City of Heavenly Fire / Page 52

Page 52


“Isabelle.”
 
She looked up; she had been leaning against the side of the piano, letting Jace’s playing (and the faint sound of Church gnawing wood) lull her. It was music that reminded her of her childhood, of Jace spending hours in the music room, filling the halls of the Institute with a cascade of notes.
 
It was Simon. He had unbuttoned his denim jacket in the warmth of the tent, and she could see the flush of heat and awkwardness across his cheekbones. There was something alien about it, a Simon who blushed and was cold and hot and grew up and grew away—from her.
 
His dark eyes were curious as they rested on her; she saw some recognition in them, but it wasn’t total. It wasn’t the way Simon had looked at her before, longing and that sweet ache and sense that here was someone who saw her, saw Isabelle, the Isabelle she presented to the world and the Isabelle she hid away, tucked into the shadows where only a very few could see her.
 
Simon had been one of those few. Now he was—something else.
 
“Isabelle,” he said again, and she sensed Jace looking over at her, his eyes curious as his hands darted over the piano keys. “Would you dance with me?”
 
She sighed and nodded. “All right,” she said, and let him draw her onto the dance floor. In her heels she was as tall as he was; their eyes were on a level. Behind the glasses his were the same dark coffee brown.
 
“I’ve been told,” he said, and cleared his throat, “or at least, I get the sense, that you and I—”
 
“Don’t,” she said. “Don’t talk about it. If you don’t remember, then I don’t want to hear it.”
 
One of his hands was on her shoulder, the other on her waist. His skin was warm against hers, not cool as she remembered it. He seemed incredibly human, and fragile.
 
“But I want to remember it,” he said, and she remembered how argumentative he’d always been; that, at least, hadn’t changed. “I remember some of it—it’s not like I don’t know who you are, Isabelle.”
 
“You would call me Izzy,” she said, suddenly feeling very tired. “Izzy, not Isabelle.”
 
He leaned in, and she felt his breath against her hair. “Izzy,” he said. “I remember kissing you.”
 
She shivered. “No, you don’t.”
 
“Yes, I do,” he said. His hands slid to her back, fingers brushing the space just below her shoulder blade that always made her squirm. “It’s been months now,” he said, in a low voice. “And nothing’s felt quite right. I’ve always felt like something was missing. And now I know it was this, all of this, but it was also you. I didn’t remember during the day. But I dreamed at night about you, Isabelle.”
 
“You dreamed about us?”
 
“Just you. The girl with the dark, dark eyes.” He touched the edge of her hair with light fingers. “Magnus tells me I was a hero,” he said. “And I see on your face when you’re looking at me that you’re searching for that guy. The guy you knew who was a hero, who did great things. I don’t remember doing those things. I don’t know if that makes me not a hero anymore. But I’d like to try to be that guy again. That guy who gets to kiss you because he earned it. If you’ll be patient enough to let me try.”
 
It was such a Simon thing to say. She looked up at him, and for the first time felt a swell of hope in her chest and didn’t immediately move to crush it down. “I might let you,” she said. “Try, that is. I can’t promise anything.”
 
“I wouldn’t expect you to.” His face lit up, and she saw the shadow of a memory move behind his eyes. “You’re a heartbreaker, Isabelle Lightwood,” he said. “I remember that much, at least.”
 
   
 
 
 
“Tessa is a warlock,” said Jocelyn, “although a very unusual kind of warlock. Remember what I told you, that I was panicked about how to put the spell on you that all Shadowhunters receive when they’re born? The protection spell? And that Brother Zachariah and a female warlock stood in and helped with the ceremony? This is the warlock I was talking about. Tessa Gray.”
 
“You told me that was where you got the idea for the name Fray.” Clary sank down in the seat opposite Tessa at the round table. “F for Fairchild,” she said, realizing aloud. “And the rest for Gray.”
 
Tessa smiled, and her face lit up. “It was an honor.”
 
“You were a baby; you wouldn’t recall it,” said Jocelyn, but Clary thought of the way Tessa had looked familiar to her the first time she had seen her, and wondered.
 
“Why are you just telling me now?” Clary demanded, looking up at her mother, who was standing by her chair, twisting her new wedding ring around her finger anxiously. “Why not before?”
 
“I had asked to be there when she told you, if she chose to,” said Tessa; her voice was musical, soft and sweet, with the trace of an English accent. “And I fear I have long separated myself from the Shadowhunter world. My memories of it are sweet and bitter, sometimes more bitter than sweet.”
 
Jocelyn dropped a kiss onto Clary’s head. “Why don’t you two talk?” she said, and walked away, toward Luke, who was chatting with Kadir.
 
Clary looked at Tessa’s smile, and said, “You’re a warlock, but you’re friends with a Silent Brother. More than friends—that’s a little odd, isn’t it?”
 
Tessa leaned her elbows onto the table. A pearl bracelet gleamed around her left wrist; she touched it idly, as if through force of habit. “Everything about my life is quite out of the ordinary, but then, the same could be said for you, couldn’t it?” Her eyes sparkled. “Jace Herondale plays the piano very well.”
 
“And he knows it.”
 
“That sounds like a Herondale.” Tessa laughed. “I must tell you, Clary, that I learned only recently that Jace had decided that he wished to be a Herondale and not a Lightwood. Both are honorable families, and both I have known, but my fate has always been most entwined with that of the Herondales.” She looked over at Jace, and there was a sort of wistfulness in her expression. “There are families—the Blackthorns, the Herondales, the Carstairs—for whom I have always felt a special affinity: I have watched over them from a distance, though I have learned not to interfere. That is in part why I retreated to the Spiral Labyrinth after the Uprising. It is a place so far from the world, so hidden, I thought I could find peace there from my knowledge of what had happened to the Herondales. And then after the Mortal War I asked Magnus if I should approach Jace, speak to him of the past of the Herondales, but he said to give him time. That to bear the burden of the knowledge of the past was a heavy one. So I returned to the Labyrinth.” She swallowed. “This was a dark year, such a dark year for Shadowhunters, for Downworlders, for all of us. So much loss and grief. In the Spiral Labyrinth we heard rumors, and then there were the Endarkened, and I thought the best thing I could do to help was to find a cure, but there was none. I wish we could have found one. Sometimes there is not always a cure.” She looked toward Zachariah with a light in her eyes. “But then, sometimes there are miracles. Zachariah told me of the way in which he became mortal again. He said it was ‘A story of Lightwoods and Herondales and Fairchilds.’ ” She glanced over at Zachariah, who was busy patting Church. The cat had climbed up onto the champagne table and was gleefully knocking over glasses. Her look was one of exasperation and fondness mixed together. “You don’t know what it means to me, how grateful I am for what you did for my—for Zachariah, what you all of you did for him.”
 
“It was Jace, more than anyone else. It was—Did Zachariah just pick up Church?” Clary stared in astonishment. Zachariah was holding the cat, who had gone boneless, his tail curled around the former Silent Brother’s arm. “That cat hates everybody!”
 
Tessa gave a small smile. “I wouldn’t say everybody.”
 
“So he is—Zachariah is mortal now?” Clary asked. “Just—an ordinary Shadowhunter?”
 
“Yes,” Tessa said. “He and I have known each other a long time. We had a standing meeting every year in early January. This year, when he arrived for it, to my shock, he was mortal.”
 
“And you didn’t know before he just showed up? I would have killed him.”
 
Tessa grinned. “Well, that would have somewhat defeated the point. And I think he wasn’t sure how I would receive him, mortal as he is, when I am not mortal.” Her expression reminded Clary of Magnus, that look of old, old eyes in a young face, reminded her of a sorrow that was too still and too deep for those with short human lives to understand. “He will age and die, and I will remain as I am. But he has had a long life, longer than most, and understands me. Neither he nor I are the age we seem. And we love each other. That is the important thing.”
 
Tessa closed her eyes, and for a moment seemed to let the notes of the piano music wash over her.
 
“I have something for you,” she said, opening her eyes—they were gray, the color of rainwater. “For both of you—for you, and for Jace as well.” She slid something out of her pocket and held it out to Clary. It was a dull silver circlet, a family ring, glimmering with the pattern of engraved birds in flight. “This ring belonged to James Herondale,” she said. “It is a true Herondale ring, many years old. If Jace has decided that he wishes to be a Herondale, he should have it to wear.”
 
Clary took the ring; it just fit onto her thumb. “Thank you,” she said, “though you could give it to him yourself. Maybe now is the time to talk to him.”
 
Tessa shook her head. “Look how happy he is,” she said. “He is deciding who he is and who he wants to be, and finding joy in it. He should have a bit more time, to be happy like that, before he picks up any burdens again.” She took up something that had been lying on the chair beside her, and held it out to Clary. It was a copy of The Shadowhunter’s Codex, bound in blue velvet. “This is for you,” she said. “I am sure you have your own, but this was dear to me. There is an inscription on the back—see?” And she turned the book over, so that Clary could see where words had been stamped in gold against the velvet.
 
“ ‘Freely we serve, because we freely love,’ ” Clary read out, and looked up at Tessa. “Thank you; this is a lovely thing. Are you sure you want to give it away?”
 
Tessa smiled. “The Fairchilds, too, have been dear to me in my life,” she said, “and your red hair and your stubbornness recall to me people I once loved. Clary,” she said, and leaned forward across the table so that her jade pendant swung free, “I feel a kinship with you, too, you who have lost both brother and father. I know you have been judged and spoken of as the daughter of Valentine Morgenstern, and now the sister of Jonathan. There will always be those who want to tell you who you are based on your name or the blood in your veins. Do not let other people decide who you are. Decide for yourself.” She looked over at Jace, whose hands were dancing over the piano keys. Light from the tapers caught like stars in his hair and made his skin shine. “That freedom is not a gift; it is a birthright. I hope that you and Jace will use it.”
 
“You sound so grave, Tessa. Don’t frighten her.” It was Zachariah, coming to stand behind Tessa’s chair.
 
“I’m not!” Tessa said with a laugh; she had her head tipped back, and Clary wondered if that was how she herself looked, looking up at Jace. She hoped so. It was a safe and happy look, the look of someone who was confident in the love they gave and received. “I was just giving her advice.”
 
“Sounds terrifying.” It was odd how Zachariah’s speaking voice sounded both like and unlike his voice in Clary’s mind—in life his English accent was stronger than Tessa’s. He also had laughter in his voice as he reached down and helped Tessa up out of her chair. “I’m afraid we must go; we have a long journey ahead of us.”
 
“Where are you going?” Clary asked, holding the Codex carefully on her lap.
 
“Los Angeles,” Tessa said, and Clary recalled her saying that the Blackthorns were a family in which she had a particular interest. Clary was glad to hear it. She knew that Emma and the others were living in the Institute with Julian’s uncle, but the idea that they might have someone special to watch over them, a guardian angel of sorts, was reassuring.
 
“It was good to meet you,” Clary said. “Thank you. For everything.”
 
Tessa smiled radiantly and disappeared into the crowd, saying she was going to bid Jocelyn good-bye; Zachariah gathered up his coat and her wrap, Clary watching him curiously. “I remember once you told me,” she said, “that you had loved two people more than anything else in the world. Was Tessa one of them?”
 
“She is one of them,” he said agreeably, shrugging himself into his coat. “I have not stopped loving her, nor my parabatai; love does not stop when someone dies.”
 
“Your parabatai? You lost your parabatai?” Clary said, feeling a sense of shocked hurt for him; she knew what that meant to Nephilim.
 
“Not from my heart, for I have not forgotten,” he said, and she heard a whisper of the sadness of ages in his voice, and remembered him in the Silent City, a wraith of parchment smoke. “We are all the pieces of what we remember. We hold in ourselves the hopes and fears of those who love us. As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.”
 
Clary thought of Max, of Amatis, of Raphael and Jordan and even of Jonathan, and felt the prickle of tears in her throat.
 
Zachariah slung Tessa’s scarf around his shoulders. “Tell Jace Herondale that he plays Chopin’s Concerto no. 2 very well,” he said, and vanished after Tessa, into the crowd. She stared after him, clutching the ring and the Codex.
 
“Has anyone seen Church?” said a voice in her ear. It was Isabelle, her fingers tucked around Simon’s arm. Maia stood beside them, fiddling with a gold clasp in her curly hair. “I think Zachariah just stole our cat. I swear I saw him putting Church into the backseat of a car.”
 
“There’s no way,” said Jace, appearing beside Clary; he had his sleeves rolled up to the elbows and was flushed from the effort of playing. “Church hates everyone.”
 
“Not everyone,” Clary murmured with a smile.
 
Simon was looking at Jace as if he were both fascinating and also a little alarming. “Did I—did we ever—did I bite you?”
 
Jace touched the scar on his throat. “I can’t believe you remember that.”
 
“Did we . . . roll around on the bottom of a boat?”
 
“Yes, you bit me, yes, I kind of liked it, yes, let’s not talk about it again,” said Jace. “You’re not a vampire anymore. Focus.”
 
“To be fair, you bit Alec, too,” said Isabelle.
 
“When did that happen?” Maia asked, her face lighting with amusement as Bat came up behind her; without a word he took the clip out of her hand and slid it back into her hair. He snapped the clasp efficiently. His hands lingered a moment, gentle against her hair.
 
“What happens in the demon realms stays in the demon realms,” said Jace. He glanced over at Clary. “Do you want to go for a walk?”
 
“A walk or a walk?” Isabelle inquired. “Like, are you going to—”
 
“I think we should all go down to the lake,” Clary said, standing up, the Codex in one hand and the ring in the other. “It’s beautiful down there. Especially at night. I’d like my friends to see it.”
 
“I remember it,” Simon said, and gave her a smile that made her heart feel like it was expanding in her chest. The farmhouse was where they had gone every summer; it would always be tied to Simon in her mind. That he remembered it made her happier than she could have imagined being that morning.
 
She slid her hand into Jace’s as they all headed away from the tent, Isabelle darting off to tell her brother to go fetch Magnus along as well. Clary had wanted to be alone with Jace earlier; now she wanted to be with everyone.
 
She had loved Jace for what felt like a long time now, loved him so much that sometimes she felt like she might die from it, because it was something she needed and couldn’t have. But that was gone now: desperation replaced by peace and a quiet happiness. Now that she no longer felt that every moment with him was snatched from the possibility of disaster, now that she could imagine a whole lifetime of times with him that were peaceful or funny or casual or relaxed or kind, she wanted nothing more than to walk down to the farmhouse lake with all of her friends and celebrate the day.
 
As they passed down over the ridge onto the path to the lake, she glanced behind her. She saw Jocelyn and Luke standing by the tent, watching after them. She saw Luke smile at her and her mother raise her hand in a wave before lowering it to clasp her new husband’s. It had been the same for them, she thought, years of separation and sadness, and now they had a lifetime. A lifetime of times. She raised her hand in an answering wave, and then hurried to catch up with her friends.
 
   
 
 
 
Magnus was leaning against the outside of the barn, watching Clary and Tessa deep in conversation, when Catarina came up to him. She had blue flowers in her hair that set off her sapphire-blue skin. He glanced out across the orchard, down toward where the lake shimmered like water held in the cup of a hand.
 
“You look worried,” said Catarina, placing her hand on his shoulder companionably. “What is it? I saw you kissing that Shadowhunter boy of yours earlier, so it can’t be that.”
 
Magnus shook his head. “No. Everything with Alec is fine.”
 
“I saw you speaking to Tessa, too,” Catarina said, craning her neck to look. “Strange to have her here. Is that what’s bothering you? Past and future colliding; it must feel a bit strange.”
 
“Maybe,” Magnus said, though he didn’t think it was that. “Old ghosts, the shadows of might-have-beens. Though I always liked Tessa and her boys.”
 
“Her son was a piece of work,” said Catarina.
 
“As was her daughter.” Magnus laughed, though it was as brittle as twigs in winter. “I feel the past weighing on me heavily these days, Catarina. The repetition of old mistakes. I hear things, rumblings in Downworld, the rumor of coming strife. The Fair Folk are a proud people, the proudest; they will not take the shaming from the Clave without retaliation.”
 
“They are proud but patient,” said Catarina. “They may wait a long time, generations, for vengeance. You cannot fear it coming now, when the shadow may not descend for years yet.”
 
Magnus didn’t look at her; he was looking down at the tent, where Clary sat talking with Tessa, where Alec stood side by side with Maia and Bat, laughing, where Isabelle and Simon were dancing to the music Jace was playing on the piano, the haunting sweet notes of Chopin reminding him of another time, and the sound of a violin at Christmas.
 
“Ah,” said Catarina. “You worry about them; you worry about the shadow descending upon those you love.”
 
“Them, or their children.” Alec had broken away from the others and was heading up the hill toward the barn. Magnus watched him come, a dark shadow against the darker sky.
 
“Better to love and fear than feel nothing. That is how we petrify,” said Catarina, and she touched his arm. “I am sorry about Raphael, by the way. I never got a chance to say it. I know you saved his life once.”
 
“And then he saved mine,” Magnus said, and looked up as Alec reached them. Alec gave Catarina a courteous nod.
 
“Magnus, we’re going down to the lake,” he said. “Do you want to come?”
 
“Why?” Magnus inquired.
 
Alec shrugged. “Clary says it’s pretty,” he said. “I mean, I’ve seen it before, but there was a huge angel rising out of it, and that was distracting.” He held his hand out. “Come on. Everyone’s going.”
 
Catarina smiled. “Carpe diem,” she said to Magnus. “Don’t waste your time fretting.” She picked up her skirts and wandered off toward the trees, her feet like blue flowers in the grass.
 
Magnus took Alec’s hand.
 
There were fireflies down by the lake. They illuminated the night with their winking flashes as the group spread out jackets and blankets, which Magnus produced from what he claimed was thin air, though Clary suspected that they had been illegally summoned from Bed Bath & Beyond.
 
The lake was a silver dime, reflecting back the sky and all its thousands of stars. Clary could hear Alec naming off the constellations to Magnus: the Lion, the Bow, the Winged Horse. Maia had kicked off her shoes and was walking barefoot along the lakeshore. Bat had followed her, and as Clary watched, he took her hand hesitantly.
 
She let him.
 
Simon and Isabelle were leaning together, whispering. Every once in a while Isabelle would laugh. Her face was brighter than it had been in months.
 
Jace sat down on one of the blankets and drew Clary with him, his legs on either side of her. She leaned her back against him, feeling the comforting beat of his heart against her spine. His arms reached around her, and his fingers touched the Codex in her lap. “What’s this?”
 
“A gift, for me. And there’s one for you, too,” she said, and took his hand, unfolding his fingers one by one until his hand was open. She placed the slightly battered silver ring onto it.
 
“A Herondale ring?” He sounded bewildered. “Where did you . . .”
 
“It used to belong to James Herondale,” she said. “I don’t have a family tree around, so I don’t know what that means exactly, but he was clearly one of your ancestors. I remember you saying the Iron Sisters would have to make you a new ring because Stephen hadn’t left you one—but now you have one.”
 
He slid it onto the ring finger of his right hand.
 
“Every time,” he said quietly. “Every time I think I’m missing a piece of me, you give it back.”
 
There were no words, so she didn’t say any; just turned around in his arms and kissed him on the cheek. He was beautiful under the night sky, the stars shedding their light down over him, gleaming against his hair and eyes and the Herondale ring shining on his finger, a reminder of everything that had been, and everything that would be.
 
We are all the pieces of what we remember. We hold in ourselves the hopes and fears of those who love us. As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.
 
“Do you like the name Herondale?” he asked.
 
“It’s your name, so I love it,” she said.
 
“There are some pretty bad Shadowhunter names I could have ended up with,” he said. “Bloodstick. Ravenhaven.”
 
“Bloodstick can’t possibly be a name.”
 
“It may have fallen out of favor,” he acknowledged. “Herondale, on the other hand, is melodic. Dulcet, one might say. Think of the sound of ‘Clary Herondale.’ ”
 
“Oh, my God, that sounds horrible.”
 
“We all must sacrifice for love.” He grinned, and reached around her to pick up the Codex. “This is old. An old edition,” he said, turning it over. “The inscription on the back is Milton.”
 
“Of course you know that,” she said fondly, and leaned against him as he turned the book over in his hands. Magnus had started a fire, and it was burning merrily at the lakeside, sending up sparks into the sky. The reflection of the burning raced along the scarlet of Isabelle’s necklace as she turned to say something to Simon, and it shone in the sharp gleam of Magnus’s eyes and along the water of the lake, turning the ripples to lines of gold. It picked out the inscription written on the back of the Codex, as Jace read the words aloud to Clary, his voice as soft as music in the glittering dark.
 
“Freely we serve
 
Because we freely love, as in our will
 
To love or not; in this we stand or fall.”

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