For a split second longer she stood motionless. Then, somehow, she had caught at the front of his shirt and pulled him toward her. His arms went around her, lifting her almost out of her sandals, and then he was kissing her—or she was kissing him, she wasn’t sure, and it didn’t matter. The feel of his mouth on hers was electric; her hands gripped his arms, pulling him hard against her. The feel of his heart pounding through his shirt made her dizzy with joy. No one else’s heart beat like Jace’s did, or ever could.
He let her go at last and she gasped—she’d forgotten to breathe. He cupped her face between his hands, tracing the curve of her cheekbones with his fingers. The light was back in his eyes, as bright as it had been by the lake, but now there was a wicked sparkle to it. “There,” he said. “That wasn’t so bad, was it, even though it wasn’t forbidden?”
“I’ve had worse,” she said, with a shaky laugh.
“You know,” he said, bending to brush his mouth across hers, “if it’s the lack of forbidden you’re worried about, you could still forbid me to do things.”
“What kinds of things?”
She felt him smile against her mouth. “Things like this.”
After some time they came down the stairs and into the square, where a crowd had begun to gather in anticipation of the fireworks. Isabelle and the others had found a table near the corner of the square and were crowded around it on benches and chairs. As they approached the group, Clary prepared to draw her hand out of Jace’s—and then stopped herself. They could hold hands if they wanted to. There was nothing wrong with it. The thought almost took her breath away.
“You’re here!” Isabelle danced up to them in delight, carrying a glass of fuchsia liquid, which she thrust at Clary. “Have some of this!”
Clary squinted at it. “Is it going to turn me into a rodent?”
“Where is the trust? I think it’s strawberry juice,” Isabelle said. “Anyway, it’s yummy. Jace?” She offered him the glass.
“I am a man,” he told her, “and men do not consume pink beverages. Get thee gone, woman, and bring me something brown.”
“Brown?” Isabelle made a face.
“Brown is a manly color,” said Jace, and yanked on a stray lock of Isabelle’s hair with his free hand. “In fact, look—Alec is wearing it.”
Alec looked mournfully down at his sweater. “It was black,” he said. “But then it faded.”
“You could dress it up with a sequined headband,” Magnus suggested, offering his boyfriend something blue and sparkly. “Just a thought.”
“Resist the urge, Alec.” Simon was sitting on the edge of a low wall with Maia beside him, though she appeared to be deep in conversation with Aline. “You’ll look like Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu.”
“There are worse things,” Magnus observed.
Simon detached himself from the wall and came over to Clary and Jace. With his hands in the back pockets of his jeans, he regarded them thoughtfully for a long moment. At last he spoke.
“You look happy,” he said to Clary. He swiveled his gaze to Jace. “And a good thing for you that she does.”
Jace raised an eyebrow. “Is this the part where you tell me that if I hurt her, you’ll kill me?”
“No,” said Simon. “If you hurt Clary, she’s quite capable of killing you herself. Possibly with a variety of weapons.”
Jace looked pleased by the thought.
“Look,” Simon said. “I just wanted to say that it’s okay if you dislike me. If you make Clary happy, I’m fine with you.” He stuck his hand out, and Jace took his own hand out of Clary’s and shook Simon’s, a bemused look on his face.
“I don’t dislike you,” he said. “In fact, because I actually do like you, I’m going to offer you some advice.”
“Advice?” Simon looked wary.
“I see that you are working this vampire angle with some success,” Jace said, indicating Isabelle and Maia with a nod of his head. “And kudos. Lots of girls love that sensitive-undead thing. But I’d drop that whole musician angle if I were you. Vampire rock stars are played out, and besides, you can’t possibly be very good.”
Simon sighed. “I don’t suppose there’s any chance you could reconsider the part where you didn’t like me?”
“Enough, both of you,” Clary said. “You can’t be complete jerks to each other forever, you know.”
“Technically,” said Simon, “I can.”
Jace made an inelegant noise; after a moment Clary realized that he was trying not to laugh, and only semi-succeeding.
Simon grinned. “Got you.”
“Well,” Clary said. “This is a beautiful moment.” She looked around for Isabelle, who would probably be nearly as pleased as she was that Simon and Jace were getting along, albeit in their own peculiar way.
Instead she saw someone else.
Standing at the very edge of the glamoured forest, where shadow blended into light, was a slender woman in a green dress the color of leaves, her long scarlet hair bound back by a golden circlet.
The Seelie Queen. She was looking directly at Clary, and as Clary met her gaze, she lifted up a slender hand and beckoned. Come.
Whether it was her own desire or the strange compulsion of the Fair Folk, Clary wasn’t sure, but with a murmured excuse she stepped away from the others and made her way to the edge of the forest, wending her way through riotous partygoers. She became aware, as she drew close to the Queen, of a preponderance of faeries standing very near them, in a circle around their Lady. Even if she wanted to appear alone, the Queen was not without her courtiers.
The Queen held up an imperious hand. “There,” she said. “And no closer.”
Clary, a few steps from the Queen, paused. “My lady,” she said, remembering the formal way that Jace had addressed the Queen inside her Court. “Why do you call me to your side?”
“I would have a favor from you,” said the Queen without preamble. “And of course, I would promise a favor in return.”
“A favor from me?” Clary said wonderingly. “But—you don’t even like me.”
The Queen touched her lips thoughtfully with a single long white finger. “The Fair Folk, unlike humans, do not concern themselves overmuch with liking. Love, perhaps, and hate. Both are useful emotions. But liking …” She shrugged elegantly. “The Council has not yet chosen which of our folk they would like to sit upon their seat,” she said. “I know that Lucian Graymark is like a father to you. He would listen to what you asked him. I would like you to ask him if they would choose my knight Meliorn for the task.”
Clary thought back to the Accords Hall, and Meliorn saying he did not want to fight in the battle unless the Night Children fought as well. “I don’t think Luke likes him very much.”
“And again,” said the Queen, “you speak of liking.”
“When I saw you before, in the Seelie Court,” Clary said, “you called Jace and me brother and sister. But you knew we weren’t really brother and sister. Didn’t you?”
The Queen smiled. “The same blood runs in your veins,” she said. “The blood of the Angel. All those who bear the Angel’s blood are brother and sister under the skin.”
Clary shivered. “You could have told us the truth, though. And you didn’t.”
“I told you the truth as I saw it. We all tell the truth as we see it, do we not? Did you ever stop to wonder what untruths might have been in the tale your mother told you, that served her purpose in telling it? Do you truly think you know each and every secret of your past?”
Clary hesitated. Without knowing why, she suddenly heard Madame Dorothea’s voice in her head. You’ll fall in love with the wrong person, the hedge-witch had said to Jace. Clary had come to assume that Dorothea had only been referring to how much trouble Jace’s affection for Clary would bring them both. But still, there were blanks, she knew, in her memory—even now, things, events, that had not come back to her. Secrets whose truths she’d never know. She had given them up for lost and unimportant, but perhaps—
No. She felt her hands tighten at her sides. The Queen’s poison was a subtle one, but powerful. Was there anyone in the world who could truly say they knew every secret about themselves? And weren’t some secrets better left alone?
She shook her head. “What you did in the Court,” she said. “Perhaps you didn’t lie. But you were unkind.” She started to turn away. “And I have had enough unkindness.”
“Would you truly refuse a favor from the Queen of the Seelie Court?” the Queen demanded. “Not every mortal is granted such a chance.”
“I don’t need a favor from you,” Clary said. “I have everything I want.”
She turned her back on the Queen and walked away.
When she returned to the group she had left, she discovered that they had been joined by Robert and Maryse Lightwood, who were—she saw with surprise—shaking hands with Magnus Bane, who had put the sparkly headband away and was being the model of decorum. Maryse had her arm around Alec’s shoulder. The rest of her friends were sitting in a group along the wall; Clary was about to move to join them, when she felt a tap on her shoulder.
“Clary!” It was her mother, smiling at her—and Luke stood beside her, his hand in hers. Jocelyn wasn’t dressed up at all; she wore jeans, and a loose shirt that at least wasn’t stained with paint. You couldn’t have told from the way Luke was looking at her, though, that she looked anything less than perfect. “I’m glad we finally found you.”
Clary grinned at Luke. “So you’re not moving to Idris, I take it?”
“Nah,” he said. He looked as happy as she’d ever seen him. “The pizza here is terrible.”
Jocelyn laughed and moved off to talk to Amatis, who was admiring a floating glass bubble filled with smoke that kept changing colors. Clary looked at Luke. “Were you ever actually going to leave New York, or were you just saying that to get her to finally make a move?”
“Clary,” said Luke, “I am shocked that you would suggest such a thing.” He grinned, then abruptly sobered. “You’re all right with it, aren’t you? I know this means a big change in your life—I was going to see if you and your mother might want to move in with me, since your apartment’s unlivable right now—”
Clary snorted. “A big change? My life has already changed totally. Several times.”
Luke glanced over toward Jace, who was watching them from his seat on the wall. Jace nodded at them, his mouth curling up at the corner in an amused smile. “I guess it has,” Luke said.
“Change is good,” said Clary.
Luke held his hand up; the Alliance rune had faded, as it had for everyone, but his skin still bore the white telltale trace of it, the scar that would never entirely disappear. He looked thoughtfully at the Mark. “So it is.”
“Clary!” Isabelle called from the wall. “Fireworks!”
Clary hit Luke lightly on the shoulder and went to join her friends. They were seated along the wall in a line: Jace, Isabelle, Simon, Maia, and Aline. She stopped beside Jace. “I don’t see any fireworks,” she said, mock-scowling at Isabelle.
“Patience, grasshopper,” said Maia. “Good things come to those who wait.”
“I always thought that was ‘Good things come to those who do the wave,’” said Simon. “No wonder I’ve been so confused all my life.”
“‘Confused’ is a nice word for it,” said Jace, but he was clearly only somewhat paying attention; he reached out and pulled Clary toward him, almost absently, as if it were a reflex. She leaned back against his shoulder, looking up at the sky. Nothing lit the heavens but the demon towers, glowing a soft silver-white against the darkness.
“Where did you go?” he asked, quietly enough that only she could hear the question.
“The Seelie Queen wanted me to do her a favor,” said Clary. “And she wanted to do me a favor in return.” She felt Jace tense. “Relax. I told her no.”
“Not many people would turn down a favor from the Seelie Queen,” said Jace.
“I told her I didn’t need a favor,” said Clary. “I told her I had everything I wanted.”
Jace laughed at that, softly, and slid his hand up her arm to her shoulder; his fingers played idly with the chain around her neck, and Clary glanced down at the glint of silver against her dress. She had worn the Morgenstern ring since Jace had left it for her, and sometimes she wondered why. Did she really want to be reminded of Valentine? And yet, at the same time, was it ever right to forget?
You couldn’t erase everything that caused you pain with its recollection. She didn’t want to forget Max or Madeleine, or Hodge, or the Inquisitor, or even Sebastian. Every memory was valuable; even the bad ones. Valentine had wanted to forget: to forget that the world had to change, and Shadowhunters had to change with it—to forget that Downworlders had souls, and all souls mattered to the fabric of the world. He had wanted to think only of what made Shadowhunters different from Downworlders. But what had been his undoing had been the way in which they were all the same.
“Clary,” Jace said, breaking her out of her reverie. He tightened his arms around her, and she raised her head; the crowd was cheering as the first of the rockets went up. “Look.”
She looked as the fireworks exploded in a shower of sparks—sparks that painted the clouds overhead as they fell, one by one, in streaking lines of golden fire, like angels falling from the sky.