“But he loved my mother,” said Clary.
“Yes. He loved your mother. And he loved Idris ….”
“What was so great about Idris?” Clary asked, hearing the grumpiness in her own voice.
“It was,” Hodge began, and corrected himself, “it is home—for the Nephilim, where they can be their true selves, a place where there is no need for hiding or glamour. A place blessed by the Angel. You have never seen a city until you have seen Alicante of the glass towers. It is more beautiful than you can imagine.” There was raw pain in his voice.
Clary thought suddenly of her dream. “Were there ever … dances in the Glass City?”
Hodge blinked at her as if waking up from a dream. “Every week. I never attended, but your mother did. And Valentine.” He chuckled softly. “I was more of a scholar. I spent my days in the library in Alicante. The books you see here are only a fraction of the treasures it holds. I thought perhaps I might join the Brotherhood someday, but after what I did, of course, they would not have me.”
“I’m sorry,” Clary said awkwardly. Her mind was still full of the memory of her dream. Was there a mermaid fountain where they danced? Did Valentine wear white, so that my mother could see the Marks on his skin even through his shirt?
“Can I keep this?” she asked, indicating the photograph.
A flicker of hesitation passed over Hodge’s face. “I would prefer you not show it to Jace,” he said. “He has enough to contend with, without photos of his dead father turning up.”
“Of course.” She hugged it to her chest. “Thank you.”
“It’s nothing.” He looked at her quizzically. “Did you come to the library to see me, or for some other purpose?”
“I was wondering if you’d heard from the Clave. About the Cup. And—my mom.”
“I got a short reply this morning.”
She could hear the eagerness in her own voice. “Have they sent people? Shadowhunters?”
Hodge looked away from her. “Yes, they have.”
“Why aren’t they staying here?” she asked.
“There is some concern that the Institute is being watched by Valentine. The less he knows, the better.” He saw her miserable expression, and sighed. “I’m sorry I can’t tell you more, Clarissa. I am not much trusted by the Clave, even now. They told me very little. I wish I could help you.”
There was something about the sadness in his voice that made her reluctant to push him for more information. “You can,” she said. “I can’t sleep. I keep thinking too much. Could you …”
“Ah, the unquiet mind.” His voice was full of sympathy. “I can give you something for that. Wait here.”
The potion Hodge gave her smelled pleasantly of juniper and leaves. Clary kept opening the vial and smelling it on her way back down the corridor. It was unfortunately still open when she entered her bedroom and found Jace sprawled out on the bed, looking at her sketchbook. With a little shriek of astonishment, she dropped the vial; it bounced across the floor, spilling pale green liquid onto the hardwood.
“Oh, dear,” said Jace, sitting up, the sketchbook abandoned. “I hope that wasn’t anything important.”
“It was a sleeping potion,” she said angrily, toeing the vial with the tip of a sneaker. “And now it’s gone.”
“If only Simon were here. He could probably bore you to sleep.”
Clary was in no mood to defend Simon. Instead she sat down on the bed, picking up the sketchbook. “I don’t usually let people look at this.”
“Why not?” Jace looked tousled, as if he’d been asleep himself. “You’re a pretty good artist. Sometimes even excellent.”
“Well, because—it’s like a diary. Except I don’t think in words, I think in pictures, so it’s all drawings. But it’s still private.” She wondered if she sounded as crazy as she suspected.
Jace looked wounded. “A diary with no drawings of me in it? Where are the torrid fantasies? The romance novel covers? The—”
“Do all the girls you meet fall in love with you?” Clary asked quietly.
The question seemed to deflate him, like a pin popping a balloon. “It’s not love,” he said, after a pause. “At least—”
“You could try not being charming all the time,” Clary said. “It might be a relief for everyone.”
He looked down at his hands. They were like Hodge’s hands already, snowflaked with tiny white scars, though the skin was young and unlined. “If you’re really tired, I could put you to sleep,” he said. “Tell you a bedtime story.”
She looked at him. “Are you serious?”
“I’m always serious.”
She wondered if being tired had made them both a little crazy. But Jace didn’t look tired. He looked almost sad. She set the sketchbook down on the night table, and lay down, curling sideways on the pillow. “Okay.”
“Close your eyes.”
She closed them. She could see the afterimage of lamplight reflected against her inner lids, like tiny starbursts.
“Once there was a boy,” said Jace.
Clary interrupted immediately. “A Shadowhunter boy?”
“Of course.” For a moment a bleak amusement colored his voice. Then it was gone. “When the boy was six years old, his father gave him a falcon to train. Falcons are raptors—killing birds, his father told him, the Shadowhunters of the sky.
“The falcon didn’t like the boy, and the boy didn’t like it, either. Its sharp beak made him nervous, and its bright eyes always seemed to be watching him. It would slash at him with beak and talons when he came near: For weeks his wrists and hands were always bleeding. He didn’t know it, but his father had selected a falcon that had lived in the wild for over a year, and thus was nearly impossible to tame. But the boy tried, because his father had told him to make the falcon obedient, and he wanted to please his father.
“He stayed with the falcon constantly, keeping it awake by talking to it and even playing music to it, because a tired bird was meant to be easier to tame. He learned the equipment: the jesses, the hood, the brail, the leash that bound the bird to his wrist. He was meant to keep the falcon blind, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it—instead he tried to sit where the bird could see him as he touched and stroked its wings, willing it to trust him. He fed it from his hand, and at first it would not eat. Later it ate so savagely that its beak cut the skin of his palm. But the boy was glad, because it was progress, and because he wanted the bird to know him, even if the bird had to consume his blood to make that happen.
“He began to see that the falcon was beautiful, that its slim wings were built for the speed of flight, that it was strong and swift, fierce and gentle. When it dived to the ground, it moved like light. When it learned to circle and come to his wrist, he nearly shouted with delight. Sometimes the bird would hop to his shoulder and put its beak in his hair. He knew his falcon loved him, and when he was certain it was not just tamed but perfectly tamed, he went to his father and showed him what he had done, expecting him to be proud.
“Instead his father took the bird, now tame and trusting, in his hands and broke its neck. ‘I told you to make it obedient,’ his father said, and dropped the falcon’s lifeless body to the ground. ‘Instead, you taught it to love you. Falcons are not meant to be loving pets: They are fierce and wild, savage and cruel. This bird was not tamed; it was broken.’
“Later, when his father left him, the boy cried over his pet, until eventually his father sent a servant to take the body of the bird away and bury it. The boy never cried again, and he never forgot what he’d learned: that to love is to destroy, and that to be loved is to be the one destroyed.”
Clary, who had been lying still, hardly breathing, rolled onto her back and opened her eyes. “That’s an awful story,” she said indignantly.
Jace had his legs pulled up, his chin on his knees. “Is it?” he said ruminatively.
“The boy’s father is horrible. It’s a story about child abuse. I should have known that’s what Shadowhunters think a bedtime story is like. Anything that gives you screaming nightmares—”
“Sometimes the Marks can give you screaming nightmares,” said Jace. “If you get them when you’re too young.” He looked at her thoughtfully. The late afternoon light came in through the curtains and made his face a study in contrasts. Chiaroscuro, she thought. The art of shadows and light. “It’s a good story if you think about it,” he said. “The boy’s father is just trying to make him stronger. Inflexible.”
“But you have to learn to bend a little,” said Clary with a yawn. Despite the story’s content, the rhythm of Jace’s voice had made her sleepy. “Or you’ll break.”
“Not if you’re strong enough,” said Jace firmly. He reached out, and she felt the back of his hand brush her cheek; she realized her eyes were slipping shut. Exhaustion made her bones liquid; she felt as if she might wash away and vanish. As she fell into sleep, she heard the echo of words in her mind. He gave me anything I wanted. Horses, weapons, books, even a hunting falcon.
“Jace,” she tried to say. But sleep had her in its claws; it drew her down, and she was silent.
She was woken by an urgent voice. “Get up!”
Clary opened her eyes slowly. They felt gluey, stuck together. Something was tickling her face. It was someone’s hair. She sat up quickly, and her head struck something hard.
“Ow! You hit me in the head!” It was a girl’s voice. Isabelle. She flicked on the light next to the bed and regarded Clary resentfully, rubbing at her scalp. She seemed to shimmer in the lamplight—she was wearing a long silvery skirt and a sequined top, and her nails were painted like glittering coins. Strands of silver beads were caught in her dark hair. She looked like a moon goddess. Clary hated her.
“Well, nobody told you to lean over me like that. You practically scared me to death.” Clary rubbed at her own head. There was a sore spot just above her eyebrow. “What do you want, anyway?”
Isabelle indicated the dark night sky outside. “It’s almost midnight. We’ve got to leave for the party, and you’re still not dressed.”
“I was just going to wear this,” Clary said, indicating her jeans and T-shirt ensemble. “Is that a problem?”
“Is that a problem?” Isabelle looked like she might faint. “Of course it’s a problem! No Downworlder would wear those clothes. And it’s a party. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you dress that … casually,” she finished, looking as if the word she’d wanted to use was a lot worse than “casually.”
“I didn’t know we were dressing up,” Clary said sourly. “I don’t have any party clothes with me.”
“You’ll just have to borrow mine.”
“Oh no.” Clary thought of the too-big T-shirt and jeans. “I mean, I couldn’t. Really.”
Isabelle’s smile was as glittering as her nails. “I insist.”
“I’d really rather wear my own clothes,” Clary protested, squirming uncomfortably as Isabelle positioned her in front of the floor-length mirror in her bedroom.
“Well, you can’t,” Isabelle said. “You look about eight years old, and worse, you look like a mundane.”
Clary set her jaw rebelliously. “None of your clothes are going to fit me.”
“We’ll see about that.”
Clary watched Isabelle in the mirror as she riffled through her closet. Her room looked as if a disco ball had exploded inside it. The walls were black and shimmered with swirls of sponged-on golden paint. Clothes were strewn everywhere: on the rumpled black bed, hung over the backs of the wooden chairs, spilling out of the closet and the tall wardrobe propped against one wall. Her vanity table, its mirror rimmed with spangled pink fur, was covered in glitter, sequins, and pots of blush and powder.
“Nice room,” Clary said, thinking longingly of her orange walls at home.
“Thanks. I painted it myself.” Isabelle emerged from the closet, holding something black and slinky. She tossed it at Clary.
Clary held the cloth up, letting it unfold. “It looks awfully small.”
“It’s stretchy,” said Isabelle. “Now go put it on.”
Hastily, Clary retreated to the small bathroom, which was painted bright blue. She wriggled the dress on over her head—it was tight, with tiny spaghetti straps. Trying not to inhale too deeply, she returned to the bedroom, where Isabelle was sitting on the bed, sliding a set of jeweled toe rings onto her sandaled feet. “You’re so lucky to have such a flat chest,” Isabelle said. “I could never wear that without a bra.”
Clary scowled. “It’s too short.”
“It’s not short. It’s fine,” Isabelle said, toeing around under the bed. She kicked out a pair of boots and some black fishnet tights. “Here, you can wear these with it. They’ll make you look taller.”
“Right, because I’m flat-chested and a midget.” Clary tugged the hem of the dress down. It just brushed the tops of her thighs. She hardly ever wore skirts, much less short ones, so seeing this much of her own legs was alarming. “If it’s this short on me, how short must it be on you?” she mused aloud to Isabelle.
Isabelle grinned. “On me it’s a shirt.”
Clary flopped down on the bed and pulled the tights and boots on. The shoes were a little loose around the calves, but didn’t slide around on her feet. She laced them to the top and stood up, looking at herself in the mirror. She had to admit that the combination of short black dress, fishnets, and high boots was fairly badass. The only thing that spoiled it was—