City of Ashes – Chapter 9: AND DEATH SHALL HAVE NO DOMINION

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Chapter 9: AND DEATH SHALL HAVE NO DOMINION

ISABELLE HAD BEEN TELLING THE TRUTH: THE INSTITUTE WAS entirely deserted. Almost entirely, anyway. Max was asleep on the red couch in the foyer when they came in. His glasses were slightly askew and he clearly hadn’t meant to fall asleep: There was a book open on the floor where he’d dropped it and his sneakered feet dangled over the couch’s edge in a manner that looked as if it were probably uncomfortable.

Clary’s heart went out to him immediately. He reminded her of Simon at the age of nine or ten, all glasses and awkward blinking and ears.

“Max is like a cat. He can sleep anywhere. ” Jace reached down and plucked the glasses from Max’s face, setting them down on a squat inlaid table nearby. There was a look on his face Clary had never seen before—a fierce protective gentleness that surprised her.

“Oh, leave his stuff alone—you’ll just get mud on it,” said Isabelle crossly, unbuttoning her wet coat. Her dress clung to her long torso and water darkened the thick leather belt around her waist. The glitter of her coiled whip was just visible where the handle protruded from the edge of the belt. She was frowning. “I can feel a cold coming on,” she said. “I’m going to take a hot shower. ”

Jace watched her disappear down the corridor with a sort of reluctant admiration. “Sometimes she reminds me of the poem. ‘Isabelle, Isabelle, didn’t worry. Isabelle didn’t scream or scurry—’”

“Do you ever feel like screaming?” Clary asked him.

“Some of the time. ” Jace shrugged off his wet coat and hung it on the peg next to Isabelle’s. “She’s right about the hot shower, though. I could certainly use one. ”

“I don’t have anything to change into,” Clary said, suddenly wanting a few moments to herself. Her fingers itched to dial Simon’s number on her cell phone, find out if he was all right. “I’ll just wait for you here. ”

“Don’t be stupid. I’ll lend you a T-shirt. ” His jeans were soaked and hung low on his hipbones, showing a strip of pale, tattooed skin between the denim and the edge of his T-shirt.

Clary looked away. “I don’t think—”

“Come on. ” His tone was firm. “There’s something I want to show you, anyway. ”

Surreptitiously, Clary checked the screen on her phone as she followed Jace down the hall to his room. Simon hadn’t tried to call. Ice seemed to crystallize inside her chest. Until two weeks ago, it had been years since she and Simon had had a fight. Now he seemed to be mad at her all the time.

Jace’s room was just as she remembered it: neat as a pin and bare as a monk’s cell. There was nothing about the room that told you anything about Jace: no posters on the walls, no books stacked on the night table. Even the duvet on the bed was plain white.

He went to the dresser and pulled a folded long-sleeved blue T-shirt out of a drawer. He tossed it to Clary. “That one shrank in the wash,” he said. “It’ll probably still be big on you, but…” He shrugged. “I’m going to shower. Yell if you need anything. ”

She nodded, holding the shirt across her chest as if it were a shield. He looked as if he were about to say something else, but apparently thought better of it; with another shrug, he disappeared into the bathroom, closing the door firmly behind him.

Clary sank down onto the bed, the shirt across her lap, and pulled her phone out of her pocket. She dialed Simon’s number. After four rings, it went to voice mail. “Hi, you’ve reached Simon. Either I’m away from the phone or I’m avoiding you. Leave me a message and—”

“What are you doing?”

Jace stood in the open doorway of the bathroom. Water ran loudly in the shower behind him and the bathroom was half full of steam. He was shirtless and barefoot, damp jeans riding low on his hips, showing the deep indentations above his hipbones, as if someone had pressed their fingers to the skin there.

Clary snapped her phone closed and dropped it onto the bed. “Nothing. Checking the time. ”

“There’s a clock next to the bed,” Jace pointed out. “You were calling the mundane, weren’t you?”

“His name is Simon. ” Clary wadded Jace’s shirt into a ball between her fists. “And you don’t have to be such a bastard about him all the time. He’s helped you out more than once. ”

Jace’s eyes were lidded, thoughtful. The bathroom was rapidly filling with steam, making his hair curl more. He said, “And now you feel guilty because he’s run off. I wouldn’t bother calling him. I’m sure he’s avoiding you. ”

Clary didn’t try to keep the anger out of her voice. “And you know this because you and he are so close?”

“I know it because I saw the look on his face before he took off,” Jace said. “You didn’t. You weren’t looking at him. But I was. ”

Clary raked her still-dank hair out of her eyes. Her clothes itched where they clung to her skin, and she suspected she smelled like the bottom of a pond, and she couldn’t stop seeing Simon’s face when he’d looked at her in the Seelie Court—as if he hated her. “It’s your fault,” she said suddenly, rage gathering around her heart. “You shouldn’t have kissed me like that. ”

He had been leaning against the door frame; now he stood up straight. “How should I have kissed you? Is there another way you like it?”

“No. ” Her hands trembled in her lap. They were cold, white, wrinkled by water. She laced her fingers together to stop the shaking. “I just don’t want to be kissed by you. ”

“It didn’t seem to me that either of us had a choice in the matter. ”

“That’s what I don’t understand!” Clary burst out. “Why did she make you kiss me? The Queen, I mean. Why force us to do—that? What pleasure could she possibly have gotten out of it?”

“You heard what the Queen said. She thought she was doing me a favor. ”

“That’s not true. ”

“It is true. How many times do I have to tell you? The Fair Folk don’t lie. ”

Clary thought of what Jace had said back at Magnus’s. They’ll find out whatever it is you want most in the world and give it to you—with a sting in the tail of the gift that will make you regret you ever wanted it in the first place. “Then she was wrong. ”

“She wasn’t wrong. ” Jace’s tone was bitter. “She saw the way I looked at you, and you at me, and Simon at you, and she played us like the instruments we are to her. ”

“I don’t look at you,” Clary whispered.

“What?”

“I said, I don’t look at you. ” She released the hands that had been clasped together in her lap. There were red marks where her fingers had gripped each other. “At least I try not to. ”

His eyes were narrowed, just a glint of gold showing through the lashes, and she remembered the first time she had seen him and how he had reminded her of a lion, golden and deadly. “Why not?”

“Why do you think?” Her words were almost soundless, barely a whisper.

“Then why?” His voice shook. “Why all this with Simon, why keep pushing me away, not letting me near you—”

“Because it’s impossible,” she said, and the last word came out as a sort of wail, despite her efforts at control. “You know that as well as I do!”

“Because you’re my sister,” Jace said.

She nodded without speaking.

“Possibly,” said Jace. “And because of that, you’ve decided your old friend Simon makes a useful distraction?”

“It’s not like that,” she said. “I love Simon. ”

“Like you love Luke,” said Jace. “Like you love your mother. ”

“No. ” Her voice was as cold and pointed as an icicle. “Don’t tell me what I feel. ”

A small muscle jumped at the side of his mouth. “I don’t believe you. ”

Clary stood up. She couldn’t meet his eyes, so instead she fixed her gaze on the thin star-shaped scar on his shoulder, a memory of some old injury. This life of scars and killing, Hodge had said once. You have no part in it. “Jace,” she said. “Why are you doing this to me?”

“Because you’re lying to me. And you’re lying to yourself. ” Jace’s eyes were blazing, and even though his hands were stuffed into his pockets, she could see that they were knotted into fists.

Something inside Clary cracked and broke, and words came pouring out. “What do you want me to tell you? The truth? The truth is that I love Simon like I should love you, and I wish he was my brother and you weren’t, but I can’t do anything about that and neither can you! Or do you have some ideas, since you’re so goddamned smart?”

Jace sucked a breath in, and she realized he had never expected her to say what she’d just said, not in a million years. The look on his face said as much.

She scrambled to regain her composure. “Jace, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—”

“No. You’re not sorry. Don’t be sorry. ” He moved toward her, almost tripping over his feet—Jace, who never stumbled, never tripped over anything, never made an ungraceful move. His hands came up to cup her face; she felt the warmth of his fingertips, millimeters from her skin; knew she ought to pull away, but stood frozen, staring up at him. “You don’t understand,” he said. His voice shook. “I’ve never felt this way about anyone. I didn’t think I could. I thought—the way I grew up—my father—”

“To love is to destroy,” she said numbly. “I remember. ”

“I thought that part of my heart was broken,” he said, and there was a look on his face as he spoke as if he were surprised to hear himself saying these words, saying my heart. “Forever. But you—”

“Jace. Don’t. ” She reached up and covered his hand with hers, folding his fingers into her own. “It’s pointless. ”

“That’s not true. ” There was desperation in his voice. “If we both feel the same way—”

“It doesn’t matter what we feel. There’s nothing we can do. ” She heard her voice as if a stranger were speaking: remote, miserable. “Where would we go to be together? How could we live?”

“We could keep it a secret. ”

“People would find out. And I don’t want to lie to my family, do you?”

His reply was bitter. “What family? The Lightwoods hate me anyway. ”

“No, they don’t. And I could never tell Luke. And my mother, what if she woke up, what would we say to her? This, what we want, it would be sickening to everyone we care about—”

“Sickening?” He dropped his hands from her face as if she’d pushed him away. He sounded stunned. “What we feel—what I feel—it’s sickening to you?”

She caught her breath at the look on his face. “Maybe,” she said in a whisper. “I don’t know. ”

“Then you should have said that to begin with. ”

“Jace—”

But he was gone from her, his expression shut and locked like a door. It was hard to believe he’d ever looked at her another way. “I’m sorry I said anything, then. ” His voice was stiff, formal. “I won’t be kissing you again. You can count on that. ”

Clary’s heart did a slow, purposeless somersault as he moved away from her, plucked a towel off the top of the dresser, and headed back toward the bathroom. “But—Jace, what are you doing?”

“Finishing my shower. And if you’ve made me run through all the hot water, I’ll be very annoyed. ” He stepped into the bathroom, kicking the door shut behind him.

Clary collapsed onto the bed and stared up at the ceiling. It was as blank as Jace’s face had been before he turned his back on her. Rolling over, she realized she was lying on top of his blue shirt: It even smelled like him, like soap and smoke and coppery blood. Curling around it like she’d once curled around her favorite blanket when she was very small, she closed her eyes.

In the dream, she looked down on shimmering water, spread out below her like an endless mirror that reflected the night sky. And like a mirror, it was solid and hard, and she could walk on it. She walked, smelling night air and wet leaves and the smell of the city, glittering in the far distance like a faerie castle wreathed in lights—and where she walked, spiderwebbing cracks fissured out from her footsteps and slivers of glass splashed up like water.

The sky began to shine. It was alight with points of fire, like burning match tips. They fell, a rain of hot coals from the sky, and she cowered, throwing up her arms. One fell just in front of her, a hurtling bonfire, but when it struck the ground it became a boy: It was Jace, all in burning gold with his gold eyes and gold hair, and white-gold wings sprouted from his back, wider and more thickly feathered than any bird’s.

He smiled like a cat and pointed behind her, and Clary turned to see that a dark-haired boy—was it Simon?—was standing there, and wings spread from his back as well, feathered black as midnight, and each feather was tipped with blood.

Clary woke up gasping, her hands knotted in Jace’s shirt. It was dark in the bedroom, ambient streetlight streaming from the one narrow window beside the bed. She sat up. Her head felt heavy and the back of her neck ached. She scanned the room slowly and jumped as a bright pinpoint of light, like a cat’s eyes in the darkness, shone out at her.

Jace was sitting in an armchair beside the bed. He was wearing jeans and a gray sweater and his hair looked nearly dry. He was holding something in his hand that gleamed like metal. A weapon? Though what he might be guarding against, here in the Institute, Clary couldn’t guess.

“Did you sleep well?”

She nodded. Her mouth felt thick. “Why didn’t you wake me up?”

“I thought you could use the rest. Besides, you were sleeping like the dead. You even drooled,” he added. “On my shirt. ”

Clary’s hand flew to her mouth. “Sorry. ”

“It’s not often you get to see someone drool,” Jace observed. “Especially with such total abandon. Mouth wide open and everything. ”

“Oh, shut up. ” She felt around among the bedcovers until she located her phone and checked it again, though she knew what it would say. NO CALLS. “It’s three in the morning,” she noted with dismay. “Do you think Simon’s all right?”

“I think he’s weird, actually,” said Jace. “Though that has little to do with the time. ”

She shoved the phone into her jeans pocket. “I’m going to change. ”

Jace’s white-painted bathroom was no bigger than Isabelle’s, though it was considerably neater. There wasn’t much variation among the rooms in the Institute, Clary thought, closing the door behind her, but at least there was privacy. She shucked off her wet shirt and hung it on the towel rack, splashed water over her face, and ran a comb through her wildly curling hair.

Jace’s shirt was too big for her, but the material was soft against her skin. She rolled the sleeves up and went back into the bedroom, where she found Jace sitting exactly where he had been before, staring moodily down at the glinting object in his hands. She leaned on the back of the armchair. “What is that?”

Instead of answering, he turned it over so that she could see it properly. It was a jagged piece of broken glass, but instead of reflecting her own face, it held an image of green grass and blue sky and the bare black branches of trees.

“I didn’t know you kept that,” she said. “That piece of the Portal. ”

“It’s why I wanted to come here,” he said. “To get this. ” Longing and loathing were mixed in his voice. “I keep thinking maybe I’ll see my father in a reflection. Figure out what he’s up to. ”

“But he’s not there, is he? I thought he was somewhere here. In the city. ”

Jace shook his head. “Magnus has been looking for him and he doesn’t think so. ”

“Magnus has been looking for him? I didn’t know that. How—”

“Magnus didn’t get to be High Warlock for nothing. His power extends through the city and beyond. He can sense what’s out there, to an extent. ”

Clary snorted. “He can feel disturbances in the Force?”

Jace slewed around in the chair and frowned at her. “I’m not joking. After that warlock was killed down in TriBeCa, he started looking into it. When I went to stay with him, he asked me for something of my father’s to make the tracking easier. I gave him the Morgenstern ring. He said he’d let me know if he senses Valentine anywhere in the city, but so far he hasn’t. ”

“Maybe he just wanted your ring,” Clary said. “He sure wears a lot of jewelry. ”

“He can have it. ” Jace’s hand tightened around the bit of mirror in his grasp; Clary noted with alarm the blood welling up around the jagged edges where they cut into his skin. “It’s worthless to me. ”

“Hey,” she said, and leaned down to take the glass out of his hand. “Easy there. ” She slid the piece of Portal into the pocket of his jacket where it hung on the wall. The edges of the glass were dark with blood, Jace’s palms scored with red lines. “Maybe we should get you back to Magnus’s,” she said as gently as she could. “Alec’s been there a long time, and—”

“I doubt he minds, somehow,” Jace said, but he stood up obediently enough and reached for his stele, which was propped against the wall. As he drew a healing rune on the back of his bleeding right hand, he said, “There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you. ”

“And what’s that?”

“When you got me out of the cell in the Silent City, how did you do it? How did you unlock the door?”

“Oh. I just used a regular Opening rune, and—”

She was interrupted by a harsh, tolling ring, and clapped her hand to her pocket before she realized that the sound she’d heard was much louder and sharper than any sound her phone could make. She looked around in confusion.

“That’s the Institute’s doorbell,” Jace said, grabbing his jacket. “Come on. ”

They were halfway to the foyer when Isabelle burst out of her own bedroom door, wearing a cotton bathrobe, a pink silk sleep mask pushed up on her forehead, and a semi-dazed expression. “It’s three in the morning!” she said to them, in a tone that suggested that this was all Jace’s, or possibly Clary’s, fault. “Who’s ringing our doorbell at three in the morning?”

“Maybe it’s the Inquisitor,” Clary said, feeling suddenly cold.

“She could get in on her own,” said Jace. “Any Shadowhunter could. The Institute is only closed to mundanes and Downworlders. ”

Clary felt her heart contract. “Simon!” she said. “It must be him!”

“Oh, for goodness’ sake,” yawned Isabelle, “is he really waking us up at this ungodly hour just to prove his love to you or something? Couldn’t he have called? Mundane men are such twits. ” They had reached the foyer, which was empty; Max must have gone to bed on his own. Isabelle stalked across the room and toggled a switch on the far wall. Somewhere inside the cathedral a distant rumbling thump was audible. “There,” Isabelle said. “Elevator’s on its way. ”

“I can’t believe he didn’t have the dignity and presence of mind just to get drunk and pass out in some gutter,” said Jace. “I must say, I’m disappointed in the little fellow. ”

Clary barely heard him. A rising sense of fear made her blood slow and thick. She remembered her dream: the angels, the ice, Simon with his bleeding wings. She shivered.

Isabelle looked at her sympathetically. “It is cold in here,” she observed. She reached up and took down what looked like a blue velvet coat from one of the coat hooks. “Here,” she said. “Put this on. ”

Clary slid the coat on and drew it close around her. It was too long, but it was warm. It had a hood, too, lined with satin. Clary pushed it back so she could see the elevator doors opening.

They opened on a hollow box whose mirrored sides reflected her own pale and startled face. Without a pause for thought, she stepped inside.

Isabelle looked at her in confusion. “What are you doing?”

“It’s Simon down there,” Clary said. “I know it is. ”

“But—”

Suddenly, Jace was beside Clary, holding the doors open for Isabelle. “Come on, Izzy,” he said. With a theatrical sigh, she followed.

Clary tried to catch his eye as the three of them rode down in silence—Isabelle pinning up the last long coil of her hair—but Jace wouldn’t look at her. He was looking at himself sidelong in the elevator mirror, whistling softly under his breath as he always did when he was nervous. She remembered the slight tremor in his touch as he had taken hold of her in the Seelie Court. She thought of the look on Simon’s face—and then of him almost running to get away from her, vanishing into the shadows at the edge of the park. There was a knot of dread inside her chest and she didn’t know why.

The elevator doors opened onto the nave of the cathedral, alive with the dancing light of candles. She pushed past Jace in her hurry to get out of the elevator and practically ran down the narrow aisle between the pews. She stumbled on the dragging edge of her coat and bunched it up impatiently in her hand before dashing to the wide double doors. On the inside they were barred with bronze bolts the size of Clary’s arms. As she reached for the highest bolt, the bell rang through the church again. She heard Isabelle whisper something to Jace, and then Clary was hauling on the bolt, dragging it back, and she felt Jace’s hand over hers, helping her pull the heavy doors open.

Night air swept in, guttering the candles in their brackets. The air smelled of city: of salt and fumes, cooling concrete and garbage, and underneath those familiar smells, the scent of copper, like the tang of a new penny.

At first Clary thought the steps were empty. Then she blinked and saw Raphael standing there, his head of black curls tousled by the night breeze, his white shirt open at the neck to show the scar in the hollow of his throat. In his arms he held a body. That was all Clary saw as she stared at him in bewilderment, a body. Someone very dead, arms and legs dangling like limp ropes, head fallen back to expose the mangled throat. She felt Jace’s hand tighten around her arm like a vise, and only then did she look more closely and see the familiar corduroy jacket with its torn sleeve, the blue T-shirt underneath now stained and spotted with blood, and she screamed.

The scream made no sound. Clary felt her knees give and would have slid to the ground if Jace hadn’t been holding her up. “Don’t look,” he said in her ear. “For God’s sake, don’t look. ” But she couldn’t not look at the blood matting Simon’s brown hair, his torn throat, the gashes along his dangling wrists. Black spots dotted her vision as she fought for breath.

It was Isabelle who snatched one of the empty candelabras from the side of the door and aimed it at Raphael as if it were an enormous three-pointed spear.

“What have you done to Simon?” For that moment, her voice clear and commanding, she sounded exactly like her mother.

“El no es muerto,” Raphael said, in a flat and emotionless voice, and laid Simon down on the ground almost at Clary’s feet, with a surprising gentleness. She had forgotten how strong he must be—he had a vampire’s unnatural strength despite his slightness.

In the light of the candles that spilled through the doorway, Clary could see that Simon’s shirt was soaked through at the front with blood.

“Did you say—” she began.

“He isn’t dead,” Jace said, holding her tighter. “He’s not dead. ”

She pulled away from him with a hard jerk and went to her knees on the concrete. She felt no disgust at touching Simon’s bloodied skin as she slid her hands under his head, pulling him up into her lap. She felt only the terrified childish horror she remembered from being five years old and having broken her mother’s priceless Liberty lamp. Nothing, said a voice in the back of her head, will put these pieces back together again.

“Simon,” she whispered, touching his face. His glasses were gone. “Simon, it’s me. ”

“He can’t hear you,” said Raphael. “He’s dying. ”

Her head jerked up. “But you said—”

“I said he was not dead yet,” said Raphael. “But in a few minutes—ten, perhaps—his heart will slow and stop. Already he is beyond seeing or hearing anything. ”

Her arms tightened around him involuntarily. “We have to get him to a hospital—or call Magnus. ”

“They can’t do him any good,” said Raphael. “You don’t understand. ”

“No,” said Jace, his voice as soft as silk tipped with needle-sharp points. “We don’t. And perhaps you should explain yourself. Because otherwise I’m going to assume you’re a rogue bloodsucker, and cut your heart out. Like I should have done last time we met. ”

Raphael smiled at him without amusement. “You swore not to harm me, Shadowhunter. Have you forgotten?”

“I never actually finished the oath,” Jace reminded him.

“And I never started,” said Isabelle, brandishing the candelabra.

Raphael ignored her. He was still looking at Jace. “I remembered that night you broke into the Dumort looking for your friend. It is why I brought him here”—and he gestured at Simon—“when I found him in the hotel, instead of letting the others drink him to death. You see, he broke in, without permission, and therefore was fair game for us. But I kept him alive, knowing he was yours. I have no wish for a war with the Nephilim. ”

“He broke in?” Clary said in disbelief. “Simon would never do anything that stupid and crazy. ”

“But he did,” said Raphael, with the faintest trace of a smile, “because he was afraid he was becoming one of us, and he wanted to know if the process could be reversed. You might remember that when he was in the form of a rat, and you came to fetch him from us, he bit me. ”

“Very enterprising of him,” said Jace. “I approved. ”

“Perhaps,” said Raphael. “In any case, he took some of my blood into his mouth when he did it. You know that is how we pass our powers to each other. Through the blood. ”

Through the blood. Clary remembered Simon jerking away from the vampire film on TV, wincing at the sunlight in McCarren Park. “He thought he was turning into one of you,” she said. “He went to the hotel to see if it was true. ”

“Yes,” said Raphael. “The pity of it is that the effects of my blood would probably have faded over time had he done nothing. But now—” He gestured at Simon’s limp body expressively.

“Now what?” said Isabelle, with a hard edge to her voice. “Now he’ll die?”

“And rise again. Now he will be a vampire. ”

The candelabra tipped forward as Isabelle’s eyes widened in shock. “What?”

Jace caught the makeshift weapon before it hit the floor. When he turned to Raphael, his eyes were bleak. “You’re lying. ”

“Wait and see,” said Raphael. “He will die and rise as one of the Night Children. That is also why I came. Simon is one of mine now. ” There was nothing in his voice, no sorrow or pleasure, but Clary could not help but wonder what hidden glee he might feel at having so opportunely lucked into an effective bargaining chip.

“There’s nothing that can be done? No way to reverse it?” demanded Isabelle, panic tinging her voice. Clary thought distantly that it was strange that these two, Jace and Isabelle, who did not love Simon the way she did, were the ones doing all the talking. But perhaps they were speaking for her precisely because she couldn’t bear to say a word.

“You could cut off his head and burn his heart in a fire, but I doubt that you will do that. ”

“No!” Clary’s arms tightened around Simon. “Don’t you dare hurt him. ”

“I have no need to,” said Raphael.

“I wasn’t talking to you. ” Clary didn’t look up. “Don’t you even think about it, Jace. Don’t even think about it. ”

There was silence. She could hear Isabelle’s worried intake of breath, and Raphael of course did not breathe at all. Jace hesitated a moment before he said, “Clary, what would Simon want? Is this what he’d want for himself?”

She jerked her head up. Jace was looking down at her, the three-pronged metal candelabra still in his hand, and suddenly an image flashed across her mental landscape of Jace holding Simon down and plunging the sharp end of it into his chest, making the blood splash up like a fountain. “Get away from us!” she screamed suddenly, so loudly that she saw the distant figures walking along the avenue in front of the cathedral turn and look behind them, as if startled at the noise.

Jace went white to the roots of his hair, so white that his wide eyes looked like gold disks, inhuman and weirdly out of place. He said, “Clary, you don’t think—”

Simon gasped suddenly, arching upward in Clary’s grasp. She screamed again and caught at him, pulling him up toward her. His eyes were wide and blind and terrified. He reached up. She wasn’t sure if he was trying to touch her face or claw at her, not knowing who she was.

“It’s me,” she said, gently pushing his hand down to his chest, lacing their fingers together. “Simon, it’s me. It’s Clary. ” Her hands slipped on his; when she looked down, she saw they were wet with blood from his shirt and from the tears that had slid down her face without her noticing. “Simon, I love you,” she said.

His hands tightened on hers. He breathed out—a harsh, ratcheting sound—and then did not breathe in again.

I love you. I love you. I love you. Her last words to Simon seemed to echo in Clary’s ears as he went limp in her grasp. Isabelle was suddenly next to her, saying something in her ear, but Clary couldn’t hear her. The sound of rushing water, like an oncoming tidal wave, filled her ears. She watched as Isabelle tried gently to pry her hands away from Simon’s, and couldn’t. Clary was surprised. She didn’t feel like she was holding on to him that tightly.

Giving up, Isabelle got to her feet and turned angrily on Raphael. She was shouting. Halfway through her tirade, Clary’s hearing switched back on, like a radio that had finally found a station within range. “—and now what are we supposed to do?” Isabelle screamed.

“Bury him,” said Raphael.

The candelabra swung up again in Jace’s hand. “That’s not funny. ”

“It isn’t supposed to be,” said the vampire, unfazed. “It is how we are made. We are drained, blooded, and buried. When he digs his own way out of a grave, that is when a vampire is born. ”

Isabelle made a faint sound of disgust. “I don’t think I could do that. ”

“Some can’t,” said Raphael. “If no one is there to help them dig out, they stay like that, trapped like rats under the earth. ”

A sound tore its way out of Clary’s throat. A sob that was as raw as a scream. She said, “I won’t put him in the ground. ”

“Then he’ll stay like this,” said Raphael mercilessly. “Dead but not quite dead. Never waking. ”

They were all staring down at her. Isabelle and Jace as if they were holding their breaths, waiting on her response. Raphael looked incurious, almost bored.

“You didn’t come into the Institute because you can’t, isn’t that right?” Clary said. “Because it’s holy ground and you’re unholy. ”

“That’s not exactly—” Jace began, but Raphael cut him off with a gesture.

“I should tell you,” said the vampire boy, “that there is not much time. The longer we wait before putting him into the ground, the less likely he’ll be able to dig his own way back out of it. ”

Clary looked down at Simon. He really would look as if he were sleeping, if it weren’t for the long gashes along his bare skin. “We can bury him,” she said. “But I want it to be in a Jewish cemetery. And I want to be there when he wakes up. ”

Raphael’s eyes glittered. “It will not be pleasant. ”

“Nothing ever is. ” She set her jaw. “Let’s get going. We only have a few hours until dawn.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20