Jocelyn nodded. “Of course I was. The way you stood up in front of the Clave like that. The way you showed them what you could do. You made them look at you and see the person they loved most in the world, didn’t you?”

“Yeah,” Clary said. “How did you know?”

“Because I heard them all calling out different names,” Jocelyn said softly. “But I still saw you.”

“Oh.” Clary looked down at her feet. “Well, I’m still not sure they believe me about the runes. I mean, I hope so, but—”

“Can I see it?” Jocelyn asked.

“See what?”

“The rune. The one that you created to bind Shadowhunters and Downworlders.” She hesitated. “If you can’t show me …”

“No, it’s all right.” With the stele Clary traced the lines of the rune the angel had showed her across the marble of the Accords Hall step, and they blazed up in hot gold lines as she drew. It was a strong rune, a map of curving lines overlapping a matrix of straight ones. Simple and complex at the same time. Clary knew now why it had seemed somehow unfinished to her when she had visualized it before: It needed a matching rune to make it work. A twin. A partner. “Alliance,” she said, drawing the stele back. “That’s what I’m calling it.”

Jocelyn watched silently as the rune flared and faded, leaving faint black lines on the stone. “When I was a young woman,” she said finally, “I fought so hard to bind Downworlders and Shadowhunters together, to protect the Accords. I thought I was chasing a sort of dream—something most Shadowhunters could hardly imagine. And now you’ve made it concrete and literal and real.” She blinked hard. “I realized something, watching you there in the Hall. You know, all these years I’ve tried to protect you by hiding you away. It’s why I hated you going to Pandemonium. I knew it was a place where Downworlders and mundanes mingled—and that that meant there would be Shadowhunters there. I imagined it was something in your blood that drew you to the place, something that recognized the Shadow World even without your Sight. I thought you would be safe if only I could keep that world hidden from you. I never thought about trying to protect you by helping you to be strong and to fight.” She sounded sad. “But somehow you got to be strong anyway. Strong enough for me to tell you the truth, if you still want to hear it.”

“I don’t know.” Clary thought of the images the angel had showed her, how terrible they had been. “I know I was angry with you for lying. But I’m not sure I want to find out any more horrible things.”

“I talked to Luke. He thought you should know what I have to tell you. The whole story. All of it. Things I’ve never told anyone, never told him, even. I can’t promise you that the whole truth is pleasant. But it is the truth.”

The Law is hard, but it is the Law. She owed it to Jace to find out the truth as much as she owed it to herself. Clary tightened her grip on the stele in her hand, her knuckles whitening. “I want to know everything.”

“Everything …” Jocelyn took a deep breath. “I don’t even know where to start.”

“How about starting with how you could marry Valentine? How you could have married a man like that, made him my father—he’s a monster.”

“No. He’s a man. He’s not a good man. But if you want to know why I married him, it was because I loved him.”

“You can’t have,” Clary said. “Nobody could.”

“I was your age when I fell in love with him,” Jocelyn said. “I thought he was perfect—brilliant, clever, wonderful, funny, charming. I know, you’re looking at me as if I’ve lost my mind. You only know Valentine the way he is now. You can’t imagine what he was like then. When we were at school together, everyone loved him. He seemed to give off light, in a way, like there was some special and brilliantly illuminated part of the universe that only he had access to, and if we were lucky, he might share it with us, even just a little. Every girl loved him, and I thought I didn’t have a chance. There was nothing special about me. I wasn’t even that popular; Luke was one of my closest friends, and I spent most of my time with him. But still, somehow, Valentine chose me.”

Gross, Clary wanted to say. But she held back. Maybe it was the wistfulness in her mother’s voice, mixed with regret. Maybe it was what she had said about Valentine giving off light. Clary had thought the same thing about Jace before, and then felt stupid for thinking it. But maybe everyone in love felt that way.

“Okay,” she said, “I get it. But you were sixteen then. That doesn’t mean you had to marry him later.”

“I was eighteen when we got married. He was nineteen,” Jocelyn said in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Oh my God,” Clary said in horror. “You’d kill me if I wanted to get married when I was eighteen.”

“I would,” Jocelyn agreed. “But Shadowhunters tend to get married earlier than mundanes. Their—our—life spans are shorter; a lot of us die violent deaths. We tend to do everything earlier because of it. Even so, I was young to get married. Still, my family was happy for me—even Luke was happy for me. Everyone thought Valentine was a wonderful boy. And he was, you know, just a boy then. The only person who ever told me I shouldn’t marry him was Madeleine. We’d been friends in school, but when I told her I was engaged, she said that Valentine was selfish and hateful, that his charm masked a terrible amorality. I told myself she was jealous.”

“Was she?”

“No,” said Jocelyn, “she was telling the truth. I just didn’t want to hear it.” She glanced down at her hands.

“But you were sorry,” Clary said. “After you married him, you were sorry you did it, right?”

“Clary,” Jocelyn said. She sounded tired. “We were happy. At least for the first few years. We went to live in my parents’ manor house, where I grew up; Valentine didn’t want to be in the city, and he wanted the rest of the Circle to avoid Alicante and the prying eyes of the Clave as well. The Waylands lived in the manor just a mile or two from ours, and there were others close by—the Lightwoods, the Penhallows. It was like being at the center of the world, with all this activity swirling around us, all this passion, and through it all I was by Valentine’s side. He never made me feel dismissed or inconsequential. No, I was a key part of the Circle. I was one of the few whose opinions he trusted. He told me over and over that without me, he couldn’t do any of it. Without me, he’d be nothing.”

“He did?” Clary couldn’t imagine Valentine saying anything like that, anything that made him sound … vulnerable.

“He did, but it wasn’t true. Valentine could never have been nothing. He was born to be a leader, to be the center of a revolution. More and more converts came to him. They were drawn by his passion and the brilliance of his ideas. He rarely even spoke of Downworlders in those early days. It was all about reforming the Clave, changing laws that were ancient and rigid and wrong. Valentine said there should be more Shadowhunters, more to fight the demons, more Institutes, that we should worry less about hiding and more about protecting the world from demonkind. That we should walk tall and proud in the world. It was seductive, his vision: a world full of Shadowhunters, where demons ran scared and mundanes, instead of believing we didn’t exist, thanked us for what we did for them. We were young; we thought thanks were important. We didn’t know.” Jocelyn took a deep breath, as if she were about to dive underwater. “Then I got pregnant.”

Clary felt a cold prickle at the back of her neck and suddenly—she couldn’t have said why—she was no longer sure she wanted the truth from her mother, no longer sure she wanted to hear, again, how Valentine had made Jace into a monster. “Mom …”

Jocelyn shook her head blindly. “You asked me why I never told you that you had a brother. This is why.” She took a ragged breath. “I was so happy when I found out. And Valentine—he’d always wanted to be a father, he said. To train his son to be a warrior the way his father had trained him. ‘Or your daughter,’ I’d say, and he’d smile and say a daughter could be a warrior just as well as a boy, and he would be happy with either. I thought everything was perfect.

“And then Luke was bitten by a werewolf. They’ll tell you there’s a one in two chance that a bite will pass on lycanthropy. I think it’s more like three in four. I’ve rarely seen anyone escape the disease, and Luke was no exception. At the next full moon he Changed. He was there on our doorstep in the morning, covered in blood, his clothes torn to rags. I wanted to comfort him, but Valentine shoved me aside. ‘Jocelyn,’ he said, ‘the baby.’ As if Luke were about to run at me and tear the baby out of my stomach. It was Luke, but Valentine pushed me away and dragged Luke down the steps and into the woods. When he came back much later, he was alone. I ran to him, but he told me that Luke had killed himself in despair over his lycanthropy. That he was … dead.”

The grief in Jocelyn’s voice was raw and ragged, Clary thought, even now, when she knew Luke hadn’t died. But Clary remembered her own despair when she’d held Simon as he’d died on the steps of the Institute. There were some feelings you never forgot.

“But he gave Luke a knife,” Clary said in a small voice. “He told him to kill himself. He made Amatis’s husband divorce her, just because her brother had become a werewolf.”

“I didn’t know,” Jocelyn said. “After Luke died, it was like I fell into a black pit. I spent months in my bedroom, sleeping all the time, eating only because of the baby. Mundanes would call what I had depression, but Shadowhunters don’t have those kinds of terms. Valentine believed I was having a difficult pregnancy. He told everyone I was ill. I was ill—I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking I heard strange noises, cries in the night. Valentine gave me sleeping drafts, but those just gave me nightmares. Terrible dreams that Valentine was holding me down, was forcing a knife into me, or that I was choking on poison. In the morning I’d be exhausted, and I’d sleep all day. I had no idea what was going on outside, no idea that he’d forced Stephen to divorce Amatis and marry Céline. I was in a daze. And then …” Jocelyn knotted her hands together in her lap. They were shaking. “And then I had the baby.”

She fell silent, for so long that Clary wondered if she was going to speak again. Jocelyn was staring sightlessly toward the demon towers, her fingers beating a nervous tattoo against her knees. At last she said, “My mother was with me when the baby was born. You never knew her. Your grandmother. She was such a kind woman. You would have liked her, I think. She handed me my son, and at first I knew only that he fit perfectly into my arms, that the blanket wrapping him was soft, and that he was so small and delicate, with just a wisp of fair hair on the top of his head. And then he opened his eyes.”

Jocelyn’s voice was flat, almost toneless, yet Clary found herself shivering, dreading what her mother might say next. Don’t, she wanted to say. Don’t tell me. But Jocelyn went on, the words pouring out of her like cold poison.

“Horror washed over me. It was like being bathed in acid—my skin seemed to burn off my bones, and it was all I could do not to drop the baby and begin screaming. They say every mother knows her own child instinctively. I suppose the opposite is true as well. Every nerve in my body was crying out that this was not my baby, that it was something horrible and unnatural, as inhuman as a parasite. How could my mother not see it? But she was smiling at me as if nothing were wrong.

“‘His name is Jonathan,’ said a voice from the doorway. I looked up and saw Valentine regarding the scene before him with a look of pleasure. The baby opened his eyes again, as if recognizing the sound of his name. His eyes were black, black as night, fathomless as tunnels dug into his skull. There was nothing human in them at all.”

There was a long silence. Clary sat frozen, staring at her mother in openmouthed horror. That’s Jace she’s talking about, she thought. Jace when he was a baby. How could you feel like that about a baby?

“Mom,” she whispered. “Maybe—maybe you were in shock or something. Or maybe you were sick—”

“That’s what Valentine told me,” Jocelyn said emotionlessly. “That I was sick. Valentine adored Jonathan. He couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. And I knew he was right. I was a monster, a mother who couldn’t stand her own child. I thought about killing myself. I might have done it too—and then I got a message, delivered by fire-letter, from Ragnor Fell. He was a warlock who had always been close to my family; he was the one we called on when we needed a healing spell, that sort of thing. He’d found out that Luke had become the leader of a pack of werewolves in Brocelind Forest, by the eastern border. I burned the note once I got it. I knew Valentine could never know. But it wasn’t until I went to the werewolf encampment and saw Luke that I knew for certain that Valentine had lied to me, lied to me about Luke’s suicide. It was then that I started to truly hate him.”

“But Luke said you knew there was something wrong with Valentine—that you knew he was doing something terrible. He said you knew it even before he was Changed.”

For a moment Jocelyn didn’t reply. “You know, Luke should never have been bitten. It shouldn’t have happened. It was a routine patrol of the woods, he was out with Valentine—it shouldn’t have happened.”

“Mom …”

“Luke says I told him I was afraid of Valentine even before he Changed. He says I told him I could hear screams through the walls of the manor, that I suspected something, dreaded something. And Luke—trusting Luke—asked Valentine about it the very next day. That night Valentine took Luke hunting, and he was bitten. I think—I think Valentine made me forget what I’d seen, whatever had made me afraid. He made me believe it was all bad dreams. And I think he made sure Luke got bitten that night. I think he wanted Luke out of the way so no one could remind me that I was afraid of my husband. But I didn’t realize that, not right away. Luke and I saw each other so briefly that first day, and I wanted so badly to tell him about Jonathan, but I couldn’t, I couldn’t. Jonathan was my son. Still, seeing Luke, even just seeing him, made me stronger. I went home telling myself that I would make a new effort with Jonathan, would learn to love him. Would make myself love him. Copyright 2016 - 2024