“And you believe that crap?” Clary said in disgust. “It isn’t true. Hodge was working for Valentine. They were in it together, getting the Cup. He set us up, it’s true, but he was just a tool.”
“But he was the one who needed the Mortal Cup,” said Jace. “So he could get the curse off him and flee before my father told the Clave about everything he’d done.”
“I know that isn’t true!” said Clary hotly. “I was there!” She turned on Valentine. “I was in the room when you came to get the Cup. You couldn’t see me, but I was there. I saw you. You took the Cup and you lifted the curse off Hodge. He couldn’t have done it by himself. He said so.”
“I did lift his curse,” said Valentine measuredly, “but I was moved by pity. He seemed so pathetic.”
“You didn’t feel pity. You didn’t feel anything.”
“That’s enough, Clary!” It was Jace. She stared at him. His cheeks were flushed as if he’d been drinking the wine at his elbow, his eyes too bright. “Don’t talk to my father like that.”
“He’s not your father !”
Jace looked as if she had slapped him. “Why are you so determined not to believe us?”
“Because she loves you,” said Valentine.
Clary felt the blood drain out of her face. She looked at him, not knowing what he might say next, but dreading it. She felt as if she were edging toward a precipice, some terrible hurtling fall into nothing and nowhere. Vertigo gripped her stomach.
“What?” Jace looked surprised.
Valentine was looking at Clary with amusement, as if he could tell he had her pinned there like a butterfly to a board. “She fears I am taking advantage of you,” he said. “That I have brainwashed you. It isn’t so, of course. If you looked into your own memories, Clary, you would know it.”
“Clary.” Jace started to get to his feet, his eyes on her. She could see the circles beneath them, the strain he was under. “I—”
“Sit down,” said Valentine. “Let her come to it on her own, Jonathan.”
Jace subsided instantly, sinking back into the chair. Through the dizziness of vertigo, Clary groped for understanding. Jonathan? “I thought your name was Jace,” she said. “Did you lie about that, too?”
“No. Jace is a nickname.”
She was very near to the precipice now, so close she could almost look down. “For what?”
He looked at her as if he couldn’t understand why she was making so much of something so small. “It’s my initials,” he said. “J. C.”
The precipice opened before her. She could see the long fall into darkness. “Jonathan,” she said faintly. “Jonathan Christopher.”
Jace’s eyebrows drew together. “How did you’?”
Valentine cut in. His voice was soothing. “Jace, I had thought to spare you. I thought a story of a mother who died would hurt you less than the story of a mother who abandoned you before your first birthday.”
Jace’s slim fingers tightened convulsively around the glass’s stem. Clary thought for a moment that it might shatter. “My mother is alive?”
“She is,” said Valentine. “Alive, and asleep in one of the downstairs rooms at this very moment. Yes,” he said, cutting off Jace before he could speak, “Jocelyn is your mother, Jonathan. And Clary—Clary is your sister.”
Jace jerked his hand back. The wineglass tipped, spilling frothing scarlet liquid across the white tablecloth.
“Jonathan,” said Valentine.
Jace had gone an awful color, a sort of greenish white. “That’s not true,” he said. “There’s been a mistake. It couldn’t possibly be true.”
Valentine looked steadily at his son. “A cause for rejoicing,” he said in a low, contemplative voice, “I would have thought. Yesterday you were an orphan, Jonathan. And now a father, a mother, a sister, you never knew you had.”
“It isn’t possible,” said Jace again. “Clary isn’t my sister. If she were …”
“Then what?” Valentine said.
Jace did not reply, but his sick look of nauseous horror was enough for Clary. Stumbling a little, she came around the table and knelt beside his chair, reaching for his hand. “Jace—”
He jerked away from her, his fingers knotting in the sodden tablecloth. “Don’t.”
Hatred for Valentine burned in her throat like unshed tears. He had held back, and by not saying what he knew—that she was his daughter—made her complicit in his silence. And now, having dropped the truth on them with the weight of a crushing boulder, he sat back to watch the results with a cool consideration. How could Jace not see how hateful he was?
“Tell me it’s not true,” Jace said, staring at the tablecloth.
Clary swallowed against the burning in her throat. “I can’t do that.”
Valentine sounded as if he were smiling. “So you admit now that I’ve been telling the truth all this time?”
“No,” she shot back without looking at him. “You’re telling lies with a little bit of the truth mixed in, is all.”
“This grows tiresome,” said Valentine. “If you want to hear the truth, Clarissa, this is the truth. You have heard stories of the Uprising and so you think I am a villain. Is that correct?”
Clary said nothing. She was looking at Jace, who seemed as if he might be about to throw up. Valentine went on relentlessly. “It is simple, really. The story you heard was true in some of its parts, but not in others—lies mixed in with a little truth, as you said. The fact is that Michael Wayland is not and has never been Jace’s father. Wayland was killed during the Uprising. I assumed Michael’s name and place when I fled the Glass City with my son. It was easy enough; Wayland had no real relations, and his closest friends, the Lightwoods, were in exile. He himself would have been in disgrace for his part in the Uprising, so I lived that disgraced life, quietly enough, alone with Jace on the Waylands’ estate. I read my books. I raised my son. And I bided my time.” He fingered the filigreed edge of a glass thoughtfully. He was left-handed, Clary saw. Like Jace.
“Ten years on, I received a letter. The writer of the letter indicated that he knew my true identity, and if I were not prepared to take certain steps, he would reveal it. I did not know who the letter was from, but it did not matter. I was not prepared to give the writer of it what he wanted. Besides, I knew my safety was compromised, and would be unless he thought me dead, beyond his reach. I staged my death a second time, with the help of Blackwell and Pangborn, and for Jace’s own safety made sure that my son would be sent here, to the protection of the Lightwoods.”
“So you let Jace think you were dead? You just let him think you were dead, all these years? That’s despicable.”
“Don’t,” said Jace again. He had raised his hands to cover his face. He spoke against his own fingers, voice muffled. “Don’t, Clary.”
Valentine looked at his son with a smile Jace couldn’t see. “Jonathan had to think I was dead, yes. He had to think he was Michael Wayland’s son, or the Lightwoods would not have protected him as they did. It was Michael they owed a debt to, not me. It was on Michael’s account that they loved him, not mine.”
“Maybe they loved him on his own account,” said Clary.
“A commendably sentimental interpretation,” said Valentine, “but unlikely. You do not know the Lightwoods as I once did.” He did not seem to see Jace’s flinch, or if he did, he ignored it. “It hardly matters, in the end,” Valentine added. “The Lightwoods were intended as protection for Jace, not as a replacement family, you see. He has a family. He has a father.”
Jace made a noise in his throat, and moved his hands away from his face. “My mother—”
“Fled after the Uprising,” said Valentine. “I was a disgraced man. The Clave would have hunted me down had they thought I lived. She could not bear her association with me, and ran.” The pain in his voice was palpable—and faked, Clary thought bitterly. The manipulative creep. “I did not know she was pregnant at the time. With Clary.” He smiled a little, running his finger slowly down the wineglass. “But blood calls to blood, as they say,” he went on. “Fate has borne us to this convergence. Our family, together again. We can use the Portal,” he said, turning his gaze to Jace. “Go to Idris. Back to the manor house.”
Jace shivered a little but nodded, still staring numbly at his hands.
“We’ll be together there,” said Valentine. “As we should be.”
That sounds terrific, thought Clary. Just you, your comatose wife, your shell-shocked son, and your daughter who hates your guts. Not to mention that your two kids may be in love with each other. Yeah, that sounds like a perfect family reunion. Aloud, she said only, “I am not going anywhere with you, and neither is my mother.”
“He’s right, Clary,” said Jace hoarsely. He flexed his hands; the fingertips were stained red. “It’s the only place for us to go. We can sort things out there.”
“You can’t be serious—”
An enormous crash came from downstairs, so loud that it sounded as if a wall of the hospital had collapsed in on itself. Luke, Clary thought, springing to her feet.
Jace, despite his look of nauseous horror, responded automatically, half-rising from his chair, his hand going to his belt. “Father, they’re—”
“They’re on their way.” Valentine rose to his feet. Clary heard footsteps. A moment later the door of the room was flung open, and Luke stood on the threshold.
Clary bit back a cry. He was covered in blood, his jeans and shirt dark and clotted, the lower half of his face bearded with it. His hands were red to the wrists, the blood that coated them still wet and running. She had no idea if any of the blood was his. She heard herself cry out his name, and then she was running across the room to him and nearly tripping over herself in her eagerness to grab at his shirtfront and hang on, the way she hadn’t done since she was eight years old.
For a moment his big hand came up and cupped the back of her head, holding her against him in a one-armed bear hug. Then he pushed her away gently. “I’m covered in blood,” he said. “Don’t worry—it isn’t mine.”
“Then whose is it?” It was Valentine’s voice, and Clary turned, Luke’s arm protectively across her shoulders. Valentine was watching them both, his eyes narrow and calculating. Jace had risen to his feet and come around the table and was standing hesitantly behind his father. Clary could not remember him ever doing anything hesitantly before.
“Pangborn’s,” said Luke.
Valentine passed a hand over his face, as if the news pained him. “I see. Did you tear out his throat with your teeth?”
“Actually,” said Luke, “I killed him with this.” With his free hand he held out the long thin dagger he had killed the Forsaken with. In the light she could see the blue stones in the hilt. “Do you remember it?”
Valentine looked at it, and Clary saw his jaw tighten. “I do,” he said, and Clary wondered if he, too, were remembering their earlier conversation.
This is a kindjal, a Circassian dagger. This particular one used to be one of a matched pair.
“You handed it to me seventeen years ago and told me to end my life with it,” said Luke, the weapon gripped tightly in his hand. The blade of it was longer than the blade of the red-hilted kindjal in Jace’s belt; it was somewhere between a dagger and a sword, and its blade was needle-tipped. “And I nearly did.”
“Do you expect me to deny it?” There was pain in Valentine’s voice, the memory of an old grief. “I tried to save you from yourself, Lucian. I made a grave mistake. If only I’d had the strength to kill you myself, you could have died a man.”
“Like you?” asked Luke, and in that moment Clary saw something in him of the Luke she’d always known, who could tell when she was lying or pretending, who called her on it when she was being arrogant or untruthful. In the bitterness of his voice she heard the love he’d once had for Valentine, curdled into a weary hatred. “A man who chains his unconscious wife to a bed in the hopes of torturing her for information when she wakes up? That’s your bravery?”
Jace was staring at his father. Clary saw the seizure of anger that momentarily twisted Valentine’s features; then it was gone, and his face was smooth. “I didn’t torture her,” he said. “She is chained for her own protection.”
“Against what?” Luke demanded, stepping farther into the room. “The only thing endangering her is you. The only thing that ever endangered her was you. She’s spent her life running to get away from you.”
“I loved her,” said Valentine. “I never would have hurt her. It was you who turned her against me.”
Luke laughed. “She didn’t need me to turn her against you. She learned to hate you on her own.”
“That is a lie !” Valentine roared with sudden savagery, and drew his sword from the sheath at his waist. The blade was flat and matte black, patterned with a design of silver stars. He leveled the blade at Luke’s heart.
Jace took a step toward Valentine. “Father—”
“Jonathan, be silent !” shouted Valentine, but it was too late; Clary saw the shock on Luke’s face as he stared at Jace.
“Jonathan?” he whispered.
Jace’s mouth twisted. “Don’t you call me that,” he said fiercely, his gold eyes blazing. “I’ll kill you myself if you call me that.”
Luke, ignoring the blade pointed at his heart, didn’t take his eyes off Jace. “Your mother would be proud,” he said, so quietly that even Clary, standing beside him, had to strain to hear it.