Chapter 6: BAD BLOOD
DIZZINESS WASHED OVER CLARY, AS IF ALL THE AIR HAD BEEN sucked out of the room. She tried to back away but stumbled and hit the door with her shoulder. It shut with a bang, and Jace and the girl broke apart.
Clary froze. They were both staring at her. She noticed that the girl had dark straight hair to her shoulders and was extremely pretty. The top buttons of her shirt were undone, showing a strip of lacy bra. Clary felt as if she were about to throw up.
The girl’s hands went to her blouse, quickly doing up the buttons. She didn’t look pleased. “Excuse me,” she said with a frown. “Who are you?”
Clary didn’t answer—she was looking at Jace, who was staring at her incredulously. His skin was drained of all color, showing the dark rings around his eyes. He looked at Clary as if he were staring down the barrel of a gun.
“Aline. ” Jace’s voice was without warmth or color. “This is my sister, Clary. ”
“Oh. Oh. ” Aline’s face relaxed into a slightly embarrassed smile. “Sorry! What a way to meet you. Hi, I’m Aline. ” She advanced on Clary, still smiling, her hand out.
I don’t think I can touch her, Clary thought with a sinking feeling of horror. She looked at Jace, who seemed to read the expression in her eyes; unsmiling, he took Aline by the shoulders and said something in her ear. She looked surprised, shrugged, and headed for the door without another word.
This left Clary alone with Jace. Alone with someone who was still looking at her as if she were his worst nightmare come to life.
“Jace,” she said, and took a step toward him.
He backed away from her as if she were coated in something poisonous. “What,” he said, “in the name of the Angel, Clary, are you doing here?”
Despite everything, the harshness of his tone hurt.
“You could at least pretend you were glad to see me. Even a little bit. ”
“I’m not glad to see you,” he said. Some of his color had come back, but the shadows under his eyes were still gray smudges against his skin. Clary waited for him to say something else, but he seemed content just to stare at her in undisguised horror. She noticed with a distracted clarity that he was wearing a black sweater that hung off his wrists as if he’d lost weight, and that the nails on his hands were bitten down to the quick. “Not even a little bit. ”
“This isn’t you,” she said. “I hate it when you act like this—”
“Oh, you hate it, do you? Well, I’d better stop doing it, then, hadn’t I? I mean, you do everything I ask you to do. ”
“You had no right to do what you did!” she snapped at him, suddenly furious. “Lying to me like that. You had no right—”
“I had every right!” he shouted. She didn’t think he’d ever shouted at her before. “I had every right, you stupid, stupid girl. I’m your brother and I—”
“And you what? You own me? You don’t own me, whether you’re my brother or not!”
The door behind Clary flew open. It was Alec, soberly dressed in a long, dark blue jacket, his black hair in disarray. He wore muddy boots and an incredulous expression on his usually calm face. “What in all possible dimensions is going on here?” he said, looking from Jace to Clary with amazement. “Are you two trying to kill each other?”
“Not at all,” said Jace. As if by magic, Clary saw, it had all been wiped away: his rage and his panic, and he was icy calm again. “Clary was just leaving. ”
“Good,” Alec said, “because I need to talk to you, Jace. ”
“Doesn’t anyone in this house ever say, ‘Hi, nice to see you’ anymore?” Clary demanded of no one in particular.
It was much easier to guilt Alec than Isabelle. “It is good to see you, Clary,” he said, “except of course for the fact that you’re really not supposed to be here. Isabelle told me you got here on your own somehow, and I’m impressed—”
“Could you not encourage her?” Jace inquired.
“But I really, really need to talk to Jace about something. Can you give us a few minutes?”
“I need to talk to him too,” she said. “About our mother—”
“I don’t feel like talking,” said Jace, “to either of you, as a matter of fact. ”
“Yes, you do,” Alec said. “You really want to talk to me about this. ”
“I doubt that,” Jace said. He had turned his gaze back to Clary. “You didn’t come here alone, did you?” he said slowly, as if realizing that the situation was even worse than he’d thought. “Who came with you?”
There seemed to be no point in lying about it. “Luke,” said Clary. “Luke came with me. ”
Jace blanched. “But Luke is a Downworlder. Do you know what the Clave does to unregistered Downworlders who come into the Glass City—who cross the wards without permission? Coming to Idris is one thing, but entering Alicante? Without telling anyone?”
“No,” Clary said, in a half whisper, “but I know what you’re going to say—”
“That if you and Luke don’t go back to New York immediately, you’ll find out?”
For a moment Jace was silent, meeting her eyes with his own. The desperation in his expression shocked her. He was the one threatening her, after all, not the other way around.
“Jace,” Alec said into the silence, a tinge of panic creeping into his voice. “Haven’t you wondered where I’ve been all day?”
“That’s a new coat you’re wearing,” Jace said, without looking at his friend. “I figure you went shopping. Though why you’re so eager to bother me about it, I have no idea. ”
“I didn’t go shopping,” Alec said furiously. “I went—”
The door opened again. In a flutter of white dress, Isabelle darted in, shutting the door behind her. She looked at Clary and shook her head. “I told you he’d freak out,” she said. “Didn’t I?”
“Ah, the ‘I told you so,’” Jace said. “Always a classy move. ”
Clary looked at him with horror. “How can you joke?” she whispered. “You just threatened Luke. Luke, who likes you and trusts you. Because he’s a Downworlder. What’s wrong with you?”
Isabelle looked horrified. “Luke’s here? Oh, Clary—”
“He’s not here,” Clary said. “He left—this morning—and I don’t know where he went. But I can certainly see now why he had to go. ” She could hardly bear to look at Jace. “Fine. You win. We should never have come. I should never have made that Portal—”
“Made a Portal?” Isabelle looked bewildered. “Clary, only a warlock can make a Portal. And there aren’t very many of them. The only Portal here in Idris is in the Gard. ”
“Which is what I have to talk to you about,” Alec hissed at Jace—who looked, Clary saw with surprise, even worse than he had before; he looked as if he were about to pass out. “About the errand I went on last night—the thing I had to deliver to the Gard—”
“Alec, stop. Stop,” Jace said, and the harsh desperation in his voice cut the other boy off; Alec shut his mouth and stood staring at Jace, his lip caught between his teeth. But Jace didn’t seem to see him; he was looking at Clary, and his eyes were hard as glass. Finally he spoke. “You’re right,” he said in a choked voice, as if he had to force out the words. “You should never have come. I know I told you it’s because it isn’t safe for you here, but that wasn’t true. The truth is that I don’t want you here because you’re rash and thoughtless and you’ll mess everything up. It’s just how you are. You’re not careful, Clary. ”
“Mess … everything … up?” Clary couldn’t get enough air into her lungs for anything but a whisper.
“Oh, Jace,” Isabelle said sadly, as if he were the one who was hurt. He didn’t look at her. His gaze was fixed on Clary.
“You always just race ahead without thinking,” he said. “You know that, Clary. We’d never have ended up in the Dumort if it wasn’t for you. ”
“And Simon would be dead! Doesn’t that count for anything? Maybe it was rash, but—”
His voice rose. “Maybe?”
“But it’s not like every decision I’ve made was a bad one! You said, after what I did on the boat, you said I’d saved everyone’s life—”
All the remaining color in Jace’s face went. He said, with a sudden and astounding viciousness, “Shut up, Clary, SHUT UP—”
“On the boat?” Alec’s gaze danced between them, bewildered. “What about what happened on the boat? Jace—”
“I just told you that to keep you from whining!” Jace shouted, ignoring Alec, ignoring everything but Clary. She could feel the force of his sudden anger like a wave threatening to knock her off her feet. “You’re a disaster for us, Clary! You’re a mundane—you’ll always be one; you’ll never be a Shadowhunter. You don’t know how to think like we do, think about what’s best for everyone—all you ever think about is yourself! But there’s a war on now, or there will be, and I don’t have the time or the inclination to follow around after you, trying to make sure you don’t get one of us killed!”
She just stared at him. She couldn’t think of a thing to say; he’d never spoken to her like this. She’d never even imagined him speaking to her like this. However angry she’d managed to make him in the past, he’d never spoken to her as if he hated her before.
“Go home, Clary,” he said. He sounded very tired, as if the effort of telling her how he really felt had drained him. “Go home. ”
All her plans evaporated—her half-formed hopes of rushing after Fell, saving her mother, even finding Luke—nothing mattered, no words came. She crossed to the door. Alec and Isabelle moved to let her pass. Neither of them would look at her; they looked away instead, their expressions shocked and embarrassed. Clary knew she probably ought to feel humiliated as well as angry, but she didn’t. She just felt dead inside.
She turned at the door and looked back. Jace was staring after her. The light that streamed through the window behind him left his face in shadow; all she could see was the bright bits of sunshine that dusted his fair hair, like shards of broken glass.
“When you told me the first time that Valentine was your father, I didn’t believe it,” she said. “Not just because I didn’t want it to be true, but because you weren’t anything like him. I’ve never thought you were anything like him. But you are. You are. ”
She went out of the room, shutting the door behind her.
“They’re going to starve me,” Simon said.
He was lying on the floor of his cell, the stone cold under his back. From this angle, though, he could see the sky through the window. In the days after Simon had first become a vampire, when he had thought he would never see daylight again, he’d found himself thinking incessantly about the sun and the sky. About the ways the color of the sky changed during the day: about the pale sky of morning, the hot blue of midday, and the cobalt darkness of twilight. He’d lain awake in the darkness with a parade of blues marching through his brain. Now, flat on his back in the cell under the Gard, he wondered if he’d had daylight and all its blues restored to him just so that he could spend the short, unpleasant rest of his life in this tiny space with only a patch of sky visible through the single barred window in the wall.
“Did you hear what I said?” He raised his voice. “The Inquisitor’s going to starve me to death. No more blood. ”
There was a rustling noise. An audible sigh. Then Samuel spoke. “I heard you. I just don’t know what you want me to do about it. ” He paused. “I’m sorry for you, Daylighter, if that helps. ”
“It doesn’t really,” Simon said. “The Inquisitor wants me to lie. Wants me to tell him that the Lightwoods are in league with Valentine. Then he’ll send me home. ” He rolled over onto his stomach, the stones jabbing into his skin. “Never mind. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. You probably have no idea what I’m talking about. ”
Samuel made a noise halfway between a chuckle and a cough. “Actually, I do. I knew the Lightwoods. We were in the Circle together. The Lightwoods, the Waylands, the Pangborns, the Herondales, the Penhallows. All the fine families of Alicante. ”
“And Hodge Starkweather,” Simon said, thinking of the Lightwoods’ tutor. “He was too, wasn’t he?”
“He was,” said Samuel. “But his family was hardly a well-respected one. Hodge showed some promise once, but I fear he never lived up to it. ” He paused. “Aldertree’s always hated the Lightwoods, of course, since we were children. He wasn’t rich or clever or attractive, and, well, they weren’t very kind to him. I don’t think he’s ever gotten over it. ”
“Rich?” Simon said. “I thought all Shadowhunters got paid by the Clave. Like … I don’t know, communism or something. ”
“In theory all Shadowhunters are fairly and equally paid,” said Samuel. “Some, like those with high positions in the Clave, or those with great responsibility—running an Institute, for example—receive a higher salary. Then there are those who live outside Idris and choose to make money in the mundane world; it’s not forbidden, as long as they tithe a part of it to the Clave. But”—Samuel hesitated—“you saw the Penhallows’ house, didn’t you? What did you think of it?”
Simon cast his mind back. “Very fancy. ”
“It’s one of the finest houses in Alicante,” said Samuel. “And they have another house, a manor out in the country. Almost all the rich families do. You see, there’s another way for Nephilim to gain wealth. They call it ‘spoils. ’ Anything owned by a demon or Downworlder who is killed by a Shadowhunter becomes that Shadowhunter’s property. So if a wealthy warlock breaks the Law, and is killed by a Nephilim …”
Simon shivered. “So killing Downworlders is a lucrative business?”
“It can be,” said Samuel bitterly, “if you’re not too choosy about who you kill. You can see why there’s so much opposition to the Accords. It cuts into people’s pocketbooks, having to be careful about murdering Downworlders. Perhaps that’s why I joined the Circle. My family was never a rich one, and to be looked down on for not accepting blood money—” He broke off.
“But the Circle murdered Downworlders too,” said Simon.
“Because they thought it was their sacred duty,” said Samuel. “Not out of greed. Though I can’t imagine now why I ever thought that mattered. ” He sounded exhausted. “It was Valentine. He had a way about him. He could convince you of anything. I remember standing beside him with my hands covered in blood, looking down at the body of a dead woman, and thinking only that what I was doing had to be right, because Valentine said it was so. ”
“A dead Downworlder?”
Samuel breathed raggedly on the other side of the wall. At last, he said, “You must understand: I would have done anything he asked. Any of us would have. The Lightwoods as well. The Inquisitor knows that, and that is what he is trying to exploit. But you should know—there’s the chance that if you give in to him and throw blame on the Lightwoods, he’ll kill you anyway to shut you up. It depends on whether the idea of being merciful makes him feel powerful at the time. ”
“It doesn’t matter,” Simon said. “I’m not going to do it. I won’t betray the Lightwoods. ”
“Really?” Samuel sounded unconvinced. “Is there some reason why not? Do you care for the Lightwoods that much?”
“Anything I told him about them would be a lie. ”
“But it might be the lie he wants to hear. You do want to go home, don’t you?”
Simon stared at the wall as if he could somehow see through it to the man on the other side. “Is that what you’d do? Lie to him?”
Samuel coughed—a wheezy sort of cough, as if he wasn’t very healthy. Then again, it was damp and cold down here, which didn’t bother Simon, but would probably bother a normal human being very much. “I wouldn’t take moral advice from me,” he said. “But yes, I probably would. I’ve always put saving my own skin first. ”
“I’m sure that’s not true. ”
“Actually,” said Samuel, “it is. One thing you’ll learn as you get older, Simon, is that when people tell you something unpleasant about themselves, it’s usually true. ”
But I’m not going to get older, Simon thought. Out loud he said, “That’s the first time you’ve called me Simon. Simon and not Daylighter. ”
“I suppose it is. ”
“And as for the Lightwoods,” Simon said, “it’s not that I like them that much. I mean, I like Isabelle, and I sort of like Alec and Jace, too. But there’s this girl. And Jace is her brother. ”
When Samuel replied, he sounded, for the first time, genuinely amused. “Isn’t there always a girl. ”
The moment the door shut behind Clary, Jace slumped back against the wall, as if his legs had been cut out from under him. He looked gray with a mixture of horror, shock, and what looked almost like … relief, as if a catastrophe had been narrowly avoided.
“Jace,” Alec said, taking a step toward his friend. “Do you really think—”
Jace spoke in a low voice, cutting Alec off. “Get out,” he said. “Just get out, both of you. ”
“So you can do what?” Isabelle demanded. “Wreck your life some more? What the hell was that about?”
Jace shook his head. “I sent her home. It was the best thing for her. ”
“You did a hell of a lot more than send her home. You destroyed her. Did you see her face?”
“It was worth it,” said Jace. “You wouldn’t understand. ”
“For her, maybe,” Isabelle said. “I hope it winds up worth it for you. ”
Jace turned his face away. “Just … leave me alone, Isabelle. Please. ”
Isabelle cast a startled look toward her brother. Jace never said please. Alec put a hand on her shoulder. “Never mind, Jace,” he said, as kindly as he could. “I’m sure she’ll be fine. ”
Jace raised his head and looked at Alec without actually looking at him—he seemed to be staring off at nothing. “No, she won’t,” he said. “But I knew that. Speaking of which, you might as well tell me what you came in here to tell me. You seemed to think it was pretty important at the time. ”
Alec took his hand off Isabelle’s shoulder. “I didn’t want to tell you in front of Clary—”
Jace’s eyes finally focused on Alec. “Didn’t want to tell me what in front of Clary?”
Alec hesitated. He’d rarely seen Jace so upset, and he could only imagine what effect further unpleasant surprises might have on him. But there was no way to hide this. Jace had to know. “Yesterday,” he said, in a low voice, “when I brought Simon up to the Gard, Malachi told me Magnus Bane would be meeting Simon at the other end of the Portal, in New York. So I sent a fire-message to Magnus. I heard back from him this morning. He never met Simon in New York. In fact, he says there’s been no Portal activity in New York since Clary came through. ”
“Maybe Malachi was wrong,” Isabelle suggested, after a quick look at Jace’s ashen face. “Maybe someone else met Simon on the other side. And Magnus could be wrong about the Portal activity—”
Alec shook his head. “I went up to the Gard this morning with Mom. I meant to ask Malachi about it myself, but when I saw him—I can’t say why—I ducked behind a corner. I couldn’t face him. Then I heard him talking to one of the guards. Telling them to go bring the vampire upstairs because the Inquisitor wanted to speak to him again. ”
“Are you sure they meant Simon?” Isabelle asked, but there was no conviction in her voice. “Maybe …”
“They were talking about how stupid the Downworlder had been to believe that they’d just send him back to New York without questioning him. One of them said that he couldn’t believe anyone had had the gall to try to sneak him into Alicante to begin with. And Malachi said, ‘Well, what do you expect from Valentine’s son?’”
“Oh,” Isabelle whispered. “Oh my God. ” She glanced across the room. “Jace …”
Jace’s hands were clenched at his sides. His eyes looked sunken, as if they were pushing back into his skull. In other circumstances Alec would have put a hand on his shoulder, but not now; something about Jace made him hold back. “If it hadn’t been me who brought him through,” Jace said in a low, measured voice, as if he were reciting something, “maybe they would have just let him go home. Maybe they would have believed—”
“No,” Alec said. “No, Jace, it’s not your fault. You saved his life. ”
“Saved him so the Clave could torture him,” said Jace. “Some favor. When Clary finds out …” He shook his head blindly. “She’ll think I brought him here on purpose, gave him to the Clave knowing what they’d do. ”
“She won’t think that. You’d have no reason to do a thing like that. ”
“Perhaps,” Jace said, slowly, “but after how I just treated her …”
“No one could ever think you’d do that, Jace,” said Isabelle. “No one who knows you. No one—”
But Jace didn’t wait to find out what else no one would ever think. Instead he turned around and walked over to the picture window that looked over the canal. He stood there for a moment, the light coming through the window turning the edges of his hair to gold. Then he moved, so quickly Alec didn’t have time to react. By the time he saw what was going to happen and darted forward to prevent it, it was already too late.
There was a crash—the sound of shattering—and a sudden spray of broken glass like a shower of jagged stars. Jace looked down at his left hand, the knuckles streaked with scarlet, with a clinical interest as fat red drops of blood collected and splattered down onto the floor at his feet.
Isabelle stared from Jace to the hole in the glass, lines radiating out from the empty center, a spiderweb of thin silver cracks. “Oh, Jace,” she said, her voice as soft as Alec had ever heard it. “How on earth are we going to explain this to the Penhallows?”
Somehow Clary made it out of the house. She wasn’t sure how—everything was a fast blur of stairs and hallways, and then she was running to the front door and out of it and somehow she was on the Penhallows’ front steps, trying to decide whether or not she was going to throw up in their rosebushes.
They were ideally placed for throwing up in, and her stomach was roiling painfully, but the fact that all she’d eaten was some soup was catching up with her. She didn’t think there was anything in her stomach to throw up. Instead she made her way down the steps and turned blindly out of the front gate—she couldn’t remember which direction she’d come from anymore, or how to get back to Amatis’s, but it didn’t seem to matter much. It wasn’t as if she were looking forward to getting back and explaining to Luke that they had to leave Alicante or Jace would turn them in to the Clave.
Maybe Jace was right. Maybe she was rash and thoughtless. Maybe she never thought about how what she did impacted the people she loved. Simon’s face flashed across her vision, sharp as a photograph, and then Luke’s—
She stopped and leaned against a lamppost. The square glass fixture looked like the sort of gas lamp that topped the vintage posts in front of the brownstones in Park Slope. Somehow it seemed reassuring.
“Clary!” It was a boy’s voice, anxious. Immediately Clary thought, Jace. She spun around.
It wasn’t Jace. Sebastian, the dark-haired boy from the Penhallows’ living room, stood in front of her, panting a little as if he’d chased her down the street at a run.
She felt a burst of the same feeling she’d had earlier, when she’d first seen him—recognition, mixed with something she couldn’t identify. It wasn’t like or dislike—it was a sort of pull, as if something drew her toward this boy she didn’t know. Maybe it was just the way he looked. He was beautiful, as beautiful as Jace, though where Jace was all gold, this boy was pallor and shadows. Although now that she looked at him more closely, she could see that his resemblance to her imaginary prince was not as exact as she’d thought. Even their coloring was different. It was just something in the shape of his face, the way he held himself, the dark secretiveness of his eyes …
“Are you okay?” he said. His voice was soft. “You ran out of the house like …” His voice trailed off as he looked at her. She was still gripping the lamppost as if she needed it to hold her up. “What happened?”
“I had a fight with Jace,” she said, trying to keep her voice even. “You know how it is. ”
“I don’t, actually. ” He sounded almost apologetic. “I don’t have any sisters or brothers. ”
“Lucky,” she said, and was startled at the bitterness in her own voice.
“You don’t mean that. ” He took a step closer to her, and as he did, the streetlamp flickered on, casting a pool of white witchlight over them both. Sebastian looked up at the light and smiled. “It’s a sign. ”
“A sign of what?”
“A sign that you should let me walk you home. ”
“But I have no idea where that is,” she said, realizing. “I snuck out of the house to come here. I don’t remember the way I came. ”
“Well, who are you staying with?”
She hesitated before replying.
“I won’t tell anyone,” he said. “I swear on the Angel. ”
She stared. That was quite an oath, for a Shadowhunter. “All right,” she said, before she could overthink her decision. “I’m staying with Amatis Herondale. ”
“Great. I know exactly where she lives. ” He offered her his arm. “Shall we?”
She managed a smile. “You’re kind of pushy, you know. ”
He shrugged. “I have a fetish for damsels in distress. ”
“Don’t be sexist. ”
“Not at all. My services are also available to gentlemen in distress. It’s an equal opportunity fetish,” he said, and, with a flourish, offered his arm again.
This time, she took it.
Alec shut the door of the small attic room behind him and turned to face Jace. His eyes were normally the color of Lake Lyn, a pale, untroubled blue, but the color tended to change with his moods. At the moment they were the color of the East River during a thunderstorm. His expression was stormy as well. “Sit,” he said to Jace, pointing at a low chair near the gabled window. “I’ll get the bandages. ”
Jace sat. The room he shared with Alec at the top of the Penhallows’ house was small, with two narrow beds in it, one against each wall. Their clothes hung from a row of pegs on the wall. There was a single window, letting in faint light—it was getting dark now, and the sky outside the glass was indigo blue. Jace watched as Alec knelt to grab the duffel bag from under his bed and yank it open. He rummaged noisily among the contents before getting to his feet with a box in his hands. Jace recognized it as the box of medical supplies they used sometimes when runes weren’t an option—antiseptic, bandages, scissors, and gauze.
“Aren’t you going to use a healing rune?” Jace asked, more out of curiosity than anything else.
“No. You can just—” Alec broke off, flinging the box onto the bed with an inaudible curse. He went to the small sink against the wall and washed his hands with such force that water splashed upward in a fine spray. Jace watched him with a distant curiosity. His hand had begun to burn with a dull and fiery ache.
Alec retrieved the box, pulled a chair up opposite Jace’s, and flung himself down onto it. “Give me your hand. ”
Jace held his hand out. He had to admit it looked pretty bad. All four knuckles were split open like red starbursts. Dried blood clung to his fingers, a flaking red-brown glove.
Alec made a face. “You’re an idiot. ”
“Thanks,” Jace said. He watched patiently as Alec bent over his hand with a pair of tweezers and gently nudged at a bit of glass embedded in his skin. “So, why not?”
“Why not what?”
“Why not use a healing rune? This isn’t a demon injury. ”
“Because. ” Alec retrieved the blue bottle of antiseptic. “I think it would do you good to feel the pain. You can heal like a mundane. Slow and ugly. Maybe you’ll learn something. ” He splashed the stinging liquid over Jace’s cuts. “Although I doubt it. ”
“I can always do my own healing rune, you know. ”
Alec began wrapping a strip of bandages around Jace’s hand. “Only if you want me to tell the Penhallows what really happened to their window, instead of letting them think it was an accident. ” He jerked a knot in the bandages tight, making Jace wince. “You know, if I’d thought you were going to do this to yourself, I would never have told you anything. ”
“Yes, you would have. ” Jace cocked his head to the side. “I didn’t realize my attack on the picture window would upset you quite so much. ”
“It’s just—” Done with the bandaging, Alec looked down at Jace’s hand, the hand he was still holding between his. It was a white club of bandages, spotted with blood where Alec’s fingers had touched it. “Why do you do these things to yourself? Not just what you did to the window, but the way you talked to Clary. What are you punishing yourself for? You can’t help how you feel. ”
Jace’s voice was even. “How do I feel?”
“I see how you look at her. ” Alec’s eyes were remote, seeing something just past Jace, something that wasn’t there. “And you can’t have her. Maybe you just never knew what it was like to want something you couldn’t have before. ”
Jace looked at him steadily. “What’s between you and Magnus Bane?”
Alec’s head jerked back. “I don’t—there’s nothing—”
“I’m not stupid. You went right to Magnus after you talked to Malachi, before you talked to me or Isabelle or anyone—”
“Because he was the only one who could answer my question, that’s why. There isn’t anything between us,” Alec said—and then, catching the look on Jace’s face, added with great reluctance, “anymore. There’s nothing between us anymore. Okay?”
“I hope that’s not because of me,” said Jace.
Alec went white and drew back, as if he were preparing to ward off a blow. “What do you mean?”
“I know how you think you feel about me,” Jace said. “You don’t, though. You just like me because I’m safe. There’s no risk. And then you never have to try to have a real relationship, because you can use me as an excuse. ” Jace knew he was being cruel, and he barely cared. Hurting people he loved was almost as good as hurting himself when he was in this kind of mood.
“I get it,” Alec said tightly. “First Clary, then your hand, now me. To hell with you, Jace. ”
“You don’t believe me?” Jace asked. “Fine. Go ahead. Kiss me right now. ”
Alec stared at him in horror.
“Exactly. Despite my staggering good looks, you actually don’t like me that way. And if you’re blowing off Magnus, it’s not because of me. It’s because you’re too scared to tell anyone who you really love. Love makes us liars,” said Jace. “The Seelie Queen told me that. So don’t judge me for lying about how I feel. You do it too. ” He stood up. “And now I want you to do it again. ”
Alec’s face was stiff with hurt. “What do you mean?”
“Lie for me,” Jace said, taking his jacket down from the wall peg and shrugging it on. “It’s sunset. They’ll start coming back from the Gard about now. I want you to tell everyone I’m not feeling well and that’s why I’m not coming downstairs. Tell them I felt faint and tripped, and that’s how the window got broken. ”
Alec tipped his head back and looked up at Jace squarely. “Fine,” he said. “If you tell me where you’re really going. ”
“Up to the Gard,” said Jace. “I’m going to break Simon out of jail. ”
Clary’s mother had always called the time of day between twilight and nightfall “the blue hour. ” She said the light was strongest and most unusual then, and that it was the best time to paint. Clary had never really understood what she meant, but now, making her way through Alicante at twilight, she did.
The blue hour in New York wasn’t really blue; it was too washed out by streetlights and neon signs. Jocelyn must have been thinking of Idris. Here the light fell in swatches of pure violet across the golden stonework of the city, and the witchlight lamps cast circular pools of white light so bright Clary expected to feel heat when she walked through them. She wished her mother were with her. Jocelyn could have pointed out the parts of Alicante that were familiar to her, that had a place in her memories.
But she’d never tell you any of those things. She kept them secret from you on purpose. And now you may never know them. A sharp pain—half anger and half regret—caught at Clary’s heart.
“You’re awfully quiet,” Sebastian said. They were passing over a canal bridge, its stonework sides carved with runes.
“Just wondering how much trouble I’ll be in when I get back. I had to climb out a window to leave, but Amatis has probably noticed I’m gone by now. ”
Sebastian frowned. “Why sneak out? Wouldn’t you be allowed to go see your brother?”
“I’m not supposed to be in Alicante at all,” Clary said. “I’m supposed to be home, watching safely from the sidelines. ”
“Ah. That explains a lot. ”
“Does it?” She cast a curious sideways glance at him. Blue shadows were caught in his dark hair.
“Everyone seemed to blanch when your name came up earlier. I gathered there was some bad blood between your brother and you. ”
“Bad blood? Well, that’s one way to put it. ”
“You don’t like him much?”
“Like Jace?” She’d given so much thought these past weeks as to whether she loved Jace Wayland and how, that she’d never much paused to consider whether she liked him.
“Sorry. He’s family—it’s not really about whether you like him or not. ”
“I do like him,” she said, surprising herself. “I do; it’s just—he makes me furious. He tells me what I can and can’t do—”
“Doesn’t seem to work very well,” Sebastian observed.
“What do you mean?”
“You seem to do what you want anyway. ”
“I suppose. ” The observation startled her, coming from a near stranger. “But it seems to have made him a lot angrier than I thought it had. ”
“He’ll get over it. ” Sebastian’s tone was dismissive.
Clary looked at him curiously. “Do you like him?”
“I like him. But I don’t think he likes me much. ” Sebastian sounded rueful. “Everything I say seems to piss him off. ”
They turned off the street into a wide cobble-paved square ringed with tall, narrow buildings. At the center was the bronze statue of an angel—the Angel, the one who’d given his blood to make the race of Shadowhunters. At the northern end of the square was a massive structure of white stone. A waterfall of wide marble steps led up to a pillared arcade, behind which was a pair of huge double doors. The overall effect in the evening light was stunning—and weirdly familiar. Clary wondered if she’d seen a picture of this place before. Maybe her mother had painted one?
“This is Angel Square,” Sebastian said, “and that was the Great Hall of the Angel. The Accords were first signed there, since Downworlders aren’t allowed into the Gard—now it’s called the Accords Hall. It’s a central meeting place—celebrations take place there, marriages, dances, that sort of thing. It’s the center of the city. They say all roads lead to the Hall. ”
“It looks a bit like a church—but you don’t have churches here, do you?”
“No need,” said Sebastian. “The demon towers keep us safe. We need nothing else. That’s why I like coming here. It feels … peaceful. ”
Clary looked at him in surprise. “So you don’t live here?”
“No. I live in Paris. I’m just visiting Aline—she’s my cousin. My mother and her father, my uncle Patrick, were brother and sister. Aline’s parents ran the Institute in Beijing for years. They moved back to Alicante about a decade ago. ”
“Were they—the Penhallows weren’t in the Circle, were they?”
A startled look flashed across Sebastian’s face. He was silent as they turned and left the square behind them, making their way into a warren of dark streets. “Why would you ask that?” he said finally.
“Well—because the Lightwoods were. ”
They passed under a streetlight. Clary glanced sideways at Sebastian. In his long dark coat and white shirt, under the pool of white light, he looked like a black-and-white illustration of a gentleman from a Victorian scrapbook. His dark hair curled close against his temples in a way that made her itch to draw him in pen and ink. “You have to understand,” he said. “A good half of the young Shadowhunters in Idris were part of the Circle, and plenty of those who weren’t in Idris too. Uncle Patrick was in the early days, but he got out of the Circle once he started to realize how serious Valentine was. Neither of Aline’s parents was part of the Uprising—my uncle went to Beijing to get away from Valentine and met Aline’s mother at the Institute there. When the Lightwoods and the other Circle members were tried for treason against the Clave, the Penhallows voted for leniency. Got them sent away to New York instead of cursed. So the Lightwoods have always been grateful. ”
“What about your parents?” Clary said. “Were they in it?”
“Not really. My mother was younger than Patrick—he sent her to Paris when he went to Beijing. She met my father there. ”
“Your mother was younger than Patrick?”
“She’s dead,” said Sebastian. “My father, too. My aunt Élodie brought me up. ”
“Oh,” Clary said, feeling stupid. “I’m sorry. ”
“I don’t remember them,” Sebastian said. “Not really. When I was younger, I wished I had an older sister or a brother, someone who could tell me what it was like having them as parents. ” He looked at her thoughtfully. “Can I ask you something, Clary? Why did you come to Idris at all when you knew how badly your brother would take it?”
Before she could answer him, they emerged from the narrow alley they’d been following into a familiar unlit courtyard, the disused well at its center gleaming in the moonlight. “Cistern Square,” Sebastian said, an unmistakable note of disappointment in his voice. “We got here faster than I thought we would. ”
Clary glanced over the masonry bridge that spanned the nearby canal. She could see Amatis’s house in the distance. All the windows were lit. She sighed. “I can get back myself from here, thanks. ”
“You don’t want me to walk you to the—”
“No. Not unless you want to get in trouble too. ”
“You think I’d get in trouble? For being gentlemanly enough to walk you home?”
“No one’s supposed to know I’m in Alicante,” she said. “It’s supposed to be a secret. And no offense, but you’re a stranger. ”
“I’d like not to be,” he said. “I’d like to get to know you better. ” He was looking at her with a mixture of amusement and a certain shyness, as if he wasn’t sure how what he’d just said would be received.
“Sebastian,” she said, with a sudden feeling of overwhelming tiredness. “I’m glad you want to get to know me. But I just don’t have the energy to get to know you. Sorry. ”
“I didn’t mean—”
But she was already walking away from him, toward the bridge. Halfway there she turned around and glanced back at Sebastian. He was looking oddly forlorn in a patch of moonlight, his dark hair falling over his face.
“Ragnor Fell,” she said.
He stared at her. “What?”
“You asked me why I came here even though I wasn’t supposed to,” Clary said. “My mother is sick. Really sick. Maybe dying. The only thing that can help her, the only person who can help her, is a warlock named Ragnor Fell. Only I have no idea where to find him. ”
She turned back toward the house. “Good night, Sebastian. ”
It was harder climbing up the trellis than it had been climbing down. Clary’s boots slipped a number of times on the damp stone wall, and she was relieved when she finally hauled herself up over the sill of the window and half-jumped, half-fell into the bedroom.
Her euphoria was short-lived. No sooner had her boots hit the floor than a bright light flared up, a soft explosion that lit the room to a daylight brightness.
Amatis was sitting on the edge of the bed, her back very straight, a witchlight stone in her hand. It burned with a harsh light that did nothing to soften the hard planes of her face or the lines at the corners of her mouth. She stared at Clary in silence for several long moments. Finally she said, “In those clothes, you look just like Jocelyn. ”
Clary scrambled to her feet. “I—I’m sorry,” she said. “About going out like that—”
Amatis closed her hand around the witchlight, snuffing its glow. Clary blinked in the sudden dimness. “Change out of that gear,” Amatis said, “and meet me downstairs in the kitchen. And don’t even think about sneaking back out through the window,” she added, “or the next time you return to this house, you’ll find it sealed against you. ”
Swallowing hard, Clary nodded.
Amatis rose to her feet and left without another word. Quickly Clary shucked off her gear and dressed in her own clothes, which hung over the bedpost, now dry—her jeans were a little stiff, but it was nice to pull on her familiar T-shirt. Shaking her tangled hair back, she headed downstairs.
The last time she’d seen the lower floor of Amatis’s house, she’d been delirious and hallucinating. She remembered long corridors stretching out to infinity and a huge grandfather clock whose ticks had sounded like the beats of a dying heart. Now she found herself in a small, homely living room, with plain wooden furniture and a rag rug on the floor. The small size and bright colors reminded her a little of her own living room at home in Brooklyn. She crossed through in silence and entered the kitchen, where a fire burned in the grate and the room was full of warm yellow light. Amatis was sitting at the table. She had a blue shawl wrapped around her shoulders; it made her hair seem more gray.
“Hi. ” Clary hovered in the doorway. She couldn’t tell if Amatis was angry or not.
“I suppose I hardly need to ask where you went,” Amatis said, without looking up from the table. “You went to see Jonathan, didn’t you? I suppose it was only to be expected. Perhaps if I’d ever had children of my own, I’d know when a child was lying to me. But I had so hoped that, this time at least, I wouldn’t completely disappoint my brother. ”
“You know what happened when he was bitten?” Amatis stared straight in front of her. “When my brother was bitten by a werewolf—and of course he was: Valentine was always taking stupid risks with himself and his followers; it was just a matter of time—he came and told me what had happened and how scared he was that he might have contracted the lycanthropic disease. And I said … I said …”
“Amatis, you don’t have to tell me this—”
“I told him to get out of my house and not to come back until he was sure he didn’t have it. I cringed away from him—I couldn’t help it. ” Her voice shook. “He could see how disgusted I was; it was all over my face. He said he was afraid that if he did have it, if he’d become a were-creature, that Valentine would ask him to kill himself, and I said … I said that maybe that would be the best thing. ”
Clary gave a little gasp; she couldn’t help it.
Amatis looked up quickly. Self-loathing was written all over her face. “Luke was always so basically good, whatever Valentine tried to get him to do—sometimes I thought he and Jocelyn were the only really good people I knew—and I couldn’t stand the idea of him being turned into some monster…. ”
“But he’s not like that. He’s not a monster. ”
“I didn’t know. After he did Change, after he fled from here, Jocelyn worked and worked to convince me that he was still the same person inside, still my brother. If it hadn’t been for her, I never would have agreed to see him again. I let him stay here when he came before the Uprising—let him hide in the cellar—but I could tell he didn’t really trust me, not after I’d turned my back on him. I think he still doesn’t. ”
“He trusted you enough to come to you when I was sick,” Clary said. “He trusted you enough to leave me here with you—”
“He had nowhere else to go,” said Amatis. “And look how well I’ve fared with you. I couldn’t even keep you in the house for a single day. ”
Clary flinched. This was worse than being yelled at. “It’s not your fault. I lied to you and sneaked out. There wasn’t anything you could have done about it. ”
“Oh, Clary,” Amatis said. “Don’t you see? There’s always something you can do. It’s just people like me who always tell themselves otherwise. I told myself there was nothing I could do about Luke. I told myself there was nothing I could do about Stephen leaving me. And I refuse even to attend the Clave’s meetings because I tell myself there’s nothing I can do to influence their decisions, even when I hate what they do. But then when I do choose to do something—well, I can’t even do that one thing right. ” Her eyes shone, hard and bright in the firelight. “Go to bed, Clary,” she finished. “And from now on, you can come and go as you please. I won’t do anything to stop you. After all, like you said, there’s nothing I can do. ”
“Don’t. ” Amatis shook her head. “Just go to bed. Please. ” Her voice held a note of finality; she turned away, as if Clary were already gone, and stared at the wall, unblinking.
Clary spun on her heel and ran up the stairs. In the spare room she kicked the door shut behind her and flung herself down onto the bed. She’d thought she wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. Jace hates me, she thought. Amatis hates me. I never got to say good-bye to Simon. My mother’s dying. And Luke has abandoned me. I’m alone. I’ve never been so alone, and it’s all my own fault. Maybe that was why she couldn’t cry, she realized, staring dry-eyed at the ceiling. Because what was the point in crying when there was no one there to comfort you? And what was worse, when you couldn’t even comfort yourself?