City of Heavenly Fire – Chapter 9: THE ARMS YOU BEAR

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25


Clary woke to the fading afterimage of a rune against her closed eyelids—a rune like wings connected by a single bar. Her whole body hurt, and for a moment she lay still, afraid of the pain that moving would bring. Memories crept back slowly—the icy lava plain in front of the Citadel, Amatis laughing and daring Clary to hurt her, Jace cutting his way through a field of the Endarkened; Jace on the ground bleeding fire, Brother Zachariah lurching back from the blaze. Her eyes flew open. She had half-expected to wake up somewhere entirely foreign, but instead she was lying in the small wooden bed in Amatis’s spare room. Pale sunshine poured through the lace curtains, making patterns on the ceiling. She began to struggle to sit up. Near her someone had been singing softly—her mother. Jocelyn broke off immediately and leaped up to lean over her. She looked as if she had been up all night: She was wearing an old shirt and jeans, and her hair was scraped back into a bun with a pencil stuck through it. A wash of familiarity and relief went through Clary, quickly followed by panic. “Mom,” she said as Jocelyn leaned over her, pressing the back of her hand to Clary’s forehead as if checking for fever. “Jace—” “Jace is fine,” Jocelyn said, taking her hand away. At Clary’s suspicious look Jocelyn shook her head. “He really is. He’s in the Basilias now, along with Brother Zachariah. He’s recovering. ” Clary looked at her mother, hard. “Clary, I know I’ve given you reason not to trust me in the past, but please believe me, Jace is perfectly all right. I know you’d never forgive me if I didn’t tell you the truth about him. ” “When can I see him?” “Tomorrow. ” Jocelyn sat back on the chair beside the bed, revealing Luke, who had been leaning against the wall of the bedroom. He smiled at Clary—a sad, loving, protective smile. “Luke!” she said, relieved to see him. “Tell Mom I’m fine. I can go to the Basilias—” Luke shook his head. “Sorry, Clary. No visitors for Jace right now. Besides, today you have to rest. We heard what you did with that iratze, at the Citadel. ” “Or at least, what people saw you do. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand it exactly. ” The lines at the corners of Jocelyn’s mouth deepened. “You nearly killed yourself healing Jace, Clary. You’re going to have to be careful. You don’t have endless reserves of energy—” “He was dying,” Clary interrupted. “He was bleeding fire. I had to save him. ” “You shouldn’t have had to!” Jocelyn tossed a stray lock of red hair out of her eyes. “What were you doing at that battle?” “They weren’t sending enough people through,” Clary said in a subdued tone. “And everyone was talking about how when they got there, they were going to rescue the Endarkened, they were going to bring them back, find a cure—but I was at the Burren. You were too, Mom. You know there’s no rescuing the Nephilim that Sebastian’s taken with the Infernal Cup. ” “Did you see my sister?” Luke said, his voice gentle. Clary swallowed, and nodded. “I’m sorry. She’s—she’s Sebastian’s lieutenant. She’s not herself anymore, not even a little bit. ” “Did she hurt you?” Luke demanded. His voice was still calm, but a muscle jumped in his cheek. Clary shook her head; she couldn’t bring herself to speak, to lie, but she couldn’t tell Luke the truth, either. “It’s all right,” he said, misunderstanding her distress. “The Amatis that is serving Sebastian is no more my sister than the Jace who served Sebastian was the boy you loved. No more my sister than Sebastian is the son your mother ought to have had. ” Jocelyn put out her hand, took Luke’s, and kissed the back of it lightly. Clary averted her eyes. Her mother turned back to her a moment later. “God, the Clave—if only they would listen. ” She blew out a frustrated breath. “Clary, we understand why you did what you did last night, but we thought you were safe. Then Helen showed up on our doorstep and told us you’d been injured in the Citadel battle. I nearly had a heart attack when we found you in the square. Your lips and fingers were blue. Like you’d drowned. If it hadn’t been for Magnus—” “Magnus healed me? What’s he doing here, in Alicante?” “This isn’t about Magnus,” said Jocelyn with asperity. “This is about you. Jia’s been beside herself, thinking she let you go through the Portal and you could have been killed. It was a call for experienced Shadowhunters, not children—” “It was Sebastian,” Clary said. “They didn’t understand. ” “Sebastian’s not your responsibility. Speaking of which—” Jocelyn reached under the bed; when she straightened, she was holding Heosphoros. “Is this yours? It was in your weapons belt when they brought you home. ” “Yes!” Clary clapped her hands together. “I thought I’d lost it. ” “It’s a Morgenstern sword, Clary,” her mother said, holding it as if it were a piece of moldy lettuce. “One I sold years ago. Where did you get it?” “The weapons shop where you sold it. The lady who owns the store now said no one else would buy it. ” Clary snatched Heosphoros out of her mother’s hand. “Look, I am a Morgenstern. We can’t pretend I don’t have any of Valentine’s blood in me. I need to figure out a way to be partly a Morgenstern and to have that be all right, not to pretend I’m someone else—someone with a made-up name that doesn’t mean anything. ” Jocelyn recoiled slightly. “Do you mean ‘Fray’?” “It’s not exactly a Shadowhunter name, is it?” “No,” her mother said, “not exactly, but it doesn’t mean nothing. ” “I thought you picked it randomly. ” Jocelyn shook her head. “You know the ceremony that must be performed on Nephilim children when they’re born? The one that confers the protection that Jace lost when he came back from the dead, the one that allowed Lilith to get to him? Usually the ceremony is performed by an Iron Sister and a Silent Brother, but in your case, because we were hiding, I couldn’t officially do that. It was done by Brother Zachariah, and a female warlock stood in as the Iron Sister. I named you—after her. ” “Fray? Her last name was ‘Fray’?” “The name was an impulse,” said Jocelyn, not quite answering the question. “I—liked her. She had known loss and pain and grief, but she was strong, like I want you to be strong. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. For you to be strong and safe and not have to suffer what I suffered—the terror and the pain and the danger. ” “Brother Zachariah—” Clary suddenly bolted upright. “He was there last night. He tried to heal Jace, but the heavenly fire burned him. Is he all right? He isn’t dead, is he?” “I don’t know. ” Jocelyn looked a little bewildered at Clary’s vehemence. “I know he was taken to the Basilias. The Silent Brothers have been very secretive about everyone’s condition; they certainly wouldn’t speak about one of their own. ” “He said the Brothers owed the Herondales because of old ties,” said Clary. “If he dies, it will be—” “No one’s fault,” Jocelyn said. “I remember when he put the protection spell on you. I told him I never wanted you to have anything to do with Shadowhunters. He said it might not be my choice. He said that the pull of the Shadowhunters is like a riptide—and he was right. I thought we had fought free, but here we are, back in Alicante, back in a war, and there sits my daughter with blood on her face and a Morgenstern blade in her hands. ” There was an undertone to her voice, shadowed and tense, that made Clary’s nerves spark. “Mom,” she said. “Did something else happen? Is there something you’re not telling me?” Jocelyn exchanged a look with Luke. He spoke first: “You already know that yesterday morning, before the battle at the Citadel, Sebastian tried to attack the London Institute. ” “But no one was hurt. Robert said—” “So Sebastian turned his attention elsewhere,” Luke went on firmly. “He left London with his forces and attacked the Praetor Lupus on Long Island. Almost all the Praetorians, including their leader, were slaughtered. Jordan Kyle—” His voice cracked. “Jordan was killed. ” Clary wasn’t aware that she had moved, but suddenly she was no longer under the covers. She had swung her legs over the side of the bed and was reaching for the scabbard of Heosphoros on the nightstand. “Clary,” her mother said, reaching to place her long fingers on Clary’s wrist, restraining her. “Clary, it’s over. There’s nothing you can do. ” Clary could taste tears, hot and salty, burning the back of her throat, and under the tears the rougher, darker taste of panic. “What about Maia?” she demanded. “If Jordan’s hurt, is Maia all right? And Simon? Jordan was his guard! Is Simon all right?” “I’m fine. Don’t worry, I’m fine,” said Simon’s voice. The bedroom door opened, and to Clary’s utter astonishment Simon came in, looking surprisingly shy. She dropped Heosphoros’s scabbard onto the coverlet and launched herself to her feet, barreling into Simon so hard that she banged her head into his collarbone. She didn’t notice if it hurt or not. She was too busy holding on to Simon as if they’d both just fallen out of a helicopter and were hurtling downward. She was grabbing fistfuls of his creased green sweater, mashing her face awkwardly into his shoulder as she fought not to cry. He held her, soothing her with awkward boy-pats to her back and shoulders. When she finally let him go and stepped back, she saw that the sweater and jeans he was wearing were both a size too big for him. A metal chain hung around his throat. “What are you doing here?” she demanded. “Whose clothes are you wearing?” “It’s a long story, and Alec’s, mostly,” Simon said. His words were casual, but he looked strained and tense. “You should have seen what I had on before. Nice pajamas, by the way. ” Clary looked down at herself. She was wearing a pair of flannel pajamas, too short in the leg and tight in the chest, with fire trucks on them. Luke raised an eyebrow. “I think those were mine when I was a kid. ” “You can’t seriously tell me there wasn’t anything else you could have put me in. ” “If you insist on trying to get yourself killed, I insist on being the one who chooses what you wear while you recover,” Jocelyn said with a tiny smirk. “The pajamas of vengeance,” Clary muttered. She grabbed up jeans and a shirt from the floor and looked at Simon. “I’m going to change. And by the time I get back, you better be ready to tell me something about how you’re here besides ‘long story. ’?” Simon muttered something that sounded like “bossy,” but Clary was already out the door. She showered in record time, enjoying the feel of the water sluicing away the dirt of the battle. She was still worried about Jace, despite her mother’s reassurances, but the sight of Simon had lifted her spirits. Maybe it didn’t make sense, but she was happier that he was where she could keep an eye on him, rather than back in New York. Especially after Jordan. When she got back to the bedroom, her damp hair tied back in a ponytail, Simon was perched on the nightstand, deep in conversation with her mother and Luke, recounting what had happened to him in New York, how Maureen had kidnapped him and Raphael had rescued him and brought him to Alicante. “Then I hope Raphael intends to attend the dinner held by the representatives of the Seelie Court tonight,” Luke was saying. “Anselm Nightshade would have been invited, but if Raphael is standing in for him at the Council, then he should be there. Especially after what’s happened with the Praetor, the importance of Downworlder solidarity with Shadowhunters is greater than ever. ” “Have you heard from Maia?” Simon asked. “I hate the thought that she’s alone, now that Jordan’s dead. ” He winced a little as he spoke, as if the words—“Jordan’s dead”—hurt to say. “She’s not alone. She’s got the pack taking care of her. Bat’s been in touch with me—she’s physically fine. Emotionally, I don’t know. She’s the one Sebastian gave his message to, after he killed Jordan. That can’t have been easy. ” “The pack is going to find itself having to deal with Maureen,” said Simon. “She’s thrilled the Shadowhunters are gone. She’s going to make New York her bloody playground, if she gets her way. ” “If she’s killing mundanes, the Clave will have to dispatch someone to deal with her,” said Jocelyn. “Even if it means leaving Idris. If she’s breaking the Accords—” “Shouldn’t Jia hear about all this?” Clary said. “We could go talk to her. She’s not like the last Consul. She’d listen to you, Simon. ” Simon nodded. “I promised Raphael I’d talk to the Inquisitor and the Consul for him—” He broke off suddenly, and winced. Clary looked at him harder. He was sitting in a weak shaft of daylight, his skin ivory pale. The veins under the skin were visible, as stark and black as ink marks. His cheekbones looked sharp, the shadows under them harsh and indented. “Simon, how long has it been since you’ve eaten anything?” Simon flinched back; she knew he hated being reminded of his need for blood. “Three days,” he said in a low voice. “Food,” Clary said, looking from her mother to Luke. “We need to get him food. ” “I’m fine,” Simon said, unconvincingly. “I really am. ” “The most reasonable place to get blood would be the vampire representative’s house,” said Luke. “They have to provide it for the use of the Night’s Children’s Council member. I would go myself, but they’re hardly going to give it to a werewolf. We could send a message—” “No messages. Too slow. We’ll go now. ” Clary threw her closet open and grabbed for a jacket. “Simon, can you make it there?” “It’s not that far,” Simon said, his voice subdued. “A few doors down from the Inquisitor’s. ” “Raphael will be sleeping,” said Luke. “It’s the middle of the day. ” “Then we’ll wake him up. ” Clary shrugged the jacket on and zipped it. “It’s his job to represent vampires; he’ll have to help Simon. ” Simon snorted. “Raphael doesn’t think he has to do anything. ” “I don’t care. ” Clary seized up Heosphoros and slid it into the scabbard. “Clary, I’m not sure you’re well enough to go out like this—” Jocelyn began. “I’m fine. Never felt better. ” Jocelyn shook her head, and the sunlight caught the red glints in her hair. “In other words there’s nothing I can do to stop you. ” “Nope,” Clary said, shoving Heosphoros into her belt. “Nothing whatsoever. ” “The Council member dinner is tonight,” Luke said, leaning back against the wall. “Clary, we’re going to have to leave before you get back. We’re putting a guard on the house to make sure you return home before dark—” “You have got to be kidding me. ” “Not at all. We want you in, and the house closed up. If you don’t come home before sunset, the Gard will be notified. ” “It’s a police state,” Clary grumbled. “Come on, Simon. Let’s go. ” Maia sat on the beach at Rockaway, looking out at the water, and shivered. Rockaway was crowded in summer, but empty and windswept now, in December. The water of the Atlantic stretched away, a heavy gray, the color of iron, under a similarly iron-colored sky. The bodies of the werewolves Sebastian had killed, Jordan’s among them, had been burned among the ruins of the Praetor Lupus. One of the wolves of the pack approached the tide line and cast the contents of a box of ashes onto the water. Maia watched as the surface of the sea turned black with the remains of the dead. “I’m sorry. ” It was Bat, sitting down beside her on the sand. They watched as Rufus stepped up to the shoreline and opened another wooden box of ashes. “About Jordan. ” Maia pushed her hair back. Gray clouds were gathering on the horizon. She wondered when it would start to rain. “I was going to break up with him,” she said. “What?” Bat looked shocked. “I was going to break up with him,” Maia said. “The day Sebastian killed him. ” “I thought everything was going great with you guys. I thought you were happy. ” “Did you?” Maia dug her fingers into the damp sand. “You didn’t like him. ” “He hurt you. It was a long time ago, and I know he tried to make up for it, but—” Bat shrugged. “Maybe I’m not so forgiving. ” Maia exhaled. “Maybe I’m not either,” she said. “The town I grew up in, all these spoiled thin rich white girls, they made me feel like crap because I didn’t look like them. When I was six, my mom tried to throw me a Barbie-themed birthday party. They make a black Barbie, you know, but they don’t make any of the stuff that goes with her—party supplies and cake toppers and all that. So we had a party for me with a blonde doll as the theme, and all these blonde girls came, and they all giggled at me behind their hands. ” The beach air was cold in her lungs. “So when I met Jordan and he told me I was beautiful, well, it didn’t take that much. I was totally in love with him in about five minutes. ” “You are beautiful,” Bat said. A hermit crab inched its way along the sand, and he poked it with his fingers. “We were happy,” Maia said. “But then everything happened, and he Turned me, and I hated him. I came to New York and I hated him, and then he showed up again and all he wanted was for me to forgive him. He wanted it so badly and he was so sorry. And I knew, people do crazy things when they get bitten. I’ve heard of people who’ve killed their families—” “That’s why we have the Praetor,” said Bat. “Well. Had them. ” “And I thought, how much can you hold someone accountable for what they did when they couldn’t control themselves? I thought I should forgive him, he just wanted it so damn much. He’d done everything to make up for it. I thought we could go back to normal, go back to the way we used to be. ” “Sometimes you can’t go back,” Bat said. He touched the scar on his cheek thoughtfully; Maia had never asked him how he had gotten it. “Sometimes too much has changed. ” “We couldn’t go back,” Maia said. “At least, I couldn’t. He wanted me to forgive him so much that I think sometimes he just looked at me and he saw forgiveness. Redemption. He didn’t see me. ” She shook her head. “I’m not someone’s absolution. I’m just Maia. ” “But you cared about him,” Bat said softly. “Enough that I kept putting off breaking up with him. I thought maybe I’d feel differently. And then everything started happening: Simon got kidnapped, and we went after him, and I was still going to tell Jordan. I was going to tell him as soon as we got to the Praetor, and then we arrived and it was”—she swallowed—“a slaughterhouse. ” “They said when they found you, you were holding him. He was dead and his blood was washing out with the tide, but you were holding on to his body. ” “Everyone should die with someone holding on to them,” Maia said, taking a handful of sand. “I just—I feel so guilty. He died thinking I was still in love with him, that we were going to stay together and everything was fine. He died with me lying to him. ” She let the grains trickle out through her fingers. “I should have told him the truth. ” “Stop punishing yourself. ” Bat stood up. He was tall and muscular in his half-zipped anorak, the wind barely moving his short hair. The gathering gray clouds outlined him. Maia could see the rest of the pack, gathered around Rufus, who was gesturing while he talked. “If he hadn’t been dying, then yes, you should have told him the truth. But he died thinking he was loved and forgiven. There are much worse gifts you could give someone than that. What he did to you was terrible, and he knew it. But few people are all good or all bad. Think of it as a gift you gave to the good in him. Wherever Jordan’s going—and I do believe we all go somewhere—think of it as the light that will bring him home. ”

If you are leaving the Basilias, understand that it is against the advice of the Brothers that you do so. “Right,” Jace said, pulling on his second gauntlet and flexing his fingers. “You’ve made that pretty clear. ” Brother Enoch loomed over him, glowering, as Jace bent down with slow precision to do up the laces on his boots. He was sitting on the edge of the infirmary bed, one of a line of white-sheeted cots that ran the length of the long room. Many of the other cots were taken up with Shadowhunter warriors, recovering from the battle at the Citadel. Silent Brothers moved among the beds like ghostly nurses. The air smelled of herbs and strange poultices. You should take another night to rest, at least. Your body is spent, and the heavenly fire still burns within you. Finished with his boots, Jace looked up. The arched ceiling above was painted with an interlaced design of healing runes in silver and blue. He’d been staring up at it for what felt like weeks, though he knew it had been only a night. The Silent Brothers, keeping all visitors away, had hovered over him with healing runes and poultices. They had also run tests on him, taking blood, hair, even eyelashes—touching him with a series of blades pressed to his skin: gold, silver, steel, rowan wood. He felt fine. He had a strong feeling that keeping him in the Basilias was more about studying the heavenly fire than it was about healing him. “I want to see Brother Zachariah,” he said. He is well. You need not worry yourself about him. “I want to see him,” he said. “I nearly killed him at the Citadel—” That was not you. That was the heavenly fire. And it did anything but harm him. Jace blinked at the odd choice of words. “He said when I met him that he believes that a debt is owed the Herondales. I’m a Herondale. He’d want to see me. ” And then you intend to depart the Basilias? Jace stood up. “There’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need to be in the infirmary. Surely you could be using your resources more fruitfully on the actually wounded. ” He caught his jacket off a hook by the bed. “Look, you can either bring me to Brother Zachariah or I can wander around yelling for him until he turns up. ” You are a great deal of trouble, Jace Herondale. “So I’ve been told,” Jace said. There were arched windows between the beds; they cast wide spokes of light across the marble floor. The day was beginning to dim: Jace had woken in the early afternoon, with a Silent Brother by his bed. He’d jerked upright, demanding to know where Clary was, as recollections of the night before poured through him: he recalled the pain when Sebastian had stabbed him, recalled the fire blazing up the blade, recalled Zachariah burning. Clary’s arms around him, her hair falling down around them both, the cessation of pain that had come with darkness. And then—nothing. After the Brothers had reassured him that Clary was all right, safe at Amatis’s, he’d asked after Zachariah, whether the fire had harmed him, but had received only irritatingly vague answers. Now he followed Enoch out of the infirmary hall and into a narrower, white-plastered corridor. Doors opened off the corridor. As they passed one, Jace caught a quick glimpse of a writhing body tied to a bed, and heard the sound of screaming and cursing. A Silent Brother stood over a thrashing man dressed in the remnants of red gear. Blood spattered the white wall behind them. Amalric Kriegsmesser, said Brother Enoch without turning his head. One of Sebastian’s Endarkened. As you know, we have been attempting to reverse the spell of the Infernal Cup. Jace swallowed. There didn’t seem anything to say. He had seen the ritual of the Infernal Cup performed. In his heart of hearts he didn’t believe the spell could be reversed. It created too fundamental a change. But then neither had he ever imagined that a Silent Brother could be as human as Brother Zachariah had always seemed. Was that why he was so determined to see him? He remembered what Clary had told him Brother Zachariah had said once, when she’d asked him if he’d ever loved anyone enough to die for them: Two people. There are memories that time does not erase. Ask your friend Magnus Bane, if you do not believe me. Forever does not make loss forgettable, only bearable. There had been something about those words, something that spoke of a sorrow and a sort of memory that Jace did not associate with the Brothers. They had been a presence in his life since he was ten: pale silent statues who brought healing, who kept secrets, who did not love or desire or grow or die but only were. But Brother Zachariah was different. We are here. Brother Enoch had paused in front of an unremarkable white-painted door. He lifted a broad hand and knocked. There was a sound from inside, as of a chair scraping back, and then a male voice: “Come in. ” Brother Enoch swung the door open and ushered Jace inside. The windows were west-facing, and it was very bright in the room, the light of the sun as it went down painting the walls with pale fire. There was a figure at the window: a silhouette, slender, not in the robes of a Brother—Jace turned to look at Brother Enoch in surprise, but the Silent Brother had already left, closing the door behind him. “Where’s Brother Zachariah?” Jace said. “I’m right here. ” A quiet voice, soft, a little out of tune, like a piano that hadn’t been played in years. The figure had turned from the window. Jace found himself looking at a boy only a few years older than himself. Dark hair, a sharp delicate face, eyes that seemed young and old at the same time. The runes of the Brothers marked his high cheekbones, and as the boy turned, Jace saw the pale edge of a faded rune at the side of his throat. A parabatai. Like he was. And Jace knew too what that faded rune meant: a parabatai whose other half was dead. He felt his sympathy leap toward Brother Zachariah, as he imagined himself without Alec, with only that faded rune to remind him where once he had been bonded to someone who knew all the best and worst parts of his soul. “Jace Herondale,” said the boy. “Once more a Herondale is the bringer of my deliverance. I should have anticipated. ” “I didn’t—that’s not—” Jace was too stunned to think of anything clever to say. “It’s not possible. Once you’re a Silent Brother, you can’t change back. You—I don’t understand. ” The boy—Zachariah, Jace supposed, though not a Brother anymore—smiled. It was a heartbreakingly vulnerable smile, young and gentle. “I am not sure I entirely understand either,” he said. “But I was never an ordinary Silent Brother. I was brought into the life because there was a dark magic upon me. I had no other way to save myself. ” He looked down at his hands, the unlined hands of a boy, smooth the way few Shadowhunters’ hands were smooth. The Brothers could fight as warriors, but rarely did. “I left everything I knew and everything I loved. Didn’t leave it entirely, perhaps, but erected a wall of glass between myself and the life I’d had before. I could see it, but I could not touch, could not be a part of it. I began to forget what it was like to be an ordinary human. ” “We’re not ordinary humans. ” Zachariah looked up. “Oh, we tell ourselves that,” he said. “But I have made a study of Shadowhunters now, over the past century, and let me tell you that we are more human than most human beings. When our hearts break, they break into shards that cannot be easily fit back together. I envy mundanes their resilience sometimes. ” “More than a century old? You seem pretty . . . resilient to me. ” “I thought I would be a Silent Brother forever. We—they don’t die, you know; they fade after many years. Stop speaking, stop moving. Eventually they are entombed alive. I thought that would be my fate. But when I touched you with my runed hand, when you were wounded, I absorbed the heavenly fire in your veins. It burned away the darkness in my blood. I became again the person I was before I took my vows. Before even that. I became what I have always wanted to be. ” Jace’s voice was hoarse. “Did it hurt?” Zachariah looked puzzled. “I’m sorry?” “When Clary stabbed me with Glorious, it was—agonizing. I felt as if my bones were melting down to ashes inside me. I kept thinking about that when I woke up—I kept thinking about the pain, and whether it hurt when you touched me. ” Zachariah looked at him in surprise. “You thought about me? About whether I was in pain?” “Of course. ” Jace could see their reflections in the window behind Zachariah. Zachariah was as tall as he was, but thinner, and with his dark hair and pale skin he looked like a photo negative of Jace. “Herondales. ” Zachariah’s voice was a breath, half laughter, half pain. “I had almost forgotten. No other family does so much for love, or feels so much guilt for it. Don’t carry the weight of the world on you, Jace. It’s too heavy for even a Herondale to bear. ” “I’m not a saint,” Jace said. “Maybe I should bear it. ” Zachariah shook his head. “You know, I think, the phrase from the Bible: ‘Mene mene tekel upharsin’?” “?‘You have been weighed in the balance and have been found wanting. ’ Yes, I know it. The Writing on the Wall. ” “The Egyptians believed that at the gate of the dead your heart was weighed on scales, and if it weighed more than a feather, your path was the path to Hell. The fire of Heaven takes our measure, Jace Herondale, like the scales of the Egyptians. If there is more evil in us than good, it will destroy us. I only just lived, and so did you. The difference between us is that I was only brushed by the fire, whereas it entered your heart. You carry it in you still, a great burden and a great gift. ” “But all I’ve been trying to do is get rid of it—” “You cannot rid yourself of this. ” Brother Zachariah’s voice had become very serious. “It is not a curse to be rid of; it is a weapon you have been entrusted with. You are the blade of Heaven. Make sure you are worthy. ” “You sound like Alec,” Jace said. “He’s always on about responsibility and worthiness. ” “Alec. Your parabatai. The Lightwood boy?” “You . . . ” Jace indicated the side of Zachariah’s throat. “You had a parabatai too. But your rune is faded. ” Zachariah looked down. “He is long dead,” he said. “I was—When he died, I—” He shook his head, frustrated. “For years I have spoken only with my mind, though you hear my thoughts as words,” he said. “The process of shaping language in the ordinary way, of finding speech, does not come easily to me now. ” He raised his head to look at Jace. “Value your parabatai,” he said. “For it is a precious bond. All love is precious. It is why we do what we do. Why do we fight demons? Why are they not fit custodians of this world? What makes us better? It is because they do not build, but destroy. They do not love, but hate only. We are human and fallible, we Shadowhunters. But if we did not have the capacity to love, we could not guard humans; we must love them to guard them. My parabatai, he loved like few ever could love, with all and everything. I see you are like that too; it burns more brightly in you than the fire of Heaven. ” Brother Zachariah was looking at Jace, with a fierce intensity that felt as if it would strip the flesh off his bones. “I’m sorry,” Jace said quietly. “That you lost your parabatai. Is there anyone—anyone left for you to go home to?” The boy’s mouth curved a little at the corner. “There is one. She has always been home for me. But not so soon. I must stay, first. ” “To fight?” “And love and grieve. When I was a Silent Brother, my loves and losses were muted slightly, like music heard from a distance, true in tune but muffled. Now—now it has all come upon me at once. I am bowed under it. I must be stronger before I can see her. ” His smile was wistful. “Have you ever felt that your heart contained so much that it must surely break apart?” Jace thought of Alec wounded in his lap, of Max still and white on the floor of the Accords Hall; he thought of Valentine, his arms around Jace as Jace’s blood soaked the sand underneath them. And lastly he thought of Clary: her sharp bravery that kept him safe, her sharper wit that kept him sane, the steadiness of her love. “Weapons, when they break and are mended, can be stronger at the mended places,” said Jace. “Perhaps hearts are the same. ” Brother Zachariah, who was now just a boy like Jace himself, smiled at him a little sadly. “I hope that you are right. ” “I can’t believe Jordan’s dead,” Clary said. “I just saw him. He was sitting on the wall at the Institute when we went through the Portal. ” She was walking beside Simon along one of the canals, heading toward the center of the city. The demon towers rose around them, their brilliance reflected in the canal waters. Simon glanced sidelong at Clary. He kept thinking of the way she’d looked when he’d seen her the night before, blue and exhausted and barely conscious, her clothes ripped and bloody. She looked like herself again now, color in her cheeks, her hands in her pockets, the hilt of her sword protruding from her belt. “Neither can I,” he said. Clary’s eyes were distant and bright; Simon wondered what she was remembering—Jordan teaching Jace to control his emotions in Central Park? Jordan in Magnus’s apartment, talking to a pentagram? Jordan the first time they’d ever seen him, ducking under a garage door to audition for Simon’s band? Jordan sitting on the sofa in his and Simon’s apartment, playing Xbox with Jace? Jordan telling Simon that he was sworn to protect him? Simon felt hollow inside. He’d spent the night sleeping fitfully, waking up out of nightmares in which Jordan appeared and stood looking at him silently, hazel eyes asking Simon to help him, save him, while the ink on his arms ran like blood. “Poor Maia,” she said. “I wish she were here; I wish we could talk to her. She’s had such a hard time, and now this—” “I know,” Simon said, almost choking. Thinking about Jordan was bad enough. If he thought about Maia, too, he’d fall apart. Clary responded to the abruptness in his tone by reaching out for his hand. “Simon,” she said. “Are you all right?” He let her take his hand, loosely interlacing their fingers. He saw her glance down at the gold faerie ring he always wore. “I don’t think so,” he said. “No, of course not. How could you be? He was your—” Friend? Roommate? Bodyguard? “Responsibility,” Simon said. She looked taken aback. “No—Simon, you were his. He was your guard. ” “Come on, Clary,” Simon said. “What do you think he was doing at the Praetor Lupus headquarters? He never went there. If he was there, it was because of me, because he was looking for me. If I hadn’t gone and gotten myself kidnapped—” “Gotten yourself kidnapped?” Clary snapped. “What, you volunteered to have Maureen kidnap you?” “Maureen didn’t kidnap me,” he said in a low voice. She looked at him, puzzled. “I thought she kept you in a cage at the Dumort. I thought you said—” “She did,” Simon said. “But the only reason I was outside where she could get at me was because I was attacked by one of the Endarkened. I didn’t want to tell Luke and your mother,” he added. “I thought they’d freak out. ” “Because if Sebastian sent a Dark Shadowhunter after you, it was because of me,” said Clary tightly. “Did he want to kidnap you or kill you?” “I didn’t really get a chance to ask him. ” Simon shoved his hands into his pockets. “Jordan told me to run, so I ran—right into some of Maureen’s clan. She was having the apartment watched, evidently. I suppose that’s what I get for running off and leaving him. If I hadn’t, if I hadn’t been taken, he never would have gone out to the Praetor, and he never would have been killed. ” “Stop it. ” Simon looked over in surprise. Clary sounded genuinely angry. “Stop blaming yourself. Jordan didn’t get himself assigned to you at random. He wanted the job so he could be near Maia. He knew the risks in guarding you. He took them on voluntarily. It was his choice. He was looking for redemption. Because of what happened between him and Maia. Because of what he did. That was what the Praetor was, for him. It saved him. Guarding you, people like you, saved him. He’d turned into a monster. He’d hurt Maia. He’d turned her into a monster too. What he did wasn’t forgivable. If he hadn’t had the Praetor, if he hadn’t had you to take care of, it would have eaten him up until he killed himself. ” “Clary—” Simon was shocked at the darkness in her words. She shivered, as if she were shaking off the touch of spiderwebs. They had turned onto a long street by a canal, lined with grand old houses. It reminded Simon of pictures of rich neighborhoods in Amsterdam. “That’s the Lightwoods’ house, there. The high Council members have houses on this street. The Consul, the Inquisitor, the Downworlder representatives. We just have to figure out which one is Raphael’s—” “There,” Simon said, and indicated a narrow canal house with a black door. A star had been painted on the door in silver. “A star for the Night’s Children. Because we don’t see the light of the sun. ” He smiled at her, or tried to. Hunger was burning up his veins; they felt like hot wires under his skin. He turned away and mounted the steps. The door knocker was in the shape of a rune, and heavy. The sound it made as it dropped reverberated inside the house. Simon heard Clary come up the stairs behind him just as the door opened. Raphael stood inside, carefully out of the light that spilled in through the open door. In the shadows Simon could make out only the general shape of him: his curly hair, the white flash of his teeth when he greeted them. “Daylighter. Valentine’s daughter. ” Clary made an exasperated noise. “Don’t you ever call anyone by their name?” “Only my friends,” said Raphael. “You have friends?” Simon said. Raphael glared. “I assume you are here for blood?” “Yes,” Clary said. Simon said nothing. At the sound of the word “blood” he’d started to feel slightly faint. He could feel his stomach contracting. He was beginning to starve. Raphael cast a glance at Simon. “You look hungry. Perhaps you should have taken my suggestion in the square last night. ” Clary’s eyebrows went up, but Simon just scowled. “If you want me to talk to the Inquisitor for you, you’re going to have to give me blood. Otherwise I’ll pass out on his feet, or eat him. ” “I suspect that would go over poorly with his daughter. Though she already seemed none too pleased with you last night. ” Raphael disappeared back into the shadows of the house. Clary glanced at Simon. “I take it you saw Isabelle yesterday?” “You take it right. ” “And it didn’t go well?” Simon was spared answering by Raphael’s reappearance. He was carrying a stoppered glass bottle full of red liquid. Simon took it eagerly. The scent of the blood came through the glass, billowy and sweet. Simon yanked the stopper out and swallowed, his fang teeth snapping out, despite the fact that he didn’t need them. Vampires weren’t meant to drink out of bottles. His teeth scraped against his skin as he wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. Raphael’s brown eyes glittered. “I was sorry to hear about your werewolf friend. ” Simon stiffened. Clary put a hand on his arm. “You don’t mean that,” Simon said. “You hated me having a Praetorian Guard. ” Raphael hummed thoughtfully. “No guard, no Mark of Cain. All your protections stripped away. It must be strange, Daylighter, to know that you can truly die. ” Simon stared at him. “Why do you try so hard?” he said, and took another swallow from the bottle. It tasted bitter this time, a little acidic. “To make me hate you? Or is it just that you hate me?” There was a long silence. Simon realized that Raphael was barefoot, standing just at the edge of the sunlight where it lay in a stripe along the hardwood floor. Another step forward, and the light would char his skin. Simon swallowed, tasting the blood in his mouth, feeling slightly unsteady. “You don’t hate me,” he realized, looking at the white scar at the base of Raphael’s throat, where sometimes a crucifix rested. “You’re jealous. ” Without another word Raphael shut the door between them. Clary exhaled. “Wow. That went well. ” Simon didn’t say anything, just turned and walked away, down the steps. He paused at the bottom to finish his bottle of blood, and then, to her surprise, tossed it. It flew partway down the street and hit a lamppost, shattering, leaving a smear of blood on the iron. “Simon?” Clary hurried down the steps. “Are you all right?” He made a vague gesture. “I don’t know. Jordan, Maia, Raphael, it’s all—it’s too much. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. ” “You mean, about talking to the Inquisitor for him?” Clary moved to catch up with Simon as he began walking aimlessly down the street. The wind had come up, ruffling his brown hair. “About anything. ” He wobbled a little as he walked away from her. Clary squinted suspiciously. If she hadn’t known better, she would have guessed he was drunk. “I don’t belong here,” he said. He had stopped in front of the Inquisitor’s residence. He cocked his head back, staring up at the windows. “What do you think they’re doing in there?” “Having dinner?” Clary guessed. The witchlight lamps were starting to come on, illuminating the street. “Living their lives? Come on, Simon. They probably knew people who died in the battle last night. If you want to see Isabelle, tomorrow is the Council meeting and—” “She knows,” he said. “That her parents are probably breaking up. That her father had an affair. ” “He what?” Clary said, staring at Simon. “When?” “Long time ago. ” Simon’s voice was definitely slurred. “Before Max. He was going to leave but—he found out about Max, so he stayed. Maryse told Isabelle, years ago. Not fair, to put all that on a little girl. Izzy’s strong, but still. You shouldn’t do that. Not to your child. You should—carry your own burdens. ” “Simon. ” She thought of his mother, turning him away from her door. You shouldn’t do that. Not to your child. “How long have you known? About Robert and Maryse?” “Months. ” He moved toward the front gate of the house. “I always wanted to help her, but she never wanted me to say anything, do anything—your mother knows, by the way. She told Izzy who Robert had the affair with. It wasn’t anyone she’d ever heard of. I don’t know if that makes it worse or better. ” “What? Simon, you’re wobbling. Simon—” Simon crashed into the fence around the Inquisitor’s house with a loud rattling noise. “Isabelle!” he called, tipping his head back. “Isabelle!” “Holy—” Clary grabbed Simon by the sleeve. “Simon,” she hissed. “You’re a vampire, in the middle of Idris. Maybe you shouldn’t be shouting for attention. ” Simon ignored this. “Isabelle!” he called again. “Let down your raven hair!” “Oh, my God,” Clary muttered. “There was something in that blood Raphael gave you, wasn’t there? I’m going to kill him. ” “He’s already dead,” Simon observed. “He’s undead. Obviously he can still die, you know, again. I’ll re-kill him. Simon, come on. Let’s head back, and you can lie down and put ice on your head—” “Isabelle!” Simon shouted. One of the upper windows of the house swung open, and Isabelle leaned out. Her raven hair was unbound, tumbling around her face. She looked furious, though. “Simon, shut up!” she hissed. “I won’t!” Simon announced mutinously. “For you are my lady fair, and I shall win your favor. ” Isabelle dropped her head into her hands. “Is he drunk?” she called down to Clary. “I don’t know. ” Clary was torn between loyalty to Simon and an urgent need to get him out of there. “I think he may have gotten some expired blood or something. ” “I love you, Isabelle Lightwood!” Simon called, startling everyone. Lights were going on all through the house, and in neighboring houses as well. There was a noise from down the street, and a moment later Aline and Helen appeared; both looked frazzled, Helen in the middle of tying her curly blond hair back. “I love you, and I won’t go away until you tell me you love me too!” “Tell him you love him,” Helen called up. “He’s scaring the whole street. ” She waved at Clary. “Good to see you. ” “You, too,” Clary said. “I’m so sorry about what happened in Los Angeles, and if there’s anything I can do to help—” Something came fluttering down from the sky. Two things: a pair of leather pants, and a puffy white poet shirt. They landed at Simon’s feet. “Take your clothes and go!” Isabelle shouted. Above her another window opened, and Alec leaned out. “What’s going on?” His gaze landed on Clary and the others, his eyebrows drawing together in confusion. “What is this? Early caroling?” “I don’t carol,” said Simon. “I’m Jewish. I only know the dreidel song. ” “Is he all right?” Aline asked Clary, sounding worried. “Do vampires go crazy?” “He’s not crazy,” said Helen. “He’s drunk. He must have consumed the blood of someone who’d been drinking alcohol. It can give vampires a sort of—contact high. ” “I hate Raphael,” Clary muttered. “Isabelle!” Simon called. “Stop throwing clothes at me! Just because you’re a Shadowhunter and I’m a vampire doesn’t mean we can never happen. Our love is forbidden like the love of a shark and a—and a shark hunter. But that’s what makes it special. ” “Oh?” Isabelle snapped. “Which one of us is the shark, Simon? Which one of us is the shark?” The front door burst open. It was Robert Lightwood, and he did not look pleased. He stalked down the front walk of the house, kicked the gate open, and strode up to Simon. “What’s going on here?” he demanded. His eyes flicked to Clary. “Why are you shouting outside my house?” “He’s not feeling well,” Clary said, catching at Simon’s wrist. “We’re going. ” “No,” Simon said. “No, I—I need to talk to him. To the Inquisitor. ” Robert reached into his jacket and drew out a crucifix. Clary stared as he held it up between himself and Simon. “I speak to the Night’s Children Council representative, or to the head of the New York clan,” he said. “Not to any vampire who comes to knock at my door, even if he is a friend of my children. Nor should you be in Alicante without permission—” Simon reached out and plucked the cross out of Robert’s hand. “Wrong religion,” he said. Helen made a whistling noise under her breath. “And I was sent by the representative of the Night’s Children to the Council. Raphael Santiago brought me here to speak to you—” “Simon!” Isabelle hurried out of the house, racing to place herself between Simon and her father. “What are you doing?” She glared at Clary, who grabbed Simon’s wrist again. “We really need to go,” Clary muttered. Robert’s gaze went from Simon to Isabelle. His expression changed. “Is there something going on between you two? Is that what all the yelling was about?” Clary looked at Isabelle in surprise. She thought of Simon, comforting Isabelle when Max died. How close Simon and Izzy had become in the past months. And her father had no idea. “He’s a friend. He’s friends with all of us,” Isabelle said, crossing her arms over her chest. Clary couldn’t tell if she was more annoyed with her father or with Simon. “And I’ll vouch for him, if that means he can stay in Alicante. ” She glared at Simon. “But he’s going back to Clary’s now. Aren’t you, Simon?” “My head feels round,” Simon said sadly. “So round. ” Robert lowered his arm. “What?” “He drank some drugged blood,” said Clary. “It isn’t his fault. ” Robert turned his dark blue gaze on Simon. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow at the Council meeting, if you’ve sobered up,” he said. “If Raphael Santiago has something he wants you to speak to me about, you can say it in front of the Clave. ” “I don’t—” Simon began. But Clary cut him off with a hasty: “Fine. I’ll bring him with me to the Council meeting tomorrow. Simon, we have to get back before dark; you know that. ” Simon looked mildly dazed. “We do?” “Tomorrow, at the Council,” Robert said shortly, turned, and stalked back into his house. Isabelle hesitated a moment—she was in a loose dark shirt and jeans, her pale feet bare on the narrow stone path. She was shivering. “Where did he get spiked blood?” she asked, indicating Simon with a wave of her hand. “Raphael,” Clary explained. Isabelle rolled her eyes. “He’ll be all right tomorrow,” she said. “Put him to bed. ” She waved to Helen and Aline, who were leaning on the gateposts with unabashed curiosity. “See you at the meeting,” she said. “Isabelle—” Simon began, starting to wave his arms wildly, but, before he could do any more damage, Clary grabbed the back of his jacket and hauled him toward the street. Because Simon kept ranging off down various alleys, and insisted on trying to break into a closed candy shop, it was already dark by the time Clary and Simon reached Amatis’s house. Clary looked around for the guard Jocelyn had said would be posted, but there was no one visible. Either he was exceptionally well concealed or, more likely, he had already set off to report to Clary’s parents on her lateness.

Gloomily Clary mounted the steps to the house, unlocked the door, and manhandled Simon inside. He had stopped protesting and starting yawning somewhere around Cistern Square, and now his eyelids were drooping. “I hate Raphael,” he said.

“I was just thinking the same thing,” she said, turning him around. “Come on. Let’s get you lying down. ”

She shuffled him over to the sofa, where he collapsed, slumping down against the cushions. Dim moonlight filtered through the lace curtains that covered the large front windows. Simon’s eyes were the color of smoky quartz as he struggled to keep them open.

“You should sleep,” she told him. “Mom and Luke will probably be back any minute now. ” She turned to go.

“Clary,” he said, catching at her sleeve. “Be careful. ”

She detached herself gently and headed up the stairs, taking her witchlight rune-stone to illuminate her way. The windows along the upstairs corridor were open, and a cool breeze blew down the hall, smelling of city stone and canal water, lifting her hair away from her face. Clary reached her bedroom and pushed the door open—and froze.

The witchlight pulsed in her hand, casting bright spokes of light across the room. There was someone sitting on her bed. A tall someone, with white-fair hair, a sword across his lap, and a silver bracelet that sparked like fire in the witchlight.

If I cannot reach Heaven, I will raise Hell.

“Hello, sister mine,” Sebastian said.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25