City of Heavenly Fire / Page 16

Page 16


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 9
 THE ARMS YOU BEAR
 
 
 
Clary woke to the fading afterimage of a rune against her closed eyelids—a rune like wings connected by a single bar. Her whole body hurt, and for a moment she lay still, afraid of the pain that moving would bring. Memories crept back slowly—the icy lava plain in front of the Citadel, Amatis laughing and daring Clary to hurt her, Jace cutting his way through a field of the Endarkened; Jace on the ground bleeding fire, Brother Zachariah lurching back from the blaze.
 
Her eyes flew open. She had half-expected to wake up somewhere entirely foreign, but instead she was lying in the small wooden bed in Amatis’s spare room. Pale sunshine poured through the lace curtains, making patterns on the ceiling.
 
She began to struggle to sit up. Near her someone had been singing softly—her mother. Jocelyn broke off immediately and leaped up to lean over her. She looked as if she had been up all night: She was wearing an old shirt and jeans, and her hair was scraped back into a bun with a pencil stuck through it. A wash of familiarity and relief went through Clary, quickly followed by panic.
 
“Mom,” she said as Jocelyn leaned over her, pressing the back of her hand to Clary’s forehead as if checking for fever. “Jace—”
 
“Jace is fine,” Jocelyn said, taking her hand away. At Clary’s suspicious look Jocelyn shook her head. “He really is. He’s in the Basilias now, along with Brother Zachariah. He’s recovering.”
 
Clary looked at her mother, hard.
 
“Clary, I know I’ve given you reason not to trust me in the past, but please believe me, Jace is perfectly all right. I know you’d never forgive me if I didn’t tell you the truth about him.”
 
“When can I see him?”
 
“Tomorrow.” Jocelyn sat back on the chair beside the bed, revealing Luke, who had been leaning against the wall of the bedroom. He smiled at Clary—a sad, loving, protective smile.
 
“Luke!” she said, relieved to see him. “Tell Mom I’m fine. I can go to the Basilias—”
 
Luke shook his head. “Sorry, Clary. No visitors for Jace right now. Besides, today you have to rest. We heard what you did with that iratze, at the Citadel.”
 
“Or at least, what people saw you do. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand it exactly.” The lines at the corners of Jocelyn’s mouth deepened. “You nearly killed yourself healing Jace, Clary. You’re going to have to be careful. You don’t have endless reserves of energy—”
 
“He was dying,” Clary interrupted. “He was bleeding fire. I had to save him.”
 
“You shouldn’t have had to!” Jocelyn tossed a stray lock of red hair out of her eyes. “What were you doing at that battle?”
 
“They weren’t sending enough people through,” Clary said in a subdued tone. “And everyone was talking about how when they got there, they were going to rescue the Endarkened, they were going to bring them back, find a cure—but I was at the Burren. You were too, Mom. You know there’s no rescuing the Nephilim that Sebastian’s taken with the Infernal Cup.”
 
“Did you see my sister?” Luke said, his voice gentle.
 
Clary swallowed, and nodded. “I’m sorry. She’s—she’s Sebastian’s lieutenant. She’s not herself anymore, not even a little bit.”
 
“Did she hurt you?” Luke demanded. His voice was still calm, but a muscle jumped in his cheek.
 
Clary shook her head; she couldn’t bring herself to speak, to lie, but she couldn’t tell Luke the truth, either.
 
“It’s all right,” he said, misunderstanding her distress. “The Amatis that is serving Sebastian is no more my sister than the Jace who served Sebastian was the boy you loved. No more my sister than Sebastian is the son your mother ought to have had.”
 
Jocelyn put out her hand, took Luke’s, and kissed the back of it lightly. Clary averted her eyes. Her mother turned back to her a moment later. “God, the Clave—if only they would listen.” She blew out a frustrated breath. “Clary, we understand why you did what you did last night, but we thought you were safe. Then Helen showed up on our doorstep and told us you’d been injured in the Citadel battle. I nearly had a heart attack when we found you in the square. Your lips and fingers were blue. Like you’d drowned. If it hadn’t been for Magnus—”
 
“Magnus healed me? What’s he doing here, in Alicante?”
 
“This isn’t about Magnus,” said Jocelyn with asperity. “This is about you. Jia’s been beside herself, thinking she let you go through the Portal and you could have been killed. It was a call for experienced Shadowhunters, not children—”
 
“It was Sebastian,” Clary said. “They didn’t understand.”
 
“Sebastian’s not your responsibility. Speaking of which—” Jocelyn reached under the bed; when she straightened, she was holding Heosphoros. “Is this yours? It was in your weapons belt when they brought you home.”
 
“Yes!” Clary clapped her hands together. “I thought I’d lost it.”
 
“It’s a Morgenstern sword, Clary,” her mother said, holding it as if it were a piece of moldy lettuce. “One I sold years ago. Where did you get it?”
 
“The weapons shop where you sold it. The lady who owns the store now said no one else would buy it.” Clary snatched Heosphoros out of her mother’s hand. “Look, I am a Morgenstern. We can’t pretend I don’t have any of Valentine’s blood in me. I need to figure out a way to be partly a Morgenstern and to have that be all right, not to pretend I’m someone else—someone with a made-up name that doesn’t mean anything.”
 
Jocelyn recoiled slightly. “Do you mean ‘Fray’?”
 
“It’s not exactly a Shadowhunter name, is it?”
 
“No,” her mother said, “not exactly, but it doesn’t mean nothing.”
 
“I thought you picked it randomly.”
 
Jocelyn shook her head. “You know the ceremony that must be performed on Nephilim children when they’re born? The one that confers the protection that Jace lost when he came back from the dead, the one that allowed Lilith to get to him? Usually the ceremony is performed by an Iron Sister and a Silent Brother, but in your case, because we were hiding, I couldn’t officially do that. It was done by Brother Zachariah, and a female warlock stood in as the Iron Sister. I named you—after her.”
 
“Fray? Her last name was ‘Fray’?”
 
“The name was an impulse,” said Jocelyn, not quite answering the question. “I—liked her. She had known loss and pain and grief, but she was strong, like I want you to be strong. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. For you to be strong and safe and not have to suffer what I suffered—the terror and the pain and the danger.”
 
“Brother Zachariah—” Clary suddenly bolted upright. “He was there last night. He tried to heal Jace, but the heavenly fire burned him. Is he all right? He isn’t dead, is he?”
 
“I don’t know.” Jocelyn looked a little bewildered at Clary’s vehemence. “I know he was taken to the Basilias. The Silent Brothers have been very secretive about everyone’s condition; they certainly wouldn’t speak about one of their own.”
 
“He said the Brothers owed the Herondales because of old ties,” said Clary. “If he dies, it will be—”
 
“No one’s fault,” Jocelyn said. “I remember when he put the protection spell on you. I told him I never wanted you to have anything to do with Shadowhunters. He said it might not be my choice. He said that the pull of the Shadowhunters is like a riptide—and he was right. I thought we had fought free, but here we are, back in Alicante, back in a war, and there sits my daughter with blood on her face and a Morgenstern blade in her hands.”
 
There was an undertone to her voice, shadowed and tense, that made Clary’s nerves spark. “Mom,” she said. “Did something else happen? Is there something you’re not telling me?”
 
Jocelyn exchanged a look with Luke. He spoke first: “You already know that yesterday morning, before the battle at the Citadel, Sebastian tried to attack the London Institute.”
 
“But no one was hurt. Robert said—”
 
“So Sebastian turned his attention elsewhere,” Luke went on firmly. “He left London with his forces and attacked the Praetor Lupus on Long Island. Almost all the Praetorians, including their leader, were slaughtered. Jordan Kyle—” His voice cracked. “Jordan was killed.”
 
Clary wasn’t aware that she had moved, but suddenly she was no longer under the covers. She had swung her legs over the side of the bed and was reaching for the scabbard of Heosphoros on the nightstand. “Clary,” her mother said, reaching to place her long fingers on Clary’s wrist, restraining her. “Clary, it’s over. There’s nothing you can do.”
 
Clary could taste tears, hot and salty, burning the back of her throat, and under the tears the rougher, darker taste of panic. “What about Maia?” she demanded. “If Jordan’s hurt, is Maia all right? And Simon? Jordan was his guard! Is Simon all right?”
 
“I’m fine. Don’t worry, I’m fine,” said Simon’s voice. The bedroom door opened, and to Clary’s utter astonishment Simon came in, looking surprisingly shy. She dropped Heosphoros’s scabbard onto the coverlet and launched herself to her feet, barreling into Simon so hard that she banged her head into his collarbone. She didn’t notice if it hurt or not. She was too busy holding on to Simon as if they’d both just fallen out of a helicopter and were hurtling downward. She was grabbing fistfuls of his creased green sweater, mashing her face awkwardly into his shoulder as she fought not to cry.
 
He held her, soothing her with awkward boy-pats to her back and shoulders. When she finally let him go and stepped back, she saw that the sweater and jeans he was wearing were both a size too big for him. A metal chain hung around his throat.
 
“What are you doing here?” she demanded. “Whose clothes are you wearing?”
 
“It’s a long story, and Alec’s, mostly,” Simon said. His words were casual, but he looked strained and tense. “You should have seen what I had on before. Nice pajamas, by the way.”
 
Clary looked down at herself. She was wearing a pair of flannel pajamas, too short in the leg and tight in the chest, with fire trucks on them.
 
Luke raised an eyebrow. “I think those were mine when I was a kid.”
 
“You can’t seriously tell me there wasn’t anything else you could have put me in.”
 
“If you insist on trying to get yourself killed, I insist on being the one who chooses what you wear while you recover,” Jocelyn said with a tiny smirk.
 
“The pajamas of vengeance,” Clary muttered. She grabbed up jeans and a shirt from the floor and looked at Simon. “I’m going to change. And by the time I get back, you better be ready to tell me something about how you’re here besides ‘long story.’ ”
 
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.”

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