Lady Midnight
Page 29

 Cassandra Clare

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He walked out of the room. For a moment Emma didn’t move.
Normally if Julian told her he didn’t need her with him, or that he had to do something alone, she wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Sometimes events necessitated splitting up.
But the night before had solidified her feeling of unease. She didn’t know what was going on with Jules. She didn’t know if he didn’t want her with him, or did but was angry with her or angry with himself or both.
She knew only that the Fair Folk were dangerous, and there was no way Julian was facing them alone.
“I’m going,” she said, and headed toward the door. She stopped to take down Cortana, which was hanging beside it.
“Emma,” said Diana, her voice tight with meaning. “Be careful.”
The last time faeries had been in the Institute, they had helped Sebastian Morgenstern wrench the soul from the body of Julian’s father. They had taken Mark.
Emma had carried Tavvy and Dru to safety. She had helped save the lives of Julian’s younger brothers and sisters. They had barely escaped alive.
But Emma hadn’t had years of training then. She hadn’t killed a single demon herself, not when she was twelve. She hadn’t spent years training to fight and kill and defend.
There was no way she was hanging back now.
Julian raced down the corridor and into his bedroom, his mind whirling.
Faeries at the doors of the Institute. Three steeds: two black, one brown. A contingent from a Faerie Court, though Seelie or Unseelie, Julian couldn’t have said. They seemed to have been flying no banner.
They would want to talk. If there was anything faeries were good at, it was talking circles around humans. Even Shadowhunters. They could pierce the truth of a lie, and see the lie at the heart of a truth.
He grabbed up the jacket he’d been wearing the day before. There it was, in the inside pocket. The vial Malcolm had given him. He hadn’t expected to need it so soon. He had hoped—
Well, never mind what he had hoped. He thought of Emma, briefly, and the chaos of broken hopes she represented. But now wasn’t the time to think about that. Clutching the vial, Julian broke into a run again. He reached the end of the hallway and yanked open the door to the attic. He pounded up the steps and burst into his uncle’s study.
Uncle Arthur was seated at his desk, wearing a slightly ragged T-shirt, jeans, and loafers. His gray-brown hair hung nearly to his shoulders. He was comparing two massive books, muttering and marking down notes.
“Uncle Arthur.” Julian approached the desk. “Uncle Arthur!”
Uncle Arthur made a shooing gesture at him. “I’m in the middle of something important. Something very important, Andrew.”
“I’m Julian.” He moved up behind his uncle and slammed both books shut. Arthur looked up at him in surprise, his faded green-blue eyes widening. “There’s a delegation here. From Faerie. Did you know they were coming?”
Arthur seemed to shrink in on himself. “Yes,” he said. “They sent messages—so many messages.” He shook his head. “But why? It is forbidden. Faeries, they—they cannot reach us now.”
Julian prayed silently for patience. “The messages, where are the messages?”
“They were written on leaves,” Arthur said. “The leaves crumbled. As everything faeries touch crumbles, withers, and dies.”
“But what did the messages say?”
“They insisted. On a meeting.”
Julian took a deep breath. “Do you know what the meeting is about, Uncle Arthur?”
“I’m sure they mentioned it in their correspondence . . . ,” Uncle Arthur said nervously. “But I don’t recall it.” He looked up at Julian. “Perhaps Nerissa would know.”
Julian tensed. Nerissa had been Mark and Helen’s mother. Julian knew little about her—a princess of the gentry, she had been beautiful, according to Helen’s stories, and ruthless. She had been dead for years, and on his good days, Arthur knew that.
Arthur had different kinds of days: quiet ones, where he sat silently without responding to questions, and dark days, where he was angry, depressed, and often cruel. Mentioning the dead meant not a dark day or a quiet day, but the worst kind, a chaotic day, a day when Arthur would do nothing Julian expected—when he might lash out in anger or crumple into tears. The kind of day that brought the bitter taste of panic to the back of Julian’s throat.
Julian’s uncle had not always been this way. Julian remembered him as a quiet, almost silent man, a shadowy figure rarely present at family holidays. He had been an articulate enough presence in the Accords Hall when he had spoken up to say that he would accept the running of the Institute. No one who did not know him very, very well would ever know something was wrong.
Julian knew that his father and Arthur had been held prisoner in Faerie. That Andrew had fallen in love with Lady Nerissa, and had two children with her: Mark and Helen. But what had happened to Arthur during those years was cloaked in shadow. His lunacy, as the Clave would have termed it, was to Julian’s mind a faerie-spun thing. If they had not destroyed his sanity, they had planted the seeds of its destruction. They had made his mind a fragile castle, so that years later, when the London Institute was attacked and Arthur injured, it shattered like glass.
Julian put his hand over Arthur’s. His uncle’s hand was slender and bony; it felt like the hand of a much older man. “I wish you didn’t have to go to the meeting. But they’ll be suspicious if you don’t.”
Arthur drew his glasses off his face and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “My monograph . . .”
“I know,” Julian said. “It’s important. But this is also important. Not just for the Cold Peace, but for us. For Helen. For Mark.”
“Do you remember Mark?” Arthur said. His eyes were brighter without the glasses. “It was so long ago.”
“Not that very long ago, Uncle,” said Julian. “I remember him perfectly.”
“It does seem like yesterday.” Arthur shuddered. “I remember the Fair Folk warriors. They came into the London Institute with their armor covered in blood. So much, as if they had been in the Achaean lines when Zeus rained down blood.” His hand, holding his glasses, shook. “I cannot meet with them.”
“You have to,” Julian said. He thought of everything unspoken: that he himself had been a child during the Dark War, that he had seen faeries slaughter children, heard the screams of the Wild Hunt. But he said none of it. “Uncle, you must.”
“If I had my medication . . . ,” Arthur said faintly. “But I ran out while you were gone.”
“I have it.” From his pocket, Julian produced the vial. “You should have asked Malcolm for more.”
“I didn’t remember.” Arthur slid his glasses back onto his nose, watching as Julian tipped the contents of the vial into the glass of water on the desk. “How to find him . . . who to trust.”
“You can trust me,” Julian said, almost choking on the words, and held the glass out to his uncle. “Here. You know how the Fair Folk are. They feed on human unease and take advantage of it. This will help keep you calm, even if they try their tricks.”
“Yes.” Arthur looked at the glass, half with hunger and half fear. The contents of it would affect him for an hour, maybe less. Afterward he would have a blinding, crippling headache that might keep him in bed for days. Julian hardly ever gave it to him: The aftereffect was rarely worth it, but it would be worth it now. It had to be.