“Hated you?” he echoed, looking bewildered. He reached out then and touched her face, lightly, just the tips of his fingers against her skin. “I told you I couldn’t sleep. Tomorrow by midnight we’ll be either at war or under Valentine’s rule. This could be the last night of our lives, certainly the last even barely ordinary one. The last night we go to sleep and get up just as we always have. And all I could think of was that I wanted to spend it with you.”
Her heart skipped a beat. “Jace—”
“I don’t mean it like that,” he said. “I won’t touch you, not if you don’t want me to. I know it’s wrong—God, it’s all kinds of wrong—but I just want to lie down with you and wake up with you, just once, just once ever in my life.” There was desperation in his voice. “It’s just this one night. In the grand scheme of things, how much can one night matter?”
Because think how we’ll feel in the morning. Think how much worse it will be pretending that we don’t mean anything to each other in front of everyone else after we’ve spent the night together, even if all we do is sleep. It’s like having just a little bit of a drug—it only makes you want more.
But that was why he had told her what he had, she realized. Because it wasn’t true, not for him; there was nothing that could make it worse, just as there was nothing that could make it better. What he felt was as final as a life sentence, and could she really say it was so different for her? And even if she hoped it might be, even if she hoped she might someday be persuaded by time or reason or gradual attrition not to feel this way anymore, it didn’t matter. There was nothing she had ever wanted in her life more than she wanted this night with Jace.
“Close the curtains, then, before you come to bed,” she said. “I can’t sleep with this much light in the room.”
The look that washed over his face was pure incredulity. He really hadn’t expected her to say yes, Clary realized in surprise, and a moment later he had caught her and hugged her to him, his face buried in her still-messy-from-sleep hair. “Clary …”
“Come to bed,” she said softly. “It’s late.” She drew away from him and returned to the bed, crawling up onto it and drawing the covers up to her waist. Somehow, looking at him like this, she could almost imagine that things were different, that it was many years from now and they’d been together so long that they’d done this a hundred times, that every night belonged to them, and not just this one. She propped her chin on her hands and watched him as he reached to jerk the curtains shut and then unzipped his white jacket and hung it over the back of a chair. He was wearing a pale gray T-shirt underneath, and the Marks that twined his bare arms shone darkly as he unbuckled his weapons belt and laid it on the floor. He unlaced his boots and stepped out of them as he came toward the bed, and he stretched out very carefully beside Clary. Lying on his back, he turned his head to look at her. A very little light filtered into the room past the edge of the curtains, just enough for her to see the outline of his face and the bright gleam of his eyes.
“Good night, Clary,” he said.
His hands lay flat on either side of him, his arms at his sides. He seemed barely to be breathing; she wasn’t sure she was breathing herself. She slid her own hand across the bedsheet, just far enough that their fingers touched—so lightly that she would probably hardly have been aware of it had she been touching anyone but Jace; as it was, the nerve endings in her fingertips prickled softly, as if she were holding them over a low flame. She felt him tense beside her and then relax. He had shut his eyes, and his lashes cast fine shadows against the curve of his cheekbones. His mouth curled into a smile as if he sensed her watching him, and she wondered how he would look in the morning, with his hair messed and sleep circles under his eyes. Despite everything, the thought gave her a jolt of happiness.
She laced her fingers through his. “Good night,” she whispered, and her hand clasped in Jace’s as if they were children in a fairy tale, she fell asleep beside him in the dark.
THINGS FALL APART
LUKE HAD SPENT MOST OF THE NIGHT WATCHING THE MOON’S progress across the translucent roof of the Hall of Accords like a silver coin rolling across the clear surface of a glass table. When the moon was close to full, as it was right now, he felt a corresponding sharpening in his vision and sense of smell, even when he was in human form. Now, for instance, he could smell the sweat of doubt in the room, and the underlying sharp tang of fear. He could sense the restless worry of his pack of wolves out in Brocelind Forest as they paced the darkness beneath the trees and waited for news from him.
“Lucian.” Amatis’s voice in his ear was low but piercing. “Lucian!”
Snapped out of his reverie, Luke fought to focus his exhausted eyes on the scene in front of him. It was a ragged little group, those who had agreed to at least listen to his plan. Fewer than he had hoped for. Many he knew from his old life in Idris—the Penhallows, the Lightwoods, the Ravenscars—and just as many he had just met, like the Monteverdes, who ran the Lisbon Institute and spoke in a mixture of Portuguese and English; or Nasreen Chaudhury, the stern-featured head of the Mumbai Institute. Her dark green sari was patterned in elaborate runes of such a bright silver that Luke instinctively flinched when she passed too close.
“Really, Lucian,” said Maryse Lightwood. Her small white face was pinched by exhaustion and grief. Luke hadn’t really expected either her or her husband to come, but they had agreed almost as soon as he’d mentioned it to them. He supposed he ought to be grateful they were here at all, even if grief did tend to make Maryse more sharp-tempered than usual. “You’re the one who wanted us all here; the least you can do is pay attention.”
“He has been.” Amatis sat with her legs drawn under her like a young girl, but her expression was firm. “It’s not Lucian’s fault that we’ve been going around in circles for the past hour.”
“And we’ll keep going around and around until we figure out a solution,” said Patrick Penhallow, an edge to his voice.
“With all due respect, Patrick,” said Nasreen, in her clipped accent, “there may be no solution to this problem. The best we can hope for is a plan.”
“A plan that doesn’t involve either mass slavery or—” began Jia, Patrick’s wife, and then she broke off, biting her lip. She was a pretty, slender woman who looked very like her daughter, Aline. Luke remembered when Patrick had run off to the Beijing Institute and married her. It had been something of a scandal, as he’d been supposed to marry a girl his parents had already picked out for him in Idris. But Patrick never had liked to do what he was told, a quality for which Luke was now grateful.
“Or allying ourselves with Downworlders?” said Luke. “I’m afraid there’s no way around that.”
“That’s not the problem, and you know it,” said Maryse. “It’s the whole business about seats on the Council. The Clave will never agree to it. You know that. Four whole seats—”
“Not four,” Luke said. “One each for the Fair Folk, the Moon’s Children, and the children of Lilith.”
“The warlocks, the fey, and the lycanthropes,” said soft-voiced Senhor Monteverde, his eyebrows arched. “And what of the vampires?”
“They haven’t promised me anything,” Luke admitted. “And I haven’t promised them anything either. They may not be eager to join the Council; they’re none too fond of my kind, and none too fond of meetings and rules. But the door is open to them should they change their minds.”
“Malachi and his lot will never agree to it, and we may not have enough Council votes without them,” muttered Patrick. “Besides, without the vampires, what chance do we have?”