City of Bones – Chapter 23: VALENTINE

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Chapter 23: VALENTINE

“I SEE I’VE INTERRUPTED SOMETHING,” SAID VALENTINE, HIS voice as dry as a desert afternoon. “Son, would you care to tell me who this is? One of the Lightwood children, perhaps?”

“No,” said Jace. He sounded tired and unhappy, but the hand on her wrist didn’t loosen. “This is Clary. Clarissa Fray. She’s a friend of mine. She—”

Valentine’s black eyes raked her slowly, from the top of her disheveled head to the toes of her scuffed sneakers. They fastened on the dagger still gripped in her hand.

An indefinable look passed over his face—part amusement, part irritation. “Where did you come by that blade, young lady?”

Clary answered coldly. “Jace gave it to me. ”

“Of course he did,” said Valentine. His tone was mild. “May I see it?”

“No!” Clary took a step back, as if she thought he might lunge at her, and felt the blade plucked neatly out of her fingers. Jace, holding the dagger, looked at her with an apologetic expression. “Jace,” she hissed, putting every ounce of the betrayal she felt into the single syllable of his name.

All he said was, “You still don’t understand, Clary. ” With a sort of deferential care that made her feel sick to her stomach, he went to Valentine and handed him the dagger. “Here you go, Father. ”

Valentine took the dagger in his big, long-boned hand and examined it. “This is a kindjal, a Circassian dagger. This particular one used to be one of a matched pair. Here, see the star of the Morgensterns, carved into the blade. ” He turned it over, showing it to Jace. “I’m surprised the Lightwoods never noticed it. ”

“I never showed it to them,” said Jace. “They let me have my own private things. They didn’t pry. ”

“Of course they didn’t,” said Valentine. He handed the kindjal back to Jace. “They thought you were Michael Wayland’s son. ”

Jace, sliding the red-hilted dagger into his belt, looked up. “So did I,” he said softly, and in that moment Clary saw that this was no joke, that Jace was not just playing along for his own purposes. He really thought Valentine was his father returned to him.

A cold despair was spreading through Clary’s veins. Jace angry, Jace hostile, furious, she could have dealt with, but this new Jace, fragile and shining in the light of his own personal miracle, was a stranger to her.

Valentine looked at her over Jace’s tawny head; his eyes were cool with amusement. “Perhaps,” he said, “it would be a good idea for you to sit down now, Clary?”

She crossed her arms stubbornly over her chest. “No. ”

“As you like. ” Valentine pulled out a chair and seated himself at the head of the table. After a moment Jace sat down as well, beside a half-filled bottle of wine. “But you are going to be hearing some things that might make you wish you had taken a chair. ”

“I’ll let you know,” Clary told him, “if that happens. ”

“Very well. ” Valentine sat back, his hands behind his head. The neck of his shirt gaped open a little, showing his scarred collarbones. Scarred, like his son’s, like all the Nephilim. A life of scars and killing, Hodge had said. “Clary,” he said again, as if tasting the sound of her name. “Short for Clarissa? Not a name I would have chosen. ”

There was a grim curl to his lips. He knows I’m his daughter, Clary thought. Somehow, he knows. But he isn’t saying it. Why isn’t he saying it?

Because of Jace, she realized. Jace would think—she couldn’t imagine what he would think. Valentine had seen them embracing when he’d walked in the door. He must know he held a devastating piece of information in his hands. Somewhere behind those fathomless black eyes, his sharp mind was clicking away rapidly, trying to decide how best to use what he knew.

She cast another beseeching glance at Jace, but he was staring down at the wineglass by his left hand, half-full of purplish red liquid. She could see the rapid rise and fall of his chest as he breathed; he was more upset than he was letting on.

“I don’t really care what you would have chosen,” Clary said.

“I am sure,” replied Valentine, leaning forward, “that you don’t. ”

“You’re not Jace’s father,” she said. “You’re trying to trick us. Jace’s father was Michael Wayland. The Lightwoods know it. Everyone knows it. ”

“The Lightwoods were misinformed,” said Valentine. “They truly believed—believe that Jace is the son of their friend Michael. As does the Clave. Even the Silent Brothers do not know who he really is. Although soon enough, they will. ”

“But the Wayland ring—”

“Ah, yes,” said Valentine, looking at Jace’s hand, where the ring glittered like snake scales. “The ring. Funny, isn’t it, how an M worn upside down resembles a W? Of course, if you’d bothered to think about it, you’d probably have thought it a little strange that the symbol of the Wayland family would be a falling star. But not at all strange that it would be the symbol of the Morgensterns. ”

Clary stared. “I have no idea what you mean. ”

“I forget how regrettably lax mundane education is,” Valentine said. “Morgenstern means ‘morning star. ’ As in ‘How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!’”

A small shiver passed over Clary. “You mean Satan. ”

“Or any great power lost,” said Valentine, “out of a refusal to serve. As mine was. I would not serve a corrupt government, and for that I lost my family, my lands, almost my life—”

“The Uprising was your fault !” snapped Clary. “People died in it! Shadowhunters like you!”

“Clary. ” Jace leaned forward, nearly knocking over the glass at his elbow. “Just listen to him, will you? It’s not like you thought. Hodge lied to us. ”

“I know,” said Clary. “He betrayed us to Valentine. He was Valentine’s pawn. ”

“No,” said Jace. “No, Hodge was the one who wanted the Mortal Cup all along. He was the one who sent the Raveners after your mother. My father—Valentine only found out about it afterward, and came to stop him. He brought your mother here to heal her, not to hurt her. ”

“And you believe that crap?” Clary said in disgust. “It isn’t true. Hodge was working for Valentine. They were in it together, getting the Cup. He set us up, it’s true, but he was just a tool. ”

“But he was the one who needed the Mortal Cup,” said Jace. “So he could get the curse off him and flee before my father told the Clave about everything he’d done. ”

“I know that isn’t true!” said Clary hotly. “I was there!” She turned on Valentine. “I was in the room when you came to get the Cup. You couldn’t see me, but I was there. I saw you. You took the Cup and you lifted the curse off Hodge. He couldn’t have done it by himself. He said so. ”

“I did lift his curse,” said Valentine measuredly, “but I was moved by pity. He seemed so pathetic. ”

“You didn’t feel pity. You didn’t feel anything. ”

“That’s enough, Clary!” It was Jace. She stared at him. His cheeks were flushed as if he’d been drinking the wine at his elbow, his eyes too bright. “Don’t talk to my father like that. ”

“He’s not your father !”

Jace looked as if she had slapped him. “Why are you so determined not to believe us?”

“Because she loves you,” said Valentine.

Clary felt the blood drain out of her face. She looked at him, not knowing what he might say next, but dreading it. She felt as if she were edging toward a precipice, some terrible hurtling fall into nothing and nowhere. Vertigo gripped her stomach.

“What?” Jace looked surprised.

Valentine was looking at Clary with amusement, as if he could tell he had her pinned there like a butterfly to a board. “She fears I am taking advantage of you,” he said. “That I have brainwashed you. It isn’t so, of course. If you looked into your own memories, Clary, you would know it. ”

“Clary. ” Jace started to get to his feet, his eyes on her. She could see the circles beneath them, the strain he was under. “I—”

“Sit down,” said Valentine. “Let her come to it on her own, Jonathan. ”

Jace subsided instantly, sinking back into the chair. Through the dizziness of vertigo, Clary groped for understanding. Jonathan? “I thought your name was Jace,” she said. “Did you lie about that, too?”

“No. Jace is a nickname. ”

She was very near to the precipice now, so close she could almost look down. “For what?”

He looked at her as if he couldn’t understand why she was making so much of something so small. “It’s my initials,” he said. “J. C. ”

The precipice opened before her. She could see the long fall into darkness. “Jonathan,” she said faintly. “Jonathan Christopher. ”

Jace’s eyebrows drew together. “How did you’?”

Valentine cut in. His voice was soothing. “Jace, I had thought to spare you. I thought a story of a mother who died would hurt you less than the story of a mother who abandoned you before your first birthday. ”

Jace’s slim fingers tightened convulsively around the glass’s stem. Clary thought for a moment that it might shatter. “My mother is alive?”

“She is,” said Valentine. “Alive, and asleep in one of the downstairs rooms at this very moment. Yes,” he said, cutting off Jace before he could speak, “Jocelyn is your mother, Jonathan. And Clary—Clary is your sister. ”

Jace jerked his hand back. The wineglass tipped, spilling frothing scarlet liquid across the white tablecloth.

“Jonathan,” said Valentine.

Jace had gone an awful color, a sort of greenish white. “That’s not true,” he said. “There’s been a mistake. It couldn’t possibly be true. ”

Valentine looked steadily at his son. “A cause for rejoicing,” he said in a low, contemplative voice, “I would have thought. Yesterday you were an orphan, Jonathan. And now a father, a mother, a sister, you never knew you had. ”

“It isn’t possible,” said Jace again. “Clary isn’t my sister. If she were …”

“Then what?” Valentine said.

Jace did not reply, but his sick look of nauseous horror was enough for Clary. Stumbling a little, she came around the table and knelt beside his chair, reaching for his hand. “Jace—”

He jerked away from her, his fingers knotting in the sodden tablecloth. “Don’t. ”

Hatred for Valentine burned in her throat like unshed tears. He had held back, and by not saying what he knew—that she was his daughter—made her complicit in his silence. And now, having dropped the truth on them with the weight of a crushing boulder, he sat back to watch the results with a cool consideration. How could Jace not see how hateful he was?

“Tell me it’s not true,” Jace said, staring at the tablecloth.

Clary swallowed against the burning in her throat. “I can’t do that. ”

Valentine sounded as if he were smiling. “So you admit now that I’ve been telling the truth all this time?”

“No,” she shot back without looking at him. “You’re telling lies with a little bit of the truth mixed in, is all. ”

“This grows tiresome,” said Valentine. “If you want to hear the truth, Clarissa, this is the truth. You have heard stories of the Uprising and so you think I am a villain. Is that correct?”

Clary said nothing. She was looking at Jace, who seemed as if he might be about to throw up. Valentine went on relentlessly. “It is simple, really. The story you heard was true in some of its parts, but not in others—lies mixed in with a little truth, as you said. The fact is that Michael Wayland is not and has never been Jace’s father. Wayland was killed during the Uprising. I assumed Michael’s name and place when I fled the Glass City with my son. It was easy enough; Wayland had no real relations, and his closest friends, the Lightwoods, were in exile. He himself would have been in disgrace for his part in the Uprising, so I lived that disgraced life, quietly enough, alone with Jace on the Waylands’ estate. I read my books. I raised my son. And I bided my time. ” He fingered the filigreed edge of a glass thoughtfully. He was left-handed, Clary saw. Like Jace.

“Ten years on, I received a letter. The writer of the letter indicated that he knew my true identity, and if I were not prepared to take certain steps, he would reveal it. I did not know who the letter was from, but it did not matter. I was not prepared to give the writer of it what he wanted. Besides, I knew my safety was compromised, and would be unless he thought me dead, beyond his reach. I staged my death a second time, with the help of Blackwell and Pangborn, and for Jace’s own safety made sure that my son would be sent here, to the protection of the Lightwoods. ”

“So you let Jace think you were dead? You just let him think you were dead, all these years? That’s despicable. ”

“Don’t,” said Jace again. He had raised his hands to cover his face. He spoke against his own fingers, voice muffled. “Don’t, Clary. ”

Valentine looked at his son with a smile Jace couldn’t see. “Jonathan had to think I was dead, yes. He had to think he was Michael Wayland’s son, or the Lightwoods would not have protected him as they did. It was Michael they owed a debt to, not me. It was on Michael’s account that they loved him, not mine. ”

“Maybe they loved him on his own account,” said Clary.

“A commendably sentimental interpretation,” said Valentine, “but unlikely. You do not know the Lightwoods as I once did. ” He did not seem to see Jace’s flinch, or if he did, he ignored it. “It hardly matters, in the end,” Valentine added. “The Lightwoods were intended as protection for Jace, not as a replacement family, you see. He has a family. He has a father. ”

Jace made a noise in his throat, and moved his hands away from his face. “My mother—”

“Fled after the Uprising,” said Valentine. “I was a disgraced man. The Clave would have hunted me down had they thought I lived. She could not bear her association with me, and ran. ” The pain in his voice was palpable—and faked, Clary thought bitterly. The manipulative creep. “I did not know she was pregnant at the time. With Clary. ” He smiled a little, running his finger slowly down the wineglass. “But blood calls to blood, as they say,” he went on. “Fate has borne us to this convergence. Our family, together again. We can use the Portal,” he said, turning his gaze to Jace. “Go to Idris. Back to the manor house. ”

Jace shivered a little but nodded, still staring numbly at his hands.

“We’ll be together there,” said Valentine. “As we should be. ”

That sounds terrific, thought Clary. Just you, your comatose wife, your shell-shocked son, and your daughter who hates your guts. Not to mention that your two kids may be in love with each other. Yeah, that sounds like a perfect family reunion. Aloud, she said only, “I am not going anywhere with you, and neither is my mother. ”

“He’s right, Clary,” said Jace hoarsely. He flexed his hands; the fingertips were stained red. “It’s the only place for us to go. We can sort things out there. ”

“You can’t be serious—”

An enormous crash came from downstairs, so loud that it sounded as if a wall of the hospital had collapsed in on itself. Luke, Clary thought, springing to her feet.

Jace, despite his look of nauseous horror, responded automatically, half-rising from his chair, his hand going to his belt. “Father, they’re—”

“They’re on their way. ” Valentine rose to his feet. Clary heard footsteps. A moment later the door of the room was flung open, and Luke stood on the threshold.

Clary bit back a cry. He was covered in blood, his jeans and shirt dark and clotted, the lower half of his face bearded with it. His hands were red to the wrists, the blood that coated them still wet and running. She had no idea if any of the blood was his. She heard herself cry out his name, and then she was running across the room to him and nearly tripping over herself in her eagerness to grab at his shirtfront and hang on, the way she hadn’t done since she was eight years old.

For a moment his big hand came up and cupped the back of her head, holding her against him in a one-armed bear hug. Then he pushed her away gently. “I’m covered in blood,” he said. “Don’t worry—it isn’t mine. ”

“Then whose is it?” It was Valentine’s voice, and Clary turned, Luke’s arm protectively across her shoulders. Valentine was watching them both, his eyes narrow and calculating. Jace had risen to his feet and come around the table and was standing hesitantly behind his father. Clary could not remember him ever doing anything hesitantly before.

“Pangborn’s,” said Luke.

Valentine passed a hand over his face, as if the news pained him. “I see. Did you tear out his throat with your teeth?”

“Actually,” said Luke, “I killed him with this. ” With his free hand he held out the long thin dagger he had killed the Forsaken with. In the light she could see the blue stones in the hilt. “Do you remember it?”

Valentine looked at it, and Clary saw his jaw tighten. “I do,” he said, and Clary wondered if he, too, were remembering their earlier conversation.

This is a kindjal, a Circassian dagger. This particular one used to be one of a matched pair.

“You handed it to me seventeen years ago and told me to end my life with it,” said Luke, the weapon gripped tightly in his hand. The blade of it was longer than the blade of the red-hilted kindjal in Jace’s belt; it was somewhere between a dagger and a sword, and its blade was needle-tipped. “And I nearly did. ”

“Do you expect me to deny it?” There was pain in Valentine’s voice, the memory of an old grief. “I tried to save you from yourself, Lucian. I made a grave mistake. If only I’d had the strength to kill you myself, you could have died a man. ”

“Like you?” asked Luke, and in that moment Clary saw something in him of the Luke she’d always known, who could tell when she was lying or pretending, who called her on it when she was being arrogant or untruthful. In the bitterness of his voice she heard the love he’d once had for Valentine, curdled into a weary hatred. “A man who chains his unconscious wife to a bed in the hopes of torturing her for information when she wakes up? That’s your bravery?”

Jace was staring at his father. Clary saw the seizure of anger that momentarily twisted Valentine’s features; then it was gone, and his face was smooth. “I didn’t torture her,” he said. “She is chained for her own protection. ”

“Against what?” Luke demanded, stepping farther into the room. “The only thing endangering her is you. The only thing that ever endangered her was you. She’s spent her life running to get away from you. ”

“I loved her,” said Valentine. “I never would have hurt her. It was you who turned her against me. ”

Luke laughed. “She didn’t need me to turn her against you. She learned to hate you on her own. ”

“That is a lie !” Valentine roared with sudden savagery, and drew his sword from the sheath at his waist. The blade was flat and matte black, patterned with a design of silver stars. He leveled the blade at Luke’s heart.

Jace took a step toward Valentine. “Father—”

“Jonathan, be silent !” shouted Valentine, but it was too late; Clary saw the shock on Luke’s face as he stared at Jace.

“Jonathan?” he whispered.

Jace’s mouth twisted. “Don’t you call me that,” he said fiercely, his gold eyes blazing. “I’ll kill you myself if you call me that. ”

Luke, ignoring the blade pointed at his heart, didn’t take his eyes off Jace. “Your mother would be proud,” he said, so quietly that even Clary, standing beside him, had to strain to hear it.

“I don’t have a mother,” said Jace. His hands were shaking. “The woman who gave birth to me walked away from me before I learned to remember her face. I was nothing to her, so she is nothing to me. ”

“Your mother is not the one who walked away from you,” said Luke, his gaze moving slowly to Valentine. “I would have thought even you,” he said slowly, “were above using your own flesh and blood as bait. I suppose I was wrong. ”

“That’s enough. ” Valentine’s tone was almost languid, but there was fierceness in it, a hungry threat of violence. “Let go of my daughter, or I’ll kill you where you stand. ”

“I’m not your daughter,” said Clary fiercely, but Luke pushed her away from him, so hard that she nearly fell.

“Get out of here,” he said. “Get to where it’s safe. ”

“I’m not leaving you!”

“Clary, I mean it. Get out of here. ” Luke was already lifting his dagger. “This is not your fight. ”

Clary stumbled away from him, toward the door that led to the landing. Maybe she could run for help, for Alaric—

Then Jace was in front of her, blocking her way to the door. She had forgotten how fast he moved, soft as a cat, quick as water. “Are you insane?” he hissed. “They’ve broken down the front door. This place will be full of Forsaken. ”

She shoved at him. “Let me out—”

Jace held her back with a grip like iron. “So they can tear you apart? Not a chance. ”

A loud clash of metal sounded behind her. Clary pulled away from Jace and saw that Valentine had struck at Luke, who had met his blow with an ear-shattering parry. Their blades ground apart, and now they were moving across the floor in a blur of feints and slashes. “Oh, my God,” she whispered. “They’re going to kill each other. ”

Jace’s eyes were nearly black. “You don’t understand,” he said. “This is how it’s done—” He broke off and sucked in a breath as Luke slipped past Valentine’s guard, catching him a blow across the shoulder. Blood flowed freely, staining the cloth of his white shirt.

Valentine threw back his head and laughed. “A true hit,” he said. “I hardly thought you had it in you, Lucian. ”

Luke stood very straight, the knife blocking his face from Clary’s view. “You taught me that move yourself. ”

“But that was years ago,” said Valentine in a voice like raw silk, “and since then, you’ve hardly had need of a knife, have you? Not when you have claws and fangs at your disposal. ”

“All the better to tear your heart out with. ”

Valentine shook his head. “You tore my heart out years ago,” he said, and even Clary could not tell if the sorrow in his voice was real or feigned. “When you betrayed and deserted me. ” Luke struck at him again, but Valentine was moving swiftly back across the floor. For a big man he moved surprisingly lightly. “It was you who turned my wife against her own kind. You came to her when she was weakest, with your piteousness, your helpless need. I was distant and she thought you loved her. She was a fool. ”

Jace was taut as a wire beside Clary. She could feel his tension, like the sparks given off by a downed electrical cable. “That’s your mother Valentine’s talking about,” she said.

“She abandoned me,” said Jace. “Some mother. ”

“She thought you were dead. You want to know how I know that? Because she kept a box in her bedroom. It had your initials on it. J. C. ”

“So she had a box,” said Jace. “Lots of people have boxes. They keep things in them. It’s a growing trend, I hear. ”

“It had a lock of your hair in it. Baby hair. And a photograph, maybe two. She used to take it out every year and cry over it. Awful brokenhearted crying—”

Jace’s hand clenched at his side. “Stop it,” he said between his teeth.

“Stop what? Telling you the truth? She thought you had died—she’d never have left you if she’d known you were alive. You thought your father was dead—”

“I saw him die! Or I thought I did. I didn’t just—just hear about it and choose to believe it!”

“She found your burned bones,” said Clary quietly. “In the ruins of her house. Along with the bones of her mother and father. ”

At last Jace looked at her. She saw the disbelief plain in his eyes, and around his eyes, the strain of maintaining that disbelief. She could see, almost as if she saw through a glamour, the fragile construct of his faith in his father that he wore like a transparent armor, protecting him from the truth. Somewhere, she thought, there was a chink in that armor; somewhere, if she could find the right words, it could be breached. “That’s ridiculous,” he said. “I didn’t die—there weren’t any bones. ”

“There were. ”

“So it was a glamour,” he said roughly.

“Ask your father what happened to his mother- and father-in-law,” said Clary. She reached to touch his hand. “Ask him if that was a glamour, too—”

“Shut up!” Jace’s control cracked and he turned on her, livid. Clary saw Luke glance toward them, startled by the noise, and in that moment of distraction Valentine dove under his guard and, with a single forward thrust, drove the blade of his sword into Luke’s chest, just below his collarbone.

Luke’s eyes flew open as if in astonishment rather than pain. Valentine jerked his hand back, and the blade slid back, stained red to the hilt. With a sharp laugh Valentine struck again, this time knocking the weapon from Luke’s hand. It hit the floor with a hollow clang and Valentine kicked it hard, sending it skittering under the table as Luke collapsed.

Valentine raised the black sword over Luke’s prone body, ready to deliver the killing stroke. Inlaid silvery stars gleamed along the blade’s length and Clary thought, frozen in a moment of horror, How could anything so deadly be so beautiful?

Jace, as if knowing what Clary was going to do before she did it, whirled on her. “Clary—”

The frozen moment passed. Clary twisted away from Jace, ducking his reaching hands, and raced across the stone floor to Luke. He was on the ground, supporting himself with one arm; Clary threw herself on him just as Valentine’s sword drove downward.

She saw Valentine’s eyes as the sword hurtled toward her; it seemed like eons, though it could only have been a split second. She saw that he could stop the blow if he wanted. Saw that he knew it might well strike her if he didn’t. Saw that he was going to do it anyway.

She threw her hands up, squeezing her eyes shut—

There was a clang. She heard Valentine cry out, and she looked up to see him holding his empty sword hand, which was bleeding. The red-hilted kindjal lay several feet away on the stone floor, next to the black sword. Turning in astonishment, she saw Jace by the door, his arm still raised, and realized he must have flung the dagger with enough force to knock the black sword out of his father’s hand.

Very pale, he slowly lowered his arm, his eyes on Valentine—wide and pleading. “Father, I …”

Valentine looked at his bleeding hand, and for a moment, Clary saw a spasm of rage cross his face, like a light flickering out. His voice, when he spoke, was mild. “That was an excellent throw, Jace. ”

Jace hesitated. “But your hand. I just thought—”

“I would not have hurt your sister,” said Valentine, moving swiftly to retrieve both his sword and the red-hilted kindjal, which he stuck through his belt. “I would have stopped the blow. But your family concern is commendable. ”

Liar. But Clary had no time for Valentine’s prevarications. She turned to look at Luke and felt a sharp nauseous pang. Luke was lying on his back, eyes half-closed, his breathing ragged. Blood bubbled up from the hole in his torn shirt. “I need a bandage,” Clary said in a choked voice. “Some cloth, anything. ”

“Don’t move, Jonathan,” said Valentine in a steely voice, and Jace froze where he was, hand already reaching toward his pocket. “Clarissa,” her father said, in a voice as oily as steel slicked with butter, “this man is an enemy of our family, an enemy of the Clave. We are hunters, and that means sometimes we are killers. Surely you understand that. ”

“Demon hunters,” said Clary. “Demon killers. Not murderers. There’s a difference. ”

“He is a demon, Clarissa,” said Valentine, still in the same soft voice. “A demon with a man’s face. I know how deceptive such monsters can be. Remember, I spared him once myself. ”

“Monster?” echoed Clary. She thought of Luke, Luke pushing her on the swings when she was five years old, higher, always higher; Luke at her graduation from middle school, camera clicking away like a proud father’s; Luke sorting through each box of books as it arrived at his store, looking for anything she might like and putting it aside. Luke lifting her up to pull apples down from the trees near his farmhouse. Luke, whose place as her father this man was trying to take. “Luke isn’t a monster,” she said in a voice that matched Valentine’s, steel for steel. “Or a murderer. You are. ”

“Clary!” It was Jace.

Clary ignored him. Her eyes were fixed on her father’s cold black ones. “You murdered your wife’s parents, not in battle but in cold blood,” she said. “And I bet you murdered Michael Wayland and his little boy, too. Threw their bones in with my grandparents’ so that my mother would think you and Jace were dead. Put your necklace around Michael Wayland’s neck before you burned him so everyone would think those bones were yours. After all your talk about the untainted blood of the Clave—you didn’t care at all about their blood or their innocence when you killed them, did you? Slaughtering old people and children in cold blood, that’s monstrous. ”

Another spasm of rage contorted Valentine’s features. “That’s enough !” Valentine roared, raising the black-star sword again, and Clary heard the truth of who he was in his voice, the rage that had propelled him all his life. The unending seething rage. “Jonathan! Drag your sister out of my way, or by the Angel, I’ll knock her down to kill the monster she’s protecting!”

For the briefest moment Jace hesitated. Then he raised his head. “Certainly, Father,” he said, and crossed the room to Clary. Before she could throw up her hands to ward him off, he had caught her up roughly by the arm. He yanked her to her feet, pulling her away from Luke.

“Jace,” she whispered, appalled.

“Don’t,” he said. His fingers dug painfully into her arms. He smelled of wine and metal and sweat. “Don’t talk to me. ”


“I said, don’t talk. ” He shook her, hard. She stumbled, regained her footing, and looked up to see Valentine standing, gloating over Luke’s crumpled body. He reached out a fastidious booted toe and shoved Luke, who made a choking sound.

“Leave him alone!” Clary shouted, trying to yank herself out of Jace’s grasp. It was useless—he was much too strong.

“Stop it,” he hissed in her ear. “You’ll just make it worse for yourself. It’s better if you don’t look. ”

“Like you do?” she hissed back. “Shutting your eyes and pretending something’s not happening doesn’t make it not true, Jace. You ought to know better—”

“Clary, stop. ” His tone almost brought her up short. He sounded desperate.

Valentine was chuckling. “If only I had thought,” he said, “to bring with me a blade of real silver, I could have dispatched you in the true manner of your kind, Lucian. ”

Luke snarled something Clary couldn’t hear. She hoped it was rude. She tried to twist away from Jace. Her feet slipped and he caught her, yanking her back with agonizing force. He had his arms around her, she thought, but not the way she had once hoped, not as she had ever imagined.

“At least let me get up,” said Luke. “Let me die on my feet. ”

Valentine looked at him along the length of the blade, and shrugged. “You can die on your back or on your knees,” he said. “But only a man deserves to die standing, and you are not a man. ”

“NO!” Clary shouted as, not looking at her, Luke began to pull himself painfully into a kneeling position.

“Why do you have to make it worse for yourself?” Jace demanded in a low, tense whisper. “I told you not to look. ”

She was panting with exertion and pain. “Why do you have to lie to yourself?”

“I’m not lying!” His grip on her tightened savagely, though she hadn’t tried to pull away. “I just want what’s good in my life—my father—my family—I can’t lose it all again. ”

Luke was kneeling upright now. Valentine had raised the bloodstained sword. Luke’s eyes were closed, and he was murmuring something: words, a prayer, Clary didn’t know. She twisted in Jace’s arms, wrenching around so that she could look up into his face. His lips were drawn thin, his jaw set, but his eyes—

The fragile armor was breaking. It needed only a last push from her. She struggled for the words.

“You have a family,” she said. “Family, those are just the people who love you. Like the Lightwoods love you. Alec, Isabelle—” Her voice cracked. “Luke is my family, and you’re going to make me watch him die just like you thought you watched your father die when you were ten years old? Is this what you want, Jace? Is this the kind of man you want to be? Like—”

She broke off, suddenly terrified that she had gone too far.

“Like my father,” he said.

His voice was icy, distant, flat as the blade of a knife.

I’ve lost him, she thought despairingly.

“Get down,” he said, and pushed her, hard. She stumbled, fell to the ground, rolled onto one knee. Kneeling upright, she saw Valentine raise his sword high over his head. The glow from the chandelier overhead exploding off the blade sent brilliant points of light stabbing into her eyes. “Luke!” she shrieked.

The blade slammed home—into the floor. Luke was no longer there. Jace, having moved faster than Clary would have thought possible even for a Shadowhunter, had knocked him out of the way, sending him sprawling to the side. Jace stood facing his father over the quivering hilt of the sword, his face white, but his gaze steady.

“I think you should leave,” Jace said.

Valentine stared incredulously at his son. “What did you say?”

Luke had pulled himself into a sitting position. Fresh blood stained his shirt. He stared as Jace reached out a hand and gently, almost disinterestedly, caressed the hilt of the sword that had been driven into the floor. “I think you heard me, Father. ”

Valentine’s voice was like a whip. “Jonathan Morgenstern—”

Quick as lightning, Jace seized the hilt of the sword, tore it free from the floorboards, and raised it. He held it lightly, level and flat, the point hovering a few inches below his father’s chin. “That’s not my name,” he said. “My name is Jace Wayland. ”

Valentine’s eyes were still fixed on Jace; he barely seemed to notice the sword at his throat. “Wayland?” he roared. “You have no Wayland blood! Michael Wayland was a stranger to you—”

“So,” said Jace calmly, “are you. ” He jerked the sword to the left. “Now move. ”

Valentine was shaking his head. “Never. I will not take orders from a child. ”

The tip of the sword kissed Valentine’s throat. Clary stared in fascinated horror. “I am a very well-trained child,” Jace said. “You instructed me yourself in the precise art of killing. I only need to move two fingers to cut your throat, did you know that?” His eyes were steely. “I suppose you did. ”

“You’re skilled enough,” said Valentine. His tone was dismissive, but, Clary noticed, he was standing very still indeed. “But you could not kill me. You have always been softhearted. ”

“Perhaps he couldn’t. ” It was Luke, on his feet now, pale and bloody but upright. “But I could. And I’m not entirely sure he could stop me. ”

Valentine’s feverish eyes flicked to Luke, and back to his son. Jace hadn’t turned when Luke spoke, but stood still as a statue, the sword unmoving in his hand. “You hear the monster threatening me, Jonathan,” said Valentine. “You side with it?”

“It has a point,” said Jace mildly. “I’m not entirely sure I could stop him if he wanted to do you damage. Werewolves heal so fast. ”

Valentine’s lip curled. “So,” he spat, “like your mother, you prefer this creature, this half-breed demon thing, to your own blood, your own family?”

For the first time the sword in Jace’s hand seemed to tremble. “You left me when I was a child,” he said in a measured voice. “You let me think you were dead and you sent me away to live with strangers. You never told me I had a mother, a sister. You left me alone. ” The word was a cry.

“I did it for you—to keep you safe,” Valentine protested.

“If you cared about Jace, if you cared about blood, you wouldn’t have killed his grandparents. You murdered innocent people,” Clary cut in, furious.

“Innocent?” snapped Valentine. “No one is innocent in a war! They sided with Jocelyn against me! They would have let her take my son from me!”

Luke let out a hissing breath. “You knew she was going to leave you,” he said. “You knew she was going to run, even before the Uprising?”

“Of course I knew!” roared Valentine. His icy control had cracked and Clary could see the molten rage seething underneath, coiling the tendons in his neck, clenching his hands into fists. “I did what I had to to protect my own, and in the end I gave them more than they ever deserved: the funeral pyre awarded only to the greatest warriors of the Clave!”

“You burned them,” said Clary flatly.

“Yes!” shouted Valentine. “I burned them. ”

Jace made a strangled noise. “My grandparents—”

“You never knew them,” said Valentine. “Don’t pretend to a grief you do not feel. ”

The point of the sword was trembling more rapidly now. Luke put a hand on Jace’s shoulder. “Steady,” he said.

Jace didn’t look at him. He was breathing as if he had been running. Clary could see the sweat shimmering on the sharp divide of his collarbones, sticking his hair to his temples. The veins were visible along the backs of his hands. He’s going to kill him, she thought. He’s going to kill Valentine.

She stepped forward hastily. “Jace—we need the Cup. Or you know what he’ll do with it. ”

Jace licked his dry lips. “The Cup, Father. Where is it?”

“In Idris,” said Valentine calmly. “Where you will never find it. ”

Jace’s hand was shaking. “Tell me—”

“Give me the sword, Jonathan. ” It was Luke, his voice calm, even kind.

Jace sounded as if he were speaking from the bottom of a well. “What?”

Clary took a step forward. “Give Luke the sword. Let him have it, Jace. ”

He shook his head. “I can’t do that. ”

She took another step forward; one more, and she’d be close enough to touch him. “Yes, you can,” she said gently. “Please. ”

He didn’t look at her. His eyes were locked on his father’s. The moment stretched out and out, interminable. At last he nodded, curtly, without lowering his hand. But he did let Luke move to stand beside him, and place his hand over Jace’s, on the hilt of the blade. “You can let go now, Jonathan,” Luke said—and then, seeing Clary’s face, amended himself. “Jace. ”

Jace seemed not to have heard him. He released the hilt and moved away from his father. Some of Jace’s color had come back, and he was now a shade more like putty, his lip bloody where he’d bitten it. Clary ached to touch him, put her arms around him, knew he’d never let her.

“I have a suggestion,” said Valentine to Luke, in a surprisingly even tone.

“Let me guess,” said Luke. “It’s ‘Don’t kill me,’ isn’t it?”

Valentine laughed, a sound without any humor in it. “I would hardly lower myself to ask you for my life,” he said.

“Good,” said Luke, nudging the other man’s chin with his blade. “I’m not going to kill you unless you force my hand, Valentine. I draw the line at murdering you in front of your own children. What I want is the Cup. ”

The roaring downstairs was louder now. Clary could hear what sounded like footsteps in the corridor outside. “Luke—”

“I hear it,” he snapped.

“The Cup’s in Idris, I told you,” said Valentine, his eyes shifting past Luke.

Luke was sweating. “If it’s in Idris, you used the Portal to bring it there. I’ll go with you. Bring it back. ” Luke’s eyes were darting. There was more movement in the corridor outside now, sounds of shouting, of something shattering. “Clary, stay with your brother. After we go through, you use the Portal to take you to a safe place. ”

“I won’t leave here,” said Jace.

“Yes, you will. ” Something thudded against the door. Luke raised his voice. “Valentine, the Portal. Move. ”

“Or what?” Valentine’s eyes were fixed on the door with a considering look.

“I’ll kill you if you force my hand,” Luke said. “In front of them, or not. The Portal, Valentine. Now. ”

Valentine spread his hands wide. “If you wish. ”

He stepped lightly backward, just as the door exploded inward, hinges scattering across the floor. Luke ducked out of the way to avoid being crushed by the falling door, turning as he did so, the sword still in his hand.

A wolf stood in the doorway, a mountain of growling, brindled fur, shoulders hunched forward, lips curled back over snarling teeth. Blood ran from innumerable gashes in his pelt.

Jace was swearing softly, a seraph blade already in his hand. Clary caught at his wrist. “Don’t—he’s a friend. ”

Jace shot her an incredulous glance, but lowered his arm.

“Alaric—” Luke shouted something then, in a language Clary didn’t understand. Alaric snarled again, crouching closer to the floor, and for a confused moment she thought he was going to hurl himself at Luke. Then she saw Valentine’s hand at his belt, the flash of red jewels, and realized that she had forgotten that he still had Jace’s dagger.

She heard a voice shout Luke’s name, thought it was her own—then realized that her throat seemed glued shut, and that it was Jace who had shouted.

Luke slewed around, excruciatingly slowly, it seemed, as the knife left Valentine’s hand and flew toward him like a silver butterfly, turning over and over in the air. Luke raised his blade—and something huge and tawny gray hurtled between him and Valentine. She heard Alaric’s howl, rising, suddenly cut off; heard the sound as the blade struck. She gasped and tried to run forward, but Jace pulled her back.

The wolf crumpled at Luke’s feet, blood spattering his fur. Feebly, with his paws, Alaric clawed at the hilt of the knife protruding from his chest.

Valentine laughed. “And this is how you repay the unquestioning loyalty you bought so cheaply, Lucian,” he said. “By letting them die for you. ” He was backing up, his eyes still on Luke.

Luke, white-faced, looked at him, and then down at Alaric; shook his head once, and dropped to his knees, leaning over the fallen werewolf. Jace, still holding Clary by the shoulders, hissed, “Stay here, you hear me? Stay here,” and set off after Valentine, who was hurrying, inexplicably, toward the far wall. Did he plan to throw himself out the window? Clary could see his reflection in the big, gold-framed mirror as he neared it, and the expression on his face—a sort of sneering relief—filled her with a murderous rage.

“Like hell I will,” she muttered, moving to follow Jace. She paused only to grab the blue-hilted kindjal from the floor beneath the table, where Valentine had kicked it. The weapon in her hand felt comfortable now, reassuring, as she pushed a fallen chair out of her way and approached the mirror.

Jace had the seraph blade out, its light casting a hard illumination upward, darkening the circles under his eyes, the hollows of his cheeks. Valentine had turned and stood outlined in its light, his back against the mirror. In its surface Clary could also see Luke behind them; he had set his sword down, and was pulling the red-hilted kindjal out of Alaric’s chest, gently and carefully. She felt sick and gripped her own blade more tightly. “Jace—” she began.

He didn’t turn to look at her, though of course he could see her in the mirror’s reflection. “Clary, I told you to wait. ”

“She’s like her mother,” said Valentine. One of his hands was behind him; he was running it along the edge of the mirror’s heavy gilt frame. “Doesn’t like to do what she’s told. ”

Jace wasn’t shaking as he had been earlier, but Clary could sense how thin his control had been stretched, like the skin over a drum. “I’ll go with him to Idris, Clary. I’ll bring the Cup back. ”

“No, you can’t,” Clary began, and saw, in the mirror, how his face twisted.

“Do you have a better idea?” he demanded.

“But Luke—”

“Lucian,” said Valentine in a voice like silk, “is attending to a fallen comrade. As for the Cup, and Idris, they are not far. Through the looking glass, one might say. ”

Jace’s eyes narrowed. “The mirror is the Portal?”

Valentine’s lips thinned and he dropped his hand, moving back from the mirror as the image in it swirled and changed like watercolors running in a painting. Instead of the room with its dark wood and candles, now Clary could see green fields, the thick emerald leaves of trees, and a wide meadow sweeping down to a large stone house in the distance. She could hear the buzzing sound of bees and the rustle of leaves in wind, and smell the honeysuckle carried on the wind.

“I told you it was not far. ” Valentine stood in what was now a gilt-arched doorway, his hair stirring in the same wind that ruffled the leaves on the distant trees. “Is it as you remember it, Jonathan? Has nothing changed?”

Clary’s heart clenched inside her chest. She had no doubt this was Jace’s childhood home, presented to tempt him as you might tempt a child with candy or a toy. She looked toward Jace, but he didn’t seem to see her at all. He was staring at the Portal, and the view beyond it of the green fields and the manor house. She saw his face soften, the wistful curve of his mouth, as if he were looking at someone he loved.

“You can still come home,” said his father. The light from the seraph blade that Jace held threw his shadow backward so it seemed to move across the Portal, darkening the bright fields, the meadow beyond.

The smile faded from Jace’s mouth. “That’s not my home,” he said. “This is my home now. ”

A spasm of fury twisting his features, Valentine looked at his son. She would never forget that look—it made her feel a sudden wild longing for her mother. Because no matter how angry her mother had been with her, Jocelyn had never looked at her like that. She had always looked at her with love.

If she could have felt more pity for Jace than she already did, she would have felt it then.

“Very well,” said Valentine, and took a swift step back through the Portal so that his feet struck the earth of Idris. His lips curved into a smile. “Ah,” he said, “home. ”

Jace stumbled to the edge of the Portal before stopping, a hand against the gilt frame. A strange hesitation seemed to have taken hold of him, even as Idris shimmered before his eyes like a mirage in the desert. It would only take a step—

“Jace, don’t,” Clary said quickly. “Don’t go after him. ”

“But the Cup,” said Jace. She could not tell what he was thinking, but the blade in his hand was shaking violently as his hand shook.

“Let the Clave get it! Jace, please. ” If you go through that Portal, you might never come back. Valentine will kill you. You don’t want to believe it, but he will.

“Your sister is right. ” Valentine was standing amid green grass and wildflowers, the blades waving around his feet, and Clary realized that though he and they were inches away from each other, they stood in different countries. “Do you really think you can win this? Though you have a seraph blade and I am unarmed? Not only am I stronger than you, but I doubt you have it in you to kill me. And you will have to kill me, Jonathan, before I’ll give the Cup to you. ”

Jace tightened his grip on the angel blade. “I can—”

“No, you can’t. ” Valentine reached out, through the Portal, and seized Jace’s wrist in his hand, dragging it forward until the tip of the seraph blade touched his chest. Where Jace’s hand and wrist passed through the Portal, they seemed to shimmer as if they had been cast in water. “Do it, then,” said Valentine. “Drive the blade in. Three inches—maybe four. ” He jerked the blade forward, the dagger’s tip slicing the fabric of his shirt. A red circle like a poppy bloomed just over his heart. Jace, with a gasp, yanked his arm free and staggered back.

“As I thought,” said Valentine. “Too softhearted. ” And with a shocking suddenness he swung his fist toward Jace. Clary cried out, but the blow never connected; instead it struck the surface of the Portal between them with a sound like a thousand fragile shattering things. Spiderwebbing cracks fissured the glass-that-was-not-glass; the last thing Clary heard before the Portal dissolved into a deluge of ragged shards was Valentine’s derisive laughter.

Glass surged across the floor like a shower of ice, a strangely beautiful cascade of silver shards. Clary stepped back, but Jace stood very still as the glass rained around him, staring at the empty frame of the mirror.

Clary had expected him to swear, to shout or curse at his father, but instead he only waited for the shards to stop falling. When they did, he knelt down silently and carefully in the welter of broken glass and picked up one of the larger pieces, turning it over in his hands.

“Don’t. ” Clary knelt down next to him, setting down the knife she’d been holding. Its presence no longer comforted her. “There wasn’t anything you could have done. ”

“Yes, there was. ” He was still looking down at the glass. Broken slivers of it powdered his hair. “I could have killed him. ” He turned the shard toward her. “Look,” he said.

She looked. In the bit of glass she could still see a piece of Idris—a bit of blue sky, the shadow of green leaves. She exhaled painfully. “Jace—”

“Are you all right?”

Clary looked up. It was Luke, standing over them. He was weaponless, his eyes sunk into blue circles of exhaustion. “We’re fine,” she said. She could see a crumpled figure on the ground behind him, half-covered in Valentine’s long coat. A hand protruded from beneath the fabric’s edge; it was tipped with claws. “Alaric …?”

“Is dead,” said Luke. There was a wealth of controlled pain in his voice; though he had barely known Alaric, Clary knew the crushing weight of guilt would stay with him forever. And this is how you repay the unquestioning loyalty you bought so cheaply, Lucian. By letting them die for you.

“My father got away,” said Jace. “With the Cup. ” His voice was dull. “We delivered it right to him. I failed. ”

Luke let one of his hands fall on Jace’s head, brushing the glass from his hair. His claws were still out, his fingers stained with blood, but Jace suffered his touch as if he didn’t mind it, and said nothing at all. “It’s not your fault,” Luke said, looking down at Clary. His blue eyes were steady. They said: Your brother needs you; stay with him.

She nodded, and Luke left them and went to the window. He threw it open, sending a draft of air through the room that guttered the candles. Clary could hear him shouting, calling down to the wolves below.

She knelt down next to Jace. “It’s all right,” she said haltingly, though clearly it wasn’t, and might never be again, and she put her hand on his shoulder. The cloth of his shirt was rough under her fingertips, damp with sweat, strangely comforting. “We have my mom back. We have you. We have everything that matters. ”

“He was right. That’s why I couldn’t make myself go through the Portal,” Jace whispered. “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t kill him. ”

“The only way you would have failed,” she said, “is if you had. ”

He said nothing, only whispered something under his breath. She couldn’t quite hear the words, but she reached out and took the bit of glass out of his hand. He was bleeding where he’d held it, from two fine and narrow gashes. She put the shard down and took his hand, closing his fingers over the injured palm. “Honestly, Jace,” she said, as gently as she’d touched him, “don’t you know better than to play with broken glass?”

He made a sound like a choked laugh before he reached out and pulled her into his arms. She was aware of Luke watching them from the window, but she shut her eyes resolutely and buried her face against Jace’s shoulder. He smelled of salt and blood, and only when his mouth came close to her ear did she understand what he was saying, what he had been whispering before, and it was the simplest litany of all: her name, just her name.

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