Wednesday, 13 February 2013

City of Lost Souls - Chapter 2

Simon was waiting for Clary, Alec, and Isabelle outside the Institute, under an
overhang of stone that only just protected him from the worst of the rain. He turned as
they came out through the doors, and Clary saw that his dark hair was pasted to his
forehead and neck. He pushed it back and looked at her, a question in his eyes.
“I’m cleared,” she said, and as he started to smile, she shook her head. “But they’re deprioritizing
the search for Jace. I—I’m pretty sure they think he’s dead.”
Simon looked down at his wet jeans and T-shirt (a wrinkled gray ringer tee that said
CLEARLY I HAVE MADE SOME BAD DECISIONS on the front in block lettering). He shook his head.
“I’m sorry.”
“The Clave can be like that,” Isabelle said. “I guess we shouldn’t have expected
anything else.”
“Basia coquum,” Simon said. “Or whatever their motto is.”
“It’s ‘Descensus Averno facilis est.’ ‘The descent into hell is easy,’” said Alec. “You just
said “Kiss the cook.”
“Dammit,” said Simon. “I knew Jace was screwing with me.” His wet brown hair fell
back into his eyes; he flicked it away with a gesture impatient enough that Clary caught a
flashing glimpse of the silvery Mark of Cain on his forehead. “Now what?”
“Now we go see the Seelie Queen,” said Clary. As she touched the bell at her throat,
she explained to Simon about Kaelie’s visit to Luke and Jocelyn’s reception, and her
promises to Clary about the Seelie Queen’s help.
Simon looked dubious. “The red-headed lady with the bad attitude who made you kiss
Jace? I didn’t like her.”
“That’s what you remember about her? That she made Clary kiss Jace?” Isabelle
sounded annoyed. “The Seelie Queen is dangerous. She was just playing around that
time. Usually she likes to drive at least a few humans to screaming madness every day
before breakfast.”
“I’m not human,” Simon said. “Not anymore.” He looked at Isabelle only briefly,
dropped his gaze, and turned to Clary. “You want me with you?”
“I think it would be good to have you there. Daylighter, Mark of Cain—some things
have to impress even the Queen.”
“I wouldn’t bet on it,” said Alec.
Clary glanced past him and asked, “Where’s Magnus?”
“He said it would be better if he didn’t come. Apparently he and the Seelie Queen have
some kind of history.”
Isabelle raised her eyebrows.
“Not that kind of history,” said Alec irritably. “Some kind of feud. Though,” he added,
half under his breath, “the way he got around before me, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
“Alec!” Isabelle dropped back to talk to her brother, and Clary opened her umbrella
with a snap. It was one Simon had bought her years ago at the Museum of Natural
History and had a pattern of dinosaurs on the top. She saw his expression change to one
of amusement as he recognized it.
“Shall we walk?” he inquired, and offered his arm.
The rain was coming down steadily, creating small rills out of the gutters and splashing
water up from the wheels of passing taxis. It was odd, Simon thought, that although he
didn’t feel cold, the sensation of being wet and clammy was still irritating. He shifted his
gaze slightly, looking at Alec and Isabelle over his shoulder; Isabelle hadn’t really met his
eyes since they’d come out of the Institute, and he wondered what she was thinking. She
seemed to want to talk to her brother, and as they paused at the corner of Park Avenue,
he heard her say, “So, what do you think? About Dad putting his name in for the
Inquisitor position.”
“I think it sounds like a boring job.” Isabelle was holding an umbrella. It was clear
plastic, decorated with decals of colorful flowers. It was one of the girliest things Simon
had ever seen, and he didn’t blame Alec for ducking out from under it and taking his
chances with the rain. “I don’t know why he’d want it.”
“I don’t care if it’s boring,” Isabelle whisper-hissed. “If he takes it, he’ll be in Idris all
the time. Like, all the time. He can’t run the Institute and be the Inquisitor. He can’t have
two jobs at once.”
“If you’ve noticed, Iz, he’s in Idris all the time anyway.”
“Alec—” The rest of what she said was lost as the light changed and traffic surged
forward, spraying icy water up onto the pavement. Clary dodged a geyser of it and nearly
knocked into Simon. He took her hand to steady her.
“Sorry,” she said. Her hand felt small and cold in his. “Wasn’t really paying attention.”
“I know.” He tried to keep the worry out of his voice. She hadn’t really been “paying
attention” to anything for the past two weeks. At first she’d cried, and then been angry—
angry that she couldn’t join the patrols looking for Jace, angry at the Council’s endless
grilling, angry that she was being kept virtually a prisoner at home because she was
under suspicion from the Clave. Most of all she’d been angry at herself for not being able
to come up with a rune that would help. She would sit at her desk at night for hours, her
stele clutched so tightly in whitening fingers that Simon was afraid it would snap in half.
She’d try to force her mind to present her with a picture that would tell her where Jace
was. But night after night nothing happened.
She looked older, he thought as they entered the park through a gap in the stone wall
on Fifth Avenue. Not in a bad way, but she was different from the girl she’d been when
they had walked into the Pandemonium Club on that night that had changed everything.
She was taller, but it was more than that. Her expression was more serious, there was
more grace and force in the way she walked, her green eyes were less dancing, more
focused. She was starting to look, he realized with a jolt of surprise, like Jocelyn.
Clary paused in a circle of dripping trees; the branches blocked most of the rain here,
and Isabelle and Clary leaned their umbrellas against the trunks of nearby trees. Clary
unclasped the chain around her neck and let the bell slide into her palm. She looked
around at all of them, her expression serious. “This is a risk,” she said, “and I’m pretty
sure if I take it, I can’t go back from it. So if any of you don’t want to come with me, it’s
all right. I’ll understand.”
Simon reached out and put his hand over hers. There was no need to think. Where
Clary went, he went. They had been through too much for it to be any other way. Isabelle
followed suit, and lastly Alec; rain dripped off his long black lashes like tears, but his
expression was resolute. The four of them held hands tightly.
Clary rang the bell.
There was a sensation as if the world were spinning—not the same sensation as being
flung through a Portal, Clary thought, into the heart of a maelstrom, but more as if she
were sitting on a merry-go-round that had begun to spin faster and faster. She was dizzy
and gasping when the sensation stopped suddenly and she was standing still again, her
hand clasped with Isabelle’s, Alec’s, and Simon’s.
They released one another, and Clary glanced around. She had been here before, in
this dark brown, shining corridor that looked as if it had been carved out of a tiger’s eye
gemstone. The floor was smooth, worn down by the passage of thousands of years’ worth
of faerie feet. Light came from glinting chips of gold in the walls, and at the end of the
passage was a multicolored curtain that swayed back and forth as if moved by wind,
though there was no wind here underground. As Clary drew near to it, she saw that it was
sewed out of butterflies. Some of them were still alive, and their struggles made the
curtain flutter as if in a stiff breeze.
She swallowed back the acid taste in her throat. “Hello?” she called. “Is anyone there?”
The curtain rustled aside, and the faerie knight Meliorn stepped out into the hallway.
He wore the white armor Clary remembered, but there was a sigil over his left breast now
—the four Cs that also decorated Luke’s Council robes, marking him as a member. There
was a scar, also, on Meliorn’s face that was new, just under his leaf-colored eyes. He
regarded her frigidly. “One does not greet the Queen of the Seelie Court with the
barbarous human ‘hello,’” he said, “as if you were hailing a servant. The proper address is
‘Well met.’”
“But we haven’t met,” said Clary. “I don’t even know if she’s here.”
Meliorn looked at her with scorn. “If the Queen were not present and ready to receive
you, ringing the bell would not have brought you. Now come: follow me, and bring your
companions with you.”
Clary turned to gesture at the others, then followed Meliorn through the curtain of
tortured butterflies, hunching her shoulders in the hopes that no part of their wings would
touch her.
One by one the four of them stepped into the Queen’s chamber. Clary blinked in
surprise. It looked entirely different from how it had the last time she’d been here. The
Queen reclined on a white and gold divan, and all around her stretched a floor made of
alternating squares of black and white, like a great checkerboard. Strings of dangerouslooking
thorns hung from the ceiling, and on each thorn was impaled a will-o’-the-wisp, its
normally blinding light flickering as it died. The room shimmered in their glow.
Meliorn went to stand beside the Queen; other than him the room was empty of
courtiers. Slowly the Queen sat up straight. She was as beautiful as ever, her dress a
diaphanous mixture of silver and gold, her hair like rosy copper as she arranged it gently
over one white shoulder. Clary wondered why she was bothering. Of all of them there,
the only one likely to be moved by her beauty was Simon, and he hated her.
“Well met, Nephilim, Daylighter,” she said, inclining her head in their direction.
“Daughter of Valentine, what brings you to me?”
Clary opened her hand. The bell shone there like an accusation. “You sent your
handmaiden to tell me to ring this if I ever needed your help.”
“And you told me you wanted nothing from me,” said the Queen. “That you had
everything you desired.”
Clary thought back desperately to what Jace had said when they had had an audience
with the Queen before, how he had flattered and charmed her. It was as if he had
suddenly acquired a whole new vocabulary. She glanced back over her shoulder at
Isabelle and Alec, but Isabelle only made an irritable motion at her, indicating that she
should keep going.
“Things change,” Clary said.
The Queen stretched her legs out luxuriously. “Very well. What is it you want from
“I want you to find Jace Lightwood.”
In the silence that followed, the sound of the will-o’-the-wisps, crying in their agony,
was softly audible. At last the Queen said, “You must think us powerful indeed if you
believe the Fair Folk can succeed where the Clave has failed.”
“The Clave wants to find Sebastian. I don’t care about Sebastian. I want Jace,” Clary
said. “Besides, I already know you know more than you’re letting on. You predicted this
would happen. No one else knew, but I don’t believe you sent me that bell when you did
—the same night Jace disappeared—without knowing something was brewing.”
“Perhaps I did,” said the Queen, admiring her shimmering toenails.
“I’ve noticed the Fair Folk often say ‘perhaps’ when there is a truth they want to hide,”
Clary said. “It keeps you from having to give a straight answer.”
“Perhaps so,” said the Queen with an amused smile.
“‘Mayhap’ is a good word too,” Alec suggested.
“Also ‘perchance,’” Izzy said.
“I see nothing wrong with ‘maybe,’” said Simon. “A little modern, but the gist of the
idea comes across.”
The Queen waved away their words as if they were annoying bees buzzing around her
head. “I do not trust you, Valentine’s daughter,” she said. “There was a time I wanted a
favor from you, but that time is over. Meliorn has his place on the Council. I am not sure
there is anything you can offer me.”
“If you thought that,” said Clary, “you never would have sent the bell.”
For a moment their eyes locked. The Queen was beautiful, but there was something
behind her face, something that made Clary think of the bones of a small animal,
whitening in the sun. At last the Queen said, “Very well. I may be able to help you. But I
will desire recompense.”
“Shocker,” Simon muttered. He had his hands jammed into his pockets and was looking
at the Queen with loathing.
Alec laughed.
The Queen’s eyes flashed. A moment later Alec staggered back with a cry. He was
holding his hands out before him, gaping, as the skin on them wrinkled and his hands
curved inward, bent, the joints swollen. His back hunched, his hair graying, his blue eyes
fading and sinking into deep wrinkles. Clary gasped. Where Alec had been, an old man,
bent and white-haired, stood trembling.
“How swift mortal loveliness does fade,” the Queen gloated. “Look at yourself,
Alexander Lightwood. I give you a glimpse of yourself in a mere threescore years. What
will your warlock lover say then of your beauty?”
Alec’s chest was heaving. Isabelle stepped quickly to his side and took his arm. “Alec,
it’s nothing. It’s a glamour.” She turned on the Queen. “Take it off him! Take it off!”
“If you and yours will speak to me with more respect, then I might consider it.”
“We will,” Clary said quickly. “We apologize for any rudeness.”
The Queen sniffed. “I rather miss your Jace,” she said. “Of all of you, he was the
prettiest and the best-mannered.”
“We miss him too,” said Clary in a low voice. “We didn’t mean to be ill-mannered. We
humans can be difficult in our grief.”
“Hmph,” said the Queen, but she snapped her fingers and the glamour fell from Alec.
He was himself again, though white-faced and stunned-looking. The Queen shot him a
superior look, and turned her attention to Clary.
“There is a set of rings,” said the Queen. “They belonged to my father. I desire the
return of these objects, for they are faerie-made and possess great power. They allow us
to speak to one another, mind to mind, as your Silent Brothers do. At present I have it on
good authority that they are on display in the Institute.”
“I remember seeing something like that,” Izzy said slowly. “Two faerie-work rings in a
glass case on the second floor of the library.”
“You want me to steal something from the Institute?” Clary said, surprised. Of all the
favors she might have guessed the Queen would ask for, this one wasn’t high on the list.
“It is not theft,” said the Queen, “to return an item to its rightful owners.”
“And then you’ll find Jace for us?” said Clary. “And don’t say ‘perhaps.’ What will you do
“I will assist you in finding him,” said the Queen. “I give you my word that my help
would be invaluable. I can tell you, for instance, why all of your tracking spells have been
for naught. I can tell you in what city he is most likely to be found—”
“But the Clave questioned you,” interrupted Simon. “How did you lie to them?”
“They never asked the correct questions.”
“Why lie to them?” demanded Isabelle. “Where is your allegiance in all this?”
“I have none. Jonathan Morgenstern could be a powerful ally if I do not make him an
enemy first. Why endanger him or earn his ire at no benefit to ourselves? The Fair Folk
are an old people; we do not make hasty decisions but first wait to see in what direction
the wind blows.”
“But these rings mean enough to you that if we get them, you’ll risk making him
angry?” Alec asked.
But the Queen only smiled, a lazy smile, ripe with promise. “I think that is quite enough
for today,” she said. “Return to me with the rings and we will speak again.”
Clary hesitated, turning to look at Alec, and then Isabelle. “You’re all right with this?
Stealing from the Institute?”
“If it means finding Jace,” Isabelle said.
Alec nodded. “Whatever it takes.”
Clary turned back to the Queen, who was watching her with an expectant gaze. “Then,
I think we have ourselves a bargain.”
The Queen stretched and gave a contented smile. “Fare thee well, little
Shadowhunters. And a word of warning, though you have done nothing to deserve it. You
might well consider the wisdom of this hunt for your friend. For as is often the
happenstance with that which is precious and lost, when you find him again, he may well
not be quite as you left him.”
It was nearly eleven when Alec reached the front door of Magnus’s apartment in
Greenpoint. Isabelle had persuaded Alec to come to Taki’s for dinner with Clary and
Simon, and though he had protested, he was glad he had. He had needed a few hours to
settle his emotions after what had happened in the Seelie Court. He did not want Magnus
to see how badly the Queen’s glamour had shaken him.
He no longer had to ring the bell for Magnus to buzz him upstairs. He had a key, a fact
he was obscurely proud of. He unlocked the door and headed upstairs, passing Magnus’s
first-floor neighbor as he did so. Though Alec had never seen the occupants of the firstfloor
loft, they seemed to be engaged in a tempestuous romance. Once there had been a
bunch of someone’s belongings strewn all over the landing with a note attached to a
jacket lapel addressed to “A lying liar who lies.” Right now there was a bouquet of flowers
taped to the door with a card tucked among the blooms that read I’M SORRY. That was the
thing about New York: you always knew more about your neighbors’ business than you
wanted to.
Magnus’s door was cracked slightly open, and the sounds of music playing softly wafted
out into the hall. Today it was Tchaikovsky. Alec felt his shoulders relax as the door of the
apartment shut behind him. He could never be quite sure how the place was going to
look—it was minimalist right now, with white couches, red stacking tables, and stark
black-and-white photos of Paris on the walls—but it had begun to feel increasingly
familiar, like home. It smelled like the things he associated with Magnus: ink, cologne,
Lapsang Souchong tea, the burned-sugar smell of magic. He scooped up Chairman Meow,
who was dozing on a windowsill, and made his way into the study.
Magnus looked up as Alec came in. He was wearing what for Magnus was a somber
ensemble—jeans and a black T-shirt with rivets around the collar and cuffs. His black hair
was down, messy and tangled as if he’d run his hands through it multiple times in
annoyance, and his cat’s eyes were heavy-lidded with tiredness. He dropped his pen
when Alec appeared, and grinned. “The Chairman likes you.”
“He likes anyone who scratches behind his ears,” Alec said, shifting the dozing cat so
that his purring seemed to rumble through Alec’s chest.
Magnus leaned back in his chair, the muscles in his arms flexing as he yawned. The
table was strewn with pieces of paper covered in small, cramped handwriting and
drawings—the same pattern over and over, variations on the design that had been
splattered across the floor of the rooftop from which Jace had disappeared. “How was the
Seelie Queen?”
“Same as usual.”
“Raging bitch, then?”
“Pretty much.” Alec gave Magnus the condensed version of what had happened in the
faerie court. He was good at that—keeping things short, not a word wasted. He never
understood people who chattered on incessantly, or even Jace’s love of overcomplicated
“I worry about Clary,” said Magnus. “I worry she’s getting in over her little red head.”
Alec set Chairman Meow down on the table, where he promptly curled up into a ball
and went back to sleep. “She wants to find Jace. Can you blame her?”
Magnus’s eyes softened. He hooked a finger into the top of Alec’s jeans and pulled him
closer. “Are you saying you’d do the same thing if it were me?”
Alec turned his face away, glancing at the paper Magnus had just set aside. “You
looking at these again?”
Looking a little disappointed, Magnus let Alec go. “There’s got to be a key,” he said.
“To unlocking them. Some language I haven’t looked at yet. Something ancient. This is
old black magic, very dark, not like anything I’ve ever seen before.” He looked at the
paper again, his head tilted to the side. “Can you hand me that snuffbox over there? The
silver one, on the edge of the table.”
Alec followed the line of Magnus’s gesture and saw a small silver box perched on the
opposite side of the big wooden table. He reached over and picked it up. It was like a
miniature metal chest set on small feet, with a curved top and the initials W.S. picked out
in diamonds across the top.
W, he thought. Will?
Will, Magnus had said when Alec had asked him about the name Camille had taunted
him with. Dear God, that was a long time ago.
Alec bit his lip. “What is this?”
“It’s a snuffbox,” said Magnus, not looking up from his papers. “I told you.”
“Snuff? As in snuffing people out?” Alec eyed it.
Magnus looked up and laughed. “As in tobacco. It was very popular around the
seventeenth, eighteenth century. Now I use the box to keep odds and ends in.”
He held out his hand, and Alec gave the box up. “Do you ever wonder,” Alec began,
and then started again. “Does it bother you that Camille’s out there somewhere? That
she got away?” And that it was my fault? Alec thought but didn’t say. There was no need
for Magnus to know.
“She’s always been out there somewhere,” said Magnus. “I know the Clave isn’t terribly
pleased, but I’m used to imagining her living her life, not contacting me. If it ever
bothered me, it hasn’t in a long time.”
“But you did love her. Once.”
Magnus ran his fingers over the diamond insets in the snuffbox. “I thought I did.”
“Does she still love you?”
“I don’t think so,” Magnus said dryly. “She wasn’t very pleasant the last time I saw her.
Of course that could be because I’ve got an eighteen-year-old boyfriend with a stamina
rune and she doesn’t.”
Alec sputtered. “As the person being objectified, I… object to that description of me.”
“She always was the jealous type.” Magnus grinned. He was awfully good at changing
the subject, Alec thought. Magnus had made it clear that he didn’t like talking about his
past love life, but somewhere during their conversation, Alec’s sense of familiarity and
comfort, his feeling of being at home, had vanished. No matter how young Magnus looked
—and right now, barefoot, with his hair sticking up, he looked about eighteen—
uncrossable oceans of time divided them.
Magnus opened the box, took out some tacks, and used them to fix the paper he had
been looking at to the table. When he glanced up and saw Alec’s expression, he did a
double take. “Are you okay?”
Instead of replying, Alec reached down and took Magnus’s hands. Magnus let Alec pull
him to his feet, a questioning look in his eyes. Before he could say anything, Alec drew
him closer and kissed him. Magnus made a soft, pleased sound, and gripped the back of
Alec’s shirt, rucking it up, his fingers cool on Alec’s spine. Alec leaned into him, pinning
Magnus between the table and his own body. Not that Magnus seemed to mind.
“Come on,” Alec said against Magnus’s ear. “It’s late. Let’s go to bed.”
Magnus bit his lip and glanced over his shoulder at the papers on the table, his gaze
fixed on ancient syllables in forgotten languages. “Why don’t you go on ahead?” he said.
“I’ll join you—five minutes.”
“Sure.” Alec straightened up, knowing that when Magnus was deep in his studies, five
minutes could easily become five hours. “I’ll see you there.”
Clary put her finger to her lips before motioning for Simon to go before her through the
front door of Luke’s house. All the lights were off, and the living room was dark and silent.
She shooed Simon toward her room and headed into the kitchen to grab a glass of water.
Halfway there she froze.
Her mother’s voice was audible down the hall. Clary could hear the strain in it. Just like
losing Jace was Clary’s worst nightmare, she knew that her mother was living her worst
nightmare too. Knowing that her son was alive and out there in the world, capable of
anything, was ripping her apart from the inside out.
“But they cleared her, Jocelyn,” Clary overheard Luke reply, his voice dipping in and out
of a whisper. “There won’t be any punishment.”
“All of it is my fault.” Jocelyn sounded muffled, as if she had buried her head against
Luke’s shoulder. “If I hadn’t brought that… creature into the world, Clary wouldn’t be
going through this now.”
“You couldn’t have known…” Luke’s voice faded off into a murmur, and though Clary
knew he was right, she had a brief, guilty flash of rage against her mother. Jocelyn should
have killed Sebastian in his crib before he’d ever had a chance to grow up and ruin all
their lives, she thought, and was instantly horrified at herself for thinking it. She turned
and swung back toward the other end of the house, darting into her bedroom and closing
the door behind her as if she were being followed.
Simon, who had been sitting on the bed playing with his DS, looked up at her in
surprise. “Everything okay?”
She tried to smile at him. He was a familiar sight in this room—they’d slept over at
Luke’s often enough when they were growing up. She’d done what she could to make this
room hers instead of a spare room. Photos of herself and Simon, the Lightwoods, herself
with Jace and with her family, were stuck haphazardly into the frame of the mirror over
the dresser. Luke had given her a drawing board, and her art supplies were sorted neatly
into a stack of cubbyholes beside it. She had tacked up posters of her favorite animes:
Fullmetal Alchemist, Rurouni Kenshin, Bleach.
Evidence of her Shadowhunter life lay scattered about as well—a fat copy of The
Shadowhunter’s Codex with her notes and drawings scribbled into the margins, a shelf of
books on the occult and paranormal, her stele atop her desk, and a new globe, given to
her by Luke, that showed Idris, bordered in gold, in the center of Europe.
And Simon, sitting in the middle of her bed, cross-legged, was one of the few things
that belonged both to her old life and her new one. He looked at her with his eyes dark in
his pale face, the glimmer of the Mark of Cain barely visible on his forehead.
“My mom,” she said, and leaned against the door. “She’s really not doing well.”
“Isn’t she relieved? I mean about you being cleared?”
“She can’t get past thinking about Sebastian. She can’t get past blaming herself.”
“It wasn’t her fault, the way he turned out. It was Valentine’s.”
Clary said nothing. She was recalling the awful thing she had just thought, that her
mother should have killed Sebastian when he was born.
“Both of you,” said Simon, “blame yourselves for things that aren’t your fault. You
blame yourself for leaving Jace on the roof—”
She jerked her head up and looked at him sharply. She wasn’t aware she’d ever said
she blamed herself for that, though she did. “I never—”
“You do,” he said. “But I left him, Izzy left him, Alec left him—and Alec’s his parabatai.
There’s no way we could have known. And it might have been worse if you’d stayed.”
“Maybe.” Clary didn’t want to talk about it. Avoiding Simon’s gaze, she headed into the
bathroom to brush her teeth and pull on her fuzzy pajamas. She avoided looking at
herself in the mirror. She hated how pale she looked, the shadows under her eyes. She
was strong; she wasn’t going to fall apart. She had a plan. Even if it was a little insane,
and involved robbing the Institute.
She brushed her teeth and was pulling her wavy hair back into a ponytail as she left the
bathroom, just catching Simon slipping back into his messenger bag a bottle of what was
almost surely the blood he’d bought at Taki’s.
She came forward and ruffled his hair. “You can keep the bottles in the fridge, you
know,” she said. “If you don’t like it room temperature.”
“Ice-cold blood is worse than room temperature, actually. Warm is best, but I think
your mom would balk at me heating it up in saucepans.”
“Does Jordan care?” Clary asked, wondering if in fact Jordan even still remembered
Simon lived with him. Simon had been at her house every night for the past week. In the
first few days after Jace had disappeared, she hadn’t been able to sleep. She had piled
five blankets over herself, but she’d been unable to get warm. Shivering, she would lie
awake imagining her veins sluggish with frozen blood, ice crystals weaving a coral-like
shining net around her heart. Her dreams were full of black seas and ice floes and frozen
lakes and Jace, his face always hidden from her by shadows or a breath of cloud or his
own shining hair as he turned away from her. She would fall asleep for minutes at a time,
always waking up with a sick drowning feeling.
The first day the Council had interrogated her, she’d come home and crawled into bed.
She’d lain there wide awake until there’d been a knock on her window and Simon had
crawled inside, nearly tumbling onto the floor. He’d climbed onto the bed and stretched
out beside her without a word. His skin had been cold from the outside, and he’d smelled
like city air and oncoming winter chill.
She had touched her shoulder to his, dissolving a tiny part of the tension that clamped
her body like a clenched fist. His hand had been cold, but it had been familiar, like the
texture of his corduroy jacket against her arm.
“How long can you stay?” she had whispered into the darkness.
“As long as you want.”
She’d turned on her side to look at him. “Won’t Izzy mind?”
“She’s the one who told me I should come over here. She said you weren’t sleeping,
and if having me with you will make you feel better, I can stay. Or I could just stay until
you fall asleep.”
Clary had exhaled her relief. “Stay all night,” she’d said. “Please.”
He had. That night she had had no bad dreams.
As long as he was there, her sleep was dreamless and blank, a dark ocean of
nothingness. A painless oblivion.
“Jordan doesn’t really care about the blood,” Simon said now. “His whole thing is about
me being comfortable with what I am. Get in touch with your inner vampire, blah, blah.”
Clary slid next to him onto the bed and hugged a pillow. “Is your inner vampire
different from your… outer vampire?”
“Definitely. He wants me to wear midriff-baring shirts and a fedora. I’m fighting it.”
Clary smiled faintly. “So your inner vampire is Magnus?”
“Wait, that reminds me.” Simon dug around in his messenger bag and produced two
volumes of manga. He waved them triumphantly before handing them to Clary. “Magical
Love Gentleman volumes fifteen and sixteen,” he said. “Sold out everywhere but Midtown
She picked them up, looking at the colorful back-to-front covers. Once upon a time she
would have waved her arms in fangirl joy; now it was all she could do to smile at Simon
and thank him, but he had done it for her, she reminded herself, the gesture of a good
friend. Even if she couldn’t even imagine distracting herself with reading right now.
“You’re awesome,” she said, bumping him with her shoulder. She lay down against the
pillows, the manga books balanced on her lap. “And thanks for coming with me to the
Seelie Court. I know it brings up sucky memories for you, but—I’m always better when
you’re there.”
“You did great. Handled the Queen like a pro.” Simon lay down next to her, their
shoulders touching, both of them looking up at the ceiling, the familiar cracks in it, the old
glow-in-the-dark paste-on stars that no longer shed light. “So you’re going to do it? Steal
the rings for the Queen?”
“Yes.” She let out her held breath. “Tomorrow. There’s a local Conclave meeting at
noon. Everyone’ll be in it. I’m going in then.”
“I don’t like it, Clary.”
She felt her body tighten. “Don’t like what?”
“You having anything to do with faeries. Faeries are liars.”
“They can’t lie.”
“You know what I mean. ‘Faeries are misleaders’ sounds lame, though.”
She turned her head and looked at him, her chin against his collarbone. His arm came
up automatically and circled her shoulders, pulling her against him. His body was cool, his
shirt still damp from the rain. His usually stick-straight hair had dried in windblown curls.
“Believe me, I don’t like getting mixed up with the Court. But I’d do it for you,” she said.
“And you’d do it for me, wouldn’t you?”
“Of course I would. But it’s still a bad idea.” He turned his head and looked at her. “I
know how you feel. When my father died—”
Her body tightened. “Jace isn’t dead.”
“I know. I wasn’t saying that. It’s just—You don’t need to say you’re better when I’m
there. I’m always there with you. Grief makes you feel alone, but you’re not. I know you
don’t believe in—in religion—the same way I do, but you can believe you’re surrounded
by people who love you, can’t you?” His eyes were wide, hopeful. They were the same
dark brown they had always been, but different now, as if another layer had been added
to their color, the same way his skin seemed both poreless and translucent at the same
I believe it, she thought. I’m just not sure it matters. She knocked her shoulder gently
against his again. “So, do you mind if I ask you something? It’s personal but important.”
A note of wariness crept into his voice. “What is it?”
“With the whole Mark of Cain thing, does that mean if I accidentally kick you during the
night, I get kicked in the shins seven times by an invisible force?”
She felt him laugh. “Go to sleep, Fray.”


Post a Comment