City of Heavenly Fire / Page 29

Page 29


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.”
 
He was still staring at her, his eyes fathomless and black. “If you hadn’t thought I was dead,” he said, “if you’d known I lived, would you have looked for me? Would you have kept me?”
 
“I would have,” she said. “I would have tried to raise you, to teach you the right things, to change you. I do blame myself for what you are. I always have.”
 
“You would have raised me?” He blinked, almost sleepily. “You would have raised me, hating me as you did?”
 
She nodded.
 
“Do you think I would have been different, then? More like her?”
 
It took her a moment before she realized. “Clary,” she said. “You mean Clary.” The name of her daughter hurt to say; she missed Clary fiercely, and at the same time was terrified for her. Sebastian loved her, she thought; if he loved anyone, he loved his sister, and if there was anyone who knew how deadly it was to be loved by someone like Sebastian, it was Jocelyn. “We’ll never know,” she said finally. “Valentine took that away from us.”
 
“You should have loved me,” he said, and now he sounded petulant. “I’m your son. You should love me now, no matter what I’m like, whether I’m like her or not—”
 
“Really?” Jocelyn cut him off midbreath. “Do you love me? Just because I’m your mother?”
 
“You’re not my mother,” he said, with a curl of his lip. “Come. Watch this. Let me show you what my real mother has given me the power to do.”
 
He took a stele from his belt. It sent a jolt through Jocelyn—she forgot, sometimes, that he was a Shadowhunter and could use the tools of a Shadowhunter. With the stele he drew on the stone wall of the room. Runes, a design she recognized. Something all Shadowhunters knew how to do. The stone began to turn transparent, and Jocelyn braced herself to see what was beyond the walls.
 
Instead she saw the Consul’s room at the Gard in Alicante. Jia sat behind her enormous desk covered in stacks of files. She looked exhausted, her black hair liberally sprinkled with strands of white. She had a file open on the desk before her. Jocelyn could see grainy photographs of a beach: sand, blue-gray sky.
 
“Jia Penhallow,” Sebastian said.
 
Jia’s head jerked up. She rose to her feet, the file sliding to the floor in a mess of paper. “Who is it? Who’s there?”
 
“You don’t recognize me?” Sebastian said, a smirk in his voice.
 
Jia stared desperately ahead of her. It was obvious that whatever she was looking at, the image wasn’t clear. “Sebastian,” she breathed. “But it hasn’t been two days yet.”
 
Jocelyn pushed past him. “Jia,” she said. “Jia, don’t listen to anything he says. He’s a liar—”
 
“It’s too soon,” Jia said, as if Jocelyn hadn’t spoken, and Jocelyn realized, to her horror, that Jia couldn’t see or hear her. It was as if she weren’t there. “I may not have an answer for you, Sebastian.”
 
“Oh, I think you do,” Sebastian said. “Don’t you?”
 
Jia straightened her shoulders. “If you insist,” she said icily. “The Clave has discussed your request. We will not deliver to you either Jace Lightwood or Clarissa Fairchild—”
 
“Clarissa Morgenstern,” Sebastian said, a muscle in his cheek twitching. “She is my sister.”
 
“I call her by the name she prefers, as I call you,” said Jia. “We will not make a bargain in our blood with you. Not because we think it is more valuable than Downworlder blood. Not because we do not want our prisoners back. But because we cannot condone your tactics of fear.”
 
“As if I sought your approval,” Sebastian sneered. “You do understand what this means? I could send you Luke Garroway’s head on a stick.”
 
Jocelyn felt as if someone had punched her in the stomach. “You could,” Jia said. “But if you harm any of the prisoners, it will be war to the death. And we believe you have as much to fear from a war with us as we do from a war with you.”
 
“You believe incorrectly,” Sebastian said. “And I think, if you look, you will discover that it hardly matters that you’ve decided not to deliver Jace and Clary to me, all neatly wrapped up like an early Christmas present.”
 
“What do you mean?” Jia’s voice sharpened.
 
“Oh, it would have been convenient if you had decided to deliver them,” said Sebastian. “Less trouble for me. Less trouble for all of us. But it’s too late now, you see—they’re already gone.”
 
He twirled his stele, and the window he had opened to the world of Alicante closed on Jia’s astonished face. The wall was a smooth blank canvas of stone once again.
 
“Well,” he said, slipping the stele into his weapons belt. “That was amusing, don’t you think?”
 
Jocelyn swallowed against a dry throat. “If Jace and Clary aren’t in Alicante, where are they? Where are they, Sebastian?”
 
He stared at her for a moment, and then laughed: a laugh as pure and cold as ice water. He was still laughing when he went to the door and walked out of it, letting it lock shut behind him.

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