The sun was setting when Jace dropped Clary off at Amatis’s house, kissed her, and headed back down the canal toward the Inquisitor’s. Clary watched him walk away before turning back to the house with a sigh; she was glad they were leaving the next day.
There were things she loved about Idris. Alicante was still the loveliest city she had seen: Over the houses, now, she could see the sunset striking sparks off the clear tops of the demon towers. The rows of houses along the canal were softened by shadow, like velvet silhouettes. But it was heart-achingly sad being inside Amatis’s house, knowing now, with certainty, that she would never come back to it.
Inside, the house was warm and dimly lit. Luke was sitting on the sofa, reading a book. Jocelyn was asleep beside him, curled up with a throw rug over her. Luke smiled at Clary as she came in, and he pointed toward the kitchen, making a bizarre gesture that Clary translated as an indication that there was food in there if she wanted it.
She nodded and tiptoed up the stairs, careful not to wake her mother. She went into her room already pulling off her coat; it took her a moment to realize that there was someone else there.
The room was chilly, the cold air pouring in through the half-open window. On the windowsill sat Isabelle. She wore high boots zipped over jeans; her hair was loose, blowing slightly in the breeze. She looked over at Clary as she came into the room, and smiled tightly.
Clary went over to the window and pulled herself up beside Izzy. There was enough room for both of them, but barely; the toes of her shoes nudged up against Izzy’s leg. She folded her hands over her knees and waited.
“Sorry,” Isabelle said, finally. “I probably should have come in through the front door, but I didn’t want to deal with your parents.”
“Was everything okay at the Council meeting?” Clary asked. “Did something happen—”
Isabelle laughed shortly. “The faeries agreed to the Clave’s terms.”
“Well, that’s good, right?”
“Maybe. Magnus didn’t seem to think so.” Isabelle exhaled. “It just—There were nasty pointy angry bits sticking out everywhere. It didn’t seem like a victory. And they’re sending Helen Blackthorn to Wrangel Island to ‘study the wards.’ Get that. They want to get her away because she’s got faerie blood.”
“That’s horrible! What about Aline?”
“Aline’s going with her. She told Alec,” Isabelle said. “There’s some uncle that’s coming to take care of the Blackthorn kids and the girl—the one who likes you and Jace.”
“Her name’s Emma,” Clary said, poking Isabelle’s leg with her toe. “You could try to remember it. She did help us out.”
“Yeah, it’s a little hard for me to be grateful right now.” Isabelle ran her hands down her denim-clad legs and took a deep breath. “I know there was no other way it could have played out. I keep trying to imagine one, but I can’t think of anything. We had to go after Sebastian, and we had to get out of Edom or we all would have died anyway, but I just miss Simon. I miss him all the time, and I came here because you’re the only one who misses him as much as I do.”
Clary stilled. Isabelle was playing with the red stone at her throat, staring out the window with the sort of fixed stare Clary was familiar with. It was the kind of stare that said, I’m trying not to cry.
“I know,” Clary said. “I miss him all the time too, just in a different way. It feels like waking up missing an arm or a leg, like there’s something that’s always been there that I relied on, and now it’s gone.”
Isabelle was still staring out the window. “Tell me about the phone call,” she said.
“I don’t know.” Clary hesitated. “It was bad, Iz. I don’t think you really want to—”
“Tell me,” Isabelle said through her teeth, and Clary sighed and nodded.
It wasn’t as if she didn’t remember; every second of what had happened was burned into her brain.
It had been three days after they had come back, three days during which all of them had been quarantined. No Shadowhunter had survived a trip to a demon dimension before, and the Silent Brothers had wanted to be absolutely sure that they were carrying no dark magic with them. It had been three days of Clary screaming at the Silent Brothers that she wanted her stele, she wanted a Portal, she wanted to see Simon, she wanted someone to just check on him and make sure he was all right. She hadn’t seen Isabelle or any of the others during those days, not even her mother or Luke, but they must have done their own fair share of screaming, because the moment they had all been cleared by the Brothers, a guard had appeared and guided Clary to the Consul’s office.
Inside the office of the Consul, in the Gard on top of Gard Hill, was the only working telephone in Alicante.
It had been enchanted to work sometime around the turn of the century by the warlock Ragnor Fell, a little before the development of fire-messages. It had survived various attempts to remove it on the theory that it might disrupt the wards, as it had shown no sign of ever doing so.
The only other person in the room was Jia Penhallow, and she gestured for Clary to sit. “Magnus Bane has informed me about what happened with your friend Simon Lewis in the demon realms,” she said. “I wished to say that I am so sorry for your loss.”
“He isn’t dead,” Clary ground out through her teeth. “At least he isn’t supposed to be. Has anyone bothered to check? Has anyone looked to see if he’s all right?”
“Yes,” Jia said, rather unexpectedly. “He is fine, living at his home with his mother and sister. He seems entirely well: no longer a vampire, of course, but simply a mundane leading a very ordinary life. He appears from observation to have no recollection of the Shadow World.”
Clary flinched, then straightened up. “I want to talk to him.”
Jia thinned her lips. “You know the Law. You cannot tell a mundane about the Shadow World unless he is in danger. You cannot reveal the truth, Clary. Magnus said the demon who freed you told you as much.”
The demon who freed you. So Magnus hadn’t mentioned it was his father—not that Clary blamed him. She wouldn’t reveal his secret either. “I won’t tell Simon anything, all right? I just want to hear his voice. I need to know he’s okay.”
Jia sighed and pushed the phone toward her. Clary grabbed it, wondering how you dialed out of Idris—how did they pay their phone bills?—then decided screw it, she was just going to dial as if she were in Brooklyn already. If that didn’t work, she could ask for guidance.
To her surprise the phone rang, and was picked up almost immediately, the familiar voice of Simon’s mother echoing down the line. “Hello?”
“Hello.” The receiver almost slipped in Clary’s hand; her palm was damp with sweat. “Is Simon there?”
“What? Oh, yes, he’s in his room,” said Elaine. “Can I tell him who’s calling?”
Clary closed her eyes. “It’s Clary.”
There was a short silence, and then Elaine said, “I’m sorry, who?”
“Clary Fray.” She tasted bitter metal in the back of her throat. “I—I go to Saint Xavier’s. It’s about our English homework.”
“Oh! Well, all right, then,” said Elaine. “I’ll go get him.” She put the phone down, and Clary waited, waited for the woman who had thrown Simon out of her house and called him a monster, had left him to throw up blood on his knees in the gutter, to go and see if he would pick up a phone call like a normal teenager.
It wasn’t her fault. It was the Mark of Cain, acting on her without her knowledge, turning Simon into a Wanderer, cutting him away from his family, Clary told herself, but it didn’t stop the burn of anger and anxiety flooding her veins. She heard Elaine’s footsteps going away, the murmur of voices, more footsteps—
“Hello?” Simon’s voice, and Clary almost dropped the phone. Her heart was pounding itself into pieces. She could picture him so clearly, skinny and brown-haired, propping himself against the table in the narrow hallway just past the Lewises’ front door.
“Simon,” she said. “Simon, it’s me. It’s Clary.”
There was a pause. When he spoke again, he sounded bewildered. “I—Do we know each other?”
Each word felt like a nail being pounded into her skin. “We have English class together,” she said, which was true enough in a way—they had had most of their classes together when Clary had still gone to mundane high school. “Mr. Price.”
“Oh, right.” He sounded not unfriendly; cheerful enough, but baffled. “I’m really sorry. I have a total mental block for faces and names. What’s up? Mom said it was something about homework, but I don’t think we have any homework tonight.”
“Can I ask you something?” Clary said.
“About A Tale of Two Cities?” He sounded amused. “Look, I haven’t read it yet. I like the more modern stuff. Catch-22, The Catcher in the Rye—anything with ‘catch’ in the title, I guess.” He was flirting a little, Clary thought. He must have thought she’d called him up out of the blue because she thought he was cute. Some random girl at school whose name he didn’t even know.
“Who’s your best friend?” she asked. “Your best friend in the whole world?”
He was silent for a moment, then laughed. “I should have guessed this was about Eric,” he said. “You know, if you wanted his phone number, you could have just asked him—”
Clary hung the phone up and sat staring at it as if it were a poisonous snake. She was aware of Jia’s voice, asking her if she was all right, asking what had happened, but she didn’t answer, just set her jaw, absolutely determined not to cry in front of the Consul.
“You don’t think maybe he was just faking it?” Isabelle said now. “Pretending he didn’t know who you were, you know, because it would be dangerous?”
Clary hesitated. Simon’s voice had been so blithe, so banal, so completely ordinary. Nobody could fake that. “I’m totally sure,” she said. “He doesn’t remember us. He can’t.”
Izzy looked away from the window, and Clary could clearly see the tears standing in her eyes. “I want to tell you something,” Isabelle said. “And I don’t want you to hate me.”
“I couldn’t hate you,” Clary said. “Not possible.”