City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 104

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“It’s almost worse,” Isabelle said. “Than if he were dead. If he were dead, I could grieve, but I don’t know what to think—he’s safe, he’s alive, I should be grateful. He isn’t a vampire anymore, and he hated being a vampire. I should be happy. But I’m not happy. He told me he loved me. He told me he loved me, Clary, and now he doesn’t even know who I am. If I were standing in front of him, he wouldn’t recognize my face. It feels like I never mattered. None of it ever mattered or ever happened. He never loved me at all.” She swiped angrily at her face. “I hate it!” she broke out suddenly. “I hate this feeling, like there’s something sitting on my chest.”

“Missing someone?”

“Yes,” Isabelle said. “I never thought I’d feel it about some boy.”

“Not some boy,” Clary said. “Simon. And he did love you. And it did matter. Maybe he doesn’t remember, but you do. I do. The Simon who’s living in Brooklyn now, that’s Simon the way he used to be six months ago. And that’s not a terrible thing. He was wonderful. But he changed when you knew him: He got stronger, and he got hurt, and he was different. And that Simon was the one you fell in love with and who fell in love with you, so you are grieving, because he’s gone. But you can keep him alive a little by remembering him. We both can.”

Isabelle made a choking sound. “I hate losing people,” she said, and there was a savage edge to her voice: the desperation of someone who had lost too much, too young. “I hate it.”

Clary put her hand out and took Izzy’s—her thin right hand, the one with the Voyance rune stretched across her knuckles. “I know,” Clary said. “But remember the people you’ve gained, too. I’ve gained you. I’m grateful for that.” She pressed Izzy’s hand, hard, and for a moment there was no response. Then Isabelle’s fingers tightened on hers. They sat in silence on the windowsill, their hands locked across the distance between them.

Maia sat on the couch in the apartment—her apartment now. Being pack leader paid a small salary, and she had decided to use it for rent, to keep what once had been Jordan and Simon’s place, keep their things from being thrown into the street by an angry, evicting landlord. Eventually she would go through their belongings, pack up what she could, sort through the memories. Exorcise the ghosts.

For today, though, she was content to sit and look at what had arrived for her from Idris in a small package from Jia Penhallow. The Consul hadn’t thanked her for the warning she’d been given, though she had welcomed her as the new and permanent leader of the New York pack. Her tone had been cool and distant. But wrapped in the letter was a bronze seal, the seal of the head of the Praetor Lupus, the seal with which the Scott family had always signed their letters. It had been retrieved from the ruins on Long Island. There was a small note attached, with two words written on it in Jia’s careful hand.

Begin again.

“You’re going to be all right. I promise.”

It was probably the six hundredth time Helen had said the same thing, Emma thought. It would probably have helped more if she didn’t sound like she was trying to convince herself.

Helen was nearly finished packing the belongings that she had brought with her to Idris. Uncle Arthur (he had told Emma to call him that too) had promised to send on the rest. He was waiting downstairs with Aline to escort Helen to the Gard, where she would take the Portal to Wrangel Island; Aline would follow her the next week, after the last of the treaties and votes in Alicante.

It all sounded boring and complicated and horrible to Emma. All she knew was that she was sorry for ever having thought that Helen and Aline were soppy. Helen didn’t seem soppy to her at all now, just sad, her eyes red-rimmed and her hands shaking as she zipped up her bag and turned to the bed.

It was an enormous bed, big enough for six people. Julian was sitting up against the headboard on one side, and Emma was on the other. You could have fit the rest of the family between them, Emma thought, but Dru, the twins, and Tavvy were asleep in their rooms. Dru and Livvy were cried out; Tiberius had accepted the news of Helen’s departure with wide-eyed confusion, as if he didn’t know what was happening or how he was expected to respond. At the last he’d shaken her hand and solemnly wished her good luck, as if she were a colleague leaving on a business trip. She’d burst into tears. “Oh, Ty,” she’d said, and he’d slunk away, looking horrified.

Helen knelt down now, bringing herself almost eye level with Jules where he sat on the bed. “Remember what I said, okay?”

“We’re going to be all right,” Julian parroted.

Helen squeezed his hand. “I hate leaving you,” she said. “I’d take care of you if I could. You know that, right? I’d take over the Institute. I love you all so much.”

Julian squirmed in the manner that only a twelve-year-old boy could squirm upon hearing the word “love.”

“I know,” he managed.

“The only reason I can leave is that I’m sure I’m leaving you all in good hands,” she said, her eyes boring into his.

“Uncle Arthur, you mean?”

“I mean you,” she said, and Jules’s eyes widened. “I know it’s a lot to ask,” she added. “But I also know I can depend on you. I know you can help Dru with her nightmares, and take care of Livia and Tavvy, and maybe even Uncle Arthur could do that too. He’s a nice enough man. Absentminded, but he seems to want to try. . . .” Her voice trailed off. “But Ty is—” She sighed. “Ty is special. He . . . translates the world differently from how the rest of us do. Not everyone can speak his language, but you can. Take care of him for me, all right? He’s going to be something amazing. We just have to keep the Clave from understanding how special he is. They don’t like people who are different,” she finished, and there was bitterness in her tone.

Julian was sitting up straight now, looking worried. “Ty hates me,” he said. “He fights me all the time.”

“Ty loves you,” said Helen. “He sleeps with that bee you gave him. He watches you all the time. He wants to be like you. He’s just—it’s hard,” she finished, not sure how to say what she wanted to: that Ty was jealous of the way Julian so easily navigated the world, so easily made people love him, that what Julian did every day without thinking seemed to Ty like a magic trick. “Sometimes it’s hard when you want to be like someone but you don’t know how.”

A sharp furrow of confusion appeared between Julian’s brows, but he looked up at Helen and nodded. “I’ll take care of Ty,” he said. “I promise.”

“Good.” Helen stood up and kissed Julian quickly on the top of his head. “Because he’s amazing and special. You all are.” She smiled over his head at Emma. “You, too, Emma,” she said, and her voice tightened on Emma’s name, as if she were going to cry. She closed her eyes, hugged Julian one more time, and fled out of the room, grabbing her suitcase and coat as she went. Emma could hear her running downstairs, and then the front door closing amid a murmur of voices.

Emma looked over at Julian. He was sitting rigidly upright, his chest rising and falling as if he’d been running. She reached over quickly and took his hand, traced onto the inside of his palm: W-H-A-T-S W-R-O-N-G?

“You heard Helen,” he said in a low voice. “She trusts me to take care of them. Dru, Tavvy, Livvy, Ty. My whole family, basically. I’m going to be—I’m twelve, Emma, and I’m going to have four kids!”

Anxiously she started to write: N-O Y-O-U W-O-N-T—

“You don’t have to do that,” he interrupted. “It’s not like there are any parents to overhear us.” It was an unusually bitter thing for Jules to say, and Emma swallowed hard.

“I know,” she said finally. “But I like having a secret language with you. I mean, who else can we talk about this stuff with, if we don’t talk to each other?”

He slumped down against the headboard, turning to face her. “The truth is, I don’t know Uncle Arthur at all. I’ve only seen him at holidays. I know Helen says she does and he’s great and fine and everything, but they’re my brothers and sisters. I know them. He doesn’t.” He curled his hands into fists. “I’ll take care of them. I’ll make sure they have everything they want and nothing ever gets taken away from them again.”

Emma reached for his arm, and this time he gave it to her, letting his eyes fall half-closed as she wrote on the inside of his wrist with her index finger.

I-L-L H-E-L-P Y-O-U.

He smiled at her, but she could see the tension behind his eyes. “I know you will,” he said. He reached his hand out and clasped it around hers. “You know the last thing Mark said to me before he was taken?” he asked, leaning against the headboard. He looked absolutely exhausted. “He said, ‘Stay with Emma.’ So we’ll stay with each other. Because that’s what parabatai do.”

Emma felt as if the breath had been pulled out of her lungs. Parabatai. It was a big word—for Shadowhunters, one of the biggest, encompassing one of the most intense emotions you could ever have, the most significant commitment you could ever make to another person that wasn’t about romantic love or marriage.

She had wanted to tell Jules when they got back to the house, had wanted to tell him somehow that when she had burst out with the words in the Consul’s office that they were going to be parabatai bonded, it had been about more than wanting to be his parabatai. Tell him, said a little voice in her head. Tell him you did it because you needed to stay in Los Angeles; tell him you did it because you need to be there to find out what happened to your parents. To get revenge.

“Julian,” she said softly, but he didn’t move. His eyes were closed, his dark lashes feathering against his cheeks. The moonlight coming in through the window outlined him in white and silver. The bones of his face were already beginning to sharpen, to lose the softness of childhood. She could suddenly imagine how he was going to look when he was older, broader and rangier, a grown-up Julian. He was going to be so handsome, she thought; girls would be all over him, and one of them would take him away from her forever, because Emma was his parabatai, and that meant she could never be one of those girls now. She could never love him like that.

Jules murmured and shifted in his fitful sleep. His arm was stretched out toward her, his fingers not quite touching her shoulder. His sleeve was rucked up to his elbow. She reached out her hand and carefully scrawled on the bare skin of his forearm, where the skin was pale and tender, unmarked yet by any scars.

I-M S-O S-O-R-R-Y J-U-L-E-S, she wrote, and then sat back, holding her breath, but he didn’t feel it, and he didn’t wake up.

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult