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City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments 3) Cassandra Clare 2022/8/5 16:59:54

“That night I was woken by the sound of a baby crying. I sat bolt upright, alone in the bedroom. Valentine was out at a Circle meeting, so I had no one to share my amazement with. Jonathan, you see, never cried—never made a noise. His silence was one of the things that most upset me about him. I dashed down the hall to his room, but he was sleeping silently. Still, I could hear a baby crying, I was sure of it. I raced down the stairs, following the sound of the crying. It seemed to be coming from inside the empty wine cellar, but the door was locked, the cellar never used. But I had grown up in the manor. I knew where my father hid the key….”

Jocelyn didn’t look at Clary as she spoke; she seemed lost in the story, in her memories.

“I never told you the story of Bluebeard’s wife, did I, when you were a little girl? The husband told his wife never to look in the locked room, and she looked, and found the remains of all the wives he had murdered before her, displayed like butterflies in a glass case. I had no idea when I unlocked that door what I would find inside. If I had to do it again, would I be able to bring myself to open the door, to use my witchlight to guide me down into the darkness? I don’t know, Clary. I just don’t know.

“The smell—oh, the smell down there, like blood and death and rot. Valentine had hollowed out a place under the ground, in what had once been the wine cellar. It wasn’t a child I had heard crying, after all. There were cells down there now, with things imprisoned in them. Demon-creatures, bound with electrum chains, writhed and flopped and gurgled in their cells, but there was more, much more—the bodies of Downworlders, in different stages of death and dying. There were werewolves, their bodies half-dissolved by silver powder. Vampires held head-down in holy water until their skin peeled off the bones. Faeries whose skin had been pierced with cold iron.

“Even now I don’t think of him as a torturer. Not really. He seemed to be pursuing an almost scientific end. There were ledgers of notes by each cell door, meticulous recordings of his experiments, how long it had taken each creature to die. There was one vampire whose skin he had burned off over and over again to see if there was a point beyond which the poor creature could no longer regenerate. It was hard to read what he had written without wanting to faint, or throw up. Somehow I did neither.

“There was one page devoted to experiments he had done on himself. He had read somewhere that the blood of demons might act as an amplifier of the powers Shadowhunters are naturally born with. He had tried injecting himself with the blood, to no end. Nothing had happened except that he had made himself sick. Eventually he came to the conclusion that he was too old for the blood to affect him, that it must be given to a child to take full effect—preferably one as yet unborn.

“Across from the page recording those particular conclusions he had written a series of notes with a heading I recognized. My name. ‘Jocelyn Morgenstern.’

“I remember the way my fingers shook while I turned the pages, the words burning themselves into my brain. ‘Jocelyn drank the mixture again tonight. No visible changes in her, but again it is the child that concerns me…. With regular infusions of demonic ichor such as I have been giving her, the child may be capable of any feats…. Last night I heard the child’s heart beat, more strongly than any human heart, the sound like a mighty bell, tolling the beginning of a new generation of Shadowhunters, the blood of angels and demons mixed to produce powers beyond any previously imagined possible…. No longer will the power of Downworlders be the greatest on this earth….’

“There was more, much more. I clawed at the pages, my fingers trembling, my mind racing back, seeing the mixtures Valentine had given me to drink each night, the nightmares about being stabbed, choked, poisoned. But I wasn’t the one he’d been poisoning. It was Jonathan. Jonathan, who he’d turned into some kind of half-demon thing. And that, Clary—that was when I realized what Valentine really was.”

Clary let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. It was horrible—so horrible—and yet it all matched up with the vision Ithuriel had showed her. She wasn’t sure whom she felt more pity for, her mother or Jonathan. Jonathan—she couldn’t think of him as Jace, not with her mother there, not with the story so fresh in her mind—doomed to be not quite human by a father who’d cared more about murdering Downworlders than he had about his own family.

“But—you didn’t leave then, did you?” Clary asked, her voice sounding small to her ears. “You stayed….”

“For two reasons,” Jocelyn said. “One was the Uprising. What I found in the cellar that night was like a slap in the face. It woke me up out of my misery and made me see what was going on around me. Once I realized what Valentine was planning—the wholesale slaughter of Downworlders—I knew I couldn’t let it happen. I began meeting in secret with Luke. I couldn’t tell him what Valentine had done to me and to our child. I knew it would just drive him mad, that he’d be unable to stop himself from trying to hunt down Valentine and kill him, and he’d only get himself killed in the process. And I couldn’t let anyone else know what had been done to Jonathan either. Despite everything, he was still my child. But I did tell Luke about the horrors in the cellar, of my conviction that Valentine was losing his mind, becoming progressively more insane. Together, we planned to thwart the Uprising. I felt driven to do it, Clary. It was a sort of expiation, the only way I could make myself feel like I had paid for the sin of ever having joined the Circle, of having trusted Valentine. Of having loved him.”

“And he didn’t know? Valentine, I mean. He didn’t figure out what you were doing?”

Jocelyn shook her head. “When people love you, they trust you. Besides, at home I tried to pretend everything was normal. I behaved as though my initial revulsion at the sight of Jonathan was gone. I would bring him over to Maryse Lightwood’s house, let him play with her baby son, Alec. Sometimes Céline Herondale would join us—she was pregnant by that time. ‘Your husband is so kind,’ she would tell me. ‘He is so concerned about Stephen and me. He gives me potions and mixtures for the health of the baby; they are wonderful.’”

“Oh,” said Clary. “Oh my God.”

“That’s what I thought,” said Jocelyn grimly. “I wanted to tell her not to trust Valentine or to accept anything he gave her, but I couldn’t. Her husband was Valentine’s closest friend, and she would have betrayed me to him immediately. I kept my mouth shut. And then—”

“She killed herself,” said Clary, remembering the story. “But—was it because of what Valentine did to her?”

Jocelyn shook her head. “I honestly don’t think so. Stephen was killed in a raid, and she slit her wrists when she found out the news. She was eight months pregnant. She bled to death….” She paused. “Hodge was the one who found her body. And Valentine actually did seem distraught over their deaths. He vanished for almost an entire day afterward, and came home bleary-eyed and staggering. And yet in a way, I was almost grateful for his distraction. At least it meant he wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. Every day I became more and more frightened that Valentine would discover the conspiracy and try to torture the truth out of me: Who was in our secret alliance? How much had I betrayed of his plans? I wondered how I would withstand torture, whether I could hold up against it. I was terribly afraid that I couldn’t. I resolved finally to take steps to make sure that this never happened. I went to Fell with my fears and he created a potion for me—”

“The potion from the Book of the White,” Clary said, realizing. “That’s why you wanted it. And the antidote—how did it wind up in the Waylands’ library?”

“I hid it there one night during a party,” said Jocelyn with the trace of a smile. “I didn’t want to tell Luke—I knew he’d hate the whole idea of the potion, but everyone else I knew was in the Circle. I sent a message to Ragnor, but he was leaving Idris and wouldn’t say when he’d be back. He said he could always be reached with a message—but who would send it? Eventually I realized there was one person I could tell, one person who hated Valentine enough that she’d never betray me to him. I sent a letter to Madeleine explaining what I planned to do and that the only way to revive me was to find Ragnor Fell. I never heard a word back from her, but I had to believe she had read it and understood. It was all I had to hold on to.”

“Two reasons,” Clary said. “You said there were two reasons that you stayed. One was the Uprising. What was the other?”

Jocelyn’s green eyes were tired, but luminous and wide. “Clary,” she said, “can’t you guess? The second reason is that I was pregnant again. Pregnant with you.”

“Oh,” Clary said in a small voice. She remembered Luke saying, She was carrying another child, and had known it for weeks. “But didn’t that make you want to run away even more?”

“Yes,” Jocelyn said. “But I knew I couldn’t. If I’d run away from Valentine, he would have moved heaven and hell to get me back. He would have followed me to the ends of the earth, because I belonged to him and he would never have let me go. And maybe I would have let him come after me, and taken my chances, but I would never have let him come after you.” She pushed her hair back from her tired-looking face. “There was only one way I could make sure he never did. And that was for him to die.”

Clary looked at her mother in surprise. Jocelyn still looked tired, but her face was shining with a fierce light.

“I thought he’d be killed during the Uprising,” she said. “I couldn’t have killed him myself. I couldn’t have brought myself to, somehow. But I never thought he’d survive the battle. And later, when the house burned, I wanted to believe he was dead. I told myself over and over that he and Jonathan had burned to death in the fire. But I knew …” Her voice trailed off. “It was why I did what I did. I thought it was the only way to protect you—taking your memories, making you into as much of a mundane as I could. Hiding you in the mundane world. It was stupid, I realize that now, stupid and wrong. And I’m sorry, Clary. I just hope you can forgive me—if not now, then in the future.”

“Mom.” Clary cleared her throat. She’d felt like she was about to cry for pretty much the last ten minutes. “It’s okay. It’s just—there’s one thing I don’t get.” She knotted her fingers into the material of her coat. “I mean, I knew already a little of what Valentine did to Jace—I mean, to Jonathan. But the way you describe Jonathan, it’s like he was a monster. And, Mom, Jace isn’t like that. He’s nothing like that. If you knew him—if you could just meet him—”

“Clary.” Jocelyn reached out and took Clary’s hand in hers. “There’s more that I have to tell you. There’s nothing more that I hid from you, or lied about. But there are things I never knew, things I only just discovered. And they may be very hard to hear.”

Worse than what you’ve already told me? Clary thought. She bit her lip and nodded. “Go ahead and tell me. I’d rather know.”

“When Dorothea told me that Valentine had been sighted in the city, I knew he was there for me—for the Cup. I wanted to flee, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell you why. I don’t blame you at all for running from me that awful night, Clary. I was just glad you weren’t there when your father—when Valentine and his demons broke into our apartment. I just had time to swallow the potion—I could hear them breaking the door down …” She trailed off, her voice tight. “I hoped Valentine would leave me for dead, but he didn’t. He brought me to Renwick’s with him. He tried various methods to wake me up, but nothing worked. I was in a sort of dream state; I was half-conscious that he was there, but I couldn’t move or respond to him. I doubt he thought I could hear or understand him. And yet he would sit by the bed while I slept and talk to me.”

“Talk to you? About what?”

“About our past. Our marriage. How he had loved me and I had betrayed him. How he hadn’t loved anyone since. I think he meant it too, as much as he could mean these things. I had always been the one he’d talked to about the doubts he had, the guilt he felt, and in the years since I’d left him I don’t think there’d ever been anyone else. I think he couldn’t stop himself from talking to me, even though he knew he shouldn’t. I think he just wanted to talk to someone. You’d have thought that what was on his mind would be what he’d done to those poor people, making them Forsaken, and what he was planning to do to the Clave. But it wasn’t. What he wanted to talk about was Jonathan.”

Jocelyn’s mouth tightened. “He wanted to tell me he was sorry for what he’d done to Jonathan before he’d been born, because he knew it had nearly destroyed me. He’d known I was close to suicide over Jonathan—though he didn’t know I was also despairing over what I’d discovered about him. He’d somehow gotten hold of angel blood. It’s an almost legendary substance for Shadowhunters. Drinking it is supposed to give you incredible strength. Valentine had tried it on himself and discovered that it gave him not just increased strength but a feeling of euphoria and happiness every time he injected it into his blood. So he took some, dried it to powder, and mixed it into my food, hoping it would help my despair.”

I know where he got hold of angel blood, Clary thought, thinking of Ithuriel with a sharp sadness. “Do you think it worked at all?”