James was running out of breath…unusual for a Shadowhunter but he had run all the way from Chiswick to here. He paused to catch his breath before pushing open the gates to the London Institute.
The old church was partially illuminated by the sparse sun rays. He let himself inside his home, only to notice that the foyer was empty; devoid of any sounds. That was concerning… He ventured further inside the institute but he was yet to hear any activity.
Maybe, he had lost his hearing last night.
But James knew that almost all of the enclave must be here; since it must be way past the time.
‘What if …’, his heart thumped, ‘What if they had postponed it?’
It would be his fault… He had planned to return early but…
His thoughts whirled. The events from last night flooded his mind – all distorted and convoluted – he had gone to meet Grace and then they were ambushed by a horde of demons. He had memory flashes of fighting, sustaining a blow to his head and then waking up an hour ago.
He had woken up to the bright invasion of the dawn’s sunlight on his face. As soon as he had come to his senses, he had run as fast as he could, cursing himself for his recklessness.
Now that he was here, his mind couldn’t stop lingering on a particular memory.
It was earlier in their engagement when Elias had just returned to his family. He had confronted James as soon as he had learnt of his daughter’s engagement to him. “James Herondale”, he had said with an unfathomable expression. “I believe in my Layla’s ability to find a suitable partner for herself; so I can only bless your union now”
James sensed a ‘but’ in there. He had waited as Elias continued. “But I need you to promise me something…Promise me that you will let Cordelia go whenever the time comes”
James had been puzzled by the strange request, wondering if he suspected their one-year commitment…
But then he got a strong whiff of whiskey. Then, he had to sigh and begrudgingly agree to whatever Elias had asked.
He was pulled out of his reverie by distant noises. They were muffled but clearly emanated from the direction of the ballroom.
He veered towards the room. Perhaps, they were all just waiting for him there…
He need not disappoint his Daisy…after all, they are to be wed today!
James pulled the heavy wooden doors to the ballroom. He stepped forward, aware of his heart thumping loudly.
Almost all of the London enclave were seated in front of him but his attention was drawn to the dais in the centre…
There was Cordelia, looking resplendent in a golden wedding gown. She looked unusually calm.
To his surprise, James noticed that his Parabatai was beside her. And Matthew was dressed in a fine, golden suit…and he seemed to be in the process of marking Cordelia.
James realized, with horror that…he was drawing a marriage rune.
They were getting married…
His world spun and his breath laboured.
As his eyes unfocused, he saw him…Elias…he was in the forefront, chatting animatedly with the Consul.
He understood then…
James wanted to scream…to make it stop but he couldn’t move…
His body was numb except for a searing pain in his chest.
He looked down to see that he was enveloped in darkness…it was spreading outwards from his chest reaching his wrists now, where he noticed a familiar silver outline missing.
With his last remnant consciousness, James stared blearily at a red-haired silhouette…aware of his senses shutting down…
He thought with bitter resignation, ‘ I’ve always been late for you, Daisy…my angel…’, as he was pulled further into the abyss.