The police. She tried to sit up, and gagged again, fingers spasming into the damp earth.
“I told you not to move,” Jace hissed. “That Ravener demon got you in the back of the neck. It was half-dead so it wasn’t much of a sting, but we have to get you to the Institute. Hold still.”
“That thing—the monster—it talked.” Clary was shuddering uncontrollably.
“You’ve heard a demon talk before.” Jace’s hands were gentle as he slipped the strip of knotted cloth under her neck, and tied it. It was smeared with something waxy, like the gardener’s salve her mother used to keep her paint- and turpentine-abused hands soft.
“The demon in Pandemonium—it looked like a person.”
“It was an Eidolon demon. A shape-changer. Raveners look like they look. Not very attractive, but they’re too stupid to care.”
“It said it was going to eat me.”
“But it didn’t. You killed it.” Jace finished the knot and sat back.
To Clary’s relief the pain in the back of her neck had faded. She hauled herself into a sitting position. “The police are here.” Her voice came out like a frog’s croak. “We should—”
“There’s nothing they can do. Somebody probably heard you screaming and reported it. Ten to one those aren’t real police officers. Demons have a way of hiding their tracks.”
“My mom,” Clary said, forcing the words through her swollen throat.
“There’s Ravener poison coursing through your veins right now. You’ll be dead in an hour if you don’t come with me.” He got to his feet and held out a hand to her. She took it and he pulled her upright. “Come on.”
The world tilted. Jace slid a hand across her back, holding her steady. He smelled of dirt, blood, and metal. “Can you walk?”
“I think so.” She glanced through the densely blooming bushes. She could see the police coming up the path. One of them, a slim blond woman, held a flashlight in one hand. As she raised it, Clary saw the hand was fleshless, a skeleton hand sharpened to bone points at the fingertips. “Her hand—”
“I told you they might be demons.” Jace glanced at the back of the house. “We have to get out of here. Can we go through the alley?”
Clary shook her head. “It’s bricked up. There’s no way—” Her words dissolved into a fit of coughing. She raised her hand to cover her mouth. It came away red. She whimpered.
He grabbed her wrist, turned it over so the white, vulnerable flesh of her inner arm lay bare under the moonlight. Traceries of blue vein mapped the inside of her skin, carrying poisoned blood to her heart, her brain. Clary felt her knees buckle. There was something in Jace’s hand, something sharp and silver. She tried to pull her hand back, but his grip was too hard: She felt a stinging kiss against her skin. When he let go, she saw an inked black symbol like the ones that covered his skin, just below the fold of her wrist. This one looked like a set of overlapping circles.
“What’s that supposed to do?”
“It’ll hide you,” he said. “Temporarily.” He slid the thing Clary had thought was a knife back into his belt. It was a long, luminous cylinder, as thick around as an index finger and tapering to a point. “My stele,” he said.
Clary didn’t ask what that was. She was busy trying not to fall over. The ground was heaving up and down under her feet. “Jace,” she said, and she crumpled into him. He caught her as if he were used to catching fainting girls, as if he did it every day. Maybe he did. He swung her up into his arms, saying something in her ear that sounded like Covenant. Clary tipped her head back to look at him but saw only the stars cartwheeling across the dark sky overhead. Then the bottom dropped out of everything, and even Jace’s arms around her were not enough to keep her from falling.
“DO YOU THINK SHE’LL EVER WAKE UP? IT’S BEEN THREE days already.”
“You have to give her time. Demon poison is strong stuff, and she’s a mundane. She hasn’t got runes to keep her strong like we do.”
“Mundies die awfully easily, don’t they?”
“Isabelle, you know it’s bad luck to talk about death in a sickroom.”
Three days, Clary thought slowly. All her thoughts ran as thickly and slowly as blood or honey. I have to wake up.
The dreams held her, one after the other, a river of images that bore her along like a leaf tossed in a current. She saw her mother lying in a hospital bed, eyes like bruises in her white face. She saw Luke, standing atop a pile of bones. Jace with white feathered wings sprouting out of his back, Isabelle sitting naked with her whip curled around her like a net of gold rings, Simon with crosses burned into the palms of his hands. Angels, falling and burning. Falling out of the sky.
“I told you it was the same girl.”
“I know. Little thing, isn’t she? Jace said she killed a Ravener.”
“Yeah. I thought she was a pixie the first time we saw her. She’s not pretty enough to be a pixie, though.”
“Well, nobody looks their best with demon poison in their veins. Is Hodge going to call on the Brothers?”
“I hope not. They give me the creeps. Anyone who mutilates themselves like that—”
“We mutilate ourselves.”
“I know, Alec, but when we do it, it isn’t permanent. And it doesn’t always hurt ….”
“If you’re old enough. Speaking of which, where is Jace? He saved her, didn’t he? I would have thought he’d take some interest in her recovery.”
“Hodge said he hasn’t been to see her since he brought her here. I guess he doesn’t care.”
“Sometimes I wonder if he—Look! She moved!”
“I guess she’s alive after all.” A sigh. “I’ll tell Hodge.”
Clary’s eyelids felt as if they had been sewed shut. She imagined she could feel tearing skin as she peeled them slowly open and blinked for the first time in three days.
She saw clear blue sky above her, white puffy clouds and chubby angels with gilded ribbons trailing from their wrists. Am I dead? she wondered. Could heaven actually look like this? She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them again: This time she realized that what she was staring at was an arched wooden ceiling, painted with a rococo motif of clouds and cherubs.
Painfully she hauled herself into a sitting position. Every part of her ached, especially the back of her neck. She glanced around. She was tucked into a linen-sheeted bed, one of a long row of similar beds with metal headboards. Her bed had a small nightstand beside it with a white pitcher and cup on it. Lace curtains were pulled across the windows, blocking the light, although she could hear the faint, ever-present New York sounds of traffic coming from outside.
“So, you’re finally awake,” said a dry voice. “Hodge will be pleased. We all thought you’d probably die in your sleep.”
Clary turned. Isabelle was perched on the next bed, her long jet-black hair wound into two thick braids that fell past her waist. Her white dress had been replaced by jeans and a tight blue tank top, though the red pendant still winked at her throat. Her dark spiraling tattoos were gone; her skin was as unblemished as the surface of a bowl of cream.
“Sorry to disappoint you.” Clary’s voice rasped like sandpaper. “Is this the Institute?”
Isabelle rolled her eyes. “Is there anything Jace didn’t tell you?”
Clary coughed. “This is the Institute, right?”
“Yes. You’re in the infirmary, not that you haven’t figured that out already.”
A sudden, stabbing pain made Clary clutch at her stomach. She gasped.
Isabelle looked at her in alarm. “Are you okay?”
The pain was fading, but Clary was aware of an acid feeling in the back of her throat and a strange light-headedness. “My stomach.”
“Oh, right. I almost forgot. Hodge said to give you this when you woke up.” Isabelle grabbed for the ceramic pitcher and poured some of the contents into the matching cup, which she handed to Clary. It was full of a cloudy liquid that steamed slightly. It smelled like herbs and something else, something rich and dark. “You haven’t eaten anything in three days,” Isabelle pointed out. “That’s probably why you feel sick.”
Clary gingerly took a sip. It was delicious, rich and satisfying with a buttery aftertaste. “What is this?”
Isabelle shrugged. “One of Hodge’s tisanes. They always work.” She slid off the bed, landing on the floor with a catlike arch of her back. “I’m Isabelle Lightwood, by the way. I live here.”
“I know your name. I’m Clary. Clary Fray. Did Jace bring me here?”
Isabelle nodded. “Hodge was furious. You got ichor and blood all over the carpet in the entryway. If he’d done it while my parents were here, he’d have gotten grounded for sure.” She looked at Clary more narrowly. “Jace said you killed that Ravener demon all by yourself.”
A quick image of the scorpion thing with its crabbed, evil face flashed through Clary’s mind; she shuddered and clutched the cup more tightly. “I guess I did.”
“But you’re a mundie.”
“Amazing, isn’t it?” Clary said, savoring the look of thinly disguised amazement on Isabelle’s face. “Where is Jace? Is he around?”
Isabelle shrugged. “Somewhere,” she said. “I should go tell everyone you’re up. Hodge’ll want to talk to you.”
“Hodge is Jace’s tutor, right?”
“Hodge tutors us all.” She pointed. “The bathroom’s through there, and I hung some of my old clothes on the towel rack in case you want to change.”
Clary went to take another sip from the cup and found that it was empty. She no longer felt hungry or light-headed either, which was a relief. She set the cup down and hugged the sheet around herself. “What happened to my clothes?”
“They were covered in blood and poison. Jace burned them.”
“Did he?” asked Clary. “Tell me, is he always really rude, or does he save that for mundanes?”
“Oh, he’s rude to everyone,” said Isabelle airily. “It’s what makes him so damn sexy. That, and he’s killed more demons than anyone else his age.”
Clary looked at her, perplexed. “Isn’t he your brother?”
That got Isabelle’s attention. She laughed out loud. “Jace? My brother? No. Whatever gave you that idea?”
“Well, he lives here with you,” Clary pointed out. “Doesn’t he?”
Isabelle nodded. “Well, yes, but …”
“Why doesn’t he live with his own parents?”
For a fleeting moment Isabelle looked uncomfortable. “Because they’re dead.”
Clary’s mouth opened in surprise. “Did they die in an accident?”
“No.” Isabelle fidgeted, pushing a dark lock of hair behind her left ear. “His mother died when he was born. His father was murdered when he was ten. Jace saw the whole thing.”
“Oh,” Clary said, her voice small. “Was it …demons?”
Isabelle got to her feet. “Look, I’d better let everyone know you’ve woken up. They’ve been waiting for you to open your eyes for three days. Oh, and there’s soap in the bathroom,” she added. “You might want to clean up a little. You smell.”
Clary glared at her. “Thanks a lot.”
Isabelle’s clothes looked ridiculous. Clary had to roll the legs on the jeans up several times before she stopped tripping on them, and the plunging neckline of the red tank top only emphasized her lack of what Eric would have called a “rack.”
She cleaned up in the small bathroom, using a bar of hard lavender soap. Drying herself with a white hand towel left damp hair straggling around her face in fragrant tangles. She squinted at her reflection in the mirror. There was a purpling bruise high up on her left cheek, and her lips were dry and swollen.
I have to call Luke, she thought. Surely there was a phone around here somewhere. Maybe they’d let her use it after she talked to Hodge.
She found her Skechers placed neatly at the foot of her infirmary bed, her keys tied into the laces. Sliding her feet into them, she took a deep breath and left to find Isabelle.
The corridor outside the infirmary was empty. Clary glanced down it, perplexed. It looked like the sort of hallway she sometimes found herself racing down in nightmares, shadowy and infinite. Glass lamps blown into the shapes of roses hung at intervals on the walls, and the air smelled like dust and candle wax.
In the distance she could hear a faint and delicate noise, like wind chimes shaken by a storm. She set off down the corridor slowly, trailing a hand along the wall. The Victorian-looking wallpaper was faded with age, burgundy and pale gray. Each side of the corridor was lined with closed doors.
The sound she was following grew louder. Now she could identify it as the sound of a piano being played with desultory but undeniable skill, though she couldn’t identify the tune.
Turning the corner, she came to a doorway, the door propped fully open. Peering in she saw what was clearly a music room. A grand piano stood in one corner, and rows of chairs were arranged against the far wall. A covered harp occupied the center of the room.
Jace was seated at the grand piano, his slender hands moving rapidly over the keys. He was barefoot, dressed in jeans and a gray T-shirt, his tawny hair ruffled up around his head as if he’d just woken up. Watching the quick, sure movements of his hands across the keys, Clary remembered how it had felt to be lifted up by those hands, his arms holding her up and the stars hurtling down around her head like a rain of silver tinsel.