Clary’s mouth dropped open. “So was it here?”
“No. It belonged to your mother. All Ragnor did was advise her where to hide it from Valentine.”
“It’s at the Wayland family manor. The Waylands had their home very close to where Jocelyn and Valentine lived; they were their nearest neighbors. Ragnor suggested that your mother hide the book in their home, where Valentine would never look for it. In the library, as a matter of fact.”
“But Valentine lived in the Wayland manor for years after that,” Clary protested. “Wouldn’t he have found it?”
“It was hidden inside another book. One Valentine was unlikely to ever open.” Magnus smiled crookedly. “Simple Recipes for Housewives. No one can say your mother didn’t have a sense of humor.”
“So have you gone to the Wayland manor? Have you looked for the book?”
Magnus shook his head. “Clary, there are misdirection wards on the manor. They don’t just keep out the Clave; they keep out everyone. Especially Downworlders. Maybe if I had time to work on them, I could crack them, but—”
“Then no one can get into the manor?” Despair clawed at her chest. “It’s impossible?”
“I didn’t say no one,” Magnus said. “I can think of at least one person who could almost certainly get into the manor.”
“You mean Valentine?”
“I mean,” said Magnus, “Valentine’s son.”
Clary shook her head. “Jace won’t help me, Magnus. He doesn’t want me here. In fact, I doubt he’s speaking to me at all.”
Magnus looked at her meditatively. “I think,” he said, “there isn’t much that Jace wouldn’t do for you, if you asked him.”
Clary opened her mouth and then shut it again. She thought of the way Magnus had always seemed to know how Alec felt about Jace; how Simon felt about her. Her feelings for Jace must be written on her face even now, and Magnus was an expert reader. She glanced away. “Say I can convince Jace to come to the manor with me and get the book,” she said. “Then what? I don’t know how to cast a spell, or make an antidote—”
Magnus snorted. “Did you think I was giving you all this advice for free? Once you get hold of the Book of the White, I want you to bring it straight to me.”
“The book? You want it?”
“It’s one of the most powerful spell books in the world. Of course I want it. Besides, it belongs, by right, to Lilith’s children, not Raziel’s. It’s a warlock book and should be in warlock hands.”
“But I need it—to cure my mother—”
“You need one page out of it, which you can keep. The rest is mine. And in return, when you bring me the book, I’ll make up the antidote for you and administer it to Jocelyn. You can’t say it’s not a fair deal.” He held out a hand. “Shake on it?”
After a moment’s hesitation Clary shook. “I’d better not regret this.”
“I certainly hope not,” Magnus said, turning cheerfully back toward the front door. On the walls the fire letters were already fading. “Regret is such a pointless emotion, don’t you agree?”
The sun outside seemed especially bright after the darkness of the cottage. Clary stood blinking as the view swam into focus: the mountains in the distance, Wayfarer contentedly munching grass, and Sebastian immobile as a lawn statue, one hand still outstretched. She turned to Magnus. “Could you unfreeze him now, please?”
Magnus looked amused. “I was surprised when I got Sebastian’s message this morning,” he said. “Saying he was doing a favor for you, no less. How did you wind up meeting him?”
“He’s a cousin of some friends of the Lightwoods or something. He’s nice, I promise.”
“Nice, bah. He’s gorgeous.” Magnus gazed dreamily in his direction. “You should leave him here. I could hang hats on him and things.”
“No. You can’t have him.”
“Why don’t we talk about your love life?” Clary countered. “What about you and Alec?”
“Alec refuses to acknowledge that we have a relationship, and so I refuse to acknowledge him. He sent me a fire-message asking for a favor the other day. It was addressed to ‘Warlock Bane,’ as if I were a perfect stranger. He’s still hung up on Jace, I think, though that relationship will never go anywhere. A problem I imagine you know nothing about …”
“Oh, shut up.” Clary eyed Magnus with distaste. “Look, if you don’t unfreeze Sebastian, then I can never leave here, and you’ll never get the Book of the White.”
“Oh, all right, all right. But if I might make a request? Don’t tell him any of what I just told you, friend of the Lightwoods or not.” Magnus snapped his fingers petulantly.
Sebastian’s face came alive, like a video flashing back to action after it had been paused. “—help us,” he said. “This isn’t just some minor problem. This is life and death.”
“You Nephilim think all your problems are life and death,” said Magnus. “Now go away. You’ve begun to bore me.”
“Go,” Magnus said, a dangerous tone to his voice. Blue sparks glittered at the tips of his long fingers, and there was suddenly a sharp smell in the air, like burning. Magnus’s cat eyes glowed. Even though she knew it was an act, Clary couldn’t help but back away.
“I think we should go, Sebastian,” she said.
Sebastian’s eyes were narrow. “But, Clary—”
“We’re going,” she insisted, and, grabbing him by the arm, half-dragged him toward Wayfarer. Reluctantly, he followed her, muttering under his breath. With a sigh of relief, Clary glanced back over her shoulder. Magnus was standing at the door to the cottage, his arms folded across his chest. Catching her eye, he grinned and dropped one eyelid in a single, glittering wink.
“I’m sorry, Clary.” Sebastian had a hand on Clary’s shoulder and another on her waist as he helped her up onto Wayfarer’s broad back. She fought down the little voice inside her head that warned her not to get back onto the horse—or any horse—and let him hoist her up. She swung a leg over and settled herself in the saddle, telling herself she was balancing on a large, moving sofa and not on a living creature that might turn around and bite her at any moment.
“Sorry about what?” she asked as he swung up behind her. It was almost annoying how easily he did it—as if he were dancing—but comforting to watch. He clearly knew what he was doing, she thought as he reached around her to take the reins. She supposed it was good that one of them did.
“About Ragnor Fell. I wasn’t expecting him to be that unwilling to help. Although, warlocks are capricious. You’ve met one before, haven’t you?”
“I met Magnus Bane.” She twisted around momentarily to look past Sebastian at the cottage receding into the distance behind them. The smoke was puffing out of the chimney in the shape of little dancing figures. Dancing Magnuses? She couldn’t tell from here. “He’s the High Warlock of Brooklyn.”
“Is he much like Fell?”
“Shockingly similar. It’s all right about Fell. I knew there was a chance he’d refuse to help us.”
“But I promised you help.” Sebastian sounded genuinely upset. “Well, at least there’s something else I can show you, so the day won’t have been a complete waste of time.”
“What is it?” She twisted around again to look up at him. The sun was high in the sky behind him, firing the strands of his dark hair with an outline of gold.
Sebastian grinned. “You’ll see.”
As they rode farther away from Alicante, walls of green foliage whipped by on either side, giving way every so often to improbably beautiful vistas: frost blue lakes, green valleys, gray mountains, silver slivers of river and creek flanked by banks of flowers. Clary wondered what it would be like to live in a place like this. She couldn’t help but feel nervous, almost exposed, without the comfort of tall buildings closing her in.
Not that there were no buildings at all. Every once in a while the roof of a large stone building would rise into view above the trees. These were manor houses, Sebastian explained (by shouting in her ear): the country houses of wealthy Shadowhunter families. They reminded Clary of the big old mansions along the Hudson River, north of Manhattan, where rich New Yorkers had spent their summers hundreds of years ago.
The road beneath them had turned from gravel to dirt. Clary was jerked out of her reverie as they crested a hill and Sebastian pulled Wayfarer up short. “This is it,” he said.
Clary stared. “It” was a tumbled mass of charred, blackened stone, recognizable only by outline as something that had once been a house: There was a hollow chimney, still pointing toward the sky, and a chunk of wall with a glassless window gaping in its center. Weeds grew up through the foundations, green among the black. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Why are we here?”
“You don’t know?” Sebastian asked. “This was where your mother and father lived. Where your brother was born. This was the Fairchild manor.”
Not for the first time, Clary heard Hodge’s voice in her head. Valentine set a great fire and burned himself to death along with his family, his wife, and his child. Scorched the land black. No one will build there still. They say the land is cursed.
Without another word she slid from the horse’s back. She heard Sebastian call out to her, but she was already half-running, half-sliding down the low hill. The ground evened out where the house had once stood; the blackened stones of what had once been a walkway lay dry and cracked at her feet. In among the weeds she could see a set of stairs that ended abruptly a few feet from the ground.
“Clary—” Sebastian followed her through the weeds, but she was barely aware of his presence. Turning in a slow circle, she took it all in. Burned, half-dead trees. What had probably once been a shady lawn, stretching away down a sloping hill. She could see the roof of what was probably another nearby manor house in the distance, just above the tree line. The sun sparked off broken bits of window glass in the one full wall that was still standing. She stepped into the ruins over a shelf of blackened stones. She could see the outline of rooms, of doorways—even a scorched cabinet, almost intact, flung on its side with smashed bits of china spilling out, mixing with the black earth.
Once this had been a real house, inhabited by living, breathing people. Her mother had lived here, gotten married here, had a baby here. And then Valentine had come and turned it all to dust and ash, leaving Jocelyn thinking her son was dead, leading her to hide the truth about the world from her daughter…. A sense of piercing sadness invaded Clary. More than one life had been wrecked in this place. She put her hand to her face and was almost surprised to find it damp: She had been crying without knowing it.
“Clary, I’m sorry. I thought you’d want to see this.” It was Sebastian, crunching toward her across the rubble, his boots kicking up puffs of ash. He looked worried.
She turned to him. “Oh, I do. I did. Thank you.”
The wind had picked up. It blew strands of his dark hair across his face. He gave a rueful smile. “It must be hard to think about everything that happened in this place, about Valentine, about your mother—she had incredible courage.”
“I know,” Clary said. “She did. She does.”
He touched her face lightly. “So do you.”
“Sebastian, you don’t know anything about me.”
“That’s not true.” His other hand came up, and now he was cupping her face. His touch was gentle, almost tentative. “I’ve heard all about you, Clary. About the way you fought your father for the Mortal Cup, the way you went into that vampire-infested hotel after your friend. Isabelle’s told me stories, and I’ve heard rumors, too. And ever since the first one—the first time I heard your name—I’ve wanted to meet you. I knew you’d be extraordinary.”
She laughed shakily. “I hope you’re not too disappointed.”
“No,” he breathed, sliding his fingertips under her chin. “Not at all.” He lifted her face to his. She was too surprised to move, even when he leaned toward her and she realized, belatedly, what he was doing: Reflexively she shut her eyes as his lips brushed gently over hers, sending shivers through her. A sudden fierce longing to be held and kissed in a way that would make her forget everything else surged through her. She put her arms up, twining them around his neck, partly to steady herself and partly to draw him closer.
His hair tickled her fingertips, not silky like Jace’s but fine and soft, and she shouldn’t be thinking about Jace. She pushed back thoughts of him as Sebastian’s fingers traced her cheeks and the line of her jaw. His touch was gentle, despite the calluses on his fingertips. Of course, Jace had the same calluses from fighting; probably all Shadowhunters had them—
She clamped down on the thought of Jace, or tried to, but it was no good. She could see him even with her eyes closed—see the sharp angles and planes of a face she could never properly draw, no matter how much the image of it had burned itself into her mind; see the delicate bones of his hands, the scarred skin of his shoulders—
The fierce longing that had surged up in her so swiftly receded with a sharp recoil that was like an elastic band springing back. She went numb, even as Sebastian’s lips pressed down on hers and his hands moved to cup the back of her neck—she went numb with an icy shock of wrongness. Something was terribly wrong, something even more than her hopeless longing for someone she could never have. This was something else: a sudden jolt of horror, as if she’d been taking a confident step forward and suddenly plunged into a black void.