She gasped and jerked away from Sebastian with such force that she almost stumbled. If he hadn’t been holding her, she would have fallen.
“Clary.” His eyes were unfocused, his cheeks flushed with a high bright color. “Clary, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Her voice sounded thin to her own ears. “Nothing—it’s just, I shouldn’t have—I’m not really ready—”
“Did we go too fast? We can take it slower—” He reached for her, and before she could stop herself, she flinched away. He looked stricken. “I’m not going to hurt you, Clary.”
“Did something happen?” His hand came up, stroked her hair back; she bit back the urge to jerk away. “Did Jace—”
“Jace?” Did he know she’d been thinking about Jace; had he been able to tell? And at the same time … “Jace is my brother. Why would you bring him up like that? What do you mean?”
“I just thought—” He shook his head, pain and confusion chasing each other across his features. “That maybe someone else had hurt you.”
His hand was still on her cheek; she reached up and gently but firmly detached it, returning it to his side. “No. Nothing like that. I just—” She hesitated. “It felt wrong.”
“Wrong?” The hurt on his face vanished, replaced by disbelief. “Clary, we have a connection. You know we do. Since the first second I saw you—”
“I felt like you were someone I’d always been waiting for. I saw you felt it too. Don’t tell me you didn’t.”
But that hadn’t been what she’d felt. She’d felt as if she’d walked around a corner in a strange city and suddenly seen her own brownstone looming up in front of her. A surprising and not entirely pleasant recognition, almost: How can this be here?
“I didn’t,” she said.
The anger that rose in his eyes—sudden, dark, uncontrolled—took her by surprise. He caught her wrists in a painful grasp. “That’s not true.”
She tried to pull away. “Sebastian—”
“It’s not true.” The blackness of his eyes seemed to have swallowed up the pupils. His face was like a white mask, stiff and rigid.
“Sebastian,” she said as calmly as she could. “You’re hurting me.”
He let go of her. His chest was rising and falling rapidly. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry. I thought—”
Well, you thought wrong, Clary wanted to say, but she bit the words back. She didn’t want to see that look on his face again. “We should go back,” she said instead. “It’ll be dark soon.”
He nodded numbly, seeming as shocked by his outburst as she was. He turned and headed back toward Wayfarer, who was cropping grass in the long shadow of a tree. Clary hesitated a moment, then followed him—there didn’t seem to be anything else she could do. She glanced down surreptitiously at her wrists as she fell into step behind him—they were ringed with red where his fingers had gripped her, and more strangely, her fingertips were smudged black, as if she had somehow stained them with ink.
Sebastian was silent as he helped her up onto Wayfarer’s back. “I’m sorry if I implied anything about Jace,” he said finally as she settled herself in the saddle. “He would never do anything to hurt you. I know it’s for your sake that he’s been visiting that vampire prisoner in the Gard—”
It was as if everything in the world ground to a sudden halt. Clary could hear her own breath whistling in and out of her ears, saw her hands, frozen like the hands of a statue, lying still against the saddle pommel. “Vampire prisoner?” she whispered.
Sebastian turned a surprised face up to hers. “Yes,” he said, “Simon, that vampire they brought over with them from New York. I thought—I mean, I was sure you knew all about it. Didn’t Jace tell you?”
SIMON WOKE TO SUNLIGHT GLINTING BRIGHTLY OFF AN OBJECT that had been shoved through the bars of his window. He got to his feet, his body aching with hunger, and saw that it was a metal flask, about the size of a lunchbox thermos. A rolled-up bit of notepaper had been tied around the neck. Plucking it down, Simon unrolled the paper and read:
Simon: This is cow blood, fresh from the butcher’s. Hope it’s all right. Jace told me what you said, and I want you to know I think it’s really brave. Just hang in there and we’ll figure out a way to get you out.
Simon smiled at the scribbled Xs and Os that ran along the bottom of the page. Good to know Isabelle’s flamboyant affection hadn’t suffered under the current circumstances. He unscrewed the flask’s top and had swallowed several mouthfuls before a sharp prickling sensation between his shoulder blades made him turn around.
Raphael stood calmly in the center of the room. He had his hands clasped behind his back, his slight shoulders set. He was wearing a sharply pressed white shirt and a dark jacket. A gold chain glittered at his throat.
Simon almost gagged on the blood he was drinking. He swallowed hard, still staring. “You—you can’t be here.”
Raphael’s smile somehow managed to give the impression that his fangs were showing, even though they weren’t. “Don’t panic, Daylighter.”
“I’m not panicking.” This wasn’t strictly true. Simon felt as if he’d swallowed something sharp. He hadn’t seen Raphael since the night he’d clawed himself, bloody and bruised, out of a hastily dug grave in Queens. He still remembered Raphael throwing packets of animal blood at him, and the way he’d torn into them with his teeth as if he were an animal himself. It wasn’t something he liked to remember. He would have been happy never to see the vampire boy again. “The sun’s still up. How are you here?”
“I’m not.” Raphael’s voice was smooth as butter. “I am a Projection. Look.” He swung his hand, passing it through the stone wall beside him. “I am like smoke. I cannot hurt you. Of course, neither can you hurt me.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.” Simon set the flask down on the cot. “I do want to know what you’re doing here.”
“You left New York very suddenly, Daylighter. You do realize that you’re supposed to inform the head vampire of your local area when you’re leaving the city, don’t you?”
“Head vampire? You mean you? I thought the head vampire was someone else—”
“Camille has not yet returned to us,” Raphael said, without any apparent emotion. “I lead in her stead. You’d know all this if you’d bothered to get acquainted with the laws of your kind.”
“My leaving New York wasn’t exactly planned in advance. And no offense, but I don’t really think of you as my kind.”
“Dios.” Raphael lowered his eyes, as if hiding amusement. “You are stubborn.”
“How can you say that?”
“It seems obvious, doesn’t it?”
“I mean—” Simon’s throat closed up. “That word. You can say it, and I can’t say—” God.
Raphael’s eyes flashed upward; he did look amused. “Age,” he said. “And practice. And faith, or its loss—they are in some ways the same thing. You will learn, over time, little fledgling.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“But it is what you are. You’re a Child of the Night. Isn’t that why Valentine captured you and took your blood? Because of what you are?”
“You seem pretty well informed,” Simon said. “Maybe you should tell me.”
Raphael’s eyes narrowed. “I have also heard a rumor that you drank the blood of a Shadowhunter and that is what gave you your gift, your ability to walk in sunlight. Is it true?”
Simon’s hair prickled. “That’s ridiculous. If Shadowhunter blood could give vampires the ability to walk in daylight, everyone would know it by now. Nephilim blood would be at a premium. And there would never be peace between vampires and Shadowhunters after that. So it’s a good thing it isn’t true.”
A faint smile turned up the edges of Raphael’s mouth. “True enough. Speaking of premiums, you do realize, don’t you, Daylighter, that you are a valuable commodity now? There isn’t a Downworlder on this earth who doesn’t want to get their hands on you.”
“Does that include you?”
“And what would you do if you did get your hands on me?”
Raphael shrugged his slight shoulders. “Perhaps I am alone in thinking that the ability to walk in the daylight might not be such a gift as other vampires believe. We are the Children of the Night for a reason. It is possible that I consider you as much of an abomination as humanity considers me.”
“It’s possible.” Raphael’s expression was neutral. “I think you’re a danger to us all. A danger to vampirekind, if you will. And you can’t stay in this cell forever, Daylighter. Eventually you’ll have to leave and face the world again. Face me again. But I can tell you one thing. I will swear to do you no harm, and not try to find you, if you in turn swear to hide yourself away once Aldertree releases you. If you swear to go so far away that no one will ever find you, and to never again contact anyone you knew in your mortal life. I can’t be more fair than that.”
But Simon was already shaking his head. “I can’t leave my family. Or Clary.”
Raphael made an irritable noise. “They are no longer part of who you are. You’re a vampire now.”
“But I don’t want to be,” said Simon.
“Look at you, complaining,” said Raphael. “You will never get sick, never die, and be strong and young forever. You will never age. What have you got to complain about?”
Young forever, Simon thought. It sounded good, but did anyone really want to be sixteen forever? It would have been one thing to be frozen forever at twenty-five, but sixteen? To always be this gangly, to never really grow into himself, his face or his body? Not to mention that, looking like this, he’d never be able to go into a bar and order a drink. Ever. For eternity.
“And,” Raphael added, “you do not even have to give up the sun.”
Simon had no desire to go down that road again. “I heard the others talking about you in the Dumort,” he said. “I know you put on a cross every Sunday and go to see your family. I bet they don’t even know you’re a vampire. So don’t tell me to leave everyone in my life behind. I won’t do it, and I won’t lie and say I will.”
Raphael’s eyes glittered. “What my family believes doesn’t matter. It’s what I believe. What I know. A true vampire knows he is dead. He accepts his death. But you, you think you are still one of the living. It is that which makes you so dangerous. You cannot acknowledge that you are no longer alive.”
It was twilight when Clary shut the door of Amatis’s house behind her and threw the bolts home. She leaned against the door for a long moment in the shadowy entryway, her eyes half-shut. Exhaustion weighed down every one of her limbs, and her legs ached painfully.
“Clary?” Amatis’s insistent voice cut through the silence. “Is that you?”
Clary stayed where she was, adrift in the calming darkness behind her closed eyes. She wanted so badly to be home, she could almost taste the metallic air of the Brooklyn streets. She could see her mother sitting in her chair by the window, dusty, pale yellow light streaming in through the open apartment windows, illuminating her canvas as she painted. Homesickness twisted in her gut like pain.
“Clary.” The voice came from much closer this time. Clary’s eyes snapped open. Amatis was standing in front of her, her gray hair pulled severely back, her hands on her hips. “Your brother’s here to see you. He’s waiting in the kitchen.”
“Jace is here?” Clary fought to keep her rage and astonishment off her face. There was no point showing how angry she was in front of Luke’s sister.
Amatis was looking at her curiously. “Should I not have let him in? I thought you’d want to see him.”
“No, it’s fine,” Clary said, maintaining her even tone with some difficulty. “I’m just tired.”
“Huh.” Amatis looked as if she didn’t believe it. “Well, I’ll be upstairs if you want me. I need a nap.”
Clary couldn’t imagine what she’d want Amatis for, but she nodded and limped down the corridor into the kitchen, which was awash with bright light. There was a bowl of fruit on the table—oranges, apples, and pears—and a loaf of thick bread along with butter and cheese, and a plate beside it of what looked like … cookies? Had Amatis actually made cookies?
At the table sat Jace. He was leaning forward on his elbows, his golden hair tousled, his shirt slightly open at the neck. She could see the thick banding of black Marks tracing his collarbone. He held a cookie in his bandaged hand. So Sebastian was right; he had hurt himself. Not that she cared.
“Good,” he said, “you’re back. I was beginning to think you’d fallen into a canal.”
Clary just stared at him, wordless. She wondered if he could read the anger in her eyes. He leaned back in the chair, throwing one arm casually over the back of it. If it hadn’t been for the rapid pulse at the base of his throat, she might almost have believed his air of unconcern.
“You look exhausted,” he added. “Where have you been all day?”
“I was out with Sebastian.”
“Sebastian?” His look of utter astonishment was momentarily gratifying.