City of lost souls – Chapter 7: A Sea Change

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

Chapter 7: A Sea Change

Clary was on her third cup of coffee at Takis when Simon finally walked in. He was in jeans, a red zip-up sweatshirt (why bother with wool coats when you didnt feel the cold?), and engineer boots. People turned to look at him as he wove his way through the tables toward her. Simon had cleaned up nicely since Isabelle had started getting on his case about his clothes, Clary thought as he headed toward her among the tables. There were flakes of snow caught in his dark hair, but where Alecs cheeks had been scarlet from the cold, Simons remained colorless and pale. He slid into the booth across from her and looked at her, his dark eyes reflective and shining.

“You called?” he asked, making his voice deep and resonant so that he sounded like Count Dracula.

“Technically, I texted. ” She slid the menu across the table toward him, flipping it to the page for vampires. Shed glanced at it before, but the thought of blood pudding and blood milk shakes made her shudder. “I hope I didnt wake you up. ”

“Oh, no,” he said. “You wouldnt believe where I was. . . ” His voice trailed off as he saw the expression on her face. “Hey. ” His fingers were suddenly under her chin, lifting her head. The laughter was gone from his eyes, replaced by concern. “What happened? Is there more news about Jace?”

“Do you know what you want?” It was Kaelie, the blue-eyed faerie waitress who had given Clary the Queens bell. She looked at Clary now and grinned, a superior grin that made Clary grit her teeth.

Clary ordered a piece of apple pie; Simon ordered a mix of hot chocolate and blood. Kaelie took the menus away, and Simon looked at Clary with concern. She took a deep breath and told him about the night, every gritty detail-Jaces appearance, what he had said to her, the confrontation in the living room, and what had happened to Luke. She told him what Magnus had said about dimensional pockets and other worlds, and how there was no way to track someone hidden in a dimensional pocket or get a message through to them. Simons eyes grew darker as she spoke, and by the end of the story, he had his head in his hands.

“Simon?” Kaelie had come and gone, leaving their food, which was untouched. Clary touched his shoulder. “What is it? Is it Luke-”

“Its my fault. ” He looked up at her, eyes dry. Vampires cried tears mixed with blood, she thought; she had read that somewhere. “If I hadnt bitten Sebastian. . . ”

“You did it for me. So Id live. ” Her voice was gentle. “You saved my life. ”

“Youve saved mine six or seven times. It seemed fair. ” His voice cracked; she recalled him retching up Sebastians black blood, on his knees in the roof garden.

“Assigning blame doesnt get us anywhere,” Clary said. “And this isnt why I dragged you here, just to tell you what happened. I mean, I would have told you anyway, but I would have waited for tomorrow if it werent that. . . ”

He looked at her warily and took a sip from his mug. “Werent that what?”

“I have a plan. ”

He groaned. “I was afraid of that. ”

“My plans are not terrible. ”

“Isabelles plans are terrible. ” He pointed a finger at her. “Your plans are suicidal. At best. ”

She sat back, her arms crossed over her chest. “Do you want to hear it or not? You have to keep it a secret. ”

“I would pluck out my own eyes with a fork before I would give away your secrets,” Simon said, then looked anxious. “Wait a second. Do you think thats likely to be required?”

“I dont know. ” Clary covered her face with her hands.

“Just tell me. ” He sounded resigned.

With a sigh she reached into her pocket and drew out a small velvet bag, which she upended on the table. Two gold rings fell out, landing with a soft clink.

Simon looked at them, puzzled. “You want to get married?”

“Dont be an idiot. ” She leaned forward, dropping her voice. “Simon, these are the rings. The ones the Seelie Queen wanted. ”

“I thought you said you never got them-” He broke off, raising his eyes to her face.

“I lied. I did take them. But after I saw Jace in the library, I didnt want to give them to the Queen anymore. I had a feeling we might need them sometime. And I realized she was never going to give us any useful information. The rings seemed more valuable than another round with the Queen. ”

Simon caught them up in his hand, hiding them from sight as Kaelie passed by. “Clary, you cant just take things the Seelie Queen wants and keep them for yourself. Shes a very dangerous enemy to have. ”

She looked at him pleadingly. “Can we at least see if they work?”

He sighed and handed her one of the rings; it felt light but was as soft as real gold. She worried for a moment that it wouldnt fit, but as soon as she slipped it onto her right index finger, it seemed to mold to the shape of her finger, until it sat perfectly in the space below her knuckle. She saw Simon glancing down at his right hand, and realized the same thing had happened to him.

“Now we talk, I guess,” he said. “Say something to me. You know, mentally. ”

Clary turned to Simon, feeling absurdly as if she were being asked to perform in a play whose lines she hadnt memorized. Simon?

Simon blinked. “I think-Could you do that again?”

This time Clary concentrated, trying to focus her mind on Simon-the Simon-ness of him, the shape of the way he thought, the feeling of hearing his voice, the sense of him close. His whispers, his secrets, the way he made her laugh. So, she thought conversationally, now that Im in your mind, want to see some naked mental pictures of Jace?

Simon jumped. “I heard that! And, no. ”

Excitement fizzed in Clarys veins; it was working. “Think something back to me. ”

It took less than a second. She heard Simon, the way she heard Brother Zachariah, a voice without sound inside her mind. Youve seen him naked?

Well, not entirely. But I-

“Enough,” he said out loud, and though his voice was caught between amusement and anxiety, his eyes sparked. “They work. Holy crap. They really work. ”

She leaned forward. “So can I tell you my idea?”

He touched the ring on his finger, feeling its delicate tracery, the leaf-veins carved under his fingertips. Sure.

She began to explain, but she hadnt yet reached the end of her description when Simon interrupted, out loud this time. “No. Absolutely not. ”

“Simon,” she said. “Its a perfectly fine plan. ”

“The plan where you follow Jace and Sebastian off to some unknown dimensional pocket and we use these rings to communicate so those of us over here in the regular dimension of Earth can track you down? That plan?”

nows. Someone will tell. Then itll be a manhunt. Theyll kill him just to kill Sebastian. Theyll kill him anyway. ” She reached up and pushed her hands through her thick black hair. “I want my brother,” she said. “I want to see Alec. ”

“Well, thats good,” Maia said. “Because after Magnus called me, he sent a follow-up text. He said he had a feeling youd be here, and he had a message for you. He wants you to go to his apartment in Brooklyn, right away. ”

It was freezing out, so cold that even the thermis rune shed put on herself-and the thin parka shed swiped from Simons closet-werent doing much to keep Isabelle from shivering as she pushed open the door of Magnuss apartment building and ducked inside.

After being buzzed up, she headed up the stairs, trailing her hand along the splintering banister. Part of her wanted to rush up the steps, knowing Alec was there and would understand what she was feeling. The other part of her, the part that had hidden her parents secret from her brothers all her life, wanted to curl up on the landing and be alone with her misery. The part that hated relying on anyone else-because wouldnt they just let you down?-and was proud to say that Isabelle Lightwood didnt need anyone reminded herself that she was here because they had asked for her. They needed her.

Isabelle didnt mind being needed. Liked it, in fact. It was why it had taken her longer to warm up to Jace when he had first stepped through the Portal from Idris, a thin ten-year-old boy with haunted pale gold eyes. Alec had been delighted with him immediately, but Isabelle had resented his self-possession. When her mother had told her that Jaces father had been murdered in front of him, shed imagined him coming to her tearfully, for comfort and even advice. But he hadnt seemed to need anyone. Even at ten years old hed had a sharp, defensive wit and an acidic temperament. In fact, Isabelle had thought, dismayed, that he was just like her.

In the end it was Shadowhunting they had bonded over-a shared love of sharp-edged weapons, gleaming seraph blades, the painful pleasure of burning Marks, the thought-numbing swiftness of battle. When Alec had wanted to go out hunting alone with Jace, leaving Izzy behind, Jace had spoken up for her: “We need her with us; shes the best there is. Aside from me, of course. ”

She had loved him just for that.

She was at the front door of Magnuss apartment now. Light poured through the crack under the door, and she heard murmuring voices. She pushed the door open, and a wave of warmth enveloped her. She stepped gratefully forward.

The warmth came from a fire leaping in the grated fireplace-though there were no chimneys in the building, and the fire had the blue-green tinge of enchanted flame. Magnus and Alec sat on one of the couches grouped near the fireplace. As she came in, Alec looked up and saw her, and sprang to his feet, hurrying barefoot across the room-he was wearing black sweatpants and a white T-shirt with a torn collar-to put his arms around her.

For a moment she stood still in the circle of his arms, hearing his heartbeat, his hands patting half-awkwardly up and down her back, her hair. “Iz,” he said. “Its going to be okay, Izzy. ”

She pushed away from him, wiping at her eyes. God, she hated crying. “How can you say that?” she snapped. “How can anything possibly be okay after this?”

“Izzy. ” Alec drew his sisters hair over one shoulder and tugged gently at it. It reminded her of the years when she used to wear her hair in braids and Alec would yank on them, with considerably less gentleness than he was showing now. “Dont go to pieces. We need you. ” He dropped his voice. “Also, did you know you smell like tequila?”

She looked over at Magnus, who was watching them from the sofa with his unreadable cats eyes. “Wheres Clary?” she said. “And her mother? I thought they were here. ”

“Asleep,” said Alec. “We thought they needed a rest. ”

“And I dont?”

“Did you just see your fiance or your stepfather nearly murdered in front of your eyes?” Magnus inquired dryly. He was wearing striped pajamas with a black silk dressing gown thrown over them. “Isabelle Lightwood,” he said, sitting up and loosely clasping his hands in front of him. “As Alec said, we need you. ”

Isabelle straightened up, putting her shoulders back. “Need me for what?”

“To go to the Iron Sisters,” said Alec. “We need a weapon that will divide Jace and Sebastian so that they can be hurt separately-Well, you know what I mean. So Sebastian can be killed without hurting Jace. And its a matter of time before the Clave knows that Jace isnt Sebastians prisoner, that hes working with him-”

“Its not Jace,” Isabelle protested.

“It may not be Jace,” said Magnus, “but if he dies, your Jace dies right along with him. ”

“As you know, the Iron Sisters will speak only to women,” said Alec. “And Jocelyn cant go alone because she isnt a Shadowhunter anymore. ”

“What about Clary?”

“Shes still in training. She wont know the right questions to ask or the way to address them. But you and Jocelyn will. And Jocelyn says shes been there before; she can help guide you once we Portal you to the edge of the wards around the Adamant Citadel. Youll be going, both of you, in the morning. ”

Isabelle considered it. The idea of finally having something to do, something definite and active and important, was a relief. She would have preferred a task that had something to do with killing demons or chopping off Sebastians legs, but this was better than nothing. The legends surrounding the Adamant Citadel made it sound like a forbidding, distant place, and the Iron Sisters were seen far more rarely than the Silent Brothers. Isabelle had never met one.

“When do we leave?” she said.

Alec smiled for the first time since shed arrived, and reached to ruffle her hair. “Thats my Isabelle. ”

“Quit it. ” She ducked out from his reach and saw Magnus grinning at them from the sofa. He levered himself up and ran a hand through his already explosively spiky black hair.

“Ive got three spare rooms,” he said. “Clarys in one; her mothers in the other. Ill show you the third. ”

The rooms all branched off a narrow, windowless hallway that led from the living room. Two of the doors were closed; Magnus drew Isabelle through the third, into a room whose walls were painted hot-pink. Black curtains hung from silver bars over the windows, secured by handcuffs. The bedspread had a print of dark red hearts on it.

Isabelle glanced around. She felt jittery and nervous and not in the least like going to sleep. “Nice handcuffs. I can see why you didnt put Jocelyn in here. ”

“I needed something to hold the curtains back. ” Magnus shrugged. “Do you have anything to sleep in?”

Isabelle just nodded, not wanting to admit shed brought Simons shirt with her from his apartment. Vampires didnt really smell like anything, but the shirt still carried with it the faint, reassuring scent of his laundry soap. “Its kind of weird,” she said. “You demanding I come over right away, only to put me to bed and tell me were getting started tomorrow. ”

Magnus leaned against the wall by the door, his arms over his chest, and looked at her through slitted cat eyes. For a moment he reminded her of Church, only less likely to bite. “I love your brother,” he said. “You know that, right?”

“If you want my permission to marry him, go right ahead,” said Isabelle. “Autumns a nice time for it too. You could wear an orange tux. ”

“He isnt happy,” said Magnus, as if she hadnt spoken.

“Of course he isnt,” Isabelle snapped. “Jace-”

“Jace,” said Magnus, and his hands made fists at his sides. Isabelle stared at him. She had always thought that he didnt mind Jace; liked him, even, once the question of Alecs affections had been settled.

Out loud, she said, “I thought you and Jace were friends. ”

“Its not that,” said Magnus. “There are some people-people the universe seems to have singled out for special destinies. Special favors and special torments. God knows were all drawn toward whats beautiful and broken; I have been, but some people cannot be fixed. Or if they can be, its only by love and sacrifice so great that it destroys the giver. ”

Isabelle shook her head slowly. “Youve lost me. Jace is our brother, but for Alec-Hes Jaces parabatai, too. ”

“I know about parabatai,” said Magnus. “Ive known parabatai so close they were almost the same person. Do you know what happens, when one of them dies, to the one whos left-”

“Stop it!” Isabelle clapped her hands over her ears, then lowered them slowly. “How dare you, Magnus Bane?” she said. “How dare you make this worse than it is. ”

“Isabelle. ” Magnuss hands loosened; he looked a little wide-eyed, as if his outburst had startled even him. “I am sorry. I forget, sometimes. . . that with all your self-control and strength, you possess the same vulnerability that Alec does. ”

“There is nothing weak about Alec,” said Isabelle.

“No,” said Magnus. “To love as you choose, that takes strength. The thing is, I wanted you here for him. There are things I cant do for him, cant give him. ” For a moment Magnus looked oddly vulnerable himself. “You have known Jace as long as he has. You can give him understanding I cant. And he loves you. ”

“Of course he loves me. Im his sister. ”

“Blood isnt love,” said Magnus, and his voice was bitter. “Just ask Clary. ”

Clary shot through the Portal as if through the barrel of a rifle and flew out the other end. She tumbled toward the ground and struck hard on her feet, sticking the landing at first. The pose lasted only a moment before, too dizzy from the Portal to concentrate, she overbalanced and hit the ground, her backpack cushioning her fall. She sighed-someday all the training really would kick in-and got to her feet, brushing dust from the seat of her jeans.

She was standing in front of Lukes house. The river sparkled over her shoulder, the city rising behind it like a forest of lights. Lukes house was just as they had left it, hours ago, locked and dark. Clary, standing on the dirt and stone path that led up to the front steps, swallowed hard.

Slowly she touched the ring on her right hand with the fingers of her left. Simon?

The reply came immediately. Yeah?

Where are you?

Walking toward the subway. Did you Portal home?

Lukes. If Jace comes like I think he will, this is where hell come to.

A silence. Then, Well, I guess you know how to get me if you need me.

I guess I do. Clary took a deep breath. Simon?

Yeah?

I love you.

A pause. I love you, too.

And that was all. There was no click, as when you hung up a phone; Clary just sensed a severing of their connection, as if a cord had been cut inside her head. She wondered if this was what Alec meant when he talked about the breaking of the parabatai bond.

She moved toward Lukes house and slowly mounted the stairs. This was her home. If Jace was going to come back for her, as he had mouthed to her that he would, this is where he would come. She sat down on the top step, pulled her backpack onto her lap, and waited.

Simon stood in front of the refrigerator in his apartment and took a last swallow of cold blood as the memory of Clarys silent voice faded out of his mind. He had just gotten home, and the apartment was dark, the hum of the refrigerator loud, and the place smelled oddly of-tequila? Maybe Jordan had been drinking. His bedroom door was closed, anyway, not that Simon blamed him for being asleep; it was after four in the morning.

He shoved the bottle back into the fridge and headed for his room. It would be the first night hed slept at home in a week. Hed grown used to having someone to share a bed with, a body to roll against in the middle of the night. He liked the way Clary fit against him, curled asleep with her head on her hand; and, if he had to admit it to himself, he liked that she couldnt sleep unless he was with her. It made him feel indispensable and needed-even if the fact that Jocelyn didnt appear to care whether he slept in her daughters bed or not did underscore that Clarys mother apparently regarded him as about as sexually threatening as a goldfish.

Of course, he and Clary had shared beds often, from the time they were five until they were about twelve. That might have had something to do with it, he mused, pushing his bedroom door open. Most of those nights theyd spent engaged in torrid activities, like having contests to see who could take the longest to eat a single Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. Or theyd sneaked in a portable DVD player and-

He blinked. His room looked the same-bare walls, stacked plastic shelves with his clothes on them, his guitar hanging on the wall, and a mattress on the floor. But on the bed was a single piece of paper-a white square against the frayed black blanket. The scrawled, looping hand was familiar. Isabelles.

He picked it up and read:

Simon, Ive been trying to call you, but it seems like your phone is turned off. I dont know where you are right now. I dont know if Clarys already told you what happened tonight. But I have to go to Magnuss and Id really like you to be there.

Im never scared, but Im scared for Jace. Im scared for my brother. I never ask you for anything, Simon, but Im asking you now. Please come.

Isabelle.

Simon let the letter fall from his hand. He was out of the apartment and on his way down the steps before it had even hit the floor.

When Simon came into Magnuss apartment, it was quiet. There was a fire flickering in the grate, and Magnus sat in front of it on an overstuffed sofa, his feet up on the coffee table. Alec was asleep, his head in Magnuss lap, and Magnus was twirling strands of Alecs black hair between his fingers. The warlocks gaze, on the flames, was remote and distant, as if he were looking back into the past. Simon couldnt help but remember what Magnus had said to him once, about living forever:

Someday you and I will be the only two left.

Simon shuddered, and Magnus looked up. “Isabelle called you over, I know. ” he said, speaking in a low voice so as not to wake Alec. “Shes down the hall that way-the first bedroom on the left. ”

Simon nodded and, with a salute in Magnuss direction, headed off down the hall. He felt unusually nervous, as if he were prepping for a first date. Isabelle, to his recollection, had never demanded his help or his presence before, had never acknowledged that she needed him in any way.

He pushed open the door to the first bedroom on the left and stepped inside. It was dark, the lights off; if Simon hadnt had vampire sight, he probably would have seen only blackness. As it was, he saw the outlines of a wardrobe, chairs with clothes thrown over them, and a bed, covers thrown back. Isabelle was asleep on her side, her black hair fanning out across the pillow.

Simon stared. Hed never seen Isabelle sleeping before. She looked younger than she usually did, her face relaxed, her long eyelashes brushing the tops of her cheekbones. Her mouth was slightly open, her feet curled up under her. She was wearing only a T-shirt-his T-shirt, a worn blue tee that said THE LOCH NESS MONSTER ADVENTURE CLUB: FINDING ANSWERS, IGNORING FACTS across the front.

Simon closed the door behind him, feeling more disappointed than he had expected. It hadnt occurred to him that shed already be asleep. Hed been wanting to talk to her, to hear her voice. He kicked his shoes off and lay down beside her. She certainly took up more real estate on the bed than Clary did. Isabelle was tall, almost his height, although when he put his hand on her shoulder, her bones felt delicate under his touch. He ran his hand down her arm. “Iz?” he said. “Isabelle?”

She murmured and turned her face into the pillow. He leaned closer-she smelled like alcohol and rose perfume. Well, that answered that. He had been thinking about pulling her into his arms and kissing her gently, but “Simon Lewis, Molester of Passed-Out Women” wasnt really the epitaph by which he wanted to be remembered.

He lay down flat on his back and stared at the ceiling. Cracked plaster, marked by water stains. Magnus really ought to get someone in here to do something about that. As if sensing his presence, Isabelle rolled sideways against him, her soft cheek against his shoulder. “Simon?” she said groggily.

“Yeah. ” He touched her face lightly.

“You came. ” She stretched her arm across his chest, moving so that her head fit against his shoulder. “I didnt think you would. ”

His fingers traced patterns on her arm. “Of course I came. ”

Her next words were muffled against his neck. “Sorry Im asleep. ”

He smiled to himself, a little, in the dark. “Its okay. Even if all you wanted was for me to come here and hold you while you sleep, I would have done it. ”

He felt her stiffen, and then relax. “Simon?”

“Yeah?”

“Can you tell me a story?”

He blinked. “What kind of story?”

“Something where the good guys win and the bad guys lose. And stay dead. ”

“So, like a fairy tale?” he said. He racked his brain. He knew only the Disney versions of fairy tales, and the first image that came to mind was Ariel in her seashell bra. Hed had a crush on her when he was eight. Not that this seemed like the time to mention it.

“No. ” The word was an exhaled breath. “We study fairy tales in school. A lot of that magic is real-but, anyway. No, I want something I havent heard yet. ”

“Okay. Ive got a good one. ” Simon stroked Isabelles hair, feeling her lashes flutter against his neck as she closed her eyes. “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. . . ”

Clary didnt know how long shed been sitting on Lukes front steps when the sun began to come up. It rose behind his house, the sky turning a dark pinkish-rose, the river a strip of steely blue. She was shivering, had been shivering so long that her whole body seemed to have contracted into a single hard shudder of cold. She had used two warming runes, but they hadnt helped; she had a feeling the shivering was psychological as much as anything else.

Would he come? If he was still as much Jace inside as she thought he was, he would; when he had mouthed that he would come back for her, she had known that he had meant as soon as possible. Jace was not patient. And he didnt play games.

But there was only so long she could wait. Eventually the sun would rise. The next day would begin, and her mother would be watching her again. She would have to give up on Jace, for at least another day, if not longer.

She shut her eyes against the brightness of the sunrise, resting her elbows on the step above and behind her. For just a moment she let herself float in the fantasy that everything was as it had been, that nothing had changed, that she would meet Jace this afternoon for practice, or tonight for dinner, and he would hold her and make her laugh the way he always did.

Warm tendrils of sunlight touched her face. Reluctantly her eyes fluttered open.

And he was there, walking toward her up the steps, as soundless as a cat, as always. He wore a dark blue sweater that made his hair look like sunlight. She sat up straight, her heart pounding. The brilliant sunshine seemed to outline him in light. She thought of that night in Idris, how the fireworks had streaked across the sky and she had thought of angels, falling in fire.

He reached her and held his hands out; she took them, and let him pull her to her feet. His pale gold eyes searched her face. “I wasnt sure youd be here. ”

“Since when have you not been sure of me?”

“You were pretty angry before. ” He cupped the side of her face in his hand. There was a rough scar across his palm; she could feel it against her skin.

“So if I hadnt been here, what would you have done?”

He drew her close. He was shivering too, and the wind was blowing his curling hair, messy and bright. “How is Luke?”

At the sound of Lukes name, another shudder went through her. Jace, thinking she was cold, pulled her more tightly against him. “Hell be all right,” she said guardedly. Its your fault, your fault, your fault.

“I never meant for him to get hurt. ” Jaces arms were around her, his fingers tracing a slow line up and down her spine. “Do you believe me?”

“Jace. . . ,” Clary said. “Why are you here?”

“To ask you again. To come with me. ”

She closed her eyes. “And you wont tell me where that is?”

“Faith,” he said softly. “You have to have faith. But you also have to know-once you come with me, theres no going back. Not for a long time. ”

She thought of the moment when shed stepped outside of Java Jones and seen him waiting for her there. Her life had changed in that moment in a way that could never be undone.

“There never has been any going back,” she said. “Not with you. ” She opened her eyes. “We should go. ”

He smiled, as brilliant as the sun coming out from behind the clouds, and she felt his body relax. “Youre sure?”

“Im sure. ”

He leaned forward and kissed her. Reaching up to hold him, she tasted something bitter on his lips; then darkness came down like a curtain signaling the end of the act of a play.

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