SIMON LEWIS, ERIC HILLCHURCH, KIRK DUPLESSE, AND MATT CHARLTON
“THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS”
MAY 19, PROSPECT PARK BAND SHELL
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Isabelle’s breath hitched in her throat. “Magnus.”
He had been watching Clary too; he glanced over now, and his glance fell on the flyer. They both stared at it.
Magnus whistled between his teeth. “The Mortal Instruments?”
“His band name.” The paper shook in Isabelle’s hand. “Okay, Magnus, we have to—you said if he remembered anything—”
Magnus glanced after Clary, but she was long gone. “All right,” he said. “But if it doesn’t work, if he doesn’t want it, we can never tell her.”
Isabelle was crumpling the paper in her fist, already reaching for her stele with her other hand. “Whatever you say. But we have to at least try.”
Magnus nodded, shadows chasing shadows in his gold-green eyes. Isabelle could tell he was worried about her, afraid that she’d be hurt, disappointed, and she wanted to be angry at him and grateful to him all at once. “We will.”
It had been another weird day, Simon thought. First the lady behind the counter in Java Jones who’d asked him where his friend was, the pretty girl who always came in with him and always ordered her coffee black. Simon had stared—he didn’t really have any close girl friends, certainly no one whose coffee preferences he might be expected to know. When he’d told the barista she must have been thinking of someone else, she’d looked at him like he was crazy.
And then the redheaded girl who’d come up to him on the steps of St. Xavier’s.
The front of the school was deserted now. Eric had been supposed to give Simon a ride home, but he’d disappeared when the girl had come up to Simon, and he hadn’t reappeared. It was nice that Eric thought he could pick up ladies with such blithe ease, Simon thought, but annoying when it meant he was going to have to take the subway home.
Simon hadn’t even thought about trying to hit on her, not really. She’d seemed so fragile, despite the fairly badass tattoos that decorated her arms and collarbone. Maybe she was crazy—the evidence pointed that way—but her green eyes had been huge and sad when she’d looked at him; he’d been reminded of the way he’d looked himself, the day of his father’s funeral. Like something had punched a hole right through his rib cage and squeezed his heart. Loss like that—no, she hadn’t been hitting on him. She’d really believed they’d meant something important to each other, once.
Maybe he had known that girl, he thought. Maybe it was something he’d forgotten—who remembered the friends you had in kindergarten? And yet he couldn’t shake an image of her, not looking sad but smiling over her shoulder at him, something in her hand—a drawing? He shook his head in frustration. The image was gone like a silver-quick fish slipping off a line.
He cast his mind back, desperately trying to remember. He found himself doing that a lot lately. Bits of memories would come to him, fragments of poetry he didn’t know how he’d learned, glancing recollections of voices, dreams he’d wake up from shaking and sweating and unable to recall what had happened in them. Dreams of desert landscapes, of echoes, the taste of blood, a bow and arrow in his hands. (He’d learned archery in summer camp, but he’d never cared that much about it, so why was he dreaming about it now?) Not being able to get back to sleep, the aching sense that there was something missing, he didn’t know what but something, like a weight in the middle of his chest. He’d put it down to too many late-night D&D campaigns, junior year stress, and worrying about colleges. As his mother said, once you started worrying about the future, you started obsessing about the past.
“Anyone sitting here?” said a voice. Simon looked up and saw a tall man with spiky black hair standing over him. He wore a velvet prep school blazer with a crest emblazoned on it in glittering thread, and at least a dozen rings. There was something odd about his features. . . .
“What? I, uh. No,” Simon said, wondering how many strangers were going to accost him today. “You can sit, if you want.”
The man glanced down and made a face. “I see that many pigeons have pooped upon these stairs,” he remarked. “I shall remain standing, if that’s not too rude.”
Simon shook his head mutely.
“I’m Magnus.” He smiled, showing blinding white teeth. “Magnus Bane.”
“Are we long-lost friends, by any chance?” Simon said. “Just wondering.”
“No, we never got along all that well,” said Magnus. “Long-lost acquaintances? Compadres? My cat liked you.”
Simon scrubbed his hands over his face. “I think I’m going crazy,” he remarked, to no one in particular.
“Well, then, you should be all right with what I’m about to tell you.” Magnus turned his head slightly to the side. “Isabelle?”
Out of nowhere, a girl appeared. Maybe the most beautiful girl Simon had ever seen. She had long black hair that spilled over a silver dress and made him want to write bad songs about starry nights. She also had tattoos: the same ones the other girl had sported, black and swirling, covering her arms and bare legs.
“Hello, Simon,” she said.
Simon just stared. It was entirely out of the realm of anything he had ever imagined that a girl who looked like this would ever say his name like that. Like it was the only name that mattered. His brain sputtered to a stop like an old car. “Mgh?” he said.
Magnus held out a long-fingered hand, and the girl placed something into it. A book, bound in white leather with the title stamped on it in gold. Simon couldn’t quite see the words, but they were etched in an elegant calligraphic hand. “This,” Magnus said, “is a book of spells.”
There didn’t seem to be a response for that, so Simon didn’t try for one.
“The world is full of magic,” said Magnus, and his eyes were sparkling. “Demons and angels, werewolves and faeries and vampires. You knew all this, once. You had magic, but it was taken from you. The idea was that you would live out the rest of your life without it, without remembering it. That you would forget the people you loved, if they knew about magic. That you would spend the rest of your life ordinary.” He turned the book over in his slim fingers, and Simon caught sight of a title in Latin. Something about the sight sent a zing of energy through his body. “And there’s something to be said for that, for being relieved of the burden of greatness. Because you were great, Simon. You were a Daylighter, a warrior. You saved lives and slew demons, and the blood of angels rocketed through your veins like sunlight.” Magnus was grinning now, a little manically. “And I don’t know, it just strikes me as a little fascist to take all that away.”
Isabelle tossed her dark hair back. Something glittered at the hollow of her throat. A red ruby. Simon felt the same zing of energy, stronger this time, as if his body were yearning toward something his mind couldn’t recall. “Fascist?” she echoed.
“Yes,” Magnus said. “Clary was born special. Simon here had specialness thrust upon him. He adapted. Because the world isn’t divided into the special and the ordinary. Everyone has the potential to be extraordinary. As long as you have a soul and free will, you can be anything, do anything, choose anything. Simon should get to choose.”
Simon swallowed against his dry throat. “I’m sorry,” he said. “But what are you talking about?”
Magnus tapped the book in his hand. “I’ve been searching for a way out of this spell, this curse on you,” he said, and Simon almost protested that he wasn’t cursed, but subsided. “This thing that made you forget. Then I figured it out. I ought to have figured it out a lot sooner, but they’ve always been so strict about Ascensions. So particular. But then Alec mentioned to me: They’re desperate for new Shadowhunters now. They lost so many in the Dark War, it would be easy. You’ve got so many people to vouch for you. You could be a Shadowhunter, Simon. Like Isabelle. I can do a little with this book; I can’t fix it completely, and I can’t make you what you were before, but I can prepare you to be able to Ascend, and once you do, once you’re a Shadowhunter, he can’t touch you. You’ll have the Clave’s protection, and the rules about not telling you about the Shadow World, those will be gone.”
Simon looked at Isabelle. It was a little like looking at the sun, but the way she was looking back at him made it easier. She was looking at him as if she had missed him, though he knew that wasn’t possible. “There’s really magic?” he asked. “Vampires and werewolves and wizards—”
“Warlocks,” Magnus corrected.
“And all of that? It exists?”
“It exists,” Isabelle said. Her voice was sweet, a little husky and—familiar. He remembered the smell of sunlight and flowers suddenly, a taste like copper in his mouth. He saw desert landscapes stretching out under a demon sun, and a city with towers that shimmered as if they were made of ice and glass. “It’s not a fairy tale, Simon. Being a Shadowhunter means being a warrior. It’s dangerous, but if it’s right for you, it’s amazing. I wouldn’t ever want to be anything else.”
“It’s your decision, Simon Lewis,” said Magnus. “Remain in the existence you have, go to college, study music, get married. Live your life. Or—you can have an uncertain life of shadows and dangers. You can have the joy of reading the stories of incredible happenings, or you can be part of the story.” He leaned closer, and Simon saw the light spark off his eyes, and realized why he’d thought they were odd. They were gold-green and slit-pupilled like a cat’s. Not human eyes at all. “The choice is up to you.”