City of Heavenly Fire / Page 18

Page 18


 10
 THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS
 
 
 
Clary’s own harsh breathing was loud in her ears.
 
She thought of the first time that Luke had ever taken her swimming, in the lake at the farm, and how she had sunk so far down into the blue-green water that the world outside had disappeared and there was only the sound of her own heartbeat, echoing and distorted. She had wondered if she had left the world behind, if she would always be lost, until Luke had reached down and pulled her back, sputtering and disoriented, into the sunlight.
 
She felt that way now, as if she had tumbled into another world, distorted and suffocating and unreal. The room was the same, the same worn furniture and wood walls and colorful rug, dimmed and bleached by moonlight, but now Sebastian had sprung up in the middle of it like some exotic poisonous flower growing in a bed of familiar weeds.
 
In what felt like slow motion, Clary turned to run back out through the open door—only to find it banging shut in her face. An invisible force seized hold of her, spinning her around and slamming her up against the bedroom wall, her head hitting the wood. She blinked away tears of pain and tried to move her legs; she couldn’t. She was pinned against the wall, paralyzed from the waist down.
 
“My apologies for the binding spell,” Sebastian said, a light, mocking tone to his voice. He lay back against the pillows, stretching his arms up to touch the headboard in a catlike arch. His T-shirt had ridden up, baring his flat, pale stomach, traced with the lines of runes. There was something that was clearly meant to be seductive about the pose, something that made nausea twist in her gut. “It took me a little while to set up, but you know how it is. One can’t take risks.”
 
“Sebastian.” To her amazement her voice was steady. She was very aware of every inch of her skin. She felt exposed and vulnerable, as if she were standing without gear or protection in front of flying broken glass. “Why are you here?”
 
His sharp face was thoughtful, searching. A serpent sleeping in the sun, just waking, not dangerous quite yet. “Because I’ve missed you, little sister. Have you missed me?”
 
She thought about screaming, but Sebastian would have a dagger in her throat before she got a sound out. She tried to still the pounding of her heart: she had survived him before. She could do it again.
 
“Last time I saw you, you had a crossbow in my back,” she said. “So that would be a no.”
 
He traced a lazy pattern in the air with his fingers. “Liar.”
 
“So are you,” she said. “You didn’t come here because you miss me; you came because you want something. What is it?”
 
He was suddenly on his feet—graceful, too fast for her to catch the movement. White-pale hair fell into his eyes. She remembered standing at the edge of the Seine with him, watching the light catch his hair, as fine and fair as the feathery stems of a dandelion clock. Wondering if Valentine had looked like that, when he was young.
 
“Maybe I want to broker a truce,” he said.
 
“The Clave isn’t going to want to broker a truce with you.”
 
“Really? After last night?” He took a step toward her. The realization that she couldn’t run surged back up inside her; she bit back a scream. “We are on two different sides. We have opposing armies. Isn’t that what you do? Broker a truce? Either that or fight till one of you loses enough people that you give up? But then, maybe I’m not interested in a truce with them. Maybe I’m only interested in a truce with you.”
 
“Why? You don’t forgive. I know you. What I did—you wouldn’t forgive it.”
 
He moved again, a sharp flicker, and suddenly he was pressed against her, his fingers wrapped around her left wrist, pinioning it over her head. “Which part? Destroying my house—our father’s house? Betraying me and lying to me? Breaking my bond with Jace?” She could see the flicker of rage behind his eyes, feel his heart pounding.
 
She wanted nothing more than to kick out at him, but her legs simply wouldn’t move. Her voice shook. “Any of it.”
 
He was so close, she felt it when his body relaxed. He was hard and lean and whippet-thin, the sharp edges of him pressing into her. “I think you may have done me a favor. Maybe you even meant to do it.” She could see herself in his uncanny eyes, the irises so dark they almost melded with the pupils. “I was too dependent on our father’s legacy and protection. On Jace. I had to stand on my own. Sometimes you must lose everything to gain it again, and the regaining is the sweeter for the pain of loss. Alone I united the Endarkened. Alone I forged alliances. Alone I took the Institutes of Buenos Aires, of Bangkok, of Los Angeles . . .”
 
“Alone you murdered people and destroyed families,” she said. “There was a guard stationed in front of this house. He was meant to be protecting me. What did you do to him?”
 
“Reminded him he ought to be better at his job,” Sebastian said. “Protecting my sister.” He raised the hand that wasn’t pinioning her wrist to the wall, and touched a curl of her hair, rubbing the strands between his fingers. “Red,” he said, his voice half-drowsy, “like sunset and blood and fire. Like the leading edge of a falling star, burning up when it touches the atmosphere. We are Morgensterns,” he added, a dark ache in his voice. “The bright stars of morning. The children of Lucifer, the most beautiful of all God’s angels. We are so much lovelier when we fall.” He paused. “Look at me, Clary. Look at me.”
 
She looked at him, reluctantly. His black eyes were focused on her with a sharp hunger; they contrasted starkly with his salt-white hair, his pale skin, the faint flush of pink along his cheekbones. The artist in Clary knew he was beautiful, the way panthers were beautiful, or bottles of shimmering poison, or the polished skeletons of the dead. Luke had told Clary once that her talent was to see the beauty and horror in ordinary things. Though Sebastian was far from ordinary, in him, she could see both.
 
“Lucifer Morningstar was Heaven’s most beautiful angel. God’s proudest creation. And then came the day when Lucifer refused to bow to mankind. To humans. Because he knew they were lesser. And for that he was cast down into the pit with the angels who had taken his side: Belial, and Azazel, and Asmodeus, and Leviathan. And Lilith. My mother.”
 
“She’s not your mother.”
 
“You’re right. She’s more than my mother. If she were my mother, I’d be a warlock. Instead I was fed on her blood before I was born. I am something very different from a warlock; something better. For she was an angel once, Lilith.”
 
“What’s your point? Demons are just angels who make poor life decisions?”
 
“Greater Demons are not so different from angels,” he said. “We are not so different, you and I. I’ve said it to you before.”
 
“I remember,” she said. “ ‘You have a dark heart in you, Valentine’s daughter.’ ”
 
“Don’t you?” he said, and his hand stroked down through her curls, to her shoulder, and slid finally to her chest, and rested just over her heart. Clary felt her pulse slam against her veins; she wanted to push him away, but forced her right arm to remain at her side. The fingers of her hand were against the edge of her jacket, and under her jacket was Heosphoros. Even if she couldn’t kill him, maybe she could use the blade to put him down long enough for help to arrive. Maybe they could even trap him. “Our mother cheated me,” he said. “She denied me and hated me. I was a child and she hated me. As did our father.”
 
“Valentine raised you—”
 
“But all his love was for Jace. The troubled one, the rebellious one, the broken one. I did everything our father ever asked of me, and he hated me for it. And he hated you, too.” His eyes were glowing, silver in the black. “It’s ironic, isn’t it, Clarissa? We were Valentine’s blood children, and he hated us. You because you took our mother from him. And me because I was exactly what he created me to be.”
 
Clary remembered Jace then, bloody and torn, standing with the Morgenstern blade in his hand on the banks of Lake Lyn, shouting at Valentine: Why did you take me? You didn’t need a son. You had a son.
 
And Valentine, his voice hoarse: It wasn’t a son I needed. It was a soldier. I had thought Jonathan might be that soldier, but he had too much of the demon nature in him. He was too savage, too sudden, not subtle enough. I feared even then, when he was barely out of infancy, that he would never have the patience or the compassion to follow me, to lead the Clave in my footsteps. So I tried again with you. And with you I had the opposite trouble. You were too gentle. Too empathic. Understand this, my son—I loved you for those things.
 
She heard Sebastian’s breath, harsh in the quiet. “You know,” he said, “that what I’m saying is the truth.”
 
“But I don’t know why it matters.”
 
“Because we are alike!” Sebastian’s voice rose; her flinch let her ease her fingers down another millimeter, toward the hilt of Heosphoros. “You are mine,” he added, controlling his voice with obvious effort. “You have always been mine. When you were born, you were mine, my sister, though you did not know me. There are bonds that nothing can erase. And that is why I am giving you a second chance.”
 
“A chance at what?” She moved her hand downward another half inch.
 
“I am going to win this,” he said. “You know. You were at the Burren, and the Citadel. You have seen the power of the Endarkened. You know what the Infernal Cup can do. If you turn your back on Alicante and come with me, and pledge your loyalty, I will give you what I have given to no one else. Not ever, for I have saved it for you.”
 
Clary let her head fall back against the wall. Her stomach was twisting, her fingers just touching the hilt of the sword in her belt. Sebastian’s eyes were fixed on her. “You’ll give me what?”
 
He smiled then, exhaling, as if the question were, somehow, a relief. He seemed to blaze for a moment with his own conviction; looking at him was like watching a city burn.
 
“Mercy,” he said.
 
   
 
 
 
The dinner was surprisingly elegant. Magnus had dined with faeries only a few times before in his life, and the décor had always tended toward the naturalistic—tree-trunk tables, cutlery made of elaborately shaped branches, plates of nuts and berries. He had always been left with the feeling, afterward, that he would have enjoyed the whole business more if he had been a squirrel.
 
Here in Idris, though, in the house provided to the Fair Folk, the table was set with white linens. Luke, Jocelyn, Raphael, Meliorn, and Magnus were eating from plates of polished mahogany; the decanters were crystal, and the cutlery—in deference to both Luke and the faeries present—was made not from silver or iron but from delicate saplings. Faerie knights stood guard, silent and motionless, at each of the exits to the room. Long white spears that gave off a dim illumination were by their sides, casting a soft glow across the room.
 
The food wasn’t bad either. Magnus speared a piece of a really quite decent coq au vin and chewed thoughtfully. He didn’t have much of an appetite, it was true. He was nervous—a state he loathed. Somewhere out there, past these walls and this required dinner party, was Alec. No more geographical space separated them. Of course, they hadn’t been far from each other in New York either, but the space that had separated them hadn’t been made up of miles but of Magnus’s life experiences.
 
It was strange, he thought. He’d always thought of himself as a brave person. It took courage to live an immortal life and not close off your heart and mind to any new experiences or new people. Because that which was new was almost always temporary. And that which was temporary broke your heart.
 
“Magnus?” said Luke, waving a wooden fork almost under Magnus’s nose. “Are you paying attention?”
 
“What? Of course I am,” Magnus said, taking a sip of his wine. “I agree. One hundred percent.”
 
“Really,” Jocelyn said dryly. “You agree that the Downworlders should abandon the problem of Sebastian and his dark army and leave it to the Shadowhunters, as a Shadowhunter issue?”
 
“I told you he was not paying attention,” said Raphael, who had been served a blood fondue and appeared to be enjoying it immensely.
 
“Well, it is a Shadowhunter issue—” Magnus began, and then he sighed, setting down his wineglass. The wine was quite strong; he was beginning to feel light-headed. “Oh, all right. I wasn’t listening. And no, of course I don’t believe that—”
 
“Shadowhunter lapdog,” snapped Meliorn. His green eyes were narrowed. The Fair Folk and warlocks had always enjoyed a somewhat difficult relationship. Neither liked Shadowhunters much, which provided a common enemy, but the Fair Folk looked down upon warlocks for their willingness to perform magic for money. Meanwhile the warlocks scorned the Fair Folk for their inability to lie, their hidebound customs, and their penchant for pettily annoying mundanes by curdling their milk and stealing their cows. “Is there any reason you wish to preserve amity with the Shadowhunters, besides the fact that one of them is your lover?”
 
Luke coughed violently into his wine. Jocelyn patted him on the back. Raphael simply looked amused.
 
“Get with the times, Meliorn,” said Magnus. “No one says ‘lover’ anymore.”
 
“Besides,” added Luke. “They broke up.” He scrubbed the back of his hand over his eyes and sighed. “And really, ought we to be gossiping right now? I don’t see how anyone’s personal relationships enter into this.”
 
“Everything is about personal relationships,” said Raphael, dipping something unpleasant-looking into his fondue. “Why do you Shadowhunters have this problem? Because Jonathan Morgenstern has sworn vengeance against you. Why has he sworn vengeance? Because he hates his father and mother. I’ve no wish to offend you,” he added, nodding toward Jocelyn. “But we all know it’s true.”
 
“No offense taken,” said Jocelyn, though her tone was frigid. “If it were not for me and for Valentine, Sebastian would not exist, in any sense of the word. I take full responsibility for that.”
 
Luke looked thunderous. “It was Valentine who turned him into a monster,” he said. “And yes, Valentine was a Shadowhunter. But it is not as if the Council is endorsing and supporting him, or his son. They are actively at war with Sebastian, and they want our help. All races, lycanthropes and vampires and warlocks and, yes, the Fair Folk, have the potential to do good or do evil. Part of the purpose of the Accords is to say that all of us who do good, or hope to do it, are united against those who do evil. Regardless of bloodlines.”
 
Magnus pointed his fork at Luke. “That,” he said, “was a beautiful speech.” He paused. He was definitely slurring his words. How had he gotten so drunk on so little wine? He was usually much more careful than that. He frowned.
 
“What kind of wine is this?” he asked.
 
Meliorn leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms. There was a glint in his eyes as he replied. “Does the vintage not please you, warlock?”
 
Jocelyn set her glass down slowly. “When faeries answer questions with questions,” she said, “it’s never a good sign.”
 
“Jocelyn—” Luke reached to put his hand on her wrist.
 
He missed.
 
He stared muzzily at his hand for a moment, before lowering it slowly to the table. “What,” he said, enunciating each word carefully, “have you done, Meliorn?”
 
The faerie knight laughed. The sound was a musical blur in Magnus’s ears. The warlock went to set his wineglass down, but realized he had already dropped it. The wine had run out across the table like blood. He glanced up and over at Raphael, but Raphael was facedown on the table, still and unmoving. Magnus tried to shape his name through numb lips, but no sound came.
 
Somehow he managed to struggle to his feet. The room was swaying around him. He saw Luke sink back against his chair; Jocelyn rose to her feet, only to crumple to the ground, her stele rolling from her hand. Magnus lurched to the door, reached to open it—
 
On the other side stood the Endarkened, dressed all in red gear. Their faces were blank, their arms and throats decorated with runes, but none Magnus was familiar with. These runes were not the runes of the Angel. They spoke of dissonance, of the demonic realms and dark, fell powers.
 
Magnus turned away from them—and his legs gave out beneath him. He fell to his knees. Something white rose up before him. It was Meliorn, in his snowy armor, bending to one knee to look Magnus in the face. “Demon-fathered one,” he said. “Did you really think we would ever ally with your kind?”
 
Magnus heaved a breath. The world was darkening at the edges, like a photograph burning, curling in at the sides. “The Fair Folk don’t lie,” he said.
 
“Child,” said Meliorn, and there was almost sympathy in his voice. “Not to know after all these years that deception can hide in plain sight? Oh, but you are an innocent, after all.”
 
Magnus tried to raise his voice to protest that he was anything but innocent, but the words would not come. The darkness did, however, and drew him down and away.
 
   
 
 
 
Clary’s heart wrenched in her chest. She tried again to move her feet, to kick out, but her legs remained frozen in place. “You think I don’t know what you mean by mercy?” she whispered. “You’ll use the Infernal Cup on me. You’ll make me one of your Endarkened, like Amatis—”
 
“No,” he said, a strange urgency in his tone. “I won’t change you if you don’t want it. I will forgive you, and Jace as well. You can be together.”
 
“Together with you,” she said, letting just the edge of the irony of it touch her voice.
 
But he didn’t appear to register it. “Together, with me. If you swear loyalty, if you promise it in the name of the Angel, I will believe you. When all else changes, you alone I will preserve.”
 
She moved her hand down another inch, and now she was holding the hilt of Heosphoros. All she needed was to tighten her fist. . . . “And if I don’t?”
 
His expression hardened. “If you refuse me now, I will Turn everyone you love to Endarkened Ones, and then Turn you last, that you might be forced to watch them change when you can still feel the pain of it.”
 
Clary swallowed against a dry throat. “That’s your mercy?”
 
“Mercy is a condition of your agreement.”
 
“I won’t agree.”
 
His lowered lashes scattered light; his smile was a promise of terrible things. “What’s the difference, Clarissa? You will fight for me regardless. Either you keep your freedom and stand with me, or you lose it and stand with me. Why not be with me?”
 
“The angel,” she said. “What was its name?”
 
Taken aback, Sebastian hesitated for a moment before he replied. “The angel?”
 
“The one whose wings you cut off and sent to the Institute,” she said. “The one you killed.”
 
“I don’t understand,” he said. “What’s the difference?”
 
“No,” she said, slowly. “You don’t understand. The things you’ve done are too terrible to ever be forgiven, and you don’t even know they’re terrible. And that’s why not. That’s why never. I will never forgive you. I will never love you. Never.”
 
She saw each word hit him like a slap. As he drew breath to reply, she swung the blade of Heosphoros out at him, up toward his heart.
 
But he was faster, and the fact that her legs were pinned in place by magic shortened her reach. He whipped away; she reached out, trying to pull him toward her, but he yanked his arm away easily. She heard a rattle and realized distantly that she had pulled his silver bracelet free. It clattered to the ground. She slashed toward him again with her blade; he jerked back, and Heosphoros cut a clean slice across his shirtfront. She saw his lip curl in pain and anger. He caught her by the arm and swung her hand up to slam it against the door, sending a jolt of numbness up to her shoulder. Her fingers went loose, and Heosphoros fell from her grasp.
 
He glanced down at the fallen blade and then back up at her, breathing hard. Blood edged the fabric where she had cut his shirt; not enough for the wound to slow him down. Disappointment shot through her, more painful than the ache in her wrist. His body pinned hers to the door; she could feel the tension in every line of him. His voice was knifelike. “That blade is Heosphoros, the Dawn-Bringer. Where did you find it?”
 
“In a weapons shop,” she gasped. Feeling was coming back to her shoulder; the pain was intense. “The woman who owned the place gave it to me. She said nobody else would ever—would ever want a Morgenstern blade. Our blood is tainted.”
 
“But it is our blood.” He pounced on the words. “And you took the sword. You wanted it.” She could feel the heat burning off him; it seemed to shimmer around him, like the flame of a dying star. He bent his head until his lips touched her neck, and spoke against her skin, his words matching the tempo of her pulse. She closed her eyes with a shudder as his hands ran up her body. “You lie when you tell me you’ll never love me,” he said. “That we’re different. You lie just like I do—”
 
“Stop,” she said. “Get your hands off me.”
 
“But you’re mine,” he said. “I want you to—I need you to—” He took a gasping breath; his pupils were blown wide; something about it terrified her more than anything else he had ever done. Sebastian in control was frightening; Sebastian out of control was something too horrible to contemplate.
 
“Let her go,” said a clear, hard voice from across the room. “Let her go and stop touching her, or I will burn you down to ashes.”
 
Jace.
 
Over Sebastian’s shoulder she saw him, suddenly, where there had been no one standing a moment ago. He was in front of the window, the curtains blowing behind him in the breeze off the canal, and his eyes were as hard as agate stones. He was wearing gear, his blade in his hand, still with the shadow of fading bruises on his jaw and neck, and his expression as he looked at Sebastian was one of absolute loathing.
 
Clary felt Sebastian’s whole body tighten against hers; a moment later he had spun away from her, slamming his foot down on her sword, his hand flying to his belt. His smile was a razor slice, but his eyes were wary. “Go ahead and try it,” he said. “You got lucky at the Citadel. I wasn’t expecting you to burn like that when I cut you. My mistake. I won’t make it twice.”
 
Jace’s eyes flicked to Clary once, a question in them; she nodded that she was all right.
 
“So you admit it,” said Jace, circling a little closer to them. The tread of his boots was soft on the wooden floor. “The heavenly fire surprised you. Threw you off your game. That’s why you fled. You lost the battle at the Citadel, and you don’t like to lose.”
 
Sebastian’s razor smile grew a little brighter, a little brittler. “I didn’t get what I came for. But I did learn quite a bit.”
 
“You didn’t break the walls of the Citadel,” said Jace. “You didn’t get into the armory. You didn’t Turn the Sisters.”
 
“I didn’t go to the Citadel for arms and armor,” Sebastian sneered. “I can get those easily. I came for you. The two of you.”
 
Clary looked sideways at Jace. He was standing, expressionless and unmoving, his face as still as stone.
 
“You couldn’t have known we’d be there,” she said. “You’re lying.”
 
“I’m not.” He practically radiated, like a torch burning. “I can see you, little sister. I can see everything that happens in Alicante. In the day and in the night, in darkness and in light, I can see you.”
 
“Stop it,” Jace said. “It’s not true.”
 
“Really?” Sebastian said. “How did I know Clary would be here? Alone, tonight?”
 
Jace went on, prowling toward them, like a cat on the hunt. “How didn’t you know that I would be here, too?”
 
Sebastian made a face. “Hard to watch two people at once. So many irons in the fire . . .”
 
“And if you wanted Clary, why not just take her?” Jace demanded. “Why spend all this time talking?” His voice dripped contempt. “You want her to want to go with you,” he said. “No one in your life has done anything but despise you. Your mother. Your father. And now your sister. Clary wasn’t born with hate in her heart. You made her hate you. But it wasn’t what you wanted. You forget we were bonded, you and I. You forget I’ve seen your dreams. Somewhere inside that head of yours, there is a world of flames, and there is you looking down at it from a throne room, and in that room are two thrones. So who occupies that second throne? Who sits beside you in your dreams?”
 
Sebastian gave a gasping laugh; there were red spots on his cheeks, like fever. “You are making a mistake,” he said, “talking to me like this, angel boy.”
 
“Even in your dreams you are not companionless,” Jace said, and now his voice was that voice Clary had first fallen in love with, the voice of the boy who had told her a story about a child and a falcon and the lessons he had learned. “But who could you find who would understand you? You don’t understand love; our father taught you too well. But you understand blood. Clary is your blood. If you could have her beside you, watching the world burn, it would be all the approval you ever needed.”
 
“I never desired approval,” said Sebastian through gritted teeth. “Yours, hers, or anyone’s.”
 
“Really?” Jace smiled as Sebastian’s voice rose. “Then why have you given us so many second chances?” He had stopped prowling and stood opposite them, his pale gold eyes shining in the dim light. “You said it yourself. You stabbed me. You went for my shoulder. You could have gone for the heart. You were holding back. For what? For me? Or because in some tiny part of your brain you know that Clary would never forgive you if you ended my life?”
 
“Clary, do you wish to speak for yourself on this matter?” said Sebastian, though he never took his eyes from the blade in Jace’s hands. “Or do you require him to give answers for you?”
 
Jace cut his eyes toward Clary, and Sebastian did as well. She felt the weight of both gazes on her for a moment, black and gold.
 
“I’ll never want to come with you, Sebastian,” she said. “Jace is right. If the choice was to spend my life with you or die, I’d rather die.”
 
Sebastian’s eyes darkened. “You’ll change your mind,” he said. “You’ll mount that throne beside me of your own accord, when the end comes to the end. I’ve given you your chance to come willingly now. I’ve paid in blood and inconvenience to have you with me by your own choice. But I will take you unwilling, just the same.”
 
“No!” Clary said, just as a loud crash sounded from downstairs. The house was suddenly full of voices.
 
“Oh, dear,” said Jace, his voice dripping sarcasm. “I just might have sent a fire-message to the Clave when I saw the body of the guard you killed and shoved under that bridge. Foolish of you not to dispose of it more carefully, Sebastian.”
 
Sebastian’s expression tightened, so momentarily that Clary imagined most people would never have noticed it. He reached for Clary, his lips shaping words—a spell to free her from whatever force held her clamped to the wall. She pushed, shoved at him, and then Jace leaped at them, his blade driving down—
 
Sebastian spun away, but the blade had caught him: It drew a line of blood down his arm. He cried out, staggering back—and paused. He grinned as Jace stared at him, white-faced.
 
“The heavenly fire,” Sebastian said. “You don’t know how to control it yet. Works sometimes and not other times, eh, little brother?”
 
Jace’s eyes blazed up in gold. “We’ll see about that,” he said, and lunged for Sebastian, sword slicing through the darkness with light.
 
But Sebastian was too quick for it to matter. He strode forward and plucked the sword out of Jace’s hand. Clary struggled, but Sebastian’s magic kept her pinned in place; before Jace could move, Sebastian swung Jace’s sword around and plunged it into his own chest.
 
The tip sank in, parting his shirt, then his skin. He bled red, human blood, as dark as rubies. He was clearly in pain: His teeth bared in a rictus grin, his breath coming unevenly, but the sword kept moving, his hand steady. The back of his shirt bulged and tore as the tip of the sword broke through it, on a gout of blood.
 
Time seemed to stretch out like a rubber band. The hilt slammed up against Sebastian’s chest, the blade protruding from his back, dripping scarlet. Jace stood, shocked and frozen, as Sebastian reached for him with bloody hands and pulled him close. Over the sound of feet pounding up the stairs, Sebastian spoke:
 
“I can feel the fire of Heaven in your veins, angel boy, burning under the skin,” he said. “The pure force of the destruction of ultimate goodness. I can still hear your screams on the air when Clary plunged the blade into you. Did you burn and burn?” His breathless voice was dark with poisonous intensity. “You think you have a weapon you can use against me, now, don’t you? And perhaps with fifty years, a hundred, to learn to master the fire, you could, but time is exactly what you don’t have. The fire rages, uncontrolled, inside you, far more likely to destroy you than it is to ever destroy me.”
 
Sebastian raised a hand and cupped the back of Jace’s neck, pulling him closer, so close their foreheads almost touched.
 
“Clary and I are alike,” he said. “And you—you are my mirror. One day she will choose me over you, I promise you that. And you will be there to see it.” With a swift darting motion, he kissed Jace on the cheek, fast and hard; when he drew back, there was a smear of blood there. “Ave, Master Herondale,” Sebastian said, and twisted the silver ring on his finger—there was a shimmer, and he vanished.
 
Jace stared for a wordless moment at the place where Sebastian had been, then started toward Clary; suddenly freed by Sebastian’s disappearance, her legs had collapsed under her. She hit the ground on her knees and threw herself forward immediately, scrabbling for the blade of Heosphoros. Her hand closed around it and she drew it close, curling her body around it as if it were a child that needed protecting.
 
“Clary—Clary—” Jace was there, sinking to his knees beside her, and his arms were around her; she rocked into them, pressing her forehead to his shoulder. She realized his shirt, and now her skin, was wet with her brother’s blood, as the door burst open, and the guards of the Clave poured into the room.

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