Stars carved out of granite hung from the ceiling on silver chains. Jocelyn lay on the stone pallet that served as a bed and stared up at them.


She’d already shouted herself hoarse, clawed at the door—thick, made out of oak with steel hinges and bolts—until her hands were bloody, searched her things for a stele, and slammed her fist against the wall so hard she had bruises down her forearm.


Nothing had happened. She’d hardly expected it. If Sebastian was anything like his father—and Jocelyn expected that he was a great deal like his father—then he was nothing if not thorough.


Thorough, and creative. She’d found the pieces of her stele in a heap in one of the corners, shattered and unusable. She still wore the same clothes she’d been wearing at Meliorn’s parody of a dinner party, but her shoes had been taken. Her hair had been shorn to just below her shoulders, the ends ragged, as if it had been cut with a blunt razor.


Small, colorful cruelties that spoke of an awful, patient nature. Like Valentine, Sebastian could wait to get what he wanted, but he would make the waiting hurt.


The door rattled and opened. Jocelyn leaped to her feet, but Sebastian was already in the room, the door shut securely behind him with the snick of a lock. He grinned at her. “Finally awake, Mother?”


“I’ve been awake,” she said. She placed one foot carefully behind the other, giving herself balance and leverage.


He snorted. “Don’t bother,” he said. “I’ve no intention of attacking you.”


She said nothing, just watched him as he paced closer. The light that flooded through the narrow windows was bright enough to reflect off his pale white hair, to illuminate the planes of his face. She could see little of herself there. He was all Valentine. Valentine’s face, his black eyes, the gestures of a dancer or an assassin. Only his frame, tall and slender, was hers.


“Your werewolf is safe,” he said. “For now.”


Jocelyn resolutely ignored the quick skip of her heart. Show nothing on your face. Emotion was weakness—that had been Valentine’s lesson.


“And Clary,” he said. “Clary is also safe. If you care, of course.” He paced around her, a slow, considering circle. “I never could be quite sure. After all, a mother heartless enough to abandon one of her children—”


“You weren’t my child,” she blurted, and then closed her mouth sharply. Don’t give in to him, she thought. Don’t show weakness. Don’t give him what he wants.


“And yet you kept the box,” he said. “You know what box I mean. I left it in the kitchen at Amatis’s for you; a little gift, something to remind you of me. How did you feel when you found it?” He smiled, and there was nothing in his smile of Valentine, either. Valentine had been human; he had been a human monster. Sebastian was something else again. “I know you took it out every year and wept over it,” he said. “Why did you do that?”


She said nothing, and he reached over his shoulder to tap the hilt of the Morgenstern blade, strapped to his back. “I suggest you answer me,” he said. “I would have no compunction about cutting off your fingers, one by one, and using them to fringe a very small rug.”


She swallowed. “I cried over the box because my child was stolen from me.”


“A child you never cared about.”


“That isn’t true,” she said. “Before you were born, I loved you, the idea of you. I loved you when I felt your heartbeat inside me. Then you were born and you were—”


“A monster?”


“Your soul was dead,” she said. “I could see it in your eyes when I looked at you.” She crossed her arms over her chest, repressing the impulse to shiver. “Why am I here?”


His eyes glittered. “You tell me, since you know me so well, Mother.”


“Meliorn drugged us,” she said. “I would guess from his actions that the Fair Folk are your allies. That they have been for some time. That they believe you will win the Shadowhunter war, and they wish to be on the winning side; besides, they have resented Nephilim for longer and more strongly than any other Downworlders. They have helped you attack the Institutes; they have swelled your ranks while you have recruited new Shadowhunters with the Infernal Cup. In the end, when you have grown powerful enough, you will betray and destroy them, for you despise them at heart.” There was a long pause, while she looked at him levelly. “Am I right?”


She saw the pulse jump in his throat as he exhaled, and knew she had been. “When did you guess all that?” he said through his teeth.


“I didn’t guess. I know you. I knew your father, and you are like him, in your nurture if not your nature.”


Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult
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