City of lost souls – EPILOGUE

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EPILOGUE

At first, Jace was conscious of nothing. Then there was darkness, and within the darkness, a burning pain. It was as if hed swallowed fire, and it choked him and burned his throat. He gasped desperately for air, for a breath that would cool the fire, and his eyes flew open.

He saw darkness and shadows-a dimly lit room, known and unknown, with rows of beds and a window letting in hollow blue light, and he was in one of the beds, blankets and sheets pulled down and tangled around his body like ropes. His chest hurt as if a dead weight lay on it, and his hand scrabbled to find what it was, encountering only a thick bandage wrapped around his bare skin. He gasped again, another cooling breath.

“Jace. ” The voice was familiar to him as his own, and then there was a hand gripping his, fingers interlacing with his own. With a reflex born out of years of love and familiarity, he gripped back.

“Alec,” he said, and he was almost shocked at the sound of his own voice in his ears. It hadnt changed. He felt as if he had been scorched, melted, and recreated like gold in a crucible-but as what? Could he really be himself again? He looked up at Alecs anxious blue eyes, and knew where he was. The infirmary at the Institute. Home. “Im sorry. . . ”

A slim, callused hand stroked his cheek, and a second familiar voice said, “Dont apologize. You have nothing to apologize for. ”

He half-closed his eyes. The weight on his chest was still there: half a wound and half guilt. “Izzy. ”

Her breath caught. “It really is you, right?”

“Isabelle,” Alec began, as if to warn her not to upset Jace, but Jace touched her hand. He could see Izzys dark eyes shining in the dawn light, her face full of hopeful expectancy. This was the Izzy only her family knew, loving and worried.

“Its me,” he said, and cleared his throat. “I could understand if you didnt believe me, but I swear on the Angel, Iz, its me. ”

Alec said nothing, but his grip on Jaces hand tightened. “You dont need to swear,” he said, and with his free hand touched the parabatai rune near his collarbone. “I know. I can feel it. I dont feel like Im missing a part of me anymore. ”

“I felt it too. ” Jace took a ragged breath. “Something missing. I felt it, even with Sebastian, but I didnt know what it was I was missing. But it was you. My parabatai. ” He looked at Izzy. “And you. My sister. And. . . ” His eyelids burned suddenly with a scorching light: the wound on his chest throbbed, and he saw her face, lit by the blaze of the sword. A strange burning spread through his veins, like white fire. “Clary. Please tell me-”

“Shes completely all right,” Isabelle said hastily. There was something else in her voice-surprise, unease.

“You swear. Youre not just telling me that because you dont want to upset me. ”

“She stabbed you,” Isabelle pointed out.

Jace gave a strangled laugh; it hurt. “She saved me. ”

“She did,” Alec agreed.

“When can I see her?” Jace tried not to sound too eager.

“It really is you,” Isabelle said, her voice amused.

“The Silent Brothers have been in and out, checking on you,” said Alec. “On this”-he touched the bandage on Jaces chest-“and to see if you were awake yet. When they find out you are, theyll probably want to talk to you before they let you see Clary. ”

“How long have I been out cold?”

“About two days,” said Alec. “Since we got you back from the Burren and were pretty sure you werent going to die. Turns out its not that easy to completely heal a wound made by an archangels blade. ”

“So what youre saying is that Im going to have a scar. ”

“A big ugly one,” said Isabelle. “Right across your chest. ”

“Well, damn,” said Jace. “And I was relying on that money from the topless underwear modeling gig I had lined up, too. ” He spoke wryly, but he was thinking that it was right, somehow, that he have a scar: that he should be marked by what had happened to him, physically as well as mentally. He had almost lost his soul, and the scar would serve to remind him of the fragility of will, and the difficulty of goodness.

And of darker things. Of what lay ahead, and what he could not allow to happen. He strength was returning; he could feel it, and he would bend all of it against Sebastian. Knowing that, he felt suddenly lighter, a little of the weight gone from his chest. He turned his head, enough to look into Alecs eyes.

“I never thought Id fight on the opposite side of a battle from you,” he said hoarsely. “Never. ”

“And you never will again,” Alec said, his jaw set.

“Jace,” Isabelle said. “Try to stay calm, all right? Its just. . . ”

Now what? “Is something else wrong?”

“Well, youre glowing a bit,” Isabelle said. “I mean, just a smidge. Of the glowing. ”

“Glowing?”

Alec raised the hand that held Jaces. Jace could see, in the darkness, a faint shimmer across his forearm that seemed to trace the lines of his veins like a map. “We think its a leftover effect from the archangels sword,” he said. “Itll probably fade soon, but the Silent Brothers are curious. Of course. ”

Jace sighed and let his head fall back against the pillow. He was too exhausted to muster up much interest in his new, illuminated state. “Does that mean you have to go?” he asked. “Do you have to get the Brothers?”

“They instructed us to get them when you woke,” said Alec, but he was shaking his head, even as he spoke. “But not if you dont want us to. ”

“I feel tired,” Jace confessed. “If I could sleep a few more hours. . . ”

“Of course. Of course you can. ” Isabelles fingers pushed his hair back, out of his eyes. Her tone was firm, absolute: fierce as a mother bear protecting her cub.

Jaces eyes began to close. “And you wont leave me?”

“No,” Alec said. “No, we wont ever leave you. You know that. ”

“Never. ” Isabelle took his hand, the one Alec wasnt holding, and pressed it fiercely. “Lightwoods, all together,” she whispered. Jaces hand was suddenly damp where she was holding it, and he realized she was crying, her tears splashing down-crying for him, because she loved him; even after everything that had happened, she still loved him.

They both did.

He fell asleep like that, with Isabelle on one side of him and Alec on the other, as the sun came up with the dawn.

“What do you mean, I still cant see him?” demanded Clary. She was sitting on the edge of the couch in Lukes living room, the cord of the phone wrapped so tightly around her fingers that the tips had turned white.

“Its been only three days, and he was unconscious for two of them,” said Isabelle. There were voices behind her, and Clary strained her ears to hear who was talking. She thought she could pick out Maryses voice, but was she talking to Jace? Alec? “The Silent Brothers are still examining him. They still say no visitors. ”

“Screw the Silent Brothers. ”

“No thanks. Theres strong and silent, and then theres just freaky. ”

“Isabelle!” Clary sat back against the squashy pillows. It was a bright fall day, and sunlight streamed in through the living room windows, though it did nothing to lighten her mood. “I just want to know that hes all right. That he isnt injured permanently, and he hasnt swollen up like a melon-”

“Of course he hasnt swollen up like a melon, dont be ridiculous. ”

“I wouldnt know. I wouldnt know because no one will tell me anything. ”

“Hes all right,” Isabelle said, though there was something in her voice that told Clary she was holding something back. “Alecs been sleeping in the bed next to his, and Mom and I have been taking turns staying with him all day. The Silent Brothers havent been torturing him. They just need to know what he knows. About Sebastian, the apartment, everything. ”

“But I cant believe Jace wouldnt call me if he could. Not unless this is because he doesnt want to see me. ”

“Maybe he doesnt,” Isabelle said. “It could have been that whole thing where you stabbed him. ”

“Isabelle-”

“I was just kidding, believe it or not. Name of the Angel, Clary, cant you show some patience?” Isabelle sighed. “Never mind. I forgot who I was talking to. Look, Jace said-not that Im supposed to repeat this, mind you-that he needed to talk to you in person. If you could just wait-”

“Thats all I have been doing,” Clary said. “Waiting. ” It was true. Shed spent the past two nights lying in her room at Lukes house, waiting for news about Jace and reliving the last week of her life over and over in excruciating detail. The Wild Hunt; the antiques store in Prague; fountains full of blood; the tunnels of Sebastians eyes; Jaces body against hers; Sebastian jamming the Infernal Cup against her lips, trying to pry them apart; the bitter stench of demon ichor. Glorious blazing up her arm, spearing through Jace like a bolt of fire, the beat of his heart under her fingertips. He hadnt even opened his eyes, but Clary had screamed that he was alive, that his heart was beating, and his family had descended on them, even Alec, half-holding up an exceptionally pale Magnus. “All I do is go around and around inside my own head. Its making me crazy. ”

“And thats where were in agreement. You know what, Clary?”

“What?”

There was a pause. “You dont need my permission to come here and see Jace,” Isabelle said. “You dont need anyones permission to do anything. Youre Clary Fray. You go charging into every situation without knowing how the hell its going to turn out, and then you get through it on sheer guts and craziness. ”

“Not where my personal life is concerned, Iz. ”

“Huh,” said Isabelle. “Well, maybe you should. ” And she put the phone down.

Clary stared at her receiver, hearing the distant tinny buzz of the dial tone. Then, with a sigh, she hung up and headed into her bedroom.

Simon was sprawled on the bed, his feet on her pillows, his chin propped on his hands. His laptop was propped open at the foot of the bed, frozen on a scene from The Matrix. He looked up as she came in. “Any luck?”

“Not exactly. ” Clary went over to her closet. Shed already dressed for the possibility that she might see Jace today, in jeans and a soft blue sweater she knew he liked. She pulled a corduroy jacket on and sat down on the bed beside Simon, sliding her feet into boots. “Isabelle wont tell me anything. The Silent Brothers dont want Jace to have visitors, but whatever. Im going over anyway. ”

Simon closed the laptop and rolled over onto his back. “Thats my brave little stalker. ”

“Shut up,” she said. “Do you want to come with me? See Isabelle?”

“Im meeting Becky,” he said. “At the apartment. ”

“Good. Give her my love. ” She finished lacing her boots and reached forward to brush Simons hair away from his forehead. “First I had to get used to you with that Mark on you. Now I have to get used to you without it. ”

His dark brown eyes traced her face. “With or without it, Im still just me. ”

“Simon, do you remember what was written on the blade of the sword? Of Glorious?”

“Quis ut Deus. ”

“Its Latin,” she said. “I looked it up. It means Who is like God? Its a trick question. The answer is no one-no one is like God. Dont you see?”

He looked at her. “See what?”

“You said it. Deus. God. ”

Simon opened his mouth, and then closed it again. “I. . . ”

“I know Camille told you that she could say Gods name because she didnt believe in God, but I think it has to do with what you believe about yourself. If you believe youre damned, then you are. But if you dont. . . ”

She touched his hand; he squeezed her fingers briefly and released them, his face troubled. “I need some time to think about this. ”

“Whatever you need. But Im here if you need to talk. ”

“And Im here if you do. Whatever happens with you and Jace at the Institute. . . you know you can always come over to my place if you want to talk. ”

“Hows Jordan?”

“Pretty good,” said Simon. “He and Maia are definitely together now. Theyre in that ooky stage where I feel like I should be giving them space all the time. ” He crinkled up his nose. “When shes not there, he frets about how he feels insecure because shes dated a bunch of dudes and hes spent the past three years doing military-style training for the Praetor and pretending he was asexual. ”

“Oh, come on. I doubt she cares about that. ”

“You know men. We have delicate egos. ”

“I wouldnt describe Jaces ego as delicate. ”

“No, Jaces is sort of the antiaircraft artillery tank of male egos,” Simon admitted. He was lying with his right hand splayed across his stomach, and the gold faerie ring glittered on his finger. Since the other had been destroyed, it no longer seemed to have any powers, but Simon wore it anyway. Impulsively Clary bent down and kissed his forehead.

“Youre the best friend anyone could ever have, you know that?” she said.

“I did know that, but its always nice to hear it again. ”

Clary laughed and stood up. “Well, we might as well walk to the subway together. Unless you want to hang around here with the rents instead of in your cool downtown bachelor pad. ”

“Right. With my lovelorn roommate and my sister. ” He slid off the bed and followed her as she walked out into the living room. “Youre not just going to Portal?”

She shrugged. “I dont know. It seems. . . wasteful. ” She crossed the hall and, after knocking quickly, stuck her head into the master bedroom. “Luke?”

“Come on in. ”

She went in, Simon beside her. Luke was sitting up in bed. The bulk of the bandage that wrapped his chest was visible as an outline beneath his flannel shirt. There was a stack of magazines on the bed in front of him. Simon picked one up. “Sparkle Like an Ice Princess: The Winter Bride,” he read out loud. “I dont know, man. Im not sure a tiara of snowflakes would be the best look for you. ”

Luke glanced around the bed and sighed. “Jocelyn thought wedding planning might be good for us. Return to normalcy and all that. ” There were shadows under his blue eyes. Jocelyn had been the one to break the news to him about Amatis, while he was still at the police station. Though Clary had greeted him with hugs when hed come home, he hadnt mentioned his sister once, and neither had she. “If it was up to me, I would elope to Vegas and have a fifty-dollar pirate-themed wedding with Elvis presiding. ”

“I could be the wench of honor,” Clary suggested. She looked at Simon expectantly. “And you could be. . . ”

“Oh, no,” he said. “I am a hipster. I am too cool for themed weddings. ”

“You play D and D. Youre a geek,” she corrected him fondly.

“Geek is chic,” Simon declared. “Ladies love nerds. ”

Luke cleared his throat. “I assume you came in here to tell me something?”

“Im heading over to the Institute to see Jace,” Clary said. “Do you want me to bring you anything back?”

He shook his head. “Your mothers at the store, stocking up. ” He leaned over to ruffle her hair, and winced. He was healing, but slowly. “Have fun. ”

Clary thought of what she was probably facing at the Institute-an angry Maryse, a wearied Isabelle, an absent Alec, and a Jace who didnt want to see her-and sighed. “You bet. ”

The subway tunnel smelled like the winter that had finally come to the city-cold metal, dank, wet dirt, and a faint hint of smoke. Alec, walking along the tracks, saw his breath puff out in front of his face in white clouds, and he jammed his free hand into the pocket of his blue peacoat to keep it warm. The witchlight he held in his other hand illuminated the tunnel-green and cream-colored tiles, discolored with age, and sprung wiring, dangling like spiderwebs from the walls. It had been a long time since this tunnel had seen a moving train.

Alec had gotten up before Magnus had woken, again. Magnus had been sleeping late; he was resting from the battle at the Burren. He had used a great deal of energy to heal himself, but he wasnt entirely well yet. Warlocks were immortal but not invulnerable, and “a few inches higher and that would have been it for me,” Magnus had said ruefully, examining the knife wound. “It would have stopped my heart. ”

There had been a few moments-minutes, even-when Alec had truly thought Magnus was dead. And after so much time spent worrying that he would grow old and die before Magnus did. What a bitter irony it would have been. The sort of thing he deserved, for seriously contemplating the offer Camille had made him, even for a second.

He could see light up ahead-the City Hall station, lit by chandeliers and skylights. He was about to douse his witchlight when he heard a familiar voice behind him.

“Alec,” it said. “Alexander Gideon Lightwood. ”

Alec felt his heart lurch. He turned around slowly. “Magnus?”

Magnus moved forward, into the circle of illumination cast by Alecs witchlight. He looked uncharacteristically somber, his eyes shadowed. His spiky hair was rumpled. He wore only a suit jacket over a T-shirt, and Alec couldnt help wondering if he was cold.

“Magnus,” Alec said again. “I thought you were asleep. ”

“Evidently,” Magnus said.

Alec swallowed hard. He had never seen Magnus angry, not really. Not like this. Magnuss cat eyes were remote, impossible to read. “Did you follow me?” Alec asked.

“You could say that. It helped that I knew where you were going. ” Moving stiffly, Magnus took a folded square of paper from his pocket. In the dim light, all Alec could see was that it was covered with a careful, flourishing handwriting. “You know, when she told me youd been here-told me about the bargain shed struck with you-I didnt believe her. I didnt want to believe her. But here you are. ”

“Camille told you-”

Magnus held up a hand to cut him off. “Just stop,” he said wearily. “Of course she told me. I warned you she was a master at manipulation and politics, but you didnt listen to me. Who do you think shed rather have on her side-me or you? Youre eighteen years old, Alexander. Youre not exactly a powerful ally. ”

“I already told her,” Alec said. “I wouldnt kill Raphael. I came here and told her the bargain was off, I wouldnt do it-”

“You had to come all the way here, to this abandoned subway station, to deliver that message?” Magnus raised his eyebrows. “You dont think you could have delivered essentially the same message by, perhaps, staying away?”

“It was-”

“And even if you did come here-unnecessarily-and tell her the deal was off,” Magnus went on in a deadly calm voice, “why are you here now? Social call? Just visiting? Explain it to me, Alexander, if theres something Im missing. ”

Alec swallowed. Surely there must be a way to explain. That he had been coming down here, visiting Camille, because she was the only person he could talk to about Magnus. The only person who knew Magnus, as he did, not just as the High Warlock of Brooklyn but as someone who could love and be loved back, who had human frailties and peculiarities and odd, irregular currents of mood that Alec had no idea how to navigate without advice. “Magnus-” Alec took a step toward his boyfriend, and for the first time that he remembered, Magnus moved away from him. His posture was stiff and unfriendly. He was looking at Alec the way hed look at a stranger, a stranger he didnt like very much.

“Im so sorry,” Alec said. His voice sounded scratchy and uneven to his own ears. “I never meant-”

“I was thinking about it, you know,” Magnus said. “Thats part of why I wanted the Book of the White. Immortality can be a burden. You think of the days that stretch out before you, when you have been everywhere, seen everything. The one thing I hadnt experienced was growing old with someone-someone I loved. I thought perhaps it would be you. But that does not give you the right to make the length of my life your choice and not mine. ”

“I know. ” Alecs heart raced. “I know, and I wasnt going to do it-”

“Ill be out all day,” Magnus said. “Come and get your things out of the apartment. Leave your key on the dining room table. ” His eyes searched Alecs face. “Its over. I dont want to see you again, Alec. Or any of your friends. Im tired of being their pet warlock. ”

Alecs hands had begun to shake, hard enough that he dropped his witchlight. The light winked out, and he fell to his knees, scrabbling on the ground among the trash and the dirt. At last something lit up before his eyes, and he rose to see Magnus standing before him, the witchlight in his hand. It shone and flickered with a strangely colored light.

“It shouldnt light up like that,” Alec said automatically. “For anyone but a Shadowhunter. ”

Magnus held it out. The heart of the witchlight was glowing a dark red, like the coal of a fire.

“Is it because of your father?” Alec asked.

Magnus didnt reply, only tipped the rune-stone into Alecs palm. As their hands touched, Magnuss face changed. “Youre freezing cold. ”

“I am?”

“Alexander. . . ” Magnus pulled him close, and the witchlight flickered between them, its color changing rapidly. Alec had never seen a witchlight rune-stone do that before. He put his head against Magnuss shoulder and let Magnus hold him. Magnuss heart didnt beat like human hearts did. It was slower, but steady. Sometimes Alec thought it was the steadiest thing in his life.

“Kiss me,” Alec said.

Magnus put his hand to the side of Alecs face and gently, almost absently, ran his thumb along Alecs cheekbone. When he bent to kiss him, he smelled like sandalwood. Alec clutched the sleeve of Magnuss jacket, and the witchlight, held between their bodies, flared up in colors of rose and blue and green.

It was a slow kiss, and a sad one. When Magnus drew away, Alec found that somehow he was holding the witchlight alone; Magnuss hand was gone. The light was a soft white.

Softly, Magnus said, “Aku cinta kamu. ”

“What does that mean?”

Magnus disentangled himself from Alecs grip. “It means I love you. Not that that changes anything. ”

“But if you love me-”

“Of course I do. More than I thought I would. But were still done,” Magnus said. “It doesnt change what you did. ”

“But it was just a mistake,” Alec whispered. “One mistake-”

Magnus laughed sharply. “One mistake? Thats like calling the maiden voyage of the Titanic a minor boating accident. Alec, you tried to shorten my life. ”

“It was just-She offered, but I thought about it and I couldnt go through with it-I couldnt do that to you. ”

“But you had to think about it. And you never mentioned it to me. ” Magnus shook his head. “You didnt trust me. You never have. ”

“I do,” Alec said. “I will-Ill try. Give me another chance-”

“No,” Magnus said. “And if I might give you a piece of advice: Avoid Camille. There is a war coming, Alexander, and you dont want your loyalties to be in question. Do you?”

And with that he turned and walked away, his hands in his pockets-walking slowly, as if he were injured, and not just from the cut in his side. But he was walking away just the same. Alec watched him until he moved beyond the glow of the witchlight and out of sight.

The inside of the Institute had been cool in the summer, but now, with winter well and truly here, Clary thought, it was warm. The nave was bright with rows of candelabras, and the stained-glass windows glowed softly. She let the front door swing shut behind her and headed for the elevator. She was halfway up the center aisle when she heard someone laughing.

She turned. Isabelle was sitting in one of the old pews, her long legs slung over the back of the seats in front of her. She wore boots that hit her midthigh, slim jeans, and a red sweater that left one shoulder bare. Her skin was traced with black designs; Clary remembered what Sebastian had said about not liking it when women disfigured their skin with Marks, and shivered inside. “Didnt you hear me saying your name?” Izzy demanded. “You really can be astonishingly single-minded. ”

Clary stopped and leaned against a pew. “I wasnt ignoring you on purpose. ”

Isabelle swung her legs down and stood up. The heels on her boots were high, making her tower over Clary. “Oh, I know. Thats why I said single-minded, not rude. ”

“Are you here to tell me to go away?” Clary was pleased by the fact that her voice didnt shake. She wanted to see Jace. She wanted to see him more than anything else. But after what shed been through this past month, she knew that what mattered was that he was alive, and that he was himself. Everything else was secondary.

“No,” Izzy said, and started moving toward the elevator. Clary fell into step beside her. “I think the whole thing is ridiculous. You saved his life. ”

Clary swallowed against the cold feeling in her throat. “You said there were things I didnt understand. ”

“There are. ” Isabelle punched the elevator button. “Jace can explain them to you. I came down because I thought there were a few other things you should know. ”

Clary listened for the familiar creak, rattle, and groan of the old cage elevator. “Like?”

“My dads back,” Isabelle said, not meeting Clarys eyes.

“Back for a visit, or back for good?”

“For good. ” Isabelle sounded calm, but Clary remembered how hurt she had been when theyd found out Robert had been trying for the Inquisitor position. “Basically, Aline and Helen saved us from getting in real trouble for what happened in Ireland. When we came to help you, we did it without telling the Clave. My mom was sure that if we told them theyd send fighters to kill Jace. She couldnt do it. I mean, this is our family. ”

The elevator arrived with a rattle and a crash before Clary could say anything. She followed the other girl inside, fighting the strange urge to give Isabelle a hug. She doubted Izzy would like it.

“So Aline told the Consul-who is, after all, her mother-that there hadnt been any time to notify the Clave, that shed been left behind with strict orders to call Jia, but thered been some malfunction with the telephones and it hadnt worked. Basically, she lied her butt off. Anyway, thats our story, and were sticking to it. I dont think Jia believed her, but it doesnt matter; its not like Jia wants to punish Mom. She just had to have some kind of story she could grab on to so she didnt have to sanction us. After all, its not like the operation was a disaster. We went in, got Jace out, killed most of the dark Nephilim, and got Sebastian on the run. ”

The elevator stopped rising and came to a crashing halt.

“Got Sebastian on the run,” Clary repeated. “So we have no idea where he is? I thought maybe since I destroyed his apartment-the dimensional pocket-he could be tracked. ”

“Weve tried,” said Isabelle. “Wherever he is, hes still beyond or outside tracking capabilities. And according to the Silent Brothers, the magic that Lilith worked-Well, hes strong, Clary. Really strong. We have to assume hes out there, with the Infernal Cup, planning his next move. ” She pulled the cage door of the elevator open and stepped out. “Do you think hell come back for you-or Jace?”

Clary hesitated. “Not right away,” she said finally. “For him were the last parts of the puzzle. Hell want everything set up first. Hell want an army. Hell want to be ready. Were like. . . the prizes he gets for winning. And so he doesnt have to be alone. ”

“He must be really lonely,” Isabelle said. There was no sympathy in her voice; it was only an observation.

Clary thought of him, of the face that shed been trying to forget, that haunted her nightmares and waking dreams. You asked me who I belonged to. “You have no idea. ”

They reached the stairs that led to the infirmary. Isabelle paused, her hand at her throat. Clary could see the square outline of her ruby necklace beneath the material of her sweater. “Clary. . . ”

Clary suddenly felt awkward. She straightened the hem of her sweater, not wanting to look at Isabelle.

“Whats it like?” Isabelle said abruptly.

“Whats what like?”

“Being in love,” Isabelle said. “How do you know you are? And how do you know someone else is in love with you?”

“Um. . . ”

“Like Simon,” Isabelle said. “How could you tell he was in love with you?”

“Well,” said Clary. “He said so. ”

“He said so. ”

Clary shrugged.

“And before that, you had no idea?”

“No, I really didnt,” said Clary, recalling the moment. “Izzy. . . if you have feelings for Simon, or if you want to know if he has feelings for you. . . maybe you should just tell him. ”

Isabelle fiddled with some nonexistent lint on her cuff. “Tell him what?”

“How you feel about him. ”

Isabelle looked mutinous. “I shouldnt have to. ”

Clary shook her head. “God. You and Alec, youre so alike-”

Isabelles eyes widened. “We are not! We are totally not alike. I date around; hes never dated before Magnus. He gets jealous; I dont-”

“Everyone gets jealous. ” Clary spoke with finality. “And youre both so stoic. Its love, not the Battle of Thermopylae. You dont have to treat everything like its a last stand. You dont have to keep everything inside. ”

Isabelle threw her hands up. “Suddenly youre an expert?”

“Im not an expert,” Clary said. “But I do know Simon. If you dont say something to him, hes going to assume its because youre not interested, and hell give up. He needs you, Iz, and you need him. He just also needs you to be the one to say it. ”

Isabelle sighed and whirled to begin mounting the steps. Clary could hear her muttering as she went. “This is your fault, you know. If you hadnt broken his heart-”

“Isabelle!”

“Well, you did. ”

“Yeah, and I seem to remember that when he got turned into a rat, you were the one who suggested we leave him in rat form. Permanently. ”

“I did not. ”

“You did-” Clary broke off. They had reached the next floor, where a long corridor stretched in both directions. Before the double doors of the infirmary stood the parchment-robed figure of a Silent Brother, hands folded, face cast down in a meditative stance.

Isabelle indicated him with an exaggerated wave. “There you go,” she said. “Good luck getting past him to see Jace. ” And she walked off down the corridor, her boots clicking on the wooden floor.

Clary sighed inwardly and reached for the stele in her belt. She doubted there was a glamour rune that could fool a Silent Brother, but perhaps, if she could get close enough to use a sleep rune on his skin. . .

Clary Fray. The voice in her head was amused, and also familiar. It had no sound, but she recognized the shape of the thoughts, the way you might recognize the way someone laughed or breathed.

“Brother Zachariah. ” Resignedly she slid the stele back in place and moved closer to him, wishing Isabelle had stayed with her.

I presume you are here to see Jonathan, he said, lifting his head from the meditative stance. His face was still in shadow beneath the hood, though she could see the shape of an angular cheekbone. Despite the orders of the Brotherhood.

“Please call him Jace. Its too confusing otherwise. ”

Jonathan is a fine old Shadowhunter name, the first of names. The Herondales have always kept names in the family-

“He wasnt named by a Herondale,” Clary pointed out. “Though he has a dagger of his fathers. It says S. W. H. on the blade. ”

Stephen William Herondale.

Clary took another step toward the doors, and toward Zachariah. “You know a lot about the Herondales,” she said. “And of all the Silent Brothers, you seem the most human. Most of them never show any emotion. Theyre like statues. But you seem to feel things. You remember your life. ”

Being a Silent Brother is life, Clary Fray. But if you mean I remember my life before the Brotherhood, I do.

Clary took a deep breath. “Were you ever in love? Before the Brotherhood? Was there ever anyone you would have died for?”

There was a long silence. Then:

Two people, said Brother Zachariah. There are memories that time does not erase, Clarissa. Ask your friend Magnus Bane, if you do not believe me. Forever does not make loss forgettable, only bearable.

“Well, I dont have forever,” said Clary in a small voice. “Please let me in to see Jace. ”

Brother Zachariah did not move. She still could not see his face, only a suggestion of shadows and planes beneath the hood of his robe. Only his hands, clasped in front of him.

“Please,” Clary said.

Alec swung himself up onto the platform at the City Hall subway station and stalked toward the stairs. He had blocked out the image of Magnus walking away from him with one thought, and one only:

He was going to kill Camille Belcourt.

He strode up the stairs, drawing a seraph blade from his belt as he went. The light here was wavering and dim-he emerged onto the mezzanine below City Hall Park, where tinted glass skylights let in the wintery light. He tucked the witchlight into his pocket and raised the seraph blade.

“Amriel,” he whispered, and the sword blazed up, a bolt of lightning from his hand. He lifted his chin, his gaze sweeping the lobby. The high-backed sofa was there, but Camille was not on it. Hed sent her a message saying he was coming, but after the way shed betrayed him, he supposed he shouldnt be surprised that she hadnt remained to see him. In a fury he stalked across the room and kicked the sofa, hard; it went over with a crash of wood and a puff of dust, one of the legs snapped off.

From the corner of the room came a tinkling silver laugh.

Alec whirled, the seraph blade blazing in his hand. The shadows in the corners were thick and deep; even Amriels light could not penetrate them. “Camille?” he said, his voice dangerously calm. “Camille Belcourt. Come out here now. ”

There was another giggle, and a figure stepped forth from the darkness. But it was not Camille.

It was a girl-probably no older than twelve or thirteen-very thin, wearing a pair of ragged jeans and a pink, short-sleeved T-shirt with a glittery unicorn on it. She wore a long pink scarf as well, its ends dabbled in blood. Blood masked the lower half of her face, and stained the hem of her shirt. She looked at Alec with wide, happy eyes.

“I know you,” she breathed, and as she spoke, he saw her needle incisors flash. Vampire. “Alec Lightwood. Youre a friend of Simons. Ive seen you at the concerts. ”

He stared at her. Had he seen her before? Perhaps-the flicker of a face among the shadows at a bar, one of those performances Isabelle had dragged him to. He couldnt be sure. But that didnt mean he didnt know who she was.

“Maureen,” he said. “Youre Simons Maureen. ”

She looked pleased. “I am,” she said. “Im Simons Maureen. ” She looked down at her hands, which were gloved in blood, as if shed plunged them into a pool of the stuff. And not human blood, either, Alec thought. The dark, ruby-red blood of vampires. “Youre looking for Camille,” she said in a singsong voice. “But she isnt here anymore. Oh, no. Shes gone. ”

“Shes gone?” Alec demanded. “What do you mean shes gone?”

Maureen giggled. “You know how vampire law works, dont you? Whoever kills the head of a vampire clan becomes its leader. And Camille was the head of the New York clan. Oh, yes, she was. ”

“So-someone killed her?”

Maureen burst into a happy peal of laughter. “Not just someone, silly,” she said. “It was me. ”

The arched ceiling of the infirmary was blue, painted with a rococo pattern of cherubs trailing gold ribbons, and white drifting clouds. Rows of metal beds lined the walls to the left and right, leaving a wide aisle down the middle. Two high skylights let in the clear wintery sunlight, though it did little to warm the chilly room.

Jace was seated on one of the beds, leaning back against a pile of pillows he had swiped from the other beds. He wore jeans, frayed at the hems, and a gray T-shirt. He had a book balanced on his knees. He looked up as Clary came into the room, but said nothing as she approached his bed.

Clarys heart had begun to pound. The silence felt still, almost oppressive; Jaces eyes followed her as she reached the foot of his bed and stopped there, her hands on the metal footboard. She studied his face. So many times shed tried to draw him, she thought, tried to capture that ineffable quality that made Jace himself, but her fingers had never been able to get what she saw down on paper. It was there now, where it had not been when he was controlled by Sebastian-whatever you wanted to call it, soul or spirit, looking out of his eyes.

She tightened her hands on the footboard. “Jace. . . ”

He tucked a lock of pale gold hair behind his ear. “Its-did the Silent Brothers tell you it was okay to be in here?”

“Not exactly. ”

The corner of his mouth twitched. “So did you knock them out with a two-by-four and break in? The Clave looks darkly on that sort of thing, you know. ”

“Wow. You really dont put anything past me, do you?” She moved to sit down on the bed next to him, partly so that they would be on the same level and partly to disguise the fact that her knees were shaking.

“Ive learned not to,” he said, and set his book aside.

She felt the words like a slap. “I didnt want to hurt you,” she said, and her voice came out as almost a whisper. “Im sorry. ”

He sat up straight, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. They were not far from each other, sharing the same bed, but he was holding himself back; she could tell. She could tell that there were secrets at the back of his light eyes, could feel his hesitation. She wanted to reach her hand out, but she kept herself still, kept her voice steady. “I never meant to hurt you. And I dont just mean at the Burren. I mean from the moment you-the real you-told me what you wanted. I should have listened, but all I thought about was saving you, getting you away. I didnt listen to you when you said you wanted to turn yourself over to the Clave, and because of it, we both almost wound up like Sebastian. And when I did what I did with Glorious-Alec and Isabelle, they must have told you the blade was meant for Sebastian. But I couldnt get to him through the crowd. I just couldnt. And I thought of what you told me, that youd rather die than live under Sebastians influence. ” Her voice caught. “The real you, I mean. I couldnt ask you. I had to guess. You have to know it was awful to hurt you like that. To know that you could have died and it would have been my hand that held the sword that killed you. I would have wanted to die, but I risked your life because I thought it was what you would have asked for, and after Id betrayed you once, I thought I owed it to you. But if I was wrong. . . ” She paused, but he was silent. Her stomach turned over, a sick, wrenching flip. “Then, Im sorry. Theres nothing I can do to make it up to you. But I wanted you to know. That Im sorry. ”

She halted again, and this time the silence stretched out between them, longer and longer, a thread pulled impossibly tight.

“You can talk now,” she blurted finally. “In fact, it would be really great if you did. ”

Jace was looking at her incredulously. “Let me get this straight,” he said. “You came here to apologize to me?”

She was taken aback. “Of course I did. ”

“Clary,” he said. “You saved my life. ”

“I stabbed you. With a massive sword. You caught on fire. ”

His lips twitched, almost imperceptibly. “Okay,” he said. “So maybe our problems arent like other couples. ” He lifted a hand as if he meant to touch her face, then put it down hastily. “I heard you, you know,” he said more softly. “Telling me I wasnt dead. Asking me to open my eyes. ”

They looked at each other in silence for what was probably moments but felt like hours to Clary. It was so good to see him like this, completely himself, that it almost erased the fear that this was all going to go horribly wrong in the next few minutes. Finally Jace spoke.

“Why do you think I fell in love with you?”

It was the last thing she would have expected him to say. “I dont-Thats not a fair thing to ask. ”

“Seems fair to me,” he said. “Do you think I dont know you, Clary? The girl who walked into a hotel full of vampires because her best friend was there and needed saving? Who made a Portal and transported herself to Idris because she hated the idea of being left out of the action?”

“You yelled at me for that-”

“I was yelling at myself,” he said. “There are ways in which were so alike. Were reckless. We dont think before we act. Well do anything for the people we love. And I never thought how scary that was for the people who loved me until I saw it in you and it terrified me. How could I protect you if you wouldnt let me?” He leaned forward. “That, by the way, is a rhetorical question. ”

“Good. Because I dont need protecting. ”

“I knew youd say that. But the thing is, sometimes you do. And sometimes I do. Were meant to protect each other, but not from everything. Not from the truth. Thats what it means to love someone but let them be themselves. ”

Clary looked down at her hands. She wanted to reach out and touch him so badly. It was like visiting someone in jail, where you could see them so clearly and so close, but there was unbreakable glass separating you.

“I fell in love with you,” he said, “because you were one of the bravest people Id ever known. So how could I ask you to stop being brave just because I loved you?” He ran his hands through his hair, making it stick up in loops and curls that Clary ached to smooth down. “You came for me,” he said. “You saved me when almost everyone else had given up, and even the people who hadnt given up didnt know what to do. You think I dont know what you went through?” His eyes darkened. “How do you imagine I could possibly be angry with you?”

“Then, why havent you wanted to see me?”

“Because. . . ” Jace exhaled. “Okay, fair point, but theres something you dont know. The sword you used, the one Raziel gave to Simon. . . ”

“Glorious,” said Clary. “The Archangel Michaels sword. It was destroyed. ”

“Not destroyed. It went back where it came from once the heavenly fire consumed it. ” Jace smiled faintly. “Otherwise our Angel would have had some serious explaining to do once Michael found out his buddy Raziel had lent out his favorite sword to a bunch of careless humans. But I digress. The sword. . . the way it burned. . . that was no ordinary fire. ”

“I guessed that. ” Clary wished Jace would hold out his arm and draw her against him. But he seemed to want to keep space between them, so she stayed where she was. It felt like an ache in her body, to be this close to him and not be able to touch him.

“I wish you hadnt worn that sweater,” Jace muttered.

“What?” She glanced down. “I thought you liked this sweater. ”

“I do,” he said, and shook his head. “Never mind. That fire-it was Heavens fire. The burning bush, the fire and brimstone, the pillar of fire that went before the children of Israel-thats the fire were talking about. For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. Thats the fire that burned away what Lilith had done to me. ” He reached for the hem of his shirt and drew it up. Clary sucked in her breath, for above his heart, on the smooth skin of his chest, there was no more Mark-and only a healed white scar where the sword had gone in.

She reached her hand out, wanting to touch him, but he drew back, shaking his head. She felt the hurt expression flash across her face before she could hide it as he rolled his shirt back down. “Clary,” he said. “That fire-its still inside me. ”

She stared at him. “What do you mean?”

He took a deep breath and held his hands out, palms down. She looked at them, slim and familiar, the Voyance rune on his right hand faded with white scars layered over it. As they both watched, his hands began to shake slightly-and then, under Clarys incredulous eyes, to turn transparent. Like the blade of Glorious when it had begun to burn, his skin seemed to turn to glass, glass that trapped within it a gold that moved and darkened and burned. She could see the outline of his skeleton through the transparency of his skin, golden bones connected by tendons of fire.

She heard him inhale sharply. He looked up then, and met her eyes with his. His eyes were gold. They had always been gold, but she could swear that now that gold lived and burned as well. He was breathing hard, and there was sweat shining on his cheeks and collarbones.

“Youre right,” Clary said. “Our problems really arent like other peoples problems. ”

Jace stared at her incredulously. Slowly he closed his hands into fists, and the fire vanished, leaving only his ordinary, familiar, unharmed hands behind. Half-choking on a laugh, he said, “Thats what you have to say?”

“No. I have a lot more to say. Whats going on? Are your hands weapons now? Are you the Human Torch? What on earth-”

“I dont know what the human torch is, but-All right, look, the Silent Brothers have told me that I carry the heavenly fire inside me now. Inside my veins. In my soul. When I first woke up, I felt like I was breathing in fire. Alec and Isabelle thought it was just a temporary effect of the sword, but when it didnt go away and the Silent Brothers were called in, Brother Zachariah said he didnt know how temporary it would be. And I burned him-he was touching my hand when he said it, and I felt a jolt of energy go through me. ”

“A bad burn?”

“No. Minor. But still-”

“Thats why you wont touch me,” Clary realized aloud. “Youre afraid youll burn me. ”

He nodded. “No ones ever seen anything like this, Clary. Not before. Not ever. The sword didnt kill me. But it left this-this piece of something deadly inside me. Something so powerful it would probably kill an ordinary human, maybe even an ordinary Shadowhunter. ” He took a deep breath. “The Silent Brothers are working on how I might control it, or get rid of it. But as you might imagine, Im not their first priority. ”

“Because Sebastian is. You heard I destroyed that apartment. I know he has other ways of getting around, but. . . ”

“Thats my girl. But he has backups. Other hiding places. I dont know what they are. He never told me. ” He leaned forward, close enough that she could see the changing colors in his eyes. “Since I woke up, the Silent Brothers have been with me practically every minute. They had to perform the ceremony on me again, the one that gets performed on Shadowhunters when theyre born to keep them safe. And then they went into my mind. Searching, trying to pull out any snippet of information about Sebastian, anything I might know and not remember I knew. But-” Jace shook his head in frustration. “There just isnt anything. I knew his plans through the ceremony at the Burren. Beyond that, I have no idea what hes going to do next. Where he might strike. They do know hes been working with demons, so theyre shoring up the wards, especially around Idris. But I feel like theres one useful thing we might have gotten out of all this-some secret knowledge on my part-and we dont even have that. ”

“But if you did know anything, Jace, he would just change his plans,” Clary objected. “He knows he lost you. You two were tied together. I heard him scream when I stabbed you. ” She shivered. “It was this horrible lost sound. He really did care about you in some strange way, I think. And even though the whole thing was awful, both of us got something out of it that might turn out to be useful. ”

“Which is. . . ?”

“We understand him. I mean, as much as anyone can ever understand him. And thats not something he can erase with a change of plans. ”

Jace nodded slowly. “You know who else I feel like I understand now? My father. ”

“Valen-no,” Clary said, watching his expression. “You mean Stephen. ”

“Ive been looking at his letters. The things in the box Amatis gave me. He wrote a letter to me, you know, that he meant me to read after he died. He told me to be a better man than he was. ”

“You are,” Clary said. “In those moments in the apartment when you were you, you cared about doing the right thing more than you cared about your own life. ”

“I know,” Jace said, glancing down at his scarred knuckles. “Thats the strange thing. I know. I had so much doubt about myself, always, but now I know the difference. Between myself and Sebastian. Between myself and Valentine. Even the difference between the two of them. Valentine honestly believed he was doing the right thing. He hated demons. But to Sebastian, the creature he thinks of as his mother is one. He would happily rule a race of dark Shadowhunters who did the bidding of demons, while the ordinary humans of this world were slaughtered for the demons pleasure. Valentine still believed it was the mandate of Shadowhunters to protect human beings; Sebastian thinks theyre cockroaches. And he doesnt want to protect anyone. He only wants what he wants at the moment he wants it. And the only real thing he ever feels is annoyance when hes thwarted. ”

Clary wondered. She had seen Sebastian looking at Jace, even at herself, and knew there was some part of him as echoingly lonely as the blackest void of space. Loneliness drove him as much as a desire for power-loneliness and a need to be loved without any corresponding understanding that love was something you earned. But all she said was, “Well, lets get with the thwarting, then. ”

A smile ghosted across his face. “You know I want to beg you to stay out of this, right? Its going to be a vicious battle. More vicious than I think the Clave even begins to understand. ”

“But youre not going to do that,” Clary said. “Because that would make you an idiot. ”

“You mean because we need your rune powers?”

“Well, that, and-Did you not listen to anything you just said? That whole business about protecting each other?”

“I will have you know I practiced that speech. In front of a mirror before you got here. ”

“So what do you think it meant?”

“Im not sure,” Jace admitted, “but I know I look damn good delivering it. ”

“God, I forgot how annoying the un-possessed you is,” Clary muttered. “Need I remind you that you said that you have to accept you cant protect me from everything? The only way that we can protect each other is if we are together. If we face things together. If we trust each other. ” She looked him directly in the eye. “I shouldnt have stopped you from going to the Clave by calling for Sebastian. I should respect the decisions you make. And you should respect mine. Because were going to be together a long time, and thats the only way its going to work. ”

His hand inched toward her on the blanket. “Being under Sebastians influence,” he said, hoarsely. “It seems like a bad dream to me, now. That insane place-those closets of clothes for your mother-”

“So you remember. ” She almost whispered it.

His fingertips touched hers, and she almost jumped. Both of them held their breath while he touched her; she didnt move, watching as his shoulders slowly relaxed and the anxious look left his face. “I remember everything,” he said. “I remember the boat in Venice. The club in Prague. That night in Paris, when I was myself. ”

She felt the blood rush up under her skin, making her face burn.

“In some ways, weve been through something no one else can ever understand but the two of us,” he said. “And it made me realize. We are always and absolutely better together. ” He raised his face to hers. He was pale, and fire flickered in his eyes. “I am going to kill Sebastian,” he said. “I am going to kill him for what he did to me, and what he did to you, and what he did to Max. I am going to kill him because of what he has done, and what he will do. The Clave wants him dead, and they will hunt him. But I want my hand to be the one that cuts him down. ”

She reached out then, and put her hand on his cheek. He shuddered, and half-closed his eyes. She had expected his skin to be warm, but it was cool to the touch. “And what if Im the one who kills him?”

“My heart is your heart,” he said. “My hands are your hands. ”

His eyes were the color of honey and slid as slowly as honey over her body as he looked her up and down as if for the first time since shed come into the room, from her windblown hair to her booted feet, and back again. When their gaze met again, Clarys mouth was dry.

“Do you remember,” he said, “when we first met and I told you I was ninety percent sure putting a rune on you wouldnt kill you-and you slapped me in the face and told me it was for the other ten percent?”

Clary nodded.

“I always figured a demon would kill me,” he said. “A rogue Downworlder. A battle. But I realized then that I just might die if I didnt get to kiss you, and soon. ”

Clary licked her dry lips. “Well, you did,” she said. “Kiss me, I mean. ”

He reached up and took a curl of her hair between his fingers. He was close enough that she could feel the warmth of his body, smell his soap and skin and hair. “Not enough,” he said, letting her hair slip through his fingers. “If I kiss you all day every day for the rest of my life, it wont be enough. ”

He bent his head. She couldnt help tilting her own face up. Her mind was full of the memory of Paris, holding on to him as if it would be the last time she ever held him, and it almost had been. The way he had tasted, felt, breathed. She could hear him breathing now. His eyelashes tickled her cheek. Their lips were millimeters apart and then not apart at all, they brushed lightly and then with firmer pressure; they leaned in to each other-

And Clary felt a spark-not painful, more like a fillip of mild static electricity-pass between them. Jace drew quickly away. He was flushed. “We may need to work on that. ”

Clarys mind was still whirling. “Okay. ”

He was staring straight ahead, still breathing hard. “I have something I want to give you. ”

“I gathered that. ”

At that he jerked his gaze back to hers and-almost reluctantly-grinned. “Not that. ” He reached down into the collar of his shirt and drew out the Morgenstern ring on its chain. He pulled it over his head and, leaning forward, dropped it lightly into her hand. It was warm from his skin. “Alec got it back from Magnus for me. Will you wear it again?”

Her hand closed around it. “Always. ”

His grin softened to a smile, and, daring, she put her head on his shoulder. She felt his breath catch, but he didnt move. At first he sat still, but slowly the tension drained from his body and they leaned together. It wasnt hot and heavy, but it was companionable and sweet.

He cleared his throat. “You know this means that what we did-what we almost did in Paris-”

“Going to the Eiffel Tower?”

He tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “You never let me off the hook for a single minute, do you? Never mind. Its one of the things I love about you. Anyway, that other thing we almost did in Paris-thats probably off the table for a while. Unless you want that whole baby-Im-on-fire-when-we kiss thing to become freakishly literal. ”

“No kissing?”

“Well, kissing, probably. But as for the rest of it. . . ”

She brushed her cheek lightly against his. “Its okay with me if its okay with you. ”

“Of course its not okay with me. Im a teenage boy. As far as Im concerned, this is the worst thing thats happened since I found out why Magnus was banned from Peru. ” His eyes softened. “But it doesnt change what we are to each other. Its like theres always been a piece of my soul missing, and its inside you, Clary. I know I told you once that whether God exists or not, were on our own. But when Im with you, Im not. ”

She closed her eyes so he wouldnt see her tears-happy tears, for the first time in a long time now. Despite everything, despite the fact that Jaces hands remained carefully together in his lap, Clary felt a sense of relief so overwhelming that it drowned out everything else-the worry about where Sebastian was, the fear of an unknown future-everything receded into the background. None of it mattered. They were together, and Jace was himself again. She felt him turn his head and lightly kiss her hair.

“I really wish you hadnt worn that sweater,” he muttered into her ear.

“Its good practice for you,” she replied, her lips moving against his skin. “Tomorrow, fishnets. ”

Against her side, warm and familiar, she felt him laugh.

“Brother Enoch,” said Maryse, rising from behind her desk. “Thank you for joining me and Brother Zachariah here on such short notice. ”

Is this in regards to Jace? Zachariah inquired, and if Maryse had not known better, she would have imagined a tinge of anxiety in his mental voice. I have checked in on him several times today. His condition has not changed.

Enoch shifted within his robes. And I have been looking through the archives and the ancient documentation on the topic of Heavens fire. There is some information about the manner in which it may be released, but you must be patient. There is no need to call on us. Should we have news, we will call on you.

“This is not about Jace,” said Maryse, and she moved around the desk, her heels clicking on the stone floor of the library. “This is about something else entirely. ” She glanced down. A rug had been carelessly tossed across the floor, where no rug usually rested. It did not lie flat but was draped over an irregular humped shape. It obscured the delicate pattern of tiles that outlined the shape of the Cup, the Sword, and the Angel. She reached down, took hold of a corner of the rug, and yanked it aside.

The Silent Brothers did not gasp, of course; they could make no sound. But a cacophony filled Maryses mind, the psychic echo of their shock and horror. Brother Enoch took a step back, while Brother Zachariah raised one long-fingered hand to cover his face, as if he could block his ruined eyes from the sight before him.

“It was not here this morning,” said Maryse. “But when I returned this afternoon, it awaited me. ”

At the very first glimpse she had thought that some kind of large bird had found its way into the library and died, perhaps breaking its neck against one of the tall windows. But as she had moved closer, the truth of what she was looking at had dawned on her. She said nothing of the visceral shock of despair that had gone through her like an arrow, or the way she had staggered to the window and been sick out of it the moment shed realized what she was looking at.

A pair of white wings-not quite white, really, but an amalgamation of colors that shifted and flickered as she looked at it: pale silver, streaks of violet, dark blue, each feather outlined in gold. And then, there at the root, an ugly gash of sheared-off bone and sinew. Angels wings-angels wings that had been sliced from the body of a living angel. Angelic ichor, the color of liquid gold, smeared the floor.

Atop the wings was a folded piece of paper, addressed to the New York Institute. After splashing water on her face, Maryse had taken the letter and read it. It was short-one sentence-and was signed with a name in a handwriting oddly familiar to her, for in it there was the echo of Valentines cursive, the flourishes of his letters, the strong, steady hand. But it was not Valentines name. It was his sons.

Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern.

She held it out now to Brother Zachariah. He took it from her fingers and opened it, reading, as she had, the single word of Ancient Greek scrawled in elaborate script across the top of the page.

Erchomai, it said.

I am coming.

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