“Probably not,” said Isabelle. “But I trust that Jace has his reasons for—”
“For what? For wanting to die?”
“Clary.” Isabelle’s eyes blazed up with a sudden light of anger. “Do you think the rest of us are safe? We’re all waiting to die or be enslaved. Can you really see Jace doing that, just sitting around waiting for something awful to happen? Can you really see—”
“All I see is that Jace is your brother just like Max was,” said Clary, “and you cared what happened to him.”
She regretted it the moment she said it; Isabelle’s face went white, as if Clary’s words had bleached the color out of the other girl’s skin. “Max,” Isabelle said with a tightly controlled fury, “was a little boy, not a fighter—he was nine years old. Jace is a Shadowhunter, a warrior. If we fight Valentine, do you think Alec won’t be in the battle? Do you think we’re not all of us, at all times, prepared to die if we have to, if the cause is great enough? Valentine is Jace’s father; Jace probably has the best chance of all of us of getting close to him to do what he has to do—”
“Valentine will kill Jace if he has to,” Clary said. “He won’t spare him.”
“But all that matters is if he goes out in glory? Won’t you even miss him?”
“I will miss him every day,” Isabelle said, “for the rest of my life, which, let’s face it, if Jace fails, will probably be about a week long.” She shook her head. “You don’t get it, Clary. You don’t understand what it’s like to live always at war, to grow up with battle and sacrifice. I guess it’s not your fault. It’s just how you were brought up—”
Clary held her hands up. “I do get it. I know you don’t like me, Isabelle. Because I’m a mundane to you.”
“You think that’s why—” Isabelle broke off, her eyes bright; not just with anger, Clary saw with surprise, but with tears. “God, you don’t understand anything, do you? You’ve known Jace what, a month? I’ve known him for seven years. And all the time I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him fall in love, never seen him even like anyone. He’d hook up with girls, sure. Girls always fell in love with him, but he never cared. I think that’s why Alec thought—” Isabelle stopped for a moment, holding herself very still. She’s trying not to cry, Clary thought in wonder—Isabelle, who seemed like she never cried. “It always worried me, and my mom, too—I mean, what kind of teenage boy never even gets a crush on anyone? It was like he was always half-awake where other people were concerned. I thought maybe what had happened with his father had done some sort of permanent damage to him, like maybe he never really could love anyone. If I’d only known what had really happened with his father—but then I probably would have thought the same thing, wouldn’t I? I mean, who wouldn’t have been damaged by that?
“And then we met you, and it was like he woke up. You couldn’t see it, because you’d never known him any different. But I saw it. Hodge saw it. Alec saw it—why do you think he hated you so much? It was like that from the second we met you. You thought it was amazing that you could see us, and it was, but what was amazing to me was that Jace could see you, too. He kept talking about you all the way back to the Institute; he made Hodge send him out to get you; and once he brought you back, he didn’t want you to leave again. Wherever you were in the room, he watched you…. He was even jealous of Simon. I’m not sure he realized it himself, but he was. I could tell. Jealous of a mundane. And then after what happened to Simon at the party, he was willing to go with you to the Dumort, to break Clave Law, just to save a mundane he didn’t even like. He did it for you. Because if anything had happened to Simon, you would have been hurt. You were the first person outside our family whose happiness I’d ever seen him take into consideration. Because he loved you.”
Clary made a noise in the back of her throat. “But that was before—”
“Before he found out you were his sister. I know. And I don’t blame you for that. You couldn’t have known. And I guess you couldn’t have helped that you just went right on ahead and dated Simon afterward like you didn’t even care. I thought once Jace knew you were his sister, he’d give up and get over it, but he didn’t, and he couldn’t. I don’t know what Valentine did to him when he was a child. I don’t know if that’s why he is the way he is, or if it’s just the way he’s made, but he won’t get over you, Clary. He can’t. I started to hate seeing you. I hated for Jace to see you. It’s like an injury you get from demon poison—you have to leave it alone and let it heal. Every time you rip the bandages off, you just open the wound up again. Every time he sees you, it’s like tearing off the bandages.”
“I know,” Clary whispered. “How do you think it is for me?”
“I don’t know. I can’t tell what you’re feeling. You’re not my sister. I don’t hate you, Clary. I even like you. If it were possible, there isn’t anyone I’d rather Jace be with. But I hope you can understand when I say that if by some miracle we all get through this, I hope my family moves itself somewhere so far away that we never see you again.”
Tears stung the backs of Clary’s eyes. It was strange, she and Isabelle sitting here at this table, crying over Jace for reasons that were both very different and strangely the same. “Why are you telling me all this now?”
“Because you’re accusing me of not wanting to protect Jace. But I do want to protect him. Why do you think I was so upset when you suddenly showed up at the Penhallows’? You act as if you’re not a part of all this, of our world; you stand on the sidelines; but you are a part of it. You’re central to it. You can’t just pretend to be a bit player forever, Clary, not when you’re Valentine’s daughter. Not when Jace is doing what he’s doing partly because of you.”
“Why do you think he’s so willing to risk himself? Why do you think he doesn’t care if he dies?” Isabelle’s words drove into Clary’s ears like sharp needles. I know why, she thought. It’s because he thinks he’s a demon, thinks he isn’t really human, that’s why—but I can’t tell you that, can’t tell you the one thing that would make you understand. “He’s always thought there was something wrong with him, and now, because of you, he thinks he’s cursed forever. I heard him say so to Alec. Why not risk your life, if you don’t want to live anyway? Why not risk your life if you’ll never be happy no matter what you do?”
“Isabelle, that’s enough.” The door opened, almost silently, and Simon stood in the doorway. Clary had nearly forgotten how much better his hearing was now. “It’s not Clary’s fault.”
Color rose in Isabelle’s face. “Stay out of this, Simon. You don’t know what’s going on.”
Simon stepped into the kitchen, shutting the door behind him. “I heard most of what you’ve been saying,” he told them matter-of-factly. “Even through the wall. You said you don’t know what Clary’s feeling because you haven’t known her long enough. Well, I have. If you think Jace is the only one who’s suffered, you’re wrong there.”
There was a silence; the fierceness in Isabelle’s expression was fading slightly. In the distance, Clary thought she heard the sound of someone knocking on the front door: Luke, probably, or Maia bringing more blood for Simon.
“It’s not because of me that he left,” Clary said, and her heart began to pound. Can I tell them Jace’s secret, now that he’s gone? Can I tell them the real reason he left, the real reason he doesn’t care if he dies? Words started to pour out of her, almost against her will. “When Jace and I went to the Wayland manor—when we went to find the Book of the White—”
She broke off as the kitchen door swung open. Amatis stood there, the strangest expression on her face. For a moment Clary thought she was frightened, and her heart skipped a beat. But it wasn’t fright on Amatis’s face, not really. She looked as she had when Clary and Luke had suddenly showed up at her front door. She looked as if she’d seen a ghost. “Clary,” she said slowly. “There’s someone here to see you—”
Before she could finish, that someone pushed past her into the kitchen. Amatis stood back, and Clary got her first good look at the intruder—a slender woman, dressed in black. At first all Clary saw was the Shadowhunter gear and she almost didn’t recognize her, not until her eyes reached the woman’s face and she felt her stomach drop out of her body the way it had when Jace had driven their motorcycle off the edge of the Dumort roof, a ten-story fall.
Oh yes, I know the way to heaven was easy.
—Siegfried Sassoon, The Imperfect Lover
SINCE THE NIGHT SHE’D COME HOME TO FIND HER MOTHER gone, Clary had imagined seeing her again, well and healthy, so often that her imaginings had taken on the quality of a photograph that had become faded from being taken out and looked at too many times. Those images rose up before her now, even as she stared in disbelief—images in which her mother, looking healthy and happy, hugged Clary and told her how much she’d missed her but that everything was going to be all right now.
The mother in her imaginings bore very little resemblance to the woman who stood in front of her now. She’d remembered Jocelyn as gentle and artistic, a little bohemian with her paint-splattered overalls, her red hair in pigtails or fastened up with a pencil into a messy bun. This Jocelyn was as bright and sharp as a knife, her hair drawn back sternly, not a wisp out of place; the harsh black of her gear made her face look pale and hard. Nor was her expression the one Clary had imagined: Instead of delight, there was something very like horror in the way she looked at Clary, her green eyes wide. “Clary,” she breathed. “Your clothes.”
Clary looked down at herself. She had on Amatis’s black Shadowhunter gear, exactly what her mother had spent her whole life making sure her daughter would never have to wear. Clary swallowed hard and stood up, clutching the edge of the table with her hands. She could see how white her knuckles were, but her hands felt disconnected from her body somehow, as if they belonged to someone else.
Jocelyn stepped toward her, reaching her arms out. “Clary—”
And Clary found herself backing up, so hastily that she hit the counter with the small of her back. Pain flared through her, but she hardly noticed; she was staring at her mother. So was Simon, his mouth slightly open; Amatis, too, looked stricken.
Isabelle stood up, putting herself between Clary and her mother. Her hand slid beneath her apron, and Clary had a feeling that when she drew it out, she’d be holding her slender electrum whip. “What’s going on here?” Isabelle demanded. “Who are you?”
Her strong voice wavered slightly as she seemed to catch the expression on Jocelyn’s face; Jocelyn was staring at her, her hand over her heart.
“Maryse.” Jocelyn’s voice was barely a whisper.
Isabelle looked startled. “How do you know my mother’s name?”
Color came into Jocelyn’s face in a rush. “Of course. You’re Maryse’s daughter. It’s just—you look so much like her.” She lowered her hand slowly. “I’m Jocelyn Fr—Fairchild. I’m Clary’s mother.”
Isabelle took her hand out from under the apron and glanced at Clary, her eyes full of confusion. “But you were in the hospital … in New York …”
“I was,” Jocelyn said in a firmer voice. “But thanks to my daughter, I’m fine now. And I’d like a moment with her.”
“I’m not sure,” said Amatis, “that she wants a moment with you.” She reached out to put her hand on Jocelyn’s shoulder. “This must be a shock for her—”
Jocelyn shook off Amatis and moved toward Clary, reaching her hands out. “Clary—”
At last Clary found her voice. It was a cold, icy voice, so angry it surprised her. “How did you get here, Jocelyn?”
Her mother stopped dead, a look of uncertainty passing over her face. “I Portaled to just outside the city with Magnus Bane. Yesterday he came to me in the hospital—he brought the antidote. He told me everything you did for me. All I’ve wanted since I woke up was to see you….” Her voice trailed off. “Clary, is something wrong?”
“Why didn’t you ever tell me I had a brother?” Clary said. It wasn’t what she’d expected to say, wasn’t even what she’d planned to have come out of her mouth. But there it was.
Jocelyn dropped her hands. “I thought he was dead. I thought it would only hurt you to know.”
“Let me tell you something, Mom,” Clary said. “Knowing is better than not knowing. Every time.”
“I’m sorry—” Jocelyn began.
“Sorry?” It was as if something inside Clary had torn open, and everything was pouring out, all her bitterness, all her pent-up rage. “Do you want to explain why you never told me I was a Shadowhunter? Or that my father was still alive? Oh, and how about that bit where you paid Magnus to steal my memories?”
“I was trying to protect you—”
“Well, you did a terrible job!” Clary’s voice rose. “What did you expect to happen to me after you disappeared? If it hadn’t been for Jace and the others, I’d be dead. You never showed me how to protect myself. You never told me how dangerous things really were. What did you think? That if I couldn’t see the bad things, that meant they couldn’t see me?” Her eyes burned. “You knew Valentine wasn’t dead. You told Luke you thought he was still alive.”