraid telling Lucie Jesse’s death might not have been an accident was a bit much. It was an odd sort of guilt Thomas felt while discussing Jesse. It wasn’t his fault exactly, that Jesse had died, but perhaps if he’d died Jesse would have survived and gotten better instead. Why did he deserve to live and not Jesse? Why had he survived?
‘Thomas, perhaps you should ask your father to contact Tatiana,’ Tessa suggested. ‘Perhaps she knows more.’
Will shook his head though. ‘Tatiana is mad as mouse trapped in a teapot,’ he said. ‘She never took her father’s death well and blamed it on anyone involved in the matter. Me, Jem, even her own brothers. And when Jesse died, I think she decided we were all evil and out to ruin her life. She thinks we turned her brothers against her, killed her father, and let her son die. She might even blame Lucie for Jesse’s death since she never approved of them spending time together. I don’t want her anywhere near you, no matter what information she might have.’
‘My father has been trying to call her and has left several messages. So far nothing,’ Thomas said. ‘I don’t think she wants us to contact her, but if we told her Jesse’s ghost was here, do you think that would change her mind?’
‘Or perhaps Jesse’s ghost appeared because Tatiana made a dark deal of her own,’ Will said. He stared out of the window thoughtfully. ‘In which case, perhaps it is our duty to stop her. None of which is your responsibility.’
Thomas suspected Will had been fighting against the supernatural at an age younger than he was now, but there was a reason he’d stopped. He imagined the price had been too high, and perhaps he regretted going up against monsters at such a young age. Perhaps it had left scars.
‘Sometimes doing nothing is more dangerous though,’ Thomas said.
‘Exactly,’ Lucie said. ‘I need to find out what happened to Jesse, we have no time to waste.’
Like Thomas, Lucie was both reckless and stubborn and he didn’t think any amount of discussion with her parents was going to stop her.
Will sighed. ‘You’re just like me when I was your age. Always running headlong towards danger. I suppose I can’t stop you. But I hope you can be careful. Speaking with ghosts is one thing, but running after the son of Tatiana Blackthorn…’
‘Will, I think we’re going to have to try and remember as much as we can from Benedict Lightwood,’ Tessa said. ‘Any detail could be crucial, anything we missed at the time. I suppose Gideon knows the most.’
‘I can help with that,’ Alastair said. ‘To remember, I mean.’
Alastair explained his ability and Thomas realized he hadn’t told anyone besides him and his family, since everyone except for Cordelia seemed surprised and confused.
‘An interesting and useful ability for someone who investigates the supernatural,’ Will mused. ‘If someone claims to have seen someone, you could objectify it for yourself and figure out what it is before fighting it. I got into some dangerous situations myself because sighted people didn’t know the difference between a werewolf and a wulver.’
Thomas didn’t know what the difference was between a werewolf and a wulver, but was glad he’d never encountered either.
‘That’s not… I’m just trying to save Thomas. I don’t want to fight like my father,’ Alastair said, refusing to look Will in the eye.
Will nodded. ‘That is a wise decision. Life fighting evil isn’t for everyone. It is a hard life and it leaves its scars. But those scars are, unfortunately, the price that some of us must pay so the rest can be safe.’
Thomas noticed Alastair tensed up, but he didn’t say anything. Thomas wanted to ask if he was alright, but Alastair seemed so closed off and he didn’t dare. He remembered Alastair being like this at times at school, and Thomas had learnt that approaching him when he was in such a state led to him lashing out. His attempt, Thomas suspected, to conceal how vulnerable he really was.
‘Alastair, why don’t you go see Gideon?’ Tessa said in an attempt to break the awkward silence. ‘I think he is the most likely to remember anything useful. In all the time he didn’t know the supernatural was real, he still might have picked up information he didn’t understand at the time.’
Alastair didn’t say anything, just nodded and picked up his bag and left.
‘I’ll go too,’ Thomas said and he quickly followed Alastair, who was already outside when he caught up..
Alastair was still tense and Thomas wished there was something he could do to help, but he wasn’t sure what exactly was going on.
‘Are you alright?’ he asked, reaching out his hand and dropping it.
He wasn’t sure Alastair wanted to be touched, even if his first instinct was to offer him comfort through a hug or a hand on his shoulder. He knew Alastair’s anger, and even if Thomas knew Alastair didn’t mean the rude things he said, it still hurt when he lashed out.
‘I’m fine, Lightwood,’ Alastair snapped.
Thomas wasn’t sure what to say. Alastair had always called him by his last name back at school, which Thomas had taken as an attempt to not let him get to close, as if using his first name implied they were friends when Alastair did the best he could to keep everyone at an arm’s length. He thought they were past that, though. They’d spoken so openly this morning in the woods, even if he could tell Alastair had scars he wasn’t ready to reveal. That was alright though, because Alastair was more than just his scars, or his memory ability. Thomas had loved talking about Alastair’s interests, he loved how passionate Alastair could be. Now he struggled to tell what Alastair was feeling, and if he liked Thomas’ presence at all.
‘Was it something uncle Will said?’ Thomas asked.
Technically, Will wasn’t his uncle, but Thomas had always called him that. He viewed Lucie as his closest friend, but also as family. Will’s sister Cecily was his aunt through marriage though, so in that regard the Herondales were almost family.
‘I’m perfectly fine,’ Alastair said between his teeth. ‘Stop pretending I’m fragile.’
Thomas took a step back, hurt. He knew Alastair didn’t mean it, he knew Will’s comment had upset him and this was how Alastair defended himself. Thomas didn’t think Alastair was fragile, far from it, but it was obvious he wasn’t alright, wasn’t it? He didn’t want to make Alastair uncomfortable, but he wished he could be of more help. He wished he knew how to support him.
Thomas couldn’t deny to himself that he still had feelings for Alastair. After this morning, after getting a glimpse of who he really was, Thomas only loved him more. Knowing Alastair was gay, there was a chance Alastair could like him back. He began to suspect it wasn’t that easy though.
‘I know you’re not fragile,’ Thomas said. ‘But it’s alright to admit that things bother you. I know you’ve been through much more than any of us can imagine and honestly if it were me I wouldn’t be able to do half the things you did. I’d be a crumbling mess.’
Alastair stared at him for a moment, Thomas could tell he was thinking. He seemed confused, furrowing his perfectly shaped brows. Even Matthew had agreed there was something special about Alastair’s eyebrows.
‘What do you know about what happened to me?’ Alastair asked, but it wasn’t as hostile as he’d expected. ‘Did they tell you too?’
Thomas assumed with “they” Alastair meant the Herondales. ‘Not much,’ he admitted. ‘I know something is not alright with your father though. And since uncle Will warned us about drinking, I’m guessing maybe he had a drinking problem? And I think it upsets you when people describe him as a hero who fought monsters and kept people safe. Or when people talk about how his life as a hero left scars. Because it dismisses you, it implies that what happened to you is just collateral damage.’
‘My father was a hero,’ Alastair said but there was no admiration in his voice. His hands were shaking and Thomas realized he was still very upset. ‘He did all these things Will talks about, and when I was a small child I used to curl up in his lap and listen as he told stories of his adventures. And I think they’re right that it had a cost, that what he saw was the reason he started drinking. But that’s no excuse for how he treated me, is it? I don’t want to empathize with my father, not after everything he did to me. People can talk all they want of how noble he was, and that being a hero leaves its scars, but what about me? What about my scars? Do I not matter?’
Thomas wanted to touch Alastair, hold his hand, put his arms around him and hold him close, but feared he would only make it worse. Alastair could be difficult to read at times, even to Thomas who prided himself on his ability to read people.
‘Of course you matter. It’s alright to hate him,’ Thomas said. ‘Or feel however you want to about him.’
‘I do. I hate him,’ Alastair said. ‘But for a long time I also loved him. And I kept trying, kept hoping that he would change if only I did better.’
There were tears in his eyes, Alastair wiped them away with shaking hands.
‘It’s not your fault,’ Thomas said. ‘Recovery from addiction is a long and difficult process and that was never your responsibility. And making sure you and Cordelia were safe was his responsibility as a parent.’
‘He never cared,’ Alastair said, and although Alastair seemed a bit calmer, his hands were still shaking and the tears in his eyes were still there. Will’s comments, although unintentional, must have been very upsetting. ‘My mother spent years trying to convince him to go to a clinic. Not so long ago she asked Jem to convince him, but I don’t know. I don’t think he wants to get better.’
‘That must be difficult,’ Thomas said. ‘Does Jem keep you informed on how your father is doing? Do they still see each other?’
‘I think Jem’s still trying with my father, but I’m trying to get away from him,’ Alastair said. ‘I’ve asked him not to keep me informed. I’d rather not know. Come, we’re almost at your father’s cottage. Searching his memory is probably going to take some time.’
Thomas took Alastair’s comment as an attempt to end the conversation about his father and didn’t press. At the cottage, Thomas realized his parents weren’t there, and when Thomas checked his phone he saw his father had texted that they were taking a walk and his mother wanted to try if she could find the washer woman Thomas had seen.
Thomas texted back, explaining how Alastair intended to help with the memories, and then made them both some lunch since neither had eaten since breakfast and Thomas was starving. Ever since his growth spurt, Thomas had an insatiable appetite. He and Lucie used to have eating competitions, but Lucie was starting to get insecure about eating a lot because she’d gained weight. While eating a lot was generally acceptable for teen boys, it was frowned upon for girls. Thomas missed it. It might be weird and stupid, but it was theirs and it was fun and Thomas was quite good at it. They decided to play chess to pass the time when they were finished eating.
Thomas was decent, but rusty. He’d taken chess classes sometime at school but hadn’t played in a while, and tended to miss important details as he played. He stood no chance against Alastair.
‘Cordelia and I played a lot of chess,’ Alastair said. ‘She’s a bit better at it than I am. My mother taught us, chess was originally a Persian game and she thought it was important we knew how to play.’
‘Really? I didn’t know.’
‘The term check derives from the Persian word ‘Shãh’, which means king. Checkmate comes from ‘Shãh mãt’, meaning the king is helpless.’
‘And your family is from Iran, right?’ Thomas asked.
‘My mother is,’ he said. ‘My father is English. I was born here in England, but my mother raised us with Persian stories, the language. She wanted to keep us connected to our heritage.’
‘Are you or your family religious?’ Thomas asked then.
‘I’m not. My father didn’t want to raise us with religion. He was raised a Christian, but I don’t think he really believed anymore. My mother is Muslim, so I am familiar with her religion, but I’m not yet sure what to believe. Growing up with so many stories of the supernatural, it’s easier to believe what I can prove is out there and having faith in something I’ll never be able to prove is something I find difficult.’
‘I agree with the last part,’ Thomas said. ‘But neither of my parents are religious, so I guess it makes sense. I wouldn’t say I’m atheist, it’s more like I think anything is possible.’
‘No, I’m not atheist either,’ Alastair agreed. ‘I don’t discount what my mother believes, but I can’t be sure either and that’s what I find difficult.’
They played two more games of chess before Thomas’ parents came back, both of which Alastair won. Thomas acknowledged he would probably never win at this game, perhaps another time they could play something different.
‘Did you find anything?’ Thomas asked.
‘No, nothing,’ Gideon said. ‘But I got your text, although I’m not quite sure I understand what Alastair can do.’
Alastair explained his ability, and after several questions his father seemed to understand.
‘Thomas, I think you two ate all the bread,’ his mother said as she checked the cupboard. Thomas guessed that was true, his parents still tended to underestimate his appetite, and they might not have counted on Alastair eating here too. ‘Maybe you could go into town and buy some before the shops are all out.’
Thomas turned to Alastair. ‘Do you need me to stay here?’
‘I wouldn’t want you to starve,’ Alastair said. ‘And it might be best not to bring too many people into someone else’s memory. I’m a bit unpracticed.’
Thomas took the car and drove it to the village. He’d gotten a driver’s license a couple of months ago. He had to make a few adjustments to the chair’s position so he could fit into the driver’s seat, and most cars were uncomfortable no matter the adjustments. He parked the car near the grocery store and was relieved to find they weren’t out of bread yet. Just to be sure, Thomas also bought some snacks he knew were vegan. You never knew when you suddenly craved something sweet, or salty. And he didn’t know what Alastair liked, so he bought a wide variety so he’d be able to offer him something he like. At the check out he felt a bit like Harry Potter after buying everything from the trolley, and Thomas didn’t meet the cashier’s eyes as he paid.
While taking his bags back to the car, he caught the eye of a woman with brown hair. He only noticed her for a few seconds, after he’d put his bags in the trunk of the car, and realized she must have been staring at him. She turned around before Thomas could get a proper look at her, trailed by a pretty blonde teen girl. He was just being paranoid, he told himself. Perhaps there was something weird about his clothes he had not noticed, or another logical reason she might have stared. Thomas pushed down the feeling of unease and got in the car, driving back to his parents.
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