City of Fallen Angels – Chapter 19: HELL IS SATISFIED

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

Chapter 19: HELL IS SATISFIED

The unimaginable brilliance printed on the back of Clarys eyelids faded into darkness. A surprisingly long darkness that gave way slowly to an intermittent grayish light, blotched with shadows. There was something hard and cold pressing into her back, and her whole body hurt. She heard murmured voices above her, which sent a stab of pain through her head. Someone touched her gently on the throat, and the hand was withdrawn. She took a deep breath.

Her whole body was throbbing. She opened her eyes to slits, and looked around her, trying not to move very much. She was lying on the hard tiles of the rooftop garden, one of the paving stones digging into her back. She had fallen to the ground when Lilith vanished, and was covered in cuts and bruises, her shoes were gone, her knees were bleeding, and her dress was slashed where Lilith had cut her with the magical whip, blood welling through the rents in her silk dress.

Simon was kneeling over her, his face anxious. The Mark of Cain still gleamed whitely on his forehead. “Her pulse is steady,” he was saying, “but come on. Youre supposed to have all those healing runes. There must be something you can do for her-”

“Not without a stele. Lilith made me throw Clarys away so she couldnt grab it from me when she woke up. ” The voice was Jaces, low and tense with suppressed anguish. He knelt across from Simon, on her other side, his face in shadow. “Can you carry her downstairs? If we can get her to the Institute-”

“You want me to carry her?” Simon sounded surprised; Clary didnt blame him.

“I doubt shed want me touching her. ” Jace stood up, as if he couldnt bear to remain in one place. “If you could-”

His voice cracked, and he turned away, staring at the place where Lilith had stood until a moment ago, a bare patch of stone now silvered with scattered molecules of salt. Clary heard Simon sigh-a deliberate sound-and he bent over her, his hands on her arms.

She opened her eyes the rest of the way, and their gazes met. Though she knew he realized she was conscious, neither of them said anything. It was hard for her to look at him, at that familiar face with the mark she had given him blazing like a white star above his eyes.

She had known, giving him the Mark of Cain, that she was doing something enormous, something terrifying and colossal whose outcome was almost totally unpredictable. She would have done it again, to save his life. But still, while hed been standing there, the Mark burning like white lightning as Lilith-a Greater Demon as old as mankind itself-charred away to salt, she had thought, What have I done?

“Im all right,” she said. She lifted herself up onto her elbows; they hurt horribly. At some point shed landed on them and scraped off all the skin. “I can walk just fine. ”

At the sound of her voice, Jace turned. The sight of him tore at her. He was shockingly bruised and bloody, a long scratch running the length of his cheek, his lower lip swollen, and a dozen bleeding rents in his clothes. She wasnt used to seeing him so damaged-but of course, if he didnt have a stele to heal her, he didnt have one to heal himself, either.

His expression was absolutely blank. Even Clary, used to reading his face as if she were reading the pages of a book, could read nothing in it. His gaze dropped to her throat, where she could still feel the stinging pain, the blood crusting there where his knife had cut her. The nothingness of his expression cracked, and he looked away before she could see his face change.

Waving away Simons offer of a helping hand, she tried to rise to her feet. A searing pain shot through her ankle, and she cried out, then bit her lip. Shadowhunters didnt scream in pain. They bore it stoically, she reminded herself. No whimpering.

“Its my ankle,” she said. “I think it might be sprained, or broken. ”

Jace looked at Simon. “Carry her,” he said. “Like I told you. ”

This time Simon didnt wait for Clarys response; he slid one arm under her knees and the other under her shoulders and lifted her; she looped her arms around his neck and held on tight. Jace headed toward the cupola and the doors that led inside. Simon followed, carrying Clary as carefully as if she were breakable porcelain. Clary had almost forgotten how strong he was, now that he was a vampire. He no longer smelled like himself, she thought, a little wistfully-that Simon-smell of soap and cheap aftershave (that he really didnt need) and his favorite cinnamon gum. His hair still smelled like his shampoo, but otherwise he seemed to have no smell at all, and his skin where she touched it was cold. She tightened her arms around his neck, wishing he had some body heat. The tips of her fingers looked bluish, and her body felt numb.

Jace, ahead of them, shouldered the glass double doors open. Then they were inside, where it was mercifully slightly warmer. It was strange, Clary thought, being held by someone whose chest didnt rise and fall as they breathed. A strange electricity still seemed to cling to Simon, a remnant of the brutally shining light that had enveloped the roof when Lilith was destroyed. She wanted to ask him how he was feeling, but Jaces silence was so devastatingly total that she felt afraid to break it.

He reached for the elevator call button, but before his finger touched it, the doors slid open of their own accord, and Isabelle seemed to almost explode through them, her silvery-gold whip trailing behind her like the tail of a comet. Alec followed, hard on her heels; seeing Jace, Clary, and Simon there, Isabelle skidded to a stop, Alec nearly crashing into her from behind. Under other circumstances it would almost have been funny.

“But-,” Isabelle gasped. She was cut and bloodied, her beautiful red dress torn raggedly around the knees, her black hair having come down out of its updo, strands of it matted with blood. Alec looked as if he had fared only a little better; one sleeve of his jacket was sliced open down the side, though it didnt look as if the skin beneath had been injured. “What are you doing here?”

Jace, Clary, and Simon all stared at her blankly, too shell-shocked to respond. Finally Jace said dryly, “We could ask you the same question. ”

“I didnt- We thought you and Clary were at the party,” Isabelle said. Clary had rarely seen Isabelle so not self-possessed. “We were looking for Simon. ”

Clary felt Simons chest lift, a sort of reflexive human gasp of surprise. “You were?”

Isabelle flushed. “I. . . ”

“Jace?” It was Alec, his tone commanding. He had given Clary and Simon an astonished look, but then his attention went, as it always did, to Jace. He might not be in love with Jace anymore, if he ever really had been, but they were still parabatai, and Jace was always first on his mind in any battle. “What are you doing here? And for the Angels sake, what happened to you?”

Jace stared at Alec, almost as if he didnt know him. He looked like someone in a nightmare, examining a new landscape not because it was surprising or dramatic but to prepare himself for whatever horrors it might reveal. “Stele,” he said finally, in a cracking voice. “Do you have your stele?”

Alec reached for his belt, looking baffled. “Of course. ” He held the stele out to Jace. “If you need an iratze-”

“Not for me,” Jace said, still in the same odd, cracked voice. “Her. ” He pointed at Clary. “She needs it more than I do. ” His eyes met Alecs, gold and blue. “Please, Alec,” he said, the harshness gone from his voice as suddenly as it had come. “Help her for me. ”

He turned and walked away, toward the far side of the room, where the glass doors were. He stood, staring through them-at the garden outside or his own reflection, Clary couldnt tell.

Alec looked after Jace for a moment, then came toward Clary and Simon, stele in hand. He indicated that Simon should lower Clary to the floor, which he did gently, letting her brace her back against the wall. He stepped back as Alec knelt down over her. She could see the confusion in Alecs face, and his look of surprise as he saw how bad the cuts across her arm and abdomen were. “Who did this to you?”

“I-” Clary looked helplessly toward Jace, who still had his back to them. She could see his reflection in the glass doors, his face a white smudge, darkened here and there with bruises. The front of his shirt was dark with blood. “Its hard to explain. ”

“Why didnt you summon us?” Isabelle demanded, her voice thin with betrayal. “Why didnt you tell us you were coming here? Why didnt you send a fire-message, or anything? You know we would have come if you needed us. ”

“There wasnt time,” Simon said. “And I didnt know Clary and Jace were going to be here. I thought I was the only one. It didnt seem right to drag you into my problems. ”

“D-drag me into your problems?” Isabelle sputtered. “You-,” she began-and then to everyones surprise, clearly including her own, she flung herself at Simon, wrapping her arms around his neck. He staggered backward, unprepared for the assault, but he recovered quickly enough. His arms went around her, nearly snagging on the dangling whip, and he held her tightly, her dark head just under his chin. Clary couldnt quite tell-Isabelle was speaking too softly-but it sounded like she was swearing at Simon under her breath.

Alecs eyebrows went up, but he made no comment as he bent over Clary, blocking her view of Isabelle and Simon. He touched the stele to her skin, and she jumped at the stinging pain. “I know it hurts,” he said in a low voice. “I think you hit your head. Magnus ought to look at you. What about Jace? How badly is he hurt?”

“I dont know. ” Clary shook her head. “He wont let me near him. ”

Alec put his hand under her chin, turning her face from side to side, and sketched a second light iratze on the side of her throat, just under her jawline. “What did he do that he thinks was so terrible?”

She flicked her eyes up toward him. “What makes you think he did anything?”

Alec let go of her chin. “Because I know him. And the way he punishes himself. Not letting you near him is punishing himself, not punishing you. ”

“He doesnt want me near him,” Clary said, hearing the rebelliousness in her own voice and hating herself for being petty.

“Youre all he ever wants,” said Alec in a surprisingly gentle tone, and he sat back on his heels, pushing his long dark hair out of his eyes. There was something different about him these days, Clary thought, a surety about himself he hadnt had when she had first met him, something that allowed him to be generous with others as he had never been generous with himself before. “How did you two wind up here, anyway? We didnt even notice you leave the party with Simon-”

“They didnt,” said Simon. He and Isabelle had detached themselves, but still stood close to each other, side by side. “I came here alone. Well, not exactly alone. I was-summoned. ”

Clary nodded. “Its true. We didnt leave the party with him. When Jace brought me here, I had no idea Simon was going to be here too. ”

“Jace brought you here?” Isabelle said, amazed. “Jace, if you knew about Lilith and the Church of Talto, you should have said something. ”

Jace was still staring through the doors. “I guess it slipped my mind,” he said tonelessly.

Clary shook her head as Alec and Isabelle looked from their adoptive brother to her, as if for an explanation of his behavior. “It wasnt really Jace,” she said finally. “He was . . . being controlled. By Lilith. ”

“Possession?” Isabelles eyes rounded into surprised Os. Her hand tightened on her whip handle reflexively.

Jace turned away from the doors. Slowly he reached up and drew open his mangled shirt so that they could see the ugly possession rune, and the bloody slash that ran through it. “That,” he said, still in the same toneless voice, “is Liliths mark. Its how she controlled me. ”

Alec shook his head; he looked deeply disturbed. “Jace, usually the only way to sever a demonic connection like that is to kill the demon whos doing the controlling. Lilith is one of the most powerful demons who ever-”

“Shes dead,” said Clary abruptly. “Simon killed her. Or I guess you could say the Mark of Cain killed her. ”

They all stared at Simon. “And what about you two? How did you end up here?” he asked, his tone defensive.

“Looking for you,” Isabelle said. “We found that card Lilith must have given you. In your apartment. Jordan let us in. Hes with Maia, downstairs. ” She shuddered. “The things Liliths been doing-you wouldnt believe-so horrible-”

Alec held his hands up. “Slow down, everyone. Well explain what happened with us, and then Simon, Clary, you explain what happened on your end. ”

The explanation took less time than Clary thought it would, with Isabelle doing much of the talking with wide, sweeping hand gestures that threatened, on occasion, to sever one of her friends unprotected limbs with her whip. Alec took the opportunity to go out onto the roof deck to send a fire-message to the Clave telling them where they were and asking for backup. Jace stepped aside wordlessly to let him by as he left, and again when he came back in. He didnt speak during Simon and Clarys explanation of what had happened on the rooftop either, even when they got to the part about Raziel having raised Jace from the dead back in Idris. It was Izzy who finally interrupted, when Clary began to explain about Lilith being Sebastians “mother” and keeping his body encased in glass.

“Sebastian?” Isabelle slammed her whip against the ground with enough force to open up a crack in the marble. “Sebastian is out there? And hes not dead?” She turned to look at Jace, who was leaning against the glass doors, arms crossed, expressionless. “I saw him die. I saw Jace cut his spine in half, and I saw him fall into the river. And now youre telling me hes alive out there?”

“No,” Simon hastened to reassure her. “His bodys there, but hes not alive. Lilith didnt get to complete the ceremony. ” Simon put a hand on her shoulder, but she shook it off. She had gone a deadly white color.

“Not really alive isnt dead enough for me,” she said. “Im going out there and Im going to cut him into a thousand pieces. ” She turned toward the doors.

“Iz!” Simon put his hand on her shoulder. “Izzy. No. ”

“No?” She looked at him incredulously. “Give me one good reason why I shouldnt chop him into worthless-bastard-themed confetti. ”

Simons eyes darted around the room, resting for a moment on Jace, as if he expected him to chime in or add a comment. He didnt; he didnt even move. Finally Simon said, “Look, you understand about the ritual, right? Because Jace was brought back from the dead, that gave Lilith the power to raise Sebastian. And to do that, she needed Jace there and alive, as-what did she call it-”

“A counterweight,” put in Clary.

“That mark that Jace has on his chest. Liliths mark. ” In a seemingly unconscious gesture, Simon touched his own chest, just over the heart. “Sebastian has it too. I saw them both flash at the same time when Jace stepped into the circle. ”

Isabelle, her whip twitching at her side, her teeth biting into her red bottom lip, said impatiently, “And?”

“I think she was making a tie between them,” said Simon. “If Jace died, Sebastian couldnt live. So if you cut Sebastian into pieces-”

“It could hurt Jace,” Clary said, the words spilling out of her as she realized. “Oh, my God. Oh, Izzy, you cant. ”

“So were just going to let him live?” Isabelle sounded incredulous.

“Cut him to pieces if you like,” Jace said. “You have my permission. ”

“Shut up,” said Alec. “Stop acting like your life doesnt matter. Iz, werent you listening? Sebastians not alive. ”

“Hes not dead, either. Not dead enough. ”

“We need the Clave,” said Alec. “We need to give him over to the Silent Brothers. They can sever his connection to Jace, and then youll get all the blood you want, Iz. Hes Valentines son. And hes a murderer. Everyone lost someone in the battle in Alicante, or knows someone who did. You think theyll be kind to him? Theyll take him apart slowly while hes still living. ”

Isabelle stared up at her brother. Very slowly tears welled in her eyes, spilling down her cheeks, streaking the dirt and blood on her skin. “I hate it,” she said. “I hate it when youre right. ”

Alec pulled his sister closer and kissed the top of her head. “I know you do. ”

She squeezed her brothers hand briefly, then drew back. “Fine,” she said. “I wont touch Sebastian. But I cant stand to be this close to him. ” She glanced toward the glass doors, where Jace still stood. “Lets go downstairs. We can wait for the Clave in the lobby. And we need to get Maia and Jordan; theyre probably wondering where we went. ”

Simon cleared his throat. “Someone should stay up here just to keep an eye on-on things. Ill do it. ”

“No. ” It was Jace. “You go downstairs. Ill stay. All of this is my fault. I should have made sure Sebastian was dead when I had the chance. And as for the rest of it. . . ”

His voice trailed off. But Clary remembered him touching her face in a dark hallway in the Institute, remembered him whispering, Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

My fault, my fault, my own most grievous fault.

She turned to look at the others; Isabelle had pushed the call button, which was lit. Clary could hear the distant hum of the rising elevator. Isabelles brow creased. “Alec, maybe you should stay up here with Jace. ”

“I dont need help,” Jace said. “Theres nothing to handle. Ill be fine. ”

Isabelle threw her hands up as the elevator arrived with a ping. “Fine. You win. Sulk up here alone if you want. ” She stalked into the elevator, Simon and Alec crowding in after her. Clary was the last to follow, turning back to look at Jace as she went. He had gone back to staring at the doors, but she could see his reflection in them. His mouth was compressed into a bloodless line, his eyes dark.

Jace, she thought as the elevator doors began to close. She willed him to turn, to look at her. He didnt, but she felt strong hands suddenly on her shoulders, shoving her forward. She heard Isabelle say, “Alec, what on earth are you-” as she stumbled through the elevator doors and righted herself, turning to stare. The doors were closing behind her, but through them she could see Alec. He gave her a rueful little half smile and a shrug, as if to say, What else was I supposed to do? Clary stepped forward, but it was too late; the elevator doors had clanged shut.

She was alone in the room with Jace.

The room was littered with dead bodies-crumpled figures all in gray hooded tracksuits, flung or crumpled or slumped against the wall. Maia stood by the window, breathing hard, looking out across the scene in front of her with disbelief. She had taken part in the battle at Brocelind in Idris, and had thought that was the worst thing she would ever see. But somehow this was worse. The blood that ran from dead cult members wasnt demon ichor; it was human blood. And the babies-silent and dead in their cribs, their small taloned hands folded one over the other, like dolls. . .

She looked down at her own hands. Her claws were still out, stained with blood from tip to root; she retracted them, and the blood ran down her palms, staining her wrists. Her feet were bare and bloodstained, and there was a long scratch along one bare shoulder still oozing red, though it had already begun to heal. Despite the swift healing lycanthropy provided, she knew shed wake up tomorrow covered in bruises. When you were a werewolf, bruises rarely lasted more than a day. She remembered when she had been human, and her brother, Daniel, had made himself an expert in pinching her hard in places where the bruises wouldnt show.

“Maia. ” Jordan came in through one of the unfinished doors, ducking a bundle of dangling wires. He straightened up and moved toward her, picking his way among the bodies. “Are you all right?”

The look of concern on his face knotted her stomach.

“Where are Isabelle and Alec?”

He shook his head. He had sustained much less visible damage than she had. His thick leather jacket had protected him, as had his jeans and boots. There was a long scrape along his cheek, dried blood in his light brown hair and staining the blade of the knife he held. “Ive searched the whole floor. Havent seen them. Couple more bodies in the other rooms. They might have-”

The night lit up like a seraph blade. The windows went white, and bright light seared through the room. For a moment Maia thought the world had caught on fire, and Jordan, moving toward her through the light, seemed almost to disappear, white on white, into a shimmering field of silver. She heard herself scream, and she moved blindly backward, banging her head on the plate glass window. She put her hands up to cover her eyes-

And the light was gone. Maia lowered her hands, the world swinging around her. She reached out blindly, and Jordan was there. She put her arms around him-threw them around him, the way she used to when he came to pick her up from her house, and he would swing her into his arms, winding the curls of her hair through his fingers.

He had been slighter then, narrow-shouldered. Now muscle corded his bones, and holding him was like holding on to something absolutely solid, a pillar of granite in the midst of a blowing desert sandstorm. She clung on to him, and heard the beat of his heart under her ear as his hands smoothed her hair, one rough, soothing stroke at a time, comforting and . . . familiar. “Maia . . . its all right. . . ”

She raised her head and pressed her mouth to his. He had changed in so many ways, but the feel of kissing him was the same, his mouth as soft as ever. He went rigid for a second with surprise, and then gathered her up against him, his hands stroking slow circles on her bare back. She remembered the first time they had ever kissed. She had handed him her earrings to put in the glove compartment of his car, and his hand had shaken so badly hed dropped them and then apologized and apologized until she kissed him to shut him up. Shed thought he was the sweetest boy shed ever known.

And then he was bitten, and everything changed.

She drew away, dizzy and breathing hard. He let her go instantly; he was staring at her, his mouth open, his eyes dazed.

Behind him, through the window, she could see the city-she had half expected it to be flattened, a blasted white desert outside the window-but everything was exactly the same. Nothing had changed. Lights blinked on and off in the buildings across the street; she could hear the faint rush of traffic below. “We should go,” she said. “We should look for the others. ”

“Maia,” he said. “Why did you just kiss me?”

“I dont know,” she said. “Do you think we should try the elevators?”

“Maia-”

“I dont know, Jordan,” she said. “I dont know why I kissed you, and I dont know if Im going to do it again, but I do know Im freaked out and worried about my friends and I want to get out of here. Okay?”

He nodded. He looked like there were a million things he wanted to say but had determined not to say them, for which she was grateful. He ran a hand through his tousled hair, rimed white with plaster dust, and nodded. “Okay. ”

Silence. Jace was still leaning against the door, only now he had his forehead pressed against it, his eyes closed. Clary wondered if he even knew she was in the room with him. She took a step forward, but before she could say anything, he pushed the doors open and walked back out into the garden.

She stood still for a moment, staring after him. She could call for the elevator, of course, ride it down, wait for the Clave in the lobby with everyone else. If Jace didnt want to talk, he didnt want to talk. She couldnt force him to. If Alec was right, and he was punishing himself, shed just have to wait until he got over it.

She turned toward the elevator-and stopped. A little flame of anger licked its way through her, making her eyes burn. No, she thought. She didnt have to let him behave like this. Maybe he could be this way to everyone else, but not to her. He owed her better than that. They owed each other better than that.

She whirled and made her way to the doors. Her ankle still ached, but the iratzes Alec had put on her were working. Most of the pain in her body had subsided to a dull, throbbing ache. She reached the doors and pushed them open, stepping onto the roof terrace with a wince as her bare feet came into contact with the freezing tiles.

She saw Jace immediately; he was kneeling near the steps, on tiles stained with blood and ichor and glittering with salt. He rose as she approached, and he turned, something shiny dangling from his hand.

The Morgenstern ring, on its chain.

The wind had come up; it blew his dark gold hair across his face. He pushed it away impatiently and said, “I just remembered that we left this here. ”

His voice sounded surprisingly normal.

“Is that why you wanted to stay up here?” said Clary. “To get it back?”

He turned his hand, so the chain swung upward, his fingers closing over the ring. “Im attached to it. Its stupid, I know. ”

“You could have said, or Alec could have stayed-”

“I dont belong with the rest of you,” he said abruptly. “After what I did, I dont deserve iratzes and healing and hugs and being consoled and whatever else it is my friends are going to think I need. Id rather stay up here with him. ” He jerked his chin toward the place where Sebastians motionless body lay in the open coffin, on its stone pedestal. “And I sure as hell dont deserve you. ”

Clary crossed her arms over her chest. “Have you ever thought about what I deserve? That maybe I deserve to get a chance to talk to you about what happened?”

He stared at her. They were only a few feet apart, but it felt as if an inexpressible gulf lay between them. “I dont know why you would even want to look at me, much less talk to me. ”

“Jace,” she said. “Those things you did-that wasnt you. ”

He hesitated. The sky was so black, the lit windows of the nearby skyscrapers so bright, it was as if they stood in the center of a net of shining jewels. “If it wasnt me,” he said, “then why can I remember everything I did? When people are possessed, and they come back from it, they dont remember what they did when the demon inhabited them. But I remember everything. ” He turned abruptly and walked away, toward the roof garden wall. She followed him, glad for the distance it put between them and Sebastians body, now hidden from view by a row of hedges.

“Jace!” she called out, and he turned, his back to the wall, slumping against it. Behind him a citys worth of electricity lit up the night like the demon towers of Alicante. “You remember because she wanted you to remember,” Clary said, catching up with him, a little breathless. “She did this to torture you as much as she did it to get Simon to do what she wanted. She wanted you to have to watch yourself hurt the people you love. ”

“I was watching,” he said in a low voice. “It was as if some part of me was off at a distance, watching and screaming at myself to stop. But the rest of me felt completely peaceful and like what I was doing was right. Like it was the only thing I could do. I wonder if thats how Valentine felt about everything he did. Like it was so easy to be right. ” He looked away from her. “I cant stand it,” he said. “You shouldnt be here with me. You should just go. ”

Instead of leaving, Clary moved to stand beside him against the wall. Her arms were already wrapped around herself; she was shivering. Finally, reluctantly, he turned his head to look at her again. “Clary. . . ”

“You dont get to decide,” she said, “where I go, or when. ”

“I know. ” His voice was ragged. “Ive always known that about you. I dont know why I had to fall in love with someone whos more stubborn than I am. ”

Clary was silent a moment. Her heart had contracted at those two words-“in love. ” “All those things you said to me,” she said in a half whisper, “on the terrace at the Ironworks-did you mean them?”

His golden eyes dulled. “Which things?”

That you loved me, she almost said, but thinking back-he hadnt said that, had he? Not the words themselves. The implication had been there. And the truth of the fact, that they loved each other, was something she knew as clearly as she knew her own name.

“You kept asking me if I would love you if you were like Sebastian, like Valentine. ”

“And you said then I wouldnt be me. Look how wrong that turned out to be,” he said, bitterness coloring his voice. “What I did tonight-”

Clary moved toward him; he tensed, but didnt move away. She took hold of the front of his shirt, leaned in closely, and said, enunciating each word clearly, “That wasnt you. ”

“Tell that to your mother,” he said. “Tell it to Luke, when they ask where this came from. ” He touched her collarbone gently; the wound was healed now, but her skin, and the fabric of her dress, were still stained darkly with blood.

“Ill tell them,” she said. “Ill tell them it was my fault. ”

He looked at her, gold eyes incredulous. “You cant lie to them. ”

“Im not. I brought you back,” she said. “You were dead, and I brought you back. I upset the balance, not you. I opened the door for Lilith and her stupid ritual. I could have asked for anything, and I asked for you. ” She tightened her grip on his shirt, her fingers white with cold and pressure. “And I would do it again. I love you, Jace Wayland-Herondale-Lightwood-whatever you want to call yourself. I dont care. I love you and I will always love you, and pretending it could be any other way is just a waste of time. ”

A look of such pain crossed his face that Clary felt her heart tighten. Then he reached out and took her face between his hands. His palms were warm against her cheeks.

“Remember when I told you,” he said, his voice as soft as she had ever heard it, “that I didnt know if there was a God or not, but either way, we were completely on our own? I still dont know the answer; I only knew that there was such a thing as faith, and that I didnt deserve to have it. And then there was you. You changed everything I believed in. You know that line from Dante that I quoted to you in the park? Lamor che move il sole e laltre stelle?”

Her lips curled a little at the sides as she looked up at him. “I still dont speak Italian. ”

“Its a bit of the very last verse from Paradiso-Dantes Paradise. My will and my desire were turned by love, the love that moves the sun and the other stars. Dante was trying to explain faith, I think, as an overpowering love, and maybe its blasphemous, but thats how I think of the way that I love you. You came into my life and suddenly I had one truth to hold on to-that I loved you, and you loved me. ”

Though he seemed to be looking at her, his gaze was distant, as if fixed on something far away.

“Then I started to have the dreams,” he went on. “And I thought maybe Id been wrong. That I didnt deserve you. That I didnt deserve to be perfectly happy-I mean, God, who deserves that? And after tonight-”

“Stop. ” She had been clutching his shirt; she loosened her grip now, flattening her hands against his chest. His heart was racing under her fingertips; his cheeks flushed, and not just from the cold. “Jace. Through everything that happened tonight, I knew one thing. That it wasnt you hurting me. It wasnt you doing these things. I have an absolute incontrovertible belief that you are good. And that will never change. ”

Jace took a deep, shuddering breath. “I dont even know how to try to deserve that. ”

“You dont have to. I have enough faith in you,” she said, “for both of us. ”

His hands slid into her hair. The mist of their exhaled breath rose between them, a white cloud. “I missed you so much,” he said, and kissed her, his mouth gentle on hers, not desperate and hungry the way it had been the last few times he had kissed her, but familiar and tender and soft.

She closed her eyes as the world seemed to spin around her like a pinwheel. Sliding her hands up his chest, she stretched upward as far as she could, wrapping her arms around his neck, rising up on her toes to meet his mouth with hers. His fingers skimmed down her body, over skin and satin, and she shivered, leaning into him, and she was sure they both tasted like blood and ashes and salt, but it didnt matter; the world, the city, and all its lights and life seemed to have narrowed down to this, just her and Jace, the burning heart of a frozen world.

He drew away first, reluctantly. She realized why a moment later. The sound of honking cars and screeching tires from the street below was audible, even up here. “The Clave,” he said resignedly-though he had to clear his throat to get the words out, Clary was pleased to hear. His face was flushed, as she imagined hers was. “Theyre here. ”

With her hand in his Clary looked over the edge of the roof wall and saw that a number of long black cars had drawn up in front of the scaffolding. People were piling out. It was hard to recognize them from this height, but Clary thought she saw Maryse, and several other people dressed in gear. A moment later Lukes truck roared up to the curb and Jocelyn leaped out. Clary would have known it was her, just from the way she moved, at a greater distance than this one.

Clary turned to Jace. “My mom,” she said. “Id better get downstairs. I dont want her coming up here and seeing-and seeing him. ” She jerked her chin toward Sebastians coffin.

He stroked her hair back from her face. “I dont want to let you out of my sight. ”

“Then, come with me. ”

“No. Someone should stay up here. ” He took her hand, turned it over, and dropped the Morgenstern ring into it, the chain pooling like liquid metal. The clasp had bent when shed torn it off, but hed managed to push it back into shape. “Please take it. ”

Her eyes flicked down, and then, uncertainly, back up to his face. “I wish I understood what it meant to you. ”

He shrugged slightly. “I wore it for a decade,” he said. “Some part of me is in it. It means I trust you with my past and all the secrets that past carries. And besides”-lightly he touched one of the stars engraved around the rim-“the love that moves the sun and all the other stars. Pretend that thats what the stars stand for, not Morgenstern. ”

In answer she dropped the chain back over her head, feeling the ring settle in its accustomed place, below her collarbone. It felt like a puzzle piece clicking back into place. For a moment their eyes locked in wordless communication, more intense in some ways than their physical contact had been; she held the image of him in her mind in that moment as if she were memorizing it-the tangled golden hair, the shadows cast by his lashes, the rings of darker gold inside the light amber of his eyes. “Ill be right back,” she said. She squeezed his hand. “Five minutes. ”

“Go on,” he said roughly, releasing her hand, and she turned and went back down the path. The moment she stepped away from him, she was cold again, and by the time she reached the doors to the building, she was freezing. She paused as she opened the door, and looked back at him, but he was only a shadow, backlit by the glow of the New York skyline. The love that moves the sun and all the other stars, she thought, and then, as if in answering echo, she heard Liliths words. The kind of love that can burn down the world or raise it up in glory. A shiver ran through her, and not just from the cold. She looked for Jace, but he had vanished into the shadows; she turned and headed back inside, the door sliding shut behind her.

Alec had gone upstairs to look for Jordan and Maia, and Simon and Isabelle were alone together, sitting side by side on the green chaise longue in the lobby. Isabelle held Alecs witchlight in her hand, illuminating the room with a nearly spectral glow, sparking dancing motes of fire from the pendant chandelier.

She had said very little since her brother had left them together. Her head was bent, her dark hair falling forward, her gaze on her hands. They were delicate hands, long-fingered, but calloused as her brothers were. Simon had never noticed before, but she wore a silver ring on her right hand, with a pattern of flames around the band of it, and a carved L in the center. It reminded him of the ring Clary wore around her neck, with its design of stars.

“Its the Lightwood family ring,” she said, noticing where his gaze was fixed. “Every family has an emblem. Ours is fire. ”

It suits you, he thought. Izzy was like fire, in her flaming scarlet dress, with her moods as changeable as sparks. On the roof hed half-thought shed strangle him, her arms around his neck as she called him every name under the sun while clutching him like shed never let him go. Now she was staring off into the distance, as untouchable as a star. It was all very disconcerting.

You love them so, Camille had said, your Shadowhunter friends. As the falcon loves the master who binds and blinds it.

“What you told us,” he said, a little halting, watching Isabelle wind a strand of her hair around her forefinger, “up there on the roof-that you hadnt known that Clary and Jace were missing, that youd come here for me-was that true?”

Isabelle looked up, tucking the strand of hair behind her ear. “Of course its true,” she said indignantly. “When we saw you were gone from the party-and youve been in danger for days, Simon, and what with Camille escaping-” She caught herself up short. “And Jordans responsible for you. He was freaking out. ”

“So it was his idea to come looking for me?”

Isabelle turned to look at him for a long moment. Her eyes were fathomless and dark. “I was the one who noticed you were gone,” she said. “I was the one who wanted to find you. ”

Simon cleared his throat. He felt oddly light-headed. “But why? I thought you hated me now. ”

It had been the wrong thing to say. Isabelle shook her head, her dark hair flying, and moved a little away from him on the settee. “Oh, Simon. Dont be dense. ”

“Iz. ” He reached out and touched her wrist, hesitantly. She didnt move away, just watched him. “Camille said something to me in the Sanctuary. She said that Shadowhunters didnt care about Downworlders, just used them. She said the Nephilim would never do for me what I did for them. But you did. You came for me. You came for me. ”

“Of course I did,” she said, in a muffled little voice. “When I thought something had happened to you-”

He leaned toward her. Their faces were inches from each other. He could see the reflected sparks of the chandelier in her black eyes. Her lips were parted, and Simon could feel the warmth of her breath. For the first time since he had become a vampire, he could feel heat, like an electrical charge passing between them. “Isabelle,” he said. Not Iz, not Izzy. Isabelle. “Can I-”

The elevator pinged; the doors opened, and Alec, Maia, and Jordan spilled out. Alec looked suspiciously at Simon and Isabelle as they sprang apart, but before he could say anything, the double doors of the lobby flew wide, and Shadowhunters poured into the room. Simon recognized Kadir and Maryse, who immediately flew across the room to Isabelle and caught her by the shoulders, demanding to know what had happened.

Simon got to his feet and edged away, feeling uncomfortable-and was nearly knocked down by Magnus, racing across the room to get to Alec. He didnt seem to see Simon at all. After all, in a hundred, two hundred, years, itll be just you and me. Well be all thats left, Magnus had said to him in the Sanctuary. Feeling unutterably lonely among the milling crowd of Shadowhunters, Simon pressed himself back against the wall in the vain hope that he wouldnt be noticed.

Alec looked up just as Magnus reached him, caught him, and pulled him close. His fingers traced over Alecs face as if checking for bruises or damage; under his breath, he was muttering, “How could you-go off like this and not even tell me-I could have helped you-”

“Stop it. ” Alec pulled away, feeling mutinous.

Magnus checked himself, his voice sobering. “Im sorry,” he said. “I shouldnt have left the party. I should have stayed with you. Camilles gone anyway. No ones got the slightest idea where she went, and since you cant track vampires. . . ” He shrugged.

Alec pushed away the image of Camille in his mind, chained to the pipe, looking at him with those fierce green eyes. “Never mind,” he said. “She doesnt matter. I know you were just trying to help. Im not angry with you for leaving the party, anyway. ”

“But you were angry,” said Magnus. “I knew you were. Thats why I was so worried. Running off and putting yourself in danger just because youre angry with me-”

“Im a Shadowhunter,” Alec said. “Magnus, this is what I do. Its not about you. Next time fall in love with an insurance adjuster or-”

“Alexander,” said Magnus. “There isnt going to be a next time. ” He leaned his forehead against Alecs, gold-green eyes staring into blue.

Alecs heartbeat sped up. “Why not?” he said. “You live forever. Not everyone does. ”

“I know I said that,” said Magnus. “But, Alexander-”

“Stop calling me that,” said Alec. “Alexander is what my parents call me. And I suppose its very advanced of you to have accepted my mortality so fatalistically-everything dies, blah, blah-but how do you think that makes me feel? Ordinary couples can hope-hope to grow old together, hope to live long lives and die at the same time, but we cant hope for that. I dont even know what it is you want. ”

Alec wasnt sure what hed expected in response-anger or defensiveness or even humor-but Magnuss voice only dropped, cracking slightly when he said, “Alex-Alec. If I gave you the impression I had accepted the idea of your death I can only apologize. I tried to, I thought I had-and yet still I pictured having you for fifty, sixty more years. I thought I might be ready then to let you go. But its you, and I realize now that I wont be any more ready to lose you then than I am right now. ” He put his hands gently to either side of Alecs face. “Which is not at all. ”

“So what do we do?” Alec whispered.

Magnus shrugged, and smiled suddenly; with his messy black hair and the gleam in his gold-green eyes, he looked like a mischievous teenager. “What everyone does,” he replied. “Like you said. Hope. ”

Alec and Magnus had begun kissing in the corner of the room, and Simon wasnt quite sure where to look. He didnt want them to think he was staring at them during what was clearly a private moment, but wherever else he looked, he met the glaring eyes of Shadowhunters. Despite the fact that hed fought with them in the bank against Camille, none of them looked at him with particular friendliness. It was one thing for Isabelle to accept him and to care about him, but Shadowhunters en masse were another thing entirely. He could tell what they were thinking. “Vampire, Downworlder, enemy” was written all over their faces. It came as a relief when the doors burst open again and Jocelyn came flying in, still wearing her blue dress from the party. Luke was only a few steps behind her.

“Simon!” she cried as soon as she caught sight of him. She ran over to him, and to his surprise she hugged him fiercely before letting him go. “Simon, wheres Clary? Is she-”

Simon opened his mouth, but no sound came out. How could he explain to Jocelyn, of all people, what had happened that night? Jocelyn, who would be horrified to know that so much of Liliths evil, the children she had murdered, the blood she had spilled, had all been in the service of making more creatures like Jocelyns own dead son, whose body even now lay entombed on the rooftop where Clary was with Jace?

I cant tell her any of this, he thought. I cant. He looked past her at Luke, whose blue eyes rested on him expectantly. Behind Clarys family he could see the Shadowhunters crowding around Isabelle as she presumably recounted the events of the evening.

“I-,” he began helplessly, and then the elevator doors opened again, and Clary stepped out. Her shoes were gone, her lovely satin dress in bloody rags, bruises already fading on her bare arms and legs. But she was smiling-radiant even, happier than Simon had seen her look in weeks.

“Mom!” she exclaimed, and then Jocelyn had flown at her and was hugging her. Clary smiled at Simon over her mothers shoulder. Simon glanced around the room. Alec and Magnus were still wrapped up in each other, and Maia and Jordan had vanished. Isabelle was still surrounded by Shadowhunters, and Simon could hear gasps of horror and amazement rise from the group surrounding her as she recounted her story. He suspected some part of her was enjoying it. Isabelle did love being the center of attention, no matter what the cause.

He felt a hand come down on his shoulder. It was Luke. “Are you all right, Simon?”

Simon looked up at him. Luke looked as he always did: solid, professorial, utterly reliable. Not even the least bit put out that his engagement party had been disrupted by a sudden dramatic emergency.

Simons father had died so long ago that he barely remembered him. Rebecca recalled bits about him-that he had a beard, and would help her build elaborate towers out of blocks-but Simon didnt. It was one of the things hed thought he always had in common with Clary, that had bonded them: both with dead fathers, both brought up by strong single women.

Well, at least one of those things had turned out to be true, Simon thought. Though his mother had dated, hed never had a consistent fatherly presence in his life, other than Luke. He supposed that in a way, he and Clary had shared Luke. And the wolf pack looked up to Luke for guidance, as well. For a bachelor whod never had children, Simon thought, Luke had an awful lot of kids to look after.

“I dont know,” Simon said, giving Luke the honest answer hed like to think hed have given his own father. “I dont think so. ”

Luke turned Simon to face him. “Youre covered in blood,” he said. “And Im guessing its not yours, because. . . ” He gestured toward the Mark on Simons forehead. “But hey. ” His voice was gentle. “Even covered in blood and with the Mark of Cain on you, youre still Simon. Can you tell me what happened?”

“Its not my blood, youre right,” Simon said hoarsely. “But its also kind of a long story. ” He tilted his head back to look up at Luke; hed always wondered if maybe hed have another growth spurt some day, grow a few more inches than the five-ten he was now, be able to look Luke-not to mention Jace-straight in the eye. But that would never happen now. “Luke,” he said. “Do you think its possible to do something so bad, even if you didnt mean to do it, that you can never come back from it? That no one can forgive you?”

Luke looked at him for a long, silent moment. Then he said, “Think of someone you love, Simon. Really love. Is there anything they could ever do that would mean you would stop loving them?”

Images flashed through Simons mind, like the pages of a flip-book: Clary, turning to smile at him over her shoulder; his sister, tickling him when he was just a little kid; his mother, asleep on the sofa with the coverlet pulled up to her shoulders; Izzy-

He shut the thoughts off hastily. Clary hadnt done anything so terrible that he needed to dredge up forgiveness for her; none of the people he was picturing had. He thought of Clary, forgiving her mother for having stolen her memories. He thought of Jace, what he had done on the roof, how he had looked afterward. He had done what he had done without volition of his own, but Simon doubted Jace would be able to forgive himself, regardless. And then he thought of Jordan-not forgiving himself for what he had done to Maia, but forging ahead anyway, joining the Praetor Lupus, making a life out of helping others.

“I bit someone,” he said. The words came out of his mouth, and he wished he could swallow them back. He braced himself for Lukes look of horror, but it didnt come.

“Did they live?” Luke said. “This person that you bit. Did they survive?”

“I-” How to explain about Maureen? Lilith had ordered her away, but Simon was sure they hadnt seen the last of her. “I didnt kill her. ”

Luke nodded once. “You know how werewolves become pack leaders,” he said. “They have to kill the old pack leader. Ive done that twice. I have the scars to prove it. ” He drew the collar of his shirt aside slightly, and Simon saw the edge of a thick white scar that looked ragged, as if his chest had been clawed. “The second time it was a calculated move. Cold-blooded killing. I wanted to become the leader, and that was how I did it. ” He shrugged. “Youre a vampire. Its in your nature to want to drink blood. Youve held out a long time without doing it. I know you can walk in the sun, Simon, and so you pride yourself on being a normal human boy, but youre still what you are. Just like I am. The more you try to crush your true nature, the more it will control you. Be what you are. No one who really loves you will stop. ”

Simon said hoarsely, “My mom-”

“Clary told me what happened with your mother, and that youve been crashing with Jordan Kyle,” said Luke. “Look, your mother will come around, Simon. Like Amatis did, with me. Youre still her son. Ill talk to her, if you want me to. ”

Simon shook his head silently. His mother had always liked Luke. Dealing with the fact that Luke was a werewolf would probably make things worse, not better.

Luke nodded as if he understood. “If you dont want to go back to Jordans, youre more than welcome to stay on my sofa tonight. Im sure Clary would be glad to have you around, and we can talk about what to do about your mother tomorrow. ”

Simon squared his shoulders. He looked at Isabelle across the room, the gleam of her whip, the shine of the pendant at her throat, the flutter of her hands as she talked. Isabelle, who wasnt afraid of anything. He thought of his mother, the way she had backed away from him, the fear in her eyes. Hed been hiding from the memory, running from it, ever since. But it was time to stop running. “No,” he said. “Thanks, but I think I dont need a place to crash tonight. I think . . . that Im going to go home. ”

Jace stood alone on the roof, looking out over the city, the East River a silvery-black snake twining between Brooklyn and Manhattan. His hands, his lips, still felt warm from Clarys touch, but the wind off the river was icy, and the warmth was fading fast. Without a jacket the air cut through the thin material of his shirt like the blade of a knife.

He took a deep breath, sucking the cold air into his lungs, and let it out slowly. His whole body felt tense. He was waiting for the sound of the elevator, the doors opening, the Shadowhunters flooding out into the garden. They would be sympathetic at first, he thought, worried about him. Then, as they understood what had happened-then would come the shrinking away, the meaningful looks exchanged when they thought he wasnt watching. He had been possessed-not just by a demon, but by a Greater Demon-had acted against the Clave, had threatened and hurt another Shadowhunter.

He thought about how Jocelyn would look at him when she heard what hed done to Clary. Luke might understand, forgive. But Jocelyn. He had never been able to bring himself to speak to her honestly, to say the words he thought might reassure her. I love your daughter, more than I ever thought it was possible to love anything. I would never hurt her.

She would just look at him, he thought, with those green eyes that were so like Clarys. She would want more than that. She would want to hear him say what he wasnt sure was true.

I am nothing like Valentine.

Arent you? The words seemed carried on the cold air, a whisper meant only for his ears. You never knew your mother. You never knew your father. You gave your heart to Valentine when you were a child, as children do, and made yourself a part of him. You cannot cut that away from yourself now with one clean slice of a blade.

His left hand was cold. He looked down and saw, to his shock, that somehow he had picked up the dagger-his real fathers etched silver dagger-and was holding it in his hand. The blade, though eaten away by Liliths blood, was whole again, and shining like a promise. A cold that had nothing to do with the weather began to spread through his chest. How many times had he woken up like this, gasping and sweating, the dagger in his hand? And Clary, always Clary, dead at his feet.

But Lilith was dead. It was over. He tried to slide the dagger into his belt, but his hand didnt seem to want to obey the command his mind was giving it. He felt a sense of stinging heat across his chest, a searing pain. Looking down, he saw that the bloody line that had split Liliths mark in half, where Clary had slashed him with the dagger, had healed. The mark gleamed redly against his chest.

Jace stopped trying to shove the dagger into his belt. His knuckles turned white as his grip tightened on the hilt, his wrist twisting, desperately trying to turn the blade on himself. His heart was pounding. He had accepted no iratzes. How had the mark healed so fast? If he could gash it again, disfigure it, even temporarily-

But his hand wouldnt obey him. His arm stayed stiffly at his side as his body turned, against his own will, toward the pedestal where Sebastians body lay.

The coffin had begun to glow, with a cloudy greenish light-almost a witchlight glow, but there was something painful about this light, something that seemed to pierce the eye. Jace tried to take a step back, but his legs wouldnt move. Icy sweat trickled down his back. A voice whispered at the back of his mind.

Come here.

It was Sebastians voice.

Did you think you were free because Lilith is gone? The vampires bite woke me; now her blood in my veins compels you.

Come here.

Jace tried to dig in his heels, but his body betrayed him, carrying him forward, though his conscious mind strained against it. Even as he tried to hang back, his feet moved him down the path, toward the coffin. The painted circle flashed green as he moved across it, and the coffin seemed to answer with a second flash of emerald light. And then he was standing over it, looking down.

Jace bit down hard on his lip, hoping the pain might shock him out of the dream state he was in. It didnt work. He tasted his own blood as he stared down at Sebastian, who floated like a drowned corpse in the water. Those are pearls that were his eyes. His hair was colorless seaweed, his closed eyelids blue. His mouth had the cold, hard set of his fathers mouth. It was like looking at a young Valentine.

Without his volition, absolutely against his will, Jaces hands began to rise. His left hand laid the edge of the dagger against the inside of his right palm, where life and love lines crisscrossed each other.

Words spilled from his own lips. He heard them as if from an immense distance. They were in no language he knew or understood, but he knew what they were-ritual chanting. His mind was screaming at his body to stop, but it appeared to make no difference. He left hand came down, the knife clenched in it. The blade sliced a clean, sure, shallow cut across his right palm. Almost instantly it began to bleed. He tried to draw back, tried to pull his arm away, but it was as if he were encased in cement. As he watched in horror, the first blood drops splashed onto Sebastians face.

Sebastians eyes flew open. They were black, blacker than Valentines, as black as the demons who had called herself his mother. They fixed on Jace, like great dark mirrors, giving him back his own face, twisted and unrecognizable, his mouth shaping the words of the ritual, spilling forth in a meaningless babble like a river of black water.

The blood was flowing more freely now, turning the cloudy liquid inside the coffin a darker red. Sebastian moved. The bloody water shifted and spilled as he sat up, his black eyes fixed on Jace.

The second part of the ritual. His voice spoke inside Jaces head. It is almost complete.

Water ran off him like tears. His pale hair, pasted to his forehead, seemed to have no color at all. He raised one hand and held it out, and Jace, against the cry inside his own mind, held out the dagger, blade forward. Sebastian slid his hand along the length of the cold, sharp blade. Blood sprang up in a line across his palm. He knocked the dagger aside and took Jaces hand, gripping it with his own.

It was the last thing Jace had expected. He couldnt move to pull away. He felt each of Sebastians cold fingers as they wrapped his hand, pressing their bleeding cuts together. It was like being gripped by cold metal. Ice began to spread up his veins from his hand. A shudder passed over him, and then another, powerful physical tremors so painful it felt as if his body were being turned inside out. He tried to scream-

And the cry died in his throat. He looked down at his and Sebastians hands, clenched together. Blood ran through their fingers and down their wrists, as elegant as red lacework. It glittered in the cold electric light of the city. It moved not like liquid, but like moving red wires. It wrapped their hands together in a scarlet binding.

A peculiar sense of peace stole over Jace. The world seemed to fall away, and he was standing on the peak of a mountain, the world spread out before him, everything in it his for the taking. The lights of the city around him were no longer electric, but were the light of a thousand diamond-like stars. They seemed to shine down on him with a benevolent glow that said, This is good. This is right. This is what your father would have wanted.

He saw Clary in his minds eye, her pale face, the fall of her red hair, her mouth as it moved, shaping the words Ill be right back. Five minutes.

And then her voice faded as another spoke over it, drowning it out. The image of her in his mind receded, vanishing imploringly into the darkness, as Eurydice had vanished when Orpheus had turned to look at her one last time. Her saw her, her white arms held out to him, and then the shadows closed over her and she was gone.

A new voice spoke in Jaces head now, a familiar voice, once hated, now oddly welcome. Sebastians voice. It seemed to run through his blood, through the blood that passed through Sebastians hand into his, like a fiery chain.

We are one now, little brother, you and I, Sebastian said.

We are one.

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