“No.” Now that the moment had come, Clary was having a hard time finding words. She caught a glimpse of her reflection in the silvery side of the napkin holder. White cardigan, white face, hectic flush in her cheeks. She looked like she had a fever. She felt a little like it too. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you for the past few days—”
“You could have fooled me.” His voice was unnaturally sharp. “Every time I called you, Luke said you were sick. I figured you were avoiding me. Again.”
“I wasn’t.” It seemed to her that there were vast amounts of empty space between them, though the booth wasn’t that big and they weren’t sitting that far apart. “I did want to talk to you. I’ve been thinking about you all the time.”
He made a noise of surprise and held his hand out across the table. She took it, a wave of relief breaking over her. “I’ve been thinking about you, too.”
His grip was warm on hers, comforting, and she remembered how she’d taken the bloody shard of the portal out of his hand at Renwick’s – the only thing that was left of his old life – and how he’d pulled her into his arms. “I really was sick,” she said. “I swear. I almost died back there on the ship, you know.”
He let her hand go, but he was staring at her, almost as if he meant to memorize her face. “I know,” he said. “Every time you almost die, I almost die myself.”
His words made her heart rattle in her chest as if she’d swallowed a mouthful of caffeine. “Jace. I came to tell you that—”
“Wait. Let me talk first.” He held his hands up as if to ward off her next words. “Before you say anything, I wanted to apologize to you.”
“Apologize? For what?”
“For not listening to you.” He raked his hair back with both hands and she noticed a little scar, a tiny silver line, on the side of his throat. It hadn’t been there before. “You kept telling me that I couldn’t have what I wanted from you, and I kept pushing at you and pushing at you and not listening to you at all. I just wanted you and I didn’t care what anybody else had to say about it. Not even you.”
Her mouth went suddenly dry, but before she could say anything, Kaelie was back, with Jace’s fries and a number of plates for Clary. Clary stared down at what she’d ordered. A green milk shake, what looked like raw hamburger steak, and a plate of chocolate-dipped crickets. Not that it mattered; her stomach was knotted up too much to even consider eating. “Jace,” she said, as soon as the waitress was gone. “You didn’t do anything wrong. You—”
“No. Let me finish.” He was staring down at his fries as if they held the secrets of the universe. “Clary, I have to say it now or—or I won’t say it.” His words tumbled out in a rush: “I thought I’d lost my family. And I don’t mean Valentine. I mean the Lightwoods. I thought they’d finished with me. I thought there was nothing left in my world but you. I—I was crazy with loss and I took it out on you and I’m sorry. You were right.”
“No. I was stupid. I was cruel to you—”
“You had every right to be.” He raised his eyes to look at her and she was suddenly and strangely reminded of being four years old at the beach, crying when the wind came up and blew away the castle she had made. Her mother had told her she could make another one if she liked, but it hadn’t stopped her crying because what she had thought was permanent was not permanent after all, but only made out of sand that vanished at the touch of wind or water. “What you said was true. We don’t live or love in a vacuum. There are people around us who care about us who would be hurt, maybe destroyed, if we let ourselves feel what we might want to feel. To be that selfish, it would mean—it would mean being like Valentine.”
He spoke his father’s name with such finality that Clary felt it like a door slamming in her face.
“I’ll just be your brother from now on,” he said, looking at her with a hopeful expectation that she would be pleased, which made her want to scream that he was smashing her heart into pieces and he had to stop. “That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”
It took her a long time to answer, and when she did, her own voice sounded like an echo, coming from very far away. “Yes,” she said, and she heard the rush of waves in her ears, and her eyes stung as if from sand or salt spray. “That’s what I wanted.”
Clary walked numbly up the wide steps that led up to Beth Israel’s big glass front doors. In a way, she was glad she was here rather than anywhere else. What she wanted more than anything was to throw herself into her mother’s arms and cry, even if she could never explain to her mother what she was crying about. Since she couldn’t do that, sitting next to her mother’s bed and crying seemed like the next best option.
She’d held it together pretty well at Taki’s, even hugging Jace good-bye when she left. She hadn’t started bawling till she’d gotten on the subway, and then she’d found herself crying about everything she hadn’t cried about yet, Jace and Simon and Luke and her mother and even Valentine. She’d cried loudly enough that the man sitting across from her had offered her a tissue, and she’d screamed, What do you think you’re looking at, jerk? at him, because that was what you did in New York. After that she felt a little better.
As she neared the top of the stairs, she realized there was a woman standing there. She was wearing a long dark cloak over a dress, not the sort of thing you usually saw on a Manhattan street. The cloak was made of a dark velvety material and had a wide hood, which was up, hiding her face. Glancing around, Clary saw that no one else on the hospital steps or standing by its doors seemed to notice the apparition. A glamour, then.
She reached the top step and paused, looking up at the woman. She still couldn’t see her face. She said, “Look, if you’re here to see me, just tell me what you want. I’m not really in the mood for all this glamour and secrecy stuff right now.”
She noticed people around her stopping to stare at the crazy girl who was talking to no one. She fought the urge to stick out her tongue at them.
“All right.” The voice was gentle, oddly familiar. The woman reached up and pushed back her hood. Silver hair spilled out over her shoulders in a flood. It was the woman Clary had seen staring at her in the courtyard of the Marble Cemetery, the same woman who’d saved them from Malik’s knife at the Institute. Up close, Clary could see that she had the sort of face that was all angles, too sharp to be pretty, though her eyes were an intense and lovely hazel. “My name is Madeleine. Madeleine Bellefleur.”
“And…?” Clary said. “What do you want from me?”
The woman—Madeleine—hesitated. “I knew your mother, Jocelyn,” she said. “We were friends in Idris.”
“You can’t see her,” Clary said. “No visitors but family until she gets better.”
“But she won’t get better.”
Clary felt as if she’d been slapped in the face. “What?”
“I’m sorry,” Madeleine said. “I didn’t mean to upset you. It’s just that I know what’s wrong with Jocelyn, and there’s nothing a mundane hospital can do for her now. What happened to her—she did it to herself, Clarissa.”
“No. You don’t understand. Valentine—”
“She did it before Valentine got to her. So he couldn’t get any information out of her. She planned it that way. It was a secret, a secret she shared with only one other person, and she told only one other person how the spell could be reversed. That person was me.”
“Yes,” Madeleine said. “I mean I can show you how to wake your mother up.”