Margaret K. McElderry Book
March 24, 2009
To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters—never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and her best friend, Simon, has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City — whatever the cost?
Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Times bestselling The Mortal Instruments.
It was a very small bar on a narrow sloping street in a walled town full of shadows. Jonathan Morgenstern had been sitting at the bar for at least a quarter of an hour, finishing a leisurely drink, before he got to his feet and slipped down the long, rickety flight of wooden stairs to the club. The sound of the music seemed to be trying to push its way up through the steps as he made his way downward: he could feel the wood vibrating under his feet.
The place was filled with writhing bodies and obscuring smoke. It was the kind of place demons prowled. That made it the kind of place that demon hunters frequented.
And an ideal location for someone who was hunting a demon hunter.
Colored smoke drifted through the air, smelling vaguely acidic. There were long mirrors all along the walls of the club. He could see himself as he moved across the room. A slender figure in black, with his father’s hair, white as snow. It was humid down here in the club, airless and hot, and his T-shirt was stuck to his back with sweat. A silver ring glittered on his right hand as he scanned the room for his prey.
There he was, at the bar, as if he was trying to blend in with the mundanes.
A boy. Maybe seventeen.
Jonathan ordinarily had little interest in anyone his own age — if there was anything duller than adults, it was other adolescents — but Sebastian Verlac was different. Jonathan had chosen him carefully and specifically, the way one might choose an expensive and custom-tailored suit.
Jonathan strolled over to him, taking his time and taking the boy’s measure. He had seen photographs, of course, but people always looked different in person. Sebastian was tall, the same height as Jonathan himself, and had the same slender build. His clothes looked like they would fit Jonathan perfectly. His hair was dark — Jonathan would have to dye his own, which was annoying, but not impossible. His eyes were black too, and his features, though irregular, came together pleasingly: he had a friendly charisma that was attractive. He looked like it was easy for him to trust, easy to smile.
He looked like a fool.
Jonathan came up to the bar and leaned against it. He turned his head, allowing the other boy to recognize that he could see him. “Bonjour.”
“Hello,” Sebastian replied, in English, the language of Idris, though his was tinged faintly with a French accent. His eyes were narrow. He looked very startled to be seen at all, and as if he was wondering what Jonathan might be: fellow Shadowhunter, or a warlock with a sign that didn’t show?
Something wicked this way comes, Jonathan thought. And you don’t even know it.
“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” he suggested, and smiled. He could see himself smiling in the grimy mirror over the bar. He knew the way it lit up his face, made him almost irresistible. His father had trained him for years to smile like that, like a human being.
Sebastian’s hand tightened on the edge of the bar. “I don’t…”
Jonathan smiled wider and turned his right hand over to show the Voyance rune on the back of it. The breath went out of Sebastian in relief and he beamed with the delighted recognition, as if any Shadowhunter was a comrade or a potential friend.
“Are you on your way to Idris, too?” Jonathan asked. He kept his tone professional, as if he was in regular touch with the Clave. Another dedicated Shadowhunter protecting the innocent. Can’t get enough of that!
“I am,” Sebastian replied. “Representing the Paris Institute. I’m Sebastian Verlac, by the way.”
“Ah, a Verlac. A fine old family.” Jonathan accepted his hand and shook it firmly. “Andrew Blackthorn,” he said easily. “The Los Angeles Institute, originally, but I’ve been studying in Rome. I thought I’d come overland to Alicante. See the sights.”
He’d researched the Blackthorns, a large family, and knew they and the Verlacs had not been in the same city for ten years. He was certain he would have no problem answering to an assumed name: he never did. He had never felt particularly attached to his real name, perhaps because he had always known that it was not his name alone.
The other Jonathan had been raised in a house not far from his, visited by his father. Daddy’s little angel.
“Haven’t seen another Shadowhunter in ages,” Sebastian continued. He had been talking, but Jonathan had forgotten to pay attention to him. “Funny to run into you here. My lucky day.”
“Must be,” Jonathan murmured. “Though not entirely chance, of course. I assume you’ve heard the reports of an Eluthied demon lurking about this place?”
Sebastian smiled and took a last swallow from his glass, setting it down on the bar. “After we kill the thing, we should have a celebratory drink.”
Jonathan nodded and tried to look as if he was very focused on searching the room for demons. They stood shoulder to shoulder, like brother warriors. It was so easy it was almost boring: all he’d had to do was show up, and here was Sebastian Verlac like a lamb pushing its throat on a blade. Who trusted other people like that? Wanted to be their friend so easily?
He had never played nicely with others. Of course, he had not ever been given the opportunity; his father had kept him and the other Jonathan apart. A child with demon blood and a child with angel blood: raise both boys as yours and see who would make daddy proud.
The other boy had failed a test when he was younger and been sent away. Jonathan knew that much. He had passed every test their father had ever set for him. Maybe he had passed them a little too well, too flawlessly, unfazed by the isolation chamber and the animals, the whip or the hunt. Jonathan had discerned a shadow in Father’s eyes now and then, one that was either grief or doubt.
Though what did he have to grieve over? Why should he doubt? Was Jonathan not the perfect warrior? Was he not everything his father had created him to be?
Human beings were so puzzling.
Jonathan had never liked the idea of the other Jonathan, of Father having another boy, one who made Father smile sometimes without a shadow in his eyes.
Jonathan had once cut one of his practice dummies off at the knees, and spent a pleasant day strangling it, disemboweling it, and slitting it from neck to navel. When his father had asked why he’d cut off part of the legs, Jonathan had told him that he wanted to see what it was like to kill a boy who was just his own size.
“I forget, you’ll have to excuse me,” said Sebastian, who was turning out to be annoyingly chatty. “How many are there in your family?”
“Oh, we’re a big one,” Jonathan replied. “Eight in total. I have four brothers and three sisters.”
The Blackthorns really were eight: Jonathan’s research had been thorough. He couldn’t imagine what that would be like — so many people, such untidiness. Jonathan had a blood sister too, although they had never met.
Father had told him about his mother running off when Jonathan was a baby. She’d been pregnant again, inexplicably weepy and miserable because she had some sort of objection to her child being improved. But she’d run away too late: Father had already seen to it that Clarissa would have angelic powers.
Only a few weeks ago, Father had met Clarissa for the first time, and on their second encounter Clarissa had proven she knew how to use her powers. She had sent Father’s ship to the bottom of the ocean.
Once he and Father had taken down and transformed the Shadowhunters, laid waste to their pride and their city, Father said that Mother, the other Jonathan and Clarissa would be coming to live with them.
Jonathan despised his Mother for running away. And his only interest in the other Jonathan was to prove how superior he was: Father’s real son, by blood, and with the strength of demons and chaos in that blood as well.
But he was interested in Clarissa.
Clarissa had never chosen to leave him. She had been taken away and forced to grow up in the midst of mundanes, of all disgusting things. She must have always known she was made of different stuff from everyone around her, meant for utterly different things, with power and strangeness crackling beneath her skin.
She must have felt there was no other creature like her in all the world.
She had an angel in her like the other Jonathan, not the infernal blood that ran through his own veins. He was very much his father’s son made stronger, tempered by the fires of Hell. Clarissa was Father’s real daughter too, and who knew what strange brew the combination of Father’s blood and Heaven’s power had formed to run through Clarissa’s veins? She might not be very different from himself.
The thought excited him in a way he had never been excited before. Clarissa was his sister; she belonged to no one else. She was his. He knew it, because although he did not dream often — that was a human thing — after Father had told him about his sister sinking the ship, he had dreamed of her.
Jonathan dreamed of a girl standing in the sea with hair like scarlet smoke coiling over her shoulders, winding and unwinding in the untameable wind. Everything was stormy darkness, and in the raging sea were pieces of wreckage that had once been a boat and bodies floating facedown. She looked down on them with cool green eyes and was not afraid.
Clarissa had done that — wreaked destruction like he would have. In the dream, he was proud of her. His little sister.
In the dream, they were laughing together at all the beautiful ruin around them. They were standing suspended in the sea; it couldn’t hurt them, for destruction was their element. Clarissa was trailing her moonlight-white hands in the water. When she lifted up her dripping her hands they were dark, and he realized that the seas were all blood.
Jonathan had woken from his dream still laughing.
When the time was right, Father had said, they would be together, all of them. Jonathan had to wait.
But he was not very good at waiting.
“You have the oddest look on your face,” Sebastian Verlac said, shouting above the beat of the music, bright and jagged in Jonathan’s ears.
Jonathan leaned over and spoke softly and precisely into Sebastian’s ear. “Behind you,” he said. “Demon. Four o’clock.”
Sebastian Verlac turned and the demon, in the shape of a girl with a cloud of dark hair, stepped hastily away from the boy it was talking to and began sliding away through the crowd. Jonathan and Sebastian followed it, out a side door with SORTIE DE SECOURS written across it in cracked letters of red and white.
The door led to an alley, which the demon was swiftly running down, nearly disappearing.
Jonathan jumped, launching himself at the brick wall opposite, and used the force of his rebound to arrow over the demon’s head. He twisted in midair, runed blade in hand; he heard it whistle through the air. The demon froze, staring at him. Already the mask of a girl’s face was beginning to slip, and Jonathan could see the features behind it: clustered eyes like a spider’s and a tusked mouth open in surprise. None of it disgusted him. The ichor that ran in their veins ran in his.
Not that that inspired mercy, either. Grinning at Sebastian over the demon’s shoulder, he slashed out with his blade. It cut the demon open as he’d once cut open the dummy, neck to navel. A bubbling scream rent the alley as the demon folded on itself and disappeared, leaving only a few drops of black blood splattered on the stones.
“By the Angel,” Sebastian Verlac whispered.
He was staring at Jonathan over the blood and the emptiness between them, and his face was white. For a moment Jonathan was almost pleased that he had the sense to be afraid.
But no such luck. Sebastian Verlac remained a fool to the end.
“You were amazing!” Sebastian exclaimed, his voice shaken but impressed. “I’ve never seen anyone move that fast! Alors, you have got to teach me that move. I’ve never see anything like what you just did.”
“I’d love to help you,” Jonathan said. “But unfortunately I’ve got to get going soon. My father needs me, you see. He has plans. And he simply can’t do without me.”
Sebastian looked absurdly disappointed. “Oh come, you can’t go now,” he coaxed. “Hunting with you was so much fun, mon pote. We have to do this again some time.”
“I’m afraid,” Jonathan told him, fingering the hilt of his weapon, “that won’t be possible.”
Sebastian looked so surprised when he was killed. It made Jonathan laugh: the blade in hand and Sebastian’s throat opening beneath it, the hot blood spilling onto his fingers.
It wouldn’t do to have Sebastian’s body found at an inconvenient time, ruining the whole game, so Jonathan carried the body as if he were helping a drunken friend home through the streets.
It was not very far at all to a little bridge over the river, delicate as green filigree or a dead child’s moldy, fragile bones. He heaved the corpse over the side and watched it hit the rushing black waters with a splash.
The body sank without a trace, and he forgot it before it had even sunk all the way. He saw the curled fingers bobbing in the current, as if restored to life and begging for help or at least answers, and thought of his dream — his sister and a sea of blood. Water had splashed up where the body went down, some of it splattering his sleeve. Baptizing him with a new name. He was Sebastian now.
He strolled along the bridge to the old part of the city, where there were electric bulbs masquerading as gas lanterns, more toys for tourists. He was headed toward the hotel where Sebastian Verlac had been staying. He had scoped it out before coming to the bar, and knew he could scramble up through the window and retrieve the other boy’s belongings. And after that, a bottle of cheap hair dye and…
A group of girls in cocktail dresses passed him, angling their gazes, and one, silvery skirt skimming her thighs, gave him a direct look and smile.
He fell in with the party.
“Comment tu t’appelles, beau gosse?” another girl asked him, her voice slightly slurred. What’s your name, handsome?
“Sebastian,” he answered smoothly, with not a second’s hesitation. That was who he was from now on, who his father’s plans required him to be, who he needed to be to walk the path that led to victory and Clarissa. “Sebastian Verlac.”
He looked to the horizon, and thought of the glass towers of Idris, thought of them enveloped in shadow, flame, and ruin. He thought of his sister waiting for him, out there in the wide world.
He thought he was going to enjoy being Sebastian.
Clary zipped her backpack closed and glanced around the room to see if she’d forgotten anything. Madeleine had told her it would be cold in Idris due to the high elevation, so she’d packed her long-sleeved shirts, some jeans, and her sweaters. She didn’t have a winter coat, but she didn’t plan on being in Idris long enough to need one. She was only going long enough to get what she needed to help her mother. Then she’d be back.
For the third time in fifteen minutes, she punched Simon’s number into her mobile phone. It rang and rang, finally going to voice mail.
It was Eric’s voice, not Simon’s, on the recorded message. “Ladies, ladies,” he said. Though it was the millionth time she’d heard the recording, Clary couldn’t help rolling her eyes. “If you’ve reached this message, that means our boy Simon is out partying. But please don’t fight among yourselves. There’s always enough Simon to go around.” There was a muffled yell, some laughter, and then the long sound of the beep.
She hung up with a frown. Where was he? He knew she was leaving today. How could he not be here to wish her a safe trip?
Of course, their last meeting had been a little tense. He’d sat on her bed, watching her with an almost scary detachment as she ranted about Madeleine and Idris and her mother’s cure.
“You see, my mom knew Valentine was going to come looking for her one day,” she’d told him breathlessly. “She knew he’d try to torture the location of the Mortal Cup out of her if he could. She used this potion she’d had a warlock make for her. She brought it to New York with her from Idris. She knew it would put her into a sort of suspended animation, so she’d be no use to Valentine. She must have taken it when she heard the Ravener coming for her. Don’t you see? That’s why the doctors can’t find anything wrong with her. The only thing that’ll cure her is taking the same potion again.”
“So where are you supposed to get more of the same potion?” Simon asked. “It doesn’t seem like something you can just pick up at the local bodega.”
“It would have to come from the same warlock who made it in the first place.”
“You mean Magnus Bane?” Simon said. “He was the warlock your mom used to use for those memory spells, so—”
“No, it wasn’t Magnus. Weren’t you listening? She brought the potion from Idris. It was someone she knew there.”
“So…?” Simon let the rest of the sentence hang delicately in the air.
“I’m going to Idris,” Clary told him.
He blanched. Since he was already very pale, this was impressive. “To Idris? By yourself? Clary—”
“Not by myself. With the Lightwoods. Madeleine says they’re going anyway. They have to: The Clave is recalling all the heads of Conclaves in different cities to Idris for some kind of summit meeting.”
“But going to Idris—it doesn’t seem safe, Clary.”
“Safe as anywhere else,” Clary said. « I mean, with no one sure what Valentine is going to do next, or even where he is… »
“Maybe it’s better for you to be with the Lightwoods,” Simon said after a pause. “With Jace, anyway. He’d never let anything happen to you.”
He didn’t say, What’s going to happen to me while you’re gone? but Clary knew he was thinking it. Simon had only been a vampire a little less than a week and was still trying to adjust. She was one of the only people he could talk to about it, and she was leaving. She thought of what it must be like for him, keeping that secret, going to school every day, pretending things were all right. « Simon, I’m sorry… »
He waved away her apology. “You have to do what you have to do to help your mother,” he said. “I wouldn’t stand in your way.”
“You can hang out with Luke,” she said. “He’ll be here. Mostly at the hospital, admittedly, but he’s around, and you know he doesn’t mind if you need someone to talk to.”
“I can talk to Maia,” Simon said.
“Great,” Clary said, with a marked lack of enthusiasm. Maia was also a werewolf. A werewolf with a crush on Simon. Clary had never been able to warm to her, though she’d tried. “I guess she must know what you’re going through, huh?”
Simon didn’t answer. “This plan of yours, about going to Idris,” he said. “Does Jace know about it?”
Clary shook her head.
“He’s going to freak out.”
“No, he won’t,” Clary said. “He’ll be fine.”
Jace wasn’t fine.
“You’re not going,” he said. He was white-faced, staring; he looked at her as if she’d sneaked up and sucker-punched him in the stomach. “If I have to tie you up and sit on you until this insane whim of yours passes, you are not going.”
“Why not?” Clary said. The straight-forwardness of the question seemed to make Jace even angrier. “Because it isn’t safe.”
“Oh, and it’s so safe here?” Clary snapped. “I’ve nearly been killed a dozen times in the past month, and every time it’s been right here in New York.”
“That’s because Valentine’s been concentrating on the Mortal Instruments that were here.” Jace spoke through gritted teeth. “He’s going to shift his focus to Idris now, we all know it—”
“We’re hardly as certain of anything as all that,” said Maryse Lightwood. Clary had nearly forgotten that the older woman was there in the library with them. She was sitting behind what Clary would always think of as Hodge’s desk, a thick plank laid across the backs of kneeling mahogany angels. Sharp lines of exhaustion drew Maryse’s face down. Her husband, Robert Lightwood, had been injured by demon poison during the battle last week, and had needed constant nursing since. “And the Clave wants to see Clarissa, you know that, Jace.”
“The Clave can screw itself,” said Jace.
“The Clave wants a lot of things,” Jace added. “It shouldn’t necessarily get them all.”
Maryse shot him a look, as if she knew exactly what he was talking about and didn’t appreciate it. “The Clave is often right, Jace. It’s not unreasonable for them to want to talk to Clary, after what she’s been through. What she could tell them—”
“I’ll tell them whatever they want to know,” Jace said. “They’ll be grilling me for weeks as it is.”
“And I hope when they do you’ll be a bit more cooperative and a bit less stubborn,” Maryse said. She turned her blue eyes, so much like Alec’s, on Clary. “So you want to go to Idris, do you?”
“Just for a few days,” Clary said. “I won’t be any trouble. Madeleine even said I could stay in her house. She’s got one in Alicante.”
“I know she does. The question isn’t whether you’ll be any trouble; the question is whether you’ll be willing to meet with the Clave while you’re there. They want to talk to you. If you say no, I doubt we can get the authorization to bring you with us.”
Jace was shaking his head.
“I’ll meet with the Clave,” Clary said.
Maryse rubbed at her temples with her fingertips. “Then it’s settled.” She didn’t sound settled, though; she sounded as tense and fragile as a violin string tightened to the breaking point.
“But—” Jace began.
Maryse waved her hand at him in dismissal. “That’s enough, Jace.”
Jace’s mouth was a hard line. “I’ll walk you out, Clary.”
“I can walk myself out,” she said, but Jace already had her by the elbow and was steering her toward the door. They were barely out in the hallway when he dropped her arm and spun to face her, glowering like a gargoyle. “Didn’t you listen to a word I said, Clary? I told you you can’t come.”
“But Maryse says I can, and you don’t give the orders around here, do you?”
“Maryse trusts the Clave too much,” Jace said. He started off down the hall, making Clary scramble to keep up. “She has to believe they’re perfect—and I can’t tell her they aren’t, because—”
“Because that’s something Valentine would say.”
His shoulders tensed. “No one is perfect,” was all he said. They were in the foyer now; he reached out and stabbed at the elevator button with his index finger. “Not even the Clave.”
Clary crossed her arms over her chest. “Is that really why you don’t want me to come? Because it isn’t safe?”
A flicker of surprise crossed his face. There were shadows ringing his eyes, Clary noticed without wanting to, and dark hollows under his cheekbones. The black sweater he was wearing only made his light, bruise-marked skin stand out more, and the dark lashes, too; he was a study in contrasts, something to be painted in shades of black, white, and gray, with splashes of gold here and there, like his eyes, for an accent color—
“What do you mean?” Jace said, snapping her out of her mental painting reverie. “Why wouldn’t I want you to come?”
She swallowed. “Because—” Because you told me you don’t have feelings for me anymore, and you see, that’s very awkward, because I still have them for you. And I bet you know it.
“Because I don’t want my little sister following me everywhere?” There was a sharp note in his voice, half mockery, half something else. The elevator arrived with a clatter; he reached around her to push open the ornate gate and the soft wool of his sweater tickled the back of her neck.
“I’m not going there because you’ll be there. I’m going there because I want to help my mother. I told you that.”
“I can help her for you. Tell me where to go, who to ask. I’ll get what you need.”
She stepped into the elevator, turned to face him. “Madeleine told the warlock I’d be the one coming. He’ll be expecting Jocelyn’s daughter, not Jocelyn’s son.”
“So tell her there was a change of plans. I’ll be going, not you.”
She bit her lip. “Madeleine said—”
“Madeleine said, Madeleine said,” he mimicked savagely. “Has that woman brainwashed you?”
“She said,” Clary went on, “that the warlock might even not believe that you’re who you say you are. She said half the people over in Idris think you’re really Valentine’s son. So what makes you think someone who helped her would even help you? I mean, the whole reason my mother took that potion in the first place was to keep Valentine’s hands off her—”
“And I’m not better than him? Is that what you’re saying?”
“What? No, of course not, you know I think you’re nothing like him, Jace—”
“Apparently,” he said, “not enough to pass that information on to Madeleine.”
He slammed the gate shut between them. For a moment, she stared at him through it—the mesh of the gate divided up his face into a series of diamond shapes, outlined in metal. A single golden eye stared at her through one diamond, furious anger flickering in its depths.
“Jace—” she said, again.
But with a jerk and a clatter, the elevator was already moving, carrying her down into the dark silence of the Institute.
That was the last time she’d seen Jace. He hadn’t picked up the phone when she’d called him since, so she’d made all her plans to travel to Idris with the Lightwoods using Alec as somewhat reluctant and embarrassed point person. Alec. She sighed and flipped open her phone again. She might as well call him and see what time they were coming to pick her up on their way out of the city.
Since there was no longer a working Portal in the Manhattan area, they were going to have to drive to a location they hadn’t disclosed to her and use a Portal there. They were so secretive, Shadowhunters, she thought; it was as if they could never forget that part of her that had been raised to believe it was mundane, ordinary. She would never really be one of them, privy to their secrets.
Alec wasn’t answering his phone either. Clary snapped her mobile phone shut and swore. “By the Angel—”
A soft laugh came from her doorway. She whirled around. It was Luke, hands in his pockets, watching her with an expression of fondness mixed with amusement. His flannel shirt was crumpled—he’d probably slept on the plastic chair in the hospital again. “Now you’re even swearing like a Shadowhunter,” he said.
“I guess it’s catching,” Clary said. She smiled at him. “I’m glad you came to say good-bye to me, at least.”
“We said good-bye last night,” Luke reminded her. It was true. They’d gone to the hospital to see Jocelyn. Clary had kissed her mother and promised that when she came back, she’d have Jocelyn’s cure. Madeleine had been there, though she and Luke were strange and stiff with each other and she’d promised Luke she’d take good care of Clary in Idris. And then Clary and Luke had come back to Luke’s house and had pizza and watched TV until midnight, when he’d gone back to the hospital.
“Well, Simon seems to have decided to blow me off, so it’s good to have a second good-bye from someone.”
“He’s probably just worried about you going to Idris.”
“You’re worried, and you still showed up.”
“I have the benefit of experience which tells me that sulking solves nothing,” Luke said with a grin. “Also that there’s no point trying to tell you or your mother what to do.” He reached behind him and brought out a brown paper shopping bag. “Here, I got you something for your trip.”
“You didn’t have to do that!” Clary protested. “You’ve done so much—” She thought of the clothes he’d bought her after everything she owned had been destroyed. He’d given her a new phone, new art supplies, without ever having to be asked. Almost everything she owned now was a gift from Luke.
“I wanted to.” He handed over the bag.
The object inside was swathed in layers of tissue paper. Clary tore through it, her hand seizing on something soft as kitten’s fur. She drew it out and gave a little gasp—it was a bottle-green velvet coat, old-fashioned with a gold silk lining, brass buttons, and a wide hood. She drew it on, smoothing her hands lovingly down the soft material. “It looks like something Isabelle would wear,” she exclaimed.
“Exactly. Now you’ll be dressed more like one of them,” Luke said. “When you’re in Idris.”
She looked up at him. “Do you want me to look like one of them?”
“Clary, you are one of them.” His smile was tinged with sadness. “Besides, you know how they treat outsiders. Anything you can do to fit in . . .”
A spasm of guilt seized her. “Luke, I wish you would come with me—”
“It’s not safe for me in Idris. You know that. Besides, I can’t leave Jocelyn.”
“But—” Clary broke off as her phone rang. She dived for it, scrabbling around among the tangled bedsheets and piles of discarded tissue paper. She came up gripping it triumphantly.
“Is it Simon?” Luke asked.
She glanced at the number on the screen and her smile faded into a look of perplexity. “It’s Jace.” She flipped the phone open. “Hello?”
“Clary?” His familiar voice sent a shiver up her spine. “Where are you?”
“I’m at Luke’s. Where else would I be?”
“Good.” There was a note of relief in his voice that struck her as odd. “Stay there.”
“Of course I’m staying here. I’m waiting for you guys to come and pick me up.” She hesitated. “You are coming to pick me up, right?”
He was silent.
“Jace, what’s going on? Has something happened? Are we not going to Idris—?”
Jace sighed. “We’re going,” he said. “But you’re not.”
“What do you mean, I’m not going?” Her voice shot up several octaves. Luke winced. “Maryse said I could go! We went over this!”
“There’s been a change of plans,” Jace said. “You’re not coming after all.”
“But the Clave wanted to meet with me—”
“It turned out,” Jace said, “that there was someone they wanted to meet with more. And I made your not coming a condition of bringing him.”
Clary felt as if she’d stepped in a bucket of ice water.
“Of bringing who?” she whispered.
“Simon,” Jace said.
“What does the Clave want with Simon? He’s just a mundane—”
“He’s not a mundane, Clary. He’s a vampire. A vampire who can walk in the sunlight. The only vampire who can walk in the sunlight that anyone’s ever heard of in the entire history of the Clave. Of course they’re interested in him.”
“Are they going to hurt him?”
“No,” Jace said, impatiently. “Of course not. They gave their official word they wouldn’t.”
“I don’t believe you,” Clary said. She took a shuddering breath. “Jace, don’t do this. I won’t come, all right, I promise I’ll stay here, but please don’t take Simon with you.”
“The danger was all right for you, though, wasn’t it?” Jace said angrily. “Clary, Simon won’t be safe here, either. He’s unique. A magical aberration. Already there are rumors shooting through Downworld about his existence. The vampires held a council last night about what to do with him—some were in favor of killing him outright as a dangerous mutation, and others wanted to experiment on him to see if what happened to him could be replicated. Not to mention that he’s the werewolves’ public enemy number one—”
“But Luke controls the lycanthropes—”
“Not all the lycanthropes in the world, Clary! What happened to Simon—it’s huge, it’s unprecedented. Everyone’s going to want a part of him. The safest place for him is in Idris, with the Clave, especially when we won’t be here to protect him.”
“And you said Maryse trusts the Clave too much. You should talk,” Clary said bitterly. “How could you do this, Jace? My mother—”
“I know what your mother needs to get well,” Jace said. “And I’ll get it for you, I give you my word on the Angel.”
“For whatever that’s worth. I don’t get it,Jace. Why are you doing this?”
He hesitated, just for a fraction of a second, between one breath and the next. His voice, when he spoke, was flat. “I can’t believe you don’t know.”
“Don’t do this,” she said. Some tiny part of her wondered if she was being unreasonable, but it was swamped by her overwhelming sense of abandonment and terror. “Please, Jace—”
“I’m sorry, Clary,” he said, and hung up.
Silence. Clary dialed his number again and got a static busy signal. She hit the button to redial and found the phone gently prised out of her hand. “Clary,” said Luke, his blue eyes full of compassion. “For all we know, he’s probably already gone through the Portal. There’s no point—”
“That’s not true!” she screamed at him. “They weren’t even supposed to have left yet! They can’t be gone!”
But she was already pushing past him, her breath harsh in her ears as she raced out of the house and down Kent Street, heading for the subway.
It took Clary several moments to peel the glamour off the Institute today. It felt as if another layer of disguise had been added to the old cathedral, like a new coat of paint. Scraping it off with her mind felt hard, even painful. Finally it was gone and she could see the church as it was. The high wooden doors gleamed as if they’d just been polished.
She put her hand to the knob. I am Clary Morgenstern, one of the Nephilim, and I ask entrance to the Institute—
The door swung open. Clary stepped inside. She looked around, blinking, trying to identify what it was that felt somehow different about the cathedral’s interior.
She realized it as the door swung shut behind her, prisoning her in a blackness relieved only by the dim glow of the rose window far overhead. She had never been inside the entrance to the Institute when there had not been dozens of flames lit in the elaborate candelabras lining the aisle between the pews.
She took her witchlight stone out of her pocket and held it up. Light blazed from it, sending shining spikes of illumination flaring out from between her fingers. It lit the dusty corners of the cathedral’s interior as she made her way to the elevator set into the wall near the bare altar. She jabbed impatiently at the call button.
Nothing happened. After half a minute went by, she pressed the button again—and again. She laid her ear against the elevator door and listened. Not a sound. The Institute had gone dark and silent, like a mechanical doll whose clockwork heart had finally run down.
Clary took a step back and collapsed into one of the pews. The seat was hard, narrow, and uncomfortable, but she barely noticed. They were gone. Gone to Idris, where she couldn’t follow. Gone out of her life, taking Simon to where she couldn’t protect him. She remembered Magnus saying, “When your mother fled from the Shadow World, it was them she was hiding from. Not the demons. The Shadowhunters.” He had been right, and she had been wrong to trust the Nephilim. She had thought the Lightwoods cared about her, but all that mattered to any of them was their precious Clave. Even Jace—
At that thought, her throat contracted and she felt the tears come in a hot flood. She sat sobbing, clutching the witchlight stone to her chest, where it pulsed and glowed like a luminous heart.
“Clary.” The soft voice came unexpectedly out of the silence behind her, making her whirl around in her seat. A tall figure stood behind her, like an ungainly scarecrow. He wore a black velvet suit over a shimmering emerald green shirt, and a number of brightly jeweled rings glittered on his narrow fingers. There were fancy boots involved as well, and a good deal of glitter.
“Magnus?” Clary whispered.
“Clary, my darling.” His voice was as musical as ever. He sat down next to her in the pew, his cloak moving around him like smoke. “Are you all right?”
“No. They’re gone—and they took Simon—Jace called me and he said—he said—”
“I know,” Magnus said. “It was a dirty trick to play. He has a lot of his father in him, your brother Jonathan.”
A day before, an hour even, Clary would have told him not to say something like that. Now she just bit her lip. “Isn’t there anything I can do?” she burst out. “There must be some way to get to Idris—”
“The nearest airport is a country over. If you could get across the border—assuming you could even identify the border—there would be a long and dangerous overland journey after that, through all sorts of Downworlder territory. You’d never make it, not traveling on your own.”
She turned to him. “But you—”
“I’d have to disobey a direct order of the Clave to take you to Idris, Clary,” Magnus said. “I like you, but not that much.”
She gave a choked laugh. “What about a Portal? If I could get to a Portal?”
“You can’t. The Portals at Renwick’s and Madame Dorothea’s were destroyed, and I’ve no idea where any other Portals might be. That sort of information is closely guarded. And I have to tell you, Clary—”
“Let me guess. The Clave has instructed you not to help me in any way.” Clary spoke bitterly. “I know how they work by now. If Jace made some sort of deal with them, then they were probably pretty thorough in giving him what he asked for.”
“What did he ask for?” Magnus asked, his cat’s eyes sparking with curiosity.
“I think he told them that he’d bring them Simon if they could promise I’d be kept out of whatever’s going on in Idris,” Clary said, almost reluctantly.
Magnus’s mouth quirked up at the corner. “He must really love you.”
“No,” Clary said. “I think he just doesn’t want me around. I make him uncomfortable.”
Magnus muttered something. It sounded like an exasperated expletive followed by the word Shadowhunters, but Clary couldn’t be sure. « Look,” he said. “I think Jace is probably right. Stay out of what’s going on in Idris—it’s going to be a political disaster area.”
She looked up at him. The light of the witchlight stone caught the edges of his sharp cheekbones and the gold in his cat eyes. “But Simon,” she said. “Do you think he’ll be all right?”
“Didn’t Jace say he’d make sure nothing happened to him?”
“Yes,” said Clary. “He swore on the Angel.”
“Then I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Magnus said, but she had caught the slight hesitation in his voice before he spoke. She said nothing in reply, just turned the witchlight stone over in her fingers, watching the light flicker across the dark green material of her coat. Just an hour ago, she’d been so happy to put it on—
“Simon is something very special, Clary,” added Magnus. “A vampire who can withstand daylight. He’s not helpless. He may not need your protection. He would do well to learn to use the gifts he has.” He stood up, a spectacularly tall and thin figure, dark and spidery in the dim light. “As would you.”
“Where are we?” Simon hissed through his teeth.
“Alicante,” said Jace. “The City of Glass.” And, when Simon only stared at him, he added with a touch of impatience: “We’re in Idris.” He leaned out the window a little. “See,” he said, indicating the towers, “those are the demon towers. They’re made of the same material our steles and seraph blades are made out of. It’s a demon-repellent —”
“Why have you taken me here?” Simon demanded, interrupting Jace’s lesson in local geography.
Jace’s eyes met his, and for a moment there was something in them — something almost beseeching — and then Jace said, “You agreed. This is for Clary.”
“I didn’t agree to anything!” Simon struck the window ledge with his fist. He’d expected it to hurt, but it didn’t; he still wasn’t used to his new strength, and the blow left a dent in the stone. “Wait.” A thought occurred to him. “Clary — you mean she’s here?” He whirled around as if half-expecting to see her, but there was only the same stone room. “Where is she?”
Jace pushed his hair back impatiently. “She’s not here — that’s just it. I traded her for you.”
“You what? What are you talking about? Why would anyone want me instead of Clary?”
“Search me,” said Jace with a little of his old malice, “I certainly wouldn’t, but the Clave is a little peculiar that way. They have their ways —”
“The Clave?” Simon stared at Jace. “You brought me here because the Clave wanted Clary, and you agreed to give them me instead?”
“I know — bit of a dirty trick, wasn’t it?”remarked a light voice. Simon turned and saw Isabelle Lightwood standing in the open doorway. She wore dark trousers and a form-fitting white leather jacket against which her hair looked impossibly black. Beside her was her brother, Alec, in jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt with a black runic mark scrawled across the front. “Jace didn’t tell us that you didn’t know about it until we were already well through the Portal,” Isabelle went on, ignoring the dirty look Alec was giving her. “Mom and Dad were livid, but what can they do? The Clave is the Clave and Jace made a deal with them. We couldn’t go back on it if we wanted to.”
“I didn’t make a deal,” Simon said. He looked from Jace’s impassive face to Isabelle — smiling as if this were all a game — to Alec, who looked at him out of suspicious blue eyes and said nothing. “I didn’t agree to any of this.”
“You did,” Jace said, “when you said you’d do anything for Clary. This is anything.”
Jace was looking at him almost expectantly; Simon felt a spark of rage inside him flicker and then die. “Fine.” He turned away from the window. “I did say I’d do anything for Clary, and it’s true. But tell me one thing: why is it you want Clary out of Idris so badly?”
“Oh, I don’t care one way or the other,” Isabelle said airily, then saw Simon’s expression and threw her hands up. “Sorry, you were asking Jace, weren’t you?”
“Isabelle,” said Alec, in a voice like a groan.
Jace just looked at Simon, steadily. For a moment, Simon thought he wasn’t going to say anything at all. Finally, he sighed. “Look, Simon —”
“Is that the vampire?” came a soft voice from the doorway. A slender teenage girl stood there, a tall, dark-haired boy beside her. The girl was small-boned, with glossy black hair pulled back from her face, and a mischievous expression. Her delicate chin narrowed into a point like a cat’s. She wasn’t exactly pretty, but she was very striking.
The boy beside her was more than striking. He was probably Jace’s height, but seemed taller: he was broad-shouldered, with an elegant, restless face, all sharp cheekbones and black eyes. There was something strangely familiar about him, as if Simon had met him before, though he knew he never had. The black inky swirls of Marks rose up from the collar of the boy’s shirt, and there was a curving Mark on his face, just below his left eye, which surprised Simon — most Shadowhunters were careful to keep Marks off their faces.
“Can we see him?” the girl went on, moving into the room, the boy just behind her. “I’ve never really been this close to a vampire before — not one I wasn’t planning to kill. I can’t believe my parents let you bring him into the house.” She looked Simon up and down as if she were taking his measurements. “He’s cute, for a Downworlder.”
“You’ll have to forgive Aline; she has the face of an angel and the manners of a Moloch demon,” said the boy with a grin, coming forward. He held his hand out to Simon. “I’m Sebastian. Sebastian Verlac.”
It took Simon a moment to realize that the boy was offering his hand for Simon to shake. Bemused, he shook it, and the same strange sensation passed over him that he’d had before: the sense that this boy was someone he knew, someone familiar. “I’m Simon. Simon Lewis.”
Sebastian was still grinning. “And this is my cousin, Aline Penhallow. Aline —”
”I don’t shake hands with Downworlders,” Aline said quickly, and went to stand by Jace. “Really, Sebastian, you can be so bizarre sometimes.” She spoke with a faint accent, Simon noticed — not British or Australian, something else. “They don’t have souls, you know. Vampires.”
Sebastian’s smile disappeared. “Aline —”
“It’s true. That’s why they can’t see themselves in mirrors, or go in the sun —”
Very deliberately, Simon stepped backward, into the patch of sunlight in front of the window. He felt the sun hot on his back, his hair. His shadow was cast, long and dark, across the floor, almost reaching Jace’s feet.
Aline took a sharp breath, but said nothing. It was Sebastian who spoke, looking at Simon with curious black eyes: “So it’s true,” he said. “The Lightwoods, said, but I didn’t think —”
“That we were telling the truth?” Jace said. “It’s true. That’s why the Clave’s so curious about him. He’s unique.”
“I kissed him once,” Isabelle said, to no one in particular.
Aline’s eyebrows shot up. “They really do let you do whatever you want in New York, don’t they?” she said, sounding half horrified and half envious. “I remember the last time I saw you, Izzy, you wouldn’t even have considered—”
“The last time we all saw each other, Izzy was eight,” Alec said. “Things change. Now, are we all going to stand around in here for the rest of the day, or are we going to go downstairs and find something to eat — which is what we were discussing before Jace came up here to check on Simon, wasn’t it?”
“I could eat,” Simon said, and grinned at Aline, wide enough to show his pointed canines. She gave an appreciative shriek.
“Stop that, Lewis,” Jace said. “Look, you can come downstairs with us if you promise to behave.”
“Lewis? You’re calling me by my last name now?”
“I figured it was better than ‘vampire’,” Jace said as they all began to file out of the room, and Simon had to agree that on the whole, this was true.
Jace looked at Alec steadily. Then he said, “What’s between you and Magnus Bane?”
Alec’s head jerked to the side, as if Jace had slapped him or pushed him. “I don’t — there’s nothing —”
“I know better,” Jace said, forestalling him. “I’m not stupid. Tell me the truth.”
“There isn’t anything between us,” Alec said — and then, catching the look on Jace’s face, added with great reluctance, “any more. There’s nothing between us any more. Okay?”
“And why is that? Magnus really liked you.”
“Drop it, Jace,” Alec said in a warning tone.
Jace was having none of being warned. “Magnus says it’s because you’re hung up on me. Is that true?”
There was a moment of utter silence. Then Alec gave a despairing howl of horror and put his hands up to cover his face. “I am going to kill Magnus. Kill him dead.”
“Don’t. He cares about you. He really does. I believe that,” Jace said, managing to sound only a little bit awkward. “Look. I don’t want to push you into anything, but do you maybe want to—”
“Call Magnus? Look, that’s a dead end, I know you’re trying to be helpful, but—”
“—kiss me?” Jace finished.
Alec looked as if he were about to fall off his chair. “WHAT? What? What?”
“Once would do.” Jace did his best to look as if this were the sort of suggestion one made all the time. “I think it might help.”
Alec looked at him with something like horror. “You don’t mean that.”
“Why wouldn’t I mean it?”
“Because you’re the straightest person I know. Possibly the straightest person in the universe.”
“Exactly,” Jace said, and leaned forward, and kissed Alec on the mouth. The kiss lasted approximately four seconds before Alec pulled forcefully away, throwing his hands up as if to ward Jace off from coming at him again.
He looked as if he were about to throw up. “By the Angel,” he said. “Don’t ever do that again.”
“Oh yeah?” Jace grinned, and almost meant it. “That bad?”
“Like kissing my brother,” said Alec, with a look of horror in his eyes.
“I thought you might feel that way.” Jace crossed his arms over his chest.
“Also, I’m hoping we can just gloss over all the irony in what you just said.”
“We can gloss over whatever you want to,” Alec said fervently. “Just don’t kiss me again.”
“I’m not going to. I have other business to take care of.” Jace stood up, kicking his chair back. “If anyone asks where I am, tell them I went for a walk.”
“Where are you actually going?” Alec asked, watching him walk to the door. “To see Clary?”
“No.” Jace shook his head. “I’m going to the Gard. I’m going to break Simon out of jail.”
“We’re here,” Sebastian said abruptly — so abruptly that Clary wondered if she really had offended him somehow — and slid down from the horse’s back. But his face, when he looked up at her, was all smiles. “We made good time,” he said, tying the reins to the lower branch of a nearby tree. “Better than I thought we would.”
He indicated with a gesture that she should dismount, and after a moment’s hesitation, Clary slid off the horse and into his arms. She clutched him as he caught her, her legs unsteady after the long ride. “Sorry,” she said sheepishly. “Sorry — I didn’t mean to grab you.”
“I wouldn’t apologize for that.” His breath was warm against her neck and she shivered. His hands lingered just a moment longer on her back before he reluctantly let her go. “I like that coat,” he said, his eyes lingering on her as his hands had done a moment ago. “Not only does it feel great, but the color makes your eyes look even more green.”
All this wasn’t helping Clary’s legs feel any less unsteady. “Thanks,” she said, knowing full well she was blushing and wishing heartily that her fair skin didn’t show color so readily. “So — this is it?” She looked around — they were standing in a sort of small valley between low hills. There were a number of gnarled-looking trees ranged around a clearing. Their twisted branches had a sort of sculptural beauty against the steel-blue sky. But otherwise… “There’s nothing here,” Clary said with a frown.
“Clary.” There was laughter in his voice. “Concentrate.”
“You mean — a glamour? But I don’t usually have to —”
“Glamours in Idris are often stronger than glamours elsewhere. You may have to try harder than you usually do.” He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her gently. “Look at the clearing.”
Clary looked. And silently performed the mental trick that allowed her to peel glamour from the thing it disguised. She imagined herself rubbing turpentine on a canvas, peeling away layers of paint to reveal the true image underneath — and there it was, a small stone house with a sharply gabled roof, smoke twisting from the chimney in an elegant curlicue. A winding path lined with stones led up to the front door. As she looked, the smoke puffing from the chimney stopped curling upward and began to take on the shape of a wavering black question mark.
Sebastian laughed. “I think that means who’s there?”
Clary pulled her jacket closer around her. She felt suddenly, unaccountably cold — the wind blowing across the level grass wasn’t that brisk, but there was ice in her bones nevertheless. “It looks like something out of a fairy tale.”
Sebastian didn’t disagree, just started up the front walk. Clary followed. When they reached the front steps, Sebastian took her hand. Immediately, the smoke curling from the chimney stopped forming itself into question marks and began puffing out in the shape of lopsided hearts. Clary snatched her hand back, felt immediately guilty, and reached for the door knocker to disguise her embarrassment. It was heavy and brass, shaped like a cat, and when she let it fall it hit the wooden door with a satisfying thwack.
The thwack was followed by a number of popping and clicking noises. The door shuddered and swung open. Beyond it, Clary could discern only darkness. She looked sideways at Sebastian, her mouth suddenly dry. Like a fairy tale cottage, she’d said. Except the things that lived in cottages in fairy tales weren’t always benevolent…
“At least it isn’t decorated with candy and gingerbread,” Sebastian said, as if reading her thoughts. “I’ll go in first, if you like.”
“No.” She shook her head. “We’ll go in together.”
They’d barely cleared the threshold when the door slammed shut behind them, shutting out all light. The blackness was relentless, impenetrable. Something brushed up against Clary in the darkness and she screamed.
“It’s just me,” Sebastian said irritably. “Here — take my hand.” She felt his fingers grope for hers in the darkness and this time she seized onto his hand with a feeling of gratitude. Stupid, she thought, clutching Sebastian’s fingers tightly, stupid to come in here like this — Jace would be furious —
Light suddenly flickered in the darkness. Two bright eyes appeared, green as a cat’s, hanging against the blackness like jewels. Who is there? said a voice — soft as fur, sharp as ice shards.
“Sebastian Verlac and Clarissa Morgenstern. You saw us coming up the walk.” Sebastian’s voice rang out clear and strong. “I know you’re expecting us. My aunt Elodie told me where to find you. You’ve done work for her before —”
I know who you are. The eyes blinked, plunging them both momentarily back into darkness. Follow the torchlight. “The what?” Clary turned, her hand still in Sebastian’s, in time to see a number of torches flare up in a line, one catching fire from the next, until a blazing path was lit before them. They followed it hand it hand like Hansel and Gretel following the breadcrumb trail in the dark forest, although Clary wondered if the children in the fairy tale had been holding hands quite so tightly…
The ground crunched softly underneath. Looking down Clary saw that the path was lined with shards of gleaming black, like the carapaces of enormous insects. “Dragon scales,” Sebastian said, following her gaze. “I’ve never seen so many…”
Dragons are real? Clary wanted to say, but stopped herself. Of course dragons were real. What was it Jace always said to her? All the stories are true. Before she could repeat that thought aloud, the path opened out and they found themselves standing in a wide-open garden bathed in sunlight.
At least, at first glance it looked like a garden. There were trees, whose leaves gleamed silver and gold, and paths laid out between banks of flowers, and in the center of the garden a sort of pavilion with bright silk walls. The torchlit path continued in front of them, leading up to the pavilion, but as they followed it Clary saw that the flowers on either side of the path were ingenious creations of paper and cloth. There were no insects buzzing, no birds chirping. And when she glanced up, she saw that there was no sky overhead, just a painted backdrop of blue and white, with a single blazing light shining down on them where the sun ought to have been.
They had reached the pavilion. Inside it, Clary could just glimpse the soft, moving gleam of candlelight. Her curiosity won out over her nerves and she let go of Sebastian’s hand and ducked through a gap in the heavy silk hangings.
Clary stared. The inside of the pavilion looked like something out of an illustrated copy of the Arabian Nights. The walls were gold silk, the floor covered in embroidered rugs. Floating golden balls spilled incense that smelled like roses and jasmine, the scent so thick and sweet it made her cough. There were beaded pillows scattered everywhere and a big low couch, scattered with tasseled cushions. But that wasn’t the reason she was staring. She had been prepared for something fantastical, even bizarre. She had not, however, been prepared for the sight of Magnus Bane — wearing a gold mesh vest and a pair of transparent silk harem pants — puffing gently on a fantastically large hookah with a dozen snaky pipe-arms curling out of it.
“Welcome to my humble abode.” The smoke that floated up around Magnus’ ears formed itself into little stars as he grinned. “Anything I can get you? Wine? Water? Ichor?” Clary found her voice. “An explanation would be nice. What the hell are you doing here?”
“Clary.” She hadn’t even noticed Sebastian follow her into the pavilion, but there he was, staring at her in horror. “There’s no need for you to be rude.”
“You don’t understand!” She turned to Sebastian, dismayed by the look on his face. “Something’s not right —”
“It’s all right, Clary,” he said. He turned to Magnus, his jaw set firmly. “Ragnor Fell,” he began, “I am Sebastian Verlac —” “How nice for you,” Magnus said kindly, and snapped his fingers once.
Sebastian froze in place, his mouth still open, his hand partially outstretched in greeting.
“Sebastian!” Clary reached out to touch him, but he was as rigid as a statue. Only the slight rise and fall of his chest showed that he was even still alive. “Sebastian?” she said, again, but it was hopeless: she knew somehow that he couldn’t see or hear her. She turned on Magnus. “I can’t believe you just did that. What on earth is wrong with you? Has whatever’s in that pipe melted your brain? Sebastian’s on our side.”
“I don’t have a side, Clary darling,” Magnus said with a wave of his hookah. “And really, it’s your own fault I had to freeze him outside Time for a short while. You see, you were awfully close to telling him I’m not actually Ragnor Fell.”
“That’s because you’re not actually Ragnor Fell.”
Magnus blew a stream of smoke out of his mouth and regarded her thoughtfully through the haze. “Actually,” he said, “for all intents and purposes, I am.”
Clary’s head had begun to ache, whether from the thick smoke in the room or the effort of restraining her overwhelming urge to punch Magnus in the eye, she wasn’t sure. “I don’t get it.” Magnus patted the sofa beside him. “Come sit down next to me and I’ll explain,” he purred. “You trust me, don’t you?”
Not really, Clary thought. But then again, who did she trust? Jace? Simon? Luke? None of them were around. With an apologetic glance at the frozen Sebastian, she went to join Magnus on the couch.
The roar of the collapse faded slowly, like smoke dissipating into the air. It was replaced by the loud chirruping of startled birds; Clary could see them over Jace’s shoulder, circling curiously against the dark sky.
“Jace,” she said softly. “I think it’s over.”
He drew back slightly, propping himself on his elbows, and looked down at her. They were close enough that even in the darkness she could see herself reflected in his eyes; his face was streaked with soot and dirt, the collar of his shirt torn. Without thinking, she reached up, her fingers brushing lightly through his hair. She felt him tense, his eyes darkening.
“There was grass — in your hair,” she said by way of explanation. Her mouth was dry; adrenalin sang through her veins, and not just because of the danger she’d just been in. Everything that had just happened: the angel, the shattering manor, seemed less real than what she saw in Jace’s eyes.
“You shouldn’t touch me,” he breathed.
Her hand froze where it was, her palm against his cheek. “Why not?”
“You know why,” he said, and then, ‘You saw what I saw, didn’t you? The past, the angel. Our parents.”
“You know what happened.”
“A lot of things happened, Jace —”
“Not for me.” The words breathed out on an anguished whisper. “I have demon blood, Clary. Demon blood. You understood that much, didn’t you?”
“It doesn’t mean anything. Valentine was insane. He was just ranting —”
“And Jocelyn? Was she insane?” His eyes bored into her like golden drills. “I know what Valentine was trying to do. He was trying to create hybrids — angel/human, and demon/human. You’re the former, Clary, and I’m the latter. I’m part monster. Part everything I’ve tried so hard to burn out, to destroy.”
“It’s not true. It can’t be. It doesn’t make sense—”
“But it does.” There was a sort of furious desperation in his expression as he looked down at her. She could see the gleam of the silver chain around his bare throat, lit to a white flare by the starlight. “It explains everything.”
She shook her head so hard that she felt grass tickle her cheek. “You mean it explains why you’re such an amazing Shadowhunter? Why you’re loyal and fearless and honest and everything demons aren’t —”
“It explains,” he said, evenly, “why I feel the way I do about you.”
Breath hissed between her teeth. “Jace — what do you mean?”
He was silent for a long moment, staring down at her — for so long, in fact, that she wondered if he ever planned to speak at all, or if just looking was enough; after all, she was staring at him just as helplessly. Their gazes were locked like gears; she could no more have looked away than she could have breathed with water in her lungs.
“You’re my sister,” he said, finally, “My sister, my blood, my family. I should want to protect you —” he laughed soundlessly and without any humor — “to protect you from the sort of boys who want to do to you exactly what I want to do to you.”
Clary’s breath caught. He was still looking down at her, but his expression had changed — there was a look on his face she’d never seen before, a sleepy, deadly, almost predatory light in his eyes. She was suddenly and acutely conscious of the hard pressure of his body on her body, the bones of his hips fitting themselves against hers, and she ached everywhere that she didn’t touch him, ached with a nearly physical pain.
What I want to do to you, he had said. Not thinking of anything else but how much she wanted him, she let her fingers trail down his cheek to his lips, outlining the shape of his mouth with the tip of her index finger.
She was rewarded by the catch in his breathing, the sudden darkening of his eyes. He didn’t move.
“What is it, exactly, that you want to do to me?” she whispered.
The light in his eyes was a blaze. Slowly he inclined his head until his lips were against her ear. When he spoke, she felt his breath tickle her skin, making her shiver: “I could show you.” She said nothing. Even if she could have gathered her scattered thoughts to compose the words, she didn’t want to tell him to stop. She was tired of saying no to Jace — of never letting herself feel what her body wanted her to feel.
Whatever the cost…
She felt him smile, his lips against her ear. “If you want me to stop, tell me now,” he whispered. When she still said nothing, he brushed his mouth against her hollow of her temple, making her shiver. “Or now.” His lips traced her cheekbones in the lightest of kisses, a butterfly kiss. “Or now.” His mouth traced the line of her jaw. “Or now.” His lips were against hers, his words spoken into her mouth. “Now,” he whispered, and kissed her.
At first the pressure of his lips was gentle, seeking; but when she responded instantly — sliding her arms around him, tangling her hands in his hair — she felt the cautious tension in his body change to something else. Suddenly he was kissing her with a bruising pressure, his lips crushing hers. She tasted blood in her mouth, but didn’t care. There were rocks digging into her back, and her shoulder ached where she’d fallen from the window, but she didn’t care about that either. All that existed was Jace; all she felt, hoped, breathed, wanted and saw was Jace. Nothing else mattered.
He broke off the kiss, drawing back, and she released him with a soft noise of reluctant protest. His mouth was swollen, his eyes huge and dark, nearly black with desire. He reached for the buttons of her coat, tried to slip the first one free, but his hands were shaking so badly he couldn’t manage it. Clary put her hand over his, marveling inwardly at her own calm — surely she should be shaking as badly as he was?
“Let me,” she said.
He went still. He watched her as she undid the buttons, her fingers working as fast as they could. The coat fell open. Beneath it she was wearing only a thin blouse of Amatis’ and the cold night air struck through the material, making her gasp. She raised her arms up. “Come back,” she whispered. “Kiss me again.”
He made a stifled noise and fell into her arms like someone coming up for air after nearly drowning. He kissed her eyelids, her cheeks, her throat, before returning to her lips: their kissing was frenzied now, almost clumsy in its fever — so unlike Jace, who never seemed to rush, or to hurry anything … Without the coat between them, she could feel the heat of him, burning through his shirt and hers; his hands slipped around her, under her the strap of her bra, tracing her spine, his touch scorching her bare skin. She wanted more of his touch, his hands on her, his skin on her skin — she wanted to be touching him everywhere, to hold him while he trembled like he was trembling now —and for there to be no more space between them.
She tugged his jacket off and then somehow his shirt was off, too. Their hands explored each other’s bodies: she ran her fingers down his back and felt soft skin layered over lean muscle, and something she had not expected, though she should have — scars, like thin wires laid across his skin. She supposed they were imperfections, these scars, but they didn’t feel that way to her; they were the marks of Jace’s history, cut into his skin: the raised, topographical map of a life of killing and fighting.
She stroked the star-shaped scar on his shoulder and raised herself up to brush her mouth across it. Something banged against her collarbone with a sharp cold shock. She drew back with an exclamation of surprise.
Jace raised himself up on his elbows to look down at her. “What is it?” His voice was slow, almost drugged. “Did I hurt you?”
“Not really. It was this.” She reached up and touched the silver chain around his neck. On its end hung a small silver circle of metal. It was ice cold to the touch.
That ring — the weather-beaten metal with its pattern of stars — she knew that ring.
The Morgenstern ring. It had been Valentine’s, and Valentine had passed it along to Jace, as it had always been passed along: father to son.
“I’m sorry,” Jace said. He was tracing the line of her cheek with his fingertip, a dreamlike intensity in his gaze. “I forgot I was wearing the damn thing.”
Sudden cold flooded Clary’s veins. “Jace,” she said, in a low voice. “Jace, don’t.”
Clary heard a sharp pattering noise all around her. For a bewildered moment she thought it had started to rain—then she realized it was rubble and dirt and broken glass: the detritus of the shattered manor being flung down around them like deadly hail.
Jace pressed her harder into the ground, his body flat against hers, his heartbeat nearly as loud in her ears as the sound of the manor’s subsiding ruins.
* * *
Later, Jace would remember little about the destruction of the Manor itself, the shattering apart of the only home he’d known until he was ten years old. He remembered only the fall from the library window, scrambling and rolling down over the grass, and catching hold of Clary, spinning her down and under him, covering her with his body while pieces of the Manor rained down around them like hail.
He could feel her breathing, feel the racing of her heart. He was reminded of his falcon, the way it had curled, blind and trusting, in his hand, the rapidity of its heartbeat. Clary was holding him by the front of the shirt, though he doubt she realized it, her face against his shoulder; he was desperately afraid that there wasn’t enough of him, that he couldn’t cover her completely, protect her entirely. He imagined boulders as big as elephants tumbling across the rocky ground, ready to crush them both, to crush her. The ground shuddered under them and he pressed harder against her, as if that might help somehow. It was magical thinking, he knew, like closing your eyes so you didn’t see the knife coming at you.
The roar had faded. He realized to his surprise that he could hear again: small things, the sound of birds, the air in the trees. Clary’s voice, breathless. “Jace — I think you dropped your stele somewhere.”
He drew back and stared down at her. She met his gaze steadily In the moonlight her green eyes could have been black. Her red hair was full of dust, her face streaked with soot. He could see the pulse in her throat. He said the first thing that he could think of, dazed, “I don’t care. As long as you’re not hurt.”
“I’m fine.” She reached up, her fingers brushing lightly through his hair; his body, super-sensitized by adrenalin, felt it like sparks against his skin. “There’s grass — in your hair,” she said.
There was worry in her eyes. Worry for him. He remembered the first time he’d kissed her, in the greenhouse, how he’d finally gotten it, finally understood the way someone’s mouth against yours could undo you, leave you spinning and breathless. That all the expertise in the world, any techniques you knew or had learned, went out the window when it was the right person you were kissing.
Or the wrong one.
“You shouldn’t touch me,” he said.
Her hand froze where it was, her palm against his cheek. “Why not?”
“You know why. You saw what I saw, didn’t you? The past, the angel. Our parents.”
Her eyes darkened. “I saw.”
“You know what happened.”
“A lot of things happened, Jace —”
“Not for me.” The words breathed out on an anguished whisper. “I have demon blood, Clary. Demon blood. You understood that much, didn’t you?”
She set her chin. He knew how much she disliked the suggestion that she hadn’t understood something, or didn’t know it, or didn’t need to know it. He loved that about her and it drove him out of his mind. “It doesn’t mean anything. Valentine was insane. He was just ranting —”
“And Jocelyn? Was she insane? I know what Valentine was trying to do. He was trying to create hybrids — angel/human, and demon/human. You’re the former, Clary, and I’m the latter. I’m part monster. Part everything I’ve tried so hard to burn out, to destroy.”
“It’s not true. It can’t be. It doesn’t make sense—”
“But it does.” How could she not understand? It seemed so obvious to him, so basic. “It explains everything.”
“You mean it explains why you’re such an amazing Shadowhunter? Why you’re loyal and fearless and honest and everything demons aren’t —”
“It explains,” he said, evenly, “why I feel the way I do about you.”
Breath hissed between her teeth. “W do you mean?”
“You’re my sister,” he said, “My sister, my blood, my family. I should want to protect you —” he choked on the words— “to protect you from the sort of boys who want to do to you exactly what I want to do to you.”
He heard her breath catch. She was still staring up at him, and though he had expected to see horror in her eyes, some sort of revulsion — for he didn’t think he’d ever stated so clearly or so tactlessly exactly how he felt — he saw nothing of the sort. He saw only searching curiosity, as if she were examining the map of some unknown country.
Almost absently, she let her fingers trail down his cheek to his lips, outlining the shape of his mouth with the tip of her index finger, as if she were charting a course. There was wonder in her eyes. He felt his heart turn over and his body, ever traitorous, respond to her touch.
“What is it, exactly, that you want to do to me?” she whispered.
He could not stop himself. He leaned down, his lips grazing her ear: “I could show you.”
He felt her tremble, but despite the shiver in her body, her eyes challenged him. The adrenaline in his blood, mixed with desire and the recklessness of despair, made his blood sing. I’ll show her, he thought. Half of him was convinced she would push him away. The other half was too full of Clary: her nearness, the feel of her against him — to think straight. “If you want me to stop, tell me now,” he whispered, and when she said nothing, he brushed his lips against her hollow of her temple. “Or now.” His mouth found her cheek, the line of her jaw: he tasted her skin, sweet-salty, dust and desire. “Or now.” His mouth traced the line of her jaw and she arched up into him, making his fingers dig into the ground. Her small, panting breaths were driving him crazy, and he put his mouth over hers to quiet her, whispering, telling, not asking: “Now.”
And he kissed her. Gently at first, testing, but suddenly her hands were fists in the back of his shirt, and her softness was pressed against his chest and he felt the solid earth give way under him as he fell. He was kissing her the way he’d always wanted to, with a wild and total abandon, his tongue sweeping inside her mouth to duel with hers, and she was just as bold as he was, tasting him, exploring his mouth. He reached for the buttons of her coat just as she bit lightly at his lower lip and his whole body jerked.
She put her hands over his, and for a moment he was afraid she was going to tell him to stop, that this was insane, they’d both hate themselves tomorrow. But: “Let me,” she said, and he went still as she calmly undid the buttons and the coat fell open. The shirt she was wearing underneath was nearly sheer, and he could see the shape of her body underneath: the curves of her breasts, the indentation of her waist, the flare of her hips. He felt dizzy. He’d seen this much of other girls before, of course he had, but it had never mattered.
And now nothing else mattered.
She lifted her arms up, her head thrown back, pleading in her eyes. “Come back,” she whispered. “Kiss me again.”
He made a noise he didn’t think he’d ever made before and fell back against her, into her, kissing her eyelids, lips, throat, the pulse there — his hands slid under her flimsy shirt and onto the heat of her skin. He was pretty sure all the blood had left his brain as he fumbled at the clasp of her bra — which was ridiculous, what was the point of being a Shadowhunter and expert at everything if you couldn’t figure out the clasp on a bra? — and heard his own soft exhalation as it came free and his hands were on her bare back, the fragile shape of her shoulder blades under his palms. Somehow the little noise she made was more erotic than seeing anyone else naked had ever been.
Her hands, small and determined, were at the hem of his shirt, tugging it off. He pushed hers up, around her ribs, wanting more of their skin to be touching. So this was the difference, he thought. This was what being in love meant. He’d always prided himself on his technique, on having control, on the response he could elicit. But that required evaluation, and evaluation required distance, and there was no distance now. He wanted nothing between himself and Clary.
His hands found the waistband of her jeans, the shape of her hipbones. He felt her fingers on his bare back, her the tips finding his scars and tracing them lightly. He wasn’t sure she knew she was doing it, but she was rolling her hips against his, making him shaky, making him want to go too fast. He reached down and fitted her more firmly against him, aligning her hips with his, and felt her gasp into his mouth. He thought she might pull away, but she slung her leg over his hip instead, pulling him even closer. For a second, he thought he might pass out.
“Jace,” she whispered. She kissed his neck, his collarbone. His hands were on her waist, moving up over her ribcage. Her skin was amazingly soft. She raised herself up as he slipped his hands under her bra, and kissed the star-shaped mark on his shoulder. He was about to ask her if what he was doing was all right when she drew back from him sharply, with an exclamation of surprise. . .
* * *
“What is it?” Jace froze. “Did I hurt you?”
“No. It was this.” She touched the silver chain around his neck. On its end hung a small silver circle of metal. It had bumped against her when she’d leaned forward. She stared at it now.
That ring—the weather-beaten metal with its pattern of stars—she knew that ring.
The Morgenstern ring. It was the same ring that had gleamed on Valentine’s hand in the dream the angel had showed them. It had been his, and he had given it to Jace, as it had always been passed along, father to son.
“I’m sorry,” Jace said. He traced the line of her cheek with his fingertip, a dreamlike intensity in his gaze. “I forgot I was wearing the damn thing.”
Sudden cold flooded Clary’s veins. “Jace,” she said, in a low voice. “Jace, don’t.”
“Don’t what? Don’t wear the ring?” “No, don’t—don’t touch me. Stop for a second.”
“I met your father in school, about the same time you met Simon. Everyone should have a friend like that in their lives. But he wasn’t that friend to me — Luke was. We were always together. In fact, at first, I hated Valentine, because he took Luke away from me.
“Valentine was the most popular student at school. He was everything you’d expect of a natural leader — handsome, brilliant, with the sort of charisma that led the younger students to worship him. He was kind enough, but there was something about him even then that I found frightening — he glittered, but with a sort of cold brilliance, like a diamond. And like a diamond, he had a sharp and cutting edge.
“When he was seventeen, his father was killed in a raid on a lycanthrope pack. It wasn’t a standard raid — the pack had done nothing to break the Law, but I didn’t find that out until years later. None of us did. What we did know was that Valentine returned to school utterly changed. You could see his sharp edges all the time now, the danger in him. And he began to recruit.
“He drew other students to him, like moths to light — and like moths, their yearning for him would prove the ruin of many of them in the end. He brought Hodge to him, and Maryse and Robert Lightwood — the Penhallows, the Waylands. They came and clustered around him and did his bidding. He approached me many times, but I stood apart from it all, watching, suspicious. And then he came for Luke . . .
“I know Luke often wondered why Valentine wanted him in the Circle. He wasn’t much of a warrior at the time, not a born fighter. I never told him this, but I sometimes thought that Valentine saw him as a means to an end. A means to me . . .
“Valentine was someone who always knew what he wanted. And he wanted me. I never knew why. The first time I noticed him watching me across the practice yard, I knew. The look on his face — it wasn’t wistful, or yearning, it was calculating and sure. The look of someone who runs their eyes over a menu and knows exactly what they want to order. His cold desire frightened me. But when he drew Luke to him, and Luke spoke so rapturously of his brilliance and his kindness, I knew I could no longer stand apart. I had to join the Circle, to see what it was that had drawn my friend into it.
“In some ways, Valentine — your father — was exactly as Luke had described him. The Circle would meet each night, often in the deserted practice yard or out in the forest, under the trees, and Valentine would hold forth on his pet topics: demons, Downworlders, and what he called the perverting of the laws of the Clave. As far as he was concerned, the Angel had never wanted us to live in peace with Downworlders, but to wipe them off the face of the planet along with demons. The Accords were a travesty; we had never been meant to live in harmony with “half-men.”
“His words were fiery, but his demeanor was — kind. He had a way of making you feel as if you were the only person on earth who mattered to him, the only one whose opinion he truly respected. His beliefs were absolute and so was his dedication to the Circle. I’ve come to see it as evil fanaticism since, but at the time his conviction fascinated me. He seemed to be full of passion. I could see what Luke saw in him. Soon enough, I was half in love with him myself.
“But so were all the girls in the Circle and probably some of the boys, too. You don’t belong to something like that — a cult of personality — without being a little in love with your leader. Valentine started asking me to stay after the meetings, just to talk with him. He said he valued my practical mind and dispassionate intelligence. I could tell the other girls were jealous. I’m sure they thought — well, you can imagine what they thought. But nothing was happening between us. Valentine really did just want to talk — about the future, about the Law, about the Circle and where it was going. In the end, I was the one who gave up and kissed him first.
“‘I knew it,’ was the first thing he said, and then he said, ‘I’ve always loved you, Jocelyn.’ And you know, he meant it. We stayed out all night in the woods then, talking. He told me how he envisioned we would lead the Circle together, forever. He told me he couldn’t do it without me. He said, ‘I always knew you’d come to love me as well, I had no doubt.’
“I had no idea why it was me that he chose. It seemed to me that there was nothing special about me. But Valentine made his choice clear: from that moment on, we were together, and he never looked at another woman, not that way, not then and not in all the years we were married. The other girls stopped speaking to me, but it seemed a small price to pay. Luke — Luke was happy for me. I was a little surprised at that, I had wondered — but he was happy. I could tell.
“He was so devoted that it took me a long time to notice the changes in him. It was as if his father’s death had scraped away some softening layers of humanity from him, and now he was strangely, peculiarly cruel — but only in flashes, so brief that when they were over I could tell myself that they had never happened.
“There was a girl in our class who wanted to join the Circle. Her older brother had been bitten by a vampire, and now was one: he should have killed himself, or let his family kill him, but he hadn’t and it was rumored that they still associated with him. Valentine gave her a sharpened metal spike and told her to go out and stake her brother to death and to bring back his ashes; only then could she be allowed in the Circle. The girl ran off crying. I confronted him later, told him he couldn’t be so cruel or he’d be no better than Downworlders themselves. ‘But he’s a monster,’ he said. I told him that her brother might well be a monster, but she wasn’t. She was Nephilim, and there was no excuse for torturing her. I thought I was being so broad-minded and tolerant — it sickens me to think about it now.
“I thought he would be angry at being reprimanded, but he wasn’t. He subsided. ‘I’m afraid of losing myself in all this sometimes, Jocelyn,’ he said. ‘It’s why I need you. You keep me human.’ It was the truth. I could always turn him away from the most extreme plans, deflect his rage, calm him down. No one else could do that. I knew I had this power over him and it made me feel important, indispensable. I think I mistook that feeling for love . . .
“After we left school, we were married in the Hall of Accords, with all our friends there. Even then, I had misgivings. I looked up during the ceremony and saw through the glass roof, a flock of birds flying overhead. I felt a sudden panic, so strong that my heart fluttered in my chest like the wings of one of those birds. I knew my life would never be the same. I tried to catch Luke’s eye — he stood with his sister, in the first row of guests, and though Amatis smiled in my direction, Luke wouldn’t look at me . . .
“We went to live in a manor in the countryside outside Alicante that my parents owned, though since they’d grown older they’d moved to a canal house inside the city. Valentine himself had grown up in a house just at the borders of Brocelind forest, but he claimed it had fallen into disrepair since his parents’ deaths, and I was happy enough to live in the manor house. We were only a quarter of a mile from the home of our friends the Waylands — convenient for Valentine, since Michael Wayland was one of the most enthusiastic members of the Circle, and visiting the Waylands kept us from being too much with each other at all times.
“They say men change after marriage. Whether Valentine changed or whether I simply began to more clearly see his true nature, I’m not sure. He became more and more obsessed with his cause and more and more vicious in its execution. He maintained the fiction that he never killed a Downworlder who hadn’t broken the Accords, but I knew that wasn’t true. One night he led the Circle to slaughter a family of werewolves in their home, claiming that they had been murdering human children and burning their bodies, and indeed in the fireplace we found many charred bones. Later I overheard Valentine chuckling to Hodge that it was easy enough to obtain human bones in the Bone City, if one cared to look for them.
“He began to disappear from our bed late at night, doing his best not to wake me; he would come back at dawn, stinking of blood and worse. I found bloody clothes in the laundry, strange wounds and scratches on his hands and arms. I would be awoken at night by cries and screams that seemed to be coming from inside the walls of the house.
“I confronted him with these things, demanded that he tell me what he was really doing every night. But he just laughed. ‘You’re imagining things, Jocelyn,’ he said. ‘It’s probably because of the baby.’ I stared at him. ‘Because of the baby? What baby?’
“He was right, of course. I was pregnant. He’d known it before I did. I tried to quash my fears, told myself that he was only trying to protect me. Circle meetings were no place for a pregnant woman, he said, so I remained at home. I was so lonely — I begged Luke to visit me, but he rarely had the time. The Circle and its dealings kept him busy. But how could I complain? Valentine was an extraordinarily attentive husband, never letting me lift a hand myself, bringing me strengthening drinks he’d mixed himself, and strong, sweet tea every night that put me right to sleep. And if sometimes I woke up with odd injuries or bruises, well, Valentine told me it was because I had been sleepwalking — a common ailment among pregnant women, he assured me.
“And then one night I was awoken by a terrific banging on the door. I raced downstairs and found Valentine standing on the front steps, holding — he was holding Luke, carrying him like a child, and blood was all over both of them. Valentine was swaying on his feet with exhaustion. ‘Werewolf attack,’ he said. ‘It might be too late —’
“But I wouldn’t hear that it was too late. I helped him drag Luke upstairs to a spare room, and sent a message to Ragnor Fell, the warlock my parents often employed in the case of illness. Lycanthrope bites don’t respond to healing runes — there’s too much demonic about them. Luke was screaming and thrashing and soaking the sheets with blood; I kept sponging the blood off his shoulder, but more would come, and then more. Valentine stood beside him, looking down. ‘Maybe I should have left him to die,’ he said, his black eyes burning, ‘maybe that would be more merciful than what’s coming to him.’
“‘Don’t say that,’ I told him. ‘Don’t ever say that. Not all bites result in lycanthropy.’ And then Fell was there, and Valentine left aside his talk of abandoning Luke and stood aside while we treated him. I slept in Luke’s room that night, and in the morning he was awake and healthy and able to smile.
“Not that any of us did much smiling in the next three weeks. They’ll tell you there’s a one in two chance that a werewolf bite will pass on lycanthropy. I think it’s more like three in four. I’ve rarely seen anyone escape the disease, and however much I silently prayed in those horrible weeks, Luke was no exception. At the next full moon, he Changed.
“He was there on our doorstep in the morning, covered in blood, his clothes torn to rags. I put my arms out for him, but Valentine shouldered me aside. ‘Jocelyn,’ he said, ‘the baby.’ As if Luke were about to run at me and tear the baby out of my stomach, as if he meant me any harm at all. It was Luke, but Valentine pushed me away and dragged Luke down the steps and into the woods.
“When he came back much later, he was alone. I ran to him. ‘Where’s Lucian, where is he?’ I demanded.
“‘I gave him a knife and told him to do what he must. If he has honor, he’ll do as I said.’ I knew what he meant. He had told Luke to kill himself, and Luke would almost assuredly do it.
“I think I must have fainted. I remember a terrible icy darkness, and then waking up in my own bed, with Valentine beside me. He was stroking my hair. ‘Don’t mourn for him now,’ he said, ‘we should have mourned him weeks ago, when he truly died. What was on our doorstep this morning, that was not Lucian.’
“But I didn’t believe him. I had seen Luke’s eyes as he looked at me that morning, even out of that mask of blood. I would have known those eyes anywhere, and they didn’t belong to a monster. I knew then, with a terrible certainty, that in losing Luke I had lost the most important thing in my life.
“A terrible misery descended on me. If it hadn’t been for the sake of the baby, I don’t think I would have eaten or slept again in those next, terrible months. My only hope was the chance that Luke hadn’t taken his own life, but had simply fled. I went to Amatis in hopes that she would help me search for him, but she had her own torments to contend with. Valentine had taken Stephen on as his new lieutenant in Luke’s place, but could not tolerate Stephen’s marriage to Amatis. He claimed it was because she had objected to his treatment of her brother, but I felt it was because seeing Amatis awakened his guilt over Luke. In either case, he convinced Stephen to divorce her and remarry a beautiful young girl named Céline. Amatis was devastated, so much so that she refused to see me, blaming me along with Valentine for her unhappiness. And so I lost yet another friend.
“In despair, I went to Ragnor Fell and begged him to look out for news of Luke among Downworlders. He was silent a long time after I asked him. Finally he said, ‘There are those who would look very badly upon me for helping you.’
“‘But you’ve known my family for years!’ I protested. ‘You’ve known me since I was a girl.’
“‘That was when you were Jocelyn Fairchild. Now you are Jocelyn Morgenstern, Valentine’s wife.’ He said Valentine’s name as if it were poison.
“‘Valentine only slays those who break the Accords,’ I said weakly, thinking of the werewolf family and the bones he’d planted in their fireplace. But surely that could only have been the one time?
“‘That is not true,’ said Fell, ‘and he does worse things than kill. If I do this for you, if I look for Lucian Graymark, you must do something for me. One night, you must follow your husband and see where he goes.’
“And so I did. One night, I only pretended to drink the tea he brought me, and pretended to fall asleep by his side. When he rose and left the room, I followed him. I saw him go into the library and take a book from the wall, and when he removed it the wall slid away and left a dark hole behind . . .
“I never told you the story of Bluebeard’s wife, did I, when you were a little girl? I doubt I would have; the story still frightens me. The husband who told his wife never to look in the locked room, and she looked, and found the remains of all of the wives he had murdered before her, displayed like butterflies in a glass case. I was afraid — but I had promised Fell. I had to find out what Valentine was doing. One night I waited for him to leave the house, and I went to the library and withdrew the book from its place.
“I used my witchlight to guide me down into the darkness. The smell — oh, the smell down there, like blood and death and rotting. He had hollowed out a place under the ground, in what had once been the wine cellars. There were cells down there now, with things imprisoned in them. Demon-creatures, bound with electrum chains, writhed and flopped and gurgled in their cells, but there was more, much more — the bodies of Downworlders, in different stages of death and dying. There were werewolves, their bodies half-dissolved by silver powder. Vampires held head-down in holy water until their skin peeled off the bones. Faeries whose skin had been pierced with cold iron.
“Even now, I don’t think of him as a torturer. Not really. It wasn’t that he enjoyed their pain. He seemed to be pursuing an almost scientific end. There were ledgers of notes by each cell door, meticulous recordings of his experiments, how long it had taken each creature to die. From his scribblings, it looked almost as if he were injecting the blood of demons into these creatures — but he couldn’t be doing that. What sane person would do that?
“There was one vampire whose skin he had burned off over and over again to see if there was a point beyond which the poor creature could no longer regenerate. Across from the page recording that particular experiment he had written a series of notes with a heading I recognized. It was my name. Jocelyn.
“My heart began to slam inside my chest. With shaking fingers, I turned the pages, the words burning themselves into my brain. Jocelyn drank the mixture again tonight. No visible changes in her, but again it is the child which concerns me . . . With regular infusions of demonic ichor such as I have been giving her, the child may be capable of any feats. . . . Last night I heard the child’s heart beat, more strongly than any human heart, the sound like a mighty bell, tolling the beginning of a new generation of Shadowhunters, the blood of angels and demons mixed to produce powers beyond any previously imagined possible . . . no longer will the power of Downworlders be the greatest on this earth . . .
“There was more, much more. I clawed at the pages, my fingers trembling, my mind racing back, seeing the mixtures Valentine had given me to drink each night, the bruises on my body in the morning, the puncture wounds. I shook all over, so hard the book fell out of my hands and struck the floor.
“The sound woke me from my daze. I raced up the stairs, through the gap in the bookcase, and into the bedroom. In a frenzy, I began packing my things, throwing only that which was most important to me into a bag. I had some vague plan of running to my parents’ house, you see, and begging them to let me stay with them. But I never got that far. I closed the bag, turned toward the door — and there was Valentine, watching me silently from the doorway.
“My nerves, already on edge, snapped like broken strings. I screamed and dropped the bag to the ground, backing away from my husband. He didn’t move, but I saw his eyes shine like a cat’s in the early dawn light. ‘What is the meaning of this Jocelyn?’
“I couldn’t lie. ‘I discovered your door in the bookcase,’ I told him. ‘And I found what was under it. Your butcher’s theater.’
“‘Those things down there are monsters —’
“‘And what am I? Am I a monster?’ I screamed at him. ‘What have you done to me? What have you done to our baby?’
“‘Nothing that will harm him. I assure you he’s quite healthy.’ Valentine’s face was like a still white mask. How had I never before seen how monstrous he could look? And still his voice never rose, never changed as he told me of his experiments, of the ways he’d tried to teach himself to more effectively destroy Downworlders, to wipe them out in mass numbers. He’d even tried injecting them with demon blood — but to his surprise, it hadn’t had the desired effect. Instead of proving fatal, it had made them stronger, faster, and more able to withstand the damage he tried to do to them. ‘If it has that effect on half-men,’ he said, his face shining, ‘think what it could do for Shadowhunters.’
“‘But those creatures are already part demon — we’re not! How could you think of experimenting on your own child?’
“‘I experimented on myself first,’ he said calmly, and told me how he had injected demon blood into his own veins. ‘It’s made me stronger, faster,’ he announced, ‘but I’m a grown man — think what it will do for an infant! The warrior who might develop from that —’
“‘You’re insane,’ I told him, trembling. ‘All this time I thought I was keeping you human, but you’re not human. You’re a monster — worse than any of those pathetic things down in the cellar.’
“He was a monster — I knew it — and yet, somehow, he managed to look deeply hurt at what I’d said. He reached for me. I tried to dash around him and out the door but he caught at my arm. I stumbled and fell, striking the ground hard. As I tried to rise, a searing pain shot through me. Feeling my clothes sticking to me, wet and heavy, I looked down at saw that I was lying in a spreading circle of my own blood. I began to scream even as consciousness slipped away from me.
“I awoke in my own bed, dazed and desperately thirsty. ‘Jocelyn, Jocelyn,’ said a voice in my ear. It was my mother. She stroked my hair back off my forehead and gave me water. ‘We were so worried,’ she said. ‘Valentine called for us —’
I glanced down then, and saw my flat stomach. ‘My baby,’ I whispered, tears burning the backs of my eyes. ‘He — died?’
“‘Oh, Jocelyn! No!’ My mother sprang to her feet and hurried over to something in the corner. A cradle — my cradle, the same one I’d lain in after I was born. She lifted a blanket-wrapped bundle from it and came carefully over to me, cradling her burden in her arms. ‘Here,’ she said, smiling. ‘Hold your son.’
“I took him from her in a daze. At first I knew only that he fit perfectly into my arms, that the blanket wrapping him was soft, and that he was so small and delicate, with just a wisp of fair hair on the top of his head. I began to breathe again — and then he opened his eyes.
“A wave of horror poured over me. It was like being bathed in acid — my skin seemed to burn off my bones and it was all I could do not to drop the child and begin howling.
“They say every mother knows her own child instinctively. I suppose the opposite is true as well. Every nerve in my body was screaming that this was not my baby, that something horrible and unnatural and inhuman lay in my arms like a parasite. How could my mother not see it? — and yet she was smiling at me as if nothing was wrong. ‘He’s such a good baby,’ she said. ‘He never cries.’
“‘His name is Jonathan,’ said a voice from the doorway. I looked up and saw Valentine regarding the tableau before him with a nearly impassive expression, though the faint smirk on his face told me he knew there was something dreadfully wrong with this child. ‘Jonathan Christopher.’
“The baby opened his eyes, as if recognizing the sound of his own name. His eyes were black, black as night, fathomless as tunnels dug into his skull. I could look right into them and see only a terrible emptiness.
“It was then that I fainted.
“When I woke much later, my mother was gone. Valentine had sent her home — I’ve no idea how he got her to leave — and he himself was sitting on the edge of the bed, holding the baby and watching me. Your father’s eyes were black, too, and I’d always found them striking, so at odds with his nearly-white hair, but now they only reminded me of the baby’s. I shrank back from both of them.
“‘Our child is hungry,’ Valentine said. ‘You must feed him, Jocelyn.’
“‘No.’ I turned my face away. ‘I can’t touch that — that thing.’
“‘He’s only a baby.’ Valentine’s voice was soft, coaxing. ‘He needs his mother.’
“‘You feed him. You’re the one who made him. He’s not even my child.’ My voice broke.
“‘He is your child. Your blood, your flesh. And if you don’t feed him, Jocelyn, he’ll die.’ He laid the child down on the blankets beside me and left the room.
“I stared at the small creature for a long time. He looked like a baby — his small fists and creased, tiny face, even the white fuzz on his head, were all babylike. His tunnel eyes were closed, his mouth open in a silent, mewling cry. I tried to imagine simply leaving him there, leaving him until he starved to death, and my heart seemed to turn to glass inside my chest. I couldn’t do it.
“I lifted Jonathan in my arms. Even as I touched him, the same wave of revulsion and horror went through me that I had felt before, but this time I fought it down. I drew my nightdress aside and prepared to feed my son. Perhaps there was something in this child, some small part of me, of what was human, that could somehow be reached.
“Over the next months, I cared for Jonathan as best I could. My own body seemed to revolt against him. I produced no milk and had to feed him by bottle. I could only hold him for short periods of time before I began to feel faint and sick, as if I were standing too close to something radioactive. My mother came and cared for him sometimes, which was an immense relief. She seemed to notice nothing wrong with the child, though sometimes I would catch her staring toward his crib with a quizzical look, an unasked question in her eyes . . .
“But who could ask such things? Who could even bear to think them? Jonathan looked like a perfectly ordinary child; when I brought him to his first Circle meeting, carried in my arms, everyone told me how beautiful he was, with his extraordinary coloring, just like his father’s. Michael Wayland was there too, with his baby boy, just the same age as mine. They even shared a name: Jonathan. I watched Michael play with his son and felt sick with envy and hatred for Valentine. How could he have done what he had done? What kind of man did something like that to his own family?
“‘By the Angel, what he’ll be capable of when he’s older,’ he would breathe sometimes, leaning over Jonathan in his cradle, and the baby would gurgle. It was almost the only time Jonathan made any noise. He was a silent child, who never cried or laughed, but if he responded to anything, it was Valentine. Perhaps it was the demon in them both.
“It was around that time that I received a message in secret from Ragnor Fell. It asked me to meet him at his cottage. I rode there on a day when Valentine was at the home of Stephen Herondale, leaving Jonathan with my mother. Fell met me at the gate. ‘Lucian Graymark is alive,’ he said, without preamble, and I almost fell off my horse.
“I begged Fell to tell me what he knew. He only looked at me coldly. ‘And what of what you know, Jocelyn Morgenstern? Did you do as I asked you and follow your husband one night?’
“Walking in his garden, I told him everything: about what I had found in Valentine’s cellar, about the book, about the demon blood, about Valentine’s experiments, and even about Jonathan. He said little, but I could tell that even with all he had already known about Valentine, my words had shaken him badly.
“‘And now tell me about Lucian,’ I said. ‘Is he safe? Is he all right?’
“‘He’s alive,’ Fell said, ‘and the leader of a wolf pack at the eastern edge of Brocelynde.’ As I listened incredulously, he told me how Luke had defeated the old wolf who had bitten him, slain him in battle and become pack leader himself. ‘The tale is all over Downworld,’ he said. ‘The pack leader who used to be a Shadowhunter.’
“I had only one thought. ‘I have to see him.’
“Fell shook his head. ‘No. I’ve done enough for you, Jocelyn. You say you hate Valentine, but still you do nothing. I’ll help you — I’ll bring you to Lucian — but only if you’re willing to commit to the cause of destroying Valentine and the Circle. Otherwise, I suggest you get on your horse and ride home.’
“‘We can’t defeat Valentine. The Circle is too strong,’ I objected.
“‘Valentine’s weakness is his arrogance,’ said Fell. ‘And you are our best weapon because of it. You are as close to Valentine as anyone could be. You can infiltrate the Circle, gather information, find out his soft spots and weaknesses. Learn their plans. You can be the perfect spy.’
“And that was how I came to be a spy in my own house. I agreed to everything Fell asked — I would have agreed to anything just to be able to see Luke again. At the end of our meeting, I gave Fell my promise, and he gave me a map.
“When I rode into Luke’s werewolf encampment, I thought at first that I would certainly be killed. I was sure they recognized me as the wife of Valentine Morgenstern, their greatest enemy. ‘I must see your pack leader,’ I said, as they surrounded my horse. ‘Lucian Graymark. He’s an old friend of mine.’
“And then Luke came out of one of the tents and ran toward me. He looked — he was still Luke, but he had changed. He seemed older. There was gray in his hair, though he was only twenty-two. He took me in his arms and embraced me and there was nothing strange about it, about being embraced by a werewolf. It was just Luke.
I found that I was crying. ‘How could you?’ I demanded. ‘How could you let me think you were dead?’
“He admitted that he hadn’t known how loyal I was to Valentine, or how much he could trust me. ‘But I know I can trust you now,’ he said, with his old smile. ‘You came all the way here to find me.’
“I told him as much as I could, of Valentine’s growing madness and violence, of my disenchantment with him. I couldn’t tell him all of it, of the horrors in the cellars, of what Valentine had done to me and to our child. I knew it would just drive him mad, that he’d be unable to stop himself from trying to hunt down Valentine and kill him, and he’d only get himself killed in the process. And I couldn’t let anyone know what had been done to Jonathan. Despite everything, he was still my child.
“Luke and I agreed to keep meeting and to trade information about what was going on within the Circle. I told him when they allied themselves with demons, and when the Mortal Cup was stolen, and I told him of their plans to disrupt the planned Accords. Those times with Luke were the only times I could be myself. The rest of the time I was acting — acting the wife with Valentine, and acting the content Circle member with our friends. Not letting Valentine know how much he sickened me was the worst part.
“Fortunately I saw him rarely. As the Accords approached, the Circle ramped up its plans to fall upon the unarmed Downworlders in the Hall of the Angel and slaughter them wholesale. I sat silent in the meetings, unable to participate in the eager planning, however much I knew it would behoove me to act the part of an dedicated member of the cabal. Céline Herondale, who was now extremely pregnant, often sat with me; she was frequently wistful, confused by the Circle’s enthusiasm. Though she never quite understood their passionate hatred of Downworlders, she worshipped Valentine. ‘Your husband is so kind,” she would tell me in her soft voice. “He is so concerned about Stephen and me. He gives me potions and mixtures for the health of the baby, they are wonderful.’
“What she said chilled me. I wanted to tell her not to trust Valentine or to accept anything he gave her, but I couldn’t. Her husband was Valentine’s closest friend and she would surely have betrayed me to him. My terror of exposure grew daily — I was smuggling information to Luke as fast as I could, constantly panicked that a misstep would betray me to my husband. I saw him whenever I could. I kept with him a suitcase of my most precious belongings, in case we ever needed to flee Idris together — jewelry Valentine had given me, that I hoped one day to be able to sell if I needed money; letters from my parents and friends; a box my father had made for my son, with his initials carved on it, containing a lock of Jonathan’s hair — soft, silky white hair, the same color as his father’s. You’d never know from looking at it that there was anything wrong with my child at all . . .
“I became more and more frightened that Valentine would discover our secret conspiracy and would try to torture the truth out of me — who was in our secret alliance? How much had I betrayed of his plans? I wondered how I would withstand torture, whether I could hold up against it. I was terribly afraid that I could not.
“I resolved finally to take steps to make sure that this never happened. I went to Fell with my fears and he created a potion for me that would send me instantly into a sleep from which I could not be roused except by an antidote whose recipe was contained in The Book of the White, one of the oldest spellbooks of warlock-kind. He gave me a vial of the potion and another vial of the antidote and instructed me to hide them from Valentine, which I did. I was even worried that Valentine would find a copy of the Book, so one night I went through the tunnels between our house and the Waylands’, and hid it in their library.
“After that, I slept easier, save for one thing. I feared that I would take the potion, fall into the death-like sleep, and that there would be no one to wake me from it, no one who knew what had happened to me. I thought of the end of Romeo and Juliet and imagined being buried alive . . . but who was there who I could trust with this information? I couldn’t tell Luke what I’d done, because he might also be compromised and tortured, and selfishly, I feared too much for him, for his safety. Telling my parents would necessitate sharing with them the full horror of my situation, and I couldn’t do that. I trusted none of my old friends any more — not Maryse, not any of them. They were too much in Valentine’s thrall.
“Eventually, I realized there was only one person I could tell. I sent a letter to Madeleine explaining what I planned to do and the only way to revive me. I never heard a word back from her, though I knew my message had been delivered. I had to believe she had read it and understood. It was all I had to hold on to.
“It was around that time that Stephen Herondale was killed in a raid on a vampire nest. Valentine and the others who had been in the raiding party went to the Herondale’s home to break the news to Céline. She was eight months pregnant at the time. They said she took the news composedly, only saying she wanted to go upstairs and get her things before going to view the body.
“She never came back downstairs. Céline — soft, pretty, gentle Céline, who never did anything startling or seemed to have a single spark of independence — who had sat by me at the Circle meetings and fretted in her small voice about her husband’s safety — Céline cut her wrists and died silently on the bed she’d shared with her husband while his friends waited for her downstairs.
“It was a tragedy that shook the Circle. I heard that Stephen’s parents, after the death of their son and the suicide of their daughter-in-law, had nearly lost their minds; Stephen’s father died a month or two later, presumably of the shock. I pitied Céline, but in a way envied her. She had found a way out of her situation; I had none.
“A few nights later I was woken by the sound of a baby crying. I sat bolt upright and nearly flung myself out of bed. Jonathan, you see, never cried — never made a noise. His unnatural silence was one of the things that most distressed me about him. I must be the only mother in history to have hoped against hope that her baby would cry and wake her, would cry all night even, but he never did. And yet now the sound of an infant’s cries echoed off the manor walls.
“I hurried down the hall to the baby’s room, carrying my witchlight. It cast strange shadows on the walls as I bent over Jonathan. He was sleeping silently. Yet the crying continued, thin and reedy, the sound of a child in distress tearing at my heart. I raced down the steps and into the empty library. I could still hear the crying, coming from inside the walls. I reached for the book in its place on the shelf . . .
“Nothing happened. The bookcase no longer slid back from its place. And still the crying came, as if from beneath the house, or within the walls, maddening me. But this manor house had been mine longer than it had been Valentine’s; I had spent every summer here when I was a girl. If my husband didn’t think I’d explored the place thoroughly in those years, he was wrong. I dragged back the Persian rug that covered the library floor. Beneath it was a trapdoor that opened so easily I knew it had been recently used.
“Tunnels under Shadowhunter houses are not uncommon; they are used in case of demon attacks, as a way of getting from one house to another in secret. This tunnel had once connected our manor house to the Waylands’, but my father had boarded the tunnel up. It had been opened out again now, doubtless by Valentine, and the narrow stone walls led away into darkness. I could still hear the sound of the baby crying in the distance . . .
“I followed the noise, barefoot on the cold stone, stopping occasionally with a gasp when a rat or mouse scuttled across my path. Eventually the tunnels opened out into a large stone room, what had probably once been a wine cellar. Huddled in the corner of the room was a man — but he was not a man, I saw, staring, for wings as white as snow rose from his back in two great ivory arches, and his skin glowed like liquid metal. His eyes were golden, and so sad . . .
“His ankles were manacled with electrum and electrum chains, driven into the stone floor, held him to the ground, but what truly imprisoned him was the circle of runes that surrounded him. I felt myself drift toward him, drawn by an impossibly strong force. As I approached I saw that stretched on a blanket at his feet was the baby I had heard crying. It was whimpering softly now — exhausted, probably — a tiny baby boy with golden hair and eyes shut fast. I sank to my knees, gathering the child in my arms, and as my arms went around him the strangest feeling passed through me — the opposite of what I had felt when I had first held Jonathan. A feeling of overwhelming peace . . .
“How long I held and rocked the child, I cannot say. At last I looked up and saw the angel — for I knew that was what he was — gazing down at us, his golden eyes impassive. As I met his gaze, I knew his name suddenly: Ithuriel.
“‘Help me,’ I said to him, and though no change came over his face, he bent his head and his wings came down, enveloping me in a white cloud of silence and softness. I felt more peace than I had since before I had married Valentine — and then a sudden piercing, sharp golden pain went through me, and that was the last thing I remembered when I woke in my own bed the next morning.
“I told myself it had been a dream. The sort of vivid, hallucinatory dream a woman has when she is pregnant — and I was pregnant. I had denied it to myself for at least a month, but that morning when I woke I knew, and a visit to a doctor confirmed it. I was going to have a child — again.
“I was horrified. I knew what Valentine had done to my last child — what would he do to this one? How long had he known I was pregnant? I said nothing to him, but he would turn knowing eyes on me sometimes, his gaze going through me like a knife through water. He knew — oh, he knew . . .
“The day of the Uprising came. That terrible day. I know you’ve heard about what happened from Luke: about the Accords, the ambush, the bloody and protracted battle that followed. I tried to mark out the Shadowhunters who weren’t involved in the Circle so that the members of the Uprising wouldn’t hurt them, but there was so much chaos — so much blood — many lives were lost, more than we had ever thought. And there at the end I faced Valentine with Luke at my side and saw the truth come clear in his eyes. I had wondered all along if he knew what I truly felt and what I’d really been doing for this last year of our marriage — but I saw it now on his face — he hadn’t known. The pain in his eyes as he looked at me was real, and despite everything it struck at my heart. ‘And now the two of you have plotted my betrayal together,’ he snarled, his face flecked with blood. ‘You will regret what you have done all the rest of your lives.’
“Luke lunged at him, but Valentine snatched the silver locket from my throat and hurled it at Luke, burning him badly. He staggered back as Valentine seized hold of me and dragged me toward the door. He was snarling horrible things in my ear, things about what he would do to my parents, to Jonathan, how he would make my life a hell for what I’d done to him.
“I abandoned the battle, the wounded, all of it, and raced home. I was too late. Luke will have told you what we found — I remember it myself as if it were a dream. The high black sky overhead, the moon so bright I could see everything: the house turned to ashes by demon fire, hot enough to melt metal, which ran in among the ashes like rivers of molten silver across the bare face of the moon. I found the bones of my parents there, and the bones of my child, and then, at last, the bones of Valentine himself, the Circle pendant he always wore still looped around his fleshless throat . . .
“Luke took me out of the city that night. I was numb and silent, like the living dead. I kept seeing the faces of my parents over and over again — I should have warned them. I should have told them what Valentine was capable of. I should have told them of the plans for the Uprising. I never thought . . .
“And I dreamed sometimes of my baby. I saw his face even when awake, the empty tunnels of his gaze, and I felt again the revulsion and horror I’d felt the first time I touched him. And I knew I was a monster, for feeling that way. What mother, on learning of the death of her child, cannot help a feeling of — relief?
“In the flea market at Clignancourt, I sold Valentine’s Circle amulet, a revolting object which I hated looking at. It afforded me a great deal of money. With the money, I bought an airplane ticket to New York. I told Luke I was going to start my life over there — as a mundane. I wanted no shadow of Clave or Covenant ever to touch my life again, or the life of my child. I hated all things remotely associated with the Nephilim, I told him.
“This was only partly true. I was sick of the Clave, that was the truth, and I knew that as Valentine’s wife, now that he was a criminal, they would want me to come to them for questioning — that I would always be regarded with suspicion with the lawmakers of Idris. I did want to hide from them. But more than that, I wanted to hide from Valentine. I was sure he was still alive. I thought again and again of what he’d said to me as he dragged me from the Hall, of the way he’d promised to make the rest of my life a misery. They weren’t the words of a man who planned to burn himself up with demon fire, no matter how despairing he was over the failure of his plans. Valentine was not the sort of man who ever gave in to despair. Even with everything he’d built destroyed, he would intend to rise again — the phoenix from the ashes.
“There was another thing I could not tell Luke. The night of the Uprising, before we had left for the city, I had taken the Mortal Cup from the hiding place where Valentine had put it, and hidden in among my belongings. I had thought of returning it to the Clave, but now — I couldn’t trust them to keep it out of Valentine’s hands, not when they were so eager to believe he was truly dead. I would have to be the one who hid it from him, and inexorably, without doubt, he would come for it, and for me.
“Luke begged me not to leave him. He said he would come with me — even when I told him I was expecting another child of Valentine’s, he said it made no difference, that he’d raise the child as his own. But he’d never seen Jonathan — I’d never told him what Valentine had done to my son. How could I be sure that he hadn’t done something equally dreadful to the baby I was carrying now? And how could I ask Luke to share that horror with me, or the danger of being pursued by Valentine, who hated him? It was impossible. I refused him, over and over, even though I could see the pain it caused him. Even though I knew it meant I’d likely never see him again, and the thought broke what was left of my heart.
“We parted at Orly Airport. I held on to him until the last call for the flight came and he gently pushed me toward the departure gate. It felt like I was tearing away some part of myself. At the last moment I turned and ran back to him and whispered in his ear — ‘Valentine is still alive.’ I had to tell him. I couldn’t stop myself. I raced onto the plane without glancing back to see his reaction.
“I landed in New York in the early morning, the dawn sky like the inside of a pearl hanging over the city. As my taxi raced over the Williamsbug Bridge I glanced down and saw the water of the river below me, rippled here and there by the flicking tails of darting mermaids. Even here among these walls of glass and steel, this inhospitable city, the Invisible World was all around me . . .
“You know much of the rest. How I found a place to stay, found work doing the only thing I could do, here in the mundane world — paint. Not that there was much work for a painter. If it hadn’t been for the jewelry I could sell, I would have starved. I found an apartment in a building owned by a kindly old couple who let me stay in return for painting a portrait of their son, who had died overseas in the army. I told them my husband, too, was dead, and they felt sorry for me, I think, a young pregnant girl who had nobody in the world . . .
Most other mothers in my situation would have been buying a cradle, buying baby toys and booties and blankets. I didn’t. I was terrified. Terrified what happened with my first child would happen again with my second. I remember the night I went into labor and was taken to the hospital — it was so unlike giving birth in Alicante, with the sterile white walls and all the bleeping, terrifying machinery. I couldn’t stop crying, through it all and when you were born, and right up until the moment the nurse came into my hospital room and handed you to me, and I looked down into your face.
“A great wave of love and relief washed over me. Your red hair, your green eyes — you were my child, mine, there was nothing of your father in you, nor anything monstrous or demonic. I thought you were the most perfect thing that had ever come into the world. I still think it.
“The first time I took you to the park, you saw the faeries there among the flowers and went to play with them. The other mothers there looked at us in consternation as I picked you up and hurried you home. I had gone cold all over with terror. I could see what you saw, but nobody else could. How could I raise you to live like that — to lie to everyone you knew? I had wanted to give you a normal life, but I hadn’t thought this far. And I had other fears as well — there were Shadowhunters here, Downworlders too, just as there were everywhere in the world. If word of you got out, it might perhaps get back to Valentine, and then he would come to find us. And I couldn’t let that happen.
“That’s why I hired Magnus Bane. I’m not proud of what I did. I did it because I was frightened. I did it because I couldn’t imagine how else to protect you. I did it because I thought a life of oblivious happiness would be better than a life of danger and being hunted. And I did it, perhaps, because I wished I could forget, myself, everything in my past that still tortured me.
“It was Magnus who introduced me to Dorothea, and Dorothea who gave me the idea of hiding the Mortal Cup in a painting. I was holding you in my arms when I met her and you reached out and drew a tarot card from the stack she had on her table. I scolded you, but she only said, ‘Let’s see what card the child drew.’ It was the Ace of Cups — the Love card. ‘She’ll have a great love in her life,’ she predicted, but I was paying more attention to the image on the card. It looked just like the Mortal Cup . . .
“With the Cup safely hidden in the pack I’d painted for Dorothea, and Dorothea herself hidden away in her Sanctuary, I felt calmer. Calm enough that when Luke turned up suddenly on our doorstep, looking as if he’d been sleeping on the street for weeks, I didn’t immediately send him away. He had come so far, and I had missed him so much. I let him sleep on the couch, and in the morning he was still there, and you were sitting at his feet while he showed you some simple game with cards — a Shadowhunter game, something I hadn’t seen since I’d left Idris. It was as if he’d always been there with us, always belonged. I couldn’t ask him to go . . . Luke disapproved when I told him what I’d had Magnus do to your memories, but it was the one issue on which I could never be budged. I reasoned that he didn’t know the whole truth, and that if he did, he would have agreed with me. I know now that I was wrong. Luke was always someone who believed in the truth, no matter how cruel or unsparing, and he would have wanted you to have it.
“At least you have it now — and if you hate me now, at least it will be because of the truth and not because of lies. And at least you know now that I have always loved you and you have always been the most important thing in the world to me. That night, when Valentine and his demons broke into our apartment, looking for the Cup, I barely had time to take the potion Ragnor Fell had given me before it was too late — but I did wait, just long enough that I could call you and tell you I loved you. Everything that ever happened to me in Idris, everything Valentine ever did to me, was worth it because I had you.
“There is one more thing I have to tell you. Magnus told me about Jace, and what happened to you at Renwick’s, and what your father told you there. I need to tell you now that he was lying. That what you believe to be true about yourself and your brother isn’t the truth.
“After I took the potion, Valentine tried everything to wake me, but nothing worked. When he brought me to Renwick’s I lay frozen, drifting in and out of consciousness. I couldn’t move or speak, but I was aware sometimes of people coming in and out of the room. Pangborn and Blackwell came to taunt me, though they never touched me. And sometimes Valentine would come and sit by the side of my bed and talk to me. He spoke to me the way that the dead souls in Hell spoke to Dante, telling him the truth of their lives because they thought he would never return to the world to betray them. I think he was just relieved to have someone to talk to, just as I had once spilled everything in my heart to Ragnor Fell.
“He told me how he had thought when he married me that we would face the world together, united against the Clave and the Accords. He told me that when Jonathan was born, he realized he had lost me, that I would hate him forever for what he had done. But a true warrior is ready to sacrifice everything, even his wife. Even his family. So Valentine believed. He was a modern Crusader and everything he did was for the sake of his cause. Deus volt, he said. Because God wills it.
“After the birth of Jonathan, Valentine had suspected I would refuse to have any more children. And this was a pity, he felt, because he had envisioned our children as an army of superior Shadowhunters — made that way by him. He knew he couldn’t force me to have a child I didn’t want, though, so he turned his attentions to Céline Herondale. She was young, dedicated, impressionable. When she became pregnant, he gave her mixtures to drink, as he had done to me, claiming they were potions made up by a warlock which would foster the health of her baby. She took the drugs, the powders, the potions he gave her, even let him inject her as if he were a doctor. She was utterly trusting.
“And then something happened which Valentine did not expect. In a raid on a vampire nest, Stephen was killed. And Céline — impressionable, emotional, easily swayed Céline — drank a flask of poison and died. The Herondales swooped in, burned Stephen’s body and buried Céline in a mausoleum just outside the Bone City — no suicide can be buried inside its walls.
“You would think that would have been the end of that. But Valentine knew that what he had done had changed the child inside Céline and he had to know how. So Valentine took Hodge and went to the Bone City himself, in the dead of night. He went into the Herondale’s mausoleum and broke open Céline’s coffin. And then, using the sharp-edged blade of his kindjal, he cut her open and took the still-living baby from her dead body.
“Any other child would have died when its mother died. But Valentine had been giving Céline regular doses of Ithuriel’s blood. The blood of Heaven, pure and concentrated, and due to its effect, by some miracle, the infant was still alive.
“He brought the child back to our house that night, the night that a baby’s crying woke me from sleep and I went down to find the angel bound in the Wayland’s wine cellar with the infant at its feet. By morning, Valentine had given the boy to Hodge with instructions to take him to Valentine’s own family home outside Brocelind, and to keep him healthy. Hodge as nursemaid! — but he did it, and reported back to Valentine that the child seemed to thrive.
“The Uprising came only a few months later. I have told you already of that terrible night. After Valentine slaughtered Michael Wayland and his son and left their bodies to burn along with the bodies of my parents in the ruins of our house, he took our Jonathan and fled to the house outside Broceliand.
“For a year he hid himself away there, cloaked in layers of misdirecting glamours, and raised the two children together — his own son and his lieutenant’s, the part-demon child and the other which was part-angel. But while the part-angel child developed like an ordinary baby, his own son, the demon child, grew at an unnatural pace. By the time he was two years old he was the size of a six-year-old human child, and had the strength of an adult man. And he hated his adoptive small brother. Several times he tried to kill him and the infant was saved only by Valentine’s intervention. Eventually Valentine knew that something would have to be done.
“He was eager to return to a more active life, to a location closer to the Glass City. To a place where he could meet with his old followers, men like Pangborn and Blackwell — to a place where he was no longer quite so much in hiding. He took on Michael Wayland’s identity and returned with Stephen Herondale’s son to the Wayland family manor.
“Why didn’t he bring his own son with him, you might ask? Because his son now looked like a six-year old, and Valentine knew there was no way the boy would be convincing, ever, as the Waylands’ child — and it was very important to him that later, the boy be able to convince those who had known Michael that this was his son. And so he took Stephen Herondale’s fair-haired small son to the Wayland manor, and lived also with his own in the run-down house outside Brocelind.
“The infant had a name now — Michael Wayland’s son’s name. Jonathan Wayland. As it was too confusing to be raising two children with the same first name, Valentine began to call the child by a nickname.
HE CALLED HIM JACE . . .
There were figures racing down the beach toward them, their shadows made ungainly and long by the still-shining glow of the witchlight torches. Clary was glad for the torches now, glad if the glow made her and Jace easier to find. She recognized the running figures as they drew closer — her mother and Luke, and behind them Alec, and Isabelle. Her heart swelled hugely at the sight of them, as if it would crack her ribs apart. She felt as if she were bursting with relief.
It was Luke who reached them first, running along the sand as lightly as if he were still in wolf form. He saw Clary and Jace first and his face lit — and then his gaze went past them, and he saw Valentine, and his face changed.
Jocelyn was just behind him, and as she neared, Jace let go of Clary. She stood up, brushing sand from her clothes, just as her mother reached her and swept her into a hug. After her came Alec and Isabelle, full of exclamations and relief and — joy. They surrounded a shell-shocked-looking Jace, hugging him and shouting in his ears.
Only Luke was silent. Clary, her hand in her mother’s, turned to watch him. He had approached Valentine’s body and was looking down at it, his face a study in conflicting emotions — there was relief there, but also regret and even sorrow. In death, Valentine’s face had lost its hardness and for the first time Clary saw what her mother had once been drawn to about him, saw how he might have seemed gentle and even kind. As Luke knelt down beside his corpse, Clary couldn’t help but remember what he had said about having loved Valentine once, about having been his closest friend. Luke, she thought with a pang. Surely he couldn’t be sad — or even grieved?
But then again, perhaps everyone should have someone to grieve for them, and there was no one else to grieve for Valentine.
Luke knelt where he was for a long moment. At last he reached out and with a gentle hand, closed Valentine’s eyes.
« Ave atque vale, Shadowhunter, » he said.
Despite everything, I can’t bear the thought of this ring being lost forever, any more then I can bear the thought of leaving you forever. And though I have no choice about the one, at least I can choose about the other. I’m leaving you our family ring because you have as much right to it as I do.
I’m writing this watching the sun come up. You’re asleep, dreams moving behind your restless eyelids. I wish I knew what you were thinking. I wish I could slip into your head and see the world the way you do. I wish I could see myself the way you do. But maybe I don’t want to see that. Maybe it would make me feel even more than I already do that I’m perpetuating some kind of Great Lie on you, and I couldn’t stand that.
I belong to you. You could do anything you wanted with me and I would let you. You could ask anything of me and I’d break myself trying to make you happy. My heart tells me this is the best and greatest feeling I have ever had. But my mind knows the difference between wanting what you cant have and wanting what you shouldn’t want. and I shouldn’t want you.
All night I’ve watched you sleeping, watched the moonlight come and go, casting it’s shadows across your face in black and white. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful. I think of the life we could have had if things were different, a life where this night is not a singular event, separate from everything else that’s real, but every night. But things aren’t different, and I cant look at you without feeling like I’ve tricked you into loving me.
The truth no one is willing to say out loud is that no one has a shot against Valentine but me. I can get close to him like no one else can. I can pretend I want to join him and he’ll believe me, up until that last moment where I end it all, one way or another. I have something of Sebastian’s. I can track him to where my fathers hiding, and that’s what I’m going to do. So I lied to you last night. I said I just wanted one night with you. But I want every night with you. And that’s why I have to slip out of your window now, like a coward. Because if I had to tell you this to your face, I couldn’t make myself go.
I don’t blame you if you hate me, I wish you would. As long as I can still dream, I will dream of you.