Cristina sat on the floor outside Mark Blackthorn’s bedroom.
There had been no sound from inside for what felt like hours. The door was cracked open and she could see him, curled into a ball in a corner of the room like a trapped wild animal.
Faeries had been her area of study at home. She had always been fascinated by tales of the hadas, from the noble warriors of the Courts to the duendes who teased and bothered mundanes. She had not been in Idris for the declaration of the Cold Peace, but her father had, and the story sent a shiver through her. She had always wanted to meet Mark and Helen Blackthorn, to tell them—
Tiberius appeared in the hall, carrying a cardboard box. His twin sister was beside him, a patchwork quilt in her hand. “My mother made this for Mark when he was left with us,” she said, catching Cristina eyeing it. “I thought he might remember.”
“We couldn’t get into the storeroom, so we brought Mark some gifts. So he’d know we want him here,” said Ty. His gaze moved restlessly around the hall. “Can we go in?”
Cristina glanced into the bedroom. Mark was unmoving. “I don’t see why not. Just try to be quiet and not wake him.”
Livvy went in first, laying the quilt on the bed. Ty set the cardboard box on the floor, then wandered over to where Mark was lying. He picked up the quilt that Livvy had set down and knelt beside his brother. A little awkwardly, he laid the quilt on top of Mark.
Mark jerked upright. His blue-gold eyes flew open and he caught hold of Ty, who gave a sharp frightened cry like the cry of a seabird. Mark moved with incredible speed, flinging Ty to the ground. Livvy screamed and darted from the room, just as Cristina hurtled inside.
Mark was kneeling over Tiberius, pinning him to the ground with his knees. “Who are you?” Mark was saying. “What were you doing?”
“I’m your brother! I’m Tiberius!” Ty was wriggling madly, his headphones sliding off to hit the floor. “I was giving you a blanket!”
“Liar!” Mark was breathing hard. “My brother Ty is a little boy! He’s a child, my baby brother, my—” The door rattled behind Cristina. Livvy burst back into the room, her brown hair flying. “Let him go!” A seraph blade appeared in her hand, already beginning to glow. She spoke to Mark through gritted teeth,
as if she’d never met him. As if she hadn’t been carrying a patchwork quilt for him through the Institute only moments before. “If you hurt Tiberius, I’ll kill you. I don’t care if you’re Mark, I’ll kill you.”
Mark stilled. Ty was still writhing and twisting, but Mark had stopped moving entirely. Slowly, he turned his head toward his sister. “Livia?”
Livvy gasped and began to sob. Julian would be proud, though, Cristina thought: She was weeping without moving, the blade still steady in her hand.
Ty took advantage of Mark’s distraction to hit at him, connecting solidly with Mark’s shoulder. Mark winced and rolled away without striking back. Ty leaped to his feet and darted across the room to join Livvy; they stood shoulder to shoulder staring at their brother with wide eyes.
“Both of you, go,” Cristina said to them. She could feel the panic and worry rolling off them in waves; Mark could clearly feel it too. He was wincing, opening and closing his hands as if in pain. She bent down to whisper to the twins. “He’s frightened. He didn’t mean it.”
Livvy nodded and sheathed her blade. She took Ty’s hand and said something to him in the quiet, private language they had. He followed her out of the room, pausing only briefly to look back at Mark, his expression hurt and bewildered.
Mark was sitting up, panting, his body bent over his knees. He was bleeding from the reopened cut on his shoulder, staining his shirt. Cristina began to back slowly out of the bedroom.
Mark’s body tensed. “Please don’t go,” he said.
Cristina stared. As far as she knew, this was the first coherent thing he’d said since arriving at the Institute.
He lifted his chin, and for a brief moment she saw beneath the dirt, the bruises, and the scratches, the Mark Blackthorn she had seen pictures of, the Mark Blackthorn who could be related to Livvy and Julian and Ty. “I’m thirsty,” he said. There was something rusty, almost disused, about his voice, like an old motor starting up again. “Is there water?”
“Of course.” Cristina fumbled a glass off the dresser and went into the small attached bathroom. When she emerged and handed the full glass to Mark, he was sitting up, his back against the footboard of the bed. He looked at the glass wryly. “Water from taps,” he said. “I’d almost forgotten.” He took a long swallow and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Do you know who I am?”
“You’re Mark,” she said. “Mark Blackthorn.”
There was a long pause before he nodded, almost imperceptibly. “No one has called me that in a long time.”
“It’s still your name.”
“Who are you?” he said. “I should remember, probably, but—”
“I’m Cristina Mendoza Rosales,” she said. “There is no reason you should remember me, since we have never met before.”
“That’s a relief.”
Cristina was surprised. “Is it?”
“If you don’t know me and I don’t know you, then you won’t have any—expectations.” He looked suddenly exhausted. “Of who I am or what I’m like. I could be anyone to you.”
“Earlier,” Cristina said. “On the bed. Were you sleeping or pretending?”
“Does it matter?” he said, and Cristina couldn’t help thinking that it was a most faerielike reply, a reply that didn’t actually answer her question. He shifted against the footboard. “Why are you in the Institute?”
Cristina knelt down, putting her head on a level with Mark’s. She smoothed her skirt over her knees— even when she didn’t want them to, her mother’s words about how an off-duty Shadowhunter must always be neat and presentable echoed in her head.
“I am eighteen,” she said. “I was assigned to study the ways of the Los Angeles Institute as part of my travel year. How old are you?”
This time Mark’s hesitation went on for so long, Cristina wondered if he was going to speak at all. “I don’t know,” he said finally. “I was gone—I thought I was gone—a long time. Julian was twelve. The others were babies. Ten and eight and two. Tavvy was two.”
“For them it has been five years,” Cristina said. “Five years without you.”
“Helen,” Mark said. “Julian. Tiberius. Livia. Drusilla. Octavian. Every night I counted out their names among the stars, so I would not forget. Are they all living?”
“Yes, all of them, though Helen is not here—she is married and lives with her wife.”
“Then they are living, and happy together? I am glad. I had heard the news of her wedding in Faerie, though it seems long ago now.”
“Yes.” Cristina studied Mark’s face. Angles, planes, sharpness, that curve at the top of his ear that spoke of faerie blood. “You have missed a great deal.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Heat boiled up in his voice, mixed with bewilderment. “I don’t know how old I am. I don’t recognize my own sisters and brothers. I don’t know why I’m here.”
“You do,” said Cristina. “You were there when the faerie convoy was speaking to Arthur in the Sanctuary.”
He tilted his face toward hers. There was a scar across the side of his neck, not the mark of a vanished rune, but a raised welt. His hair was untidy and looked as if it had been uncut for months, years even. The curling white tips touched his shoulders. “Do you trust them? The faeries?”
Cristina shook her head.
“Good.” He looked away from her. “You shouldn’t.” He reached for the cardboard box that Ty had left on the floor and pulled it toward him. “What is this?”
“Things they thought you might want,” Cristina said. “Your brothers and sisters.”
“Gifts of welcome,” said Mark in a puzzled tone, and knelt down by the box, removing a hodgepodge of odd items—some T-shirts and jeans that were probably Julian’s, a microscope, bread and butter, a handful of desert wildflowers from the garden behind the Institute.
Mark raised his head to look at Cristina. His eyes glittered with unshed tears. His shirt was thin and ragged; she could see through the material, see other welts and scars on his skin. “What do I say to them?”
“My family. My brothers and sisters. My uncle.” He shook his head. “I remember them, and yet I don’t. I feel as if I have lived here all my life, and yet I have also always been with the Wild Hunt. I hear the roar of it in my ears, the call of the horns, the sound of the wind. It overpowers their voices. How do I explain that?”
“Don’t explain it,” said Cristina softly. “Just say you love them and you missed them every day. Tell them you hated the Wild Hunt. Tell them you’re glad to be back.”
“But why would I do that? Won’t they know I’m lying?” “Didn’t you miss them? Aren’t you glad to be back?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I cannot hear my heart or what it tells me. I can only hear the wind.” Before Cristina could reply, a sharp tap came at the window. It rattled again, a pattern of taps that
sounded almost like a code.
Mark sprang to his feet. He crossed the room to the window and flung it open, leaning out. When he ducked back in, there was something in his hand.
An acorn. Cristina’s eyes widened. Acorns were one of the ways faeries sent messages to each other. Hidden in leaves, flowers, and other wild things.
“Already?” she said, unable to help it. They couldn’t leave him even for this long, alone with his family, in his home?
Looking pale and strained, Mark crushed the acorn in his fist. A twist of pale parchment fell out. He caught it and read the message silently.
His hand opened. He slid to the floor, pulling his knees up against his chest, dropping his head in his hands. His long pale hair fell forward as the parchment fluttered to the ground. A low sound issued from his throat, halfway between a groan and a wail of pain.
Cristina picked up the parchment. On it was written, in a delicate script, Remember your promises.
Remember that none of it is real.
“Fire to water,” said Emma as they sped down the highway toward the Institute. “After all these years, I finally know what some of those markings mean.”
Julian was driving. Emma had her feet propped on the dashboard, her window down, the sea-softened air filling the car and lifting the light hair around her temples. This was how she’d always ridden in cars with Julian, with her feet up and the wind in her hair.
It was something Julian loved, Emma beside him in the car, driving with the blue sky overhead and the blue sea to the west. It was an image that felt full of infinite possibility, as if they could simply keep driving forever, the horizon their only destination.
It was a fantasy that played out sometimes when he was falling asleep. That he and Emma packed their things into the trunk of a car and left the Institute, in a world where he had no children and there was no Law and no Cameron Ashdown, where nothing held them back but the limits of their love and imagination.
And if there were two things he believed were limitless, it was love and imagination.
“It does sound like a spell,” Julian said, wrenching his mind back to the present moment. He revved the engine, the wind rushing in through Emma’s window as they gathered speed. Her hair lifted, pale corn silk spilling out from the neatness of her braids, making her look young and vulnerable.
“But why would the spell be recorded on the bodies?” Emma asked. The thought of anything hurting her made an ache form inside his chest.
And yet he was hurting her. He knew it. Knew it and hated it. He’d believed he’d had such a brilliant idea when he’d thought of taking the children to England for eight weeks. Knowing Cristina Rosales was coming, knowing Emma wouldn’t be alone or unhappy. It had seemed perfect.
He’d thought things would be different when he came back. That he would be different. But he wasn’t.
“What did Magnus say to you?” he asked as she looked out the window, her scarred fingers drumming an arrhythmic tattoo on her bent knee. “He whispered something.”
A furrow appeared between her brows. “He said that there are places where ley lines converge. I assume he means that since they bend and curve, there are locations where more than one of them meet. Maybe all of them.”
“And that’s important because . . . ?”
She shook her head. “I don’t know. We do know all the bodies have been dumped at ley lines, and that’s a specific kind of magic. Maybe the convergences have some quality we need to understand. We should find a map of ley lines. I bet Arthur would know where to look in the library. If not, we can find it ourselves.”
“Good?” She sounded surprised.
“It’s going to take a few days for Malcolm to translate those papers, and I don’t want to spend those days sitting around the Institute, staring at Mark, waiting for him to—waiting. It’s better if we keep working, have something to do.” His voice sounded stretched thin to his own ears. He hated it, hated any visible or audible sign of weakness.
Though at least it was only with Emma, who he could show these things to. Emma, alone in his life, did not need his caretaking. Did not need him to be perfect or perfectly strong.
Before Julian could say anything else, Emma’s phone went off with a loud buzz. She pulled it out of her pocket.
Cameron Ashdown. She frowned at the llama on the screen. “Not now,” she told it, and shoved the phone back into her jeans.
“Are you going to tell him?” Julian asked, and heard the stiffness in his own voice, and hated it. “About
all of this?”
“About Mark? I would never tell. Never.”
He kept his grip on the wheel tight, his jaw set.
“You’re my parabatai,” she said, and now there was anger in her voice. “You know I wouldn’t.” Julian slammed on the brakes. The car lurched forward, the wheel slewing out of his hands. Emma yelped as they skidded off the road and bumped down into a ditch by the side of the highway, in between
the road and the dunes over the sea.
Dust was rising up around the car in plumes. Julian whirled toward Emma. She was white around the mouth. “Jules.”
“I didn’t mean it,” he said. She stared. “What?”
“You being my parabatai is the best thing in my life,” Julian said. The words were steady and simple, spoken without a trace of anything held back. He’d been holding back so tightly that the relief of it was almost unbearable.
Impulsively she undid her safety belt, rising up in her seat to look down on him solemnly. The sun was high overhead. Up close he could see the gold lines inside the brown of her eyes, the faint spatter of light freckles across her nose, the bits of lighter, sun-bleached hair mixed with the darker hair at her nape. Raw umber and Naples yellow, mixed with white. He could smell rose water on her, and laundry detergent.
She leaned into him, and his body chased the feeling of closeness, of having her back and near. Her knees bumped against his. “But you said—”
“I know what I said.” He turned toward her, slewing his body around in the driver’s seat. “While I was away, I realized some things. Hard things. Maybe I even realized them before I left.”
“You can tell me what they are.” She touched his cheek lightly. He felt his whole body lock into tension. “I remember what you said about Mark last night,” she went on. “You were never the oldest brother. He always was. If he hadn’t been taken, if Helen had been able to stay, you would have made different choices because you would have had someone to take care of you.”
He breathed out. “Emma.” Raw pain. “Emma, I said what I said because—because sometimes I think I asked you to be my parabatai because I wanted you to be tied to me. The Consul wanted you to go to the Academy and I couldn’t stand the thought. I’d lost so many people. I didn’t want to lose you, too.”
She was so close to him he could feel the heat from her sun-warmed skin. For a moment she said nothing, and he felt as if he were on the gallows, having the hangman’s noose fastened around his throat. Waiting only for the drop.
Then she put her hand over his on the console between them.
Their hands. Hers were delicate-looking, but more scarred than his own, more calloused, her skin rough against his. His sea-glass bracelet glowed like jewels in the sunlight.
“People do complicated things because people are complicated,” she said. “All that stuff about how you’re supposed to make the parabatai decision only for totally pure reasons, that’s a crock.”
“I wanted to tie you to me,” he said. “Because I was tied here. Maybe you should have gone to the Academy. Maybe it would have been the right place for you. Maybe I took something away from you.”
Emma looked at him. Her face was open and completely trusting. He almost thought he could feel his convictions shatter, the convictions he’d built up before he’d left at the beginning of the summer, the convictions he’d carried with him all the way back home until the moment he’d seen her again. He could feel them breaking inside him, like driftwood shattered against rocks.
“Jules,” she said. “You gave me a family. You gave me everything.”
A phone shrilled again. Emma’s. Julian sat back, heart pounding, as she thumbed it out of her pocket. He watched as her face set.
“Livvy’s texting,” she said. “She says Mark woke up. And he’s screaming.”
Julian floored the car on the way home, Emma keeping her hands clasped around her knees as the speedometer crept up past eighty. They careened into the parking lot behind the Institute and slammed on the brakes. Julian threw himself out of the car and Emma raced after him.
They reached the second floor to find the younger Blackthorns seated on the floor outside Mark’s door. Dru was curled up with Tavvy against Livvy’s side; Ty sat alone, his long hands dangling between his knees. They were all staring; the door was cracked partway open and through it Emma could hear Mark’s voice, raised and angry, and then another voice, lower and more soothing—Cristina.
“Sorry I texted,” said Livvy in a small voice. “It’s just that he was screaming and screaming. He finally stopped, but—Cristina’s in there with him. If any of the rest of us go in, he howls and yells.”
“Oh my God.” Emma moved toward the door, but Julian caught her, swinging her around to face him. She looked over and saw that Ty had begun to rock back and forth, his eyes closed. It was something he did when things were too much: too loud, too harsh or hard or fast or painful.
The world was extra intense for Ty, Julian had always said. It was as if his ears could hear more clearly, his eyes see more, and sometimes it was too much for him. He needed to cover noise, to feel something in his hand to distract him. He needed to rock back and forth to soothe himself. Everyone processed stress in a different way, Julian said. This was Ty’s, and it hurt nobody.
“Em,” Julian said. His face was taut. “I need to go in alone.”
She nodded. He let go of her almost reluctantly. “Guys,” he said, looking at his siblings—at Dru’s round, worried face, Tavvy’s uncomprehending one, Livvy’s unhappy eyes, and Ty’s hunched shoulders. “It’s going to be hard for Mark. We can’t expect him to be okay all at once. He’s been away a long time. He has to get used to being here.”
“But we’re his family,” said Livvy. “Why would you have to get used to your own family?”
“You might,” Julian said, in that patient soft voice that amazed Emma sometimes, “if you’d been away from them a long time and you’d been somewhere where your mind plays tricks on you.”
“Like Faerie,” said Ty. He had stopped rocking and was leaning back against the wall, dark hair damp and in his face.
“Right,” Julian said. “So we’re going to have to give him time. Maybe leave him alone a little.” He looked over at Emma.
She pasted a smile onto her face—God, she was so much worse at this than Jules—and said, “Malcolm’s working on the investigation. The murders. I thought we could head to the library and look into ley lines.”
“Me too?” Drusilla piped up.
Emma said, “You can help us plot a map. Okay?”
Dru nodded. “Okay.” She rose to her feet and the others followed. As Emma led them away down the hall, a quietly subdued group, she looked back only once. Julian was standing by the door to Mark’s room, watching them go. His eyes met hers for a split second before he looked away, as if he hadn’t seen her glance at all.
If only Emma was with him, Julian thought as he pushed open the door, this would be easier. It would have to be easier. When Emma was with him it was like he was breathing twice as much oxygen, had twice as much blood, had two hearts to drive the motion of his body. He put it down to the doubling magic of parabatai: She made him twice what he would be otherwise.
But he’d had to send her away with the kids; he didn’t trust anyone else with them, and definitely not Arthur. Arthur, he thought bitterly, who was hiding in his attic while one of his nephews desperately tried to hold his family together and another one—
“Mark?” Julian said.
The bedroom was dim, the curtains closed. He could just see that Cristina was sitting on the floor, her
back to the wall. She had one hand pressed to the pendant at her throat, and the other at her hip, where something gleamed between her fingers.
Mark was pacing back and forth at the foot of the bed, his hair hanging in his face. You could see how painfully thin he was; there was sinewy muscle on him, but it was the kind you got from starving sometimes and driving yourself anyway. His head jerked up when Julian said his name.
Their eyes met and for a brief moment Julian saw a flicker of recognition in his brother’s eyes. “Mark,” he said again, and moved forward, his hand out. “It’s me. It’s Jules.”
“Don’t—” Cristina started up, but it was too late. Mark had bared his teeth in an angry hiss. “Lies,” he snarled. “Hallucinations—I know you—Gwyn sent you to trick me—”
“I’m your brother,” Julian said again. The look on Mark’s face was wild.
“You know the wishes of my heart,” said Mark. “And you turn them against me, like knives.”
Julian looked across the room at Cristina. She was rising to her feet slowly, as if preparing to throw herself between the two brothers if needed.
Mark whirled on Jules. His eyes were blind, unseeing. “You bring the twins in front of me and you kill them over and over. My Ty, he doesn’t understand why I can’t save him. You bring me Dru and when she laughs and asks to see the fairy-tale castle, all ringed round with hedges, you throw her against the thorns until they pierce her small body. And you bid me wash in Octavian’s blood, for the blood of an innocent child is magic under the hill.”
Julian came no closer. He was remembering what Jace Herondale and Clary Fairchild had told him and his sister, their meeting with Mark years ago under the faerie hills, his broken eyes and the whip marks on his body.
Mark was strong, he had told himself in the dead darkness of the thousand nights afterward. He could endure it. Julian had thought about only torture of the body. He had not thought about torture of the mind.
“And Julian,” Mark said. “He is too strong to break. You try to break him on the wheel, and tear him with thorns and blades, but even then he won’t give up. So you bring to him Emma, for the wishes of our hearts are knives to you.”
That was too much for Julian. He lurched forward, grabbing hold of one of the posts of the bed to steady himself.
“Mark,” he said. “Mark Antony Blackthorn. Please. It’s not a dream. You’re really here. You’re home.” He reached for Mark’s hand. Mark whipped it back, away from him. “You are lying smoke.”
“I’m your brother.”
“I have no brothers and sisters, no family. I am alone. I ride with the Wild Hunt. I am loyal to Gwyn the Hunter.” Mark recited the words as if by rote.
“I’m not Gwyn,” said Julian. “I’m a Blackthorn. I have Blackthorn blood in me, just like you.”
“You are a phantom and a shadow. You are the cruelty of hope.” Mark turned his face away. “Why do you punish me? I have done nothing to displease the Hunt.”
“There’s no punishment here.” Julian took a step closer to Mark. Mark didn’t move, but his body trembled. “This is home. I can prove it to you.”
He glanced back over his shoulder. Cristina was standing very still against the wall, and he could see that the gleam in her hand was a knife. Clearly she was waiting to see if Mark would attack him. Julian wondered why she had been willing to stay in the room with Mark alone; hadn’t she been afraid?
“There is no proof,” Mark whispered. “Not when you can weave any illusion before my eyes.” “I’m your brother,” Julian repeated. “And to prove it to you, I’ll tell you something only your brother
At that Mark raised his eyes. Something flickered in them, like a light shining on distant water. “I remember the day you were taken,” Julian said.
Mark recoiled. “Any of the Folk would know about that—”
“We were up in the training room. We heard noises, and you went downstairs. But before you went you said something to me. Do you remember?”
Mark stood very still.
“You said, ‘Stay with Emma,’” Julian said. “You said to stay with her, and I have. We’re parabatai now. I’ve looked after her for years and I always will, because you asked me to, because it was the last thing you ever said to me, because—”
He remembered, then, that Cristina was there, and cut himself off abruptly. Mark was staring at him, silent. Julian felt despair well up inside him. Maybe this was a trick of the faeries; maybe they had given Mark back, but so broken and hollowed out that he wasn’t Mark anymore. Maybe—
Mark nearly fell forward, and threw his arms around Julian.
Julian barely managed to catch himself before almost falling over. Mark was whipcord thin, but strong, his hands fisting in Julian’s shirt. Julian could feel Mark’s heart hammering, feel the sharp bones under his skin. He smelled like earth and mildew and grass and nighttime air.
“Julian,” Mark said, muffled, his body shaking. “Julian, my brother, my brother.”
Somewhere in the distance, Julian heard the click of the bedroom door as it shut; Cristina had left them alone together.
Julian sighed. He wanted to relax into his older brother, let Mark hold him up the way he once had. But Mark was slighter than he was, fragile under his hands. He would be holding Mark up from now on. It was not what he had imagined, dreamed of, but it was the reality. It was his brother. He tightened his hands on Mark and adjusted his heart to bear the new burden.
The library in the Los Angeles Institute was small—nothing like the famous libraries of New York and London, but well-known regardless for its surprisingly large collection of books in Greek and Latin. They had more books on the magic and occultism of the classical period than the Institute in Vatican City.
Once the library had been terra-cotta tile and Mission windows; now it was a starkly modern room. The old library had been destroyed in Sebastian Morgenstern’s attack on the Institute, the books scattered among bricks and desert. Rebuilt, it was glass and steel. The floor was polished mountain ash, smooth and shining with applications of protective spells.
A spiral ramp began at the north side of the first floor and climbed the walls; the outer side of the ramp was lined with books and windows, while the inner, facing the library’s interior, was a shoulder-high railing. At the very top was an oculus—a skylight held closed with a large copper lock, made of foot-thick glass decorated all over with protective runes.
Maps were kept in a massive chest decorated with the crest of the Blackthorn family—a ring of thorns —with their family motto beneath it: Lex malla, lex nulla.
A bad law is no law.
Emma suspected that the Blackthorns hadn’t exactly always gotten along with the Council.
Drusilla was rummaging around in the map chest. Livvy and Ty were at the table with more maps, and Tavvy was playing under it with a set of plastic soldiers.
“Can you tell if Julian’s all right?” Livvy asked, propping her chin on her hand to look at Emma anxiously. “You know, how he’s feeling . . .”
Emma shook her head. “Parabatai stuff isn’t really like that. I mean, I can feel if he’s hurt, physically, but not his emotions so much.”
Livvy sighed. “It would be so great to have a parabatai.” “I don’t really see why,” Ty said.
“Someone who always has your back,” said Livvy. “Someone who will always protect you.”
“I would do that for you anyway,” Ty said, pulling a map toward himself. This was an argument they’d had before; Emma had heard some variation of it half a dozen times.
“Not everyone’s cut out to have one,” she said. She wished for a moment that she had the words to explain it properly: how loving someone more than you loved yourself gave you strength and courage; how seeing yourself in your parabatai’s eyes meant seeing the best version of yourself; how, at its best, fighting alongside your parabatai was like playing instruments in harmony with one another, each piece of the music improving the other.
“Having someone who’s sworn to shield you from danger,” said Livvy, her eyes shining. “Someone who would put their hands in a fire for you.”
Briefly Emma remembered that Jem had once told her that his parabatai, Will, had thrust his hands into a fire to retrieve a packet of medicine that would save Jem’s life. Maybe she shouldn’t have repeated the story to Livvy.
“In the movies Watson throws himself in front of Sherlock when there’s gunfire,” Ty said, looking thoughtful. “That’s like parabatai.”
Livvy looked mildly outfoxed, and Emma felt for her. If Livvy said it wasn’t like parabatai, Ty would argue. If she agreed it was, he would point out you didn’t need to be parabatai to jump in front of someone when there was danger. He wasn’t wrong, but she sympathized with Livvy’s desire to be parabatai with Ty. To make sure her brother was always by her side.
“Got it!” Drusilla announced suddenly. She stood up from rummaging around in the map chest with a long piece of parchment in her hands. Livvy, abandoning the parabatai discussion, hurried over to help her carry it to the table.
In a clear bowl on the table’s center was a heap of sea glass the Blackthorns had collected over the years—lumps of milky blue, green, copper, and red. Emma and Ty used the blue glass to weigh down the edges of the ley line map.
Tavvy, now sitting on the edge of the table, had begun sorting the rest of the sea glass into piles by color. Emma let him; she didn’t know how else to keep him distracted just now.
“Ley lines,” Emma said, running her index finger over the long black lines on the map. It was a map of Los Angeles that probably dated back to the forties. Landmarks were visible under the ley lines: the Crossroads of the World in Hollywood, the Bullocks building on Wilshire, the Angels Flight railroad in Bunker Hill, the Santa Monica Pier, the never-changing curve of the coast and the ocean. “All the bodies were left under the span of a ley line. But what Magnus said is that there are places where all the ley lines converge.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Livvy asked, practical as always.
“I don’t know, but I don’t think he would have said it if it didn’t matter. I imagine the place of convergence has some pretty powerful magic.”
As Ty applied himself to the map with renewed vigor, Cristina came into the library and gestured for Emma to come talk to her. Emma slid off the table and followed Cristina to the coffeemaker by the window. It was witchlight powered, which meant there was always coffee, although the coffee wasn’t always very good.
“Is Julian all right?” Emma asked. “And Mark?”
“They were talking when I left.” Cristina filled two cups with black coffee and dumped in sugar from a small enamel pot on the windowsill. “Julian calmed him down.”
“Julian could calm anyone down.” Emma picked up the second cup of coffee, enjoying the warmth against her skin, though she didn’t really like coffee and didn’t tend to drink it. Besides, her stomach was tied in so many knots she didn’t think she could force anything down.
She walked back toward the table where the Blackthorns were arguing about the ley line map. “Well, I can’t help it if it doesn’t make sense,” Ty was saying peevishly. “That’s where it says the convergence is.”
“Where?” Emma asked, coming up behind him.
“Here.” Dru pointed at a circle Ty had sketched on the map in pencil. It was over the ocean, farther out from Los Angeles than Catalina Island. “So much for anyone doing magic there.”
“Guess Magnus was just making conversation,” said Livvy.
“He probably didn’t know—” Emma began, and broke off as the library door opened.
It was Julian. He stepped into the room and then moved to the side, diffidently, like a conjuror presenting the result of a trick.
Mark moved into the doorway after him. Julian must have gotten Mark’s old things out of the storeroom. He was wearing jeans that were slightly short on him—probably a pair of his old ones—and one of Julian’s T-shirts, heather gray and washed to a soft fadedness. In contrast, his hair looked very blond, almost silvery. It hit his shoulders, looking slightly less tangled, as if he’d brushed the twigs out of it at least.
“Hello,” he said.
His siblings looked at him in silent, wide-eyed astonishment.
“Mark wanted to see you,” Julian said. He reached around to ruffle the hair on the back of his neck, looking bemused, as if he had no idea what to do next.
“Thank you,” Mark said. “For the gifts of welcome you gave me.”
The Blackthorns continued to stare. Nobody moved except Tavvy, who slowly laid his sea glass down on the table.
“The box,” Mark clarified. “In my room.”
Emma felt the coffee cup she was holding plucked out of her hand. She made an indignant noise, but Cristina was already holding it, crossing the room, past the table, and walking up to Mark, her back straight. She held out the mug.
“Do you want some?” she said.
Looking relieved, he took it. He lifted it to his mouth and swallowed, his whole family watching him in amazed fascination as if he were doing something no one had ever done before.
He grimaced. Moving away from Cristina, he coughed and spit. “What is that?” “Coffee.” Cristina looked startled.
“It tastes of the most bitter poison,” Mark said indignantly.
Livvy suddenly giggled. The sound cut through the stillness of the rest of the room, the frozen tableau of the others.
“You used to love coffee,” she said. “I remember that about you!”
“I can’t imagine why I would have. I’ve never tasted something so disgusting.” Mark made a face.
Ty’s eyes flicked between Julian and Livvy; he looked eager and excited, his long fingers tapping at the table in front of him. “He isn’t used to coffee anymore,” he said to Cristina. “They don’t have it in Faerie.”
“Here.” Livvy stood up, scooping an apple from the table. “Have this instead.” She went forward and held out the apple to her brother. Emma thought she looked like a latter-day Snow White, with her long dark hair and the apple in her pale hand. “You don’t mind apples, do you?”
“My thanks, gracious sister.” Mark bowed and took the apple, while Livvy looked at him with her mouth partly open.
“You never call me ‘gracious sister,’” she said, turning to Julian with an accusing look. He grinned. “I know you too well, runt.”
Mark reached up and drew the chain from around his throat. Dangling from the end of it was what looked like the head of an arrow. It was clear, as if made of glass, and Emma recalled having seen something like it in pictures Diana had showed them.
Mark began to use the edge of it to peel his apple, matter-of-factly. Tavvy, who had crawled under the table again and was looking out, made an interested noise. Mark glanced at him and winked. Tavvy
ducked back under the table, but Emma could see that he was smiling.
She couldn’t stop looking at Jules. She thought of the way he’d cleaned out Mark’s room, hurling his brother’s things savagely into a pile as if he could shatter the memories of him. It had lasted only a day, but there had been shadows in his eyes since. She wondered, if Mark stayed, would the shadows disappear?
“Did you like the presents?” Dru demanded, swiveling around on the table, her round face anxious. “I put bread and butter in for you in case you were hungry.”
“I did not know what all of them were,” Mark said candidly. “The clothes were very useful. The black metal object—”
“That was my microscope,” Ty said, looking at Julian for approval. “I thought you might like it.” Julian leaned against the table. He didn’t ask Ty why Mark would want a microscope, just smiled his
sideways, gentle smile. “That was nice of you, Ty.”
“Tiberius wants to be a detective,” Livvy explained to Mark. “Like Sherlock Holmes.” Mark looked puzzled. “Is that someone we know? Like a warlock?”
“He’s a book character,” Dru said, laughing.
“I’ve got all the Sherlock Holmes books,” said Ty. “I know all the stories. There are fifty-six short stories and four novels. I can tell them to you. And I’ll show you how to use the microscope.”
“I think I buttered it,” Mark admitted, looking shamefaced. “I did not remember it was a scientific tool.”
Emma looked worriedly at Ty—he was meticulous about his things and could be deeply upset by anyone touching them or moving them. But he didn’t look angry. Something about Mark’s candidness seemed to delight him, the way he sometimes was delighted by an unusual kind of demonic ichor or the life cycle of bees.
Mark had cut his apple into careful pieces and was eating them slowly, in the manner of someone who was used to making what food they had last. He was quite thin, thinner than a Shadowhunter his age would usually be—Shadowhunters were encouraged to eat and train, eat and train, build their muscle and stamina. Most Shadowhunters, due to the constant brutal physical training, ranged from wiry to muscular, though Drusilla was round-bodied, something that bothered her more the older she got. Emma always felt pained to see the blush that colored Dru’s cheeks when the gear designated for girls in her age group didn’t fit.
“I heard you speak of convergences,” Mark said, moving toward the others—carefully, as if unsure of his welcome. His eyes lifted, and to Emma’s surprise, he looked at Cristina. “The convergence of ley lines is a place where dark magic can be done undetected. The Fair Folk know much of ley lines, and use them often.” He had slung his arrowhead back around his neck; it glimmered as he bent his head to look at the map on the table.
“This is a map of ley lines in Los Angeles,” said Cristina. “All of the bodies have been found along them.”
“Wrong,” Mark said, leaning forward.
“No, she’s right,” Ty said with a frown. “It is a map of ley lines, and the bodies have been dumped along them.”
“But the map is incorrect,” Mark said. “The lines are not accurate, nor are the points of convergence.” His long-fingered right hand brushed over the pencil circle Ty had made. “This is not right at all. Who made this map?”
Julian moved closer and for a moment he and his brother were shoulder to shoulder, their pale hair and dark hair a startling contrast. “It’s the Institute’s map, I assume.”
“We took it from the trunk,” Emma said, leaning over it from the opposite side of the table. “With all the other maps.”
“Well, it has been tampered with,” said Mark. “We will need a correct one.”
“Maybe Diana could get us one,” Julian said, reaching for a pad of paper and a pencil. “Or we could ask Malcolm.”
“Or check out what’s at the Shadow Market,” said Emma, and grinned unrepentantly at Julian’s look. “Just a suggestion.”
Mark glanced at his brother, and then the others, clearly worried. “Was that helpful?” he said. “Was it a thing I should not have said?”
“Are you sure?” said Ty, looking from the map to his brother, and something in his face was open as a door. “That the map is incorrect?”
“Then it was helpful,” said Ty. “We could have wasted days on a map that was wrong. Maybe longer.” Mark exhaled in relief. Julian put his hand on Mark’s back. Livvy and Dru beamed. Tavvy was looking out from under the table, clearly curious. Emma glanced at Cristina. The Blackthorns seemed to be wound
together by a sort of invisible force; in that moment they were completely a family, and Emma could not even mind that she and Cristina were on the outside.
“I could attempt to correct it,” said Mark. “But I do not know if I have the skill. Helen—Helen could do it.” He glanced at Julian. “She is married, and away—but I assume she will return for this? And to see me?”
It was like watching glass shatter in slow motion. None of the Blackthorns moved, not even Tavvy, but blankness spread over their features as they realized exactly how much it was that Mark did not know.
Mark paled and slowly set the core of his apple down on the table. “What is it?”
“Mark,” Julian said, looking toward the door, “come and talk to me in your room, not here—” “No,” Mark interrupted, his voice rising with fear. “You will tell me now. Where is my full-blood
sister, the daughter of Lady Nerissa? Where is Helen?”
There was an achingly awkward silence. Mark was looking at Julian; they were no longer standing beside each other. Mark had moved away, so quietly and quickly Emma had not seen it happen. “You said she was alive,” he said, and in his voice there was fear and accusation.
“She is,” Emma hastened to say. “She’s fine.”
Mark made an impatient noise. “Then I would know where my sister is. Julian?”
But it wasn’t Julian who answered. “She was sent away when the Cold Peace was decided,” Ty said, to Emma’s surprise. He sounded matter-of-fact. “She was exiled.”
“There was a vote,” said Livvy. “Some of the Clave wanted to kill her, because of her faerie blood, but Magnus Bane defended the rights of Downworlders. Helen was sent to Wrangel Island to study the wards.”
Mark leaned against the table, his palm flat against it, as if he were trying to catch his breath after being punched. “Wrangel Island,” he whispered. “It is a cold place, ice and snow. I have ridden over those lands with the Hunt. I never knew my sister was down there, in among the frozen wastes.”
“They would never have let you see her, even if you had known,” Julian said.
“But you let her be sent away.” Mark’s two-colored eyes were flashing. “You let them exile her.” “We were children. I was twelve years old.” Julian didn’t raise his voice; his blue eyes were flat and
cold. “We had no choice. We talk to Helen every week, we petition the Clave every year for her return.” “Speech and petitions,” Mark spat. “Might as well do nothing. I knew—I knew they had chosen not to
come for me. I knew they had abandoned me to the Wild Hunt.” He swallowed painfully. “I thought it was because they feared Gwyn and the vengeance of the Hunt. Not because they hated and despised me.”
“It wasn’t hate,” said Julian. “It was fear.”
“They said that we couldn’t look for you,” said Ty. He had taken one of his toys out of his pocket: a length of cord that he often ran through and under his fingers, bending and shaping it into figure eights.
“That it was forbidden. It’s forbidden to visit Helen, too.”
Mark looked toward Julian, and his eyes were dark with anger, black and bronze. “Did you ever even try?”
“I won’t fight with you, Mark,” Julian said. The side of his mouth was twitching; it was something that happened only when he was deeply upset, and something, Emma guessed, that only she would notice.
“You won’t fight for me either,” Mark said. “That much is clear.” He glanced around the room. “I have come back to a world where I am not wanted, it seems,” he said, and slammed his way out of the library.
There was an awful silence.
“I will go after him,” Cristina said, and darted from the room. In the soundlessness left by her departure, the Blackthorns looked at Jules, and Emma fought the urge to run to put herself between him and his siblings’ pleading eyes—they looked at him as if he could fix it, fix everything, as he always had.
But Julian was standing very still, his eyes half-closed, his hands twisted into fists. She remembered the way he had looked in the car, the desperation in his expression. There were few things in life that could undo Julian’s calm, but Mark was, and had always been, one of them.
“It’s going to be all right,” Emma said, reaching out to pat Dru’s soft arm. “Of course he’s angry—he has every right to be angry—but he’s not angry at any of you.” Emma stared over Drusilla’s head at Julian, trying to catch his gaze, to steady him. “It’s going to be fine.”
The door opened again, and Cristina came back into the room. Julian turned his gaze toward her sharply.
Cristina’s dark, glossy braids were coiled around her head; they shone as she shook her head. “He is all right,” she said, “but he has closed himself in his room, and I think it is best if we leave him alone. I can wait in the corridor, if you like.”
Julian shook his head. “Thanks,” he said. “But no one needs to keep a watch on him. He’s free to come and go.”
“But what if he hurts himself?” It was Tavvy. His voice was small and thin.
Julian bent down and lifted his brother up, arms around Tavvy, hugging him tightly, once, before setting him down again. Tavvy kept his hand fixed on Jules’s shirt. “He won’t,” Julian said.
“I want to go up to the studio,” Tavvy said. “I don’t want to be here.”
Julian hesitated, then nodded. The studio where he painted was somewhere that he often brought Tavvy when his little brother was frightened: Tavvy found the paints, the papers, even the brushes soothing. “I’ll bring you up,” he said. “There’s leftover pizza in the kitchen if anyone wants it, and sandwiches, and—”
“It’s okay, Jules,” Livvy said. She had seated herself on the table, by her twin; she was above Ty as he looked down at the ley line map, his mouth set. “We can handle dinner. We’ll be fine.”
“I’ll bring you up something to eat,” Emma said. “And for Tavvy, too.”
Thank you, Julian mouthed to her before he turned toward the door. Before he reached it, Ty, who had been quiet since Mark had left, spoke. “You won’t punish him,” he said, his cord wrapped tightly around the fingers of his left hand, “will you?”
Julian turned around, clearly surprised. “Punish Mark? For what?”
“For all the things he said.” Ty was flushed, unwinding the cord slowly as it slid through his fingers. Over years of watching his brother, and trying to learn, Julian had come to understand that where sounds and light were concerned, Ty was far more sensitive to them than most people. But where touch was concerned, it fascinated him. It was the way Julian had learned to create Ty’s distractions and hand tools, by watching him spend hours investigating the texture of silk or sandpaper, the corrugations of shells and the roughness of rocks. “They were true—they were the truth. He told us the truth and he helped with the investigation. He shouldn’t be punished for that.”
“Of course not,” said Julian. “None of us would punish him.”
“It’s not his fault if he doesn’t understand everything,” Ty said. “Or if things are too much for him. It’s
not his fault.”
“Ty-Ty,” said Livvy. It had been Emma’s nickname for Tiberius when he was a baby. Since then, the whole family had adopted it. She reached to rub his shoulder. “It’ll be all right.”
“I don’t want Mark to leave again,” Ty said. “Do you understand, Julian?” Emma watched as the weight of that, the responsibility of it, settled over Julian. “I understand, Ty,” he said.