City of lost souls – Chapter 15: Magdalena

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Chapter 15: Magdalena

Nausea and pain came and went in ever-tightening whirlpools. Clary could see only a blur of colors around her: she was conscious that her brother was carrying her, every one of his steps slamming into her skull like an ice pick. She was aware that she was clinging to him and the strength of his arms a comfort-that it was bizarre that anything about Sebastian would be a comfort, and that he seemed to be taking care not to jostle her too much as he walked. Very distantly, she knew that she was gasping for breath, and she heard her brother say her name.

Then everything went silent. For a moment she thought that was the end of it: she had died, died battling demons, the way most Shadowhunters did. Then she felt another pricking burn on the inside of her arm, and a surge of what felt like ice spilling through her veins. She squeezed her eyes shut against the pain, but the cold of whatever Sebastian had done to her was like having a glass of water dashed in her face. Slowly, the world ceased its spinning, the whirlpools of nausea and pain lessening until they were only ripples in the tide of her blood. She could breathe again.

With a gasp, she opened her eyes.

Blue sky.

She was lying on her back, staring up at an endlessly blue sky, touched with cottony clouds, like the painted sky on the ceiling of the infirmary in the Institute. She stretched out her aching arms. The right one still bore the marks of her bracelet of injuries, though they were fading to a light pink. On her left arm was an iratze, paling to invisibility, and there was a mendelin for pain in the crook of her elbow.

She took a deep breath. Autumn air, tinged with the smell of leaves. She could see the tops of trees, hear the murmur of traffic, and-

Sebastian. She heard a low chuckle and realized she wasnt just lying down, she was lying propped against her brother. Sebastian, who was warm and breathing, and whose arm cradled her head. The rest of her was stretched out along a slightly damp wooden bench.

She jerked upright. Sebastian laughed again; he was sitting at the end of a park bench with elaborate iron armrests. His scarf was folded up in his lap, where shed been lying, and the arm that hadnt been cradling her head was stretched out along the back of the bench. He had unbuttoned his white shirt to hide the ichor stains. Beneath it he wore a plain gray T-shirt. The silver bracelet glittered on his wrist. His black eyes studied her with amusement as she scooted as far away from him on the bench as she could get.

“Good thing youre so short,” he said. “If you were much taller, carrying you would have been extremely inconvenient. ”

She kept her voice steady with an effort. “Where are we?”

“The Jardin du Luxembourg,” he said. “The Luxembourg Gardens. Its a very nice park. I had to take you somewhere you could lie down, and the middle of the street didnt seem like a good idea. ”

“Yeah, theres a word for leaving someone to die in the middle of the street. Vehicular manslaughter. ”

“Thats two words, and I think its only vehicular manslaughter, technically, if you run them over yourself. ” He rubbed his hands together as if to warm them. “Anyway, why would I leave you to die in the middle of the street after I went through all that effort to save your life?”

She swallowed, and looked down at her arm. The wounds were even more faded now. If she hadnt known to look for them, she probably wouldnt have noticed them at all. “Why did you?”

“Why did I what?”

“Save my life. ”

“Youre my sister. ”

She swallowed. In the morning light his face had some color in it. There were faint burns along his neck where demon ichor had splashed him. “You never cared that I was your sister before. ”

“Didnt I?” His black eyes flicked up and down her. She remembered when Jace had come into her house after shed fought the Ravener demon and shed been dying of the poison. Hed cured her just as Sebastian had, and carried her out the same way. Maybe they were more alike than she had ever wanted to think, even before the spell that had bound them. “Our fathers dead,” he said. “There are no other relatives. You and I, we are the last. The last of the Morgensterns. You are my only chance for someone whose blood runs in my veins too. Someone like me. ”

“You knew I was following you,” she said.

“Of course I did. ”

“And you let me. ”

“I wanted to see what you would do. And I admit I didnt think you would follow me down there. Youre braver than I thought. ” He picked up the scarf from his lap and drew it around his neck. The park was beginning to fill up, with tourists clutching maps, parents with children in hand, old men sitting on other benches like this one, smoking pipes. “You would never have won that fight. ”

“I might have. ”

He grinned, a quick sideways grin, as if he couldnt help it. “Maybe. ”

She scuffed her boots in the grass, which was wet with dew. She wasnt going to thank Sebastian. Not for anything. “Why are you dealing with demons?” she demanded. “I listened to them talking about you. I know what youre doing-”

“No, you dont. ” The grin was gone, the superior tone back. “First, those werent the demons I was dealing with. Those were their guards. Thats why they were in a separate room and why I wasnt there. Dahak demons arent that smart, though they are mean and tough and defensive. So its not like they were really informed about what was going on. They were just repeating gossip theyd heard from their masters. Greater Demons. That was who I was meeting with. ”

“And thats supposed to make me feel better?”

He leaned toward her across the bench. “Im not trying to make you feel better. Im trying to tell you the truth. ”

“No wonder you look like youre having an allergy attack,” she said, though it wasnt precisely true. Sebastian looked annoyingly tranquil, though the set of his jaw and the pulse in his temple told her he wasnt as calm as he pretended. “The Dahak said you were going to give this world to the demons. ”

“Now, does that sound like something Id do?”

She just looked at him.

“I thought you said you were going to give me a chance,” he said. “Im not who I was when you met me in Alicante. ” His gaze was clear. “Besides, Im not the only person youve ever met who believed in Valentine. He was my father. Our father. Its not easy to doubt the things youve grown up believing. ”

Clary crossed her arms over her chest; the air was fresh but cold, with a wintery snap in it. “Well, thats true. ”

“Valentine was wrong,” he said. “He was so obsessed with the wrongs he believed the Clave had done to him that he could see nothing past proving himself right to them. He wanted the Angel to rise and tell them that he was Jonathan Shadowhunter returned, that he was their leader and his way was the right way. ”

“It didnt exactly happen like that. ”

“I know what happened. Lilith spoke to me of it. ” He said this offhandedly, as if conversations with the mother of all warlocks were something everyone had every once in a while. “Do not fool yourself into thinking that what happened was because the Angel has great compassion, Clary. Angels are as cold as icicles. Raziel was angered because Valentine had forgotten the mission of all Shadowhunters. ”

“Which is?”

“To kill demons. That is our mandate. Surely you must have heard that more and more demons have been spilling into our world in recent years? That we have no idea how to keep them out?”

An echo of words came back to her, something Jace had said to her what seemed like a lifetime ago, the first time they had ever visited the Silent City. We might be able to block them from coming here, but nobodys even been able to figure out how to do that. In fact, more and more of them are coming through. There used to be only small demon invasions into this world, easily contained. But even in my lifetime more and more of them have spilled in through the wardings. The Clave is always having to dispatch Shadowhunters, and a lot of times they dont come back.

“A great war with demons is coming, and the Clave is woefully unprepared,” said Sebastian. “That much my father was correct about. They are too set in their ways to hear warnings or to change. I do not wish the destruction of Downworlders as Valentine did, but I worry that the Claves blindness will doom this world that Shadowhunters protect. ”

“You want me to believe you care if this world is destroyed?”

“Well, I do live here,” Sebastian said, more mildly than she would have expected. “And sometimes extreme situations call for extreme measures. To destroy the enemy it can be necessary to understand him, even to treat with him. If I can make those Greater Demons trust me, then I can lure them here, where they can be destroyed, and their followers as well. That ought to turn back the tide. Demons will know that this world is not as easy pickings as they imagined it. ”

Clary shook her head. “And youre going to do this with what, just you and Jace? Youre pretty impressive, dont get me wrong, but even the two of you-”

Sebastian stood up. “You really dont imagine I could have thought this through, do you?” He looked down at her, the fall wind blowing his white hair across his face. “Come with me. I want to show you something. ”

She hesitated. “Jace-”

“Is still asleep. Trust me, I know. ” He held out his hand. “Come with me, Clary. If I cant make you believe I have a plan, maybe I can prove it to you. ”

She stared at him. Images tumbled through her mind like shaken confetti: the junk shop in Prague, her gold leaf-ring falling away into darkness, Jace holding her in the alcove in the club, the glass tanks of dead bodies. Sebastian with a seraph blade in his grip.

Prove it to you.

She took his hand and let him pull her to her feet.

It was decided, though not without a great deal of arguing, that in order for the summoning of Raziel to take place, Team Good would need to find a fairly secluded location. “We cant summon a sixty-foot angel in the middle of Central Park,” Magnus observed dryly. “People might notice, even in New York. ”

“Raziels sixty feet tall?” Isabelle said. She was slumped down in an armchair she had pulled up to the table. There were rings under her dark eyes; she-like Alec, Magnus, and Simon-was exhausted. They had all been awake for hours, poring through books of Magnuss so old that their pages were as thin as onionskin. Both Isabelle and Alec could read Greek and Latin, and Alec had a better knowledge of demon languages than Izzy did, but there were still many only Magnus could understand. Maia and Jordan, realizing they could be more help elsewhere, had left for the police station to check on Luke. Meanwhile, Simon had tried to make himself useful in other ways-getting food and coffee, copying down symbols as Magnus instructed, fetching more paper and pencils, and even feeding Chairman Meow, who had thanked him by coughing up a hair ball on the floor of Magnuss kitchen.

“Actually, hes only fifty-nine feet tall, but he likes to exaggerate,” said Magnus. Tiredness was not improving his temper. His hair was sticking straight up, and there were smudges of glitter on the backs of his hands where he had rubbed his eyes. “Hes an angel, Isabelle. Havent you ever studied anything?”

Isabelle clicked her tongue in annoyance. “Valentine raised an angel in his cellar. I dont see why you need all this space-”

“Because Valentine is just WAY MORE AWESOME than me,” snapped Magnus, dropping his pen. “Look-”

“Dont shout at my sister,” said Alec. He said it quietly, but with force behind the words. Magnus looked at him in surprise. Alec continued, “Isabelle, the size of angels, when they appear in the earthly dimension, varies depending on their power. The angel Valentine summoned was of a lower rank than Raziel. And if you were to summon an angel of an even higher rank, Michael, or Gabriel-”

“I couldnt make a spell that would bind them, even momentarily,” said Magnus in a subdued voice. “Were summoning Raziel in part because were hoping that as the creator of Shadowhunters, he will have a special compassion-or, really, any compassion-for your situation. Hes also of about the right rank. A less powerful angel might not be able to help us, but a more powerful angel. . . well, if something went wrong. . . ”

“It might not just be me who dies,” said Simon.

Magnus looked pained, and Alec glanced down at the papers strewn across the table. Isabelle put her hand on top of Simons. “I cant believe were actually sitting here talking about summoning an angel,” she said. “My whole life weve sworn on the Angels name. We know our power comes from angels. But the idea of seeing one. . . I cant really imagine it. When I try to think about it, its too big an idea. ”

A silence fell across the table. There was a darkness in Magnuss eyes that made Simon wonder if he had ever seen an angel. He wondered whether he ought to ask, but was saved deciding by the buzzing of his cell phone.

“One second,” he muttered, and got to his feet. He flipped the phone open and leaned against one of the lofts pillars. It was a text-several-from Maia.

GOOD NEWS! LUKE IS AWAKE AND TALKING. IT LOOKS LIKE HES GOING TO BE OKAY.

Relief poured over Simon in a wave. Finally, good news. He flipped the phone shut and reached for the ring on his hand. Clary?

Nothing.

He swallowed his nerves. She was probably asleep. He looked up to find all three of the people at the table staring at him.

“Who called?” Isabelle asked.

“It was Maia. She says Lukes up and talking. That hes going to be okay. ” There was a chatter of relieved voices, but Simon was still staring down at the ring on his hand. “She gave me an idea. ”

Isabelle had been on her feet, heading toward him; at that, she paused, looking worried. Simon supposed he didnt blame her. His ideas had been downright suicidal of late. “What is it?” she said.

“What do we need to summon Raziel? How much space?” Simon asked.

Magnus paused over a book. “A mile around at least. Water would be good. Like Lake Lyn-”

“Lukes farm,” Simon said. “Upstate. An hour or two away. It should be shut up now, but I know how to get there. And theres a lake. Not as big as Lyn, but. . . ”

Magnus closed the book he was holding. “Thats not a bad idea, Seamus. ”

“A few hours?” Isabelle said, looking up at the clock. “We could be there by-”

“Oh, no,” said Magnus. He pushed the book away from him. “While your enthusiasm is boundless and impressive, Isabelle, Im too exhausted to properly cast the summoning spell at the moment. And this isnt something I want to take risks with. I think we can all agree. ”

“So when?” Alec asked.

“We need a few hours sleep at least,” Magnus said. “I say we leave early afternoon. Sherlock-sorry, Simon-call and see if you can borrow Jordans truck in the meantime. And now. . . ” He pushed his papers to the side. “Im going to sleep. Isabelle, Simon, youre more than welcome to use the spare room again if you like. ”

“Different spare rooms would be better,” Alec muttered.

Isabelle looked at Simon with questioning dark eyes, but he was already reaching into his pocket for his phone. “Okay,” he said. “Ill be back by noon, but for now theres something important I have to do. ”

In the daylight Paris was a city of narrow, curving streets that opened out into wide avenues, mellow golden buildings with slate-colored roofs, and a glittering river that sliced across it like a dueling scar. Sebastian, despite his claim that he was going to prove to Clary that he had a plan, didnt say much as they made their way up a street lined with art galleries and stores selling dusty old books, to reach the Quai des Grands Augustins by the rivers edge.

There was a cool wind coming off the Seine, and she shivered. Sebastian unwound the scarf from around his neck and handed it to her. It was a heathery black and white tweed, still warm from being wrapped around his neck.

“Dont be stupid,” he said. “Youre cold. Put it on. ”

Clary wound it around her neck. “Thanks,” she said reflexively, and winced.

There. She had thanked Sebastian. She waited for a bolt of lightning to shoot out of the clouds and strike her dead. But nothing happened.

He gave her an odd look. “You all right? You look like youre going to sneeze. ”

“Im fine. ” The scarf smelled like citrusy cologne and boy. She wasnt sure what shed thought it would smell like. They started to walk again. This time Sebastian slowed his pace, walking alongside her, pausing to explain that neighborhoods in Paris were numbered, and they were crossing from the sixth into the fifth, the Latin Quarter, and that the bridge they could see spanning the river in the distance was the Pont Saint-Michel. There were a lot of young people walking past them, Clary noticed; girls her age or older, impossibly stylish in tight-fitting pants and sky-high heels, long hair blowing in the wind off the Seine. Quite a few of them stopped to give Sebastian appreciative glances, which he didnt seem to notice.

Jace, she thought, would have noticed. Sebastian was striking, with his icy white hair and black eyes. She had thought he was handsome the first time shed met him, and hed had his hair dyed black then; it hadnt suited him, really. He looked better like this. The pallor of his hair gave his skin some color, drew your eyes to the flush along his high cheekbones, the graceful shape of his face. His eyelashes were incredibly long, a shade darker than his hair, and curled slightly, just like Jocelyns-so unfair. Why hadnt she gotten the curling lashes in the family? And why didnt he have a single freckle? “So,” she said abruptly, cutting him off in the middle of a sentence, “what are we?”

He gave her a sidelong look. “What do you mean, What are we?”

“You said were the last of the Morgensterns. Morgenstern is a German name,” said Clary. “So, what are we, German? Whats the story? Why arent there any more but us?”

“You dont know anything about Valentines family?” Incredulity tinged Sebastians voice. He had stopped next to the wall that ran along the Seine, beside the pavement. “Didnt your mother ever tell you anything?”

“Shes your mother too, and no, she didnt. Valentines not her favorite topic. ”

“Shadowhunter names are compounded,” said Sebastian slowly, and he climbed up on top of the wall. He reached a hand down, and after a moment she let him take hers and pull her up onto the wall beside him. The Seine ran gray-green below them, fly-speck tourist boats chugging by at a leisurely pace. “Fairchild, Light-wood, White-law. Morgenstern means morning star. Its a German name, but the family was Swiss. ”

“Was?”

“Valentine was an only child,” Sebastian said. “His father-our grandfather-was killed by Downworlders, and our great-uncle died in a battle. He didnt have any children. This”-he reached out and touched her hair-“is from the Fairchild side. Theres English blood there. I look more like the Swiss side. Like Valentine. ”

“Do you know anything about our grandparents?” Clary asked, fascinated despite herself.

Sebastian dropped his hand and leaped down off the wall. He held his hand up for her, and she took it, balancing as she leaped down. For a moment she collided with his chest, hard and warm beneath his shirt. A passing girl shot her an amused, jealous look, and Clary pulled back hastily. She wanted to shout after the girl that Sebastian was her brother, and that she hated him anyway. She didnt.

“I know nothing about our maternal grandparents,” he said. “How could I?” His smile was crooked. “Come. I want to show you a favorite place of mine. ”

Clary hung back. “I thought you were going to prove to me that you had a plan. ”

“All in due time. ” Sebastian started to walk, and after a moment she followed him. Find out his plan. Make nice until you do. “Valentines father was a lot like him,” Sebastian went on. “He put his faith in strength. We are Gods chosen warriors. Thats what he believed. Pain made you strong. Loss made you powerful. When he died. . . ”

“Valentine changed,” Clary said. “Luke told me. ”

“He loved his father and he hated him. Something you might understand from knowing Jace. Valentine raised us as his father had raised him. You always return to what you know. ”

“But Jace,” Clary said. “Valentine taught him more than just fighting. He taught him languages, and how to play the piano-”

“That was Jocelyns influence. ” Sebastian said her name unwillingly, as if he hated the sound of it. “She thought Valentine ought to be able to talk about books, art, music-not just killing things. He passed that on to Jace. ”

A wrought iron blue gate rose to their left. Sebastian ducked under it and beckoned Clary to follow him. She didnt have to duck but went after him, her hands stuffed into her pockets. “What about you?” she asked.

He held up his hands. They were unmistakably her mothers hands-dexterous, long-fingered, meant for holding a brush or a pen. “I learned to play the instruments of war,” he said, “and paint in blood. I am not like Jace. ”

They were in a narrow alley between two rows of buildings made of the same golden stone as many of the other buildings of Paris, their roofs sparkling copper-green in the sunlight. The street underfoot was cobblestone, and there were no cars or motorcycles. To her left was a cafe, a wooden sign dangling from a wrought iron pole the only clue that there was any commercial business on this winding street.

“I like it here,” Sebastian said, following her gaze, “because its as if you were in a past century. No noise of cars, no neon lights. Just-peaceful. ”

Clary stared at him. Hes lying, she thought. Sebastian doesnt have thoughts like this. Sebastian, who tried to burn Alicante to the ground, doesnt care about “peaceful. ”

She thought then of where hed grown up. Shed never seen it, but Jace had described it to her. A small house-a cottage, really-in a valley outside Alicante. The nights would have been silent there and the sky full of stars at night. But would he miss that? Could he? Was that the sort of emotion you could have when you werent really even human?

It doesnt bother you? she wanted to say. Being in the place the real Sebastian Verlac grew up and lived, until you ended his life? Walking these streets, bearing his name, knowing that somewhere, his aunt is grieving for him? And what did you mean when you said he wasnt supposed to fight back?

His black eyes regarded her thoughtfully. He had a sense of humor, she knew; there was a streak of mordant wit in him that was sometimes not unlike Jaces. But he didnt smile.

“Come on,” he said then, breaking off her reverie. “This place has the best hot chocolate in Paris. ”

Clary wasnt sure how shed know if this were true or not, given that this was the first time shed ever been to Paris, but once they sat down, she had to admit the hot chocolate was excellent. They made it at your table-which was small and wooden, as were the old-fashioned high-backed chairs-in a blue ceramic pot, using cream, chocolate powder, and sugar. The result was a cocoa so thick your spoon could stand up in it. They had croissants, too, and dunked them into the chocolate.

“You know, if you want another croissant, theyll bring you one,” said Sebastian, leaning back in his chair. They were the youngest people in the place by decades, Clary noticed. “Youre attacking that one like a wolverine. ”

“Im hungry. ” She shrugged. “Look, if you want to talk to me, talk. Convince me. ”

He leaned forward, his elbows on the table. She was reminded of looking into his eyes the night before, of noticing the silver ring around the iris of his eye. “I was thinking about what you said last night. ”

“I was hallucinating last night. I dont remember what I said to you. ”

“You asked me who I belonged to,” said Sebastian.

Clary paused with her cup of chocolate halfway to her mouth. “I did?”

“Yeah. ” His eyes studied her face intently. “And I dont have an answer. ”

She set her cup down, feeling suddenly, intensely uncomfortable. “You dont have to belong to anyone,” she said. “Its just a figure of speech. ”

“Well, let me ask you something now,” Sebastian said. “Do you think you can forgive me? I mean, do you think forgiveness is possible for someone like me?”

“I dont know. ” Clary gripped the edge of the table. “I-I mean, I dont know much about forgiveness as a religious concept, just your garden-variety kind of forgiving people. ” She took a deep breath, knowing she was babbling. It was something in the steadiness of Sebastians dark gaze on her, as if he actually expected her to give him the answers to questions no one else could answer. “I know you have to do things, to earn forgiveness. Change yourself. Confess, repent-and make amends. ”

“Amends,” Sebastian echoed.

“To make up for what youve done. ” She looked down at her mug. There was no making up for the things Sebastian had done, not in any way that made sense.

“Ave atque vale,” Sebastian said, looking down at his mug of chocolate.

Clary recognized the traditional words Shadowhunters spoke over their dead. “Why are you saying that? Im not dying. ”

“You know its from a poem,” he said. “By Catullus. Frater, ave atque vale. Hail and farewell, my brother. He speaks of ashes, of the rites of the dead, and his own grief for his brother. I was taught the poem young, but I didnt feel it-either his grief, or his loss, or even the wondering what it would be like to die and to have no one grieve you. ” He looked up at her sharply. “What do you think it would have been like if Valentine had brought you up along with me? Would you have loved me?”

Clary was very glad she had put her cup down, because if she hadnt, she would have dropped it. Sebastian was looking at her not with any shyness or the sort of natural awkwardness that might be attendant on such a bizarre question, but as if she were a curious, foreign life-form.

“Well,” she said. “Youre my brother. I would have loved you. I would have. . . had to. ”

He kept looking at her with the same still, intent gaze. She wondered if she should ask him if he thought that meant he would have loved her, too. Like a sister. But she had a feeling he had no idea what that meant.

“But Valentine didnt bring me up,” she said. “In fact, I killed him. ”

She wasnt sure why she said it. Maybe she wanted to see if it was possible to upset him. After all, Jace had told her once that he thought Valentine might have been the only thing Sebastian had ever cared about.

But he didnt blanch. “Actually,” he said, “the Angel killed him. Though it was because of you. ” His fingers traced patterns on the worn tabletop. “You know, when I first met you, in Idris, I had hopes-I had thought you would be like me. And when you were nothing like me, I hated you. And then, when I was brought back, and Jace told me what you did, I realized that I had been wrong. You are like me. ”

“You said that last night,” Clary said. “But Im not-”

“You killed our father,” he said. His voice was soft. “And you dont care. Never given it a second thought, have you? Valentine beat Jace bloody for the first ten years of his life, and Jace still misses him. Grieved for him, though they share no blood at all. But he was your father and you killed him and youve never missed a night of sleep over it. ”

Clary stared at him with her mouth open. It was unfair. So unfair. Valentine had never been a father to her-hadnt loved her-had been a monster whod had to die. She had killed him because shed had no choice.

Unbidden in her mind rose the image of Valentine, driving his blade into Jaces chest, then holding him as he died. Valentine had wept over the son hed murdered. But she had never cried for her father. Had never even considered it.

“Im right, arent I?” said Sebastian. “Tell me Im wrong. Tell me youre not like me. ”

Clary stared down at her cup of chocolate, now cold. She felt like a vortex had opened up inside her head and was sucking away her thoughts and words. “I thought you thought Jace was like you,” she said finally in a choked voice. “I thought thats why you wanted him with you. ”

“I need Jace,” said Sebastian. “But in his heart hes not like me. You are. ” He stood up. He must have paid the bill at some point; Clary couldnt remember. “Come with me. ”

He held his hand out. She stood up without taking it and retied his scarf mechanically; the chocolate she had drunk felt like acid churning in her stomach. She followed Sebastian out of the cafe and into the alley, where he stood looking up at the blue sky overhead.

“Im not like Valentine,” Clary said, stopping next to him. “Our mother-”

“Your mother,” he said, “hated me. Hates me. You saw her. She tried to kill me. You want to tell me you take after your mother, fine. Jocelyn Fairchild is ruthless. She always has been. She pretended to love our father for months, years maybe, so she could gather enough information on him to betray him. She engineered the Uprising and watched all her husbands friends slaughtered. She stole your memories. Have you forgiven her? And when she ran from Idris, do you honestly think she ever planned to take me with her? She must have been relieved at the thought that I was dead-”

“She wasnt!” Clary snapped. “She had a box that had your baby things in it. She used to take it out and cry over it. Every year on your birthday. I know you have it in your room. ”

Sebastians thin, elegant lips twisted. He turned away from her and started walking down the alley. “Sebastian!” Clary called after him. “Sebastian, wait. ” She wasnt sure why she wanted him to come back. Admittedly, she had no idea where she was or how to find her way back to the apartment, but it was more than that. She wanted to stand and fight, to prove she wasnt what he said she was. She raised her voice to a shout: “Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern!”

He stopped and turned slowly, looking back over his shoulder at her.

She walked toward him, and he watched her walk, his head cocked to the side, his black eyes narrow. “I bet you dont even know my middle name,” she said.

“Adele. ” There was a musicality to the way he said it, a familiarity that made her uncomfortable. “Clarissa Adele. ”

She reached his side. “Why Adele? I never knew. ”

“I dont know myself,” he said. “I know Valentine never wanted you to be called Clarissa Adele. He wanted you to be called Seraphina, after his mother. Our grandmother. ” He turned around and started walking again, and this time she kept pace. “After our grandfather was killed, she died-heart attack. Died of grief, Valentine always said. ”

Clary thought of Amatis, who had never gotten over her first love, Stephen; of Stephens father, who had died of grief; of the Inquisitor, her whole life dedicated to revenge. Of Jaces mother, cutting her wrists when her husband died. “Before I met the Nephilim, I would have said it was impossible to die of grief. ”

Sebastian chuckled dryly. “We dont form attachments like mundanes do,” he said. “Well, sometimes, surely. Not everyone is the same. But the bonds between us tend to be intense and unbreakable. Thats why we do so badly with others not of our kind. Downworlders, mundanes-”

“My mothers marrying a Downworlder,” Clary said, stung. They had paused in front of a square stone building with blue painted shutters, almost at the end of the alley.

“He was Nephilim once,” said Sebastian. “And look at our father. Your mother betrayed him and left him, and he still spent the rest of his life waiting to find her again and convince her to come back to him. That whole closet full of clothes-” He shook his head.

“But Valentine told Jace that love is a weakness,” said Clary. “That it would destroy you. ”

“Wouldnt you think that, if you spent half your life chasing a woman even though she hated your guts, because you couldnt forget about her? If you had to remember that the person you loved best in the world stabbed you in the back and twisted the knife?” He leaned in for a moment, close enough that when he spoke, his breath stirred her hair. “Maybe you are more like your mother than our father. But what difference does it make? You have ruthlessness in your bones and ice in your heart, Clarissa. Dont tell me any differently. ”

He spun away before she could answer him, and mounted the front step of the blue-shuttered house. A strip of electric buzzers ran down the side of the wall beside the door, each with a name hand-scrawled on a placard beside it. He pressed the button beside the name Magdalena, and waited. Eventually a scratchy voice came through the speaker:

“Qui est la?”

“Cest le fils et la fille de Valentine,” he said. “Nous avions rendez-vous?”

There was a pause, and then the buzzer sounded. Sebastian yanked the door open-and held it open, politely letting Clary go before him. The stairs were wooden, as worn and smooth as the side of a ship. They trudged up them in silence to the top floor, where the door was propped slightly open onto the landing. Sebastian went through first, and Clary followed.

She found herself in a large, airy light space. The walls were white, as were the curtains. Through one window she could see the street beyond, lined with restaurants and boutiques. Cars whizzed by, but the sound of them didnt seem to penetrate inside the apartment. The floor was polished wood, the furniture white-painted wood or upholstered couches with colorful throw pillows. A section of the apartment was set up as a sort of studio. Light poured down from a skylight onto a long wooden table. There were easels, cloths tossed over them to obscure their contents. A paint-stained smock hung from a hook on the wall.

Standing by the table was a woman. Clary would have guessed her age at about Jocelyns, if there had not been several factors obscuring her age. She wore a shapeless black smock that hid her body; only her white hands and her face and throat were visible. On each of her cheeks was carved a thick black rune, running from the outside corner of her eye to her lips. Clary had not seen the runes before, but she could sense their meaning-power, skill, workmanship. The woman had thick long auburn hair, falling in waves to her waist, and her eyes, when she raised them, were a peculiar flat orange color, like a dying flame.

The woman clasped her hands in front of her smock loosely. In a nervous, melodic voice, she said, “Tu dois etre Jonathan Morgenstern. Et elle, cest ta sœur? Je pensais que-”

“I am Jonathan Morgenstern,” Sebastian said. “And this is my sister, yes. Clarissa. Please speak English in front of her. She doesnt understand French. ”

The woman cleared her throat. “My English is rusty. It has been years since I used it. ”

“It seems good enough to me. Clarissa, this is Sister Magdalena. Of the Iron Sisters. ”

Clary was startled into speech. “But I thought the Iron Sisters never left their fortress-”

“They dont,” said Sebastian. “Unless they are disgraced by having their part in the Uprising discovered. Who do you think armed the Circle?” He smiled at Magdalena mirthlessly. “The Iron Sisters are Makers, not fighters. But Magdalena fled the Fortress before her part in the Uprising could be discovered. ”

“I had not seen another Nephilim in fifteen years until your brother contacted me,” said Magdalena. It was hard to tell who she was looking at while she spoke; her featureless eyes seemed to wander, but she was clearly not blind. “Is it true? Do you have the. . . material?”

Sebastian reached into a pouch hanging from his weapons belt and took from it a chunk of what looked like quartz. He set it down on the long table, and a stray shaft of sunlight, passing across the skylight, lit it seemingly from within. Clary caught her breath. It was the adamas from the junk shop in Prague.

Magdalena drew in a hissing breath.

“Pure adamas,” said Sebastian. “No rune has ever touched it. ”

The Iron Sister came around the table and laid her hands upon the adamas. Her hands, also scarred with multiple runes, trembled. “Adamas pur,” she whispered. “It has been years since I touched the holy material. ”

“It is all yours to craft with,” said Sebastian. “When you are done, I shall pay you in more of it. That is, if you believe you can create what I asked for. ”

Magdalena drew herself up. “Am I not an Iron Sister? Did I not take the vows? Do my hands not shape the stuff of Heaven? I can deliver what I promised, Valentines son. Never doubt it. ”

“Good to hear. ” There was a trace of humor in Sebastians voice. “I will return tonight, then. You know how to summon me if you need to. ”

Magdalena shook her head. All her attention was back on the glassine substance, the adamas. She stroked it with her fingers. “Yes. You may go. ”

Sebastian nodded and took a step back. Clary hesitated. She wanted to seize the woman, ask her what Sebastian had demanded she do, ask her why she would ever have broken Covenant Law to work beside Valentine. Magdalena, as if sensing her hesitation, looked up and smiled thinly.

“The two of you,” she said, and for a moment Clary thought she was going to say that she did not understand why they were together, that she had heard that they hated each other, that Jocelyns daughter was a Shadowhunter while Valentines son was a criminal. But she only shook her head. “Mon Dieu,” she said, “but you look just like your parents. ”

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