“He said he would take her in,” Jia said. “But really, I think there’s a place for Emma at the Shadowhunter Academy here in Idris. She’s exceptionally talented, she’d be surrounded by the best instructors, there are many other students there who’ve suffered losses and could help her with her grief—”
Her grief. Emma’s mind suddenly swam through images: the photos of her parents’ bodies on the beach, covered in markings. The Clave’s clear lack of interest in what had happened to them. Her father bending to kiss her before he walked off to the car where her mother waited. Their laughter on the wind.
“I’ve suffered losses,” Julian said through clenched teeth. “I can help her.”
“You’re twelve,” said Jia, as if that answered everything.
“I won’t be always!” Julian shouted. “Emma and I, we’ve known each other all our lives. She’s like—she’s like—”
“We’re going to be parabatai,” said Emma suddenly, before Julian could say that she was like his sister. For some reason she didn’t want to hear that.
Everyone’s eyes snapped wide open, including Julian’s.
“Julian asked me, and I said yes,” she said. “We’re twelve; we’re old enough to make the decision.”
Luke’s eyes sparked as he looked at her. “You can’t split up parabatai,” he said. “It’s against the Clave’s Law.”
“We need to be able to train together,” Emma said. “To take the examinations together, to do the ritual together—”
“Yes, yes, I understand,” said Jia. “Very well. Your uncle doesn’t mind, Julian, if Emma lives in the Institute, and the institution of parabatai trumps all other considerations.” She looked from Emma to Julian, whose eyes were shining. He looked happy, actually happy, for the first time in so long that Emma nearly couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen him smile like that. “You’re sure?” the Consul added. “Becoming parabatai is serious business, nothing to be undertaken lightly. It’s a commitment. You’ll have to look out for each other, protect each other, care for the other one more than you care for yourself.”
“We already do,” said Julian confidently. It took Emma a moment more to speak. She was still seeing her parents in her head. Los Angeles held the answers to what had happened to them. Answers she needed. If no one ever avenged their deaths, it would be as if they had never lived at all.
And it wasn’t as if she didn’t want to be Jules’s parabatai. The thought of a whole life spent without ever being separated from him, a promise that she would never be alone, trumped the voice in the back of her head that whispered: Wait . . .
She nodded firmly. “Absolutely,” she said. “We’re absolutely sure.”
Idris had been green and gold and russet in the autumn, when Clary had first been there. It had a stark grandeur in the late winter, so close to Christmas: The mountains rose in the distance, capped white with snow, and the trees along the side of the road that led back to Alicante from the lake were stripped bare, their leafless branches making lacelike patterns against the bright sky.
They rode without haste, Wayfarer treading lightly along the path, Clary behind Jace, her arms clasped around his torso. Sometimes he would slow the horse to point out the manor houses of the richer Shadowhunter families, hidden from the road when the trees were full but revealed now. She felt his shoulders tense as they passed one whose ivy-covered stones nearly melded with the forest around it. It had clearly been burned to the ground and rebuilt. “Blackthorn manor,” he said. “Which means that around this bend in the road is . . .” He paused as Wayfarer summited a small hill, and then Jace reined him in so they could look down to where the road split in two. One direction led back toward Alicante—Clary could see the demon towers in the distance—while the other curled down toward a large building of mellow golden stone, surrounded by a low wall. “Herondale manor,” Jace finished.
The wind picked up; icy, it ruffled Jace’s hair. Clary had her hood up, but he was bareheaded and bare-handed, having said he hated wearing gloves when horseback riding. He liked to feel the reins in his hands. “Did you want to go and look at it?” she asked.
His breath came out in a white cloud. “I’m not sure.”
She pressed closer to him, shivering. “Are you worried about missing the Council meeting?” She had been, though they were returning to New York tomorrow and there had been no other time she could think of to secretly lay her brother’s ashes to rest; it was Jace who had suggested taking the horse from the stables and riding to Lake Lyn when nearly everyone else in Alicante was sure to be in the Accords Hall. Jace understood what it meant to her to bury the idea of her brother, though it would have been hard to explain to almost anyone else.
He shook his head. “We’re too young to vote. Besides, I think they can manage without us.” He frowned. “We’d have to break in,” he said. “The Consul told me that as long as I want to call myself Jace Lightwood, I’ve got no legal right to the Herondale properties. I don’t even have a Herondale ring. One doesn’t exist. The Iron Sisters would have to craft a new one. In fact, when I turn eighteen, I’ll lose the right to the name entirely.”
Clary sat still, holding on to his waist lightly. There were times when he wanted to be prompted and asked questions, and times when he didn’t; this was one of the latter. He would get there on his own. She held him and breathed quietly until he suddenly tensed under her hold and dug his heels into Wayfarer’s sides.
The horse headed down the path toward the manor house at a trot. The low gates—decorated with an iron motif of flying birds—were open, and the path opened out into a circular gravel drive, in the center of which was a stone fountain, now dry. Jace drew up in front of the wide steps that led up to the front door, and stared up at the blank windows.
“This is where I was born,” he said. “This is where my mother died, and Valentine cut me out of her body. And Hodge took me and hid me, so no one would know. It was winter then, too.”
“Jace . . .” She splayed her hands over his chest, feeling his heart beat under her fingers.
“I think I want to be a Herondale,” he said abruptly.
“So be a Herondale.”
“I don’t want to betray the Lightwoods,” he said. “They’re my family. But I realized that if I don’t take the Herondale name, it’ll end with me.”
“It’s not your responsibility—”
“I know,” he said. “In the box, the one Amatis gave me, there was a letter from my father to me. He wrote it before I was born. I read it a few times. The first times I read it, I just hated him, even though he said he loved me. But there were a few sentences I couldn’t get rid of in my head. He said, ‘I want you to be a better man than I was. Let no one else tell you who you are or should be.’” He tipped his head back, as if he could read his future in the curl of the manor’s eaves. “Changing your name, it doesn’t change your nature. Look at Sebastian—Jonathan. Calling himself Sebastian didn’t make any difference in the end. I wanted to spurn the Herondale name because I thought I hated my father, but I don’t hate him. He might have been weak and have made the wrong decisions, but he knew it. There’s no reason for me to hate him. And there have been generations of Herondales before him—it’s a family that’s done a lot of good—and to let their whole house fall just to get back at my father would be a waste.”
“That’s the first time I’ve heard you call him your father and sound like that,” Clary said. “Usually you only say it about Valentine.”
She felt him sigh, and then his hand covered hers where it lay on his chest. His fingers were cool, long and slender, so familiar, she would have known them in the dark. “We might live here someday,” he said. “Together.”
She smiled, knowing he couldn’t see her, but unable to help it. “Think you can win me over with a fancy house?” she said. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, Jace. Jace Herondale,” she added, and wrapped her arms around him in the cold.