City of lost souls, p.56
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       City of Lost Souls, p.56
 

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Page 56

 

  "Im so sorry," Alec said. His voice sounded scratchy and uneven to his own ears. "I never meant-"

  "I was thinking about it, you know," Magnus said. "Thats part of why I wanted the Book of the White. Immortality can be a burden. You think of the days that stretch out before you, when you have been everywhere, seen everything. The one thing I hadnt experienced was growing old with someone-someone I loved. I thought perhaps it would be you. But that does not give you the right to make the length of my life your choice and not mine. "

  "I know. " Alecs heart raced. "I know, and I wasnt going to do it-"

  "Ill be out all day," Magnus said. "Come and get your things out of the apartment. Leave your key on the dining room table. " His eyes searched Alecs face. "Its over. I dont want to see you again, Alec. Or any of your friends. Im tired of being their pet warlock. "

  Alecs hands had begun to shake, hard enough that he dropped his witchlight. The light winked out, and he fell to his knees, scrabbling on the ground among the trash and the dirt. At last something lit up before his eyes, and he rose to see Magnus standing before him, the witchlight in his hand. It shone and flickered with a strangely colored light.

  "It shouldnt light up like that," Alec said automatically. "For anyone but a Shadowhunter. "

  Magnus held it out. The heart of the witchlight was glowing a dark red, like the coal of a fire.

  "Is it because of your father?" Alec asked.

  Magnus didnt reply, only tipped the rune-stone into Alecs palm. As their hands touched, Magnuss face changed. "Youre freezing cold. "

  "I am?"

  "Alexander. . . " Magnus pulled him close, and the witchlight flickered between them, its color changing rapidly. Alec had never seen a witchlight rune-stone do that before. He put his head against Magnuss shoulder and let Magnus hold him. Magnuss heart didnt beat like human hearts did. It was slower, but steady. Sometimes Alec thought it was the steadiest thing in his life.

  "Kiss me," Alec said.

  Magnus put his hand to the side of Alecs face and gently, almost absently, ran his thumb along Alecs cheekbone. When he bent to kiss him, he smelled like sandalwood. Alec clutched the sleeve of Magnuss jacket, and the witchlight, held between their bodies, flared up in colors of rose and blue and green.

  It was a slow kiss, and a sad one. When Magnus drew away, Alec found that somehow he was holding the witchlight alone; Magnuss hand was gone. The light was a soft white.

  Softly, Magnus said, "Aku cinta kamu. "

  "What does that mean?"

  Magnus disentangled himself from Alecs grip. "It means I love you. Not that that changes anything. "

  "But if you love me-"

  "Of course I do. More than I thought I would. But were still done," Magnus said. "It doesnt change what you did. "

  "But it was just a mistake," Alec whispered. "One mistake-"

  Magnus laughed sharply. "One mistake? Thats like calling the maiden voyage of the Titanic a minor boating accident. Alec, you tried to shorten my life. "

  "It was just-She offered, but I thought about it and I couldnt go through with it-I couldnt do that to you. "

  "But you had to think about it. And you never mentioned it to me. " Magnus shook his head. "You didnt trust me. You never have. "

  "I do," Alec said. "I will-Ill try. Give me another chance-"

  "No," Magnus said. "And if I might give you a piece of advice: Avoid Camille. There is a war coming, Alexander, and you dont want your loyalties to be in question. Do you?"

  And with that he turned and walked away, his hands in his pockets-walking slowly, as if he were injured, and not just from the cut in his side. But he was walking away just the same. Alec watched him until he moved beyond the glow of the witchlight and out of sight.

  The inside of the Institute had been cool in the summer, but now, with winter well and truly here, Clary thought, it was warm. The nave was bright with rows of candelabras, and the stained-glass windows glowed softly. She let the front door swing shut behind her and headed for the elevator. She was halfway up the center aisle when she heard someone laughing.

  She turned. Isabelle was sitting in one of the old pews, her long legs slung over the back of the seats in front of her. She wore boots that hit her midthigh, slim jeans, and a red sweater that left one shoulder bare. Her skin was traced with black designs; Clary remembered what Sebastian had said about not liking it when women disfigured their skin with Marks, and shivered inside. "Didnt you hear me saying your name?" Izzy demanded. "You really can be astonishingly single-minded. "

  Clary stopped and leaned against a pew. "I wasnt ignoring you on purpose. "

  Isabelle swung her legs down and stood up. The heels on her boots were high, making her tower over Clary. "Oh, I know. Thats why I said single-minded, not rude. "

  "Are you here to tell me to go away?" Clary was pleased by the fact that her voice didnt shake. She wanted to see Jace. She wanted to see him more than anything else. But after what shed been through this past month, she knew that what mattered was that he was alive, and that he was himself. Everything else was secondary.

  "No," Izzy said, and started moving toward the elevator. Clary fell into step beside her. "I think the whole thing is ridiculous. You saved his life. "

  Clary swallowed against the cold feeling in her throat. "You said there were things I didnt understand. "

  "There are. " Isabelle punched the elevator button. "Jace can explain them to you. I came down because I thought there were a few other things you should know. "

  Clary listened for the familiar creak, rattle, and groan of the old cage elevator. "Like?"

  "My dads back," Isabelle said, not meeting Clarys eyes.

  "Back for a visit, or back for good?"

  "For good. " Isabelle sounded calm, but Clary remembered how hurt she had been when theyd found out Robert had been trying for the Inquisitor position. "Basically, Aline and Helen saved us from getting in real trouble for what happened in Ireland. When we came to help you, we did it without telling the Clave. My mom was sure that if we told them theyd send fighters to kill Jace. She couldnt do it. I mean, this is our family. "

  The elevator arrived with a rattle and a crash before Clary could say anything. She followed the other girl inside, fighting the strange urge to give Isabelle a hug. She doubted Izzy would like it.

  "So Aline told the Consul-who is, after all, her mother-that there hadnt been any time to notify the Clave, that shed been left behind with strict orders to call Jia, but thered been some malfunction with the telephones and it hadnt worked. Basically, she lied her butt off. Anyway, thats our story, and were sticking to it. I dont think Jia believed her, but it doesnt matter; its not like Jia wants to punish Mom. She just had to have some kind of story she could grab on to so she didnt have to sanction us. After all, its not like the operation was a disaster. We went in, got Jace out, killed most of the dark Nephilim, and got Sebastian on the run. "

  The elevator stopped rising and came to a crashing halt.

  "Got Sebastian on the run," Clary repeated. "So we have no idea where he is? I thought maybe since I destroyed his apartment-the dimensional pocket-he could be tracked. "

  "Weve tried," said Isabelle. "Wherever he is, hes still beyond or outside tracking capabilities. And according to the Silent Brothers, the magic that Lilith worked-Well, hes strong, Clary. Really strong. We have to assume hes out there, with the Infernal Cup, planning his next move. " She pulled the cage door of the elevator open and stepped out. "Do you think hell come back for you-or Jace?"

  Clary hesitated. "Not right away," she said finally. "For him were the last parts of the puzzle. Hell want everything set up first. Hell want an army. Hell want to be ready. Were like. . . the prizes he gets for winning. And so he doesnt have to be alone. "

  "He must be really lonely," Isabelle said. There was no sympathy in her voice; it was only an observation.

  Clary thought of him, of the face that shed been trying to fo
rget, that haunted her nightmares and waking dreams. You asked me who I belonged to. "You have no idea. "

  They reached the stairs that led to the infirmary. Isabelle paused, her hand at her throat. Clary could see the square outline of her ruby necklace beneath the material of her sweater. "Clary. . . "

  Clary suddenly felt awkward. She straightened the hem of her sweater, not wanting to look at Isabelle.

  "Whats it like?" Isabelle said abruptly.

  "Whats what like?"

  "Being in love," Isabelle said. "How do you know you are? And how do you know someone else is in love with you?"

  "Um. . . "

  "Like Simon," Isabelle said. "How could you tell he was in love with you?"

  "Well," said Clary. "He said so. "

  "He said so. "

  Clary shrugged.

  "And before that, you had no idea?"

  "No, I really didnt," said Clary, recalling the moment. "Izzy. . . if you have feelings for Simon, or if you want to know if he has feelings for you. . . maybe you should just tell him. "

  Isabelle fiddled with some nonexistent lint on her cuff. "Tell him what?"

  "How you feel about him. "

  Isabelle looked mutinous. "I shouldnt have to. "

  Clary shook her head. "God. You and Alec, youre so alike-"

  Isabelles eyes widened. "We are not! We are totally not alike. I date around; hes never dated before Magnus. He gets jealous; I dont-"

  "Everyone gets jealous. " Clary spoke with finality. "And youre both so stoic. Its love, not the Battle of Thermopylae. You dont have to treat everything like its a last stand. You dont have to keep everything inside. "

  Isabelle threw her hands up. "Suddenly youre an expert?"

  "Im not an expert," Clary said. "But I do know Simon. If you dont say something to him, hes going to assume its because youre not interested, and hell give up. He needs you, Iz, and you need him. He just also needs you to be the one to say it. "

  Isabelle sighed and whirled to begin mounting the steps. Clary could hear her muttering as she went. "This is your fault, you know. If you hadnt broken his heart-"

  "Isabelle!"

  "Well, you did. "

  "Yeah, and I seem to remember that when he got turned into a rat, you were the one who suggested we leave him in rat form. Permanently. "

  "I did not. "

  "You did-" Clary broke off. They had reached the next floor, where a long corridor stretched in both directions. Before the double doors of the infirmary stood the parchment-robed figure of a Silent Brother, hands folded, face cast down in a meditative stance.

  Isabelle indicated him with an exaggerated wave. "There you go," she said. "Good luck getting past him to see Jace. " And she walked off down the corridor, her boots clicking on the wooden floor.

  Clary sighed inwardly and reached for the stele in her belt. She doubted there was a glamour rune that could fool a Silent Brother, but perhaps, if she could get close enough to use a sleep rune on his skin. . .

  Clary Fray. The voice in her head was amused, and also familiar. It had no sound, but she recognized the shape of the thoughts, the way you might recognize the way someone laughed or breathed.

  "Brother Zachariah. " Resignedly she slid the stele back in place and moved closer to him, wishing Isabelle had stayed with her.

  I presume you are here to see Jonathan, he said, lifting his head from the meditative stance. His face was still in shadow beneath the hood, though she could see the shape of an angular cheekbone. Despite the orders of the Brotherhood.

  "Please call him Jace. Its too confusing otherwise. "

  Jonathan is a fine old Shadowhunter name, the first of names. The Herondales have always kept names in the family-

  "He wasnt named by a Herondale," Clary pointed out. "Though he has a dagger of his fathers. It says S. W. H. on the blade. "

  Stephen William Herondale.

  Clary took another step toward the doors, and toward Zachariah. "You know a lot about the Herondales," she said. "And of all the Silent Brothers, you seem the most human. Most of them never show any emotion. Theyre like statues. But you seem to feel things. You remember your life. "

  Being a Silent Brother is life, Clary Fray. But if you mean I remember my life before the Brotherhood, I do.

  Clary took a deep breath. "Were you ever in love? Before the Brotherhood? Was there ever anyone you would have died for?"

  There was a long silence. Then:

  Two people, said Brother Zachariah. There are memories that time does not erase, Clarissa. Ask your friend Magnus Bane, if you do not believe me. Forever does not make loss forgettable, only bearable.

  "Well, I dont have forever," said Clary in a small voice. "Please let me in to see Jace. "

  Brother Zachariah did not move. She still could not see his face, only a suggestion of shadows and planes beneath the hood of his robe. Only his hands, clasped in front of him.

  "Please," Clary said.

  Alec swung himself up onto the platform at the City Hall subway station and stalked toward the stairs. He had blocked out the image of Magnus walking away from him with one thought, and one only:

  He was going to kill Camille Belcourt.

  He strode up the stairs, drawing a seraph blade from his belt as he went. The light here was wavering and dim-he emerged onto the mezzanine below City Hall Park, where tinted glass skylights let in the wintery light. He tucked the witchlight into his pocket and raised the seraph blade.

  "Amriel," he whispered, and the sword blazed up, a bolt of lightning from his hand. He lifted his chin, his gaze sweeping the lobby. The high-backed sofa was there, but Camille was not on it. Hed sent her a message saying he was coming, but after the way shed betrayed him, he supposed he shouldnt be surprised that she hadnt remained to see him. In a fury he stalked across the room and kicked the sofa, hard; it went over with a crash of wood and a puff of dust, one of the legs snapped off.

 
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