And so they’d spent every night since then together, sprawled in the covers piled on the floor, trading stories; Emma spoke of the Dark War, of how she felt lost sometimes now that she was no longer searching for the person who’d killed her parents, and Mark talked about his brothers and sisters, about how he and Ty had argued and he worried he’d made his younger brother feel as if he wasn’t there to be relied on, as if he might leave at any minute.
“Just tell him you might leave, but you’ll always come back to him,” Emma said. “Tell him you’re sorry if you ever made him feel any different.”
He only nodded. He never told her if he’d taken her advice, but she’d taken his and told Cristina everything. It had been a huge relief, and she’d cried in Cristina’s arms for several hours. She’d even gotten Julian’s permission to tell Cristina an abbreviated version of the situation with Arthur—enough to make it clear how badly Julian was needed here at the Institute, with his family. She’d asked Julian’s permission to share that information; an extremely awkward conversation, but he’d almost seemed relieved that someone else would know.
She’d wanted to ask him if he’d tell the rest of the family the truth about Arthur soon. But she couldn’t. Walls had gone up around Julian that seemed as impenetrable as the thorns around Sleeping Beauty’s castle. She wondered if Mark had noticed, if any of the others had noticed, or if only she could see it.
She turned to look at Mark now. He was asleep on the floor, his cheek pillowed on his hand. She slid off the bed, settling among the blankets and pillows, and curled up next to him.
Mark slept better when he was with her—he’d said so, and she believed it. He’d been eating better too, putting on muscle fast, his scars fading, color back in his cheeks. She was glad. She might feel like she was dying inside every day, but that was her problem—she’d handle it. No one owed her help, and in a way she welcomed the pain. It meant Julian wasn’t suffering alone, even if he believed he was.
And if she could help Mark at all, then that was something. She loved him, the way she should love Julian: Uncle Arthur would have called it philia, friendship love. And though she could never tell Julian about the way she and Mark were helping each other, it was at least something she felt she could do for him: make his brother happier.
Even if he’d never know.
A knock on the door yanked her out of her reverie. She started up; the room was dim, but she could make out bright red hair, Clary’s curious face peering around the door’s edge. “Emma? Are you awake? Are you on the floor?”
Emma peered down at Mark. He was definitely asleep, huddled in blankets, out of Clary’s view. She held up two fingers to Clary, who nodded and shut the door; two minutes later Emma was out in the hallway, zipping up a hoodie.
“Is there somewhere we can talk?” Clary said. She was still so small, Emma thought, it was sometimes hard to remember that she was in her twenties. Her hair was caught back in braids, making her seem even younger.
“On the roof,” Emma decided. “I’ll show you.”
She led Clary up the stairs, to the ladder and trapdoor, and then out to the dark expanse of roof. She hadn’t been there herself since the night she’d come up with Mark. It seemed like years ago, though she knew it was only weeks.
The day’s heat had left the black, shingled roof sticky and hot. But the night was a cool one—desert nights always were, the temperature dropping like a rock as soon as the sun set—and the breeze off the ocean ruffled Emma’s damp hair.