Magnus pushed himself away from the table, which was a relief, because it smelled like beer. “In a sense,” he said. “The world is changing. Don’t you feel it, Catarina?”
She looked at him over the rim of her drink. “I can’t say that I do.”
“The Nephilim have endured for a thousand years,” said Magnus. “But something is coming, some great change. We have always accepted them as a fact of our existence. But there are warlocks old enough to remember when the Nephilim did not walk the earth. They could be wiped away as quickly as they came.”
“But you don’t really think—”
“I’ve dreamed about it,” he said. “You know I have true dreams sometimes.”
“Because of your father.” She set her drink down. Her expression was intent now, no humor in it. “He could just be trying to frighten you.”
Catarina was one of the few people in the world who knew who Magnus’s father really was; Ragnor Fell had been another. It wasn’t something Magnus liked to tell people. It was one thing to have a demon for a parent. It was another thing when your father owned a significant portion of Hell’s real estate.
“To what end?” Magnus shrugged. “I am not the center of whatever whirlwind is coming.”
“But you’re afraid Alec will be,” said Catarina. “And you want to push him away before you lose him.”
“You said not to do anything that might accidentally contribute to the apocalypse,” Magnus said. “I know you were joking. But it’s less funny when I can’t rid myself of the feeling that the apocalypse is coming, somehow. Valentine Morgenstern nearly wiped out the Shadowhunters, and his son is twice as clever and six times as evil. And he will not come alone. He has help, from demons greater than my father, from others—”
“How do you know that?” Catarina’s voice was sharp.
“I’ve looked into it.”
“I thought you were done helping Shadowhunters,” said Catarina, and then she held up a hand before he could say anything. “Never mind. I’ve heard you say that sort of thing enough times to know you never really mean it.”
“That’s the thing,” Magnus said. “I’ve looked into it, but I haven’t found anything. Whoever Sebastian’s allies are, he’s left no tracks of their alliance behind. I keep feeling like I’m about to discover something, and then I find myself grasping at air. I don’t think I can help them, Catarina. I don’t know if anyone can.”
Magnus looked away from her suddenly pitying expression, across the bar. Bat was leaning against the counter, playing with his phone—the light from the screen cast shadows across his face. Shadows that Magnus saw on every mortal face—every human, every Shadowhunter, every creature doomed to die.
“Mortals die,” said Catarina. “You have always known that, and yet you’ve loved them before.”
“Not,” Magnus said, “like this.”
Catarina inhaled in surprise. “Oh,” she said. “Oh . . .” She picked up her drink. “Magnus,” she said tenderly. “You are impossibly stupid.”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “Am I?”
“If that’s the way you feel, you should be with him,” she said. “Think of Tessa. Did you learn nothing from her? About what loves are worth the pain of losing them?”
“He’s in Alicante.”
“So?” said Catarina. “You were supposed to be the warlock representative on the Council; you unloaded that responsibility onto me. I’m unloading it back. Go to Alicante. It sounds to me like you’ll have more to say to the Council than I ever could, anyway.” She reached into the pocket of the nurse’s scrubs she was wearing; she had come directly from her work at the hospital. “Oh, and take this.”
Magnus plucked the crumpled piece of paper from her fingertips. “A dinner invitation?” he said in disbelief.
“Meliorn of the Fair Folk wishes for all the Council Downworlders to meet for supper the night before the great Council,” she said. “Some kind of gesture of peace and goodwill, or maybe he just wants to annoy everyone with riddles. Either way it should be interesting.”
“Faerie food,” Magnus said glumly. “I hate faerie food. I mean, even the safe kind that doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck dancing reels for the next century. All those raw vegetables and beetles—”
He broke off. Across the room Bat had his phone pressed to his ear. His other hand gripped the counter of the bar.
“There’s something wrong,” Magnus said. “Something pack-related.”
Catarina set her glass down. She was very used to Magnus, and knew when he was probably right. She looked over at Bat as well, who had snapped his phone shut. He had paled, his scar standing out, livid on his cheek. He leaned over to say something to Sneaky Pete behind the bar, then put two fingers into his mouth and whistled.
It sounded like the whistle of a steam train, and cut through the low murmur of voices in the bar. In moments every lycanthrope was on his or her feet, surging toward Bat. Magnus stood up too, though Catarina caught at his sleeve. “Don’t—”
“I’ll be fine.” He shrugged her off, and pushed through the crowd, toward Bat. The rest of the pack stood in a loose ring around him. They tensed mistrustfully at the sight of the warlock in their midst, shoving to get close to their pack leader. A blonde female werewolf moved to block Magnus, but Bat held up a hand.
“It’s all right, Amabel,” he said. His voice wasn’t friendly, but it was polite. “Magnus Bane, right? High Warlock of Brooklyn? Maia Roberts says I can trust you.”
“Fine, but we have urgent pack business here. What do you want?”
“You got a call.” Magnus gestured toward Bat’s phone. “Was it Luke? Has something happened in Alicante?”
Bat shook his head, his expression unreadable.
“Another Institute attack, then?” Magnus said. He was used to being the one with all the answers, and hated not knowing anything. And while the New York Institute was empty, that didn’t mean the other Institutes were unprotected—that there might not have been a battle—one Alec might have decided to involve himself in—
“Not an Institute,” Bat said. “That was Maia on the phone. The Praetor Lupus headquarters were burned to the ground. At least a hundred werewolves are dead, including Praetor Scott and Jordan Kyle. Sebastian Morgenstern has taken his fight to us.”
BROTHER LEAD AND SISTER STEEL
“Don’t throw it—please, please don’t throw it—oh, God, he threw it,” said Julian in a resigned voice as a wedge of potato flew across the room, narrowly missing his ear.
“Nothing’s damaged,” Emma reassured him. She was sitting with her back against Tavvy’s crib, watching Julian give his littlest brother his afternoon meal. Tavvy had reached the age where he was very particular about what he liked to eat, and anything that didn’t pass muster was hurled to the floor. “The lamp got a little potatoed, that’s all.”
Fortunately, though the rest of the Penhallows’ house was quite elegant, the attic—where “the war orphans,” the collective term that had been applied to the Blackthorn children and Emma since they’d arrived in Idris, were now living—was extremely plain, functional and sturdy in its design. It took up the whole top floor of the house: several connected rooms, a small kitchen and bathroom, a haphazard collection of beds and belongings strewn everywhere. Helen slept downstairs with Aline, though she was up every day; Emma had been given her own room and so had Julian, but he was hardly ever in it. Drusilla and Octavian were still waking up every night screaming, and Julian had taken to sleeping on the floor of their room, pillow and blanket piled up next to Tavvy’s crib. There was no high chair to be had, so Julian sat on the floor opposite the toddler on a food-covered blanket, a plate in one hand and a despairing look on his face.
Emma came over and sat down opposite him, heaving Tavvy up onto her lap. His small face was scrunched with unhappiness. “Memma,” he said as she lifted him.
“Do the choo-choo train,” she advised Jules. She wondered if she should tell him he had spaghetti sauce in his hair. On second thought, probably better not.
She watched as he zoomed the food around before placing it in Tavvy’s mouth. The toddler was giggling now. Emma tried to shove down her sense of loss: She remembered her own father patiently separating out the food on her plate during the phase she’d gone through where she refused to eat anything that was green.
“He’s not eating enough,” Jules said in a quiet voice, even as he made a piece of bread and butter into a chugging train and Tavvy reached for it with sticky hands.
“He’s sad. He’s a baby, but he still knows something bad happened,” Emma said. “He misses Mark and your dad.”
Jules scrubbed tiredly at his eyes, leaving a smear of tomato sauce on one cheekbone. “I can’t replace Mark or my dad.” He put a slice of apple in Tavvy’s mouth. Tavvy spat it out with a look of grim pleasure. Julian sighed. “I should go check on Dru and the twins,” he said. “They were playing Monopoly in the bedroom, but you never know when that’s going to go south.”
It was true. Tiberius, with his analytical mind, tended to win most games. Livvy never minded but Dru, who was competitive, did, and often any match would end in hair-pulling on both sides.
“I’ll do it.” Emma handed Tavvy back and was about to rise to her feet when Helen came into the room, looking somber. When she saw the two of them, somberness turned to apprehension. Emma felt the hair on the back of her neck rise.
“Helen,” Julian said. “What’s wrong?”
“Sebastian’s forces attacked the London Institute.”