“Are you cold?” Simon asked.
“I don’t get cold anymore.” He put an arm around her, his hand rubbing her back in slow circles. He chuckled ruefully. “I guess this probably doesn’t help much, what with me having no body heat and all.”
“No,” Clary said. “I mean—yes, it does help. Stay like that.” She glanced up at him. He was staring down at the North Gate, around which the dark figures of Downworlders still crowded, almost motionless. The red light of the demon towers reflected in his eyes; he looked like someone in a photograph taken with a flash. She could see faint blue veins spidering just under the surface of his skin where it was thinnest: at his temples, at the base of his collarbone. She knew enough about vampires to know that this meant it had been a while since he’d fed. “Are you hungry?”
Now he did glance down at her. “Afraid I’m going to bite you?”
“You know you’re welcome to my blood whenever you want it.”
A shiver, not from cold, passed over him, and he pulled her more tightly against his side. “I’d never do that,” he said. And then, more lightly, “Besides, I’ve already drunk Jace’s blood—I’ve had enough of feeding off my friends.”
Clary thought of the silver scar on the side of Jace’s throat. Slowly, her mind still full of the image of Jace, she said, “Do you think that’s why …?”
“Why sunlight doesn’t hurt you. I mean, it did hurt you before that, didn’t it? Before that night on the boat?”
He nodded reluctantly.
“So what else changed? Or is it just that you drank his blood?”
“You mean because he’s Nephilim? Yes, but not just because of that. You and Jace—you’re not quite normal, are you? I mean, not normal Shadowhunters. Whatever makes you different is what makes me different as well. Like the Seelie Queen said. You were experiments.” He smiled at her startled look. “I’m not stupid. I can put these things together. You with your rune powers, and Jace, well … no one could be that annoying without some kind of supernatural assistance.”
“Do you really dislike him that much?”
“I don’t dislike Jace,” Simon protested. “I mean, I hated him at first, sure. He seemed so arrogant and sure of himself, and you acted like he hung the moon—”
“Let me finish, Clary.” There was a breathless undercurrent in Simon’s voice, if someone who never breathed could be said to be breathless. He sounded as if he were racing toward something. “I could tell how much you liked him, and I thought he was using you, that you were just some stupid mundane girl he could impress with his Shadowhunter tricks. First I told myself that you’d never fall for it, and then that even if you did, he’d get tired of you eventually and you’d come back to me. I’m not proud of that, but when you’re desperate, you’ll believe anything, I guess. And then when he turned out to be your brother, it seemed like a last-minute reprieve—and I was glad. I was even glad to see how much he seemed to be suffering, until that night in the Seelie Court when you kissed him. I could see …”
“See what?” Clary said, unable to bear the pause.
“The way he looked at you. I got it then. He was never using you. He loved you, and it was killing him.”
“Is that why you went to the Dumort?” Clary whispered. It was something she’d always wanted to know but had never been able to bring herself to ask.
“Because of you and Jace? Not in any real way, no. Ever since that night in the hotel, I’d been wanting to go back. I dreamed about it. And I’d wake up out of bed, getting dressed, or already on the street, and I knew I wanted to go back to the hotel. It was always worse at night, and worse the closer I got to the hotel. It didn’t even occur to me that it was something supernatural—I thought it was post-traumatic stress or something. That night, I was so exhausted and angry, and we were so close to the hotel, and it was night—I barely even remember what happened. I just remember walking away from the park, and then—nothing.”
“But if you hadn’t been angry at me—if we hadn’t upset you—”
“It’s not like you had a choice,” Simon said. “And it’s not like I didn’t know. You can only push the truth down for so long, and then it bubbles back up. The mistake I made was not telling you what was going on with me, not telling you about the dreams. But I don’t regret dating you. I’m glad we tried. And I love you for trying, even if it was never going to work.”
“I wanted it to work so much,” Clary said softly. “I never wanted to hurt you.”
“I wouldn’t change it,” Simon said. “I wouldn’t give up loving you. Not for anything. You know what Raphael told me? That I didn’t know how to be a good vampire; that true vampires accept that they’re dead. But as long as I remember what it was like to love you, I’ll always feel like I’m alive.”
“Look.” He cut her off with a gesture, his dark eyes widening. “Down there.”
The sun was a red sliver on the horizon; as she looked, it flickered and vanished, disappearing past the dark rim of the world. The demon towers of Alicante blazed into sudden incandescent life. In their light Clary could see the dark crowd swarming restlessly around the North Gate. “What’s going on?” she whispered. “The sun’s set; why aren’t the gates opening?”
Simon was motionless. “The Clave,” he said. “They must have said no to Luke.”
“But they can’t have!” Clary’s voice rose sharply. “That would mean—”
“They’re going to give themselves up to Valentine.”
“They can’t!” Clary cried again, but even as she stared, she saw the groups of dark figures surrounding the wards turn and move away from the city, streaming like ants out of a destroyed anthill.
Simon’s face was waxy in the fading light. “I guess,” he said, “they really hate us that much. They’d really rather choose Valentine.”
“It’s not hate,” Clary said. “It’s that they’re afraid. Even Valentine was afraid.” She said it without thinking, and realized as she said it that it was true. “Afraid and jealous.”
Simon flicked a glance toward her in surprise. “Jealous?”
But Clary was back in the dream Ithuriel had showed her, Valentine’s voice echoing in her ears. I dreamed that you would tell me why. Why Raziel created us, his race of Shadowhunters, yet did not give us the powers Downworlders have—the speed of the wolves, the immortality of the Fair Folk, the magic of warlocks, even the endurance of vampires. He left us naked before the hosts of hell but for these painted lines on our skin. Why should their powers be greater than ours? Why can’t we share in what they have?
Her lips parted and she stared unseeing down at the city below. She was vaguely aware that Simon was saying her name, but her mind was racing. The angel could have showed her anything, she thought, but it had chosen to show her these scenes, these memories, for a reason. She thought of Valentine crying, That we should be bound to Downworlders, tied to those creatures!
And the rune. The one she had dreamed of. The rune as simple as a knot.
“Binding,” she said out loud. “It’s a binding rune. It joins like and unlike.”
“What?” Simon stared at her in confusion.
She scrambled to her feet, brushing off the dirt. “I have to get down there. Where are they?”
“Where are who? Clary—”
“The Clave. Where are they meeting? Where’s Luke?”
Simon rose to his feet. “The Accords Hall. Clary—”
But she was already racing toward the winding path that led to the city. Swearing under his breath, Simon followed.
They say all roads lead to the Hall. Sebastian’s words pounded over and over in Clary’s head as she sprinted down the narrow streets of Alicante. She hoped it was true, because otherwise she was definitely going to get lost. The streets twisted at odd angles, not like the lovely, straight, gridded streets of Manhattan. In Manhattan you always knew where you were. Everything was clearly numbered and laid out. This was a labyrinth.
She darted through a tiny courtyard and down one of the narrow canal paths, knowing that if she followed the water, she’d eventually come out in Angel Square. Somewhat to her surprise, the path took her by Amatis’s house, and then she was racing, panting, down a wider, curving, familiar street. It opened out onto the square, the Accords Hall rising up wide and white before her, the angel statue shining at the square’s center. Standing beside the statue was Simon, his arms crossed, regarding her darkly.
“You could have waited,” he said.
She leaned forward, her hands on her knees, catching her breath. “You … can’t really say that … since you got here before me anyway.”
“Vampire speed,” Simon said with some satisfaction. “When we get home, I ought to go out for track.”
“That would be … cheating.” With a last deep breath Clary straightened up and pushed her sweaty hair out of her eyes. “Come on. We’re going in.”
The Hall was full of Shadowhunters, more Shadowhunters than Clary had ever seen in one place before, even on the night of Valentine’s attack. Their voices rose in a roar like a crashing avalanche; most of them had gathered into contentious, shouting groups—the dais was deserted, the map of Idris hanging forlornly behind it.
She looked around for Luke. It took her a moment to find him, leaning against a pillar with his eyes half-closed. He looked awful—half-dead, his shoulders slumped. Amatis stood behind him, patting his shoulder worriedly. Clary looked around, but Jocelyn was nowhere to be seen in the crowd.
For just a moment she hesitated. Then she thought of Jace, going after Valentine, doing it alone, knowing that he might well get himself killed. He knew he was a part of this, a part of all of it, and she was too—she always had been, even when she hadn’t known it. Adrenaline was still coursing through her in spikes, sharpening her perception, making everything seem clear. Almost too clear. She squeezed Simon’s hand. “Wish me luck,” she said, and then her feet were carrying her toward the dais steps, almost without her volition, and then she was standing on the dais and turning to face the crowd.
She wasn’t sure what she’d expected. Gasps of surprise? A sea of hushed, expectant faces? They barely noticed her—only Luke looked up, as if he sensed her there, and froze with a look of astonishment on his face. And there was someone coming toward her through the crowd—a tall man with bones as prominent as the prow of a sailing ship. Consul Malachi. He was gesturing at her to get down from the dais, shaking his head and shouting something she couldn’t hear. More Shadowhunters were turning toward her now as he made his way through the throng.
Clary had what she wanted now—all eyes riveted on her. She heard the whispers running through the crowd. That’s her. Valentine’s daughter.
“You’re right,” she said, casting her voice as far and as loudly as she could, “I am Valentine’s daughter. I never even knew he was my father until a few weeks ago. I never even knew he existed until a few weeks ago. I know a lot of you are going to believe that’s not true, and that’s fine. Believe what you want. Just as long as you also believe I know things about Valentine you don’t know, things that could help you win this battle against him—if only you let me tell you what they are.”
“Ridiculous.” Malachi stood at the foot of the dais steps. “This is ridiculous. You’re just a little girl—”
“She’s Jocelyn Fairchild’s daughter.” It was Patrick Penhallow. Having pushed his way to the front of the crowd, he held up a hand. “Let the girl say her piece, Malachi.”
The crowd was buzzing. “You,” Clary said to the Consul. “You and the Inquisitor threw my friend Simon into prison—”
Malachi sneered. “Your friend the vampire?”
“He told me you asked him what happened to Valentine’s ship that night on the East River. You thought Valentine must have done something, some kind of black magic. Well, he didn’t. If you want to know what destroyed that ship, the answer is me. I did it.”
Malachi’s disbelieving laugh was echoed by several others in the crowd. Luke was looking at her, shaking his head, but Clary plowed on.
“I did it with a rune,” she said. “It was a rune so strong it made the ship come apart in pieces. I can create new runes. Not just the ones in the Gray Book. Runes no one’s ever seen before—powerful ones—”
“That’s enough,” Malachi roared. “This is ridiculous. No one can create new runes. It’s a complete impossibility.” He turned to the crowd. “Like her father, this girl is nothing but a liar.”
“She’s not lying.” The voice came from the back of the crowd. It was clear, strong, and purposeful. The crowd turned, and Clary saw who had spoken: It was Alec. He stood with Isabelle on one side of him and Magnus on the other. Simon was with them, and so was Maryse Lightwood. They formed a small, determined-looking knot by the front doors. “I’ve seen her create a rune. She even used it on me. It worked.”
“You’re lying,” the Consul said, but doubt had crept into his eyes. “To protect your friend—”
“Really, Malachi,” Maryse said crisply. “Why would my son lie about something like this, when the truth can so easily be discovered? Give the girl a stele and let her create a rune.”