Long is the way
And hard, that out of Hell leads up to Light …
—John Milton, Paradise Lost
SPARKS FLY UPWARD
Man is born to trouble
as the sparks fly upward.
THE COLD SNAP OF THE PREVIOUS WEEK WAS OVER; THE SUN was shining brightly as Clary hurried across Luke’s dusty front yard, the hood of her jacket up to keep her hair from blowing across her face. The weather might have warmed up, but the wind off the East River could still be brutal. It carried with it a faint chemical smell, mixed with the Brooklyn smell of asphalt, gasoline, and burned sugar from the abandoned factory down the street.
Simon was waiting for her on the front porch, sprawled in a broken-springed armchair. He had his DS balanced on his blue-jeaned knees and was poking away at it industriously with the stylus. “Score,” he said as she came up the steps. “I’m kicking butt at Mario Kart.”
Clary pushed her hood back, shaking hair out of her eyes, and rummaged in her pocket for her keys. “Where have you been? I’ve been calling you all morning.”
Simon got to his feet, shoving the blinking rectangle into his messenger bag. “I was at Eric’s. Band practice.”
Clary stopped jiggling the key in the lock—it always stuck—long enough to frown at him. “Band practice? You mean you’re still—”
“In the band? Why wouldn’t I be?” He reached around her. “Here, let me do it.”
Clary stood still while Simon expertly twisted the key with just the right amount of pressure, making the stubborn old lock spring open. His hand brushed hers; his skin was cool, the temperature of the air outside. She shivered a little. They’d only called off their attempt at a romantic relationship last week, and she still felt confused whenever she saw him.
“Thanks.” She took the key back without looking at him.
It was hot in the living room. Clary hung her jacket up on the peg inside the front hall and headed to the spare bedroom, Simon trailing in her wake. She frowned. Her suitcase was open like a clamshell on the bed, her clothes and sketchbooks strewn everywhere.
“I thought you were just going to be in Idris a couple of days,” Simon said, taking in the mess with a look of faint dismay.
“I am, but I can’t figure out what to pack. I hardly own any dresses or skirts, but what if I can’t wear pants there?”
“Why wouldn’t you be able to wear pants there? It’s another country, not another century.”
“But the Shadowhunters are so old-fashioned, and Isabelle always wears dresses—” Clary broke off and sighed. “It’s nothing. I’m just projecting all my anxiety about my mom onto my wardrobe. Let’s talk about something else. How was practice? Still no band name?”
“It was fine.” Simon hopped onto the desk, legs dangling over the side. “We’re considering a new motto. Something ironic, like ‘We’ve seen a million faces and rocked about eighty percent of them.’”
“Have you told Eric and the rest of them that—”
“That I’m a vampire? No. It isn’t the sort of thing you just drop into casual conversation.”
“Maybe not, but they’re your friends. They should know. And besides, they’ll just think it makes you more of a rock god, like that vampire Lester.”
“Lestat,” Simon said. “That would be the vampire Lestat. And he’s fictional. Anyway, I don’t see you running to tell all your friends that you’re a Shadowhunter.”
“What friends? You’re my friend.” She threw herself down onto the bed and looked up at Simon. “And I told you, didn’t I?”
“Because you had no choice.” Simon put his head to the side, studying her; the bedside light reflected off his eyes, turning them silver. “I’ll miss you while you’re gone.”
“I’ll miss you, too,” Clary said, although her skin was prickling all over with a nervous anticipation that made it hard to concentrate. I’m going to Idris! her mind sang. I’ll see the Shadowhunter home country, the City of Glass. I’ll save my mother.
And I’ll be with Jace.
Simon’s eyes flashed as if he could hear her thoughts, but his voice was soft. “Tell me again—why do you have to go to Idris? Why can’t Madeleine and Luke take care of this without you?”
“My mom got the spell that put her in this state from a warlock—Ragnor Fell. Madeleine says we need to track him down if we want to know how to reverse the spell. But he doesn’t know Madeleine. He knew my mom, and Madeleine thinks he’ll trust me because I look so much like her. And Luke can’t come with me. He could come to Idris, but apparently he can’t get into Alicante without permission from the Clave, and they won’t give it. And don’t say anything about it to him, please—he’s really not happy about not going with me. If he hadn’t known Madeleine before, I don’t think he’d let me go at all.”
“But the Lightwoods will be there too. And Jace. They’ll be helping you. I mean, Jace did say he’d help you, didn’t he? He doesn’t mind you coming along?”
“Sure, he’ll help me,” Clary said. “And of course he doesn’t mind. He’s fine with it.”
But that, she knew, was a lie.
Clary had gone straight to the Institute after she’d talked to Madeleine at the hospital. Jace had been the first one she’d told her mother’s secret to, before even Luke. And he’d stood there and stared at her, getting paler and paler as she spoke, as if she weren’t so much telling him how she could save her mother as draining the blood out of him with cruel slowness.
“You’re not going,” he said as soon as she’d finished. “If I have to tie you up and sit on you until this insane whim of yours passes, you are not going to Idris.”
Clary felt as if he’d slapped her. She had thought he’d be pleased. She’d run all the way from the hospital to the Institute to tell him, and here he was standing in the entryway glaring at her with a look of grim death. “But you’re going.”
“Yes, we’re going. We have to go. The Clave’s called every active Clave member who can be spared back to Idris for a massive Council meeting. They’re going to vote on what to do about Valentine, and since we’re the last people who’ve seen him—”
Clary brushed this aside. “So if you’re going, why can’t I go with you?”
The straightforwardness of the question seemed to make him even angrier. “Because it isn’t safe for you there.”
“Oh, and it’s so safe here? I’ve nearly been killed a dozen times in the past month, and every time it’s been right here in New York.”
“That’s because Valentine’s been concentrating on the two Mortal Instruments that were here.” Jace spoke through gritted teeth. “He’s going to shift his focus to Idris now, we all know it—”
“We’re hardly as certain of anything as all that,” said Maryse Lightwood. She had been standing in the shadow of the corridor doorway, unseen by either of them; she moved forward now, into the harsh entryway lights. They illuminated the lines of exhaustion that seemed to draw her face down. Her husband, Robert Lightwood, had been injured by demon poison during the battle last week and had needed constant nursing since; Clary could only imagine how tired she must be. “And the Clave wants to meet Clarissa. You know that, Jace.”
“The Clave can screw itself.”
“Jace,” Maryse said, sounding genuinely parental for a change. “Language.”
“The Clave wants a lot of things,” Jace amended. “It shouldn’t necessarily get them all.”
Maryse shot him a look, as if she knew exactly what he was talking about and didn’t appreciate it. “The Clave is often right, Jace. It’s not unreasonable for them to want to talk to Clary, after what she’s been through. What she could tell them—”
“I’ll tell them whatever they want to know,” Jace said.
Maryse sighed and turned her blue eyes on Clary. “So you want to go to Idris, I take it?”
“Just for a few days. I won’t be any trouble,” Clary said, gazing entreatingly past Jace’s white-hot glare at Maryse. “I swear.”
“The question isn’t whether you’ll be any trouble; the question is whether you’ll be willing to meet with the Clave while you’re there. They want to talk to you. If you say no, I doubt we can get the authorization to bring you with us.”
“No—” Jace began.
“I’ll meet with the Clave,” Clary interrupted, though the thought sent a ripple of cold down her spine. The only emissary of the Clave she’d known so far was the Inquisitor, who hadn’t exactly been pleasant to be around.
Maryse rubbed at her temples with her fingertips. “Then it’s settled.” She didn’t sound settled, though; she sounded as tense and fragile as an overtightened violin string. “Jace, show Clary out and then come see me in the library. I need to talk to you.”
She disappeared back into the shadows without even a word of farewell. Clary stared after her, feeling as if she’d just been drenched with ice water. Alec and Isabelle seemed genuinely fond of their mother, and she was sure Maryse wasn’t a bad person, really, but she wasn’t exactly warm.
Jace’s mouth was a hard line. “Now look what you’ve done.”
“I need to go to Idris, even if you can’t understand why,” Clary said. “I need to do this for my mother.”
“Maryse trusts the Clave too much,” said Jace. “She has to believe they’re perfect, and I can’t tell her they aren’t, because—” He stopped abruptly.
“Because that’s something Valentine would say.”
She expected an explosion, but “No one is perfect” was all he said. He reached out and stabbed at the elevator button with his index finger. “Not even the Clave.”
Clary crossed her arms over her chest. “Is that really why you don’t want me to come? Because it isn’t safe?”
A flicker of surprise crossed his face. “What do you mean? Why else wouldn’t I want you to come?”
She swallowed. “Because—” Because you told me you don’t have feelings for me anymore; and you see, that’s very awkward, because I still have them for you. And I bet you know it.
“Because I don’t want my little sister following me everywhere?” There was a sharp note in his voice, half mockery, half something else.
The elevator arrived with a clatter. Pushing the gate aside, Clary stepped into it and turned to face Jace. “I’m not going because you’ll be there. I’m going because I want to help my mother. Our mother. I have to help her. Don’t you get it? If I don’t do this, she might never wake up. You could at least pretend you care a little bit.”
Jace put his hands on her shoulders, his fingertips brushing the bare skin at the edge of her collar, sending pointless, helpless shivers through her nerves. There were shadows below his eyes, Clary noticed without wanting to, and dark hollows under his cheekbones. The black sweater he was wearing only made his bruise-marked skin stand out more, and the dark lashes, too; he was a study in contrasts, something to be painted in shades of black, white, and gray, with splashes of gold here and there, like his eyes, for an accent color—
“Let me do it.” His voice was soft, urgent. “I can help her for you. Tell me where to go, who to ask. I’ll get what you need.”
“Madeleine told the warlock I’d be the one coming. He’ll be expecting Jocelyn’s daughter, not Jocelyn’s son.”
Jace’s hands tightened on her shoulders. “So tell her there was a change of plans. I’ll be going, not you. Not you.”
“I’ll do whatever,” he said. “Whatever you want, if you promise to stay here.”
He let go of her, as if she’d pushed him away. “Why not?”
“Because,” she said, “she’s my mother, Jace.”
“And mine.” His voice was cold. “In fact, why didn’t Madeleine approach both of us about this? Why just you?”
“You know why.”
“Because,” he said, and this time he sounded even colder, “to her you’re Jocelyn’s daughter. But I’ll always be Valentine’s son.”
He slammed the gate shut between them. For a moment she stared at him through it—the mesh of the gate divided up his face into a series of diamond shapes, outlined in metal. A single golden eye stared at her through one diamond, furious anger flickering in its depths.
“Jace—” she began.
But with a jerk and a clatter, the elevator was already moving, carrying her down into the dark silence of the cathedral.
“Earth to Clary.” Simon waved his hands at her. “You awake?”
“Yeah, sorry.” She sat up, shaking her head to clear it of cobwebs. That had been the last time she’d seen Jace. He hadn’t picked up the phone when she’d called him afterward, so she’d made all her plans to travel to Idris with the Lightwoods using Alec as reluctant and embarrassed point person. Poor Alec, stuck between Jace and his mother, always trying to do the right thing. “Did you say something?”
“Just that I think Luke is back,” Simon said, and jumped off the desk just as the bedroom door opened. “And he is.”
“Hey, Simon.” Luke sounded calm, maybe a little tired—he was wearing a battered denim jacket, a flannel shirt, and old cords tucked into boots that looked like they’d seen their best days ten years ago. His glasses were pushed up into his brown hair, which seemed flecked with more gray now than Clary remembered. There was a square package under his arm, tied with a length of green ribbon. He held it out to Clary. “I got you something for your trip.”