City of Heavenly Fire / Page 46

Page 46


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Emma pulled Cortana free of the body of the dead faerie warrior, heedless of the blood that slicked her hands. Her only thought was to get to Julian—she had seen the terrible look on his face as he’d slid to the ground, and if Julian was broken, then the whole world was broken and nothing would be right again.
 
The crowd was spinning around her; she barely saw them as she pushed through the melee toward the Blackthorns. Dru was huddled against the pillar beside Jules, her body curled protectively around Tavvy; Livia was still holding Ty by the wrist, but now she was staring past him, her mouth open. And Jules—Jules was still slumped against the pillar, but he had begun to raise his head, and as Emma realized that he was staring, she turned to see what he was looking at.
 
All around the room the Endarkened had begun to crumple. They fell like toppling chess pieces, silent and without crying out. They fell locked in battle with Nephilim, and their faerie brethren turned to stare as one by one the Endarkened warriors’ bodies dropped to the floor.
 
A harsh shout of victory rose from a few Shadowhunter throats, but Emma barely heard it. She stumbled toward Julian and went down on her knees beside him; he looked at her, his blue-green eyes wretched. “Em,” he said hoarsely. “I thought that faerie was going to kill you. I thought—”
 
“I’m fine,” she whispered. “Are you?”
 
He shook his head. “I killed him,” he said. “I killed my father.”
 
“That wasn’t your father.” Her throat was too dry to speak anymore; instead she reached out and drew on the back of his hand. Not a word, but a sigil: the rune for bravery, and after it, a lopsided heart.
 
He shook his head as if to say, No, no, I don’t deserve that, but she drew it again, and then leaned into him, even covered in blood as she was, and put her head on his shoulder.
 
The faeries were fleeing the Hall, abandoning their weapons as they went. More and more Nephilim were flooding into the Hall from the square outside. Emma saw Helen heading toward them, Aline beside her, and for the first time since they had left the Penhallows’, Emma let herself believe that they might survive.
 
   
 
 
 
“They’re dead,” Clary said, looking around the room in wonder at the remains of Sebastian’s army. “They’re all dead.”
 
Jonathan gave a half-choking laugh. “‘Some good I mean to do, despite of my own nature,’” he murmured, and Clary recognized the quote from English class. King Lear. The most tragic of all the tragedies. “That was something. The Dark Ones are gone.”
 
Clary leaned over him, urgency in her voice. “Jonathan,” she said. “Please. Tell us how to open the border. How to go home. There must be some way.”
 
“There’s—there’s no way,” Jonathan whispered. “I shattered the gateway. The path to the Seelie Court is closed; all paths are. It’s—it’s impossible.” His chest heaved. “I’m sorry.”
 
Clary said nothing. She could taste only bitterness in her mouth. She had risked herself, had saved the world, but everyone she loved would die. For a moment her heart swelled with hatred.
 
“Good,” Jonathan said, his eyes on her face. “Hate me. Rejoice when I die. The last thing I would want now would be to bring you more grief.”
 
Clary looked at her mother; Jocelyn was still and upright, her tears falling silently. Clary took a deep breath. She remembered a square in Paris, facing Sebastian across a small table, him saying: Do you think you can forgive me? I mean, do you think forgiveness is possible for someone like me? What would have happened if Valentine had brought you up along with me? Would you have loved me?
 
“I don’t hate you,” she said finally. “I hate Sebastian. I don’t know you.”
 
Jonathan’s eyes fluttered closed. “I dreamed of a green place once,” he whispered. “A manor house and a little girl with red hair, and preparations for a wedding. If there are other worlds, then maybe there is one where I was a good brother and a good son.”
 
Maybe, Clary thought, and ached for that world for a moment, for her mother, and for herself. She was aware of Luke standing by the dais, watching them; aware that there were tears on Luke’s face. Jace, the Lightwoods, and Magnus were standing well back, and Alec had his hand in Isabelle’s. All around them lay the dead bodies of Endarkened warriors.
 
“I didn’t think you could dream,” said Clary, and she took a deep breath. “Valentine filled your veins with poison, and then he raised you to hate; you never had a choice. But the sword burned away all that. Maybe this is who you really are.”
 
He took a ragged, impossible breath. “That would be a beautiful lie to believe,” he said, and, incredibly, the ghost of a smile, bitter and sweet, passed over his face. “The fire of Glorious burned away the demon’s blood. All my life it has scorched my veins and cut at my heart like blades, and weighed me down like lead—all my life, and I never knew it. I never knew the difference. I’ve never felt so . . . light,” he said softly, and then he smiled, and closed his eyes, and died.
 
   
 
 
 
Clary rose slowly to her feet. She looked down. Her mother was kneeling, holding Jonathan’s body sprawled across her lap.
 
“Mom,” Clary whispered, but Jocelyn didn’t look up. A moment later someone brushed by Clary: It was Luke. He gave her hand a squeeze, and then knelt down by Jocelyn, his hand gentle on her shoulder.
 
Clary turned away; she couldn’t bear it anymore. The sadness felt like a crushing weight. She heard Jonathan’s voice in her head as she descended the stairs: I’ve never felt so light.
 
She moved forward through the corpses and ichor on the floor, numb and heavy with the knowledge of her failure. After everything she had done, there was still no way to save them. They were waiting for her: Jace and Simon and Isabelle, and Alec and Magnus. Magnus looked ill and pale and very, very tired.
 
“Sebastian’s dead,” she said, and they all looked at her, with their tired, dirty faces, as if they were too exhausted and drained to feel anything at the news, even relief. Jace stepped forward and took her hands, lifted them and kissed them quickly; she closed her eyes, feeling as if just a fraction of warmth and light had been returned to her.
 
“Warrior hands,” he said quietly, and let her go. She stared down at her fingers, trying to see what he saw. Her hands were just her hands, small and callused, stained with dirt and blood.
 
“Jace was telling us,” said Simon. “What you did, with the Morgenstern sword. That you were faking Sebastian out the whole time.”
 
“Not there at the end,” she said. “Not when he turned back into Jonathan.”
 
“I wish you’d told us,” Isabelle said. “About your plan.”
 
“I’m sorry,” Clary whispered. “I was afraid it wouldn’t work. That you’d just be disappointed. I thought it was better—not to hope too much.”
 
“Hope is all that keeps us going sometimes, biscuit,” said Magnus, though he didn’t sound resentful.
 
“I needed him to believe it,” Clary said. “So I needed you to believe it too. He had to see your reactions and think he’d won.”
 
“Jace knew,” Alec said, looking up at her; he didn’t sound angry either, just dazed.
 
“And I never looked at her from the time she got up onto the throne to the time she stabbed that bastard in the heart,” Jace said. “I couldn’t. Handing over that bracelet to him, I—” He broke off. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called him a bastard. Sebastian was, but Jonathan isn’t, wasn’t, the same person—and your mother—”
 
“It is like she lost a child twice,” said Magnus. “I can think of few worse things.”
 
“How about being trapped in a demon realm with no way to get out?” Isabelle said. “Clary, we need to get back to Idris. I hate to ask, but did Seb—did Jonathan say anything about how to unseal the borders?”
 
Clary swallowed. “He said it wasn’t possible. That they’re closed forever.”
 
“So we’re trapped here,” Isabelle said, her dark eyes shocked. “Forever? That can’t be. There must be a spell—Magnus—”
 
“He wasn’t lying,” Magnus said. “There’s no way for us to reopen the paths from here to Idris.”
 
There was an awful silence. Then Alec, whose gaze had been resting on Magnus, said, “No way for us?”
 
“That’s what I said,” Magnus replied. “There’s no way to open the borders.”
 
“No,” said Alec, and there was a dangerous note in his voice. “You said there was no way for us to do it, meaning there might be someone who could.”
 
Magnus drew away from Alec and looked around at them all. His expression was unguarded, stripped of its usual distance, and he looked both very young and very, very old. His face was a young man’s face, but his eyes had seen centuries pass, and never had Clary been more aware of it. “There are worse things than death,” Magnus said.
 
“Maybe you should let us be the judge of that,” said Alec, and Magnus scrubbed a despairing hand across his face and said, “Dear God. Alexander, I have gone my whole life without ever taking recourse to this path, save once, when I learned my lesson. It is not a lesson I want the rest of you to learn.”
 
“But you’re alive,” said Clary. “You lived through the lesson.”
 
Magnus smiled an awful smile. “It wouldn’t be much of a lesson if I hadn’t,” he said. “But I was duly warned. Playing dice with my own life is one thing; playing with all of yours—”
 
“We’ll die here anyway,” said Jace. “It’s a rigged game. Let us take our chances.”
 
“I agree,” Isabelle said, and the others chimed in their agreement as well. Magnus looked toward the dais, where Luke and Jocelyn still knelt, and sighed.
 
“Majority vote,” he said. “Did you know there’s an old Downworlder saying about mad dogs and Nephilim never heeding a warning?”
 
“Magnus—” Alec began, but Magnus only shook his head and drew himself weakly to his feet. He still wore the rags of the clothes he must have put on for that long-ago dinner at the Fair Folk’s refuge in Idris: the incongruous shreds of a suit jacket and tie. Rings sparkled on his fingers as he brought his hands together, as if in prayer, and closed his eyes.
 
“My father,” he said, and Clary heard Alec suck in his breath with a gasp. “My father, who art in Hell, unhallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in Edom as it is in Hell. Forgive not my sins, for in that fire of fires there shall be neither loving kindness, nor compassion, nor redemption. My father, who makes war in high places and low, come to me now; I call you as your son, and incur upon myself the responsibility of your summoning.”
 
Magnus opened his eyes. He was expressionless. Five shocked faces looked back at him.
 
“By the Angel—” Alec started.
 
“No,” said a voice just beyond their huddled group. “Definitely not by your Angel.”
 
Clary stared. At first she saw nothing, just a shifting patch of shadow, and then a figure evolved out of the darkness. A tall man, as pale as bone, in a pure white suit; silver cuff links gleamed at his wrists, carved in the shape of flies. His face was a human face, pale skin pulled tight over bone, cheekbones sharp as blades. He didn’t have hair so much as a sparkling coronet of barbed wires.
 
His eyes were gold-green, and slit-pupilled like a cat’s.
 
“Father,” said Magnus, and the word was an exhalation of sorrow. “You came.”
 
The man smiled. His front teeth were sharp, pointed like feline teeth. “My son,” he said. “It has been a long time since you called on me. I was beginning to despair that you ever would again.”
 
“I hadn’t planned to,” Magnus said dryly. “I called on you once, to determine that you were my father. That once was enough.”
 
“You wound me,” said the man, and he turned his pointed-tooth smile on the others. “I am Asmodeus,” he said. “One of the Nine Princes of Hell. You may know my name.”
 
Alec made a short sound, quickly muffled.
 
“I was a seraphim once, one of the angels indeed,” continued Asmodeus, looking pleased with himself. “Part of an innumerable company. Then came the war, and we fell like stars from Heaven. I followed the Light-Bringer down, the Morning Star, for I was one of his chief advisers, and when he fell, I fell with him. He raised me up in Hell and made me one of the nine rulers. In case you were wondering, it is preferable to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven—I’ve done both.”
 
“You’re—Magnus’s father?” said Alec in a strangled voice. He turned to Magnus. “When you held the witchlight in the subway tunnel, it flared up in colors—is that because of him?” He pointed at Asmodeus.
 
“Yes,” Magnus said. He looked very tired. “I warned you, Alexander, that this was something you would not like.”
 
“I don’t see what the fuss is about. I have been the father of many warlocks,” said Asmodeus. “Magnus has made me the most proud.”
 
“Who are the others?” Isabelle asked, her dark eyes suspicious.
 
“What he’s not saying is that they’re mostly dead,” Magnus said. He met his father’s eyes briefly and then looked away, as if he couldn’t stand prolonged eye contact. His thin, sensitive mouth was set in a hard line. “He’s also not telling you that all princes of Hell have a realm they rule; this is his.”
 
“Since this place—Edom—is your realm,” Jace said, “then you’re responsible for—for what happened here?”
 
“It is my realm, though I am rarely here,” said Asmodeus with a martyred sigh. “Used to be an exciting place. The Nephilim of this realm put up quite the fight. When they invented the skeptron, I rather thought they might win out at the last moment, but the Jonathan Shadowhunter of this world was a divider, not a uniter, and in the end they destroyed themselves. Everyone does, you know. We demons get the blame, but we only open the door. It is humanity who steps through it.”
 
“Don’t excuse yourself,” Magnus snapped. “You as much as murdered my mother—”
 
“She was a willing little piece, I assure you,” said Asmodeus, and Magnus flushed red across his cheekbones. Clary felt a dull pang of shock that it was actually possible to do that to Magnus, to hurt him with barbs about his family. It had been so long, and he was so collected.
 
But then, perhaps your parents could always hurt you, no matter how old you were.
 
“Let’s cut to the business part of this,” said Magnus. “You can open a door, correct? Send us through to Idris, back to our world?”
 
“Would you like a demonstration?” Asmodeus asked, flicking his fingers toward the dais, where Luke was on his feet, looking toward them. Jocelyn seemed about to rise, too. Clary could see the expression of concern on both their faces—just before they winked out of existence. There was a shimmer of air and they both vanished, taking Jonathan’s body with them. Just as they vanished, for a moment, Clary glimpsed the inside of the Accords Hall, the mermaid fountain and the marble floor, and then it was gone, like a tear in the universe sewing itself back up again.
 
A cry broke from Clary’s throat. “Mom!”
 
“I sent them back to your world,” said Asmodeus. “Now you know.” He examined his nails.
 
Clary was panting, half with panic, half with rage. “How dare you—”
 
“Well, it’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” said Asmodeus. “There, you got the first two for free. The rest, well, it’ll cost you.” He sighed at the looks on the faces around him. “I’m a demon,” he said pointedly. “Really, what do they teach Nephilim these days?”
 
“I know what you want,” Magnus said in a strained voice. “And you can have it. But you must swear on the Morning Star to send all my friends back to Idris, all of them, and never to bother them again. They will owe you nothing.”
 
Alec stepped forward. “Stop,” he said. “No—Magnus, what do you mean, what he wants? Why are you talking like you’re not coming back to Idris with us?”
 
“There is a time,” said Asmodeus, “when we must all return to live in the houses of our fathers. Now is Magnus’s time.”
 
“‘In my father’s house are many mansions,’” Jace whispered; he looked very pale, and as if he might throw up. “Magnus. He can’t mean—he doesn’t want to take you back with him? Back to—”
 
“To Hell? Not precisely,” Asmodeus said. “As Magnus said, Edom is my realm. I shared it with Lilith. Then her brat took it over and laid waste to the grounds, destroyed my keep—it’s in slivers out there. And you murdered half the populace with the skeptron.” The last was addressed to Jace, rather petulantly. “It takes great energy to fuel a realm. We draw from the power of what we have left behind, the great city of Pandemonium, the fire we fell into, but there is a time when life must fuel us. And immortal life is the best of all.”
 
The numb heaviness weighing Clary’s limbs vanished as she snapped to attention, moving in front of Magnus. She nearly collided with the others. They had all moved just as she had, to block the warlock from his demon father, even Simon. “You want to take his life?” Clary asked. “That’s just cruel and stupid, even if you’re a demon. How could you want to kill your own child—”
 
Asmodeus laughed. “Delightful,” he said. “Look at them, Magnus, these children who love you and want to protect you! Who would ever have thought it! When you are buried, I will make sure they inscribe it on your tomb: Magnus Bane, beloved of Nephilim.”
 
“You won’t touch him,” Alec said, his voice like iron. “Maybe you’ve forgotten what it is we do, us Nephilim, but we kill demons. Even princes of Hell.”
 
“Oh, I know well what you do; my kinsman Abbadon you slew, and our princess Lilith you scattered to the winds of the void, though she will return. She always has a place in Edom. That is why I allowed her son to set himself up here, though I admit I did not realize what a mess he’d make.” Asmodeus rolled his eyes; Clary suppressed a shudder. Around the gold-green pupils the sclerae of his eyes were as black as oil. “I do not plan to kill Magnus. That would be messy and silly, and besides I could have had his death arranged at any time. It is his life freely given I want, for the life of an immortal has power, great power, and it will help me fuel my kingdom.”
 
“But he’s your son,” Isabelle protested.
 
“And he will remain with me,” said Asmodeus with a grin. “In spirit, you might say.”
 
Alec whirled on Magnus, who stood with his hands in his pockets, scowling. “He wants to take your immortality?”
 
“Exactly,” Magnus said.
 
“But—you’d survive? Just not be immortal anymore?” Alec looked wretched, and Clary couldn’t help feeling awful for him. After the reason Alec and Magnus had broken up, Alec certainly didn’t want or need to be reminded that he had once wanted Magnus’s immortality taken away.
 
“My immortality would be gone,” Magnus said. “All the years of my life would come on me at once. I would be unlikely to survive it. Almost four hundred years is quite a lot to take, even if you moisturize regularly.”
 
“You can’t,” Alec said, and there was a plea in his voice. “He said ‘a life given willingly.’ Say no.”
 
Magnus raised his head and looked up and over at Alec; it was a look that made Clary flush and glance away. There was so much love in it, mixed with exasperation and pride and despair. It was an unguarded look, and it felt wrong to see it. “I can’t say no, Alexander,” he said. “If I do, we all remain here; we’ll die anyway. We’ll starve, our ashes turned to dust to plague the demons of the realm.”
 
“Fine,” Alec said. “There isn’t any one of us who would give up your life to save ours.”
 
Magnus glanced around at the faces of his companions, dirty and exhausted and brutalized and despairing, and Clary saw the look on Magnus’s face change as he realized that Alec was right. None of them would give up his life to save theirs, even all of theirs.
 
“I’ve lived a long time,” Magnus said. “So many years, and no, it doesn’t feel like enough. I won’t lie and say it does. I want to live on—partly because of you, Alec. I have never wanted to live so much as I have these past few months, with you.”
 
Alec looked stricken. “We’ll die together,” he said. “Let me stay at least, with you.”
 
“You have to go back. You have to go back to the world.”
 
“I don’t want the world. I want you,” Alec said, and Magnus closed his eyes, as if the words almost hurt. Asmodeus watched as they spoke, avidly, almost hungrily, and Clary remembered that demons fed on human emotions—fear and joy and love and pain. Most of all, pain.
 
“You can’t stay with me,” Magnus said after a pause. “There will be no me; the demon will take my life force, and my body will crumble away. Four hundred years, remember.”
 
“ ‘The demon,’ ” Asmodeus said, and sniffed. “You could say my name, at least, while you’re boring me.”
 
Clary resolved then and there that she might hate Asmodeus more than any other demon she had ever met.
 
“Get on with it, my boy,” Asmodeus added. “I haven’t got all eternity to wait—and neither have you, anymore.”
 
“I have to save you, Alec,” Magnus said. “You and everyone you love; it’s a small price to pay, isn’t it, in the end, for all of that?”
 
“Not everyone I love,” Alec whispered, and Clary felt tears pressing behind her eyes. She had tried, tried so hard, to be the one who paid the price. It was not fair that Magnus should pay it; Magnus, who had the least part in the story of Nephilim and angels and demons and vengeance, compared to any of the rest of them; Magnus, who was only a part of it all because he loved Alec. “No,” Alec said. Through her tears Clary could see them clinging to each other; there was tenderness even in the curve of Magnus’s fingers around Alec’s shoulder as he bent to kiss him. It was a kiss of desperation and clutching more than passion; Magnus held on tightly enough for his fingers to bite into Alec’s arms, but in the end he stepped away, and turned toward his father.
 
“All right,” Magnus said, and Clary could tell he was bracing himself, nerving himself up as if he were about to throw his body onto a pyre. “All right, take me. I give you my life. I am—”
 
Simon—Simon, who had been silent till that moment; Simon, who Clary had almost forgotten was there—stepped forward. “I am willing.”
 
Asmodeus’s eyebrows shot up. “What was that?”
 
Isabelle seemed to catch on before anyone else. She paled and said, “No, Simon, no!” but Simon went on, his back straight, his chin lifted.
 
“I also have an immortal life,” he said. “Magnus isn’t the only one. Take mine; take my immortality.”
 
“Ahhhh,” breathed Asmodeus, his eyes suddenly shining. “Azazel told me of you. A vampire is not interesting, but a Daylighter! You carry the power of the world’s sun in your veins. Sunlight and eternal life, that is a power indeed.”
 
“Yes,” Simon said. “If you’ll take my immortality instead of Magnus’s, then I give it to you. I am—”
 
“Simon!” Clary said, but it was already too late.
 
“I am willing,” he finished, and with a glance around at the rest of the group, he set his jaw, with a look that said, I’ve said it. It’s done.
 
“God, Simon, no,” said Magnus, in a voice of terrible sadness, and he closed his eyes.
 
“I’m only seventeen,” Simon said. “If he takes my immortality, I’ll live out my life—I won’t die here. I never wanted immortality, I never wanted to be a vampire, I never wanted any of it.”
 
“You won’t live out your life!” There were tears in Isabelle’s eyes. “If Asmodeus takes your immortality, then you’ll be a corpse, Simon. You’re undead.”
 
Asmodeus made a rude noise. “You’re a very stupid girl,” he said. “I am a Prince of Hell. I can break down the walls between worlds. I can build worlds and destroy them. You think I can’t reverse the transformation that Turns a human to a vampire? You think I can’t make his heart beat again? Child’s play.”
 
“But why would you do that?” Clary said, bewildered. “Why would you make it so that he lived? You’re a demon. You don’t care—”
 
“I don’t care. But I want,” said Asmodeus. “There is one more thing I want from you. One more item to sweeten the deal.” He grinned, and his teeth glimmered like sharp crystals.
 
“What?” Magnus’s voice shook. “What is it you want?”
 
“His memories,” said Asmodeus.
 
“Azazel took a memory from each of us, as payment for a favor,” Alec said. “What is it with you demons and memories?”
 
“Human memories, freely given, are like food to us,” said Asmodeus. “Demons live on the cries and agony of the damned in torment. Imagine then, how nice a change of pace a feast of happy memories is. Mixed together, they are delicious, the sour and the sweet.” He looked around, his cat’s eyes glittering. “And I can already tell there will be many happy memories to take, little vampire, for you are much loved, are you not?”
 
Simon looked strained. He said, “But if you take my memories, who will I be? I don’t—”
 
“Well,” said Asmodeus. “I could take every memory you have and leave you a drooling idiot, I suppose, but really, who wants the memories of a baby? Dull, dull. The question is, what would be the most fun? Memories are delicious, but so is pain. What would cause the most pain to your friends, here? What would remind them to fear the power and the wit of demons?” He clasped his hands behind his back. Each of the buttons of his white suit was carved in the shape of a fly.
 
“I promised my immortality,” Simon said. “Not my memories. You said ‘freely given’—”
 
“God in Hell, the banality,” said Asmodeus, and he moved, as swift as a lick of flame, to seize Simon by the forearm. Isabelle darted forward, as if to catch hold of Simon, and then flinched back with a gasp. A red welt had appeared across her cheek. She put her hand to it, looking shocked.
 
“Leave her alone,” Simon snapped, and wrenched his arm out of the demon’s grip.
 
“Downworlder,” the demon breathed, and touched his long, spidery fingers to Simon’s cheek. “You must have had a heart that beat so strong in you, when it still beat.”
 
“Let him go,” Jace said, drawing his sword. “He is ours, not yours; the Nephilim protect what belongs to us—”
 
“No!” Simon said. He was shivering all over, but his back was straight. “Jace, don’t. This is the only way.”
 
“Indeed it is,” said Asmodeus. “For none of you can fight a Prince of Hell in his place of power; not even you, Jace Herondale, child of angels, or you, Clarissa Fairchild, with your tricks and runes.” He moved his fingers, slightly; Jace’s sword clattered to the ground, and Jace jerked his hand back, grimacing in pain as if he’d been burned. Asmodeus spared him only a glance before raising his hand again.
 
“There is the gateway. Look.” He gestured toward the wall, which shimmered and came clear. Through it Clary could see the hazy outlines of the Hall of Accords. There were the bodies of the Endarkened, lying on the ground in heaps of scarlet, and there were the Shadowhunters, running, stumbling, hugging, embracing one another—victory after the battle.
 
And there were her mother and Luke, looking around in bewilderment. They were still in the same position they had been in on the dais: Luke standing, Jocelyn kneeling with her son’s body in her arms. Other Shadowhunters were only just beginning to glance toward them, surprised, as if they had appeared out of nowhere—which they had.
 
“There is everything you want,” said Asmodeus, as the gateway flickered and went dark. “And in return I shall take the Daylighter’s immortality, and along with it, his memories of the Shadow World—all his memories of all of you, of all he has learned, of all he has been. That is my desire.”
 
Simon’s eyes widened; Clary felt her heart give a terrible lurch. Magnus looked as if someone had stabbed him. “There it is,” he whispered. “The trick at the heart of the game. There always is one, with demons.”
 
Isabelle looked incredulous. “Are you saying you want him to forget us?”
 
“Everything about you, and that he ever knew you,” said Asmodeus. “I offer you this in exchange. He will live. He will have the life of an ordinary mundane. He will have his family back; his mother, his sister. Friends, school, all the trappings of a normal human life.”
 
Clary looked at Simon desperately. He was shaking, clenching and unclenching his hands. He said nothing.
 
“Absolutely not,” said Jace.
 
“Fine. Then you’ll all die here. You really don’t have much leverage, little Shadowhunter. What are memories when weighed against such a great cost of life?”
 
“You’re talking about who Simon is,” said Clary. “You’re talking about taking him away from us forever.”
 
“Yes. Isn’t it delightful?” Asmodeus smiled.
 
“This is ridiculous,” said Isabelle. “Say you do take his memories. What’s to stop us from tracking him down and telling him about the Shadow World? Introducing him to magic? We did it before, we can do it again.”
 
“Before, he knew you, knew and trusted Clary,” said Asmodeus. “Now he will know none of you. You will all be strangers to him, and why should he listen to mad strangers? Besides, you know Covenant Law as well as I do. You will be breaking it, telling him about the Shadow World for no reason at all, endangering his life. There were special circumstances before. Now there will not be. The Clave will strip all your runes if you try it.”
 
“Speaking of the Clave,” said Jace. “They’re not going to be too pleased if you toss a mundane back out into a life where everyone he knows thinks he’s a vampire. All Simon’s friends know! His family knows! His sister, his mother. They’ll tell him, even if we don’t.”
 
“I see.” Asmodeus looked displeased. “That does complicate things. Perhaps I should take Magnus’s immortality after all—”
 
“No,” Simon said. He looked shocked, sick on his feet, but his voice was determined. Asmodeus looked at him with covetous eyes.
 
“Simon, shut up,” Magnus said desperately. “Take me instead, Father—”
 
“I want the Daylighter,” said Asmodeus. “Magnus, Magnus. You’ve never quite understood what it is to be a demon, have you? To feed on pain? But what is pain? Physical torment, that’s so dull; any garden-variety demon can do that. To be an artist of pain, to create agony, to blacken the soul, to turn pure motives to filth, and love to lust and then to hate, to turn a source of joy to a source of torture, that is what we exist for!” His voice rang out. “I shall go forth into the mundane world. I will strip the memories of those close to the Daylighter. They will remember him only as mortal. They will not remember Clary at all.”
 
“No!” Clary shouted, and Asmodeus threw his head back and laughed, a dazzling laugh that made her remember that once he had been an angel.
 
“You can’t take our memories,” said Isabelle furiously. “We’re Nephilim. It would be tantamount to an attack. The Clave—”
 
“Your memories you may keep,” said Asmodeus. “Nothing about your remembering Simon will get me in trouble with the Clave, and besides, it will torment you, which only doubles my pleasure.” He grinned. “I shall rip a hole through the heart of your world, and when you feel it, you will think on me and remember me. Remember!” Asmodeus pulled Simon close, his hand sliding up to press against Simon’s chest, as if he could reach through his rib cage into his heart. “We begin here. Are you ready, Daylighter?”
 
“Stop!” Isabelle stepped forward, her whip in hand, her eyes burning. “We know your name, demon. Do you think I am afraid to slay even a Prince of Hell? I would hang your head on my wall like a trophy, and if you dare touch Simon, I will hunt you down. I will spend my life hunting you—”
 
Alec wrapped his arms around his sister, and held her tightly. “Isabelle,” he said quietly. “No.”
 
“What do you mean, no?” Clary demanded. “We can’t let this happen—Jace—”
 
“This is Simon’s choice.” Jace stood stock-still; he was ashy pale but unmoving. His eyes were locked on Simon’s. “We have to honor it.”
 
Simon looked back at Jace, and inclined his head. His gaze was moving slowly over all of them, flicking from Magnus to Alec, to Jace, to Isabelle, where it stopped and rested, and was so full of broken possibilities that Clary felt her own heart break.
 
And then his gaze moved to Clary, and she felt the rest of her shatter. There was so much in his expression, so many years of so much love, so many whispered secrets and promises and shared dreams. She saw him reach down, and then something bright arced through the air toward her. She reached up and caught it, reflexively. It was the golden ring Clary had given him. Her hand tightened around it, feeling the bite of metal against her palm, welcoming the pain.
 
“Enough,” said Asmodeus. “I hate good-byes.” And he tightened his grip on Simon. Simon gasped, his eyes flying wide open; his hand went to his chest.
 
“My heart—” he gasped, and Clary knew, knew from the look on his face, that it had started beating again. She blinked against her tears as a white mist exploded up around them. She heard Simon cry out in pain; her own feet moved without volition and she ran forward, only to be hurled back as if she had struck an invisible wall. Someone caught her—Jace, she thought. There were arms around her, even as the mist circled Simon and the demon like a small tornado, half-blocking them from view.
 
Shapes began to appear in the mist as it thickened. Clary saw herself and Simon as children, holding hands, crossing a street in Brooklyn; she had barrettes in her hair and Simon was adorably rumpled, his glasses sliding off his nose. There they were again, throwing snowballs in Prospect Park; and at Luke’s farmhouse, tanned from summer, hanging upside down from tree branches. She saw them in Java Jones, listening to Eric’s terrible poetry, and on the back of a flying motorcycle as it crashed into a parking lot, with Jace there, looking at them, his eyes squinted against the sun. And there was Simon with Isabelle, his hands curved around her face, kissing her, and she could see Isabelle as Simon saw her: fragile and strong, and so, so beautiful. And there was Valentine’s ship, Simon kneeling on Jace, blood on his mouth and shirt, and blood at Jace’s throat, and there was the cell in Idris, and Hodge’s weathered face, and Simon and Clary again, Clary etching the Mark of Cain onto his forehead. Maureen, and her blood on the floor, and her little pink hat, and the rooftop in Manhattan where Lilith had raised Sebastian, and Clary was passing him a gold ring across a table, and an Angel was rising out of a lake before him, and he was kissing Isabelle . . .
 
All Simon’s memories, his memories of magic, his memories of all of them, being drawn out and spun into a skein. It shimmered, as white-gold as daylight. There was a sound all around them, like a gathering storm, but Clary barely heard it. She reached her hands out, beseeching, though she didn’t know who she was begging. “Please—”
 
She felt Jace’s arms tighten around her, and then the edge of the storm caught her. She was lifted up, whirled away. She saw the stone room recede into the distance at a terrible speed, and the storm took her cries for Simon and turned them into a sound like the ragged tearing of wind. Jace’s hands were torn from her shoulders. She was alone in the chaos, and for a moment she thought Asmodeus had lied to them after all, that there was no gateway, and that they would float in this nothingness forever until they died.
 
And then the ground came up, fast. She saw the floor of the Accords Hall, hard marble veined with gold, before she hit it. The collision was hard, rattling her teeth; she rolled automatically, as she’d been taught, and came to a stop at the side of the mermaid fountain in the center of the room.
 
She sat up and looked around. The room was full of utterly silent, staring faces, but they didn’t matter. She wasn’t looking for strangers. She saw Jace first; he had landed in a crouch, poised to fight. She saw his shoulders relax as he looked around, realizing where they were, that they were in Idris, and the war was over. And there was Alec; he had his hand still in Magnus’s. Magnus looked sick and exhausted, but he was alive.
 
And there was Isabelle. She had come through the closest to Clary, only a foot or so away. She was already on her feet, her gaze scanning the room, once, twice, a desperate third time. They were all there, all of them, all except one.
 
She looked down at Clary; her eyes were shining with tears. “Simon’s not here,” she said. “He’s really gone.”
 
The silence that had held the assembly of Shadowhunters in its grip seemed to break like a wave: Suddenly there were Nephilim running toward them. Clary saw her mother and Luke, Robert and Maryse, Aline and Helen, even Emma Carstairs, moving to surround them, to embrace them and heal them and help them. Clary knew they meant well, that they were running to the rescue, but she felt no relief. Her hand tightening on the gold ring in her palm, she curled up against the floor and finally allowed herself to cry.
 

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