City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 93

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Clary looked away, burying her face in her arm. Her mind raced back through that night when she had come to Jace through the flames, and kissed him and told him to trust her. And he had, even when she had knelt down in front of him and driven the point of Heosphoros into the ground. All around it she had drawn the same rune over and over with her stele—the rune she had once seen, it felt like so long ago now, on a rooftop in Manhattan: the winged hilt of an angel’s sword.

A gift from Ithuriel, she guessed, who had given her so many gifts. The image had rested in her mind until she’d needed it. The rune for shaping Heaven’s fire. That night on the demon plain, the blaze all around them had evaporated, drawn into the blade of Heosphoros, until the metal had burned and glowed and sung when she’d touched it, the sound of angelic choruses. The fire had left behind only a wide circle of sand fused into glass, a substance that had glowed like the surface of the lake she had so often dreamed about, the frozen lake where Jace and Sebastian had battled to the death in her nightmares.

This weapon could kill Sebastian, she had said. Jace had been more dubious, careful. He had tried to take it from her, but the light had died in it when he’d touched it. It reacted only to her, the one who had created it. She had agreed that they had to be cautious, in case it didn’t work. It seemed the height of hubris to imagine she had trapped holy fire in a weapon, the way that fire had been trapped in the blade of Glorious. . . .

But the Angel gave you this gift to create, Jace had said. And do we not have his blood in our veins?

Whatever the blade had sung with, it was gone now, gone into her brother. Clary could hear Sebastian screaming, and over that, the cries of the Endarkened. A burning wind blew past her, carrying with it the tang of ancient deserts, of a place where miracles were common and the divine was manifest in fire.

The noise stopped as suddenly as it had started. The dais shook under Clary as a weight collapsed onto it. She looked up and saw that the fire was gone, though the ground was scarred and both thrones looked blackened, the gold on them no longer bright but charred and burned and melted.

Sebastian lay a few feet away from her, on his back. There was a great blackened hole across the front of his chest. He turned his head toward her, his face taut and white with pain, and her heart contracted.

His eyes were green.

The strength in her legs gave out. She collapsed to the dais on her knees. “You,” he whispered, and she stared at him in horrified fascination, unable to look away from what she had wrought. His face was utterly without color, like paper stretched over bone. She didn’t dare to look down at his chest, where his jacket had fallen away; she could see the stain of blackness across his shirt, like a spill of acid. “You put . . . the heavenly fire . . . into the blade of the sword,” he said. “It was . . . cleverly done.”

“It was a rune, that’s all,” she said, kneeling over him, her eyes searching his. He looked different, not just his eyes but the whole shape of his face, his jawline softer, his mouth without its cruel twist. “Sebastian . . .”

“No. I’m not him. I’m—Jonathan,” he whispered. “I’m Jonathan.”

“Go to Sebastian!” It was Amatis, rising, with all the Endarkened behind her. There was grief on her face, and rage. “Kill the girl!”

Jonathan struggled to sit upright. “No!” he shouted hoarsely. “Get back!”

The Dark Shadowhunters, who had begun to surge forward, froze in confusion. Then, pushing between them, came Jocelyn; she shoved by Amatis without a look and dashed up the steps to the dais. She moved toward Sebastian—Jonathan—and then froze, standing over him, staring down with a look of amazement, mixed with a terrible horror.

“Mother?” Jonathan said. He was staring, almost as if he couldn’t quite focus his eyes on her. He began to cough. Blood ran from his mouth. His breath rattled in his lungs.

I dream sometimes, of a boy with green eyes, a boy who was never poisoned with demon blood, a boy who could laugh and love and be human, and that is the boy I wept over, but that boy never existed.

Jocelyn’s face hardened, as if she were steeling herself to do something. She knelt down by Jonathan’s head and drew him up into her lap. Clary stared; she didn’t think she could have done it. Could have brought herself to touch him like that. But then her mother had always blamed herself for Jonathan’s existence. There was something in her determined expression that said that she had seen him into the world, and she would see him out.

The moment he was propped up, Jonathan’s breathing eased. There was bloody foam on his lips. “I am sorry,” he said with a gasp. “I am so . . .” His eyes tracked to Clary. “I know there is nothing I could do or say now that would allow me to die with even a shred of grace,” he said. “And I would hardly blame you if you cut my throat. But I am . . . I regret. I’m . . . sorry.”

Clary was speechless. What could she say? It’s all right? But it wasn’t all right. Nothing he had done was all right, not in the world, not to her. There were things you could not forgive.

And yet he had not done them, not exactly. This person, the boy her mother was holding as if he were her penance, was not Sebastian, who had tormented and murdered and wrought destruction. She remembered what Luke had said to her, what felt like years ago: The Amatis that is serving Sebastian is no more my sister than the Jace who served Sebastian was the boy you loved. No more my sister than Sebastian is the son your mother ought to have had.

“Don’t,” he said, and half-closed his eyes. “I see you trying to puzzle it out, my sister. Whether I ought to be forgiven the way Luke would forgive his sister if the Infernal Cup released her now. But you see, she was his sister once. She was human once. I—” And he coughed, more blood appearing on his lips. “I never existed at all. Heavenly fire burns away that which is evil. Jace survived Glorious because he is good. There was enough of him left to live. But I was born to be all corruption. There is not enough left of me to survive. You see the ghost of someone who could have been, that is all.”

Jocelyn was crying, tears falling silently down her face as she sat very still. Her back was straight.

“I must tell you,” he whispered. “When I die—the Endarkened will rush at you. I won’t be able to hold them back.” His gaze flicked to Clary. “Where’s Jace?”

“I’m here,” Jace said. And he was, already up on the dais, his expression hard and puzzled and sad. Clary met his eyes. She knew how hard it must have been for him to play along with her, to let Sebastian think he had her, to let Clary risk herself at the last. And she knew how this must be for him, Jace who had wanted revenge so badly, to look at Jonathan and realize that the part of Sebastian that could have been—should have been—punished was gone. Here was another person, someone else entirely, someone who had never been given a chance to live, and now never would.

“Take my sword,” said Jonathan, his breath coming in gasps, indicating Phaesphoros, which had fallen some feet away. “Cut—cut it open.”

“Cut what open?” Jocelyn said in puzzlement, but Jace was already moving, bending to seize Phaesphoros, flipping himself down from the dais. He strode across the room, past the huddled Dark Shadowhunters, past the ring of runes, to where the Behemoth demon lay dead in its ichor.

“What is he doing?” Clary asked, though as Jace raised the sword and sliced cleanly down into the demon’s body, it seemed obvious. “How did he know . . .”

“He—knows me,” Jonathan breathed.

A tide of stinking demon guts poured across the floor; Jace’s expression twisted with disgust—and then surprise, and then realization. He bent down and, with his bare hand, picked up something lumpy, glistening with ichor—he held it up, and Clary recognized the Infernal Cup.

She looked over at Jonathan. His eyes were rolling back, shudders racking his body. “T-tell him,” he stuttered. “Tell him to throw it into the ring of runes.”

Clary lifted her head. “Throw it into the circle!” she cried to Jace, and Amatis whipped around.

“No!” she cried. “If the Cup is ruined, so shall we all be!” She spun toward the dais. “Lord Sebastian! Do not let your army be destroyed! We are loyal!”

Jace looked at Luke. Luke was gazing at his sister with an expression of ultimate sadness, a sadness as profound as death. Luke had lost his sister forever, and Clary had only just gotten back her brother, the brother who had been gone from her all her life, and still it was death on both sides.

Jonathan, half-supported against Jocelyn’s shoulder, looked at Amatis; his green eyes were like lights. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I should never have made you.”

And he turned his face away.

Luke nodded, once, at Jace, and Jace flung the Cup as hard as he could into the circle of runes. It struck the ground and shattered into pieces.

Amatis gasped, and put her hand to her chest. For a moment—just a moment—she stared at Luke with a look of recognition in her eyes: a look of recognition, even love.

“Amatis,” he whispered.

Her body slumped to the ground. The other Endarkened followed, one by one, collapsing where they stood, until the room was full of corpses.

Luke turned away, too much pain in his eyes for Clary to be able to bear to look at him. She heard a cry—distant and harsh—and wondered for a moment if it was Luke, or even one of the others, horrified to see so many Nephilim fall, but the cry rose and rose and became a great shrieking howl that rattled the glass and swirled the dust outside the window that looked out on Edom. The sky turned a red the color of blood, and the cry went on, fading now, a gasping exhalation of sorrow as if the universe were weeping.

“Lilith,” Jonathan whispered. “She weeps for her dead children, the children of her blood. She weeps for them and for me.”

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult