Chapter 7: WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD
OUT OF A DREAM OF BLOOD AND SUNLIGHT, SIMON WOKE suddenly to the sound of a voice calling his name.
“Simon. ” The voice was a hissing whisper. “Simon, get up. ”
Simon was on his feet—sometimes how fast he could move now surprised even him—and spinning around in the darkness of the cell. “Samuel?” he whispered, staring into the shadows. “Samuel, was that you?”
“Turn around, Simon. ” Now the voice, faintly familiar, held a note of irritability. “And come to the window. ” Simon knew immediately who it was and looked through the barred window to see Jace kneeling on the grass outside, a witchlight stone in his hand. He was looking at Simon with a strained scowl. “What, did you think you were having a nightmare?”
“Maybe I still am. ” There was a buzzing in Simon’s ears—if he’d had a heartbeat, he would have thought it was the blood rushing through his veins, but it was something else, something less corporeal but more proximate than blood.
The witchlight threw a crazy-quilt pattern of light and shadow across Jace’s pale face. “So here’s where they put you. I didn’t think they even used these cells anymore. ” He glanced sideways. “I got the wrong window at first. Gave your friend in the next cell something of a shock. Attractive fellow, what with the beard and the rags. Kind of reminds me of the street folk back home. ”
And Simon realized what the buzzing sound in his ears was. Rage. In some distant corner of his mind he was aware that his lips were drawn back, the tips of his fangs grazing his lower lip. “I’m glad you think all this is funny. ”
“You’re not happy to see me, then?” Jace said. “I have to say, I’m surprised. I’ve always been told my presence brightened up any room. One might think that went doubly for dank underground cells. ”
“You knew what would happen, didn’t you? ‘They’ll send you right back to New York,’ you said. No problem. But they never had any intention of doing that. ”
“I didn’t know. ” Jace met his eyes through the bars, and his gaze was clear and steady. “I know you won’t believe me, but I thought I was telling you the truth. ”
“You’re either lying or stupid—”
“Then I’m stupid. ”
“—or both,” Simon finished. “I’m inclined to think both. ”
“I don’t have a reason to lie to you. Not now. ” Jace’s gaze remained steady. “And quit baring your fangs at me. It’s making me nervous. ”
“Good,” Simon said. “If you want to know why, it’s because you smell like blood. ”
“It’s my cologne. Eau de Recent Injury. ” Jace raised his left hand. It was a glove of white bandages, stained across the knuckles where blood had seeped through.
Simon frowned. “I thought your kind didn’t get injuries. Not ones that lasted. ”
“I put it through a window,” Jace said, “and Alec’s making me heal like a mundane to teach me a lesson. There, I told you the truth. Impressed?”
“No,” Simon said. “I have bigger problems than you. The Inquisitor keeps asking me questions I can’t answer. He keeps accusing me of getting my Daylighter powers from Valentine. Of being a spy for him. ”
Alarm flickered in Jace’s eyes. “Aldertree said that?”
“Aldertree implied the whole Clave thought so. ”
“That’s bad. If they decide you’re a spy, then the Accords don’t apply. Not if they can convince themselves you’ve broken the Law. ” Jace glanced around quickly before returning his gaze to Simon. “We’d better get you out of here. ”
“And then what?” Simon almost couldn’t believe what he was saying. He wanted to get out of this place so badly he could taste it, yet he couldn’t stop the words tumbling out of his mouth. “Where do you plan on hiding me?”
“There’s a Portal here in the Gard. If we can find it, I can send you back through—”
“And everyone will know you helped me. Jace, it’s not just me the Clave is after. In fact, I doubt they care about one Downworlder at all one way or the other. They’re trying to prove something about your family—about the Lightwoods. They’re trying to prove that they’re connected with Valentine somehow. That they never really left the Circle. ”
Even in the darkness, it was possible to see the color rush into Jace’s cheeks. “But that’s ridiculous. They fought Valentine on the ship—Robert nearly died—”
“The Inquisitor wants to believe that they sacrificed the other Nephilim who fought on the boat to preserve the illusion that they were against Valentine. But they still lost the Mortal Sword, and that’s what he cares about. Look, you tried to warn the Clave, and they didn’t care. Now the Inquisitor is looking for someone to blame everything on. If he can brand your family as traitors, then no one will blame the Clave for what happened, and he’ll be able to make whatever policies he wants without opposition. ”
Jace put his face in his hands, his long fingers tugging distractedly at his hair. “But I can’t just leave you here. If Clary finds out—”
“I should have known that’s what you were worried about. ” Simon laughed harshly. “So don’t tell her. She’s in New York, anyway, thank—” He broke off, unable to say the word. “You were right,” he said instead. “I’m glad she’s not here. ”
Jace lifted his head out of his hands. “What?”
“The Clave is insane. Who knows what they’d do to her if they knew what she could do. You were right,” Simon repeated, and when Jace said nothing in reply, added, “and you might as well enjoy that I just said that to you. I probably won’t ever say it again. ”
Jace stared at him, his face blank, and Simon was reminded with an unpleasant jolt of the way Jace had looked on the ship, bloody and dying on the metal floor.
Finally, Jace spoke. “So you’re telling me you plan to stay here? In prison? Until when?”
“Until we think of a better idea,” said Simon. “But there is one thing. ”
Jace raised his eyebrows. “What’s that?”
“Blood,” said Simon. “The Inquisitor’s trying to starve me into talking. I already feel pretty weak. By tomorrow I’ll be—well, I don’t know how I’ll be. But I don’t want to give in to him. And I won’t drink your blood again, or anyone else’s,” he added quickly, before Jace could offer. “Animal blood will do. ”
“Blood I can get you,” Jace said. He hesitated. “Did you … tell the Inquisitor that I let you drink my blood? That I saved you?”
Simon shook his head.
Jace’s eyes shone with reflected light. “Why not?”
“I suppose I didn’t want to get you into more trouble. ”
“Look, vampire,” Jace said. “Protect the Lightwoods if you can. But don’t protect me. ”
Simon raised his head. “Why not?”
“I suppose,” said Jace—and for a moment, as he looked down through the bars, Simon could almost imagine that he were outside, and Jace were the one inside the cell—“because I don’t deserve it. ”
Clary woke to a sound like hailstones on a metal roof. She sat up in bed, staring around groggily. The sound came again, a sharp rattle-thump emanating from the window. Peeling her blanket back reluctantly, she went to investigate.
Throwing the window open let in a blast of cold air that cut through her pajamas like a knife. She shivered and leaned out over the sill.
Someone was standing in the garden below, and for a moment, with a leap of her heart, all she saw was that the figure was slender and tall, with boyish, rumpled hair. Then he raised his face and she saw that the hair was dark, not fair, and she realized that for the second time, she’d hoped for Jace and gotten Sebastian instead.
He was holding a handful of pebbles in one hand. He smiled when he saw her poke her head out, and gestured at himself and then at the rose trellis. Climb downstairs.
She shook her head and pointed toward the front of the house. Meet me at the front door. Shutting the window, she hurried downstairs. It was late morning—the light pouring in through the windows was strong and golden—but the lights were all off and the house was quiet. Amatis must still be asleep, she thought.
Clary went to the front door, unbolted it, and threw it open. Sebastian was there, standing on the front step, and once again she had that feeling, that strange burst of recognition, though it was fainter this time. She smiled weakly at him. “You threw stones at my window,” she said. “I thought people only did that in movies. ”
He grinned. “Nice pajamas. Did I wake you up?”
“Sorry,” he said, though he didn’t seem sorry. “But this couldn’t wait. You might want to run upstairs and get dressed, by the way. We’ll be spending the day together. ”
“Wow. Confident, aren’t you?” she said, but then boys who looked like Sebastian probably had no reason to be anything but confident. She shook her head. “I’m sorry, but I can’t. I can’t leave the house. Not today. ”
A faint line of concern appeared between his eyes. “You left the house yesterday. ”
“I know, but that was before—” Before Amatis made me feel about two inches tall. “I just can’t. And please don’t try to argue me out of it, okay?”
“Okay,” he said. “I won’t argue. But at least let me tell you what I came here to tell you. Then, I promise, if you still want me to go, I’ll go. ”
“What is it?”
He raised his face, and she wondered how it was possible that dark eyes could glow just like golden ones. “I know where you can find Ragnor Fell. ”
It took Clary less than ten minutes to run upstairs, throw on her clothes, scribble a hasty note to Amatis, and rejoin Sebastian, who was waiting for her at the edge of the canal. He grinned as she ran to meet him, breathless, her green coat flung over one arm. “I’m here,” she said, skidding to a stop. “Can we go now?”
Sebastian insisted on helping her on with the coat. “I don’t think anyone’s ever helped me with my coat before,” Clary observed, freeing the hair that had gotten trapped under her collar. “Well, maybe waiters. Were you ever a waiter?”
“No, but I was brought up by a Frenchwoman,” Sebastian reminded her. “It involved an even more rigorous course of training. ”
Clary smiled, despite her nervousness. Sebastian was good at making her smile, she realized with a faint sense of surprise. Almost too good at it. “Where are we going?” she asked abruptly. “Is Fell’s house near here?”
“He lives outside the city, actually,” said Sebastian, starting toward the bridge. Clary fell into step beside him.
“Is it a long walk?”
“Too long to walk. We’re going to get a ride. ”
“A ride? From who?” She came to a dead stop. “Sebastian, we have to be careful. We can’t trust just anyone with the information about what we’re doing—what I’m doing. It’s a secret. ”
Sebastian regarded her with thoughtful dark eyes. “I swear on the Angel that the friend we’ll be getting a ride from won’t breathe a word to anyone about what we’re doing. ”
“I’m very sure. ”
Ragnor Fell, Clary thought as they weaved through the crowded streets. I’m going to see Ragnor Fell. Wild excitement clashed with trepidation—Madeleine had made him sound formidable. What if he had no patience with her, no time? What if she couldn’t make him believe she was who she said she was? What if he didn’t even remember her mother?
It didn’t help her nerves that every time she passed a blond man or a girl with long dark hair her insides tensed up as she thought she recognized Jace or Isabelle. But Isabelle would probably just ignore her, she thought glumly, and Jace was doubtless back at the Penhallows’, necking with his new girlfriend.
“You worried about being followed?” Sebastian asked as they turned down a side street that led away from the city center, noticing the way she kept glancing around her.
“I keep thinking I see people I know,” she admitted. “Jace, or the Lightwoods. ”
“I don’t think Jace has left the Penhallows’ since they got here. He mostly seems to be skulking in his room. He hurt his hand pretty badly yesterday too—”
“Hurt his hand? How?” Clary, forgetting to look where she was going, stumbled over a rock. The road they’d been walking on had somehow turned from cobblestones to gravel without her noticing. “Ouch. ”
“We’re here,” Sebastian announced, stopping in front of a high wood-and-wire fence. There were no houses around—they had rather abruptly left the residential district behind, and there was only this fence on one side and a gravelly slope leading away toward the forest on the other.
There was a door in the fence, but it was padlocked. From his pocket Sebastian produced a heavy steel key and opened the gate. “I’ll be right back with our ride. ” He swung the gate shut behind him. Clary put her eye to the slats. Through the gaps she could glimpse what looked like a low-slung red clapboard house. Though it didn’t appear to really have a door—or proper windows—
The gate opened, and Sebastian reappeared, grinning from ear to ear. He held a lead in one hand: Pacing docilely behind him was a huge gray and white horse with a blaze like a star on his forehead.
“A horse? You have a horse?” Clary stared in amazement. “Who has a horse?”
Sebastian stroked the horse fondly on the shoulder. “A lot of Shadowhunter families keep a horse in the stables here in Alicante. If you’ve noticed, there are no cars in Idris. They don’t work well with all these wards around. ” He patted the pale leather of the horse’s saddle, emblazoned with a crest of arms that depicted a water serpent rising out of a lake in a series of coils. The name Verlac was written beneath in delicate script. “Come on up. ”
Clary backed up. “I’ve never ridden a horse before. ”
“I’ll be riding Wayfarer,” Sebastian reassured her. “You’ll just be sitting in front of me. ”
The horse grunted softly. He had huge teeth, Clary noticed uneasily; each one the size of a PEZ dispenser. She imagined those teeth sinking into her leg and thought of all the girls she’d known in middle school who’d wanted ponies of their own. She wondered if they were insane.
Be brave, she told herself. It’s what your mother would do.
She took a deep breath. “All right. Let’s go. ”
Clary’s resolution to be brave lasted as long as it took for Sebastian—after helping her into the saddle—to swing himself up onto the horse behind her and dig in his heels. Wayfarer took off like a shot, pounding over the graveled road with a force that sent jolting shocks up her spine. She clutched at the bit of the saddle that stuck up in front of her, her nails digging into it hard enough to leave marks in the leather.
The road they were on narrowed as they headed out of town, and now there were banks of thick trees on either side of them, walls of green that blocked any wider view. Sebastian drew back on the reins, and the horse ceased his frantic galloping, Clary’s heartbeat slowing along with his pace. As her panic receded, she became slowly conscious of Sebastian behind her—he was holding the reins on either side of her, his arms making a sort of cage around her that kept her from feeling like she was about to slide off the horse. She was suddenly very aware, not just of the hard strength in the arms that held her, but that she was leaning back against his chest and that he smelled of, for some reason, black pepper. Not in a bad way—it was spicy and pleasant, very different from Jace’s smell of soap and sunlight. Not that sunlight had a smell, really, but if it did—
She gritted her teeth. She was here with Sebastian, on her way to see a powerful warlock, and mentally she was maundering on about the way Jace smelled. She forced herself to look around. The green banks of trees were thinning out and now she could see a sweep of marbled countryside to either side. It was beautiful in a stark sort of way: a carpet of green broken up here and there by a scar of gray stone road or a crag of black rock rising up out of the grass. Clusters of delicate white flowers, the same ones she’d seen in the necropolis with Luke, starred the hills like occasional snowfall.
“How did you find out where Ragnor Fell is?” she asked as Sebastian skillfully guided the horse around a rut in the road.
“My aunt Élodie. She’s got quite a network of informants. She knows everything that’s going on in Idris, even though she never comes here herself. She hates to leave the Institute. ”
“What about you? Do you come to Idris much?”
“Not really. The last time I was here I was about five years old. I haven’t seen my aunt and uncle since then either, so I’m glad to be here now. It gives me a chance to catch up. Besides, I miss Idris when I’m not here. There’s nowhere else like it. It’s in the earth of the place. You’ll start to feel it, and then you’ll miss it when you’re not here. ”
“I know Jace missed it,” she said. “But I thought that was because he lived here for years. He was brought up here. ”
“In the Wayland manor,” Sebastian said. “Not that far from where we’re going, in fact. ”
“You do seem to know everything. ”
“Not everything,” Sebastian said with a laugh that Clary felt through her back. “Yeah, Idris works its magic on everyone—even those like Jace who have reason to hate the place. ”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, he was brought up by Valentine, wasn’t he? And that must have been pretty awful. ”
“I don’t know. ” Clary hesitated. “The truth is, he has mixed feelings about it. I think Valentine was a horrible father in a way, but in another way the little bits of kindness and love he did show were all the kindness and love Jace ever knew. ” She felt a wave of sadness as she spoke. “I think he remembered Valentine with a lot of affection, for a long time. ”
“I can’t believe Valentine ever showed Jace kindness or love. Valentine’s a monster. ”
“Well, yes, but Jace is his son. And he was just a little boy. I think Valentine did love him, in his way—”
“No. ” Sebastian’s voice was sharp. “I’m afraid that’s impossible. ”
Clary blinked and almost turned around to see his face, but then thought better of it. All Shadowhunters were sort of crazy on the topic of Valentine—she thought of the Inquisitor and shuddered inwardly—and she could hardly blame them. “You’re probably right. ”
“We’re here,” Sebastian said abruptly—so abruptly that Clary wondered if she really had offended him somehow—and slid down from the horse’s back. But when he looked up at her, he was smiling. “We made good time,” he said, tying the reins to the lower branch of a nearby tree. “Better than I thought we would. ”
He indicated with a gesture that she should dismount, and after a moment’s hesitation Clary slid off the horse and into his arms. She clutched him as he caught her, her legs unsteady after the long ride. “Sorry,” she said sheepishly. “I didn’t mean to grab you. ”
“I wouldn’t apologize for that. ” His breath was warm against her neck, and she shivered. His hands lingered just a moment longer on her back before he reluctantly let her go.
All this wasn’t helping Clary’s legs feel any steadier. “Thanks,” she said, knowing full well she was blushing, and wishing heartily that her fair skin didn’t show color so readily. “So—this is it?” She looked around. They were standing in a small valley between low hills. There were a number of gnarled-looking trees ranged around a clearing. Their twisted branches had a sculptural beauty against the steel blue sky. But otherwise … “There’s nothing here,” she said with a frown.
“Clary. Concentrate. ”
“You mean—a glamour? But I don’t usually have to—”
“Glamours in Idris are often stronger than they are elsewhere. You may have to try harder than you usually do. ” He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her gently. “Look at the clearing. ”
Clary silently performed the mental trick that allowed her to peel glamour from the thing it disguised. She imagined herself rubbing turpentine on a canvas, peeling away layers of paint to reveal the true image underneath—and there it was, a small stone house with a sharply gabled roof, smoke twisting from the chimney in an elegant curlicue. A winding path lined with stones led up to the front door. As she looked, the smoke puffing from the chimney stopped curling upward and began to take on the shape of a wavering black question mark.
Sebastian laughed. “I think that means, Who’s there?”
Clary pulled her coat closer around her. The wind blowing across the level grass wasn’t that brisk, but there was ice in her bones nevertheless. “It looks like something out of a fairy tale. ”
“Are you cold?” Sebastian put an arm around her. Immediately the smoke curling from the chimney stopped forming itself into question marks and began puffing out in the shape of lopsided hearts. Clary ducked away from him, feeling both embarrassed and somehow guilty, as if she’d done something wrong. She hurried toward the front walk of the house, Sebastian just behind her. They were halfway up the front path when the door flew open.
Despite having been obsessed with finding Ragnor Fell ever since Madeleine had told her his name, Clary had never stopped to picture what he might look like. A large, bearded man, she would have thought, if she’d thought about it at all. Someone who looked like a Viking, with big broad shoulders.
But the person who stepped out of the front door was tall and thin, with short, spiky dark hair. He was wearing a gold mesh vest and a pair of silk pajama pants. He regarded Clary with mild interest, puffing gently on a fantastically large pipe as he did so. Though he looked nothing at all like a Viking, he was instantly and totally familiar.
“But …” Sebastian seemed as astonished as Clary. He was staring at Magnus with his mouth slightly open, a blank look on his face. Finally he stammered, “Are you—Ragnor Fell? The warlock?”
Magnus took the pipe out of his mouth. “Well, I’m certainly not Ragnor Fell the exotic dancer. ”
“I …” Sebastian seemed at a loss for words. Clary wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting, but Magnus was a lot to take in. “We were hoping you could help us. I’m Sebastian Verlac, and this is Clarissa Morgenstern—her mother is Jocelyn Fairchild—”
“I don’t care who her mother is,” Magnus said. “You can’t see me without an appointment. Come back later. Next March would be good. ”
“March?” Sebastian looked horrified.
“You’re right,” Magnus said. “Too rainy. How about June?”
Sebastian drew himself upright. “I don’t think you understand how important this is—”
“Sebastian, don’t bother,” Clary said in disgust. “He’s just messing with your head. He can’t help us, anyway. ”
Sebastian only looked more confused. “But I don’t see why he can’t—”
“All right, that’s enough,” Magnus said, and snapped his fingers once.
Sebastian froze in place, his mouth still open, his hand partially outstretched.
“Sebastian!” Clary reached out to touch him, but he was as rigid as a statue. Only the slight rise and fall of his chest showed that he was even still alive. “Sebastian?” she said again, but it was hopeless: She knew somehow that he couldn’t see or hear her. She turned on Magnus. “I can’t believe you just did that. What on earth is wrong with you? Has whatever’s in that pipe melted your brain? Sebastian’s on our side. ”
“I don’t have a side, Clary darling,” Magnus said with a wave of his pipe. “And really, it’s your own fault I had to freeze him for a short while. You were awfully close to telling him I’m not Ragnor Fell. ”
“That’s because you’re not Ragnor Fell. ”
Magnus blew a stream of smoke out of his mouth and regarded her thoughtfully through the haze. “Come on,” he said. “Let me show you something. ”
He held the door of the small house open, gesturing her inside. With a last, disbelieving glance at Sebastian, Clary followed him.
The interior of the cottage was unlit. The faint daylight streaming in through the windows was enough to show Clary that they stood inside a large room crowded with dark shadows. There was an odd smell in the air, as of burning garbage. She made a faint choking noise as Magnus raised his hand and snapped his fingers once again. A bright blue light bloomed from his fingertips.
Clary gasped. The room was a shambles—furniture smashed into splinters, drawers opened and their contents scattered. Pages ripped from books drifted in the air like ash. Even the window glass was shattered.
“I got a message from Fell last night,” said Magnus, “asking me to meet him here. I turned up here—and found it like this. Everything destroyed, and the stench of demons all around. ”
“Demons? But demons can’t come into Idris—”
“I didn’t say they have. I’m just telling you what happened. ” Magnus spoke without inflection. “The place stank of something demonic in origin. Ragnor’s body was on the floor. He hadn’t been dead when they left him, but he was dead when I arrived. ” He turned to her. “Who knew you were looking for him?”
“Madeleine,” Clary whispered. “But she’s dead. Sebastian, Jace, and Simon. The Lightwoods—”
“Ah,” said Magnus. “If the Lightwoods know, the Clave may well know by now, and Valentine has spies in the Clave. ”
“I should have kept it a secret instead of asking everyone about him,” Clary said in horror. “This is my fault. I should have warned Fell—”
“Might I point out,” said Magnus, “that you couldn’t find Fell, which is in fact why you were asking people about him. Look, Madeleine—and you—just thought of Fell as someone who could help your mother. Not someone Valentine might be interested in beyond that. But there’s more to it. Valentine might not have known how to wake up your mother, but he seems to have known that what she did to put herself in that state had a connection to something he wanted very much. A particular spell book. ”
“How do you know all this?” Clary asked.
“Because Ragnor told me. ”
Magnus cut her off with a gesture. “Warlocks have ways of communicating with each other. They have their own languages. ” He raised the hand that held the blue flame. “Logos. ”
Letters of fire, each at least six inches tall, appeared on the walls as if etched into the stone with liquid gold. The letters raced around the walls, spelling out words Clary couldn’t read. She turned to Magnus. “What does it say?”
“Ragnor did this when he knew he was dying. It tells whatever warlock comes after him what happened. ” As Magnus turned, the glow of the burning letters lit his cat eyes to gold. “He was attacked here by servants of Valentine. They demanded the Book of the White. Aside from the Gray Book, it’s among the most famous volumes of supernatural work ever written. Both the recipe for the potion Jocelyn took and the recipe for the antidote to it are contained in that book. ”
Clary’s mouth dropped open. “So was it here?”
“No. It belonged to your mother. All Ragnor did was advise her where to hide it from Valentine. ”
“It’s at the Wayland family manor. The Waylands had their home very close to where Jocelyn and Valentine lived; they were their nearest neighbors. Ragnor suggested that your mother hide the book in their home, where Valentine would never look for it. In the library, as a matter of fact. ”
“But Valentine lived in the Wayland manor for years after that,” Clary protested. “Wouldn’t he have found it?”
“It was hidden inside another book. One Valentine was unlikely to ever open. ” Magnus smiled crookedly. “Simple Recipes for Housewives. No one can say your mother didn’t have a sense of humor. ”
“So have you gone to the Wayland manor? Have you looked for the book?”
Magnus shook his head. “Clary, there are misdirection wards on the manor. They don’t just keep out the Clave; they keep out everyone. Especially Downworlders. Maybe if I had time to work on them, I could crack them, but—”
“Then no one can get into the manor?” Despair clawed at her chest. “It’s impossible?”
“I didn’t say no one,” Magnus said. “I can think of at least one person who could almost certainly get into the manor. ”
“You mean Valentine?”
“I mean,” said Magnus, “Valentine’s son. ”
Clary shook her head. “Jace won’t help me, Magnus. He doesn’t want me here. In fact, I doubt he’s speaking to me at all. ”
Magnus looked at her meditatively. “I think,” he said, “there isn’t much that Jace wouldn’t do for you, if you asked him. ”
Clary opened her mouth and then shut it again. She thought of the way Magnus had always seemed to know how Alec felt about Jace; how Simon felt about her. Her feelings for Jace must be written on her face even now, and Magnus was an expert reader. She glanced away. “Say I can convince Jace to come to the manor with me and get the book,” she said. “Then what? I don’t know how to cast a spell, or make an antidote—”
Magnus snorted. “Did you think I was giving you all this advice for free? Once you get hold of the Book of the White, I want you to bring it straight to me. ”
“The book? You want it?”
“It’s one of the most powerful spell books in the world. Of course I want it. Besides, it belongs, by right, to Lilith’s children, not Raziel’s. It’s a warlock book and should be in warlock hands. ”
“But I need it—to cure my mother—”
“You need one page out of it, which you can keep. The rest is mine. And in return, when you bring me the book, I’ll make up the antidote for you and administer it to Jocelyn. You can’t say it’s not a fair deal. ” He held out a hand. “Shake on it?”
After a moment’s hesitation Clary shook. “I’d better not regret this. ”
“I certainly hope not,” Magnus said, turning cheerfully back toward the front door. On the walls the fire letters were already fading. “Regret is such a pointless emotion, don’t you agree?”
The sun outside seemed especially bright after the darkness of the cottage. Clary stood blinking as the view swam into focus: the mountains in the distance, Wayfarer contentedly munching grass, and Sebastian immobile as a lawn statue, one hand still outstretched. She turned to Magnus. “Could you unfreeze him now, please?”
Magnus looked amused. “I was surprised when I got Sebastian’s message this morning,” he said. “Saying he was doing a favor for you, no less. How did you wind up meeting him?”
“He’s a cousin of some friends of the Lightwoods or something. He’s nice, I promise. ”
“Nice, bah. He’s gorgeous. ” Magnus gazed dreamily in his direction. “You should leave him here. I could hang hats on him and things. ”
“No. You can’t have him. ”
“Why not? Do you like him?” Magnus’s eyes gleamed. “He seems to like you. I saw him going for your hand out there like a squirrel diving for a peanut. ”
“Why don’t we talk about your love life?” Clary countered. “What about you and Alec?”
“Alec refuses to acknowledge that we have a relationship, and so I refuse to acknowledge him. He sent me a fire-message asking for a favor the other day. It was addressed to ‘Warlock Bane,’ as if I were a perfect stranger. He’s still hung up on Jace, I think, though that relationship will never go anywhere. A problem I imagine you know nothing about …”
“Oh, shut up. ” Clary eyed Magnus with distaste. “Look, if you don’t unfreeze Sebastian, then I can never leave here, and you’ll never get the Book of the White. ”
“Oh, all right, all right. But if I might make a request? Don’t tell him any of what I just told you, friend of the Lightwoods or not. ” Magnus snapped his fingers petulantly.
Sebastian’s face came alive, like a video flashing back to action after it had been paused. “—help us,” he said. “This isn’t just some minor problem. This is life and death. ”
“You Nephilim think all your problems are life and death,” said Magnus. “Now go away. You’ve begun to bore me. ”
“Go,” Magnus said, a dangerous tone to his voice. Blue sparks glittered at the tips of his long fingers, and there was suddenly a sharp smell in the air, like burning. Magnus’s cat eyes glowed. Even though she knew it was an act, Clary couldn’t help but back away.
“I think we should go, Sebastian,” she said.
Sebastian’s eyes were narrow. “But, Clary—”
“We’re going,” she insisted, and, grabbing him by the arm, half-dragged him toward Wayfarer. Reluctantly, he followed her, muttering under his breath. With a sigh of relief, Clary glanced back over her shoulder. Magnus was standing at the door to the cottage, his arms folded across his chest. Catching her eye, he grinned and dropped one eyelid in a single, glittering wink.
“I’m sorry, Clary. ” Sebastian had a hand on Clary’s shoulder and another on her waist as he helped her up onto Wayfarer’s broad back. She fought down the little voice inside her head that warned her not to get back onto the horse—or any horse—and let him hoist her up. She swung a leg over and settled herself in the saddle, telling herself she was balancing on a large, moving sofa and not on a living creature that might turn around and bite her at any moment.
“Sorry about what?” she asked as he swung up behind her. It was almost annoying how easily he did it—as if he were dancing—but comforting to watch. He clearly knew what he was doing, she thought as he reached around her to take the reins. She supposed it was good that one of them did.
“About Ragnor Fell. I wasn’t expecting him to be that unwilling to help. Although, warlocks are capricious. You’ve met one before, haven’t you?”
“I met Magnus Bane. ” She twisted around momentarily to look past Sebastian at the cottage receding into the distance behind them. The smoke was puffing out of the chimney in the shape of little dancing figures. Dancing Magnuses? She couldn’t tell from here. “He’s the High Warlock of Brooklyn. ”
“Is he much like Fell?”
“Shockingly similar. It’s all right about Fell. I knew there was a chance he’d refuse to help us. ”
“But I promised you help. ” Sebastian sounded genuinely upset. “Well, at least there’s something else I can show you, so the day won’t have been a complete waste of time. ”
“What is it?” She twisted around again to look up at him. The sun was high in the sky behind him, firing the strands of his dark hair with an outline of gold.
Sebastian grinned. “You’ll see. ”
As they rode farther away from Alicante, walls of green foliage whipped by on either side, giving way every so often to improbably beautiful vistas: frost blue lakes, green valleys, gray mountains, silver slivers of river and creek flanked by banks of flowers. Clary wondered what it would be like to live in a place like this. She couldn’t help but feel nervous, almost exposed, without the comfort of tall buildings closing her in.
Not that there were no buildings at all. Every once in a while the roof of a large stone building would rise into view above the trees. These were manor houses, Sebastian explained (by shouting in her ear): the country houses of wealthy Shadowhunter families. They reminded Clary of the big old mansions along the Hudson River, north of Manhattan, where rich New Yorkers had spent their summers hundreds of years ago.
The road beneath them had turned from gravel to dirt. Clary was jerked out of her reverie as they crested a hill and Sebastian pulled Wayfarer up short. “This is it,” he said.
Clary stared. “It” was a tumbled mass of charred, blackened stone, recognizable only by outline as something that had once been a house: There was a hollow chimney, still pointing toward the sky, and a chunk of wall with a glassless window gaping in its center. Weeds grew up through the foundations, green among the black. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Why are we here?”
“You don’t know?” Sebastian asked. “This was where your mother and father lived. Where your brother was born. This was the Fairchild manor. ”
Not for the first time, Clary heard Hodge’s voice in her head. Valentine set a great fire and burned himself to death along with his family, his wife, and his child. Scorched the land black. No one will build there still. They say the land is cursed.
Without another word she slid from the horse’s back. She heard Sebastian call out to her, but she was already half-running, half-sliding down the low hill. The ground evened out where the house had once stood; the blackened stones of what had once been a walkway lay dry and cracked at her feet. In among the weeds she could see a set of stairs that ended abruptly a few feet from the ground.
“Clary—” Sebastian followed her through the weeds, but she was barely aware of his presence. Turning in a slow circle, she took it all in. Burned, half-dead trees. What had probably once been a shady lawn, stretching away down a sloping hill. She could see the roof of what was probably another nearby manor house in the distance, just above the tree line. The sun sparked off broken bits of window glass in the one full wall that was still standing. She stepped into the ruins over a shelf of blackened stones. She could see the outline of rooms, of doorways—even a scorched cabinet, almost intact, flung on its side with smashed bits of china spilling out, mixing with the black earth.
Once this had been a real house, inhabited by living, breathing people. Her mother had lived here, gotten married here, had a baby here. And then Valentine had come and turned it all to dust and ash, leaving Jocelyn thinking her son was dead, leading her to hide the truth about the world from her daughter…. A sense of piercing sadness invaded Clary. More than one life had been wrecked in this place. She put her hand to her face and was almost surprised to find it damp: She had been crying without knowing it.
“Clary, I’m sorry. I thought you’d want to see this. ” It was Sebastian, crunching toward her across the rubble, his boots kicking up puffs of ash. He looked worried.
She turned to him. “Oh, I do. I did. Thank you. ”
The wind had picked up. It blew strands of his dark hair across his face. He gave a rueful smile. “It must be hard to think about everything that happened in this place, about Valentine, about your mother—she had incredible courage. ”
“I know,” Clary said. “She did. She does. ”
He touched her face lightly. “So do you. ”
“Sebastian, you don’t know anything about me. ”
“That’s not true. ” His other hand came up, and now he was cupping her face. His touch was gentle, almost tentative. “I’ve heard all about you, Clary. About the way you fought your father for the Mortal Cup, the way you went into that vampire-infested hotel after your friend. Isabelle’s told me stories, and I’ve heard rumors, too. And ever since the first one—the first time I heard your name—I’ve wanted to meet you. I knew you’d be extraordinary. ”
She laughed shakily. “I hope you’re not too disappointed. ”
“No,” he breathed, sliding his fingertips under her chin. “Not at all. ” He lifted her face to his. She was too surprised to move, even when he leaned toward her and she realized, belatedly, what he was doing: Reflexively she shut her eyes as his lips brushed gently over hers, sending shivers through her. A sudden fierce longing to be held and kissed in a way that would make her forget everything else surged through her. She put her arms up, twining them around his neck, partly to steady herself and partly to draw him closer.
His hair tickled her fingertips, not silky like Jace’s but fine and soft, and she shouldn’t be thinking about Jace. She pushed back thoughts of him as Sebastian’s fingers traced her cheeks and the line of her jaw. His touch was gentle, despite the calluses on his fingertips. Of course, Jace had the same calluses from fighting; probably all Shadowhunters had them—
She clamped down on the thought of Jace, or tried to, but it was no good. She could see him even with her eyes closed—see the sharp angles and planes of a face she could never properly draw, no matter how much the image of it had burned itself into her mind; see the delicate bones of his hands, the scarred skin of his shoulders—
The fierce longing that had surged up in her so swiftly receded with a sharp recoil that was like an elastic band springing back. She went numb, even as Sebastian’s lips pressed down on hers and his hands moved to cup the back of her neck—she went numb with an icy shock of wrongness. Something was terribly wrong, something even more than her hopeless longing for someone she could never have. This was something else: a sudden jolt of horror, as if she’d been taking a confident step forward and suddenly plunged into a black void.
She gasped and jerked away from Sebastian with such force that she almost stumbled. If he hadn’t been holding her, she would have fallen.
“Clary. ” His eyes were unfocused, his cheeks flushed with a high bright color. “Clary, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. ” Her voice sounded thin to her own ears. “Nothing—it’s just, I shouldn’t have—I’m not really ready—”
“Did we go too fast? We can take it slower—” He reached for her, and before she could stop herself, she flinched away. He looked stricken. “I’m not going to hurt you, Clary. ”
“I know. ”
“Did something happen?” His hand came up, stroked her hair back; she bit back the urge to jerk away. “Did Jace—”
“Jace?” Did he know she’d been thinking about Jace; had he been able to tell? And at the same time … “Jace is my brother. Why would you bring him up like that? What do you mean?”
“I just thought—” He shook his head, pain and confusion chasing each other across his features. “That maybe someone else had hurt you. ”
His hand was still on her cheek; she reached up and gently but firmly detached it, returning it to his side. “No. Nothing like that. I just—” She hesitated. “It felt wrong. ”
“Wrong?” The hurt on his face vanished, replaced by disbelief. “Clary, we have a connection. You know we do. Since the first second I saw you—”
“I felt like you were someone I’d always been waiting for. I saw you felt it too. Don’t tell me you didn’t. ”
But that hadn’t been what she’d felt. She’d felt as if she’d walked around a corner in a strange city and suddenly seen her own brownstone looming up in front of her. A surprising and not entirely pleasant recognition, almost: How can this be here?
“I didn’t,” she said.
The anger that rose in his eyes—sudden, dark, uncontrolled—took her by surprise. He caught her wrists in a painful grasp. “That’s not true. ”
She tried to pull away. “Sebastian—”
“It’s not true. ” The blackness of his eyes seemed to have swallowed up the pupils. His face was like a white mask, stiff and rigid.
“Sebastian,” she said as calmly as she could. “You’re hurting me. ”
He let go of her. His chest was rising and falling rapidly. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry. I thought—”
Well, you thought wrong, Clary wanted to say, but she bit the words back. She didn’t want to see that look on his face again. “We should go back,” she said instead. “It’ll be dark soon. ”
He nodded numbly, seeming as shocked by his outburst as she was. He turned and headed back toward Wayfarer, who was cropping grass in the long shadow of a tree. Clary hesitated a moment, then followed him—there didn’t seem to be anything else she could do. She glanced down surreptitiously at her wrists as she fell into step behind him—they were ringed with red where his fingers had gripped her, and more strangely, her fingertips were smudged black, as if she had somehow stained them with ink.
Sebastian was silent as he helped her up onto Wayfarer’s back. “I’m sorry if I implied anything about Jace,” he said finally as she settled herself in the saddle. “He would never do anything to hurt you. I know it’s for your sake that he’s been visiting that vampire prisoner in the Gard—”
It was as if everything in the world ground to a sudden halt. Clary could hear her own breath whistling in and out of her ears, saw her hands, frozen like the hands of a statue, lying still against the saddle pommel. “Vampire prisoner?” she whispered.
Sebastian turned a surprised face up to hers. “Yes,” he said, “Simon, that vampire they brought over with them from New York. I thought—I mean, I was sure you knew all about it. Didn’t Jace tell you?”