MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN.
His eyes widened, just as Jace’s eyes had widened before he’d died. Valentine had gone bone white. He turned slowly to face the Angel, raising his hands in a gesture of supplication. “My Lord Raziel—”
The Angel opened his mouth and spat. Or at least that was how it seemed to Clary—that the Angel spat, and that what came from his mouth was a shooting spark of white fire, like a burning arrow. The arrow flew straight and true across the water and buried itself in Valentine’s chest. Or maybe “buried” wasn’t the word—it tore through him, like a rock through thin paper, leaving a smoking hole the size of a fist. For a moment Clary, staring up, could look through her father’s chest and see the lake and the fiery glow of the Angel beyond.
The moment passed. Like a felled tree, Valentine crashed to the ground and lay still—his mouth open in a silent cry, his blind eyes fixed forever in a last look of incredulous betrayal.
That was the justice of heaven. I trust that you are not dismayed.
Clary looked up. The Angel hovered over her, like a tower of white flame, blotting out the sky. His hands were empty; the Mortal Cup and Maellartach lay by the shore of the lake, lapped by the subsiding waves.
You can compel me to one action, Clarissa Morgenstern. What is it that you want?
Clary opened her mouth. No sound came out.
Ah, yes, the Angel said, and there was gentleness in his voice now. The rune. The many eyes in his wings blinked. Something brushed over her. It was soft, softer than silk or any other cloth, softer than a whisper or the brush of a feather. It was what she imagined clouds might feel like if they had a texture. A faint scent came with the touch—a pleasant scent, heady and sweet.
The pain vanished from her wrists. No longer bound together, her hands fell to her sides. The stinging at the back of her neck was gone too, and the heaviness from her legs. She struggled to her knees. More than anything, she wanted to crawl across the bloody sand toward the place where Jace’s body lay, crawl to him and lie down beside him and put her arms around him, even though he was gone. But the Angel’s voice compelled her; she remained where she was, staring up into his brilliant golden light.
The battle on Brocelind Plain is ending. Morgenstern’s hold over his demons vanished with his death. Already many are fleeing; the rest will soon be destroyed. There are Nephilim riding to the shores of this lake at this very moment. If you have a request, Shadowhunter, speak it now. The Angel paused. And remember that I am not a genie. Choose your desire wisely.
Clary hesitated—only for a moment, but the moment stretched out as long as any moment ever had. She could ask for anything, she thought dizzily, anything—an end to pain or world hunger or disease, or for peace on earth. But then again, perhaps these things weren’t in the power of angels to grant, or they would already have been granted. And perhaps people were supposed to find these things for themselves.
It didn’t matter, anyway. There was only one thing she could ask for, in the end, only one real choice.
She raised her eyes to the Angel’s.
“Jace,” she said.
The Angel’s expression didn’t change. She had no idea whether Raziel thought her request a good one or a bad one, or whether—she thought with a sudden burst of panic—he intended to grant it at all.
Close your eyes, Clarissa Morgenstern, the Angel said.
Clary shut her eyes. You didn’t say no to an angel, no matter what it had in mind. Her heart pounding, she sat floating in the darkness behind her eyelids, resolutely trying not to think of Jace. But his face appeared against the blank screen of her closed eyelids anyway—not smiling at her but looking sidelong, and she could see the scar at his temple, the uneven curl at the corner of his mouth, and the silver line on his throat where Simon had bitten him—all the marks and flaws and imperfections that made up the person she loved most in the world. Jace. A bright light lit her vision to scarlet, and she fell back against the sand, wondering if she was going to pass out; or maybe she was dying—but she didn’t want to die, not now that she could see Jace’s face so clearly in front of her. She could almost hear his voice, too, saying her name, the way he’d whispered it at Renwick’s, over and over again. Clary. Clary. Clary.
“Clary,” Jace said. “Open your eyes.”
She was lying on the sand, in her torn, wet, and bloodied clothes. That was the same. What was not the same was that the Angel was gone, and with him the blinding white light that had lit the darkness to day. She was gazing up at the night sky, white stars like mirrors shining in the blackness, and leaning over her, the light in his eyes more brilliant than any of the stars, was Jace.
Her eyes drank him in, every part of him, from his tangled hair to his bloodstained, grimy face to his eyes shining through the layers of dirt; from the bruises visible through his torn sleeves to the gaping, blood-soaked tear down the front of his shirt, through which his bare skin showed—and there was no mark, no gash, to indicate where the Sword had gone in. She could see the pulse beating in his throat, and almost threw her arms around him at the sight because it meant his heart was beating and that meant—
“You’re alive,” she whispered. “Really alive.”
With a slow wonderment he reached to touch her face. “I was in the dark,” he said softly. “There was nothing there but shadows, and I was a shadow, and I knew that I was dead, and that it was over, all of it. And then I heard your voice. I heard you say my name, and it brought me back.”
“Not me.” Clary’s throat tightened. “The Angel brought you back.”
“Because you asked him to.” Silently he traced the outline of her face with his fingers, as if reassuring himself that she was real. “You could have had anything else in the world, and you asked for me.”
She smiled up at him. Filthy as he was, covered in blood and dirt, he was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. “But I don’t want anything else in the world.”
At that, the light in his eyes, already bright, went to such a blaze that she could hardly bear to look at him. She thought of the Angel, and how he had burned like a thousand torches, and that Jace had in him some of that same incandescent blood, and how that burning shone through him now, through his eyes, like light through the cracks in a door.
I love you, Clary wanted to say. And, I would do it again. I would always ask for you. But those weren’t the words she said.
“You’re not my brother,” she told him, a little breathlessly, as if, having realized she hadn’t yet said them, she couldn’t get the words out of her mouth fast enough. “You know that, right?”
Very slightly, through the grime and blood, Jace grinned. “Yes,” he said. “I know that.”
I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands
and wrote my will across the sky in stars.
—T. E. Lawrence
ACROSS THE SKY IN STARS
THE SMOKE ROSE IN A LAZY SPIRAL, TRACING DELICATE LINES of black across the clear air. Jace, alone on the hill overlooking the cemetery, sat with his elbows on his knees and watched the smoke drift heavenward. The irony wasn’t lost on him: These were his father’s remains, after all.
He could see the bier from where he was sitting, obscured by smoke and flame, and the small group standing around it. He recognized Jocelyn’s bright hair from here, and Luke standing beside her, his hand on her back. Jocelyn had her head turned aside, away from the burning pyre.
Jace could have been one of that group, had he wanted to be. He’d spent the last couple of days in the infirmary, and they’d only let him out this morning, partly so that he could attend Valentine’s funeral. But he’d gotten halfway to the pyre, a stacked pile of stripped wood, white as bones, and realized he could go no farther. He’d turned and walked up the hill instead, away from the mourners’ procession. Luke had called after him, but Jace hadn’t turned.
He’d sat and watched them gather around the bier, watched Patrick Penhallow in his parchment white gear set the flame to the wood. It was the second time that week he’d watched a body burn, but Max’s had been heartbreakingly small, and Valentine was a big man—even flat on his back with his arms crossed over his chest, a seraph blade gripped in his fist. His eyes were bound with white silk, as was the custom. They had done well by him, Jace thought, despite everything.
They hadn’t buried Sebastian. A group of Shadowhunters had gone back to the valley, but they hadn’t found his body—washed away by the river, they’d told Jace, though he had his doubts.
He had looked for Clary in the crowd around the bier, but she wasn’t there. It had been more than two days now since he’d seen her last, at the lake, and he missed her with an almost physical sense of something lacking. It wasn’t her fault they hadn’t seen each other. She’d been worried he wasn’t strong enough to Portal back to Alicante from the lake that night, and she’d turned out to be right. By the time the first Shadowhunters had reached them, he’d been drifting into a dizzy unconsciousness. He’d woken up the next day in the city hospital with Magnus Bane staring down at him with an odd expression—it could have been deep concern or merely curiosity; it was hard to tell with Magnus. Magnus told him that though the Angel had healed Jace physically, it seemed that his spirit and mind had been exhausted to the point that only rest could heal them. In any event, he felt better now. Just in time for the funeral.
A wind had come up and was blowing the smoke away from him. In the distance he could see the glimmering towers of Alicante, their former glory restored. He wasn’t totally sure what he hoped to accomplish by sitting here and watching his father’s body burn, or what he would say if he were down there among the mourners, speaking their last words to Valentine. You were never really my father, he might say, or You were the only father I ever knew. Both statements were equally true, no matter how contradictory.
When he’d first opened his eyes at the lake—knowing, somehow, that he’d been dead, and now wasn’t—all Jace could think about was Clary, lying a little distance away from him on the bloody sand, her eyes closed. He’d scrambled to her in a near panic, thinking she might be hurt, or even dead—and when she’d opened her eyes, all he’d been able to think about then was that she wasn’t. Not until there were others there, helping him to his feet, exclaiming over the scene in amazement, did he see Valentine’s body lying crumpled near the lake’s edge and feel the force of it like a punch in the stomach. He’d known Valentine was dead—would have killed him himself—but still, somehow, the sight was painful. Clary had looked at Jace with sad eyes, and he’d known that even though she’d hated Valentine and had never had any reason not to, she still felt Jace’s loss.
He half-closed his eyes and a flood of images washed across the backs of his eyelids: Valentine picking him up off the grass in a sweeping hug; Valentine holding him steady in the prow of a boat on a lake, showing him how to balance. And other, darker memories: Valentine’s hand cracking across the side of his face, a dead falcon, the angel shackled in the Waylands’ cellar.
He looked up. Luke was standing over him, a black silhouette outlined by the sun. He was wearing jeans and a flannel shirt as usual—no concessionary funeral white for him. “It’s over,” Luke said. “The ceremony. It was brief.”
“I’m sure it was.” Jace dug his fingers into the ground beside him, welcoming the painful scrape of dirt against his fingertips. “Did anyone say anything?”
“Just the usual words.” Luke eased himself down onto the ground beside Jace, wincing a little. Jace hadn’t asked him what the battle had been like; he hadn’t really wanted to know. He knew it had been over much quicker than anyone had expected—after Valentine’s death, the demons he had summoned had fled into the night like so much mist burned off by the sun. But that didn’t mean there hadn’t been deaths. Valentine’s hadn’t been the only body burned in Alicante these past days.
“And Clary wasn’t—I mean, she didn’t—”
“Come to the funeral? No. She didn’t want to.” Jace could feel Luke looking at him sideways. “You haven’t seen her? Not since—”
“No, not since the lake,” Jace said. “This was the first time they let me leave the hospital, and I had to come here.”
“You didn’t have to,” Luke said. “You could have stayed away.”
“I wanted to,” Jace admitted. “Whatever that says about me.”
“Funerals are for the living, Jace, not for the dead. Valentine was more your father than Clary’s, even if you didn’t share blood. You’re the one who has to say good-bye. You’re the one who will miss him.”
“I didn’t think I was allowed to miss him.”
“You never knew Stephen Herondale,” said Luke. “And you came to Robert Lightwood when you were only barely still a child. Valentine was the father of your childhood. You should miss him.”
“I keep thinking about Hodge,” Jace said. “Up at the Gard, I kept asking him why he’d never told me what I was—I still thought I was part demon then—and he kept saying it was because he didn’t know. I just thought he was lying. But now I think he meant it. He was one of the only people who ever even knew there was a Herondale baby that had lived. When I showed up at the Institute, he had no idea which of Valentine’s sons I was. The real one or the adopted one. And I could have been either. The demon or the angel. And the thing is, I don’t think he ever knew, not until he saw Jonathan at the Gard and realized. So he just tried to do his best by me all those years anyway, until Valentine showed up again. That took a sort of faith—don’t you think?”