Page 34

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments 3) Cassandra Clare 2022/8/5 16:59:50

The Hall of Accords was lit like a bonfire, witchlight pouring out of its doors and windows. They hurried up the stairs, Clary steadying herself when she stumbled. Her dizziness was getting worse. The world seemed to be swinging around her, as if she stood inside a great spinning globe. Above her the stars were white-painted streaks across the sky. “You should lie down,” Simon said, and then, when she said nothing, “Clary?”

With an enormous effort, she forced herself to smile at him. “I’m all right.”

Jace, standing at the entrance to the Hall, looked back at her in silence. In the harsh glare of the witchlight, the blood on his face and his swollen eye looked ugly, streaked and black.

There was a dull roar inside the Hall, the low murmur of hundreds of voices. To Clary it sounded like the beating of an enormous heart. The lights of the bracketed torches, coupled with the glow of witchlights carried everywhere, seared her eyes and fragmented her vision; she could see only vague shapes now, vague shapes and colors. White, gold, and then the night sky above, fading from dark to paler blue. How late was it?

“I don’t see them.” Alec, casting anxiously around the room for his family, sounded as if he were a hundred miles off, or deep underwater. “They should be here by now—”

His voice faded as Clary’s dizziness worsened. She put a hand against a nearby pillar to steady herself. A hand brushed across her back—Simon. He was saying something to Jace, sounding anxious. His voice faded into the pattern of dozens of others, rising and falling around her like waves breaking.

“Never seen anything like it. The demons just turned around and left, just vanished.”

“Sunrise, probably. They’re afraid of sunrise, and it’s not far off.”

“No, it was more than that.”

“You just don’t want to think they’ll be back the next night, or the next.”

“Don’t say that; there’s no reason to say that. They’ll get the wards back up.”

“And Valentine will just take them down again.”

“Maybe it’s no better than we deserve. Maybe Valentine was right—maybe allying ourselves with Downworlders means we’ve lost the Angel’s blessing.”

“Hush. Have some respect. They’re tallying the dead out in Angel Square.”

“There they are,” Alec said. “Over there, by the dais. It looks like …” His voice trailed off, and then he was gone, pushing his way through the crowd. Clary squinted, trying to sharpen her vision. All she could see were blurs—

She heard Jace catch his breath, and then, without another word, he was shoving through the crowd after Alec. Clary let go of the pillar, meaning to follow them, but stumbled. Simon caught her.

“You need to lie down, Clary,” he said.

“No,” she whispered. “I want to see what happened—”

She broke off. He was staring past her, after Jace, and he looked stricken. Bracing herself against the pillar, she raised herself up on her toes, struggling to see over the crowd—

There they were, the Lightwoods: Maryse with her arms around Isabelle, who was sobbing, and Robert Lightwood sitting on the ground and holding something—no, someone, and Clary thought of the time she had seen Max at the Institute, lying limp and asleep on a couch, his glasses knocked askew and his hand trailing along the floor. He can sleep anywhere, Jace had said, and he almost looked as if he were sleeping now, in his father’s lap, but Clary knew he wasn’t.

Alec was on his knees, holding one of Max’s hands, but Jace was just standing where he was, not moving, and more than anything else he looked lost, as if he had no idea where he was or what he was doing there. All Clary wanted was to run to him and put her arms around him, but the look on Simon’s face told her no, no, and so did her memory of the manor house and Jace’s arms around her there. She was the last person on earth who could ever give him any comfort.

“Clary,” Simon said, but she was pulling away from him, despite her dizziness and the pain in her head. She ran for the doors of the Hall and pushed them open, ran out onto the steps and stood there, gulping down breaths of cold air. In the distance the horizon was streaked with red fire, the stars fading, bleached out of the lightening sky. The night was over. Dawn had come.

WHERE THERE IS SORROW

CLARY WOKE GASPING OUT OF A DREAM OF BLEEDING ANGELS, her sheets twisted around her in a tight spiral. It was pitch-black and close in Amatis’s spare bedroom, like being locked in a coffin. She reached out and twitched the curtains open. Daylight poured in. She frowned and pulled them shut again.

Shadowhunters burned their dead, and ever since the demon attack, the sky to the west of the city had been stained with smoke. Looking at it out the window made Clary feel sick, so she kept the curtains closed. In the darkness of the room she closed her eyes, trying to remember her dream. There had been angels in it, and the image of the rune Ithuriel had showed her, flashing over and over against the inside of her eyelids like a blinking WALK sign. It was a simple rune, as simple as a tied knot, but no matter how hard she concentrated, she couldn’t read it, couldn’t figure out what it meant. All she knew was that it seemed somehow incomplete to her, as if whoever had created the pattern hadn’t quite finished it.

These are not the first dreams I have ever showed you, Ithuriel had said. She thought of her other dreams: of Simon with crosses burned into his hands, Jace with wings, lakes of cracking ice that shone like mirror glass. Had the angel sent her those, too?

With a sigh she sat up. The dreams might be bad, but the waking images that marched across her brain weren’t much better. Isabelle, weeping on the floor of the Hall of Accords, tugging with such force on the black hair threaded through her fingers that Clary worried she would rip it out. Maryse shrieking at Jia Penhallow that the boy they’d brought into their house had done this, their cousin, and if he was so closely allied with Valentine, what did that say about them? Alec trying to calm his mother down, asking Jace to help him, but Jace just standing there as the sun rose over Alicante and blazed down through the ceiling of the Hall. “It’s dawn,” Luke had said, looking more tired than Clary had ever seen him. “Time to bring the bodies inside.” And he’d sent out patrols to gather up the dead Shadowhunters and lycanthropes lying in the streets and bring them to the plaza outside the Hall, the plaza Clary had crossed with Sebastian when she’d commented that the Hall looked like a church. It had seemed like a pretty place to her then, lined with flower boxes and brightly painted shops. And now it was full of corpses.

Including Max. Thinking of the little boy who’d so gravely talked about manga with her made her stomach knot. She’d promised once that she’d take him to Forbidden Planet, but that would never happen now. I would have bought him books, she thought. Whatever books he wanted. Not that it mattered.

Don’t think about it. Clary kicked her sheets back and got up. After a quick shower she changed into the jeans and sweater she’d worn the day she’d come from New York. She pressed her face to the material before she put the sweater on, hoping to catch a whiff of Brooklyn, or the smell of laundry detergent—something to remind her of home—but it had been washed and smelled like lemon soap. With another sigh she headed downstairs.

The house was empty except for Simon, sitting on the couch in the living room. The open windows behind him streamed daylight. He’d become like a cat, Clary thought, always seeking out available patches of sunlight to curl up in. No matter how much sun he got, though, his skin stayed the same ivory white.

She picked an apple out of the bowl on the table and sank down next to him, curling her legs up under her. “Did you get any sleep?”

“Some.” He looked at her. “I ought to ask you that. You’re the one with the shadows under your eyes. More nightmares?”

She shrugged. “Same stuff. Death, destruction, bad angels.”

“So a lot like real life, then.”

“Yeah, but at least when I wake up, it’s over.” She took a bite out of her apple. “Let me guess. Luke and Amatis are at the Accords Hall, having another meeting.”

“Yeah. I think they’re having the meeting where they get together and decide what other meetings they need to have.” Simon picked idly at the fringe edging a throw pillow. “Have you heard anything from Magnus?”

“No.” Clary was trying not to think about the fact that it had been three days since she’d seen Magnus, and he’d sent no word at all. Or the fact that there was really nothing stopping him from taking the Book of the White and disappearing into the ether, never to be heard from again. She wondered why she’d ever thought trusting someone who wore that much eyeliner was a good idea.

She touched Simon’s wrist lightly. “And you? What about you? You’re still okay here?” She’d wanted Simon to go home the moment the battle was over—home, where it was safe. But he’d been strangely resistant. For whatever reason, he seemed to want to stay. She hoped it wasn’t because he thought he had to take care of her—she’d nearly come out and told him she didn’t need his protection—but she hadn’t, because part of her couldn’t bear to see him go. So he stayed, and Clary was secretly, guiltily glad. “You’re getting—you know—what you need?”

“You mean blood? Yeah, Maia’s still bringing me bottles every day. Don’t ask me where she gets it, though.” The first morning Simon had been at Amatis’s house, a grinning lycanthrope had showed up on the doorstep with a live cat for him. “Blood,” he’d said, in a heavily accented voice. “For you. Fresh!” Simon had thanked the werewolf, waited for him to leave, and let the cat go, his expression faintly green.

“Well, you’re going to have to get your blood from somewhere,” Luke had said, looking amused.

“I have a pet cat,” Simon had replied. “There’s no way.”

“I’ll tell Maia,” Luke had promised, and from then on the blood had come in discreet glass milk bottles. Clary had no idea how Maia was arranging it and, like Simon, didn’t want to ask. She hadn’t seen the werewolf girl since the night of the battle—the lycanthropes were camped somewhere in the nearby forest, with only Luke remaining in the city.

“What’s up?” Simon leaned his head back, looking at her through his lowered eyelashes. “You look like you want to ask me something.”

There were several things Clary wanted to ask him, but she decided to go for one of the safer options. “Hodge,” she said, and hesitated. “When you were in the cell—you really didn’t know it was him?”

“I couldn’t see him. I could just hear him through the wall. We talked—a lot.”

“And you liked him? I mean, he was nice?”

“Nice? I don’t know. Tortured, sad, intelligent, compassionate in brief flashes—yeah, I liked him. I think I sort of reminded him of himself, in a way—”

“Don’t say that!” Clary sat up straight, almost dropping her apple. “You’re nothing like Hodge was.”

“You don’t think I’m tortured and intelligent?”

“Hodge was evil. You’re not.” Clary spoke decidedly. “That’s all there is to it.”

Simon sighed. “People aren’t born good or bad. Maybe they’re born with tendencies either way, but it’s the way you live your life that matters. And the people you know. Valentine was Hodge’s friend, and I don’t think Hodge really had anyone else in his life to challenge him or make him be a better person. If I’d had that life, I don’t know how I would have turned out. But I didn’t. I have my family. And I have you.”

Clary smiled at him, but his words rang painfully in her ears. People aren’t born good or bad. She’d always thought that was true, but in the images the angel had showed her, she’d seen her mother call her own child evil, a monster. She wished she could tell Simon about it, tell him everything the angel had showed her, but she couldn’t. It would have meant telling what they’d discovered about Jace, and that she couldn’t do. It was his secret to tell, not hers. Simon had asked her once what Jace had meant when he’d spoken to Hodge, why he’d called himself a monster, but she’d only answered that it was hard to understand what Jace meant by anything at the best of times. She wasn’t sure Simon had believed her, but he hadn’t asked again.

She was saved from saying anything at all by a loud knock on the door. With a frown Clary set her apple core down on the table. “I’ll get it.”

The open door let in a wave of cold, fresh air. Aline Penhallow stood on the front steps, wearing a dark pink silk jacket that almost matched the circles under her eyes. “I need to talk to you,” she said without preamble.

Surprised, Clary could only nod and hold the door open. “All right. Come on in.”

“Thanks.” Aline pushed past her brusquely and went into the living room. She froze when she saw Simon sitting on the couch, her lips parting in astonishment. “Isn’t that …”

“The vampire?” Simon grinned. The slight but inhuman acuity of his incisors was just visible against his lower lip when he grinned like that. Clary wished he wouldn’t.

Aline turned to Clary. “Can I talk to you alone?”

“No,” Clary said, and sat down on the couch next to Simon. “Anything you have to say, you can say to both of us.”

Aline bit her lip. “Fine. Look, I have something I want to tell Alec and Jace and Isabelle, but I have no idea where to find them right now.”

Clary sighed. “They pulled some strings and got into an empty house. The family in it left for the country.”