Ever since Clary heard about the Lightwood family dinner, she’s been feeling off kilter. She knows, deep down, why such a simple event is affecting her so much, but she has no idea what to do about it or how to fix her own mind. It’s starting to impact her work and relationship, and she just wants it to go away.
She wishes Isabelle had never told her about the damned dinner. She wishes her feelings were easier to deal with, wishes she didn’t have to handle the expectations piling up on her shoulders. She wishes her girlfriend weren’t so good at reading her, no matter how much it warms her heart to know there’s someone out there who loves her enough to notice her mood shifts.
“I just want to help you, Clary,” Lydia whispers into her ear one evening as they’re cuddling on the blonde woman’s bed. It’s their safe space, the one place in the Institute where they lose themselves in each other, where they don’t have to worry about people noticing them. “You don’t have to talk to me about it if you really don’t want to, but if there’s anything I can do to make this better, I want to be there for you.”
“You’re already here for me,” Clary murmurs, although she knows that isn’t what her girlfriend means. “I just… It’s stupid, alright? I’m pretty sure you won’t want to hear me complain for hours on end about something I should be able to fix by myself.”
“Just because you should be able to do it alone doesn’t mean you have to,” Lydia sighs, twisting around from where she was pressed against Clary’s chest until they’re face to face. The blonde’s eyes are shining with poorly concealed concern, and it makes Clary’s heart clench painfully.
She never intended on making her girlfriend worry about her because of her stupid thoughts and hold-ups.
“Clary,” Lydia repeats, pressing her hand against the redhead’s cheek. “Talk to me, please. I hate seeing you hurt like this, and you have to know I’ll never push you away, especially not for something that’s clearly tearing you apart on the inside. Honey, just tell me what this is about.”
Clary leans into her girlfriend’s touch, biting her lip for a few moments longer before giving in and answering Lydia’s question. It’s not like she was ever going to be able to keep anything from her girlfriend, especially not when Lydia is looking at her so lovingly.
“You heard about the Lightwood dinner, right?” she asks softly. Lydia nods even as her brow furrows, clearly confused about where Clary is going with this. “I know Magnus and Alec have been together for longer than we have, but do you… Do you ever think it’s wrong of me to keep this side of me hidden from almost everyone?”
There’s a beat of silence, and Clary wonders what is going through her girlfriend’s mind. Lydia has never complained about the fact that Clary isn’t out, but that doesn’t mean much. Clary doesn’t want her girlfriend to end up resenting her for being in the closet even though everyone around her would probably accept her relationship without blinking.
“Oh, honey ,” Lydia breathes out. Her eyes are infinitely sad and Clary looks away, not wanting to think about the reason behind that much raw emotion. Sometimes knowing Lydia loves her so much makes her heart stutter and her mind turn off, and she wants to be fully conscious for this conversation. “You don’t owe anyone anything, Clary. If you don’t want to come out yet, you don’t have to. And if you never want to come out, that’s also fine. Your sexuality and relationships have nothing to do with the rest of the world, honey.”
“But they have something to do with you ,” Clary points out, her fingers fidgeting with the hem of Lydia’s shirt. It’s a nervous habit she picked up when they first started dating and that she hasn’t been able to get rid of since. “You’re my girlfriend. Because of me, you can’t tell anyone about who you’re dating. What’ll you tell people if they ask you about your relationship?”
“I’ll tell them it’s none of their business,” Lydia huffs, leaning in until her nose is touching Clary’s. “I love you, honey, whether you’re out or not. I don’t care if we’re the only ones in the world who know how much you mean to me. This is about us , Clary, and if people can’t respect that then I’ll kindly ask them to leave me alone.”
Clary hums thoughtfully. Honestly, she thinks she’ll probably be ready to come out someday. She just… Isn’t sure when that ‘someday’ is. There are times when she thinks she’ll be able to tell everyone on the spot, but then she’ll overthink everything and keep it all bottled inside. It’s frustrating and incomprehensible and Clary wishes she weren’t such a mess.
“How did you know you were ready to come out?” she asks, not ready to vocalise her own insecurities quite yet. “I mean, did you scream it from the rooftops, or did you wait until you found someone, like Alec? I know you said your parents know, but I don’t think you ever told me when or how they heard about it. Were you the one to tell them?”
“I was,” Lydia answered gently, closing her eyes and breathing in deeply. Her mouth ghosts over Clary’s cheek as she speaks, and the redhead lets it lull her into a state of semi-sleep. “I realised I was bisexual early on in my life. I was thirteen, maybe fourteen, and I had no clue what to do about it. You know how shadowhunters are, right? Well, I grew up in Idris, which is twenty times worse. I didn’t have a clue there was a name for what I felt, so I went to my parents. They were confused and a little horrified, but they didn’t kick me out or anything, so there’s that. I think they always expected me to end up with a man, even though they knew I liked women as well. So with them, it was never about ‘knowing’ I was ready to come out. As for everyone else… I don’t know, I usually only bring it up if someone asks me about it.”
“You make it sound so easy,” Clary sighs. She wishes she were as casual as Lydia about her sexuality, but she’s still unsure about what she identifies as, and it’s making her feel like she doesn’t deserve to be a part of the community. “I just… I look at Magnus and Alec, how happy they are to be out together, and I see Maia, Isabelle, and Simon who deal with everyone’s judgement without flinching, and I feel like… I feel like I’m so weak , Lyds.”
Her voice is so soft she isn’t even sure she spoke out loud. Then, Lydia’s thumb is wiping away a tear she didn’t notice, and Clary lets herself breathe out. She feels like someone took her heart and smashed it into pieces, except she’s the only one hurting herself. This is all on her; she’s the one putting pressure on herself.
If only she knew how to take it away.
“Nonsense,” Lydia shakes her head, pressing a kiss to Clary’s forehead before pulling her closer. Clary buries her head in the crook of Lydia’s neck and tries to let her girlfriend’s scent heal her soul. “You’re one of the strongest people I know, Clary Fray, if not the strongest. And I know Isabelle, so that’s saying something. There’s nothing wrong with not being ready yet. Just because our friends are out doesn’t mean you have to be.”
She knows it doesn’t. Deep down, she knows there’s nothing wrong with being in the closet. Hell, she’d had a similar conversation with Alec a few months ago, when she had asked why he’d never told his parents about his sexuality. If there was one thing the LGBTQ+ community respected, it was not being out. Clary grew up in the mundane world, she knows there are more people in the closet than not.
It’s just hard to remember all of that when the people around her are so proud of who they are. Not that she’s ashamed of herself, just… unsure.
“Listen, honey,” Lydia adds, carding her fingers through Clary’s hair before pulling on it gently in a clear request for the redhead to look at her. Clary pouts internally but complies, leaning away until she can stare into Lydia’s sapphire eyes. “Someday, you’ll understand the only thing that matters in this world is how you feel. If you feel like you want to come out, then go ahead, but promise me you won’t do it just to please everyone else. You deserve so much better than that, Clary.”
“I promise,” Clary whispers. It’s an easy promise to make, especially since the redhead can’t imagine ever being out. “But promise me you’ll tell me if you ever want to tell someone about us? If it’s just one of our friends… I wouldn’t mind.”
“Alright,” Lydia hums, smiling softly at Clary. “I promise. However, we’ve only been together for two months, so for now I’m perfectly content to keep you for myself.”
Clary giggles at her girlfriend. Doubt still clings to her mind persistently, but as Lydia bends over and kisses her gently, she thinks that’s alright. She’s allowed to feel sad and confused and a little bit lost. At the end of the day, she’ll always have her girlfriend to hold her and press their lips together like it’s the only thing that matters.
As she loses herself in the familiar motions, she thinks it might be more than enough for now.