City of Fallen Angels
Page 28

 Cassandra Clare

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"Yes," Maryse said, a look of puzzlement passing over her face as she caught the look between the warlock and the vampire. "That is, if Magnus is willing."
"I am," Magnus said, drawing off his gloves. "I'll talk to Camille for you."
"Camille?" Alec looked at Magnus with his eyebrows raised. "You know her, then? Or-she knows you?"
"We know each other." Magnus shrugged, very slightly, as if to say, What can you do? "Once upon a time she was my girlfriend."
Chapter 13
"Your girlfriend?" Alec looked astonished. So did Maryse. Simon couldn't say he was unastonished himself. "You dated a vampire? A girl vampire?"
"It was a hundred and thirty years ago," said Magnus. "I haven't seen her since."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Alec demanded.
Magnus sighed. "Alexander, I've been alive for hundreds of years. I've been with men, been with women-with faeries and warlocks and vampires, and even a djinn or two." He looked sideways at Maryse, who looked mildly horrified. "Too much information?"
"It's all right," she said, though she sounded a little wan. "I have to discuss something with Kadir for a moment. I'll be back." She stepped aside, joining Kadir; they disappeared through the doorway. Simon took a few steps back as well, pretending to study one of the stained-glass windows intently, but his vampire hearing was good enough that he could hear everything Magnus and Alec were saying to each other, whether he wanted to or not. Camille, he knew, could hear it too. She had her head cocked to the side as she listened, her eyes heavy-lidded and thoughtful.
"How many other people?" Alec asked. "Roughly."
Magnus shook his head. "I can't count, and it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is how I feel about you."
"More than a hundred?" Alec asked. Magnus looked blank. "Two hundred?"
"I can't believe we're having this conversation now," Magnus said, to no one in particular. Simon was inclined to agree, and wished they weren't having it in front of him.
"Why so many?" Alec's blue eyes were very bright in the dimness. Simon couldn't tell if he was angry. He didn't sound angry, just very intense, but Alec was a shut-down person, and perhaps this was as angry as he ever got. "Do you get bored with people fast?"
"I live forever," Magnus said quietly. "But not everyone does."
Alec looked as if someone had hit him. "So you just stay with them as long as they live, and then you find someone else?"
Magnus didn't say anything. He looked at Alec, his eyes shining like a cat's. "Would you rather I spent all of eternity alone?"
Alec's mouth twitched. "I'm going to find Isabelle," he said, and without another word he turned and walked back into the Institute.
Magnus watched him go with sad eyes. Not a human sort of sad, Simon thought. His eyes seemed to contain the sadness of great ages, as if the sharp edges of human sadness had been worn down to something softer by the passing of years, the way sea water wore away the sharp edges of glass.
As if he could tell Simon was thinking about him, Magnus looked at him sideways. "Eavesdropping, vampire?"
"I really don't love it when people call me that," Simon said. "I have a name."
"I suppose I'd better remember it. After all, in a hundred, two hundred, years, it'll be just you and me." Magnus regarded Simon thoughtfully. "We'll be all that's left."
The thought made Simon feel as if he were in an elevator that had suddenly broken free of its moorings and started plunging toward the ground, a thousand stories down. The thought had passed through his mind before, of course, but he had always pushed it away. The thought that he would stay sixteen while Clary got older, Jace got older, everyone he knew got older, grew up, had children, and nothing ever changed for him was too enormous and horrible to contemplate.
Being sixteen forever sounded good until you really thought about it. Then it didn't seem like such a great prospect anymore.
Magnus's cat eyes were a clear gold-green. "Staring eternity in the face," he said. "Not so much fun, is it?"
Before Simon could reply, Maryse had returned. "Where's Alec?" she asked, looking around in puzzlement.
"He went to see Isabelle," said Simon, before Magnus had to say anything.
"Very well." Maryse smoothed the front of her jacket down, though it wasn't wrinkled. "If you wouldn't mind..."
"I'll talk to Camille," said Magnus. "But I want to do it alone. If you'd like to wait for me in the Institute, I'll join you there when I'm finished."
Maryse hesitated. "You know what to ask her?"
Magnus's gaze was unwavering. "I know how to talk to her, yes. If she is willing to say anything, she'll say it to me."
Both of them seemed to have forgotten that Simon was there. "Should I go too?" he asked, interrupting their staring contest.
Maryse looked at him, half-distracted. "Oh, yes. Thank you for your help, Simon, but you're no longer needed. Go home if you like."
Magnus said nothing at all. With a shrug Simon turned and went toward the door that led to the vestry and the exit that would take him outside. At the door he paused and looked back. Maryse and Magnus were still talking, though the guard was already holding open the Institute door, ready to leave. Only Camille seemed to remember that Simon was there at all. She was smiling at him from her pillar, her lips curved up at the corners, her eyes shining like a promise.
Simon went out, and closed the door behind him.
"It happens every night." Jace was sitting on the floor, his legs drawn up, his hands dangling between his knees. He had put the knife on the bed next to Clary; she kept one hand on it while he talked-more to reassure him than because she needed it to defend herself. All the energy seemed to have drained out of Jace; even his voice sounded empty and far away while he talked, as if he were speaking to her from a great distance. "I dream that you come into my room and we ... start doing what we were just doing. And then I hurt you. I cut you or strangle or stab you, and you die, looking up at me with those green eyes of yours while your life bleeds away between my hands."
"They're only dreams," Clary said gently.
"You just saw that they aren't," said Jace. "I was wide awake when I picked up that knife."
Clary knew he was right. "Are you worried that you're going crazy?"
He shook his head slowly. Hair fell into his eyes; he pushed it back. His hair had gotten a little too long; he hadn't cut it in a while, and Clary wondered if it was because he couldn't be bothered. How could she not have paid more attention to the shadows under his eyes, the bitten nails, the drawn exhausted look of him? She had been so concerned about whether he still loved her that she had not thought about anything else. "I'm not so worried about that, really," he said. "I'm worried about hurting you. I'm worried that whatever poison it is that's eating its way into my dreams will bleed through into my waking life and I'll..." His throat seemed to close up.
"You would never hurt me."
"I had that knife in my hand, Clary." He looked up at her, and then away. "If I hurt you..." His voice trailed off. "Shadowhunters die young, a lot of the time," he said. "We all know that. And you wanted to be a Shadowhunter, and I would never stop you because it isn't my job to tell you what to do with your life. Especially when I'm taking the same kind of risks. What kind of person would I be if I told you it was all right for me to risk my life, but not for you? So I've thought about what it would be like for me if you died. I bet you've thought about the same thing."
"I know what it would be like," Clary said, remembering the lake, the sword, and Jace's blood spreading over the sand. He had been dead, and the Angel had brought him back, but those had been the worst minutes of her life. "I wanted to die. But I knew how disappointed in me you'd have been if I'd just given up."
He smiled, the ghost of a smile. "And I've thought the same thing. If you died, I wouldn't want to live. But I wouldn't kill myself, because whatever happens after we die, I want to be with you there. And if I killed myself, I know you'd never talk to me again. In any life. So I'd live, and I'd try to make something out of my life, until I could be with you again. But if I hurt you-if I was the cause of your death-there's nothing that would keep me from destroying myself."
"Don't say that." Clary felt chilled to the bone. "Jace, you should have told me."
"I couldn't." His voice was flat, final.
"Why not?"
"I thought I was Jace Lightwood," he said. "I thought it was possible that my upbringing hadn't touched me. But now I wonder if maybe people can't change. Maybe I'll always be Jace Morgenstern, Valentine's son. He raised me for ten years, and maybe that's a stain that won't ever bleach out."
"You think this is because of your father," Clary said, and the bit of story that Jace had told her once ran through her head, to love is to destroy. And then she thought how strange it was that she would call Valentine Jace's father, when his blood ran in her veins, not Jace's. But she had never felt about Valentine the way you might feel about a father. And Jace had. "And you didn't want me to know?"
"You're everything I want," Jace said. "And maybe Jace Lightwood deserves to get everything he wants. But Jace Morgenstern doesn't. Somewhere inside I must know that. Or I wouldn't be trying to destroy what we have."
Clary took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "I don't think you are."
He raised his head and blinked. "What do you mean?"
"You think this is psychological," Clary said. "That there's something wrong with you. Well, I don't. I think someone is doing this to you."
"I don't-"
"Ithuriel sent me dreams," Clary said. "Maybe someone is sending you dreams."
"Ithuriel sent you dreams to try to help you. To guide you to the truth. What's the point of these dreams? They're sick, meaningless, sadistic-"
"Maybe they have a meaning," Clary said. "Maybe the meaning just isn't what you think. Or maybe whoever's sending them is trying to hurt you."
"Who would do that?"
"Someone who doesn't like us very much," said Clary, and pushed away an image of the Seelie Queen.
"Maybe," Jace said softly, looking down at his hands. "Sebastian-"
So he doesn't want to call him Jonathan either, Clary thought. She didn't blame him. It was his own name too. "Sebastian's dead," she said, a little more sharply than she'd intended. "And if he had had this sort of power, he would have used it before."
Doubt and hope chased each other across Jace's face. "You really think someone else could be doing this?"
Clary's heart beat hard against her rib cage. She wasn't sure; she wanted it so badly to be true, but if it wasn't, she would have gotten Jace's hopes up for nothing. Both their hopes.
But then she got the feeling it had been a while since Jace had felt hopeful about anything.
"I think we should go to the Silent City," she said. "The Brothers can get into your head and find out if someone's been messing around in there. The way they did with me."
Jace opened his mouth and closed it again. "When?" he said finally.
"Now," Clary said. "I don't want to wait. Do you?"
He didn't reply, just got up off the floor and picked up his shirt. He looked at Clary, and almost smiled. "If we're going to the Silent City, you might want to get dressed. I mean, I appreciate the bra-and-panties look, but I don't know if the Silent Brothers will. There are only a few of them left, and I don't want them to die of excitement."
Clary got up off the bed and threw a pillow at him, mostly out of relief. She reached for her clothes and began to pull her shirt on. Just before it went over her head, she caught sight of the knife lying on the bedspread, gleaming like a fork of silvery flame.
"Camille," Magnus said. "It's been a long time, hasn't it?"
She smiled. Her skin looked whiter than he recalled, and dark spidery veins were beginning to show beneath its surface. Her hair was still the color of spun silver, and her eyes were still as green as a cat's. She was still beautiful. Looking at her, he was in London again. He saw the gaslight and smelled the smoke and dirt and horses, the metallic tang of fog, the flowers in Kew Gardens. He saw a boy with black hair and blue eyes like Alec's. A girl with long brown curls and a serious face. In a world where everything went away from him eventually, she was one of the few remaining constants.
And then there was Camille.
"I've missed you, Magnus," she said.
"No, you haven't." He sat down on the floor of the Sanctuary. He could feel the cold of the stone through his clothes. He was glad he had worn the scarf. "So why the message for me? Just stalling for time?"
"No." She leaned forward, the chains rattling. He could almost hear the hissing where the blessed metal touched the skin of her wrists. "I have heard things about you, Magnus. I have heard that you are under the wing of the Shadowhunters these days. I had heard that you have won the love of one of them. That boy you were just talking to, I imagine. But then your tastes were always diverse."
"You have been listening to rumors about me," Magnus said. "But you could simply have asked me. All these years I was in Brooklyn, not far away at all, and I never heard from you. Never saw you at one of my parties. There has been a wall of ice between us, Camille."
"I did not build it." Her green eyes widened. "I have loved you always."
"You left me," he said. "You made a pet out of me, and then you left me. If love were food, I would have starved on the bones you gave me." He spoke matter-of-factly. It had been a long time.