“It was Jace, more than anyone else. It was—Did Zachariah just pick up Church?” Clary stared in astonishment. Zachariah was holding the cat, who had gone boneless, his tail curled around the former Silent Brother’s arm. “That cat hates everybody!”
Tessa gave a small smile. “I wouldn’t say everybody.”
“So he is—Zachariah is mortal now?” Clary asked. “Just—an ordinary Shadowhunter?”
“Yes,” Tessa said. “He and I have known each other a long time. We had a standing meeting every year in early January. This year, when he arrived for it, to my shock, he was mortal.”
“And you didn’t know before he just showed up? I would have killed him.”
Tessa grinned. “Well, that would have somewhat defeated the point. And I think he wasn’t sure how I would receive him, mortal as he is, when I am not mortal.” Her expression reminded Clary of Magnus, that look of old, old eyes in a young face, reminded her of a sorrow that was too still and too deep for those with short human lives to understand. “He will age and die, and I will remain as I am. But he has had a long life, longer than most, and understands me. Neither he nor I are the age we seem. And we love each other. That is the important thing.”
Tessa closed her eyes, and for a moment seemed to let the notes of the piano music wash over her.
“I have something for you,” she said, opening her eyes—they were gray, the color of rainwater. “For both of you—for you, and for Jace as well.” She slid something out of her pocket and held it out to Clary. It was a dull silver circlet, a family ring, glimmering with the pattern of engraved birds in flight. “This ring belonged to James Herondale,” she said. “It is a true Herondale ring, many years old. If Jace has decided that he wishes to be a Herondale, he should have it to wear.”
Clary took the ring; it just fit onto her thumb. “Thank you,” she said, “though you could give it to him yourself. Maybe now is the time to talk to him.”
Tessa shook her head. “Look how happy he is,” she said. “He is deciding who he is and who he wants to be, and finding joy in it. He should have a bit more time, to be happy like that, before he picks up any burdens again.” She took up something that had been lying on the chair beside her, and held it out to Clary. It was a copy of The Shadowhunter’s Codex, bound in blue velvet. “This is for you,” she said. “I am sure you have your own, but this was dear to me. There is an inscription on the back—see?” And she turned the book over, so that Clary could see where words had been stamped in gold against the velvet.
“?‘Freely we serve, because we freely love,’?” Clary read out, and looked up at Tessa. “Thank you; this is a lovely thing. Are you sure you want to give it away?”
Tessa smiled. “The Fairchilds, too, have been dear to me in my life,” she said, “and your red hair and your stubbornness recall to me people I once loved. Clary,” she said, and leaned forward across the table so that her jade pendant swung free, “I feel a kinship with you, too, you who have lost both brother and father. I know you have been judged and spoken of as the daughter of Valentine Morgenstern, and now the sister of Jonathan. There will always be those who want to tell you who you are based on your name or the blood in your veins. Do not let other people decide who you are. Decide for yourself.” She looked over at Jace, whose hands were dancing over the piano keys. Light from the tapers caught like stars in his hair and made his skin shine. “That freedom is not a gift; it is a birthright. I hope that you and Jace will use it.”
“You sound so grave, Tessa. Don’t frighten her.” It was Zachariah, coming to stand behind Tessa’s chair.
“I’m not!” Tessa said with a laugh; she had her head tipped back, and Clary wondered if that was how she herself looked, looking up at Jace. She hoped so. It was a safe and happy look, the look of someone who was confident in the love they gave and received. “I was just giving her advice.”
“Sounds terrifying.” It was odd how Zachariah’s speaking voice sounded both like and unlike his voice in Clary’s mind—in life his English accent was stronger than Tessa’s. He also had laughter in his voice as he reached down and helped Tessa up out of her chair. “I’m afraid we must go; we have a long journey ahead of us.”
“Where are you going?” Clary asked, holding the Codex carefully on her lap.
“Los Angeles,” Tessa said, and Clary recalled her saying that the Blackthorns were a family in which she had a particular interest. Clary was glad to hear it. She knew that Emma and the others were living in the Institute with Julian’s uncle, but the idea that they might have someone special to watch over them, a guardian angel of sorts, was reassuring.
“It was good to meet you,” Clary said. “Thank you. For everything.”
Tessa smiled radiantly and disappeared into the crowd, saying she was going to bid Jocelyn good-bye; Zachariah gathered up his coat and her wrap, Clary watching him curiously. “I remember once you told me,” she said, “that you had loved two people more than anything else in the world. Was Tessa one of them?”
“She is one of them,” he said agreeably, shrugging himself into his coat. “I have not stopped loving her, nor my parabatai; love does not stop when someone dies.”
“Your parabatai? You lost your parabatai?” Clary said, feeling a sense of shocked hurt for him; she knew what that meant to Nephilim.
“Not from my heart, for I have not forgotten,” he said, and she heard a whisper of the sadness of ages in his voice, and remembered him in the Silent City, a wraith of parchment smoke. “We are all the pieces of what we remember. We hold in ourselves the hopes and fears of those who love us. As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.”
Clary thought of Max, of Amatis, of Raphael and Jordan and even of Jonathan, and felt the prickle of tears in her throat.
Zachariah slung Tessa’s scarf around his shoulders. “Tell Jace Herondale that he plays Chopin’s Concerto no. 2 very well,” he said, and vanished after Tessa, into the crowd. She stared after him, clutching the ring and the Codex.
“Has anyone seen Church?” said a voice in her ear. It was Isabelle, her fingers tucked around Simon’s arm. Maia stood beside them, fiddling with a gold clasp in her curly hair. “I think Zachariah just stole our cat. I swear I saw him putting Church into the backseat of a car.”
“There’s no way,” said Jace, appearing beside Clary; he had his sleeves rolled up to the elbows and was flushed from the effort of playing. “Church hates everyone.”
“Not everyone,” Clary murmured with a smile.
Simon was looking at Jace as if he were both fascinating and also a little alarming. “Did I—did we ever—did I bite you?”
Jace touched the scar on his throat. “I can’t believe you remember that.”
“Did we . . . roll around on the bottom of a boat?”
“Yes, you bit me, yes, I kind of liked it, yes, let’s not talk about it again,” said Jace. “You’re not a vampire anymore. Focus.”
“To be fair, you bit Alec, too,” said Isabelle.
“When did that happen?” Maia asked, her face lighting with amusement as Bat came up behind her; without a word he took the clip out of her hand and slid it back into her hair. He snapped the clasp efficiently. His hands lingered a moment, gentle against her hair.
“What happens in the demon realms stays in the demon realms,” said Jace. He glanced over at Clary. “Do you want to go for a walk?”
“A walk or a walk?” Isabelle inquired. “Like, are you going to—”
“I think we should all go down to the lake,” Clary said, standing up, the Codex in one hand and the ring in the other. “It’s beautiful down there. Especially at night. I’d like my friends to see it.”
“I remember it,” Simon said, and gave her a smile that made her heart feel like it was expanding in her chest. The farmhouse was where they had gone every summer; it would always be tied to Simon in her mind. That he remembered it made her happier than she could have imagined being that morning.