The parabatai curse. The Clave will never let you know it—it’s forbidden—
Malcolm’s words rang in Emma’s ears as she made her way back out into the night, following the others down the damp corridors of the convergence. Julian and Emma walked deliberately apart, keeping distance between them. Exhaustion and pain were slowing Emma down. Cortana was back in its sheath. She could feel the sword humming with energy; she wondered if it had absorbed magic from Malcolm.
But then, she didn’t want to think about Malcolm, the red tendrils of his blood unfurling through the dark water like banners.
She didn’t want to think about the things he’d said.
Emma was the last to step out of the cave, into the darkness of the outside world. Ty, Livvy, and Dru were sitting on the ground with Tavvy—the little boy was cradled in Livvy’s arms, seeming sleepy but awake. Kieran stood a distance away, a scowl on his face that relaxed only somewhat when Mark emerged from the convergence.
“How is Tavvy? Is everything all right?” Julian approached his siblings. Dru jumped up and hugged him tightly—then gasped and pointed.
A loud grinding noise cracked through the air. The gap in the hill was closing up behind them like a wound healing. Diana darted toward it, as if she could hold the pathway open, but the stone sealed shut; she snatched her hand back just in time to keep it from being crushed.
“You cannot stop it,” said Kieran. “The opening and the path inside were made by Malcolm. This hill does not naturally hold within it tunnels and caves. Now that he is dead, his enchantments are failing. There may perhaps be another entrance into this space, at some other ley line convergence. But this door will not open again.”
“How did you know he was dead?” Emma said.
“Lights going on in the city below,” said Kieran. “The—I don’t know what your mundane word is for it —”
“Blackout,” said Mark. “The blackout’s over. And Malcolm cast the spell that was responsible for the blackout, so—yeah.”
“Does that mean we can get a signal on our phones?” Ty wondered.
“I’ll check,” Julian said, and walked away to press his phone to his ear. Emma thought she heard him say Uncle Arthur’s name, but she couldn’t be sure, and he moved out of earshot before she could hear another word.
Diego and Cristina had joined Livvy, Ty, and Dru. Cristina was bending down over Tavvy, and Diego was reaching for something inside his gear jacket. Emma moved to join them; as she drew closer, she saw that Diego was holding a silver flask.
“Not giving him booze, are you?” Emma said. “He’s a little young for it.”
Diego rolled his eyes. “It’s an energy draught. Made by the Silent Brothers. Might counteract whatever Malcolm gave him to make him sleepy.”
Livvy took the flask from Diego and tasted the contents; with a nod, she tipped the fluid into her little brother’s mouth. Tavvy drank gratefully as Emma knelt down and put her hand to his cheek.
“Hey, sweetheart,” she said. “Are you all right?”
He smiled up at her, blinking. He looked like Julian when he and Emma were children. Before the world had changed him. My best friend and my best love.
She thought of Malcolm. The parabatai curse. Her heart aching, she kissed Tavvy’s baby-soft cheek and rose to her feet to find Cristina behind her.
“Your left arm,” Cristina said gently, and led her a few feet away. “Hold it out?”
Emma obeyed and saw that the skin of her hand and wrist was red and blistered, as if she’d been burned.
Cristina shook her head, drawing her stele from her jacket. “There were a few minutes there, when you were behind that wall Malcolm made, where I thought you weren’t coming out.”
Emma bumped her head against Cristina’s shoulder. “Sorry.”
“I know.” Cristina turned brisk, pushing up Emma’s sleeve. “You need healing runes.”
Emma leaned into Cristina as the stele ran over her skin, taking comfort in the fact that she was there. “It was weird, being trapped in there with Malcolm,” she said. “Mostly he just wanted to tell me about Annabel. And the thing is—I actually felt bad for him.”
“It’s not weird,” said Cristina. “It’s a terrible story. Neither he nor Annabel did anything wrong. To see someone you love so horribly punished and tortured—to think they’d abandoned you only to find out that you abandoned them—” She shuddered.
“I hadn’t thought about it that way,” Emma said. “You think he felt guilty?” “I’m sure he did. Anyone would.”
Emma thought of Annabel with a pang. She had been blameless, a victim. Hopefully she had never been aware of anything, never been aware of Malcolm’s efforts to revive her. “I told him he was as bad as the Clave and he actually seemed surprised.”
“No one is ever the villain of their own story.” Cristina released Emma, pausing to examine her healing handiwork. Already the pain in Emma’s arm was receding. She knew a rune from Julian would most likely have worked more quickly, but after what had happened with the Endurance rune, she didn’t dare let him rune her in front of everyone else.
Julian. Past Cristina’s shoulder, she could see him, near the car. He was holding his phone to his ear. As she watched, he tapped the screen and slid it back into his pocket.
“So are the signals working again?” Ty asked. “Who were you calling?” “Pizza,” Julian said.
They all stared at him. Like the rest of them, he was filthy, a long scratch along his cheek, his hair tangled. In the moonlight his eyes were the color of an underground river.
“Thought we might all be hungry,” he said with that deceptive mildness that Emma now knew meant that whatever was happening on the surface didn’t match what was going on in Julian’s mind.
“We should go,” he said. “The convergence’s collapse means the Clave is going to be able to see the dark magic emanating from this place on their map. When we get back, I don’t think we’ll be alone.”
They hurried to get everyone ready to go: Livvy carrying Octavian on her lap in the backseat of the
Toyota, Diana taking Cristina and Diego in the truck, which she had hidden among some scrub brush. Kieran offered the use of Windspear again to Mark, but Mark declined.
“I wish to ride with my brothers and sisters,” he said simply.
Julian turned to Kieran. The faerie’s eyes were flat, unreflective. Julian wished he could see what his brother had loved: a Kieran who had been warm toward Mark or kind. He wished he could thank Kieran for not leaving Mark alone among the Hunt.
He wished he felt less hatred in his heart.
“You don’t need to come back with us,” Julian said. “We don’t need your help anymore.” “I will not go until I know Mark is safe.”
Julian shrugged. “Have it your way. When we get back, don’t come into the Institute until we say so. We’d be in trouble just for fighting alongside you.”
Kieran’s mouth hardened. “Without me, you would have been defeated this night.”
“Probably,” said Julian. “I’ll remember to be grateful every time I see the scars on Emma’s back.” Kieran flinched. Julian turned and walked toward the car. Diana cut in front of him, holding up a hand.
She was wrapped in a heavy shawl, and her face was speckled with blood like light freckles.
“The Clave may well be waiting for you,” she said without preamble. “If you want, I’ll take the blame for everything and throw myself on their mercy.”
Julian looked at her for a long moment. He had lived by ironclad rules for so long. Protect Tavvy, protect Livvy and Ty, protect Dru. Protect Emma. Recently that had widened out slightly—he would protect Mark, because Mark had come back, and he would protect Cristina, because Emma loved her.
It was a sort of love few other people could understand. It was total and it was overwhelming and it could be cruel. He would destroy a whole city if he thought that city posed some threat to his family.
When you were twelve years old and you were all that stood between your family and annihilation, you didn’t learn moderation.
He considered now, with all the detachment he could muster, what would happen if Diana tried to take the blame—he entertained the idea, turned it over in his head, and rejected it. “No,” he said. “And I’m not being kind. I don’t think it would work.”
“You hide things,” he said. “The Angel knows there’s something you’re still hiding, some reason you couldn’t take over the Institute. Something you won’t tell, anyway. You’re a good hider, but you’re not a good liar. They won’t believe you. But they will believe me.”
“So you already have a story for them?” Diana asked, her dark eyes widening. Julian didn’t say anything.
She sighed, pulling the shawl tighter. “You’re a piece of work, Julian Blackthorn.” “I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said, though he doubted she meant it as one.
“Did you know I’d be here tonight?” she asked. “Did you think I was in league with Malcolm?” “I didn’t think it was likely,” Julian said. “But then, I don’t entirely trust anyone.”
“That’s not true,” Diana said, looking across to where Mark was helping Emma into the driver’s side of the car. Her blond hair flew like sparks in the starlight. Diana glanced back at Julian. “You’d better get back. I’ll make myself scarce until tomorrow.”
“I’ll tell them you didn’t know anything. It isn’t as if people don’t deceive their tutors all the time. And you don’t even live with us.” He heard the Toyota start up. The others were waiting for him. “So you’ll drop Diego and Cristina at the Institute and then head home?”
“I’ll head somewhere,” she said.
He started toward the car, then paused and turned to look back at her. “Do you ever regret it? Choosing to be our tutor? You didn’t have to.”
The wind blew her dark hair across her face. “No,” she said. “I am who I am because I’ve been part of
your family. Never forget, Jules. The choices we make, make us.”
The drive back was silent and exhausted. Ty was quiet, looking out the window of the passenger seat. Dru was curled into a ball. Tavvy was awake but barely, his head against Livia’s shoulder. Emma was slumped against a backseat window, holding Cortana, her damp blond hair straggling around her face, her eyes closed. Mark was squeezed in beside her.
Julian wanted to reach for Emma, slide his hand into hers, but he didn’t dare, not in front of the others. He couldn’t stop himself from reaching back from the driver’s seat to touch Tavvy’s arm, though, making sure that his little boy was still alive, still all right.
They were all still alive, and it was little short of a miracle. Julian felt as if every nerve in his body had been pulled out of his skin. He visualized the nerve endings exposed, each one like a Sensor, reacting to the presence of his family around him.
He thought of Diana, saying, You’re going to have to let go.
And he knew it was true. Someday he would have to open his hands, let his brothers and sisters go freely into the world, a world that would cut them, bruise them, knock them down and not help them back up again. Someday he would have to do that.
But not yet. Not quite yet.
“Ty,” Julian said. He spoke quietly, so that the passengers in the backseat wouldn’t hear him. “Yes?” Ty looked over. The shadows under his eyes were as gray as his irises.
“You were right,” Julian said. “I was wrong.” “I was?” Ty sounded surprised. “About what?”
“You coming with us to the convergence,” said Julian. “You fought well—amazingly, in fact. If you hadn’t been there . . .” His throat closed up. It was a moment before he could speak again. “I’m grateful,” he said. “And I’m also sorry. I should have listened. You were right about what you could do.”
“Thanks,” said Ty. “For apologizing.” He fell silent, which Julian assumed meant the conversation was over, but after a few seconds Ty leaned over and touched his head lightly to Julian’s shoulder—a friendly head butt, as if he were Church, seeking affection. Julian reached out to ruffle up his younger brother’s hair and nearly smiled.
The nascent smile vanished quickly when they bumped to a stop in front of the Institute. It was lit up like a Christmas tree. It had been dark when they’d left, and as they piled out of the car, Julian caught the faintest of faint glimmers on the air.
He exchanged a look with Emma. Light in the air meant a Portal, and a Portal meant the Clave. Diana’s truck pulled up, and Diego and Cristina spilled out. They slammed the doors behind them and
the truck sped away. The Blackthorns had all emerged as well: some of them blinking and barely awake (Dru, Mark), some looking quietly suspicious (Ty), and some nervous (Livvy, who was clutching Tavvy tightly). In the distance, Julian thought he could see the faint pale shape of Windspear.
They headed toward the Institute steps together. At the top of the stairs, Julian hesitated with his hand on the front door.
Anything could be waiting for him on the other side, from the massed array of the Council to a few dozen Clave warriors. Julian knew there was no more hiding Mark. He knew what his plans were. He knew they balanced, like a million angels, on the head of a pin. Chance, circumstance, and determination held them together.
He glanced over and saw Emma looking at him. Though her tired and grimy face didn’t break into a smile, he saw her confidence and her trust in him in her eyes.
He’d missed one, he thought. Chance, circumstance, determination—and faith. He opened the door.
The light in the entryway was blazingly bright. Both witchlight chandeliers were burning, and the
upstairs gallery was illuminated by rows of torches that the family almost never used. Light glowed beneath the doors of the Sanctuary.
In the middle of the room stood Magnus Bane, resplendent in an elegant outfit: a brocade jacket and trousers, his fingers adorned with dozens of rings. Beside him was Clary Fairchild, her bright red hair tied up in a messy bun, wearing a delicate green dress. They both looked as if they had just come from a party.
As Julian and the rest flooded into the room, Magnus raised an eyebrow. “Well, well,” he said. “Kill the fatted calf and all that. The prodigals have returned.”
Clary’s hand flew to her mouth. “Emma, Julian—” She whitened. “Mark? Mark Blackthorn?”
Mark said nothing. None of them did. Julian realized that unconsciously, they had grouped themselves around Mark, a loose circle protecting him. Even Diego, wincing and blood-spattered, was part of it.
Mark stood silent, his ragged pale-blond hair a halo around his head, his pointed ears and polychrome eyes clearly visible in the bright light.
Magnus looked hard at Mark before glancing up toward the second floor. “Jace!” he called. “Get down here!”
Clary made a move toward the Blackthorns, but Magnus pulled her back gently. She was frowning. “Are you all right?” she said, directing the question to Emma but clearly meaning it for all of them. “Are you hurt?”
Before anyone could speak, there was a commotion at the top of the steps, and a tall figure appeared there.
The first time Julian had really met Jace Herondale, who was famous throughout the Shadowhunter world, Jace had been about seventeen and Julian had been twelve. Emma, who had also been twelve, had not been shy about letting the world know she thought Jace was the handsomest and most amazing person who had ever graced the planet with his presence.
Julian had not agreed, but then, no one had asked him.
Jace descended the stairs in a manner that made Julian wonder if Jace thought he had a magnificent train trailing behind him—slowly, deliberately, and as if he were aware that he was the focus of all eyes.
Or maybe he was just used to being stared at. Emma had stopped going on about Jace at some point, but the Shadowhunter world in general considered him out of the ordinary in terms of looks. His hair was shockingly gold and so were his eyes. Like Magnus and Clary he looked like he had come from a party: He wore a winered blazer and an air of casual elegance. Reaching the bottom step, he glanced toward Julian—covered in blood and dirt—and then toward the rest of them, just as ragged and stained.
“Well, either you’ve been out fighting the forces of evil or you’ve come from a much wilder party than we have,” Jace said. “Hello, there, Blackthorns.”
Livvy sighed. She was looking at Jace the way Emma had when she was twelve. Dru, loyal to her crush on Diego, just glared.
“Why are you here?” Julian asked, though he knew the answer. Still, it was better to build up the idea that you were surprised. People trusted your answers more when they thought they weren’t rehearsed.
“Dark magic,” said Magnus. “A huge flare of it on the map. At the convergence site.” He slid his gaze toward Emma. “I thought you might do something with that bit of information I gave you. Where ley lines are concerned, the convergence is always key.”
“Why didn’t you go there, then?” Emma asked. “To the convergence?”
“Magnus checked it out with a spell,” Clary said. “There was nothing there but some wreckage, so we Portaled here.”
“From my sister’s engagement party, to be precise,” said Jace. “There was an open bar.” “Oh!” A look of happiness flitted across Emma’s face. “Isabelle’s marrying Simon?”
As far as Julian was concerned, no girl had ever been born who could compare to Emma, but when Clary smiled, she was very pretty. Her whole face lit up. It was something she and Emma had in common, actually. “Yeah,” Clary said. “He’s really happy.”
“Mazel tov to them,” said Jace, leaning against the banister rail. “Anyway, we were at the party, and Magnus got this alert about necromantic magic near the L.A. Institute, and he tried to reach Malcolm, but no luck. So we snuck out, just the four of us. Which is a big loss to the party if you ask me, because I was going to give a toast and it was going to be glorious. Simon would never be able to show his face in public again.”
“Not really the point of an engagement toast, Jace,” Clary said. She was looking worriedly at Diego—he was awfully pale. “Four of you?” Emma looked around the room. “Is Alec here?”
Magnus opened his mouth to answer, but at that moment the doors of the Sanctuary burst open, and a tall, stocky man with dark hair emerged: Robert Lightwood, the current Inquisitor, second in command to the Consul of Idris, and in charge of investigating Shadowhunters who had broken the Law.
Julian had met the Inquisitor exactly once before, when he’d been forced to stand up in front of the Council and give his account of Sebastian’s attack on the Institute. He remembered holding the Mortal Sword in his hand. The feeling of the truth being dragged out of you with knives and hooks, of your internal organs tearing apart.
He had never lied when he was asked about the attack, had never wanted or planned to. But it hurt just the same. And bearing the Mortal Sword, even for such a short time, had forged an indelible bond in his mind between truth and pain.
The Inquisitor strode toward him. He was a little older than the Robert Lightwood Julian remembered, his hair more liberally streaked with gray. But the look in his dark blue eyes was the same: hard and cold.
“What’s going on here?” he demanded. “There was a flare of necromantic magic traced to this Institute several hours ago and your uncle claims to know nothing about it. More troubling, he refused to tell us where you disappeared to.” He spun around, his eyes raking their group—and landing on Mark. “Mark Blackthorn?”
“I already said that,” said Clary. Julian had the feeling she wasn’t overly fond of her prospective father-in-law—if he was that. He realized he didn’t know if Jace and Clary had plans to get married.
“Yes,” Mark said. He was standing upright as if facing a firing squad. He met Robert Lightwood’s eyes, and Julian saw the Inquisitor flinch at the sight of Wild Hunt eyes in a Shadowhunter’s face.
They were an accusation against the Clave, those eyes. They said, You abandoned me. You did not protect me. I was alone.
“I have come back,” Mark said.
“The Wild Hunt would never have released you,” said the Inquisitor. “You were far too valuable to them. And faeries don’t give back what they take.”
“Robert—” Magnus began.
“Tell me I’m wrong,” Robert Lightwood said. “Magnus? Anyone?”
Magnus was silent, his unhappiness evident. Jace’s gold eyes were unreadable. Dru made a frightened, stifled sound. Clary whirled on Robert.
“It’s not fair to interrogate them,” she said. “They’re just kids.”
“Don’t you think I remember the trouble you and Jace got into when you were ‘just kids’?”
“He has a point.” Jace smiled at Julian and Emma, and the smile was like gold melted over steel. You could see how the softness was a disguise, and how what lay under it had won Jace the title of best Shadowhunter of his generation.
“We didn’t use any necromancy,” said Julian. “We didn’t need to. The thing about faeries—they’re always willing to make a deal.”
Two figures appeared in the doorway of the Sanctuary. Anselm Nightshade, his sharp, bony face wary. And beside him, Arthur, looking tired and carrying a glass of wine. Julian had left the full bottle in the Sanctuary earlier that night. It was a good vintage.
The protected space of the Sanctuary extended slightly past the doors. Anselm edged a toe over the line, winced, and quickly pulled it back.
“Arthur. You claimed you were discussing Sophocles with Anselm Nightshade all evening?” Robert Lightwood said.
“‘If you try to cure evil with evil you will add more pain to your fate,’” said Arthur. Robert raised an eyebrow.
“He’s quoting Antigone,” said Julian wearily. “He means yes.”
“Come into the room, Arthur,” said Robert. “Please do not give me the impression you’re hiding in the Sanctuary.”
“When you use that voice, I want to hide in the Sanctuary,” said Magnus. He had begun wandering around the room, picking up objects and setting them down. His actions appeared idle, but Julian knew better. Magnus did little without premeditation.
Neither did Jace. Jace was sitting on the lowest step of the stairs, his sharp gaze unwavering. Julian felt the weight of it, like pressure against his chest. He cleared his throat.
“My younger brothers and sisters have nothing to do with this,” he said. “And Tavvy is exhausted. He was almost killed tonight.”
“What?” Clary said, alarm darkening her green eyes. “How did that happen?” “I’ll explain,” Julian said. “Just let them go.”
Robert hesitated for a moment before nodding curtly. “They can leave.”
Relief washed through Julian as Ty, Livvy, and Dru headed up the steps, Livvy still carrying Octavian against her shoulder. At the top, Ty paused for a moment and looked down. He was looking at Mark, and the expression on his face was fearful.
“It is the disease of tyranny to trust no friends, Inquisitor,” said Anselm Nightshade. “Aeschylus.”
“I did not come here, from my daughter’s engagement party, for a classics lesson,” said Robert. “Nor is this Downworlder business. Please wait for us in the Sanctuary, Anselm.”
Arthur passed his glass to Anselm, who raised it ironically but went, seeming relieved to get away from the demarcation line where hallowed ground began.
The moment he was gone, Robert rounded on Arthur. “What do you know about all this, Blackthorn?” “A convoy came to us from Faerie,” said Arthur. “They offered to return Mark to his family, and in
exchange, we would help them discover who was killing faeries in Los Angeles.”
“And you said nothing of this to the Clave?” said Robert. “Despite knowing you were breaking the Law, the Cold Peace—”
“I wanted my nephew back,” said Arthur. “Wouldn’t you have done the same, for your family?” “You’re a Shadowhunter,” said Robert. “If you must choose between your family and the Law, you
choose the Law!”
“Lex malla, lex nulla,” said Arthur. “You know our family motto.”
“He did the right thing.” For once there was no humor in Jace’s voice. “I would have done the same. Any of us would.”
Robert looked exasperated. “And did you discover it? Who was killing faeries?” “We discovered it tonight,” said Julian. “It was Malcolm Fade.”
Magnus stiffened, his cat eyes flashing. “Malcolm?” He executed a quick about-face and marched toward Julian. “And why do you think it was a warlock? Because we know magic? Is all dark magic to be blamed on us, then?”
“Because he said he did it,” said Julian.
Clary’s mouth fell open. Jace remained seated, face unreadable as a cat’s.
Robert’s expression darkened. “Arthur. You’re the head of the Institute. Talk. Or are you going to leave that to your nephew?”
“There are things,” Julian said, “things we didn’t tell Arthur. Things he doesn’t know.”
Arthur put his hand to his head, as if it pained him. “If I’ve been deceived,” he said, “then let Julian explain it.”
Robert’s hard gaze swept over their group and fastened on Diego. “Centurion,” he said. “Step forward.”
Julian tensed. Diego. He hadn’t factored him in, but Diego was a Centurion, and as such, sworn to tell the truth to the Clave. Of course Robert would want to talk to Diego instead of him.
He knew there was no real reason for Robert to want to talk to him at all. He didn’t run the Institute. Arthur did. Never mind that he’d been answering Robert’s letters for years and recognized Robert’s way of doing things better than anyone else here; never mind that in official correspondence, at least, they knew each other well. He was just a teenage boy.
“Yes, Inquisitor?” Diego said. “Speak to us of Malcolm Fade.”
“Malcolm isn’t who you think,” Diego said. “He has been responsible for countless deaths. He was responsible for the deaths of Emma’s parents.”
Robert shook his dark head. “How is that possible? The Carstairs were murdered by Sebastian Morgenstern.”
At the sound of Sebastian’s name, Clary went pale. She looked immediately over at Jace, who matched her glance—a look woven through with years of shared history. “No,” Clary said. “They weren’t. Sebastian was a murderer, but Emma has never believed that he was responsible for her parents’ deaths, and neither have Jace or I.” She turned to look at Emma. “You were right,” she said. “I always thought you would be proved right someday. But I’m sorry it was Malcolm. He was your friend.”
“And mine,” said Magnus, his voice strained. Clary moved toward him, placing her hand on his arm. “He was also the High Warlock,” said Robert. “How did this happen? What do you mean he’d been
“A series of killings in Los Angeles,” said Diego. “He was convincing mundanes to commit murder and then harvesting their bodies for parts he could use in necromancy.”
“The Clave should have been called in.” Robert sounded furious. “The Clave should have been called in the moment a faerie convoy approached you—”
“Inquisitor,” said Diego. He sounded tired. The whole right shoulder of his gear was dark red with blood. “I am a Centurion. I answer directly to the Council. I didn’t report what was happening either, because once things were in motion, reporting would have meant slowing things down.” He didn’t look at Cristina. “The Clave would have begun the investigation over again. There was no time, and the life of a child hung in the balance.” He put his hand to his chest. “If you wish to strip me of my medallion, I would understand. But I will maintain to the end that the Blackthorns did what was right.”
“I am not going to strip you of your medallion, Diego Rocio Rosales,” said Robert. “We have few Centurions, and you are one of the best.” He looked at Diego critically, at his bloody arm and exhausted face. “The Council will expect a report from you tomorrow, but for now, see to your wounds.”
“I’ll go with him,” Cristina said.
She helped Diego up the stairs, him leaning on her slender frame. Mark looked up at them and then away as they disappeared past the witchlight, into the shadows.
“Robert,” said Jace when they were gone. “When Julian was twelve he testified in front of the Council. It’s been five years. Let him talk now.”
Despite the look of clear reluctance on his face, Robert nodded. “Very well,” he said. “Everyone wants
to hear you speak, Julian Blackthorn. So speak.”
Julian spoke. Calmly and without flourishes, he began to describe the investigation, from the first bodies found to their realization that evening of Malcolm’s guilt.
Emma watched her parabatai as he spoke, and wondered how things would have turned out differently if Sebastian Morgenstern hadn’t attacked the L.A. Institute five years ago.
In Emma’s mind, for years now, there had been two Julians. Julian before the attack, who was like everyone else—loving his family but annoyed by them too; a brother among brothers and sisters with whom he squabbled and argued and teased and laughed.
And Julian after. Julian, still a child, teaching himself how to feed and change a baby, cooking four different meals for four younger siblings who liked and disliked different things; Julian hiding his uncle’s sickness from a mass of adults who would have taken his children away from him; Julian waking up from screaming nightmares that something had happened to Ty or Livvy or Dru.
Emma had been there to hold him, but she had never quite understood—how could she have, when she didn’t know about Arthur, didn’t know how alone Julian truly was? She only knew that the nightmares had faded and a quiet strength had settled over Jules, a hard determination before which the softness of childhood gave way.
He hadn’t been a boy in a long, long time. It had been that boy that Emma had thought could be her parabatai. She would never have fallen in love with that Julian. But she had fallen in love with this one, without knowing it, because how could you fall in love with someone you only half-guessed existed?
She wondered if Mark recognized the same dissonance in some way, if he saw the strangeness in how Julian stood and spoke to the Inquisitor now, as if they were two adults together. If he saw the care with which Julian told the story of what had happened: the key details he left out, the way he made it seem natural, inevitable, that they hadn’t told the Clave what they were doing. The way he left out Kit and Johnny Rook. He wove a tale of a series of events that was nobody’s fault, that no one could have foreseen or prevented, and he did it without a shred of guile ever showing on his face.
When he was done, Emma shivered inside. She loved Julian, she would always love Julian. But for just that moment, she was a little afraid of him too.
“Malcolm was creating murderers?” Robert echoed when Julian had stopped speaking.
“It makes sense,” said Magnus. He stood with his chin cupped in his hand, one long finger tapping against his cheekbone. “One of the reasons necromancy is forbidden is that so many necessary ingredients are things like the hand of a murderer who killed in cold blood, or the eye of a hanged man which still holds the image of the last thing he saw. Obtaining those ingredients by orchestrating the situations that create them was ingenious.” He seemed to notice Robert glaring at him. “Very evil, also,” he added. “Very.”
“Your nephew tells a convincing story, Arthur,” said Robert. “But you are notably absent from it. How did you not notice all this was going on?”
Julian had woven his story to make Arthur’s absence seem natural. But Robert was like a dog with a bone. Emma supposed that was why he had been elected to the position of Inquisitor.
Emma looked across the room and met Clary’s green gaze with her own. She thought of Clary kneeling in front of her in Idris, holding her hands, complimenting Cortana. She thought of how the kindnesses that were shown to children were things they never forgot.
“Robert,” Clary said. “There’s no need for this. They made difficult decisions, but they weren’t wrong decisions.”
“Then let me ask Arthur this, Clary,” said Robert. “What punishment would he choose for Nephilim, even young Nephilim, who break the Law?”
“Well, that would depend,” Arthur said, “on whether they were punished already, five years ago, by
losing their father and brother and sister.”
Robert flushed darkly. “It was the Dark War that took their family—”
“It was the Clave that took Mark and Helen,” said Magnus. “We expect betrayal from our enemies. Not from those who are supposed to care for us.”
“We would have protected Mark,” said Robert Lightwood. “There was no need to fear the Clave.” Arthur was pale, his eyes dilated. Yet Emma had never heard him speak so eloquently, or with such
clarity. It was bizarre. “Would you have?” he demanded. “In that case, why is Helen still at Wrangel Island?”
“She’s safer there,” snapped Robert. “There are those—not myself—who still hate the faeries for the betrayal of the Dark War. How do you think they would treat her if she were among other Shadowhunters?”
“So you couldn’t have protected Mark,” said Arthur. “You admit it.”
Before Robert could speak, Julian said, “Uncle Arthur, you can tell him the truth.”
Arthur looked puzzled; as clearheaded as he had seemed, he didn’t seem to know what Julian meant. He was breathing quickly, too, as he had in the Sanctuary when his head pained him.
Julian turned to Robert. “Arthur wanted to go to the Council as soon as the Fair Folk brought Mark here,” he said. “We begged him not to. We were afraid our brother would be taken away. We thought if we could just solve the murders, if Mark helped us do it, it might make him look better in the eyes of the Council. Help convince them to let him stay.”
“But do you understand what you did?” the Inquisitor demanded. “Malcolm—if he was in pursuit of dark power—he could have posed a threat to all the Clave.” Robert didn’t sound convinced, though.
“He wasn’t in pursuit of power,” said Julian. “He wanted to raise someone he loved from the dead. It was evil, what he did. And he’s died for it, as he should have. But it was his only goal and only plan. He never cared about the Clave or Shadowhunters. He only cared about her.”
“Poor Malcolm,” said Magnus quietly. “To lose the person he loved, that way. We all knew that he had loved a girl who had become an Iron Sister. We had no idea of the truth.”
“Robert,” Jace said. “These kids haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Perhaps not, but I’m the Inquisitor. I can hardly conceal this. With Malcolm Fade dead, having taken the Black Volume to the bottom of the ocean with him, and with all of this having happened without the head of the Institute having noticed—”
Julian stepped forward. “There’s something Uncle Arthur isn’t telling you,” he said. “He wasn’t just letting us run around wild while he did nothing. He’s been tracking down a different source of dark magic.”
Julian looked at Magnus as he spoke. Magnus, who had helped them in the past. He seemed to be willing Magnus to understand and believe him.
“It’s no coincidence that Anselm Nightshade is in the Sanctuary,” Julian went on in a hard voice. “Arthur brought him because he knew you were coming.”
Robert raised an eyebrow. “Is that true? Arthur?”
“You’d better tell them,” Julian said, looking hard at his uncle. “They’re going to find out anyway.” “I—” Arthur was staring at Julian. There was a blankness on his face that made Emma’s stomach knot
- Julian appeared to be almost willing Arthur to follow his lead. “I didn’t want to mention it,” Arthur said, “because it seemed to pale in comparison to what we learned about Malcolm.”
“Nightshade’s been using dark magic for profit,” said Julian. His kept his expression calm, a touch regretful. “He’s been making money hand over fist using addictive powders in the pizza he makes.”
“That’s—totally right!” said Emma, speaking over Arthur’s stunned silence. “There are people all over the city so addicted that they would do anything for him just to get more.”
“Pizza thralls?” said Jace. “This is without doubt, the weirdest—” He broke off as Clary stomped on his foot. “Seems serious,” he said. “I mean, addictive demon powders and all.”
Julian crossed the room to the hall closet and yanked it open. Several pizza boxes slid out. “Magnus?” Julian said.
Magnus threw the end of his scarf over his shoulder and approached Julian and the boxes. He lifted the lid of a pizza box with as much gravity as if he were opening a locked treasure chest.
He held his hand out over the box, turning it from left to right. Then he looked up. “Arthur’s right,” he said. “Dark magic.”
A cry echoed from inside the Sanctuary. “Betrayal!” Anselm shouted. “Et tu, Brute?” “He can’t get out,” said Arthur, looking dazed. “The outside doors are locked.”
Robert took off running into the Sanctuary. After a moment Jace and Clary followed, leaving only Magnus, hands in his pockets, remaining in the foyer.
Magnus regarded Julian with serious green-gold eyes. “Nicely done,” he said. “I don’t know quite how else to describe it, but—nicely done.”
Julian looked over at Arthur, who was leaning back against the wall by the Sanctuary door, his eyes half-shut, pain etched on his face. “I’ll burn in Hell for this,” he muttered in a low voice.
“There is no shame in burning for your family,” said Mark. “I will burn beside you, gladly.” Julian looked at him, surprise and gratitude written across his face.
“And so will I,” said Emma. She looked at Magnus. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m the one who killed Malcolm. I know he was your friend, and I wish—”
“He was my friend,” said Magnus, his eyes darkening. “I knew he had loved someone who died. I didn’t know the rest of the story. The Clave betrayed him, just like they betrayed you. I’ve lived a long time—I’ve seen many betrayals, and many broken hearts. There are those who let their grief devour them. Who forget that others also feel pain. If Alec died—” He looked down at his hands. “I have to think I wouldn’t be like that.”
“I’m just glad I finally know what happened to my parents,” Emma said. “Finally, I know.”
Before anyone could add anything, there was an explosion of noise at the entrance to the Sanctuary. Jace appeared suddenly, skidding backward, his fancy blazer ripped and his blond hair mussed. He turned a smile on the rest of them, so bright it seemed to light up the room.
“Clary’s got Nightshade pinned in a corner,” he said. “He’s pretty nimble for such an old vampire. Thanks for the exercise, by the way—and to think I thought tonight was going to be boring!”
After everything had been sorted out with the Inquisitor, who had hauled off Anselm Nightshade (still vowing revenge), and most of the Institute’s inhabitants had crawled off to bed, Mark went to the front door and looked out.
It was nearly dawn. Mark could see the sunrise, far in the distance, at the eastern edge of the beach’s curve. A pearlescent lightening of the water, as if white paint were spilling into the world through a crack in the sky.
“Mark,” said a voice at his shoulder. He turned. It was Jace Herondale.
It was strange looking at Jace and Clary, strange in a way he doubted it was for his siblings. After all, the last time he’d seen them they’d been Julian’s age. They’d been the last Shadowhunters he’d seen before he’d disappeared into the Hunt.
They were far from unrecognizable—they were probably only twenty-one or twenty-two. But up close Mark could see that Jace had acquired an indefinable aura of decisiveness and adulthood. Gone was the boy who had looked into Mark’s eyes and said in a shaking voice, The Wild Hunt. You’re one of them now.
“Mark Blackthorn,” Jace said. “I’d be polite and say you’ve changed, but you haven’t.” “I have,” Mark said. “Just not in a way you can see.”
Jace seemed to take this with good grace; he nodded and looked out toward the ocean. “A scientist said once that if the ocean were as clear as the sky, if we could see everything in it, no one would ever go into the sea. It’s that horrifying, what lives in the water, five miles down.”
“There speaks one who does not know the terrors of the sky,” said Mark. “Maybe not,” Jace said. “Do you still have the witchlight I gave you?” Mark nodded. “I kept it with me through Faerie.”
“I’ve only ever given witchlight rune-stones to two people in my life,” said Jace. “Clary and you.” He cocked his head to the side. “There was something about you, when we found you in the tunnels. You were frightened, but you weren’t going to give up. I never had the slightest doubt I’d see you again.”
“Really?” Mark looked at him skeptically.
“Really.” Jace smiled his easy, charming smile. “Just remember that the New York Institute is on your side,” he said. “Remind Julian if you’re ever in trouble again. It’s not simple running an Institute. I ought to know.”
Mark began to protest, but Jace had already turned and gone back inside to rejoin Clary. Mark somehow doubted Jace would have paid any attention to his protest if he’d made it. He’d clearly seen the situation for what it was, but wasn’t planning on doing anything to upset the balance.
Mark scanned the horizon again. Dawn was spreading. The road and the highway, the desert trees, all were thrown into sharp relief by the increasing light. And there by the edge of the road stood Kieran, looking out toward the sea. Mark could see him only as a shadow, but even as a shadow Kieran could never have been anyone else.
He went down the steps and over to where Kieran was standing. He had not changed his clothes, and the blade of his sword, which hung by his side, was stained with gore.
“Kieran,” Mark said.
“You will stay?” Kieran asked, and then caught himself with a rueful look. “Of course, you will stay.” “If you’re asking if I’m going to remain with my family or go back to the Wild Hunt, then yes, you have
your answer,” said Mark. “The investigation is over. The murderer and his Followers are gone.”
“That was not the letter of the bargain,” said Kieran. “The Shadowhunters were to release the murderer into the custody of Faerie, for us to mete out justice.”
“Given that Malcolm is dead, and the magnitude of Iarlath’s betrayal, I expect your folk to look with leniency upon my choice,” said Mark.
“My folk?” Kieran echoed. “You know they are not lenient. They have not been lenient with me.” Mark thought of the first time he had seen Kieran’s black eyes staring out defiantly from the tangle of his dark hair. He thought of the glee of the other Hunters at having a prince to torment and mock. How Kieran had borne it, with an arrogant curl to his lip and a lift of his chin. How he had borne the fact that his father had thrown him to the Hunt the way a man might throw a bone to a dog. Kieran had not had a brother who loved him and fought to get him back. He had not had Julian. “But I will fight for you,” he said, meeting Mark’s gaze. “I will tell them it is your right to stay.” He hesitated. “Will we—see each other again?”
“I don’t think so, Kieran,” said Mark, as gently as he could. “Not after all that has happened.”
A brief ripple of pain, quickly hidden, passed across Kieran’s face. The color of his hair had faded to a silvery-blue, not unlike the shade of the ocean in the morning. “I did not expect a different answer,” he said. “I hoped, though. It is hard to kill hope. But I suppose I lost you a long time ago.”
“Not that long,” said Mark. “You lost me when you came here with Gwyn and Iarlath and you let them whip my brother. I could forgive you for any pain incurred by me. But I will never forgive you for what Julian and Emma suffered.”
“Emma?” said Kieran, his brows drawing together. “I thought it was the other girl who had drawn your
fancy. Your princess.”
Mark gave a choked laugh. “By the Angel,” he said, and saw Kieran blanch at the Shadowhunter words. “Your imagination is limited by your jealousy. Kieran . . . everyone who lives under this roof, whether they are bound by blood or not, we are tied together by an invisible net of love and duty and loyalty and honor. That is what it means to be a Shadowhunter. Family—”
“What would I know of family? My father sold me to the Wild Hunt. I do not know my mother. I have three dozen brothers, all of whom would gladly see me dead. Mark, you are all I have.”
“And I love you,” Kieran said. “You are all that exists on the earth and under the sky that I do love.” Mark looked into Kieran’s eyes, the silver and the black, and he saw in them, as he always had, the
night sky. And he felt that treacherous pull under his rib cage, the one that said that the clouds could be his road. That he need never worry about human concerns: money and shelter and rules and laws. He could ride through the skies over glaciers, through the treetops of forests no human being knew existed. He could sleep in the ruins of cities lost for centuries. His shelter could be a single blanket. He could lie in Kieran’s arms and count the stars.
But he had always given the stars his brothers’ and sisters’ names. There was beauty in the idea of freedom, but it was an illusion. Every human heart was chained by love.
Mark drew his elf-bolt necklace up over his head. He reached out and took Kieran’s hand, turning it over so it was palm up, and dropped the necklace into it.
“I will draw no more bows for the Wild Hunt,” he said. “Keep this and perhaps remember me.” Kieran’s hand tightened on the arrowhead, his knuckles whitening. “The stars will go out before I forget
you, Mark Blackthorn.”
Lightly, Mark touched Kieran’s cheek. The faerie prince’s eyes were wide and tearless. But in them Mark could see a great wilderness of loneliness. A thousand dark nights spent riding with no home to arrive at. “I do not forgive you,” he said. “But you came to help us, at the end. I do not know what would have happened if you hadn’t. So if you need me—if it is a true need—send for me and I will come.”
Kieran half-closed his eyes. “Mark—”
But Mark had already turned away. Kieran stood and watched him go, and though he did not move or speak, at the edge of the bluff Windspear reared up and cried out, his hooves pawing at the sky.
Julian’s window looked out over the desert. At any point during the past five years he could have switched out for Mark’s room, which had a view of the ocean, but it would have felt like giving up on the idea that Mark would ever come back. And besides, his was the only room with a window seat, lined with now slightly threadbare cushions. He and Emma had spent hours there together, reading and drawing, the sun through the glass turning her pale hair to fire.
He was sitting there now, the window cranked open to carry away the scents that still seemed to hang over him, even after a shower: blood and wet stone, seawater and dark magic.
Everything ended eventually, he thought. Even the strangest night of his life. Clary had taken him and Emma aside after Anselm had been captured, hugged them, reminded them that they could always call. He knew Clary was, in her quiet way, trying to tell him, tell both of them, that it was all right to lay their burdens on her.
He knew he never would.
His phone trilled. He glanced down at the screen: It was Emma. She’d sent him a photo. No words, just the picture of her closet: the door open, the photographs and maps and string and notes spilling out.
He threw on jeans and a T-shirt and headed down the hall. The Insitute was dead silent, wrapped in sleep, the only sound the desert wind outside, soughing against glass and stone.
Emma was in her room, sitting up against the footboard of her bed, her phone on the floor beside her.
She was wearing a nightgown, long with thin straps, pale white in the fading moonlight.
“Julian,” she said, knowing he was there without looking up. “You were awake, right? I had a feeling you were awake.”
She stood up, still looking at her closet.
“I don’t know what to do with it,” she said. “I spent such a long time collecting everything that seemed like evidence, making guesses, thinking about this and nothing but this. This was my big secret, the heart of everything I did.” She looked toward him. “Now it’s just a closet full of junk.”
“I can’t tell you what you should do with all that,” he said. “But I can tell you, you don’t need to think about it now.”
Her hair was down, like spun light around her shoulders, tickling her face with the ends of curls, and he dug his fingers into his palms to keep himself from pulling her against him so he could bury his face and hands in it.
He looked instead at the healing cuts on her arms and hands, the fading red of her burned wrist, the evidence that tonight had not been easy.
Nothing they did ever was.
“Mark’s staying,” she said. “Right? There’s nothing the Clave can do to take him away now?” Mark. Her first thought is about Mark. Julian pushed the thought down, away: It was unworthy,
ridiculous. They weren’t twelve anymore.
“Nothing,” Julian said. “He was never exiled. The rule was only that we couldn’t look for him. We didn’t. He found his way home and they can’t change that. And I think, after the help he gave us with Malcolm, it would be a very unpopular move if they tried.”
She flashed a faint smile at him before clambering up onto the bed, sliding her long bare legs under the coverlet. “I went to check on Diego and Cristina,” she said. “He was passed out in her bed and she was asleep in the chair next to him. I’m going to make so much fun of her tomorrow.”
“Is Cristina in love with him? Diego, I mean,” Julian asked, sitting down on the side of Emma’s bed. “Not sure.” Emma wiggled her fingers. “They have, you know. Stuff.”
“No, I don’t know.” He copied her gesture. “What’s that?” “Unfinished romantic business,” Emma said, pulling the blanket up.
“Finger wiggling means unfinished business? I’ll have to keep that in mind.” Julian felt a smile tug the corners of his mouth. Only Emma could make him smile after a night like the one they’d had.
She turned back a corner of the blanket. “Stay?”
There was nothing he wanted more than to crawl in beside her, to trace the shape of her face with his fingers: wide cheekbones, pointed chin, half-lidded eyes, eyelashes like lace against his fingertips. His body and mind were beyond exhausted, too worn out for desire, but the yearning for closeness and companionship remained. The touch of her hands, her skin, was a comfort nothing else could reproduce.
He remembered the beach, lying awake for hours, trying to memorize what it was like to hold Emma. They’d slept beside each other so many times, but he’d never realized how different it was when you could encompass the shape of someone else in your arms. Fit your breathing to their breathing.
He crawled into bed beside her, clothes still on, and slid under the covers. She was on her side, her head propped on her hand. Her expression was serious, intent. “The way you orchestrated everything tonight, Julian. You scared me a little.”
He touched the edge of her hair, briefly, before dropping his hand. A slow ache was spreading through his body, a deep ache that seemed to come from the marrow of his bones.
“You should never be scared of me,” he said. “Never. You’re one of the people I would never hurt.” She reached out a hand and put her palm against his heart. The fabric of his T-shirt separated her hand
and his chest, but he felt the touch as if it were on his bare skin. “Tell me what happened when we got back, with Arthur and Anselm,” she said. “Because I don’t think even I understand it.”
So he told her. Told her about how for months he’d been emptying the dregs of the vials Malcolm gave him for Arthur into a bottle of wine, just in case. How he’d left the wine containing this super-dosage in the Sanctuary. How he’d realized at the convergence that they would need Arthur to be clearheaded when they returned, to be functioning. The way he’d called Arthur, telling him he needed to offer the wine to Anselm and drink some himself, knowing it would affect only his uncle. How he knew he’d done a terrible thing, dosing his uncle without his knowledge. How he’d planted the pizza boxes in the foyer the first time they’d ordered it, just in case; how he knew he’d done a terrible thing to Anselm, who did not deserve the punishment he was likely to get. How he didn’t know who he was sometimes, how he was capable of doing the things he did, and yet how he couldn’t not do them.
When he was done, she leaned in, touching his cheek gently. She smelled faintly of rosewater soap. “I know who you are,” she said. “You’re my parabatai. You’re the boy who does what has to be done because no one else will.”
Parabatai. He had never thought of the word with bitterness before, even feeling what he felt and knowing what he knew. And yet now, he thought of the years and years ahead of them in which there would be no time in which they felt fully safe together, no way to touch or kiss or reassure each other without fear of discovery, and a sudden emotion surged through him, uncontrollable.
“What if we ran away?” he said.
“Ran away?” she echoed. “And went where?”
“Somewhere they wouldn’t find us. I could do it. I could find a place.”
He saw the sympathy in her eyes. “They’d figure out why. We wouldn’t be able to come back.” “They forgave us for breaking the Cold Peace,” he said, and he knew he sounded desperate. He knew
his words were tripping over themselves. But they were words he had wanted to say, not dared to say, for years: They were words that belonged to a part of himself that had been locked up so long he had wondered if it were even still living. “They need Shadowhunters. There aren’t enough of us. They might forgive us for this, too.”
“Julian—you wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if you left the kids. And Mark, and Helen. I mean, you just got Mark back. There’s no way.”
He held back thought of them, of his brothers and sisters, as if he were Poseidon holding back the tide. “Are you saying this because you don’t want to go away with me? Because if you don’t want it—”
In the distance, down the hall, a thin cry rose: Tavvy.
Julian was out of the bed in seconds, the floor cold against his bare feet. “I’d better go.”
Emma pushed herself up on her elbows. Her face was serious, dominated by her wide dark eyes. “I’ll go with you.”
They hurried down the hall to Tavvy’s room. The door was propped open, a dim witchlight burning inside. Tavvy was curled up half in and half out of his tent, tossing and turning in his sleep.
Emma was on her knees next to him in moments, stroking his disarrayed brown hair. “Baby,” she murmured. “Poor baby, by the Angel, what a night for you.”
She lay down on her side, facing Tavvy, and Julian lay down on the little boy’s other side. Tavvy gave a cry and curled back into Julian, his breath softening as he relaxed into sleep.
Julian looked across his little brother’s curly head at Emma. “Do you remember?” he said.
He could see in her eyes that she did remember. The years they’d taken care of the others, the nights they stayed up with Tavvy or with Dru, with Ty and Livvy. He wondered if she’d spun fantasies, as he had, that they were married and these their children.
“I remember,” she said. “That’s why I said you couldn’t ever leave them. You couldn’t stand it.” She propped her head on her hand, the scar on her forearm a white line in the dimness. “I don’t want you to do something you’ll spend your life regretting.”
“I’ve already done something I’m going to spend my life regretting,” he said, thinking of the circles of
fire in the Silent City, the rune on his collarbone. “Now I’m trying to fix it.”
She lowered her head gently to the floor beside Tavvy, her pale hair making a pillow. “Like you said about my closet,” she said. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow. Okay?”
He nodded, watching as she closed her eyes, as her breaths evened out into sleep. He’d waited this long, after all. He could wait another day.
After the dawn, Emma woke from a nightmare, crying the names of her parents—and of Malcolm—aloud. Julian picked her up in his arms and carried her down the hallway to her own bedroom.