The hall curved away from the Council room. Clary could hear the voices of the Shadowhunters fading as she walked. The walls were smooth stone, lined with tapestries that depicted various glorious scenes from Shadowhunter history. The first door that appeared on her left was wooden, very plain. It was partly ajar, but she rapped quickly before opening it, so as not to surprise whoever was inside.
It was a simple room, with wooden wainscoting and a jumble of chairs, hastily assembled. It felt to Clary like a hospital waiting room. It had that heavy sense in the air, of an impermanent place where people spent their anxiety and grief in unfamiliar surroundings.
In the corner of the room was a chair propped against a wall, and in the chair was Emma. She looked smaller than she had from a distance. She was only wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt and on her bare arms were Marks, the Voyance rune on her left hand—so she was left-handed like Jace—which lay on the hilt of an unsheathed shortsword lying across her lap. Up close Clary could see that her hair was a pale blonde, but tangled and dirty enough that it had looked darker. From between the tangles the girl glared up at Clary defiantly.
“What?” she said. “What do you want?”
“Nothing,” Clary said, pushing the door shut behind her. “Just to talk to you.”
Emma’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You want to use the Mortal Sword on me? Interrogate me?”
“No. I’ve had it used on me, and it’s awful. I’m sorry they’re using it on your friend. I think they should find another way.”
“I think they should trust him,” said Emma. “Julian doesn’t lie.” She looked at Clary challengingly, as if daring her to disagree.
“Of course he doesn’t,” Clary said, and took a step into the room—she felt as if she were trying not to frighten off some kind of wild creature in the forest. “Julian’s your best friend, isn’t he?”
“My best friend is a boy too. His name is Simon.”
“So where is he?” Emma’s eyes flicked behind Clary, as if she expected Simon to materialize suddenly.
“He’s in New York,” said Clary. “I miss him a lot.”
Emma looked as if this made enormous sense. “Julian went to New York once,” she said. “I missed him, so when he got back, I made him promise he wouldn’t go anywhere without me again.”
Clary smiled, and moved closer to Emma. “Your sword is beautiful,” she said, pointing at the blade across the girl’s lap.
Emma’s expression softened fractionally. She touched the blade, which was etched with a delicate pattern of leaves and runes. The crossbar was gold, and across the blade were carved words: I am Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal. “It was my father’s. It’s been passed down through the Carstairs family. It’s a famous sword,” she added proudly. “It was made a long time ago.”
“?‘Of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal,’?” said Clary. “Those are both famous swords. You know who owns famous swords?”
“Heroes,” Clary said, kneeling down on the ground so she could look up into the girl’s face.
Emma scowled. “I’m not a hero,” she said. “I didn’t do anything to save Julian’s father, or Mark.”
“I’m so sorry,” said Clary. “I know how it is to watch someone you care about go Dark. Get turned into someone else.”
But Emma was shaking her head. “Mark didn’t go Dark. He got taken away.”
Clary frowned. “Taken away?”
“They didn’t want him to drink from the Cup because of his faerie blood,” said Emma, and Clary recalled Alec saying that there was a faerie ancestor in the Blackthorn family tree. As if anticipating Clary’s next question, Emma said wearily, “Only Mark and Helen have faerie blood. They had the same mother, but she left them with Mr. Blackthorn when they were small. Julian and the others had a different mom.”
“Oh,” Clary said, not wanting to press too hard, not wanting this damaged girl to think that she was just another adult who saw Emma as a source of answers for her questions and nothing else. “I know Helen. Does Mark look like her?”
“Yeah—Helen and Mark have pointy ears a little, and light hair. None of the rest of the Blackthorns are blond. They all have brown hair except Ty, and no one knows why he has black hair. Livvy doesn’t have it, and she’s his twin.” A little color and animation had come back into Emma’s face; it was clear she liked to talk about the Blackthorns.
“So they didn’t want Mark to drink from the Cup?” said Clary. Privately she was surprised that Sebastian would care one way or the other. He’d never had Valentine’s obsession with Downworlders, though it wasn’t as if he liked them. “Maybe it doesn’t work if you have Downworlder blood.”
“Maybe,” said Emma. Clary reached out and put her hand over one of Emma’s. She dreaded the answer but couldn’t keep herself from asking the question. “He didn’t Turn your parents, did he?”
“No—no,” Emma said, and now her voice was shaking. “They’re dead. They weren’t at the Institute; they were investigating a report of demon activity. Their bodies washed up on the beach after the attack. I could have gone with them, but I wanted to stay back at the Institute. I wanted to train with Jules. If I’d just gone with them—”
“If you had, you’d be dead too,” said Clary.
“How would you know?” Emma demanded, but there was something in her eyes, something that wanted to believe it.
“I can see what a good Shadowhunter you are,” Clary said. “I see your Marks. I see your scars. And how you hold your sword. If you’re that good, I can only imagine they were really good too. And something that could have killed them both isn’t something you could have saved them from.” She touched the sword lightly. “Heroes aren’t always the ones who win,” she said. “They’re the ones who lose, sometimes. But they keep fighting, they keep coming back. They don’t give up. That’s what makes them heroes.”
Emma drew in a shaky breath, just as a rapping noise sounded at the door. Clary half-turned as it opened, letting in light from the hall outside, and Jace. He caught her eye and smiled, leaning in the doorway. His hair was very dark gold, his eyes a shade lighter. Clary sometimes thought she could see the fire inside him, lighting his eyes and skin and veins, moving just under the surface. “Clary,” he said.
Clary thought she heard a small squeak from behind her. Emma was clutching her sword, looking between Clary and Jace with very large eyes.
“The Council’s over,” he said. “And I don’t think Jia’s any too pleased you came running back here.”
“So I’m in trouble,” Clary said.
“As usual,” Jace said, but his smile took any sting out of it. “We’re all leaving. Are you ready to go?”
She shook her head. “I’ll meet you at your house. You guys can fill me in on what happened at the Council then.”
He hesitated. “Get Aline or Helen to come with you,” he said finally. “The Consul’s house is just down the street from the Inquisitor’s.” He zipped his jacket up and slipped out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Clary turned back to Emma, who was still staring at her.
“You know Jace Lightwood?” said Emma.
“He’s famous,” Emma said with obvious amazement. “He’s the best Shadowhunter. The best.”
“He’s my friend,” Clary said, noting that the conversation had taken an unexpected turn.
Emma gave her a superior look. “He’s your boyfriend.”
“How did you—”
“I saw the way he looked at you,” said Emma, “and anyway, everyone knows Jace Lightwood has a girlfriend and she’s Clary Fairchild. Why didn’t you tell me your name?”
“I guess I didn’t think you’d know it,” Clary said, reeling.
“I’m not stupid,” Emma said, with an air of annoyance that had Clary straightening up quickly before she could laugh.
“No, you’re not. You’re really smart,” said Clary. “And I’m glad you know who I am, because I want you to know you can come talk to me anytime. Not just about what happened at the Institute—about whatever you want. And you can talk to Jace, too. Do you need to know where to find us?”
Emma shook her head. “No,” she said, her voice soft again. “I know where the Inquistor’s house is.”
“Okay.” Clary folded her hands, mostly to keep herself from reaching out and hugging the girl. She didn’t think Emma would appreciate it. Clary turned toward the door.
“If you’re Jace Lightwood’s girlfriend, you should have a better sword,” Emma said suddenly, and Clary glanced down at the blade she’d strapped on that morning, an old one she’d packed with her belongings from New York.
She touched the hilt. “This one isn’t good?”
Emma shook her head. “Not good at all.”
She sounded so serious that Clary smiled. “Thanks for the advice.”
DARKER THAN GOLD
When Clary knocked on the door of the Inquisitor’s house, it was opened by Robert Lightwood.
For a moment she froze, unsure what to say. She had never had a conversation with Jace’s adoptive father, had never known him well at all. He had been a shadow in the background, usually behind Maryse with his hand on her chair. He was a big, dark-haired man with a neatly trimmed beard. She could not imagine him being friends with her own father, though she knew he had been in Valentine’s Circle. There were too many lines on his face, and there was too hard a set to his jaw, for her to imagine him young.
When he looked at her, she saw that his eyes were a very dark blue, so dark, she had always thought they were black. His expression didn’t change; she could feel disapproval radiating off him. She suspected Jia wasn’t the only one annoyed that she’d run out of the Council meeting after Emma. “If you’re looking for my children, they’re upstairs,” was all he said. “Top floor.”
She passed by him, into the extremely grand front room. The house, the one officially designated to the Inquisitor and his or her family, was grand in its scope, with high ceilings and heavy, expensive-looking furniture. It was a large enough space to have interior archways, a massive grand staircase, and a chandelier that hung down from the ceiling, glowing with dim witchlight. She wondered where Maryse was, and if she liked the house.
“Thanks,” Clary said.
Robert Lightwood shrugged and disappeared into the shadows without another word. Clary took the stairs two at a time, passing several landings before she reached the top floor, which was up a flight of steep attic stairs that led to a corridor. A door down the hall was half-open; she could hear voices from the other side.
With a perfunctory knock she stepped inside. The walls of the attic room were painted white, and there was a massive armoire in the corner, both doors flung open—Alec’s clothes, practical and a little shabby, hanging on one side, and Jace’s, crisp in blacks and grays, on the other. Their gear was neatly folded along the bottom.
Clary almost smiled; she wasn’t entirely sure why. There was something about Alec and Jace’s sharing a room that she found endearing. She wondered if they kept each other up at night talking, the way she and Simon always had.