He glanced down. Against his chest gleamed a blood-red square. Isabelle’s ruby pendant. It was a Shadowhunter heirloom, enchanted to detect the presence of demonic energy.


“I can’t take this,” he said, shocked. “Iz, this must be worth a fortune.”


She squared her shoulders. “It’s a loan, not a gift. Keep it until I see you again.” She brushed her gloved fingers across the ruby. “There’s an old story that it came into our family by way of a vampire. So it’s fitting.”


“Isabelle, I—”


“Don’t,” she said, cutting him off, though he didn’t know exactly what he’d been about to say. “Don’t say it, not now.” She was backing away from him. He could see her family behind her, all that was left of the Conclave. Luke had gone through the Portal, and Jocelyn was in the middle of following him. Alec, coming around the side of the Institute with his hands in his pockets, glanced over at Isabelle and Simon, raised an eyebrow, and kept walking. “Just don’t—don’t date anyone else while I’m gone, okay?”


He stared after her. “Does that mean we’re dating?” he said, but she only quirked a smile and then turned and dashed toward the Portal. He saw her take Alec’s hand, and they stepped through together. Maryse followed, and then Jace, and then, finally, Clary was the last, standing beside Catarina, framed by sizzling blue light.


She winked at Simon and stepped through. He saw the whirl of the Portal as it caught her, and then she was gone.


Simon put his hand to the ruby at his throat. He thought he could feel a beat inside the stone, a shifting pulse. It was almost like having a heart again.





3

BIRDS TO THE MOUNTAIN




Clary set her bag down by the door and looked around.


She could hear her mother and Luke moving around her, putting down their own luggage, turning on the witchlights that illuminated Amatis’s house. Clary braced herself. They still had little idea how Amatis had been taken by Sebastian. Though the place had already been examined by Council members for dangerous materials, Clary knew her brother. If the mood had taken him, he would have destroyed everything in the house, just to show that he could—turned the sofas to kindling, shattered the glass in the mirrors, blown the windows to smithereens.


She heard her mother give a small exhale of relief and knew Jocelyn must have been thinking what Clary was: Whatever had happened, the house looked fine. There was nothing in it to indicate that harm had come to Amatis. Books were stacked on the coffee table, the floors were dusty but uncluttered, the photographs on the walls were straight. Clary saw with a pang that there was a recent photograph near the fireplace of her, Luke, and Jocelyn at Coney Island, arms around one another, smiling.


She thought of the last time she had seen Luke’s sister, Sebastian forcing Amatis to drink from the Infernal Cup as she screamed in protest. The way the personality had faded out of her eyes after she had swallowed its contents. Clary wondered if that was what it was like to watch someone die. Not that she hadn’t seen death, too. Valentine had died in front of her. Surely she was too young to have so many ghosts.


Luke had moved to look at the fireplace, and the photos hanging around it. He reached out to touch one that showed two blue-eyed children. One of them, the younger boy, was drawing, while his sister looked on, her expression fond.


Luke looked exhausted. Their Portal travel had taken them to the Gard, and they had walked down through the city to Amatis’s house. Luke still winced often from the pain of the wound in his side that hadn’t quite healed, but Clary doubted that the injury was what was affecting him. The quiet in Amatis’s house, the homey rag rugs on the floor, the carefully arranged personal mementoes—everything spoke of an ordinary life interrupted in the most terrible way possible.


Jocelyn moved over to put her hand on Luke’s shoulder, murmuring soothingly. He turned in the circle of her arms, putting his head against her shoulder. It was more comforting than in any way romantic, but Clary still felt as if she had stumbled on a private moment. Soundlessly she plucked up her duffel bag and made her way up the stairs.


The spare room hadn’t changed. Small; the walls painted white; the windows, like portholes, circular—there was the window Jace had crawled through one night—and the same colorful quilt on the bed. She dropped her bag onto the floor near the nightstand. The nightstand, where Jace had left a letter in the morning, telling her he was going and he wasn’t coming back.


She sat down on the edge of the bed, trying to shake off the web of memories. She hadn’t realized how hard it would be to be back in Idris. New York was home, normal. Idris was war and devastation. In Idris she had seen death for the first time.


Her blood was humming, pounding hard in her ears. She wanted to see Jace, to see Alec and Isabelle—they would ground her, give her a sense of normalcy. She was able, very faintly, to hear her mother and Luke moving around downstairs, possibly even the clink of cups in the kitchen. She swung herself off the bed and went to the foot, where a square trunk rested. It was the trunk Amatis had brought up for her when she had been here before, telling her to go through it to find clothes.


She knelt down now and opened it. The same clothes, carefully packed away between layers of paper: school uniforms, practical sweaters and jeans, more formal shirts and skirts, and beneath that a dress Clary had first thought was a wedding gown. She drew it out. Now that she was more familiar with Shadowhunters and their world, she recognized it for what it was.


Mourning clothes. A white dress, simple, and a close-fitting jacket, with silver mourning runes worked into the material—and there, at the cuffs, an almost invisible design of birds.


Herons. Clary laid the clothes carefully on the bed. She could see, in her mind’s eye, Amatis wearing these clothes when Stephen Herondale had died. Putting them on carefully, smoothing down the fabric, buttoning the jacket close, all to mourn a man to whom she’d no longer been married. Widow’s clothes for someone who had not been able to call herself a widow.


“Clary?” It was her mother, leaning in the doorway, watching her. “What are those—Oh.” She crossed the room, touched the fabric of the dress, and sighed. “Oh, Amatis.”


“She never did get over Stephen, did she?” asked Clary.


“Sometimes people don’t.” Jocelyn’s hand moved from the dress to Clary’s hair, tucked it back with quick motherly precision. “And Nephilim—we do tend to love very overwhelmingly. To fall in love only once, to die of grief over love—my old tutor used to say that the hearts of Nephilim were like the hearts of angels: They felt every human pain, and never healed.”


“But you did. You loved Valentine, but now you love Luke.”


“I know.” Jocelyn’s look was faraway. “It wasn’t until I spent more time in the mundane world that I started to realize that it wasn’t how most human beings thought of love. I realized that you might have it more than once, that your heart could heal, that you could love over and over again. And I always loved Luke. I might not have known it, but I always did love him.” Jocelyn pointed at the clothes on the bed. “You should wear the mourning jacket,” she said. “Tomorrow.”


Startled, Clary said, “To the meeting?”


“Shadowhunters have died and been turned Dark,” said Jocelyn. “Every Shadowhunter lost is someone’s son, brother, sister, cousin. Nephilim are a family. A dysfunctional family, but . . .” She touched her daughter’s face, her own expression hidden in the shadows. “Get some sleep, Clary,” she said. “Tomorrow is going to be a long day.”


After the door shut behind her mother, Clary put on her nightgown and then clambered obediently into bed. She shut her eyes and tried to sleep, but sleep wouldn’t come. Images kept bursting behind her eyelids like fireworks: angels falling from the sky; golden blood; Ithuriel in his chains, with his blinded eyes, telling her of the images of runes he had given her through her life, the visions and dreams of the future. She remembered her dreams of her brother with black wings that spilled blood, walking across a frozen lake. . . .


She threw the coverlet off. She felt hot and itchy, too strung-up to sleep. After getting out of bed, she padded downstairs in search of a glass of water. The living room was half-lit, dim witchlight spilling down the corridor. Murmurs came from beyond the door. Someone was awake, and talking in the kitchen. Clary moved down the corridor warily, until soft overheard whispers began to take on shape and familiarity. She recognized her mother’s voice first, taut with distress. “But I just don’t understand how it could have been in the cupboard,” she was saying. “I haven’t seen it since—since Valentine took everything we owned, back in New York.”


Luke spoke: “Didn’t Clary say that Jonathan had it?”


“Yes, but then it would have been destroyed with that foul apartment, wouldn’t it?” Jocelyn’s voice rose as Clary moved to stand in the doorway of the kitchen. “The one with all the clothes Valentine bought for me. As if I were coming back.”


Clary stood very still. Her mother and Luke were sitting at the kitchen table; her mother had her head down on one hand, and Luke was rubbing her back. Clary had told her mother everything about the apartment, about how Valentine had maintained it with all Jocelyn’s things there, determined that one day his wife would come back and live with him. Her mother had listened calmly, but clearly the story had upset her much more than Clary had realized.


“He’s gone now, Jocelyn,” said Luke. “I know it might seem half-impossible. Valentine was always such a huge presence, even when he was in hiding. But he really is dead.”


“My son isn’t, though,” said Jocelyn. “You know, I used to take this box out and cry over it, every year, on his birthday? I dream sometimes, of a boy with green eyes, a boy who was never poisoned with demon blood, a boy who could laugh and love and be human, and that is the boy I wept over, but that boy never existed.” Take it out and cry over it, Clary thought—she knew what box her mother meant. A box that was a memorial to a child that had died, though he still lived. The box had contained locks of his baby hair, photographs, and a tiny shoe. The last time Clary had seen it, it had been in her brother’s possession. Valentine must have given it to him, though she could never understand why Sebastian had kept it. He was hardly the sentimental sort.


“You’re going to have to tell the Clave,” Luke said. “If it’s something that has to do with Sebastian, they’ll want to know.”


Clary felt her stomach go cold.


“I wish I didn’t have to,” Jocelyn said. “I wish I could throw the whole thing into the fire. I hate that this is my fault,” she burst out. “And all I’ve ever wanted was to protect Clary. But the thing that frightens me most for her, for all of us, is someone who wouldn’t even be alive if it weren’t for me.” Jocelyn’s voice had gone flat and bitter. “I should have killed him when he was a baby,” she said, and leaned back, away from Luke, so that Clary saw what was on the surface of the kitchen table. It was the silver box, just as she remembered it. Heavy, with a simple lid, and the initials J.C. carved into the side.


Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult
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