City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments 6) - Page 99

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Helen got to her feet. “Where they stood this time,” she said. “I fought at the Burren, and at the Citadel, and in Alicante, to protect my family and protect Nephilim. I’ve never given anyone reason to question my loyalty.”

“This is what happens,” Magnus said, raising his face. “Can’t you see, this is how it begins again?”

“Helen is right,” said Jia. “She’s done nothing wrong.”

Another Shadowhunter rose to her feet, a woman with dark hair piled on her head. “Begging your pardon, Consul, but you are not objective,” she said. “We all know of your daughter’s relationship with the faerie girl. You should recuse yourself from this discussion.”

“Helen Blackthorn is needed, Mrs. Sedgewick,” said Diana Wrayburn, standing. She looked outraged; Emma remembered her in the Accords Hall, the way she had tried to get to Emma, to help her. “Her parents have been murdered; she has five younger brothers and sisters to care for—”

“She is not needed,” snapped Sedgewick. “We are reopening the Academy—the children can go there, or they can be split up among various Institutes—”

“No,” Julian whispered. His hands were in fists on his knees.

“Absolutely not,” Helen shouted. “Jia, you must—”

Jia met her eyes and nodded, a slow, reluctant nod. “Arthur Blackthorn,” she said. “Please rise.”

Emma felt Julian, beside her, freeze in shock as a man on the other side of the room, hidden among the crowd, rose to his feet. He was slight, a paler, smaller version of Julian’s father, with thinning brown hair and the Blackthorn eyes, half-hidden behind spectacles. He leaned heavily on a wooden cane, with a discomfort that made her think the injury that required the cane was recent.

“I wished to wait until after this meeting, that the children might meet their uncle properly,” Jia said. “I summoned him immediately on news of the attack on the Los Angeles Institute, of course, but he had been injured in London. He arrived in Idris only this morning.” She sighed. “Mr. Blackthorn, you may introduce yourself.”

The man had a round, pleasant face, and looked extremely uncomfortable being stared at by so many people. “I am Arthur Blackthorn, Andrew Blackthorn’s brother,” he said. His accent was British; Emma always forgot that Julian’s father had originally come from London. He had lost his accent years before. “I will be moving into the Los Angeles Institute as soon as possible and bringing my nieces and nephews with me. The children will be under my protection.”

“Is that really your uncle?” Emma whispered, staring.

“Yes, that’s him,” Julian whispered back, clearly agitated. “It’s just—I was hoping—I mean, I was really starting to think he wouldn’t come. I’d—I’d rather have Helen look after us.”

“While I’m sure we’re all immeasurably relieved that you’ll be looking after the Blackthorn children,” said Luke, “Helen is one of them. Are you saying, by claiming responsibility for the younger siblings, that you agree that her Marks should be stripped?”

Arthur Blackthorn looked horrified. “Not at all,” he said. “My brother may not have been wise in his . . . dalliances . . . but all records show that the children of Shadowhunters are Shadowhunters. As they say, ut incepit fidelis sic permanet.”

Julian slid down in his seat. “More Latin,” he muttered. “Just like Dad.”

“What does it mean?” Emma asked.

“?‘She begins loyal and ends loyal’—something like that.” Julian’s eyes flicked around the room; everyone was muttering and glaring. Jia was in muted conference with Robert and the Downworld representatives. Helen was still standing, but it looked as if Aline was all that was holding her up.

The group at the dais broke apart, and Robert Lightwood stepped forward. His face was thunderous. “So that there is no discussion that Jia’s personal friendship with Helen Blackthorn will have influenced her decision, she has recused herself,” he said. “The rest of us have decided that, as Helen is eighteen, at the age where many young Shadowhunters are posted to other Institutes to learn their ways, she will be posted to Wrangel Island to study the wards.”

“For how long?” said Balogh immediately.

“Indefinitely,” said Robert, and Helen sank down into her chair, Aline at her side, her face a mask of grief and shock. Wrangel Island might have been the seat of all the wards that protected the world, a prestigious posting in many ways, but it was also a tiny island in the frozen Arctic sea north of Russia, thousands of miles from Los Angeles.

“Is that good enough for you?” Jia said in a cold voice. “Mr. Balogh? Mrs. Sedgewick? Shall we vote on it? All in favor of assigning Helen Blackthorn to a posting on Wrangel Island until her loyalty is determined, say ‘aye.’?”

A chorus of “aye,” and a quieter chorus of “nay,” ran around the room. Emma said nothing, and neither did Jules; both of them were too young to vote. Emma reached her hand over and took Julian’s, squeezed it tightly; his fingers were like ice. He had the look of someone who had been hit so many times that they no longer even wanted to get up. Helen was sobbing softly in Aline’s arms.

“There remains the question of Mark Blackthorn,” said Balogh.

“What question?” demanded Robert Lightwood, sounding exasperated. “The boy has been taken by the Wild Hunt! In the unlikely event that we are able to negotiate his release, shouldn’t this be a problem to worry about then?”

“That’s just it,” said Balogh. “As long as we don’t negotiate his release, the problem takes care of itself. The boy is likely better off with his own kind anyway.”

Arthur Blackthorn’s round face paled. “No,” he said. “My brother wouldn’t have wanted that. He’d have wanted the boy at home with his family.” He gestured toward where Emma and Julian and the rest were sitting. “They’ve had so much taken away from them. How can we take more?”

“We’re protecting them,” snapped Sedgewick. “From a brother and sister who will only betray them as time passes and they realize their true loyalty to the Courts. All in favor of permanently abandoning the search for Mark Blackthorn, say ‘aye.’?”

Emma reached to hold Julian as he hunched forward in his chair. She clung awkwardly to his side. All his muscles were rigid, as hard as iron, as if he were readying himself for a fall or a blow. Helen leaned toward him, whispering and murmuring, her own face streaked with tears. As Aline reached past Helen to stroke Jules’s hair, Emma caught sight of the Blackthorn ring sparkling on Aline’s finger. As the chorus of “aye” went around the room in a terrible symphony, the gleam made Emma think of the shine of a distress signal far out at sea, where no one could see it, where there was no one to care.

If this was peace and victory, Emma thought, maybe war and fighting was better after all.

Jace slid from the back of the horse and reached up a hand to help Clary down after him. “Here we are,” he said, turning to face the lake.

They stood on a shallow beach of rocks facing the western edge of Lake Lyn. It was not the same beach where Valentine had stood when he had summoned the Angel Raziel, not the same beach where Jace had bled his life out and then regained it, but Clary had not been back to the lake since that time, and the sight of it still sent a shiver through her bones.

It was a lovely place, there was no doubt about that. The lake stretched into the distance, tinted with the color of the winter sky, limned in silver, the surface brushed and rippled so that it resembled a piece of metallic paper folding and unfolding under the wind’s touch. The clouds were white and high, and the hills around them were bare.

Clary moved forward, down to the edge of the water. She had thought her mother might come with her, but at the last moment Jocelyn had refused, saying that she had bidden good-bye to her son a long time ago and that this was Clary’s time. The Clave had burned his body—at Clary’s request. The burning of a body was an honor, and those who died in disgrace were buried at crossroads whole and unburned, as Jace’s mother had been. The burning had been more than a favor, Clary thought; it had been a sure way for the Clave to be absolutely certain that he was dead. But still Jonathan’s ashes were never to be taken to the abode of the Silent Brothers. They would never form a part of the City of Bones; he would never be a soul among other Nephilim souls.

He would not be buried among those he had caused to be murdered, and that, Clary thought, was only fair and just. The Endarkened had been burned, and their ashes buried at the crossroads near Brocelind. There would be a monument there, a necropolis to recall those who had once been Shadowhunters, but there would be no monument to recall Jonathan Morganstern, whom no one wanted to remember. Even Clary wished she could forget, but nothing was that easy.

The water of the lake was clear, with a slight rainbow sheen to it, like a slick of oil. It lapped against the edges of Clary’s boots as she opened the silver box she was holding. Inside it were ashes, powdery and gray, flecked with bits of charred bone. Among the ashes lay the Morgenstern ring, glimmering and silver. It had been on a chain around Jonathan’s throat when he had been burned, and it remained, untouched and unharmed by the fire.

“I never had a brother,” she said. “Not really.”

She felt Jace place his hand on her back, between her shoulder blades. “You did,” he said. “You had Simon. He was your brother in all the ways that matter. He watched you grow up, defended you, fought with and for you, cared about you all your life. He was the brother you chose. Even if he’s . . . gone now, no one and nothing can take that away from you.”

Clary took a deep breath and flung the box as far as she could. It flew far, over the rainbow water, black ashes arcing out behind it like the plume of a jet plane, and the ring fell along with it, turning over and over, sending out silver sparks as it fell and fell and disappeared beneath the water.

“Ave atque vale,” she said, speaking the full lines of the ancient poem. “Ave atque vale in perpetuum, frater. Hail and farewell forever, my brother.”

The wind off the lake was cold; she felt it against her face, icy on her cheeks, and only then did she realize that she had been crying, and that her face was cold because it was wet with tears. She had wondered since she had found out that Jonathan was alive why her mother had cried on the day of his birth every year. Why cry, if she had hated him? But Clary understood now. Her mother had been crying for the child she would never have, for all the dreams that had been wrapped up in her imagination of having a son, her imagination of what that boy would be like. And she’d been crying for the bitter chance that had destroyed that child before he had ever been born. And so, as Jocelyn had for so many years, Clary stood at the side of the Mortal Mirror and wept for the brother she would never have, for the boy who had never been given the chance to live. And she wept as well for the others lost in the Dark War, and she wept for her mother and the loss she had endured, and she wept for Emma and the Blackthorns, remembering how they had fought back tears when she had told them that she had seen Mark in the tunnels of Faerie, and how he belonged to the Hunt now, and she wept for Simon and the hole in her heart where he had been, and the way she would miss him every day until she died, and she wept for herself and the changes that had been wrought in her, because sometimes even change for the better felt like a little death.

Jace stood by her side as she cried, and held her hand silently, until Jonathan’s ashes had sunk under the water’s surface without a trace.

Tags: Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments Young Adult