“Taught what? Not to be a monster?” Jace’s voice shook, but the knife in his hand was steady. “You should know better. He made a crawling coward out of you, didn’t he? And you weren’t a helpless little kid when he did it. You could have fought back.”
Hodge’s eyes fell. “I tried to do my best by you,” he said, but even to Clary’s ears his words sounded weak.
“Until Valentine came back,” Jace said, “and then you did everything he asked of you—you gave me to him like I was a dog that had belonged to him once, that he’d asked you to look after for a few years—”
“And then you left,” said Alec. “You left us all. Did you really think you could hide here, in Alicante?”
“I didn’t come here to hide,” said Hodge, his voice lifeless. “I came here to stop Valentine.”
“You can’t expect us to believe that.” Alec sounded angry again now. “You’ve always been on Valentine’s side. You could have chosen to turn your back on him—”
“I could never have chosen that!” Hodge’s voice rose. “Your parents were given their chance for a new life—I was never given that! I was trapped in the Institute for fifteen years—”
“The Institute was our home!” Alec said. “Was it really so bad living with us—being part of our family?”
“Not because of you.” Hodge’s voice was ragged. “I loved you children. But you were children. And no place that you are never allowed to leave can be a home. I went weeks sometimes without speaking to another adult. No other Shadowhunter would trust me. Not even your parents truly liked me; they tolerated me because they had no choice. I could never marry. Never have children of my own. Never have a life. And eventually you children would have been grown and gone, and then I wouldn’t even have had that. I lived in fear, as much as I lived at all.”
“You can’t make us feel sorry for you,” Jace said. “Not after what you did. And what the hell were you afraid of, spending all your time in the library? Dust mites? We were the ones who went out and fought demons!”
“He was afraid of Valentine,” Simon said. “Don’t you get it—”
Jace shot him a venomous look. “Shut up, vampire. This isn’t in any way about you.”
“Not Valentine exactly,” Hodge said, looking at Simon for almost the first time since he’d been dragged from the cell. There was something in that look that surprised Clary—a tired almost-affection. “My own weakness where Valentine was concerned. I knew he would return someday. I knew he would make a bid for power again, a bid to rule the Clave. And I knew what he could offer me. Freedom from my curse. A life. A place in the world. I could have been a Shadowhunter again, in his world. I could never be one again in this one.” There was a naked longing in his voice that was painful to hear. “And I knew I would be too weak to refuse him if he offered it.”
“And look at the life you got,” Jace spat. “Rotting in the cells of the Gard. Was it worth it, betraying us?”
“You know the answer to that.” Hodge sounded exhausted. “Valentine took the curse off me. He’d sworn he would, and he did. I thought he’d bring me back to the Circle, or what remained of it then. He didn’t. Even he didn’t want me. I knew there would be no place for me in his new world. And I knew I’d sold out everything I did have for a lie.” He looked down at his clenched, filthy hands. “There was only one thing I had left—one chance to make something other than an utter waste out of my life. After I heard that Valentine had killed the Silent Brothers—that he had the Mortal Sword—I knew he would go after the Mortal Glass next. I knew he needed all three of the Instruments. And I knew the Mortal Glass was here in Idris.”
“Wait.” Alec held up a hand. “The Mortal Glass? You mean, you know where it is? And who has it?”
“No one has it,” said Hodge. “No one could own the Mortal Glass. No Nephilim, and no Downworlder.”
“You really did go crazy down there,” Jace said, jerking his chin toward the burned-out windows of the dungeons, “didn’t you?”
“Jace.” Clary was looking anxiously up at the Gard, its roof crowned with a thorny net of red-gold flames. “The fire is spreading. We should get out of here. We can talk down in the city—”
“I was locked in the Institute for fifteen years,” Hodge went on, as if Clary hadn’t spoken. “I couldn’t put so much as a hand or a foot outside. I spent all my time in the library, researching ways to remove the curse the Clave had put on me. I learned that only a Mortal Instrument could reverse it. I read book after book telling the story of the mythology of the Angel, how he rose from the lake bearing the Mortal Instruments and gave them to Jonathan Shadowhunter, the first Nephilim, and how there were three of them: Cup, Sword, and Mirror—”
“We know all this,” Jace interrupted, exasperated. “You taught it to us.”
“You think you know all of it, but you don’t. As I went over and over the various versions of the histories, I happened again and again on the same illustration, the same image—we’ve all seen it—the Angel rising out of the lake with the Sword in one hand and the Cup in the other. I could never understand why the Mirror wasn’t pictured. Then I realized. The Mirror is the lake. The lake is the Mirror. They are one and the same.”
Slowly Jace lowered the knife. “Lake Lyn?”
Clary thought of the lake, like a mirror rising to meet her, the water shattering apart on impact. “I fell in the lake when I first got here. There is something about it. Luke said it has strange properties and that the Fair Folk call it the Mirror of Dreams.”
“Exactly,” Hodge began eagerly. “And I realized the Clave wasn’t aware of this, that the knowledge had been lost to time. Even Valentine didn’t know—”
He was interrupted by a crashing roar, the sound of a tower at the far end of the Gard collapsing. It sent up a fireworks display of red and glittering sparks.
“Jace,” Alec said, raising his head in alarm. “Jace, we have to get out of here. Get up,” he said to Hodge, yanking him upright by the arm. “You can tell the Clave what you just told us.”
Hodge got shakily to his feet. What must it be like, Clary thought with a pang of unwelcome pity, to live your life ashamed not just of what you’d done but of what you were doing and of what you knew you’d do again? Hodge had given up a long time ago trying to live a better life or a different one; all he wanted was not to be afraid, and so he was afraid all the time.
“Come on.” Alec, still gripping Hodge’s arm, propelled him forward. But Jace stepped in front of them both, blocking their way.
“If Valentine gets the Mortal Glass,” he said, “what then?”
“Jace,” Alec said, still holding Hodge’s arm, “not now—”
“If he tells it to the Clave, we’ll never hear it from them,” Jace said. “To them we’re just children. But Hodge owes us this.” He turned on his old tutor. “You said you realized you had to stop Valentine. Stop him doing what? What does the Mirror give him the power to do?”
Hodge shook his head. “I can’t—”
“And no lies.” The knife gleamed at Jace’s side; his hand was tight on the hilt. “Because maybe for every lie you tell me, I’ll cut off a finger. Or two.”
Hodge cringed back, real fear in his eyes. Alec looked stricken. “Jace. No. This is what your father’s like. It’s not what you’re like.”
“Alec,” said Jace. He didn’t look at his friend, but his tone was like the touch of a regretful hand. “You don’t really know what I’m like.”
Alec’s eyes met Clary’s across the grass. He can’t imagine why Jace is acting like this, she thought. He doesn’t know. She took a step forward. “Jace, Alec is right—we can take Hodge down to the Hall and he can tell the Clave what he’s just told us—”
“If he’d been willing to tell the Clave, he would have done it already,” Jace snapped without looking at her. “The fact that he didn’t proves he’s a liar.”
“The Clave isn’t to be trusted!” Hodge protested desperately. “There are spies in it—Valentine’s men—I couldn’t tell them where the Mirror is. If Valentine found the Mirror, he would be—”
He never finished his sentence. Something bright silver gleamed out in the moonlight, a nail head of light in the darkness. Alec cried out. Hodge’s eyes flew wide as he staggered, clawing at his chest. As he sank backward, Clary saw why: The hilt of a long dagger protruded from his rib cage, like the haft of an arrow bristling from its target.
Alec, leaping forward, caught his old tutor as he fell, and lowered him gently to the ground. He looked up helplessly, his face spattered with Hodge’s blood. “Jace, why—”
“I didn’t—” Jace’s face was white, and Clary saw that he still held his knife, gripped tightly at his side. “I …”
Simon spun around, and Clary turned with him, staring into the darkness. The fire lit the grass with a hellish orange glow, but it was black between the trees of the hillside—and then something emerged from the blackness, a shadowy figure, with familiar dark, tumbled hair. He moved toward them, the light catching his face and reflecting off his dark eyes; they looked as if they were burning.
“Sebastian?” Clary said.
Jace looked wildly from Hodge to Sebastian standing uncertainly at the edge of the garden; Jace looked almost dazed. “You,” he said. “You—did this?”
“I had to do it,” Sebastian said. “He would have killed you.”
“With what?” Jace’s voice rose and cracked. “He didn’t even have a weapon—”
“Jace.” Alec cut through Jace’s shouting. “Come here. Help me with Hodge.”
“He would have killed you,” Sebastian said again. “He would have—”
But Jace had gone to kneel beside Alec, sheathing his knife at his belt. Alec was holding Hodge in his arms, blood on his own shirtfront now. “Take the stele from my pocket,” he said to Jace. “Try an iratze—”
Clary, stiff with horror, felt Simon stir beside her. She turned to look at him and was shocked—he was white as paper except for a hectic red flush on both cheekbones. She could see the veins snaking under his skin, like the growth of some delicate, branching coral. “The blood,” he whispered, not looking at her. “I have to get away from it.”
Clary reached to catch his sleeve, but he lurched back, jerking his arm out of her grasp.
“No, Clary, please. Let me go. I’ll be okay; I’ll be back. I just—” She started after him, but he was too quick for her to hold him back. He vanished into the darkness between the trees.
“Hodge—” Alec sounded panicked. “Hodge, hold still—”
But his tutor was struggling feebly, trying to pull away from him, away from the stele in Jace’s hand. “No.” Hodge’s face was the color of putty. His eyes darted from Jace to Sebastian, who was still hanging back in the shadows. “Jonathan—”
“Jace,” Jace said, almost in a whisper. “Call me Jace.”
Hodge’s eyes rested on him. Clary could not decipher the look in them. Pleading, yes, but something more than that, filled with dread, or something like it, and with need. He lifted a warding hand. “Not you,” he whispered, and blood spilled from his mouth with the words.
A look of hurt flashed across Jace’s face. “Alec, do the iratze—I don’t think he wants me to touch him.”
Hodge’s hand tightened into a claw; he clutched at Jace’s sleeve. The rattle of his breath was audible. “You were … never …”
And he died. Clary could tell the moment the life left him. It was not a quiet, instant thing, like in a movie; his voice choked off in a gurgle and his eyes rolled back and he went limp and heavy, his arm bent awkwardly under him.
Alec closed Hodge’s eyes with his fingertips. “Vale, Hodge Starkweather.”
“He doesn’t deserve that.” Sebastian’s voice was sharp. “He wasn’t a Shadowhunter; he was a traitor. He doesn’t deserve the last words.”
Alec’s head jerked up. He lowered Hodge to the ground and rose to his feet, his blue eyes like ice. Blood streaked his clothes. “You know nothing about it. You killed an unarmed man, a Nephilim. You’re a murderer.”
Sebastian’s lip curled. “You think I don’t know who that was?” He gestured at Hodge. “Starkweather was in the Circle. He betrayed the Clave then and was cursed for it. He should have died for what he did, but the Clave was lenient—and where did it get them? He betrayed us all again when he sold the Mortal Cup to Valentine just to get his curse lifted—a curse he deserved.” He paused, breathing hard. “I shouldn’t have done it, but you can’t say he didn’t deserve it.”
“How do you know so much about Hodge?” Clary demanded. “And what are you doing here? I thought you agreed to stay back at the Hall.”
Sebastian hesitated. “You were taking so long,” he said finally. “I got worried. I thought you might need my help.”
“So you decided to help us by killing the guy we were talking to?” Clary demanded. “Because you thought he had a shady past? Who—who does that? It doesn’t make any sense.”
“That’s because he’s lying,” Jace said. He was looking at Sebastian—a cold, considering look. “And not well. I thought you’d be a little faster on your feet there, Verlac.”