Lady Midnight
Page 19

 Cassandra Clare

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“I’m Livvy.” The pretty girl who was one half of the twins came forward to shake Cristina’s hand. “And that’s Ty.” She pointed to a boy with black hair who was curled up on a bench seat reading The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. “Dru has the braids, and Tavvy is the one with the lollipop.”
“Don’t run with a lollipop, Cristina,” said Tavvy. He looked around seven, with a thin, serious face.
“I . . . won’t?” Cristina assured him, puzzled.
“Tavvy,” Julian groaned. He was pouring batter from a white ceramic pitcher into the frying pan on the stove. The room filled with the smell of butter and pancakes. “Get up and set the table, you useless layabouts—not you, Cristina,” he added, looking embarrassed. “You’re a guest.”
“I’ll be here for a year. I’m not really a guest,” Cristina said, and went with the rest of them to get cutlery and plates. There was a buzz of pleasant activity, and Cristina felt herself relax. If she had to admit it, she’d been dreading the Blackthorns descending, disrupting the pleasant rhythm of her life here with Emma and Diana. Now that the family was here, here and real, she felt guilty for having resented them.
“First pancakes are up,” Julian announced.
Ty put down his book and picked up a plate. Cristina, reaching into the refrigerator for more butter, heard him say to Julian, “I thought you forgot it was pancake day.” There was accusation in his voice, and something else besides—a slight edge of nervousness? She remembered Emma saying in passing that Ty got upset when his routine was interrupted.
“I didn’t forget, Ty,” Julian said gently. “I was distracted. But I didn’t forget.”
Ty seemed to relax. “All right.”
He went back over to the table, and Tavvy bounded up after him. They were organized, the Blackthorns, in the unconscious way that only a family could be: knowing who got pancakes first (Ty), who wanted butter and syrup (Dru), who wanted just syrup (Livvy), and who wanted sugar (Emma).
Cristina ate hers plain. It was buttery and not too sweet, crisp around the edges. “These are good,” she said to Julian, who had finally sat down on a bench seat beside Emma. Up close she could see lines of tiredness at the edges of his eyes, lines that seemed out of place on the face of a boy so young.
“Practice.” He smiled at her. “I’ve been making them since I was twelve.”
Livvy gave a bounce in her seat. She was wearing a black tank dress and reminded Cristina of the stylish mundane girls in Mexico City, striding purposefully around Condesa and Roma in their sheath dresses and delicate strappy heels. Her brown hair was streaked liberally with gold where the sun had bleached it. “It’s so good to be back,” she said, licking syrup off her finger. “It just wasn’t the same at Great-Aunt Marjorie’s without you two looking after us.” She pointed at Emma and Julian. “I see why they say you shouldn’t separate parabatai, you just go together, like—”
“Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson,” said Ty, who had gone back to reading.
“Chocolate and peanut butter,” said Tavvy.
“Captain Ahab and the whale,” said Dru, who was dreamily drawing patterns in the syrup on her empty plate.
Emma choked on her juice. “Dru, the whale and Captain Ahab were enemies.”
“True,” Julian agreed. “The whale without Ahab is just a whale. A whale with no problems. A stress-free whale.”
Dru looked mutinous. “I heard you guys talking,” she said to Emma and Julian. “I was out on the lawn, before I went back in to get Tavvy. About Emma finding a body?”
Ty looked up immediately. “Emma found a body?”
Emma glanced a little worriedly at Tavvy, but he appeared absorbed in his food. She said, “Well, while you guys were gone, there’ve been a series of murders—”
“Murders? How come you didn’t say anything to Julian or us about it?” Ty was bolt upright now, his book dangling from his hand. “You could have sent an e-mail or a fire-message or a postcard—”
“A murder postcard?” said Livvy, wrinkling up her nose.
“I only found out about it the night before last,” Emma said, and explained quickly what had happened at the Sepulchre. “The body was covered in runes,” she finished. “The same kind of markings that were on my parents’ bodies when they were found.”
“No one’s ever been able to translate those, right?” Livvy said.
“No one.” Emma shook her head. “Everyone’s tried to decode them. Malcolm, Diana, even the Spiral Labyrinth,” she added, naming the underground headquarters of the world’s warlocks, where a great deal of arcane knowledge was hidden.
“Before, they were unique as far as we knew,” Ty said. His eyes were really a very startling gray, like the back of a silver spoon. A pair of headphones hung around his neck, the cord snaking down into his shirt. “Now there’s another example. If we compare them, we might learn something.”
“I made a list of everything I know about the body,” Emma said, producing a piece of paper and setting it on the table. Ty picked it up immediately. “Some is what I saw, some I heard from Johnny Rook and Diana. The fingertips were sanded down, teeth broken, wallet missing.”
“Someone trying to hide the identity of the victim,” said Ty.
“And probably not that uncommon,” said Emma. “But there was also the fact that the body was soaked in seawater and showed signs of burning, and was lying in a chalked ring of symbols. And was covered in writing. That seems unusual.”
“Like the sort of thing you could search for in back archives of mundane newspaper articles,” said Ty. His gray eyes glowed with excitement. “I’ll do it.”
“Thank you,” Emma said. “But—” She glanced toward Julian, and then around at the others, her brown eyes grave. “Diana can’t know, okay?”
“Why not?” asked Dru, frowning. Tavvy was paying no attention at all; he’d gotten down on the floor and was playing under the table with a set of toy trucks.
Emma sighed. “Several of the dead bodies were fey. And that puts this squarely out of any territory we should be messing with.” She glanced over at Cristina. “If you don’t want to do any of this, that’s fine. Faerie business is tricky and Diana doesn’t want us involved.”
“You know how I feel about the Cold Peace,” said Cristina. “Absolutely I will help.” There was a murmer of agreement.
“Told you not to worry,” Julian said, touching Emma’s shoulder lightly before standing up to start clearing the breakfast dishes. There was something about that touch—light and casual as it was, it sent a jolt through Cristina. “You’ve got today off from classes, Diana’s gone up to Ojai, so now’s a good time for us to do this. Especially since we’ve got Clave testing this weekend.”
There was a collective groan. Clave testing was a twice-yearly chore in which students were evaluated to see if their skills were up to par or if they needed to be sent to the Academy in Idris.
But Ty ignored Julian’s announcement. He was looking at Emma’s paper. “How many have died, exactly? People and faeries?”