Simon muttered something that sounded like “bossy,” but Clary was already out the door. She showered in record time, enjoying the feel of the water sluicing away the dirt of the battle. She was still worried about Jace, despite her mother’s reassurances, but the sight of Simon had lifted her spirits. Maybe it didn’t make sense, but she was happier that he was where she could keep an eye on him, rather than back in New York. Especially after Jordan.
When she got back to the bedroom, her damp hair tied back in a ponytail, Simon was perched on the nightstand, deep in conversation with her mother and Luke, recounting what had happened to him in New York, how Maureen had kidnapped him and Raphael had rescued him and brought him to Alicante.
“Then I hope Raphael intends to attend the dinner held by the representatives of the Seelie Court tonight,” Luke was saying. “Anselm Nightshade would have been invited, but if Raphael is standing in for him at the Council, then he should be there. Especially after what’s happened with the Praetor, the importance of Downworlder solidarity with Shadowhunters is greater than ever.”
“Have you heard from Maia?” Simon asked. “I hate the thought that she’s alone, now that Jordan’s dead.” He winced a little as he spoke, as if the words—“Jordan’s dead”—hurt to say.
“She’s not alone. She’s got the pack taking care of her. Bat’s been in touch with me—she’s physically fine. Emotionally, I don’t know. She’s the one Sebastian gave his message to, after he killed Jordan. That can’t have been easy.”
“The pack is going to find itself having to deal with Maureen,” said Simon. “She’s thrilled the Shadowhunters are gone. She’s going to make New York her bloody playground, if she gets her way.”
“If she’s killing mundanes, the Clave will have to dispatch someone to deal with her,” said Jocelyn. “Even if it means leaving Idris. If she’s breaking the Accords—”
“Shouldn’t Jia hear about all this?” Clary said. “We could go talk to her. She’s not like the last Consul. She’d listen to you, Simon.”
Simon nodded. “I promised Raphael I’d talk to the Inquisitor and the Consul for him—” He broke off suddenly, and winced.
Clary looked at him harder. He was sitting in a weak shaft of daylight, his skin ivory pale. The veins under the skin were visible, as stark and black as ink marks. His cheekbones looked sharp, the shadows under them harsh and indented. “Simon, how long has it been since you’ve eaten anything?”
Simon flinched back; she knew he hated being reminded of his need for blood. “Three days,” he said in a low voice.
“Food,” Clary said, looking from her mother to Luke. “We need to get him food.”
“I’m fine,” Simon said, unconvincingly. “I really am.”
“The most reasonable place to get blood would be the vampire representative’s house,” said Luke. “They have to provide it for the use of the Night’s Children’s Council member. I would go myself, but they’re hardly going to give it to a werewolf. We could send a message—”
“No messages. Too slow. We’ll go now.” Clary threw her closet open and grabbed for a jacket. “Simon, can you make it there?”
“It’s not that far,” Simon said, his voice subdued. “A few doors down from the Inquisitor’s.”
“Raphael will be sleeping,” said Luke. “It’s the middle of the day.”
“Then we’ll wake him up.” Clary shrugged the jacket on and zipped it. “It’s his job to represent vampires; he’ll have to help Simon.”
Simon snorted. “Raphael doesn’t think he has to do anything.”
“I don’t care.” Clary seized up Heosphoros and slid it into the scabbard.
“Clary, I’m not sure you’re well enough to go out like this—” Jocelyn began.
“I’m fine. Never felt better.”
Jocelyn shook her head, and the sunlight caught the red glints in her hair. “In other words there’s nothing I can do to stop you.”
“Nope,” Clary said, shoving Heosphoros into her belt. “Nothing whatsoever.”
“The Council member dinner is tonight,” Luke said, leaning back against the wall. “Clary, we’re going to have to leave before you get back. We’re putting a guard on the house to make sure you return home before dark—”
“You have got to be kidding me.”
“Not at all. We want you in, and the house closed up. If you don’t come home before sunset, the Gard will be notified.”
“It’s a police state,” Clary grumbled. “Come on, Simon. Let’s go.”
Maia sat on the beach at Rockaway, looking out at the water, and shivered.
Rockaway was crowded in summer, but empty and windswept now, in December. The water of the Atlantic stretched away, a heavy gray, the color of iron, under a similarly iron-colored sky.
The bodies of the werewolves Sebastian had killed, Jordan’s among them, had been burned among the ruins of the Praetor Lupus. One of the wolves of the pack approached the tide line and cast the contents of a box of ashes onto the water.
Maia watched as the surface of the sea turned black with the remains of the dead.
“I’m sorry.” It was Bat, sitting down beside her on the sand. They watched as Rufus stepped up to the shoreline and opened another wooden box of ashes. “About Jordan.”
Maia pushed her hair back. Gray clouds were gathering on the horizon. She wondered when it would start to rain. “I was going to break up with him,” she said.
“What?” Bat looked shocked.
“I was going to break up with him,” Maia said. “The day Sebastian killed him.”
“I thought everything was going great with you guys. I thought you were happy.”
“Did you?” Maia dug her fingers into the damp sand. “You didn’t like him.”
“He hurt you. It was a long time ago, and I know he tried to make up for it, but—” Bat shrugged. “Maybe I’m not so forgiving.”
Maia exhaled. “Maybe I’m not either,” she said. “The town I grew up in, all these spoiled thin rich white girls, they made me feel like crap because I didn’t look like them. When I was six, my mom tried to throw me a Barbie-themed birthday party. They make a black Barbie, you know, but they don’t make any of the stuff that goes with her—party supplies and cake toppers and all that. So we had a party for me with a blonde doll as the theme, and all these blonde girls came, and they all giggled at me behind their hands.” The beach air was cold in her lungs. “So when I met Jordan and he told me I was beautiful, well, it didn’t take that much. I was totally in love with him in about five minutes.”
“You are beautiful,” Bat said. A hermit crab inched its way along the sand, and he poked it with his fingers.
“We were happy,” Maia said. “But then everything happened, and he Turned me, and I hated him. I came to New York and I hated him, and then he showed up again and all he wanted was for me to forgive him. He wanted it so badly and he was so sorry. And I knew, people do crazy things when they get bitten. I’ve heard of people who’ve killed their families—”
“That’s why we have the Praetor,” said Bat. “Well. Had them.”
“And I thought, how much can you hold someone accountable for what they did when they couldn’t control themselves? I thought I should forgive him, he just wanted it so damn much. He’d done everything to make up for it. I thought we could go back to normal, go back to the way we used to be.”
“Sometimes you can’t go back,” Bat said. He touched the scar on his cheek thoughtfully; Maia had never asked him how he had gotten it. “Sometimes too much has changed.”
“We couldn’t go back,” Maia said. “At least, I couldn’t. He wanted me to forgive him so much that I think sometimes he just looked at me and he saw forgiveness. Redemption. He didn’t see me.” She shook her head. “I’m not someone’s absolution. I’m just Maia.”
“But you cared about him,” Bat said softly.
“Enough that I kept putting off breaking up with him. I thought maybe I’d feel differently. And then everything started happening: Simon got kidnapped, and we went after him, and I was still going to tell Jordan. I was going to tell him as soon as we got to the Praetor, and then we arrived and it was”—she swallowed—“a slaughterhouse.”
“They said when they found you, you were holding him. He was dead and his blood was washing out with the tide, but you were holding on to his body.”
“Everyone should die with someone holding on to them,” Maia said, taking a handful of sand. “I just—I feel so guilty. He died thinking I was still in love with him, that we were going to stay together and everything was fine. He died with me lying to him.” She let the grains trickle out through her fingers. “I should have told him the truth.”
“Stop punishing yourself.” Bat stood up. He was tall and muscular in his half-zipped anorak, the wind barely moving his short hair. The gathering gray clouds outlined him. Maia could see the rest of the pack, gathered around Rufus, who was gesturing while he talked. “If he hadn’t been dying, then yes, you should have told him the truth. But he died thinking he was loved and forgiven. There are much worse gifts you could give someone than that. What he did to you was terrible, and he knew it. But few people are all good or all bad. Think of it as a gift you gave to the good in him. Wherever Jordan’s going—and I do believe we all go somewhere—think of it as the light that will bring him home.”