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Page 21

“I never would have agreed to stay here with you if I’d known what you’d done,” Emma said. “You could at least have told me. Honesty isn’t an emotion, Julian.”

At that, she thought, he did flinch—though it could have been a start of surprise. “Emma—”

“No more,” she said, and fled from the room.

* * *

She wasn’t waiting for Gwyn, Diana told herself. She was definitely not sitting on her bed in the early hours of the morning, wearing a nice silk top she’d found in her closet, even though she would normally have put on her pajamas hours ago, for any reason except that she was up cleaning swords.

She had three or four swords strewn across the coverlet, and she’d been polishing them in an attempt to bring back some of their original glory. They’d once been etched with twining roses, stars, flowers, and thorns, but over the years some had darkened and discolored. She felt a twinge of guilt at having neglected her father’s shop, mixed with the old familiar guilt that always accompanied thoughts of her parents.

There had been a time when all she had wanted was to be Diana and own Diana’s Arrow, when she had ached for Idris and the chance to be herself in the Shadowhunter home country. Now she felt a restlessness that went beyond that; the old hopes felt too confining, as if they were a dress she had outgrown. Perhaps you outgrew your dreams, too, as your world expanded.

Tap. Tap. Diana was up and off the bed the moment the window rattled. She threw up the sash and leaned out. Gwyn was hovering at eye level, his dappled horse shining in the light of the demon towers. His helmet hung by a strap from his horse’s neck; there was a massive sword over his back, its hilt blackened with years of use.

“I could not come sooner,” he said. “I saw the smoke in the sky today and watched from above the clouds. Can you come with me to where it is safe?”

She began to climb out the window before he was even done with his question. Sliding onto the horse’s back in front of him felt familiar now, as did being circled by his enormous arms. She had always been a tall woman, and not much made her feel small and delicate, but Gwyn did. It was, if nothing else, a novel feeling.

She let her mind wander as they flew in silence past the city, over its walls and the Imperishable Fields. The pyres had burned away to ash, covering the grass in eerie circles of blanched gray. Her eyes stung, and she looked away, hurriedly, toward the forest: the green trees approaching and then stretching out below them, the rills of silver streams, and the occasional rise of a stone manor house at the fringes of the woods.

She thought of Emma and Julian, of the lonely shock on Emma’s face when the Consul had told them they’d have to stay in Idris, of the worrying blankness on Julian’s. She knew the emptiness shock could force on you. She could see it in Ty, as well, the deep silence and stillness brought on by a pain so great that no wailing or tears would touch it. She remembered her own loss of Aria, how she had lain on the floor of Catarina’s cottage, turning and twisting her body as if she could somehow get away from the pain of missing her sister.

“We are here,” Gwyn said, and they were landing in the glade she remembered. Gwyn dismounted and was reaching up to help her down.

She stroked the side of the horse’s neck, and it nudged her with its soft nose. “Does your horse have a name?”

Gwyn looked puzzled. “Name?”

“I’m going to call him Orion,” said Diana, settling herself on the ground. The grass under her was springy, and the air was scented with pine and flowers. She leaned back on her hands and some of the tension began to leave her body.

“I would like that. For my steed to be named by you.” Gwyn seated himself opposite her, large hands at his sides, his brow creased with concern. His size and bulk somehow made him seem more helpless than he would have otherwise. “I know what happened,” he said. “When death comes in great and unexpected ways, the Wild Hunt knows it. We hear the stories told by spilled blood.”

Diana didn’t know what to say—that death was unfair? That Livvy hadn’t deserved to die that way, or any way? That the broken hearts of the Blackthorns would never be the same? It all seemed trite, a hundred times said and understood already.

Instead she said, “I think I would like it if you kissed me.”

Gwyn didn’t hesitate. He was beside her in a moment, graceful despite his bulk; he put his arms around her and she was surrounded by warmth and the smell of the forest and horses. She wrinkled her nose slightly and smiled, and he kissed her smiling mouth.

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