“Stop it.” Simon looked over in surprise. Clary sounded genuinely angry. “Stop blaming yourself. Jordan didn’t get himself assigned to you at random. He wanted the job so he could be near Maia. He knew the risks in guarding you. He took them on voluntarily. It was his choice. He was looking for redemption. Because of what happened between him and Maia. Because of what he did. That was what the Praetor was, for him. It saved him. Guarding you, people like you, saved him. He’d turned into a monster. He’d hurt Maia. He’d turned her into a monster too. What he did wasn’t forgivable. If he hadn’t had the Praetor, if he hadn’t had you to take care of, it would have eaten him up until he killed himself.”
“Clary—” Simon was shocked at the darkness in her words.
She shivered, as if she were shaking off the touch of spiderwebs. They had turned onto a long street by a canal, lined with grand old houses. It reminded Simon of pictures of rich neighborhoods in Amsterdam. “That’s the Lightwoods’ house, there. The high Council members have houses on this street. The Consul, the Inquisitor, the Downworlder representatives. We just have to figure out which one is Raphael’s—”
“There,” Simon said, and indicated a narrow canal house with a black door. A star had been painted on the door in silver. “A star for the Night’s Children. Because we don’t see the light of the sun.” He smiled at her, or tried to. Hunger was burning up his veins; they felt like hot wires under his skin.
He turned away and mounted the steps. The door knocker was in the shape of a rune, and heavy. The sound it made as it dropped reverberated inside the house.
Simon heard Clary come up the stairs behind him just as the door opened. Raphael stood inside, carefully out of the light that spilled in through the open door. In the shadows Simon could make out only the general shape of him: his curly hair, the white flash of his teeth when he greeted them. “Daylighter. Valentine’s daughter.”
Clary made an exasperated noise. “Don’t you ever call anyone by their name?”
“Only my friends,” said Raphael.
“You have friends?” Simon said.
Raphael glared. “I assume you are here for blood?”
“Yes,” Clary said. Simon said nothing. At the sound of the word “blood” he’d started to feel slightly faint. He could feel his stomach contracting. He was beginning to starve.
Raphael cast a glance at Simon. “You look hungry. Perhaps you should have taken my suggestion in the square last night.”
Clary’s eyebrows went up, but Simon just scowled. “If you want me to talk to the Inquisitor for you, you’re going to have to give me blood. Otherwise I’ll pass out on his feet, or eat him.”
“I suspect that would go over poorly with his daughter. Though she already seemed none too pleased with you last night.” Raphael disappeared back into the shadows of the house. Clary glanced at Simon.
“I take it you saw Isabelle yesterday?”
“You take it right.”
“And it didn’t go well?”
Simon was spared answering by Raphael’s reappearance. He was carrying a stoppered glass bottle full of red liquid. Simon took it eagerly.
The scent of the blood came through the glass, billowy and sweet. Simon yanked the stopper out and swallowed, his fang teeth snapping out, despite the fact that he didn’t need them. Vampires weren’t meant to drink out of bottles. His teeth scraped against his skin as he wiped the back of his hand across his mouth.
Raphael’s brown eyes glittered. “I was sorry to hear about your werewolf friend.”
Simon stiffened. Clary put a hand on his arm. “You don’t mean that,” Simon said. “You hated me having a Praetorian Guard.”
Raphael hummed thoughtfully. “No guard, no Mark of Cain. All your protections stripped away. It must be strange, Daylighter, to know that you can truly die.”
Simon stared at him. “Why do you try so hard?” he said, and took another swallow from the bottle. It tasted bitter this time, a little acidic. “To make me hate you? Or is it just that you hate me?”
There was a long silence. Simon realized that Raphael was barefoot, standing just at the edge of the sunlight where it lay in a stripe along the hardwood floor. Another step forward, and the light would char his skin.
Simon swallowed, tasting the blood in his mouth, feeling slightly unsteady. “You don’t hate me,” he realized, looking at the white scar at the base of Raphael’s throat, where sometimes a crucifix rested. “You’re jealous.”
Without another word Raphael shut the door between them.
Clary exhaled. “Wow. That went well.”
Simon didn’t say anything, just turned and walked away, down the steps. He paused at the bottom to finish his bottle of blood, and then, to her surprise, tossed it. It flew partway down the street and hit a lamppost, shattering, leaving a smear of blood on the iron.
“Simon?” Clary hurried down the steps. “Are you all right?”
He made a vague gesture. “I don’t know. Jordan, Maia, Raphael, it’s all—it’s too much. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
“You mean, about talking to the Inquisitor for him?” Clary moved to catch up with Simon as he began walking aimlessly down the street. The wind had come up, ruffling his brown hair.
“About anything.” He wobbled a little as he walked away from her. Clary squinted suspiciously. If she hadn’t known better, she would have guessed he was drunk. “I don’t belong here,” he said. He had stopped in front of the Inquisitor’s residence. He cocked his head back, staring up at the windows. “What do you think they’re doing in there?”
“Having dinner?” Clary guessed. The witchlight lamps were starting to come on, illuminating the street. “Living their lives? Come on, Simon. They probably knew people who died in the battle last night. If you want to see Isabelle, tomorrow is the Council meeting and—”
“She knows,” he said. “That her parents are probably breaking up. That her father had an affair.”
“He what?” Clary said, staring at Simon. “When?”
“Long time ago.” Simon’s voice was definitely slurred. “Before Max. He was going to leave but—he found out about Max, so he stayed. Maryse told Isabelle, years ago. Not fair, to put all that on a little girl. Izzy’s strong, but still. You shouldn’t do that. Not to your child. You should—carry your own burdens.”
“Simon.” She thought of his mother, turning him away from her door. You shouldn’t do that. Not to your child. “How long have you known? About Robert and Maryse?”
“Months.” He moved toward the front gate of the house. “I always wanted to help her, but she never wanted me to say anything, do anything—your mother knows, by the way. She told Izzy who Robert had the affair with. It wasn’t anyone she’d ever heard of. I don’t know if that makes it worse or better.”
“What? Simon, you’re wobbling. Simon—”
Simon crashed into the fence around the Inquisitor’s house with a loud rattling noise. “Isabelle!” he called, tipping his head back. “Isabelle!”
“Holy—” Clary grabbed Simon by the sleeve. “Simon,” she hissed. “You’re a vampire, in the middle of Idris. Maybe you shouldn’t be shouting for attention.”
Simon ignored this. “Isabelle!” he called again. “Let down your raven hair!”
“Oh, my God,” Clary muttered. “There was something in that blood Raphael gave you, wasn’t there? I’m going to kill him.”
“He’s already dead,” Simon observed.
“He’s undead. Obviously he can still die, you know, again. I’ll re-kill him. Simon, come on. Let’s head back, and you can lie down and put ice on your head—”
“Isabelle!” Simon shouted.
One of the upper windows of the house swung open, and Isabelle leaned out. Her raven hair was unbound, tumbling around her face. She looked furious, though. “Simon, shut up!” she hissed.
“I won’t!” Simon announced mutinously. “For you are my lady fair, and I shall win your favor.”
Isabelle dropped her head into her hands. “Is he drunk?” she called down to Clary.
“I don’t know.” Clary was torn between loyalty to Simon and an urgent need to get him out of there. “I think he may have gotten some expired blood or something.”
“I love you, Isabelle Lightwood!” Simon called, startling everyone. Lights were going on all through the house, and in neighboring houses as well. There was a noise from down the street, and a moment later Aline and Helen appeared; both looked frazzled, Helen in the middle of tying her curly blond hair back. “I love you, and I won’t go away until you tell me you love me too!”
“Tell him you love him,” Helen called up. “He’s scaring the whole street.” She waved at Clary. “Good to see you.”
“You, too,” Clary said. “I’m so sorry about what happened in Los Angeles, and if there’s anything I can do to help—”
Something came fluttering down from the sky. Two things: a pair of leather pants, and a puffy white poet shirt. They landed at Simon’s feet.
“Take your clothes and go!” Isabelle shouted.
Above her another window opened, and Alec leaned out. “What’s going on?” His gaze landed on Clary and the others, his eyebrows drawing together in confusion. “What is this? Early caroling?”
“I don’t carol,” said Simon. “I’m Jewish. I only know the dreidel song.”
“Is he all right?” Aline asked Clary, sounding worried. “Do vampires go crazy?”
“He’s not crazy,” said Helen. “He’s drunk. He must have consumed the blood of someone who’d been drinking alcohol. It can give vampires a sort of—contact high.”
“I hate Raphael,” Clary muttered.
“Isabelle!” Simon called. “Stop throwing clothes at me! Just because you’re a Shadowhunter and I’m a vampire doesn’t mean we can never happen. Our love is forbidden like the love of a shark and a—and a shark hunter. But that’s what makes it special.”
“Oh?” Isabelle snapped. “Which one of us is the shark, Simon? Which one of us is the shark?”
The front door burst open. It was Robert Lightwood, and he did not look pleased. He stalked down the front walk of the house, kicked the gate open, and strode up to Simon. “What’s going on here?” he demanded. His eyes flicked to Clary. “Why are you shouting outside my house?”
“He’s not feeling well,” Clary said, catching at Simon’s wrist. “We’re going.”
“No,” Simon said. “No, I—I need to talk to him. To the Inquisitor.”
Robert reached into his jacket and drew out a crucifix. Clary stared as he held it up between himself and Simon. “I speak to the Night’s Children Council representative, or to the head of the New York clan,” he said. “Not to any vampire who comes to knock at my door, even if he is a friend of my children. Nor should you be in Alicante without permission—”
Simon reached out and plucked the cross out of Robert’s hand. “Wrong religion,” he said.
Helen made a whistling noise under her breath.
“And I was sent by the representative of the Night’s Children to the Council. Raphael Santiago brought me here to speak to you—”
“Simon!” Isabelle hurried out of the house, racing to place herself between Simon and her father. “What are you doing?”
She glared at Clary, who grabbed Simon’s wrist again. “We really need to go,” Clary muttered.
Robert’s gaze went from Simon to Isabelle. His expression changed. “Is there something going on between you two? Is that what all the yelling was about?”
Clary looked at Isabelle in surprise. She thought of Simon, comforting Isabelle when Max died. How close Simon and Izzy had become in the past months. And her father had no idea.
“He’s a friend. He’s friends with all of us,” Isabelle said, crossing her arms over her chest. Clary couldn’t tell if she was more annoyed with her father or with Simon. “And I’ll vouch for him, if that means he can stay in Alicante.” She glared at Simon. “But he’s going back to Clary’s now. Aren’t you, Simon?”
“My head feels round,” Simon said sadly. “So round.”
Robert lowered his arm. “What?”
“He drank some drugged blood,” said Clary. “It isn’t his fault.”
Robert turned his dark blue gaze on Simon. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow at the Council meeting, if you’ve sobered up,” he said. “If Raphael Santiago has something he wants you to speak to me about, you can say it in front of the Clave.”
“I don’t—” Simon began.
But Clary cut him off with a hasty: “Fine. I’ll bring him with me to the Council meeting tomorrow. Simon, we have to get back before dark; you know that.”
Simon looked mildly dazed. “We do?”
“Tomorrow, at the Council,” Robert said shortly, turned, and stalked back into his house. Isabelle hesitated a moment—she was in a loose dark shirt and jeans, her pale feet bare on the narrow stone path. She was shivering.
“Where did he get spiked blood?” she asked, indicating Simon with a wave of her hand.
“Raphael,” Clary explained.
Isabelle rolled her eyes. “He’ll be all right tomorrow,” she said. “Put him to bed.” She waved to Helen and Aline, who were leaning on the gateposts with unabashed curiosity. “See you at the meeting,” she said.
“Isabelle—” Simon began, starting to wave his arms wildly, but, before he could do any more damage, Clary grabbed the back of his jacket and hauled him toward the street.
Because Simon kept ranging off down various alleys, and insisted on trying to break into a closed candy shop, it was already dark by the time Clary and Simon reached Amatis’s house. Clary looked around for the guard Jocelyn had said would be posted, but there was no one visible. Either he was exceptionally well concealed or, more likely, he had already set off to report to Clary’s parents on her lateness.
Gloomily Clary mounted the steps to the house, unlocked the door, and manhandled Simon inside. He had stopped protesting and starting yawning somewhere around Cistern Square, and now his eyelids were drooping. “I hate Raphael,” he said.
“I was just thinking the same thing,” she said, turning him around. “Come on. Let’s get you lying down.”
She shuffled him over to the sofa, where he collapsed, slumping down against the cushions. Dim moonlight filtered through the lace curtains that covered the large front windows. Simon’s eyes were the color of smoky quartz as he struggled to keep them open.
“You should sleep,” she told him. “Mom and Luke will probably be back any minute now.” She turned to go.
“Clary,” he said, catching at her sleeve. “Be careful.”
She detached herself gently and headed up the stairs, taking her witchlight rune-stone to illuminate her way. The windows along the upstairs corridor were open, and a cool breeze blew down the hall, smelling of city stone and canal water, lifting her hair away from her face. Clary reached her bedroom and pushed the door open—and froze.
The witchlight pulsed in her hand, casting bright spokes of light across the room. There was someone sitting on her bed. A tall someone, with white-fair hair, a sword across his lap, and a silver bracelet that sparked like fire in the witchlight.
If I cannot reach Heaven, I will raise Hell.
“Hello, sister mine,” Sebastian said.