City of lost souls – Chapter 12: The Stuff of Heaven

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Chapter 12: The Stuff of Heaven

When Alec returned to Magnuss apartment, all the lights were off, but the living room was glowing with a blue-white flame. It took him several moments to realize it was coming from the pentagram.

He kicked his shoes off by the door and padded as quietly as he could into the master bedroom. The room was dark, a strand of multicolored Christmas lights wrapped around the window frame the only illumination. Magnus was asleep on his back, the covers pulled up to his waist, his hand flat against his belly-button-free stomach.

Alec quickly stripped down to his boxers and climbed into bed, hoping not to wake Magnus. Unfortunately, he hadnt counted on Chairman Meow, who had tucked himself under the covers. Alecs elbow came down squarely on the cats tail, and the Chairman yowled and darted off the bed, causing Magnus to sit up, blinking.

“Whats going on?”

“Nothing,” Alec said, silently cursing all cats. “I couldnt sleep. ”

“So you went out?” Magnus rolled onto his side and touched Alecs bare shoulder. “Your skins cold, and you smell like nighttime. ”

“I was walking around,” Alec said, glad it was too dim in the room for Magnus to really see his face. He knew he was a terrible liar.

“Around where?”

One must preserve some mystery in ones relationship, Alec Lightwood.

“Places,” Alec said airily. “You know. Mysterious places. ”

“Mysterious places?”

Alec nodded.

Magnus flopped back against the pillows. “I see you went to Crazytown,” he muttered, closing his eyes. “Did you bring me anything back?”

Alec leaned over and kissed Magnus on the mouth. “Just that,” he said softly, drawing back, but Magnus, who had started to smile, already had hold of his arms.

“Well, if youre going to wake me up,” he said, “you might as well make it worth my time,” and he pulled Alec down on top of him.

Considering theyd already spent one night in bed together, Simon hadnt expected his second night with Isabelle to be quite so awkward. But then again, this time Isabelle was sober, and awake, and obviously expecting something from him. The problem was, he wasnt sure exactly what.

He had given her a button-down shirt of his to wear, and he looked away politely while she climbed under the blanket and edged back against the wall, giving him plenty of space.

He didnt bother changing, just took off his shoes and socks and crawled in next to her in his T-shirt and jeans. They lay side by side for a moment, and then Isabelle rolled against him, draping an arm awkwardly across his side. Their knees bumped together. One of Isabelles toenails scratched his ankle. He tried to move forward, and their foreheads knocked.

“Ouch!” Isabelle said indignantly. “Shouldnt you be better at this?”

Simon was bewildered. “Why?”

“All those nights youve spent in Clarys bed, wrapped in your beautiful platonic embraces,” she said, pressing her face against his shoulder so her voice was muffled. “I figured. . . ”

“We just slept,” said Simon. He didnt want to say anything about how Clary fit perfectly against him, about how being in a bed with her was as natural as breathing, about the way the scent of her hair reminded him of childhood and sunshine and simplicity and grace. That, he had a feeling, would not be helpful.

“I know. But I dont just sleep,” Isabelle said irritably. “With anybody. I dont stay the night usually at all. Like, ever. ”

“You said you wanted to-”

“Oh, shut up,” she said, and kissed him. This was marginally more successful. Hed kissed Isabelle before. He loved the texture of her soft lips, the way his hands felt in her long, dark hair. But as she pressed herself against him, he also felt the warmth of her body, her long bare legs against him, the pulse of her blood-and the snap of his fang teeth as they came out.

He pulled back hastily.

“Now what is it? You dont want to kiss me?”

“I do,” he tried to say, but his fangs were in the way. Isabelles eyes widened.

“Oh, youre hungry,” she said. “When was the last time you had any blood?”

“Yesterday,” he managed to say, with some difficulty.

She lay back against his pillow. Her eyes were impossibly big and black and lustrous. “Maybe you should feed yourself,” she said. “You know what happens if you dont. ”

“I dont have any blood with me. Ill have to go back to the apartment,” Simon said. His fangs had already begun to retract.

Isabelle caught him by the arm. “You dont have to drink cold animal blood. Im right here. ”

The shock of her words was like a pulse of energy zipping through his body, setting his nerves on fire. “Youre not serious. ”

“Sure I am. ” She started to unbutton the shirt she was wearing, baring her throat, her collarbone, the tracery of faint veins visible beneath her pale skin. The shirt fell open. Her blue bra covered a lot more than many bikinis might, but Simon still felt his mouth go dry. Her ruby flashed like a red stoplight below her collarbone. Isabelle. As if reading his mind, she reached up and drew her hair back, draping it over one shoulder, leaving the side of her throat naked. “Dont you want. . . ?”

He caught her wrist. “Isabelle, dont,” he said urgently. “I cant control myself, cant control it. I could hurt you, kill you. ”

Her eyes shone. “You wont. You can hold yourself back. You did with Jace. ”

“Im not attracted to Jace. ”

“Not even a little?” she said hopefully. “Eensy bit? Because that would be kind of hot. Ah, well. Too bad. Look, attracted or not, you bit him when you were starving and dying, and you still held back. ”

“I didnt hold back with Maureen. Jordan had to pull me off. ”

“You would have. ” She took her finger and pressed it to his lips, then ran it down his throat, across his chest, coming to a stop where his heart had once beat. “I trust you. ”

“Maybe you shouldnt. ”

“Im a Shadowhunter. I can fight you off if I have to. ”

“Jace didnt fight me off. ”

“Jace is in love with the idea of dying,” said Isabelle. “Im not. ” She slung her legs around his hips-she was amazingly flexible-and slid forward until she could brush her lips against his. He wanted to kiss her, wanted it so badly his whole body ached. He opened his mouth tentatively, touched his tongue to hers, and felt a sharp pain. His tongue had slid along the razor edge of his fang. He tasted his own blood and drew back abruptly, turning his face away from her.

“Isabelle, I cant. ” He closed his eyes. She was warm and soft in his lap, teasing, torturous. His fangs ached painfully; his whole body felt like sharp wires were twisting through his veins. “I dont want you to see me like this. ”

“Simon. ” Gently she touched his cheek, turning his face toward her. “This is who you are-”

His fangs had retracted, slowly, but they still ached. He hid his face in his hands and spoke between his fingers. “You cant possibly want this. You cant possibly want me. My own mother threw me out of the house. I bit Maureen-she was only a kid. I mean, look at me, look what I am, where I live, what I do. Im nothing. ”

Isabelle stroked his hair lightly. He looked at her between his fingers. Up close he could see that her eyes werent black but a very dark brown, flecked with gold. He was sure he could see pity in them. He didnt know what he expected her to say. Isabelle used boys and threw them away. Isabelle was beautiful and tough and perfect and didnt need anything. Least of all a vampire who wasnt even very good at being a vampire.

He could feel her breathing. She smelled sweet-blood, mortality, gardenias. “Youre not nothing,” she said. “Simon. Please. Let me see your face. ”

Reluctantly he lowered his hands. He could see her more clearly now. She looked soft and lovely in the moonlight, her skin pale and creamy, her hair like a black waterfall. She unlooped her hands from around his neck. “Look at these,” she said, touching the white scars of healed Marks that snowflaked her silvery skin-on her throat, on her arms, on the curves of her breasts. “Ugly, arent they?”

“Nothing about you is ugly, Izzy,” said Simon, honestly shocked.

“Girls arent supposed to be covered in scars,” Isabelle said matter-of-factly. “But they dont bother you. ”

“Theyre part of you-No, of course they dont bother me. ”

She touched his lips with her fingers. “Being a vampire is part of you. I didnt ask you to come here last night because I couldnt think of anyone else to ask. I want to be with you, Simon. It scares the hell out of me, but I do. ”

Her eyes shimmered, and before he could wonder for more than a moment whether it was with tears, he had leaned forward and kissed her. This time it wasnt awkward. This time she leaned into him, and he was suddenly under her, rolling her on top of him. Her long black hair fell down around them both like a curtain. She whispered to him softly as he ran his hands up her back. He could feel her scars under his fingertips, and he wanted to tell her he thought of them as ornaments, testaments to her bravery that only made her more beautiful. But that would have meant stopping kissing her, and he didnt want to do that. She was moaning and moving in his arms; her fingers were in his hair as the two of them rolled sideways, and now she was under him, and his arms were full of the softness and warmth of her, and his mouth with the taste of her, and the scent of her skin, salt and perfume and. . . blood.

He stiffened again, all over, and Isabelle felt it. She caught hold of his shoulders. She was luminous in the darkness. “Go ahead,” she whispered. He could feel her heart, slamming against his chest. “I want you to. ”

He closed his eyes, pressed his forehead to hers, tried to calm himself. His fangs were back, pushing into his lower lip, hard and painful. “No. ”

Her long, perfect legs wrapped around him, her ankles locking, holding him to her. “I want you to. ” Her breasts flattened against his chest as she arched up against him, baring her throat. The scent of her blood was everywhere, all over him, filling the room.

“Arent you scared?” he whispered.

“Yes. But I still want you to. ”

“Isabelle-I cant-”

He bit her.

His teeth slid, razor-sharp, into the vein at her throat like a knife slicing into the skin of an apple. Blood exploded into his mouth. It was like nothing he had experienced before. With Jace he had been barely alive; with Maureen the guilt had crushed him even as he had drunk from her. He had certainly never had the sense that either of the people he had bitten had liked it.

But Isabelle gasped, her eyes flying open and her body arcing up against him. She purred like a cat, stroking his hair, his back, little urgent movement of her hands saying Dont stop, Dont stop. Heat poured out of her, into him, lighting his body; he had never felt, imagined, anything else like it. He could feel the strong, sure beat of her heat, pounding through her veins into his, and for that moment it was as if he lived again, and his heart contracted with pure elation-

He broke away. He wasnt sure how, but he broke away and rolled onto his back, his fingers digging hard into the mattress at his sides. He was still shuddering as his fangs retracted. The room shimmered all around him, the way things did in the few moments after he drank human, living blood.

“Izzy. . . ,” he whispered. He was afraid to look at her, afraid that now that his teeth were no longer in her throat, she would stare at him with revulsion or horror.

“What?”

“You didnt stop me,” he said. It was half accusation, half hope.

“I didnt want to. ” He looked at her. She was on her back, her chest rising and falling fast, as if shed been running. There were two neat puncture wounds in the side of her throat, and two thin lines of blood that ran down her neck to her collarbone. Obeying an instinct that seemed to run deep under the skin, Simon leaned forward and licked the blood from her throat, tasting salt, tasting Isabelle. She shuddered, her fingers fluttering in his hair. “Simon. . . ”

He drew back. She was looking at him with her big dark eyes, very serious, her cheeks flushed. “I. . . ”

“What?” For a wild moment he thought she was going to say I love you, but instead she shook her head, yawned, and hooked her finger through one of the belt loops on his jeans. Her fingers played with the bare skin at his waist.

Somewhere Simon had heard that yawning was a sign of blood loss. He panicked. “Are you okay? Did I drink too much? Do you feel tired? Are-”

She scooted closer to him. “I am fine. You made yourself stop. And Im a Shadowhunter. We replace blood at triple the rate a normal human being does. ”

“Did you. . . ” He could barely bring himself to ask. “Did you like it?”

“Yeah. ” Her voice was husky. “I liked it. ”

“Really?”

She giggled. “You couldnt tell?”

“I thought maybe you were faking it. ”

She raised herself up on one elbow and looked down at him with her glowing dark eyes-how could eyes be dark and bright at the same time? “I dont fake things, Simon,” she said. “And I dont lie, and I dont pretend. ”

“Youre a heartbreaker, Isabelle Lightwood,” he said, as lightly as he could with her blood still running through him like fire. “Jace told Clary once youd walk all over me in high-heeled boots. ”

“That was then. Youre different now. ” She eyed him. “Youre not scared of me. ”

He touched her face. “And youre not scared of anything. ”

“I dont know. ” Her hair fell forward. “Maybe youll break my heart. ” Before he could say anything, she kissed him, and he wondered if she could taste her own blood. “Now shut up. I want to sleep,” she said, and she curled up against his side and closed her eyes.

Somehow, now, they fit, where they hadnt before. Nothing was awkward, or poking into him, or banging against his leg. It didnt feel like childhood and sunlight and gentleness. It felt strange and heated and exciting and powerful and. . . different. Simon lay awake, his eyes on the ceiling, his hand stroking Isabelles silky black hair absently. He felt like hed been caught up in a tornado and deposited somewhere very far away, where nothing was familiar. Eventually he turned his head and kissed Izzy, very lightly, on the forehead; she stirred and murmured but didnt open her eyes.

When Clary woke in the morning, Jace was still asleep, curled on his side, his arm outstretched just enough to touch her shoulder. She kissed his cheek and got to her feet. She was about to pad into the bathroom to take a shower when she was overcome by curiosity. She went quietly to the bedroom door and peered out.

The blood on the hallway wall was gone, the plaster unmarked. It was so clean she wondered if the whole thing had been a dream-the blood, the conversation in the kitchen with Sebastian, all of it. She took a step across the corridor, placed her hand against the wall where the bloody handprint had been-

“Good morning. ”

She whirled. It was her brother. He had come out of his room soundlessly and was standing in the middle of the hall, regarding her with a crooked smile. He looked freshly showered; damp, his fair hair was the color of silver, almost metallic.

“You planning to wear that all the time?” he asked, eyeing her nightgown.

“No, I was just. . . ” She didnt want to say shed been checking to see if there was still blood in the hall. He just looked at her, amused and superior. Clary backed away. “Im going to get dressed. ”

He said something after her, but she didnt pause to hear what it was, just darted back into Jaces bedroom and closed the door behind her. A moment later she heard voices in the hallway-Sebastians again, and a girls, speaking musical Italian. The girl from last night, she thought. The one hed said was asleep in his room. It was only then that she realized how much shed suspected he was lying.

But hed been telling the truth. Im giving you a chance, hed said. Can you give me a chance?

Could she? This was Sebastian they were talking about. She mulled it over feverishly while she showered and dressed carefully. The clothes in the wardrobe, having been selected for Jocelyn, were so far from her usual style that it was hard to choose what to wear. She found a pair of jeans-designer, from the price tag still attached-and a dotted silk shirt with a bow at the neck that had a vintage feel she liked. She threw her own velvet jacket on over it and headed back to Jaces room, but he was gone, and it wasnt hard to guess where. The rattle of dishes, the sound of laughter, and the smell of cooking floated up from downstairs.

She took the glass stairs two at a time, but paused on the bottom step, looking into the kitchen. Sebastian was leaning against the refrigerator, arms crossed, and Jace was making something in a pan that involved onions and eggs. He was barefoot, his hair messy, his shirt buttoned haphazardly, and the sight of him made her heart turn over. She had never seen him like this, first thing in the morning, still with that warm golden aura of sleep clinging to him, and she felt a piercing sadness that all these firsts were happening with a Jace who wasnt really her Jace.

Even if he did look happy, eyes shadow-free, laughing as he flipped the eggs in the pan and slid an omelet onto a plate. Sebastian said something to him, and Jace looked over at Clary and smiled. “Scrambled or fried?”

“Scrambled. I didnt know you could make eggs. ” She came down from the steps and over to the kitchen counter. Sun was streaming through the windows-despite the lack of clocks in the house, she guessed it was late morning-and the kitchen glittered in glass and chrome.

“Who cant make eggs?” Jace wondered aloud.

Clary raised her hand-and at the same time so did Sebastian. She couldnt help a little jerk of surprise, and put her arm down hastily, but not before Sebastian had seen and grinned. He was always grinning. She wished she could slap it off his face.

She looked away from him and busied herself putting together a breakfast plate from what was on the table-bread, fresh butter, jam, and sliced bacon-the chewy, round kind. There was juice, too, and tea. They ate pretty well here, she thought. Although, if Simon was anything to go by, teenage boys were always hungry. She glanced toward the window-and did a double take. The view was no longer of a canal but of a hill rising in the distance, topped by a castle.

“Where are we now?” she asked.

“Prague,” said Sebastian. “Jace and I have an errand to do here. ” He glanced out the window. “We should probably get going soon, in fact. ”

She smiled sweetly at him. “Can I come with you?”

Sebastian shook his head. “No. ”

“Why not?” Clary crossed her arms over her chest. “Is this some manly bonding thing I cant be a part of? Are you getting matching haircuts?”

Jace handed her a plate with scrambled eggs on it, but he was looking at Sebastian. “Maybe she could come,” he said. “I mean, this particular errand-its not dangerous. ”

Sebastians eyes were like the woods in the Frost poem, dark and deep. They gave nothing away. “Anything can turn dangerous. ”

“Well, its your decision. ” Jace shrugged, reached for a strawberry, popped it into his mouth, and sucked the juice off his fingers. Now that, Clary thought, was a clear and absolute difference between this Jace and hers. Her Jace had a ferocious and all-consuming curiosity about everything. He would never shrug and go along with someone elses plan. He was like the ocean ceaselessly throwing itself against a rocky shore, and this Jace was. . . a calm river, shining in the sun.

Because hes happy?

Clarys hand tensed on her fork, her knuckles whitening. She hated that little voice in her head. Like the Seelie Queen, it planted doubts where there shouldnt be doubts, asked questions that had no answer.

“Im going to get my stuff. ” After grabbing another berry off the plate, Jace popped it into his mouth and shot upstairs. Clary craned her head up. The clear glass steps seemed invisible, making it look like he was flying upward, not running.

“Youre not eating your eggs. ” It was Sebastian. He had come around the counter-still noiselessly, dammit-and was looking at her, his eyebrows raised. He had the faintest accent, a mixture of the accent of the people who lived in Idris and something more British. She wondered if hed been hiding it before or if she just hadnt noticed.

“I dont actually like eggs,” she confessed.

“But you didnt want to tell Jace that, because he seemed so pleased to be making you breakfast. ”

Since this was accurate, Clary said nothing.

“Funny, isnt it?” said Sebastian. “The lies good people tell. Hell probably make you eggs every day for the rest of your life now, and youll choke them down because you cant tell him you dont like them. ”

Clary thought of the Seelie Queen. “Love makes liars of us all?”

“Exactly. Quick study, arent you?” He took a step toward her, and an anxious tingle seared her nerves. He was wearing the same cologne Jace wore. She recognized the citrusy black-pepper scent, but on him it smelled different. Wrong, somehow. “We have that in common,” Sebastian said, and began to unbutton his shirt.

She stood up hastily. “What are you doing?”

“Easy there, little sis. ” He popped the last button, and his shirt hung open. He smiled lazily. “Youre the magical rune girl, arent you?”

Clary nodded slowly.

“I want a strength rune,” he said. “And if youre the best, I want it from you. You wouldnt deny your big brother a rune, would you?” His dark eyes raked her. “Besides, you want me to give you a chance. ”

“And you want me to give you a chance,” she said. “So Ill make you a deal. Ill give you a strength rune if you let me come with you on your errand. ”

He stripped the shirt the rest of the way off and dropped it onto the counter. “Deal. ”

“I dont have a stele. ” She didnt want to look at him, but it was hard not to. He seemed to be deliberately invading her personal space. His body was much like Jaces-hard, without any extra ounce of flesh anywhere, the muscles showing clearly under the skin. He was scarred like Jace too, though he was so pale that the white marks stood out less than they did against Jaces golden skin. On her brother they were like silver pen on white paper.

He drew a stele from his belt and handed it to her. “Use mine. ”

“All right,” she said. “Turn around. ”

He did. And she swallowed back a gasp. His bare back was striped with ragged scars, one after the other, too even to be random accident.

Whip marks.

“Who did this to you?” she said.

“Who do you think? Our father,” he said. “He used a whip made of demon metal, so no iratze could heal them. Theyre meant to remind me. ”

“Remind you of what?”

“Of the perils of obedience. ”

She touched one. It felt hot under her fingertips, as if newly made, and rough, where the skin around it was smooth. “Dont you mean disobedience?”

“I mean what I said. ”

“Do they hurt?”

“All the time. ” Impatiently he glanced back over his shoulder. “What are you waiting for?”

“Nothing. ” She set the tip of the stele to his shoulder blade, trying to keep her hand steady. Part of her mind raced, thinking how easy it would be to Mark him with something that would damage him, sicken him, twist his insides-but what would happen to Jace if she did? Shaking her hair out of her face, she carefully drew the Fortis rune at the juncture of shoulder blade and back, just where, if he were an angel, he would have wings.

When she was done, he turned and took the stele from her, then shrugged his shirt back on. She didnt expect a thank-you-and didnt get one. He rolled his shoulders back as he buttoned the shirt, and grinned. “You are good,” he said, but that was all.

A moment later the steps rattled, and Jace returned, shrugging on a suede jacket. He had clipped on his weapons belt too, and wore fingerless dark gloves.

Clary smiled at him with a warmth she didnt feel. “Sebastian says I can come with you. ”

Jace raised his eyebrows. “Matching haircuts for everyone?”

“I hope not,” said Sebastian. “I look terrible with curls. ”

Clary glanced down at herself. “Do I need to change into gear?”

“Not really. This isnt the sort of errand where were expecting to have to fight. But its good to be prepared. Ill get you something from the weapons room,” said Sebastian, and vanished upstairs. Clary cursed herself silently for not having found the weapons room while she was searching. Surely it had something inside that could provide some sort of clue as to what they were planning-

Jace touched the side of her face, and she jumped. Shed nearly forgotten he was there. “You sure you want to do this?”

“Absolutely. Im going stir-crazy in the house. Besides, you taught me to fight. I figure youd want me to use it. ”

His lips quirked into a devilish grin; he brushed her hair back and murmured something into her ear about using what shed learned from him. He leaned away as Sebastian joined them, his own jacket on and a weapons belt in his hand. There was a dagger thrust through it, and a seraph blade. He reached out to draw Clary close to him and pulled the belt around her waist, double-looping it and settling it low on her hips. She was too surprised to push him away and he was done before she had the chance; turning away, he moved toward the wall, where the outline of a doorway had appeared, shimmering like a doorway in a dream.

They stepped through it.

A soft knock on the library door made Maryse raise her head. It was a cloudy day, dim outside the library windows, and the green-shaded lamps cast small pools of light in the circular room. She couldnt say how long shed been sitting behind the desk. Empty coffee mugs littered the surface in front of her.

She rose to her feet. “Come in. ”

There was a soft click as the door opened, but no sound of footsteps. A moment later a parchment-robed figure glided into the room, his hood raised, shadowing his face. You called on us, Maryse Lightwood?

Maryse rolled her shoulders back. She felt cramped and tired and old. “Brother Zachariah. I was expecting-Well. It doesnt matter. ”

Brother Enoch? He is senior to me, but I thought perhaps that your call might have something to do with the disappearance of your adoptive son. I have a particular interest in his well-being.

She looked at him curiously. Most Silent Brothers didnt editorialize, or speak of their personal feelings, if they had any. Smoothing her tangled hair back, she stepped out from behind the desk. “Very well. I want to show you something. ”

She had never really gotten used to the Silent Brothers, to the soundless way they moved, as if their feet didnt touch the ground. Zachariah seemed to hover beside her as she led him across the library to a map of the world tacked to the north wall. It was a Shadowhunter map. It showed Idris in the center of Europe and the ward around it as a border of gold.

On a shelf below the map were two objects. One was a shard of glass crusted with dried blood. The other was a worn leather cuff bracelet, decorated with the rune for angelic power.

“These are-”

Jace Herondales cuff and Jonathan Morgensterns blood. I understood attempts to track them were unsuccessful?

“It isnt tracking precisely. ” Maryse straightened her shoulders. “When I was in the Circle, there was a mechanism Valentine used by which he could locate us all. Unless we were in certain protected places, he knew where we were at all times. I thought there was a chance he might have done the same to Jace when he was a child. He never seemed to have trouble finding him. ”

What kind of mechanism do you speak of?

“A mark. Not one from the Gray Book. We all had it. I had nearly forgotten about it; after all, there was no way to get rid of it. ”

If Jace had it, would he not know of it, and take steps to prevent you using it to find him?

Maryse shook her head. “It could be as small as a tiny, almost invisible white mark under his hair, as mine is. He would not have known he had it-Valentine wouldnt have wanted to tell him. ”

Brother Zachariah moved apart from her, examining the map. And what has been the result of your experiment?

“Jace has it,” Maryse said, but she did not sound pleased or triumphant. “Ive seen him on the map. When he appears, the map flares, like a spark of light, in the location where he is; and his cuff flares at the same time. So I know it is him, and not Jonathan Morgenstern. Jonathan never appears on the map. ”

And where is he? Where is Jace?

“Ive seen him appear, just for a few seconds each time, in London, Rome, and Shanghai. Just a little while ago he flickered into existence in Venice, and then vanished again. ”

How is he traveling so quickly between cities?

“By Portal?” She shrugged. “I dont know. I just know that every time the map flickers, I know hes alive. . . for now. And its like I can breathe again, just for a little while. ” She shut her mouth decidedly, lest the other words come pouring out-how she missed Alec and Isabelle but could not bear to call them back to the Institute, where Alec at least would be expected to take responsibility in the manhunt for his own brother. How she still thought of Max every day and it was like someone had emptied her lungs of air, and she would catch at her heart, afraid she was dying. She could not lose Jace, too.

I can understand that. Brother Zachariah folded his hands in front of him. His hands looked young, not gnarled or bent, his fingers slender. Maryse often wondered how the Brothers aged and how long they lived, but that information was secret to their order. There is little more powerful than the love of family. But what I do not know is why you chose to show this to me.

Maryse took a shuddering breath. “I know I should show it to the Clave,” she said. “But the Clave knows of his bond with Jonathan now. They are hunting them both. They will kill Jace if they find him. And yet to keep it to myself is surely treason. ” She hung her head. “I decided that telling you, the Brothers, was something I could bear. Then it is your choice whether to show it to the Clave. I-I cant stand that it be mine. ”

Zachariah was silent a long moment. Then his voice, gentle in her head, said, Your map tells you that your son is still alive. If you give it to the Clave, I do not think it will help them much, besides telling them that he is traveling fast and is impossible to track. They know that already. You keep the map. I will not speak of it for now.

Maryse looked at him in astonishment. “But. . . you are a servant of the Clave. . . ”

I was once a Shadowhunter like you. I lived like you do. And like you, there were those I loved enough to put their welfare before anything else-any oath, any debt.

“Did you. . . ” Maryse hesitated. “Did you ever have children?”

No. No children.

“Im sorry. ”

Do not be. And try not to let fear for Jace devour you. He is a Herondale, and they are survivors-

Something snapped inside Maryse. “He is not a Herondale. He is a Lightwood. Jace Lightwood. Hes my son. ”

There was a long pause. Then, I did not mean to imply otherwise, said Brother Zachariah. He unclasped his thin hands and stepped back. There is one thing you must be aware of. If Jace appears on the map for more than a few seconds at a time, you will have to tell the Clave. You should brace yourself for the possibility.

“I dont think I can,” she said. “Theyll send hunters after him. Set a trap for him. Hes just a boy. ”

He was never just a boy, said Zachariah, and he turned to glide from the room. Maryse did not watch him go. She had returned to staring at the map.

Simon?

Relief opened like a flower in his chest. Clarys voice, tentative but familiar, filled his head. He looked sideways. Isabelle was still sleeping. Midday light was visible around the edges of the curtains.

Are you awake?

He rolled onto his back, stared up at the ceiling. Of course Im awake.

Well, I wasnt sure. Youre what, six, seven hours behind where I am. Its twilight here.

Italy?

Were in Prague now. Its pretty. Theres a big river and a lot of buildings with spires. Looks a little like Idris from a distance. Its cold here, though. Colder than at home.

Okay, enough with the weather report. Are you safe? Where are Sebastian and Jace?

Theyre with me. I wandered off a little, though. I said I wanted to commune with the view from the bridge.

So Im the view from the bridge?

She laughed, or at least he felt something that was like laughter in his head-a soft, nervous laughter. I cant take too long. Though, they dont really seem to suspect anything. Jace. . . Jace definitely doesnt. Sebastian is harder to read. I dont think he trusts me. I searched his room yesterday, but theres nothing-I mean, nothing-to indicate what theyre planning. Last night. . .

Last night?

Nothing. It was odd, how she could be inside his head and he could still sense that she was hiding something. Sebastian has in his room the box my mom used to own. With his baby stuff in it. I cant figure out why.

Dont waste your time trying to figure out Sebastian, Simon told her. Hes not worth it. Figure out what theyre going to do.

Im trying. She sounded irritable. Are you still at Magnuss?

Yeah. Weve moved to phase two of our plan.

Oh, yeah? What was phase one?

Phase one was sitting around the table, ordering pizza, and arguing.

Whats phase two? Sitting around the table drinking coffee and arguing?

Not exactly. Simon took a deep breath. We raised the demon Azazel.

Azazel? Her mental voice spiked upward; Simon almost clutched at his ears. So thats what the stupid Smurf question was about. Tell me youre kidding.

Im not. Its a long story. He filled her in as best he could, watching Isabelle breathe as he did, watching the light outside the window grow brighter. We thought he could help us find a weapon that can hurt Sebastian without hurting Jace.

Yeah, but-demon-raising? Clary didnt sound convinced. And Azazel is no ordinary demon. Im the one with Team Evil over here. Youre Team Good. Keep it in mind.

You know nothings that simple, Clary.

It was as if he could feel her sigh, a breath of air that passed over his skin, raising the hairs on the back of his neck. I know.

Cities and rivers, Clary thought as she took her fingers from the gold ring on her right hand and turned away from the view off Charles Bridge, back to Jace and Sebastian. They were on the other side of the old stone bridge, pointing off at something she couldnt see. The water below was the color of metal, sliding soundlessly around the bridges ancient struts; the sky was the same color, pocked with black clouds.

The wind whipped at her hair and coat as she walked over to join Sebastian and Jace. They all set off again, the two boys conversing softly; she could have joined the conversation if shed wanted to, she supposed, but there was something about the still loveliness of the city, its spires rising into mist in the distance, that made her want to be quiet, to look and to think on her own.

The bridge emptied out into a twisting cobblestone street lined with tourist shops, shops selling blood-red garnets and big chunks of golden Polish amber, heavy Bohemian glass, and wooden toys. Even at this hour, touts stood outside nightclubs, holding free passes or cards that would give you discounts on drinks; Sebastian gestured them aside impatiently, snapping his annoyance in Czech. The press of people was relieved when the street widened into an old medieval square. Despite the cold weather, it was filled with milling pedestrians and kiosks were selling sausages and hot, spiced cider. The three of them stopped for food and ate around a tall rickety table while the huge astronomical clock in the squares center began to chime the hour. Clanking machinery started up, and a circle of dancing wooden figures appeared from doors on either side of the clock-the twelve apostles, Sebastian explained as the figures whirled around and around.

“Theres a legend,” he said, leaning forward with his hands cupped around a mug of hot cider, “that the king had the eyes of the clock maker put out after this clock was finished, so he could never build anything as beautiful again. ”

Clary shuddered and moved a little closer to Jace. He had been quiet since theyd left the bridge, as if lost in thought. People-girls, mainly-stopped to look at him as they passed, his hair bright and startling among the winter-dark colors of the Old Square. “Thats sadistic,” she said.

Sebastian ran his finger around the rim of his mug, and licked the cider off. “The past is another country. ”

“Foreign country,” said Jace.

Sebastian looked at him with lazy eyes. “What?”

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there,” Jace said. “Thats the whole quote. ”

Sebastian shrugged and pushed his mug away. You got a euro for returning them to the stand where you bought the cider, but Clary suspected Sebastian couldnt be bothered to fake good citizenship for a measly euro. “Lets go. ”

Clary wasnt finished with her cider, but she set it down anyway and followed as Sebastian led them away from the square, among a maze of narrow, twisting streets. Jace had corrected Sebastian, she thought. Certainly it had been over something minor, but wasnt Liliths blood magic supposed to bind him to her brother in such a way that he thought everything Sebastian did was right? Could this be a sign-even a tiny sign-that the spell that connected them was starting to fade?

It was stupid to hope, she knew. But sometimes hope was all you had.

The streets grew narrower, darker. The clouds overhead had completely blocked out the lowering sun, and old-fashioned gas lamps burned here and there, illuminating the misty dimness. The streets had turned to cobblestones, and the sidewalks were narrowing, forcing them to walk in a line, as if they were picking their way across a narrow bridge. Only the sight of other pedestrians, appearing and disappearing out of the fog, made Clary feel that she had not stepped through some sort of warp in time into a dream city out of her own imagination.

Finally they reached an archway of stone that opened out into a small square. Most of the stores had turned off their lights, though across from them one was lit up. It said ANTIKVARIAT in gold letters, and the window was full of old display bottles of different substances, their peeling labels marked in Latin. Clary was surprised when Sebastian headed toward it. What use could they possibly have for old bottles?

She dismissed the thought when they stepped over the threshold. The store inside was dimly lit and smelled of mothballs, but it was stuffed, every cranny, with an incredible selection of junk-and not-junk. Beautiful celestial maps warred for space with salt and pepper shakers shaped like the figures from the clock in the Old Town Square. There were heaps of old tobacco and cigar tins, stamps mounted in glass, old cameras of East German and Russian design, a gorgeous cut-glass bowl in a deep emerald shade sitting side by side with a stack of water-stained old calendars. An antique Czech flag hung from a mounting pole overhead.

Sebastian moved forward through the stacks toward a counter in the back of the store, and Clary realized that what she had taken for a mannequin was in fact an old man with a face as creased and wrinkled as an old bedsheet, leaning back against the counter with his arms crossed. The counter itself was glass-fronted and held heaps of vintage jewelry and sparkling glass beads, small chain purses with gem clasps, and rows of cuff links.

Sebastian said something in Czech, and the man nodded and indicated Clary and Jace with a jerk of his chin and a suspicious look. His eyes were, Clary saw, a dark red color. She narrowed her own eyes, concentrating hard, and began to strip the glamour from him.

It wasnt easy; it seemed to stick to him like flypaper. In the end she managed to pull it away only enough to see in flashes the real creature standing in front of her-tall and human-shaped, with gray skin and ruby-red eyes, a mouth full of pointed teeth that jutted every which way, and long, serpentine arms that ended in heads like an eels-narrow, evil-looking, and toothy.

“A Vetis demon,” Jace muttered in her ear. “Theyre like dragons. They like to stockpile sparkly things. Junk, jewels, its all the same to them. ”

Sebastian was looking back over his shoulder at Jace and Clary. “Theyre my brother and sister,” he said after a moment. “They are entirely to be trusted, Mirek. ”

A faint shudder ran under Clarys skin. She didnt like the idea of posing as Jaces sister, even for a demons benefit.

“I dont like this,” the Vetis demon said. “You said we would be dealing only with you, Morgenstern. And while I know Valentine had a daughter”-his head dipped toward Clary-“I also know he had only one son. ”

“Hes adopted,” said Sebastian breezily, gesturing toward Jace.

“Adopted?”

“I think youll find the definition of the modern family is really changing at an impressive pace these days,” said Jace.

The demon-Mirek-didnt look impressed. “I dont like this,” he said again.

“But youll like this,” said Sebastian, taking a pouch, tied at the top, from his pocket. He turned it upside down above the counter, and a clattering pile of bronze coins fell out, clinking together as they rolled across the glass. “Pennies from dead mens eyes. A hundred of them. Now, do you have what we agreed on?”

One toothed hand felt its way across the counter and bit gently at a coin. The demons red eyes flickered over the pile. “That is all very well, but it is not enough to buy what you seek. ” He gestured with an undulating arm, and above it appeared what looked to Clary like a hunk of rock crystal-only it was more luminous, more sheer, silvery, and beautiful. She realized with a jolt that it was the stuff seraph blades were made from. “Pure adamas,” Mirek said. “The stuff of Heaven. Priceless. ”

Anger crackled across Sebastians face like lightning, and for a moment Clary saw the vicious boy underneath, the one who had laughed while Hodge lay dying. Then the look was gone. “But we agreed on a price. ”

“We also agreed you would come alone,” said Mirek. His red eyes returned to Clary, and to Jace, who hadnt moved but whose aspect had taken on the controlled stillness of a crouching cats. “Ill tell you what else you can give me,” he said. “A lock of your sisters pretty hair. ”

“Fine,” Clary said, stepping forward. “You want a snip of my hair-”

“No!” Jace moved to block her. “Hes a dark magician, Clary. You have no idea what he could do with a lock of your hair or a bit of blood. ”

“Mirek,” Sebastian said slowly, not looking at Clary. And in that moment she wondered, If Sebastian wanted to trade a lock of her hair for the adamas, what was to stop him? Jace had objected, but he was also compelled to do what Sebastian asked of him. In the crunch, what would win out? The compulsion or Jaces feelings for her? “Absolutely not. ”

The demon blinked a slow lizardlike blink. “Absolutely not?”

“You will not touch a hair on my sisters head,” said Sebastian. “Nor will you renege on our bargain. No one cheats Valentine Morgensterns son. The agreed upon price, or-”

“Or what?” Mirek snarled. “Or Ill be sorry? You are not Valentine, little boy. Now, that was a man who inspired loyalty-”

“No,” said Sebastian, sliding a seraph blade from the belt at his waist. “I am not Valentine. I do not intend to deal with demons as Valentine did. If I cannot have your loyalty, I will have your fear. Know that I am more powerful than my father ever was, and if you do not deal fairly with me, I will take your life, and have what I have come for. ” He raised the blade he held. “Dumah,” he whispered, and the blade shot forth, shimmering like a column of fire.

The demon recoiled, snapping several words in a muddy-sounding language. Jaces hand already had a dagger in it. He called out to Clary, but not fast enough. Something struck her hard on the shoulder, and she fell forward, sprawling on the cluttered floor. She flipped over onto her back, fast, looked up-

And screamed. Looming over her was a massive snake-or at least it had a thick, scaled body and a head hooded like a cobras, but its body was jointed, insectile, with a dozen skittering legs that ended in jagged claws. Clary fumbled for her weapons belt as the creature reared back, yellow venom dripping from its fangs, and struck.

Simon had fallen back asleep after “speaking” with Clary. When he awoke again, the lights were on, and Isabelle knelt on the edge of the bed, wearing jeans and a worn T-shirt she must have borrowed from Alec. It had holes in the sleeves, and the stitching around the hem was coming undone. She had the collar pulled away from her throat and was using the tip of a stele to trace a rune onto the skin of her chest, just below her collarbone.

He raised himself up on his elbows. “What are you doing?”

“Iratze,” she said. “For this. ” She tucked her hair back behind her ear, and he saw the two puncture wounds hed made in the side of her throat. As she finished the rune, they smoothed over, leaving only the faintest white flecks behind.

“Are you. . . all right?” His voice came out in a whisper. Smooth. He was trying to bite back the other questions he wanted to ask. Did I hurt you? Do you think Im a monster now? Have I creeped you out completely?

“Im fine. I slept a lot later than I normally ever do, but I think thats probably a good thing. ” Seeing his expression, Isabelle slid her stele into her belt. She crawled toward Simon with a catlike grace and positioned herself over him, her hair falling down around them. They were so close their noses touched. She looked at him unblinklingly. “Why are you so crazy?” she said, and he could feel her breath against his face, as soft as a whisper.

He wanted to pull her down and kiss her-not bite her, just kiss her-but at that exact moment the apartment door buzzer sounded. A second later, someone knocked on the bedroom door-banged on it, really, making it shake on its hinges.

“Simon. Isabelle. ” It was Magnus. “Look, I dont care if youre asleep or doing unspeakable things to each other. Get dressed and come out to the living room. Now. ”

Simon locked gazes with Isabelle, who looked as puzzled as he did. “Whats going on?”

“Just get out here,” Magnus said, and the sound of his retreating feet was loud as he stalked away from their room.

Isabelle rolled off Simon, much to his disappointment, and sighed. “What do you think it is?”

“No idea,” said Simon. “Emergency meeting of Team Good, I guess. ” Hed found the phrase amusing when Clary had used it. Isabelle, though, just shook her head and sighed.

“Im not sure there is any such thing as Team Good these days,” she said.

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