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City of lost souls, p.57
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       City of Lost Souls, p.57

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
 
Page 57

 

  From the corner of the room came a tinkling silver laugh.

  Alec whirled, the seraph blade blazing in his hand. The shadows in the corners were thick and deep; even Amriels light could not penetrate them. "Camille?" he said, his voice dangerously calm. "Camille Belcourt. Come out here now. "

  There was another giggle, and a figure stepped forth from the darkness. But it was not Camille.

  It was a girl-probably no older than twelve or thirteen-very thin, wearing a pair of ragged jeans and a pink, short-sleeved T-shirt with a glittery unicorn on it. She wore a long pink scarf as well, its ends dabbled in blood. Blood masked the lower half of her face, and stained the hem of her shirt. She looked at Alec with wide, happy eyes.

  "I know you," she breathed, and as she spoke, he saw her needle incisors flash. Vampire. "Alec Lightwood. Youre a friend of Simons. Ive seen you at the concerts. "

  He stared at her. Had he seen her before? Perhaps-the flicker of a face among the shadows at a bar, one of those performances Isabelle had dragged him to. He couldnt be sure. But that didnt mean he didnt know who she was.

  "Maureen," he said. "Youre Simons Maureen. "

  She looked pleased. "I am," she said. "Im Simons Maureen. " She looked down at her hands, which were gloved in blood, as if shed plunged them into a pool of the stuff. And not human blood, either, Alec thought. The dark, ruby-red blood of vampires. "Youre looking for Camille," she said in a singsong voice. "But she isnt here anymore. Oh, no. Shes gone. "

  "Shes gone?" Alec demanded. "What do you mean shes gone?"

  Maureen giggled. "You know how vampire law works, dont you? Whoever kills the head of a vampire clan becomes its leader. And Camille was the head of the New York clan. Oh, yes, she was. "

  "So-someone killed her?"

  Maureen burst into a happy peal of laughter. "Not just someone, silly," she said. "It was me. "

  The arched ceiling of the infirmary was blue, painted with a rococo pattern of cherubs trailing gold ribbons, and white drifting clouds. Rows of metal beds lined the walls to the left and right, leaving a wide aisle down the middle. Two high skylights let in the clear wintery sunlight, though it did little to warm the chilly room.

  Jace was seated on one of the beds, leaning back against a pile of pillows he had swiped from the other beds. He wore jeans, frayed at the hems, and a gray T-shirt. He had a book balanced on his knees. He looked up as Clary came into the room, but said nothing as she approached his bed.

  Clarys heart had begun to pound. The silence felt still, almost oppressive; Jaces eyes followed her as she reached the foot of his bed and stopped there, her hands on the metal footboard. She studied his face. So many times shed tried to draw him, she thought, tried to capture that ineffable quality that made Jace himself, but her fingers had never been able to get what she saw down on paper. It was there now, where it had not been when he was controlled by Sebastian-whatever you wanted to call it, soul or spirit, looking out of his eyes.

  She tightened her hands on the footboard. "Jace. . . "

  He tucked a lock of pale gold hair behind his ear. "Its-did the Silent Brothers tell you it was okay to be in here?"

  "Not exactly. "

  The corner of his mouth twitched. "So did you knock them out with a two-by-four and break in? The Clave looks darkly on that sort of thing, you know. "

  "Wow. You really dont put anything past me, do you?" She moved to sit down on the bed next to him, partly so that they would be on the same level and partly to disguise the fact that her knees were shaking.

  "Ive learned not to," he said, and set his book aside.

  She felt the words like a slap. "I didnt want to hurt you," she said, and her voice came out as almost a whisper. "Im sorry. "

  He sat up straight, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. They were not far from each other, sharing the same bed, but he was holding himself back; she could tell. She could tell that there were secrets at the back of his light eyes, could feel his hesitation. She wanted to reach her hand out, but she kept herself still, kept her voice steady. "I never meant to hurt you. And I dont just mean at the Burren. I mean from the moment you-the real you-told me what you wanted. I should have listened, but all I thought about was saving you, getting you away. I didnt listen to you when you said you wanted to turn yourself over to the Clave, and because of it, we both almost wound up like Sebastian. And when I did what I did with Glorious-Alec and Isabelle, they must have told you the blade was meant for Sebastian. But I couldnt get to him through the crowd. I just couldnt. And I thought of what you told me, that youd rather die than live under Sebastians influence. " Her voice caught. "The real you, I mean. I couldnt ask you. I had to guess. You have to know it was awful to hurt you like that. To know that you could have died and it would have been my hand that held the sword that killed you. I would have wanted to die, but I risked your life because I thought it was what you would have asked for, and after Id betrayed you once, I thought I owed it to you. But if I was wrong. . . " She paused, but he was silent. Her stomach turned over, a sick, wrenching flip. "Then, Im sorry. Theres nothing I can do to make it up to you. But I wanted you to know. That Im sorry. "

  She halted again, and this time the silence stretched out between them, longer and longer, a thread pulled impossibly tight.

  "You can talk now," she blurted finally. "In fact, it would be really great if you did. "

  Jace was looking at her incredulously. "Let me get this straight," he said. "You came here to apologize to me?"

  She was taken aback. "Of course I did. "

  "Clary," he said. "You saved my life. "

  "I stabbed you. With a massive sword. You caught on fire. "

  His lips twitched, almost imperceptibly. "Okay," he said. "So maybe our problems arent like other couples. " He lifted a hand as if he meant to touch her face, then put it down hastily. "I heard you, you know," he said more softly. "Telling me I wasnt dead. Asking me to open my eyes. "

  They looked at each other in silence for what was probably moments but felt like hours to Clary. It was so good to see him like this, completely himself, that it almost erased the fear that this was all going to go horribly wrong in the next few minutes. Finally Jace spoke.

  "Why do you think I fell in love with you?"

  It was the last thing she would have expected him to say. "I dont-Thats not a fair thing to ask. "

  "Seems fair to me," he said. "Do you think I dont know you, Clary? The girl who walked into a hotel full of vampires because her best friend was there and needed saving? Who made a Portal and transported herself to Idris because she hated the idea of being left out of the action?"

  "You yelled at me for that-"

  "I was yelling at myself," he said. "There are ways in which were so alike. Were reckless. We dont think before we act. Well do anything for the people we love. And I never thought how scary that was for the people who loved me until I saw it in you and it terrified me. How could I protect you if you wouldnt let me?" He leaned forward. "That, by the way, is a rhetorical question. "

  "Good. Because I dont need protecting. "

  "I knew youd say that. But the thing is, sometimes you do. And sometimes I do. Were meant to protect each other, but not from everything. Not from the truth. Thats what it means to love someone but let them be themselves. "

  Clary looked down at her hands. She wanted to reach out and touch him so badly. It was like visiting someone in jail, where you could see them so clearly and so close, but there was unbreakable glass separating you.

  "I fell in love with you," he said, "because you were one of the bravest people Id ever known. So how could I ask you to stop being brave just because I loved you?" He ran his hands through his hair, making it stick up in loops and curls that Clary ached to smooth down. "You came for me," he said. "You saved me when almost everyone else had given up, and even the people who hadnt given up didnt know what to do. You think I dont know what you went through?" His eyes darkened.
"How do you imagine I could possibly be angry with you?"

  "Then, why havent you wanted to see me?"

  "Because. . . " Jace exhaled. "Okay, fair point, but theres something you dont know. The sword you used, the one Raziel gave to Simon. . . "

  "Glorious," said Clary. "The Archangel Michaels sword. It was destroyed. "

  "Not destroyed. It went back where it came from once the heavenly fire consumed it. " Jace smiled faintly. "Otherwise our Angel would have had some serious explaining to do once Michael found out his buddy Raziel had lent out his favorite sword to a bunch of careless humans. But I digress. The sword. . . the way it burned. . . that was no ordinary fire. "

  "I guessed that. " Clary wished Jace would hold out his arm and draw her against him. But he seemed to want to keep space between them, so she stayed where she was. It felt like an ache in her body, to be this close to him and not be able to touch him.

  "I wish you hadnt worn that sweater," Jace muttered.

  "What?" She glanced down. "I thought you liked this sweater. "

  "I do," he said, and shook his head. "Never mind. That fire-it was Heavens fire. The burning bush, the fire and brimstone, the pillar of fire that went before the children of Israel-thats the fire were talking about. For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. Thats the fire that burned away what Lilith had done to me. " He reached for the hem of his shirt and drew it up. Clary sucked in her breath, for above his heart, on the smooth skin of his chest, there was no more Mark-and only a healed white scar where the sword had gone in.

  She reached her hand out, wanting to touch him, but he drew back, shaking his head. She felt the hurt expression flash across her face before she could hide it as he rolled his shirt back down. "Clary," he said. "That fire-its still inside me. "

  She stared at him. "What do you mean?"

  He took a deep breath and held his hands out, palms down. She looked at them, slim and familiar, the Voyance rune on his right hand faded with white scars layered over it. As they both watched, his hands began to shake slightly-and then, under Clarys incredulous eyes, to turn transparent. Like the blade of Glorious when it had begun to burn, his skin seemed to turn to glass, glass that trapped within it a gold that moved and darkened and burned. She could see the outline of his skeleton through the transparency of his skin, golden bones connected by tendons of fire.

  She heard him inhale sharply. He looked up then, and met her eyes with his. His eyes were gold. They had always been gold, but she could swear that now that gold lived and burned as well. He was breathing hard, and there was sweat shining on his cheeks and collarbones.

  "Youre right," Clary said. "Our problems really arent like other peoples problems. "

  Jace stared at her incredulously. Slowly he closed his hands into fists, and the fire vanished, leaving only his ordinary, familiar, unharmed hands behind. Half-choking on a laugh, he said, "Thats what you have to say?"

  "No. I have a lot more to say. Whats going on? Are your hands weapons now? Are you the Human Torch? What on earth-"

  "I dont know what the human torch is, but-All right, look, the Silent Brothers have told me that I carry the heavenly fire inside me now. Inside my veins. In my soul. When I first woke up, I felt like I was breathing in fire. Alec and Isabelle thought it was just a temporary effect of the sword, but when it didnt go away and the Silent Brothers were called in, Brother Zachariah said he didnt know how temporary it would be. And I burned him-he was touching my hand when he said it, and I felt a jolt of energy go through me. "

  "A bad burn?"

  "No. Minor. But still-"

  "Thats why you wont touch me," Clary realized aloud. "Youre afraid youll burn me. "

  He nodded. "No ones ever seen anything like this, Clary. Not before. Not ever. The sword didnt kill me. But it left this-this piece of something deadly inside me. Something so powerful it would probably kill an ordinary human, maybe even an ordinary Shadowhunter. " He took a deep breath. "The Silent Brothers are working on how I might control it, or get rid of it. But as you might imagine, Im not their first priority. "

  "Because Sebastian is. You heard I destroyed that apartment. I know he has other ways of getting around, but. . . "

  "Thats my girl. But he has backups. Other hiding places. I dont know what they are. He never told me. " He leaned forward, close enough that she could see the changing colors in his eyes. "Since I woke up, the Silent Brothers have been with me practically every minute. They had to perform the ceremony on me again, the one that gets performed on Shadowhunters when theyre born to keep them safe. And then they went into my mind. Searching, trying to pull out any snippet of information about Sebastian, anything I might know and not remember I knew. But-" Jace shook his head in frustration. "There just isnt anything. I knew his plans through the ceremony at the Burren. Beyond that, I have no idea what hes going to do next. Where he might strike. They do know hes been working with demons, so theyre shoring up the wards, especially around Idris. But I feel like theres one useful thing we might have gotten out of all this-some secret knowledge on my part-and we dont even have that. "

  "But if you did know anything, Jace, he would just change his plans," Clary objected. "He knows he lost you. You two were tied together. I heard him scream when I stabbed you. " She shivered. "It was this horrible lost sound. He really did care about you in some strange way, I think. And even though the whole thing was awful, both of us got something out of it that might turn out to be useful. "

 
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