Valentine was the most popular student at school. He was everything you’d expect of a natural leader — handsome, brilliant, with the sort of charisma that led the younger students to worship him. He was kind enough, but there was something about him even then that I found frightening — he glittered, but with a sort of cold brilliance, like a diamond. And like a diamond, he had a sharp and cutting edge.
When he was seventeen, his father was killed in a raid on a lycanthrope pack. It wasn’t a standard raid — the pack had done nothing to break the Law, but I didn’t find that out until years later. None of did. What we did know was that Valentine returned to school utterly changed. You could see his sharp edges all the time now, the danger in him. And he began to recruit.
He drew other students to him, like moths to light — and like moths, their yearning for him would prove the ruin of many of them in the end. He brought Hodge to him, and Maryse and Robert Lightwood — the Penhallows, the Waylands. They came and clustered around him and did his bidding. He approached me many times, but I stood apart from it all, watching, suspicious. And then he came for Luke . . .
I know Luke often wondered why Valentine wanted him in the Circle. He wasn’t much of a warrior at the time, not a born fighter. I never told him this, but I sometimes thought that Valentine saw him as a means to an end. A means to me . . .
Valentine was someone who always knew what he wanted. And he wanted me. I never knew why. The first time I noticed him watching me across the practice yard, I knew. The look on his face — it wasn’t wistful, or yearning, it was calculating and sure. The look of someone who runs their eyes over a menu and knows exactly what they want to order. His cold desire frightened me. But when he drew Luke to him, and Luke spoke so rapturously of his brilliance and his kindness, I knew I could no longer stand apart. I had to join the Circle, to see what it was that had drawn my friend into it.
In some ways, Valentine — your father — was exactly as Luke had described him. The Circle would meet each night, often in the deserted practice yard or out in the forest, under the trees, and Valentine would hold forth on his pet topics: demons, Downworlders, and what he called the perverting of the laws of the Clave. As far as he was concerned, the Angel had never wanted us to live in peace with Downworlders, but to wipe them off the face of the planet along with demons. The Accords were a travesty; we had never been meant to live in harmony with “half-men.”
His words were fiery, but his demeanor was — kind. He had a way of making you feel as if you were the only person on earth who mattered to him, the only one whose opinion he truly respected. His beliefs were absolute and so was his dedication to the Circle. I’ve come to see it as evil fanaticism since, but at the time his conviction fascinated me. He seemed to be full of passion. I could see what Luke saw in him. Soon enough, I was half in love with him myself.
But so were all the girls in the Circle and probably some of the boys, too. You don’t belong to something like that — a cult of personality — without being a little in love with your leader. Valentine started asking me to stay after the meetings, just to talk with him. He said he valued my practical mind and dispassionate intelligence. I could tell the other girls were jealous. I’m sure they thought — well, you can imagine what they thought. But nothing was happening between us. Valentine really did just want to talk — about the future, about the Law, about the Circle and where it was going. In the end, I was the one who gave up and kissed him first.
“‘I knew it,’ was the first thing he said, and then he said, ‘I’ve always loved you, Jocelyn.’ And you know, he meant it. We stayed out all night in the woods then, talking. He told me how he envisioned we would lead the Circle together, forever. He told me he couldn’t do it without me. He said, ‘I always knew you’d come to love me as well, I had no doubt.’
“I had no idea why it was me that he chose. It seemed to me that there was nothing special about me. But Valentine made his choice clear: from that moment on, we were together, and he never looked at another woman, not that way, not then and not in all the years we were married. The other girls stopped speaking to me, but it seemed a small price to pay. Luke — Luke was happy for me. I was a little surprised at that, I had wondered — but he was happy. I could tell.
He was so devoted that it took me a long time to notice the changes in him. It was as if his father’s death had scraped away some softening layers of humanity from him, and now he was strangely, peculiarly cruel — but only in flashes, so brief that when they were over I could tell myself that they had never happened.
“There was a girl in our class who wanted to join the Circle. Her older brother had been bitten by a vampire, and now was one: he should have killed himself, or let his family kill him, but he hadn’t and it was rumored that they still associated with him. Valentine gave her a sharpened metal spike and told her to go out and stake her brother to death and to bring back his ashes; only then could she be allowed in the Circle. The girl ran off crying. I confronted him later, told him he couldn’t be so cruel or he’d be no better than Downworlders themselves. ‘But he’s a monster,’ he said. I told him that her brother might well be a monster, but she wasn’t. She was Nephilim, and there was no excuse for torturing her. I thought I was being so broad-minded and tolerant — it sickens me to think about it now.
“I thought he would be angry at being reprimanded, but he wasn’t. He subsided. ‘I’m afraid of losing myself in all this sometimes, Jocelyn,’ he said. ‘It’s why I need you. You keep me human.’ It was the truth. I could always turn him away from the most extreme plans, deflect his rage, calm him down. No one else could do that. I knew I had this power over him and it made me feel important, indispensable. I think I mistook that feeling for love . . .
After we left school, we were married in the Hall of Accords, with all our friends there. Even then, I had misgivings. I looked up during the ceremony and saw through the glass roof, a flock of birds flying overhead. I felt a sudden panic, so strong that my heart fluttered in my chest like the wings of one of those birds. I knew my life would never be the same. I tried to catch Luke’s eye — he stood with his sister, in the first row of guests, and though Amatis smiled in my direction, Luke wouldn’t look at me . . .
We went to live in a manor in the countryside outside Alicante that my parents owned, though since they’d grown older they’d moved to a canal house inside the city. Valentine himself had grown up in a house just at the borders of Brocelind forest, but he claimed it had fallen into disrepair since his parents’ deaths, and I was happy enough to live in the manor house. We were only a quarter of a mile from the home of our friends the Waylands — convenient for Valentine, since Michael Wayland was one of the most enthusiastic members of the Circle, and visiting the Waylands kept us from being too much with each other at all times.
They say men change after marriage. Whether Valentine changed or whether I simply began to more clearly see his true nature, I’m not sure. He became more and more obsessed with his cause and more and more vicious in its execution. He maintained the fiction that he never killed a Downworlder who hadn’t broken the Accords, but I knew that wasn’t true. One night he led the Circle to slaughter a family of werewolves in their home, claiming that they had been murdering human children and burning their bodies, and indeed in the fireplace we found many charred bones. Later I overheard Valentine chuckling to Hodge that it was easy enough to obtain human bones in the Bone City, if one cared to look for them.
He began to disappear from our bed late at night, doing his best not to wake me; he would come back at dawn, stinking of blood and worse. I found bloody clothes in the laundry, strange wounds and scratches on his hands and arms. I would be awoken at night by cries and screams that seemed to be coming from inside the walls of the house.
I confronted him with these things, demanded that he tell me what he was really doing every night. But he just laughed. ‘You’re imagining things, Jocelyn,’ he said. ‘It’s probably because of the baby.’ I stared at him. ‘Because of the baby? What baby?’
He was right, of course. I was pregnant. He’d known it before I did. I tried to quash my fears, told myself that he was only trying to protect me. Circle meetings were no place for a pregnant woman, he said, so I remained at home. I was so lonely — I begged Luke to visit me, but he rarely had the time. The Circle and its dealings kept him busy. But how could I complain? Valentine was an extraordinarily attentive husband, never letting me lift a hand myself, bringing me strengthening drinks he’d mixed himself, and strong, sweet tea every night that put me right to sleep. And if sometimes I woke up with odd injuries or bruises, well, Valentine told me it was because I had been sleepwalking — a common ailment among pregnant women, he assured me.
And then one night I was awoken by a terrific banging on the door. I raced downstairs and found Valentine standing on the front steps, holding — he was holding Luke, carrying him like a child, and blood was all over both of them. Valentine was swaying on his feet with exhaustion. ‘Werewolf attack,’ he said. ‘It might be too late —’
“But I wouldn’t hear that it was too late. I helped him drag Luke upstairs to a spare room, and sent a message to Ragnor Fell, the warlock my parents often employed in the case of illness. Lycanthrope bites don’t respond to healing runes — there’s too much demonic about them. Luke was screaming and thrashing and soaking the sheets with blood; I kept sponging the blood off his shoulder, but more would come, and then more. Valentine stood beside him, looking down. ‘Maybe I should have left him to die,’ he said, his black eyes burning, ‘maybe that would be more merciful than what’s coming to him.’
“‘Don’t say that,’ I told him. ‘Don’t ever say that. Not all bites result in lycanthropy.’” And then Fell was there, and Valentine left aside his talk of abandoning Luke and stood aside while we treated him. I slept in Luke’s room that night, and in the morning he was awake and healthy and able to smile.
“Not that any of us did much smiling in the next three weeks. They’ll tell you there’s a one in two chance that a werewolf bite will pass on lycanthropy. I think it’s more like three in four. I’ve rarely seen anyone escape the disease, and however much I silently prayed in those horrible weeks, 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 put my arms out for him, but Valentine shouldered me aside. ‘Jocelyn,’ he said, ‘the baby.’ As if Luke were about to run at me and tear the baby out of my stomach, as if he meant me any harm at all. 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. “‘Where’s Lucian, where is he?’ I demanded.
“I gave him a knife and told him to do what he must. If he has honor, he’ll do as I said.’ I knew what he meant. He had told Luke to kill himself, and Luke would almost assuredly do it.
I think I must have fainted. I remember a terrible icy darkness, and then waking up in my own bed, with Valentine beside me. He was stroking his hair. ‘Don’t mourn for him now,’ he said, ‘we should have mourned him weeks ago, when he truly died. What was on our doorstep this morning, that was not Lucian.’”
But I didn’t believe him. I had seen Luke’s eyes as he looked at me that morning, even out of that mask of blood. I would have known those eyes anywhere, and they didn’t belong to a monster. I knew then, with a terrible certainty, that in losing Luke I had lost the most important thing in my life.
A terrible misery descended on me. If it hadn’t been for the sake of the baby, I don’t think I would have eaten or slept again in those next, terrible months. My only hope was the chance that Luke hadn’t taken his own life, but had simply fled. I went to Amatis in hopes that she would help me search for him, but she had her own torments to contend with. Valentine had taken Stephen on as his new lieutenant in Luke’s place, but could not tolerate Stephen’s marriage to Amatis. He claimed it was because she had objected to his treatment of her brother, but I felt it was because seeing Amatis awakened his guilt over Luke. In either case, he convinced Stephen to divorce her and remarry a beautiful young girl named Céline. Amatis was devastated, so much so that she refused to see me, blaming me along with Valentine for her unhappiness. And so I lost yet another friend.
In despair, I went to Ragnor Fell and begged him to look out for news of Luke among Downworlders. He was silent a long time after I asked him. Finally he said, ‘There are those who would look very badly upon me for helping you.’
“But you’ve known my family for years!” I protested. ‘You’ve known me since I was a girl.’
‘That was when you were Jocelyn Fairchild. Now you are Jocelyn Morgenstern, Valentine’s wife.’ He said Valentine’s name as if it were poison.
‘Valentine only slays those who break the Accords,’ I said weakly, thinking of the werewolf family and the bones he’d planted in their fireplace. But surely that could only have been the one time?
‘That is not true,’ said Fell, ‘and he does worse things than kill. If I do this for you, if I look for Lucian Graymark, you must do something for me. One night, you must follow your husband and see where he goes.’
“And so I did. One night, I only pretended to drink the tea he brought me, and pretended to fall asleep by his side. When he rose and left the room, I followed him. I saw him go into the library and take a book from the wall, and when he removed it the wall slid away and left a dark hole behind . . .
I never told you the story of Bluebeard’s wife, did I, when you were a little girl? I doubt I would have; the story still frightens me. The husband who told his wife never to look in the locked room, and she looked, and found the remains of all of the wives he had murdered before her, displayed like butterflies in a glass case. I was afraid — but I had promised Fell. I had to find out what Valentine was doing. One night I waited for him to leave the house, and I went to the library and withdrew the book from its place.
“I used my witchlight to guide me down into the darkness. The smell — oh, the smell down there, like blood and death and rotting. He had hollowed out a place under the ground, in what had once been the wine cellars. There were cells down there now, with things imprisoned in them. Demon-creatures, bound with electrum chains, writhed and flopped and gurgled in their cells, but there was more, much more — the bodies of Downworlders, in different stages of death and dying. There were werewolves, their bodies half-dissolved by silver powder. Vampires held head-down in holy water until their skin peeled off the bones. Faeries whose skin had been pierced with cold iron.
Even now, I don’t think of him as a torturer. Not really. It wasn’t that he enjoyed their pain. He seemed to be pursuing an almost scientific end. There were ledgers of notes by each cell door, meticulous recordings of his experiments, how long it had taken each creature to die. From his scribblings, it looked almost as if he were injecting the blood of demons into these creatures — but he couldn’t be doing that. What sane person would do that?
There was one vampire whose skin he had burned off over and over again to see if there was a point beyond which the poor creature could no longer regenerate. Across from the page recording that particular experiment he had written a series of notes with a heading I recognized. It was my name. Jocelyn.
My heart began to slam inside my chest. With shaking fingers, I turned the pages, the words burning themselves into my brain. Jocelyn drank the mixture again tonight. No visible changes in her, but again it is the child which concerns me . . . With regular infusions of demonic ichor such as I have been giving her, the child may be capable of any feats. . . . Last night I heard the child’s heart beat, more strongly than any human heart, the sound like a mighty bell, tolling the beginning of a new generation of Shadowhunters, the blood of angels and demons mixed to produce powers beyond any previously imagined possible . . . no longer will the power of Downworlders be the greatest on this earth . . .
There was more, much more. I clawed at the pages, my fingers trembling, my mind racing back, seeing the mixtures Valentine had given me to drink each night, the bruises on my body in the morning, the puncture wounds. I shook all over, so hard the book fell out of my hands and struck the floor.
The sound woke me from my daze. I raced up the stairs, through the gap in the bookcase, and into the bedroom. In a frenzy, I began packing my things, throwing only that which was most important to me into a bag. I had some vague plan of running to my parents’ house, you see, and begging them to let me stay with them. But I never got that far. I closed the bag, turned toward the door — and there was Valentine, watching me silently from the doorway.
My nerves, already on edge, snapped like broken strings. I screamed and dropped the bag to the ground, backing away from my husband. He didn’t move, but I saw his eyes shine like a cat’s in the early dawn light. “What is the meaning of this Jocelyn?”
I couldn’t lie. “I discovered your door in the bookcase,” I told him. “And I found what was under it. Your butcher’s theater.”
“Those things down there are monsters —”
“And what am I? Am I a monster?” I screamed at him. “What have you done to me? What have you done to our baby?”
“Nothing that will harm him. I assure you he’s quite healthy.” Valentine’s face was like a still white mask. How had I never before seen how monstrous he could look? And still his voice never rose, never changed as he told me of his experiments, of the ways he’d tried to teach himself to more effectively destroy Downworlders, to wipe them out in mass numbers. He’d even tried injecting them with demon blood — but to his surprise, it hadn’t had the desired effect. Instead of proving fatal, it had made them stronger, faster, and more able to withstand the damage he tried to do to them. “If it has that effect on half-men,” he said, his face shining, “think what it could do for Shadowhunters.”
“But those creatures are already part demon — we’re not! How could you think of experimenting on your own child?”
“I experimented on myself first,” he said calmly, and told me how he had injected demon blood into his own veins. “It’s made me stronger, faster,” he announced, “but I’m a grown man — think what it will do for an infant! The warrior who might develop from that —”
“You’re insane,” I told him, trembling. “All this time I thought I was keeping you human, but you’re not human. You’re a monster — worse than any of those pathetic things down in the cellar.”
He was a monster — I knew it — and yet, somehow, he managed to look deeply hurt at what I’d said. He reached for me. I tried to dash around him and out the door but he caught at my arm. I stumbled and fell, striking the ground hard. As I tried to rise, a searing pain shot through me. Feeling my clothes sticking to me, wet and heavy, I looked down at saw that I was lying in a spreading circle of my own blood. I began to scream even as consciousness slipped away from me.
I awoke in my own bed, dazed and desperately thirsty. “Jocelyn, Jocelyn,” said a voice in my ear. It was my mother. She stroked my hair back off my forehead and gave me water. “We were so worried,” she said. “Valentine called for us —”
I glanced down then, and saw my flat stomach. “My baby,” I whispered, tears burning the backs of my eyes. “He — died?”
“Oh, Jocelyn! No!” My mother sprang to her feet and hurried over to something in the corner. A cradle — my cradle, the same one I’d lain in after I was born. She lifted a blanket-wrapped bundle from it and came carefully over to me, cradling her burden in her arms. “Here,” she said, smiling. “Hold your son.”
I took him from her in a daze. 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. I began to breathe again — and then he opened his eyes.
A wave of horror poured 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 child and begin howling.
They say every mother knows her own child instinctively. I suppose the opposite is true as well. Every nerve in my body was screaming that this was not my baby, that something horrible and unnatural and inhuman lay in my arms like a parasite. How could my mother not see it? — and yet she was smiling at me as if nothing was wrong. “He’s such a good baby,” she said. “He never cries.”
“His name is Jonathan,” said a voice from the doorway. I looked up and saw Valentine regarding the tableau before him with a nearly impassive expression, though the faint smirk on his face told me he knew there was something dreadfully wrong with this child. “Jonathan Christopher.”
The baby opened his eyes, as if recognizing the sound of his own name. His eyes were black, black as night, fathomless as tunnels dug into his skull. I could look right into them and see only a terrible emptiness.
It was then that I fainted.
When I woke much later, my mother was gone. Valentine had sent her home — I’ve no idea how he got her to leave — and he himself was sitting on the edge of the bed, holding the baby and watching me. Your father’s eyes were black, too, and I’d always found them striking, so at odds with his nearly-white hair, but now they only reminded me of the baby’s. I shrank back from both of them.
“Our child is hungry,” Valentine said. “You must feed him, Jocelyn.”
“No.” I turned my face away. “I can’t touch that — that thing.”
“He’s only a baby.” Valentine’s voice was soft, coaxing. “He needs his mother.”
“You feed him. You’re the one who made him. He’s not even my child.” My voice broke.
“He is your child. Your blood, your flesh. And if you don’t feed him, Jocelyn, he’ll die.” He laid the child down on the blankets beside me and left the room.
I stared at the small creature for a long time. He looked like a baby — his small fists and creased, tiny face, even the white fuzz on his head, were all babylike. His tunnel eyes were closed, his mouth open in a silent, mewling cry. I tried to imagine simply leaving him there, leaving him until he starved to death, and my heart seemed to turn to glass inside my chest. I couldn’t do it.
I lifted Jonathan in my arms. Even as I touched him, the same wave of revulsion and horror went through me that I had felt before, but this time I fought it down. I drew my nightdress aside and prepared to feed my son. Perhaps there was something in this child, some small part of me, of what was human, that could somehow be reached.
Over the next months, I cared for Jonathan as best I could. My own body seemed to revolt against him. I produced no milk and had to feed him by bottle. I could only hold him for short periods of time before I began to feel faint and sick, as if I were standing too close to something radioactive. My mother came and cared for him sometimes, which was an immense relief. She seemed to notice nothing wrong with the child, though sometimes I would catch her staring toward his crib with a quizzical look, an unasked question in her eyes . . .
But who could ask such things? Who could even bear to think them? Jonathan looked like a perfectly ordinary child; when I brought him to his first Circle meeting, carried in my arms, everyone told me how beautiful he was, with his extraordinary coloring, just like his father’s. Michael Wayland was there too, with his baby boy, just the same age as mine. They even shared a name: Jonathan. I watched Michael play with his son and felt sick with envy and hatred for Valentine. How could he have done what he had done? What kind of man did something like that to his own family?
“By the Angel, what he’ll be capable of when he’s older,” he would breathe sometimes, leaning over Jonathan in his cradle, and the baby would gurgle. It was almost the only time Jonathan made any noise. He was a silent child, who never cried or laughed, but if he responded to anything, it was Valentine. Perhaps it was the demon in them both.
It was around that time that I received a message in secret from Ragnor Fell. It asked me to meet him at his cottage. I rode there on a day when Valentine was at the home of Stephen Herondale, leaving Jonathan with my mother. Fell met me at the gate. “Lucian Graymark is alive,” he said, without preamble, and I almost fell off my horse.
I begged Fell to tell me what he knew. He only looked at me coldly. “And what of what you know, Jocelyn Morgenstern? Did you do as I asked you and follow your husband one night?”
Walking in his garden, I told him everything: about what I had found in Valentine’s cellar, about the book, about the demon blood, about Valentine’s experiments, and even about Jonathan. He said little, but I could tell that even with all he had already known about Valentine, my words had shaken him badly.
“And now tell me about Lucian,” I said. “Is he safe? Is he all right?”
“He’s alive,” Fell said, “and the leader of a wolf pack at the eastern edge of Brocelynde.” As I listened incredulously, he told me how Luke had defeated the old wolf who had bitten him, slain him in battle and become pack leader himself. “The tale is all over Downworld,” he said. “The pack leader who used to be a Shadowhunter.”
I had only one thought. “I have to see him.”
Fell shook his head. “No. I’ve done enough for you, Jocelyn. You say you hate Valentine, but still you do nothing. I’ll help you — I’ll bring you to Lucian — but only if you’re willing to commit to the cause of destroying Valentine and the Circle. Otherwise, I suggest you get on your horse and ride home.”
“We can’t defeat Valentine. The Circle is too strong,” I objected.
“Valentine’s weakness is his arrogance,” said Fell. “And you are our best weapon because of it. You are as close to Valentine as anyone could be. You can infiltrate the Circle, gather information, find out his soft spots and weaknesses. Learn their plans. You can be the perfect spy.”
And that was how I came to be a spy in my own house. I agreed to everything Fell asked — I would have agreed to anything just to be able to see Luke again. At the end of our meeting, I gave Fell my promise, and he gave me a map.
When I rode into Luke’s werewolf encampment, I thought at first that I would certainly be killed. I was sure they recognized me as the wife of Valentine Morgenstern, their greatest enemy. “I must see your pack leader,” I said, as they surrounded my horse. “Lucian Graymark. He’s an old friend of mine.”
And then Luke came out of one of the tents and ran toward me. He looked — he was still Luke, but he had changed. He seemed older. There was gray in his hair, though he was only twenty-two. He took me in his arms and embraced me and there was nothing strange about it, about being embraced by a werewolf. It was just Luke.
I found that I was crying. “How could you?” I demanded. “How could you let me think you were dead?”
He admitted that he hadn’t known how loyal I was to Valentine, or how much he could trust me. “But I know I can trust you now,” he said, with his old smile. “You came all the way here to find me.”
I told him as much as I could, of Valentine’s growing madness and violence, of my disenchantment with him. I couldn’t tell him all of it, of the horrors in the cellars, of what Valentine had done to me and to our child. I knew it would just drive him mad, that he’d be unable to stop himself from trying to hunt down Valentine and kill him, and he’d only get himself killed in the process. And I couldn’t let anyone know what had been done to Jonathan. Despite everything, he was still my child.
Luke and I agreed to keep meeting and to trade information about what was going on within the Circle. I told him when they allied themselves with demons, and when the Mortal Cup was stolen, and I told him of their plans to disrupt the planned Accords. Those times with Luke were the only times I could be myself. The rest of the time I was acting — acting the wife with Valentine, and acting the content Circle member with our friends. Not letting Valentine know how much he sickened me was the worst part.
Fortunately I saw him rarely. As the Accords approached, the Circle ramped up its plans to fall upon the unarmed Downworlders in the Hall of the Angel and slaughter them wholesale. I sat silent in the meetings, unable to participate in the eager planning, however much I knew it would behoove me to act the part of an dedicated member of the cabal. Céline Herondale, who was now extremely pregnant, often sat with me; she was frequently wistful, confused by the Circle’s enthusiasm. Though she never quite understood their passionate hatred of Downworlders, she worshipped Valentine. “Your husband is so kind,” she would tell me in her soft voice. “He is so concerned about Stephen and me. He gives me potions and mixtures for the health of the baby, they are wonderful.”
What she said chilled me. I wanted to tell her not to trust Valentine or to accept anything he gave her, but I couldn’t. Her husband was Valentine’s closest friend and she would surely have betrayed me to him. My terror of exposure grew daily — I was smuggling information to Luke as fast as I could, constantly panicked that a misstep would betray me to my husband. I saw him whenever I could. I kept with him a suitcase of my most precious belongings, in case we ever needed to flee Idris together — jewelry Valentine had given me, that I hoped one day to be able to sell if I needed money; letters from my parents and friends; a box my father had made for my son, with his initials carved on it, containing a lock of Jonathan’s hair — soft, silky white hair, the same color as his father’s. You’d never know from looking at it that there was anything wrong with my child at all . . .
I became more and more frightened that Valentine would discover our secret conspiracy and would try to torture the truth out of me — who was in our secret alliance? How much had I betrayed of his plans? I wondered how I would withstand torture, whether I could hold up against it. I was terribly afraid that I could not.
I resolved finally to take steps to make sure that this never happened. I went to Fell with my fears and he created a potion for me that would send me instantly into a sleep from which I could not be roused except by an antidote whose recipe was contained in The Book of the White, one of the oldest spellbooks of warlock-kind. He gave me a vial of the potion and another vial of the antidote and instructed me to hide them from Valentine, which I did. I was even worried that Valentine would find a copy of the Book, so one night I went through the tunnels between our house and the Waylands’, and hid it in their library.
After that, I slept easier, save for one thing. I feared that I would take the potion, fall into the death-like sleep, and that there would be no one to wake me from it, no one who knew what had happened to me. I thought of the end of Romeo and Juliet and imagined being buried alive . . . but who was there who I could trust with this information? I couldn’t tell Luke what I’d done, because he might also be compromised and tortured, and selfishly, I feared too much for him, for his safety. Telling my parents would necessitate sharing with them the full horror of my situation, and I couldn’t do that. I trusted none of my old friends any more — not Maryse, not any of them. They were too much in Valentine’s thrall.
Eventually, I realized there was only one person I could tell. I sent a letter to Madeleine explaining what I planned to do and the only way to revive me. I never heard a word back from her, though I knew my message had been delivered. I had to believe she had read it and understood. It was all I had to hold on to.
It was around that time that Stephen Herondale was killed in a raid on a vampire nest. Valentine and the others who had been in the raiding party went to the Herondale’s home to break the news to Celine. She was eight months pregnant at the time. They said she took the news composedly, only saying she wanted to go upstairs and get her things before going to view the body.
She never came back downstairs. Céline — soft, pretty, gentle Céline, who never did anything startling or seemed to have a single spark of independence — who had sat by me at the Circle meetings and fretted in her small voice about her husband’s safety — Céline cut her wrists and died silently on the bed she’d shared with her husband while his friends waited for her downstairs.
It was a tragedy that shook the Circle. I heard that Stephen’s parents, after the death of their son and the suicide of their daughter-in-law, had nearly lost their minds; Stephen’s father died a month or two later, presumably of the shock. I pitied Celine, but in a way envied her. She had found a way out of her situation; I had none.
A few nights later I was woken by the sound of a baby crying. I sat bolt upright and nearly flung myself out of bed. Jonathan, you see, never cried — never made a noise. His unnatural silence was one of the things that most distressed me about him. I must be the only mother in history to have hoped against hope that her baby would cry and wake her, would cry all night even, but he never did. And yet now the sound of an infant’s cries echoed off the manor walls.
I hurried down the hall to the baby’s room, carrying my witchlight. It cast strange shadows on the walls as I bent over Jonathan. He was sleeping silently. Yet the crying continued, thin and reedy, the sound of a child in distress tearing at my heart. I raced down the steps and into the empty library.
I could still hear the crying, coming from inside the walls. I reached for the book in its place on the shelf . . .
Nothing happened. The bookcase no longer slid back from its place. And still the crying came, as if from beneath the house, or within the walls, maddening me. But this manor house had been mine longer than it had been Valentine’s; I had spent every summer here when I was a girl. If my husband didn’t think I’d explored the place thoroughly in those years, he was wrong. I dragged back the Persian rug that covered the library floor. Beneath it was a trapdoor that opened so easily I knew it had been recently used.
Tunnels under Shadowhunter houses are not uncommon; they are used in case of demon attacks, as a way of getting from one house to another in secret. This tunnel had once connected our manor house to the Waylands’, but my father had boarded the tunnel up. It had been opened out again now, doubtless by Valentine, and the narrow stone walls led away into darkness. I could still hear the sound of the baby crying in the distance . . .
I followed the noise, barefoot on the cold stone, stopping occasionally with a gasp when a rat or mouse scuttled across my path. Eventually the tunnels opened out into a large stone room, what had probably once been a wine cellar. Huddled in the corner of the room was a man — but he was not a man, I saw, staring, for wings as white as snow rose from his back in two great ivory arches, and his skin glowed like liquid metal. His eyes were golden, and so sad . . .
His ankles were manacled with electrum and electrum chains, driven into the stone floor, held him to the ground, but what truly imprisoned him was the circle of runes that surrounded him. I felt myself drift toward him, drawn by an impossibly strong force. As I approached I saw that stretched on a blanket at his feet was the baby I had heard crying. It was whimpering softly now — exhausted, probably — a tiny baby boy with golden hair and eyes shut fast. I sank to my knees, gathering the child in my arms, and as my arms went around him the strangest feeling passed through me — the opposite of what I had felt when I had first held Jonathan. A feeling of overwhelming peace . . .
How long I held and rocked the child, I cannot say. At last I looked up and saw the angel — for I knew that was what he was — gazing down at us, his golden eyes impassive. As I met his gaze, I knew his name suddenly: Ithuriel.
“Help me,” I said to him, and though no change came over his face, he bent his head and his wings came down, enveloping me in a white cloud of silence and softness. I felt more peace than I had since before I had married Valentine — and then a sudden piercing, sharp golden pain went through me, and that was the last thing I remembered when I woke in my own bed the next morning.
I told myself it had been a dream. The sort of vivid, hallucinatory dream a woman has when she is pregnant — and I was pregnant. I had denied it to myself for at least a month, but that morning when I woke I knew, and a visit to a doctor confirmed it. I was going to have a child — again.
I was horrified. I knew what Valentine had done to my last child — what would he do to this one? How long had he known I was pregnant? I said nothing to him, but he would turn knowing eyes on me sometimes, his gaze going through me like a knife through water. He knew — oh, he knew . . .
The day of the Uprising came. That terrible day. I know you’ve heard about what happened from Luke: about the Accords, the ambush, the bloody and protracted battle that followed. I tried to mark out the Shadowhunters who weren’t involved in the Circle so that the members of the Uprising wouldn’t hurt them, but there was so much chaos — so much blood — many lives were lost, more than we had ever thought. And there at the end I faced Valentine with Luke at my side and saw the truth come clear in his eyes. I had wondered all along if he knew what I truly felt and what I’d really been doing for this last year of our marriage — but I saw it now on his face — he hadn’t known. The pain in his eyes as he looked at me was real, and despite everything it struck at my heart. “And now the two of you have plotted my betrayal together,” he snarled, his face flecked with blood. “You will regret what you have done all the rest of your lives.”
Luke lunged at him, but Valentine snatched the silver locket from my throat and hurled it at Luke, burning him badly. He staggered back as Valentine seized hold of me and dragged me toward the door. He was snarling horrible things in my ear, things about what he would do to my parents, to Jonathan, how he would make my life a hell for what I’d done to him.
I abandoned the battle, the wounded, all of it, and raced home. I was too late. Luke will have told you what we found — I remember it myself as if it were a dream. The high black sky overhead, the moon so bright I could see everything: the house turned to ashes by demon fire, hot enough to melt metal, which ran in among the ashes like rivers of molten silver across the bare face of the moon. I found the bones of my parents there, and the bones of my child, and then, at last, the bones of Valentine himself, the Circle pendant he always wore still looped around his fleshless throat . . .
Luke took me out of the city that night. I was numb and silent, like the living dead. I kept seeing the faces of my parents over and over again — I should have warned them. I should have told them what Valentine was capable of. I should have told them of the plans for the Uprising. I never thought . . .
And I dreamed sometimes of my baby. I saw his face even when awake, the empty tunnels of his gaze, and I felt again the revulsion and horror I’d felt the first time I touched him. And I knew I was a monster, for feeling that way. What mother, on learning of the death of her child, cannot help a feeling of — relief?
In the flea market at Clignancourt, I sold Valentine’s Circle amulet, a revolting object which I hated looking at. It afforded me a great deal of money. With the money, I bought an airplane ticket to New York. I told Luke I was going to start my life over there — as a mundane. I wanted no shadow of Clave or Covenant ever to touch my life again, or the life of my child. I hated all things remotely associated with the Nephilim, I told him.
This was only partly true. I was sick of the Clave, that was the truth, and I knew that as Valentine’s wife, now that he was a criminal, they would want me to come to them for questioning — that I would always be regarded with suspicion with the lawmakers of Idris. I did want to hide from them. But more than that, I wanted to hide from Valentine.
I was sure he was still alive. I thought again and again of what he’d said to me as he dragged me from the Hall, of the way he’d promised to make the rest of my life a misery. They weren’t the words of a man who planned to burn himself up with demon fire, no matter how despairing he was over the failure of his plans. Valentine was not the sort of man who ever gave in to despair. Even with everything he’d built destroyed, he would intend to rise again — the phoenix from the ashes.
There was another thing I could not tell Luke. The night of the Uprising, before we had left for the city, I had taken the Mortal Cup from the hiding place where Valentine had put it, and hidden in among my belongings. I had thought of returning it to the Clave, but now — I couldn’t trust them to keep it out of Valentine’s hands, not when they were so eager to believe he was truly dead. I would have to be the one who hid it from him, and inexorably, without doubt, he would come for it, and for me.
Luke begged me not to leave him. He said he would come with me — even when I told him I was expecting another child of Valentine’s, he said it made no difference, that he’d raise the child as his own. But he’d never seen Jonathan — I’d never told him what Valentine had done to my son. How could I be sure that he hadn’t done something equally dreadful to the baby I was carrying now? And how could I ask Luke to share that horror with me, or the danger of being pursued by Valentine, who hated him? It was impossible. I refused him, over and over, even though I could see the pain it caused him. Even though I knew it meant I’d likely never see him again, and the thought broke what was left of my heart.
We parted at Orly Airport. I held on to him until the last call for the flight came and he gently pushed me toward the departure gate. It felt like I was tearing away some part of myself. At the last moment I turned and ran back to him and whispered in his ear — “Valentine is still alive.” I had to tell him. I couldn’t stop myself. I raced onto the plane without glancing back to see his reaction.
I landed in New York in the early morning, the dawn sky like the inside of a pearl hanging over the city. As my taxi raced over the Williamsbug Bridge I glanced down and saw the water of the river below me, rippled here and there by the flicking tails of darting mermaids. Even here among these walls of glass and steel, this inhospitable city, the Invisible World was all around me . . .
You know much of the rest. How I found a place to stay, found work doing the only thing I could do, here in the mundane world — paint. Not that there was much work for a painter. If it hadn’t been for the jewelry I could sell, I would have starved. I found an apartment in a building owned by a kindly old couple who let me stay in return for painting a portrait of their son, who had died overseas in the army. I told them my husband, too, was dead, and they felt sorry for me, I think, a young pregnant girl who had nobody in the world . . .
Most other mothers in my situation would have been buying a cradle, buying baby toys and booties and blankets. I didn’t. I was terrified. Terrified what happened with my first child would happen again with my second. I remember the night I went into labor and was taken to the hospital — it was so unlike giving birth Alicante, with the sterile white walls and all the bleeping, terrifying machinery. I couldn’t stop crying, through it all and when you were born, and right up until the moment the nurse came into my hospital room and handed you to me, and I looked down into your face.
A great wave of love and relief washed over me. Your red hair, your green eyes — you were my child, mine, there was nothing of your father in you, nor anything monstrous or demonic. I thought you were the most perfect thing that had ever come into the world. I still think it.
The first time I took you to the park, you saw the faeries there among the flowers and went to play with them. The other mothers there looked at us in consternation as I picked you up and hurried you home. I had gone cold all over with terror. I could see what you saw, but nobody else could. How could I raise you to live like that — to lie to everyone you knew? I had wanted to give you a normal life, but I hadn’t thought this far. And I had other fears as well — there were Shadowhunters here, Downworlders too, just as there were everywhere in the world. If word of you got out, it might perhaps get back to Valentine, and then he would come to find us. And I couldn’t let that happen.
That’s why I hired Magnus Bane. I’m not proud of what I did. I did it because I was frightened. I did it because I couldn’t imagine how else to protect you. I did it because I thought a life of oblivious happiness would be better than a life of danger and being hunted. And I did it, perhaps, because I wished I could forget, myself, everything in my past that still tortured me.
It was Magnus who introduced me to Dorothea, and Dorothea who gave me the idea of hiding the Mortal Cup in a painting. I was holding you in my arms when I met her and you reached out and drew a tarot card from the stack she had on her table.
I scolded you, but she only said, “Let’s see what card the child drew.” It was the Ace of Cups — the Love card. “She’ll have a great love in her life,” she predicted, but I was paying more attention to the image on the card. It looked just like the Mortal Cup . . .
With the Cup safely hidden in the pack I’d painted for Dorothea, and Dorothea herself hidden away in her Sanctuary, I felt calmer. Calm enough that when Luke turned up suddenly on our doorstep, looking as if he’d been sleeping on the street for weeks, I didn’t immediately send him away. He had come so far, and I had missed him so much. I let him sleep on the couch, and in the morning he was still there, and you were sitting at his feet while he showed you some simple game with cards — a Shadowhunter game, something I hadn’t seen since I’d left Idris. It was as if he’d always been there with us, always belonged. I couldn’t ask him to go . . .
Luke disapproved when I told him what I’d had Magnus do to your memories, but it was the one issue on which I could never be budged. I reasoned that he didn’t know the whole truth, and that if he did, he would have agreed with me. I know now that I was wrong. Luke was always someone who believed in the truth, no matter how cruel or unsparing, and he would have wanted you to have it.
At least you have it now — and if you hate me now, at least it will be because of the truth and not because of lies. And at least you know now that I have always loved you and you have always been the most important thing in the world to me. That night, when Valentine and his demons broke into our apartment, looking for the Cup, I barely had time to take the potion Ragnor Fell had given me before it was too late — but I did wait, just long enough that I could call you and tell you I loved you. Everything that ever happened to me in Idris, everything Valentine ever did to me, was worth it because I had you.
There is one more thing I have to tell you. Magnus told me about Jace, and what happened to you at Renwick’s, and what your father told you there. I need to tell you now that he was lying. That what you believe to be true about yourself and your brother isn’t the truth.
After I took the potion, Valentine tried everything to wake me, but nothing worked. When he brought me to Renwick’s I lay frozen, drifting in and out of consciousness. I couldn’t move or speak, but I was aware sometimes of people coming in and out of the room. Pangborn and Blackwell came to taunt me, though they never touched me. And sometimes Valentine would come and sit by the side of my bed and talk to me.
He spoke to me the way that the dead souls in Hell spoke to Dante, telling him the truth of their lives because they thought he would never return to the world to betray them. I think he was just relieved to have someone to talk to, just as I had once spilled everything in my heart to Ragnor Fell.
He told me how he had thought when he married me that we would face the world together, united against the Clave and the Accords. He told me that when Jonathan was born, he realized he had lost me, that I would hate him forever for what he had done. But a true warrior is ready to sacrifice everything, even his wife. Even his family. So Valentine believed. He was a modern Crusader and everything he did was for the sake of his cause. Deus volt, he said. Because God wills it.
After the birth of Jonathan, Valentine had suspected I would refuse to have any more children. And this was a pity, he felt, because he had envisioned our children as an army of superior Shadowhunters — made that way by him. He knew he couldn’t force me to have a child I didn’t want, though, so he turned his attentions to Céline Herondale. She was young, dedicated, impressionable. When she became pregnant, he gave her mixtures to drink, as he had done to me, claiming they were potions made up by a warlock which would foster the health of her baby. She took the drugs, the powders, the potions he gave her, even let him inject her as if he were a doctor. She was utterly trusting.
And then something happened which Valentine did not expect. In a raid on a vampire nest, Stephen was killed. And Céline — impressionable, emotional, easily swayed Céline — drank a flask of poison and died. The Herondales swooped in, burned Stephen’s body and buried Céline in a mausoleum just outside the Bone City — no suicide can be buried inside its walls.
You would think that would have been the end of that. But Valentine knew that what he had done had changed the child inside Céline and he had to know how. So Valentine took Hodge and went to the Bone City himself, in the dead of night. He went into the Herondale’s mausoleum and broke open Céline’s coffin. And then, using the sharp-edged blade of his kindjal, he cut her open and took the still-living baby from her dead body.
Any other child would have died when its mother died. But Valentine had been giving Céline regular doses of Ithuriel’s blood. The blood of Heaven, pure and concentrated, and due to its effect, by some miracle, the infant was still alive.
He brought the child back to our house that night, the night that a baby’s crying woke me from sleep and I went down to find the angel bound in the Wayland’s wine cellar with the infant at its feet. By morning, Valentine had given the boy to Hodge with instructions to take him to Valentine’s own family home outside Brocelind, and to keep him healthy. Hodge as nursemaid! — but he did it, and reported back to Valentine that the child seemed to thrive.
The Uprising came only a few months later. I have told you already of that terrible night. After Valentine slaughtered Michael Wayland and his son and left their bodies to burn along with the bodies of my parents in the ruins of our house, he took our Jonathan and fled to the house outside Broceliand.
For a year he hid himself away there, cloaked in layers of misdirecting glamours, and raised the two children together — his own son and his lieutenant’s, the part-demon child and the other which was part-angel. But while the part-angel child developed like an ordinary baby, his own son, the demon child, grew at an unnatural pace. By the time he was two years old he was the size of a six-year-old human child, and had the strength of an adult man. And he hated his adoptive small brother. Several times he tried to kill him and the infant was saved only by Valentine’s intervention. Eventually Valentine knew that something would have to be done.
He was eager to return to a more active life, to a location closer to the Glass City. To a place where he could meet with his old followers, men like Pangborn and Blackwell — to a place where he was no longer quite so much in hiding. He took on Michael Wayland’s identity and returned with Stephen Herondale’s son to the Wayland family manor.
Why didn’t he bring his own son with him, you might ask? Because his son now looked like a six-year old, and Valentine knew there was no way the boy would be convincing, ever, as the Waylands’ child — and it was very important to him that later, the boy be able to convince those who had known Michael that this was his son. And so he took Stephen Herondale’s fair-haired small son to the Wayland manor, and lived also with his own in the run-down house outside Brocelind.
The infant had a name now — Michael Wayland’s son’s name. Jonathan Wayland. As it was too confusing to be raising two children with the same first name, Valentine began to call the child by a nickname.
He called him Jace . . .