Magnus plucked the invitation out of her hand and looked at it with fastidious distaste. “I must have been drunk,” he said. He threw the door open. “Come in. And try not to murder any of my guests.”
Jace edged into the doorway, sizing up Magnus with his eyes. “Even if one of them spills a drink on my new shoes?”
“Even then.” Magnus’s hand shot out, so fast it was barely a blur. He plucked the stele out of Jace’s hand—Clary hadn’t even realized he was holding it—and held it up. Jace looked faintly abashed. “As for this,” Magnus said, sliding it into Jace’s jeans pocket, “keep it in your pants, Shadowhunter.”
Magnus grinned and started up the stairs, leaving a surprised-looking Jace holding the door. “Come on,” he said, waving the rest of them inside. “Before anyone thinks it’s my party.”
They pushed past Jace, laughing nervously. Only Isabelle stopped to shake her head. “Try not to piss him off, please. Then he won’t help us.”
Jace looked bored. “I know what I’m doing.”
“I hope so.” Isabelle flounced past him in a swirl of skirts.
Magnus’s apartment was at the top of a long flight of rickety stairs. Simon hurried to catch up with Clary, who was regretting having put her hand on the banister to steady herself. It was sticky with something that glowed a faint and sickly green.
“Yech,” said Simon, and offered her a corner of his T-shirt to wipe her hand on. She did. “Is everything all right? You seem—distracted.”
“He just looks so familiar. Magnus, I mean.”
“You think he goes to St. Xavier’s?”
“Very funny.” She looked at him sourly.
“You’re right. He’s too old to be a student. I think I had him for chem last year.”
Clary laughed out loud. Immediately Isabelle was beside her, breathing down her neck. “Am I missing something funny? Simon?”
Simon had the grace to look embarrassed, but said nothing. Clary muttered, “You’re not missing anything,” and dropped behind them. Isabelle’s lug-soled boots were starting to hurt her feet. By the time she reached the top of the stairs she was limping, but she forgot the pain as soon as she walked through Magnus’s front door.
The loft was huge and almost totally empty of furniture. Floor-to-ceiling windows were smeared with a thick film of dirt and paint, blocking out most of the ambient light from the street. Big metal pillars wound with colored lights held up an arched, sooty ceiling. Doors torn off their hinges and laid across dented metal garbage cans made a makeshift bar at one end of the room. A lilac-skinned woman in a metallic bustier was ranging drinks along the bar in tall, harshly colored glasses that tinted the fluid inside them: blood red, cyanosis blue, poison green. Even for a New York bartender she worked with an amazingly speedy efficiency—probably helped along by the fact that she had a second set of long, graceful arms to go with the first. Clary was reminded of Luke’s Indian goddess statue.
The rest of the crowd was just as strange. A good-looking boy with wet green-black hair grinned at her over a platter of what looked like raw fish. His teeth were sharp and serrated, like a shark’s. Beside him stood a girl with long dirty-blond hair, braided with flowers. Under the skirt of her short green dress, her feet were webbed like a frog’s. A group of young women so pale Clary wondered if they were wearing white stage makeup sipped scarlet liquid too thick to be wine from fluted crystal glasses. The center of the room was packed with bodies dancing to the pounding beat that bounced off the walls, though Clary couldn’t see a band anywhere.
“You like the party?”
She turned to see Magnus lounging against one of the pillars. His eyes shone in the darkness. Glancing around, she saw that Jace and the others were gone, swallowed up by the crowd.
She tried to smile. “Is it in honor of anything?”
“My cat’s birthday.”
“Oh.” She glanced around. “Where’s your cat?”
He unhitched himself from the pillar, looking solemn. “I don’t know. He ran away.”
Clary was spared responding to this by the reappearance of Jace and Alec. Alec looked sullen as usual. Jace was wearing a strand of tiny glowing flowers around his neck and seemed pleased with himself. “Where are Simon and Isabelle?” Clary said.
“On the dance floor.” He pointed. She could just see them on the edge of the packed square of bodies. Simon was doing what he usually did in lieu of dancing, which was to bounce up and down on the balls of his feet, looking uncomfortable. Isabelle was slinking in a circle around him, sinuous as a snake, trailing her fingers across his chest. She was looking at him as if she were planning to drag him off into a corner to have sex. Clary hugged her arms around herself, her bracelets clanking together. If they dance any closer together, they won’t have to go off in a corner to have sex.
“Look,” Jace said, turning to Magnus, “we really need to talk to—”
“MAGNUS BANE!” The deep, booming voice belonged to a surprisingly short man who looked to be in his early thirties. He was compactly muscular, with a bald head shaved smooth and a pointed goatee. He leveled a trembling finger at Magnus. “Someone just poured holy water into the gas tank on my bike. It’s ruined. Destroyed. All the pipes are melted.”
“Melted?” murmured Magnus. “How dreadful.”
“I want to know who did it.” The man bared his teeth, showing long pointed canines. Clary stared in fascination. They didn’t look at all the way she’d imagined vampire fangs: These were as thin and sharp as needles. “I thought you swore there’d be no wolf-men here tonight, Bane.”
“I invited none of the Moon’s Children,” Magnus said, examining his glittery nails. “Precisely because of your stupid little feud. If any of them decided to sabotage your bike, they weren’t a guest of mine, and are therefore …” He offered a winsome smile. “Not my responsibility.”
The vampire roared with rage, jabbing his finger toward Magnus. “Are you trying to tell me that—”
Magnus’s glitter-coated index finger twitched just a fraction, so slightly that Clary almost thought he hadn’t moved at all. Mid-roar the vampire gagged and clutched at his throat. His mouth worked, but no sound came out.
“You’ve worn out your welcome,” Magnus said lazily, opening his eyes very wide. Clary saw, with a jolt of surprise, that they had vertical slit pupils, like a cat’s. “Now go.” He splayed the fingers of his hand, and the vampire turned as smartly as if someone had grabbed his shoulders and spun him around. He marched back into the crowd, heading toward the door.
Jace whistled under his breath. “That was impressive.”
“You mean that little hissy fit?” Magnus cast his eyes toward the ceiling. “I know. What is her problem?”
Alec made a choking noise. After a moment Clary recognized it as laughter. He ought to do that more often.
“We put the holy water in his gas tank, you know,” he said.
“ALEC,” said Jace. “Shut up.”
“I assumed that,” said Magnus, looking amused. “Vindictive little bastards, aren’t you? You know their bikes run on demon energies. I doubt he’ll be able to repair it.”
“One less leech with a fancy ride,” said Jace. “My heart bleeds.”
“I heard some of them can make their bikes fly,” put in Alec, who looked animated for once. He was almost smiling.
“Merely an old witches’ tale,” said Magnus, his cat’s eyes glittering. “So is that why you wanted to crash my party? Just to wreck some bloodsucker bikes?”
“No.” Jace was all business again. “We need to talk to you. Preferably somewhere private.”
Magnus raised an eyebrow. Damn, Clary thought, another one. “Am I in trouble with the Clave?”
“No,” said Jace.
“Probably not,” said Alec. “Ow!” He glared at Jace, who had kicked him sharply in the ankle.
“No,” Jace repeated. “We can talk to you under the seal of the Covenant. If you help us, anything you say will be confidential.”
“And if I don’t help you?”
Jace spread his hands wide. The rune tattoos on his palms stood out stark and black. “Maybe nothing. Maybe a visit from the Silent City.”
Magnus’s voice was honey poured over shards of ice. “That’s quite a choice you’re offering me, little Shadowhunter.”
“It’s no choice at all,” said Jace.
“Yes,” said the warlock. “That’s exactly what I meant.”
Magnus’s bedroom was a riot of color: canary-yellow sheets and bedspread draped over a mattress on the floor, electric-blue vanity table strewn with more pots of paint and makeup than Isabelle’s. Rainbow velvet curtains hid the floor-to-ceiling windows, and a tangled wool rug covered the floor.
“Nice place,” said Jace, drawing aside a heavy swag of curtain. “Guess it pays well, being the High Warlock of Brooklyn?”
“It pays,” Magnus said. “Not much of a benefit package, though. No dental.” He shut the door behind him and leaned against it. When he crossed his arms, his T-shirt rode up, showing a strip of flat golden stomach unmarked by a navel. “So,” he said. “What’s on your devious little minds?”
“It’s not them, actually,” Clary said, finding her voice before Jace could reply. “I’m the one who wanted to talk to you.”
Magnus turned his inhuman eyes on her. “You are not one of them,” he said. “Not of the Clave. But you can see the Invisible World.”
“My mother was one of the Clave,” Clary said. It was the first time she had said it out loud and known it to be true. “But she never told me. She kept it a secret. I don’t know why.”
“So ask her.”
“I can’t. She’s …” Clary hesitated. “She’s gone.”
“And your father?”
“He died before I was born.”
Magnus exhaled irritably. “As Oscar Wilde once said, ‘To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both seems like carelessness.’”
Clary heard Jace make a small hissing sound, like air being sucked through his teeth. She said, “I didn’t lose my mother. She was taken from me. By Valentine.”
“I don’t know any Valentine,” said Magnus, but his eyes flickered like wavering candle flames, and Clary knew he was lying. “I’m sorry for your tragic circumstances, but I fail to see what any of this has to do with me. If you could tell me—”
“She can’t tell you, because she doesn’t remember,” Jace said sharply. “Someone erased her memories. So we went to the Silent City to see what the Brothers could pull out of her head. They got two words. I think you can guess what they were.”
There was a short silence. Finally, Magnus let his mouth turn up at the corner. His smile was bitter. “My signature,” he said. “I knew it was folly when I did it. An act of hubris …”
“You signed my mind?” Clary said in disbelief.
Magnus raised his hand, tracing the fiery outlines of letters against the air. When he dropped his hand, they hung there, hot and golden, making the painted lines of his eyes and mouth burn with reflected light. MAGNUS BANE.
“I was proud of my work on you,” he said slowly, looking at Clary. “So clean. So perfect. What you saw you would forget, even as you saw it. No image of pixie or goblin or long-legged beastie would remain to trouble your blameless mortal sleep. It was the way she wanted it.”
Clary’s voice was thin with tension. “The way who wanted it?”
Magnus sighed, and at the touch of his breath, the fire letters sifted away to glowing ash. Finally he spoke—and though she was not surprised, though she had known exactly what he was going to say, still she felt the words like a blow against her heart.
“Your mother,” he said.
THE MEMORY OF WHITENESS
“MY MOTHER DID THIS TO ME?” CLARY DEMANDED, BUT her surprised outrage didn’t sound convincing, even to her own ears. Looking around, she saw pity in Jace’s eyes, in Alec’s—even Alec had guessed and felt sorry for her. “Why?”
“I don’t know.” Magnus spread his long white hands. “It’s not my job to ask questions. I do what I get paid to do.”
“Within the bounds of the Covenant,” Jace reminded him, his voice soft as cat’s fur.
Magnus inclined his head. “Within the bounds of the Covenant, of course.”
“So the Covenant’s all right with this—this mind-rape?” Clary asked bitterly. When no one answered, she sank down on the edge of Magnus’s bed. “Was it only once? Was there something specific she wanted me to forget? Do you know what it was?”
Magnus paced restlessly to the window. “I don’t think you understand. The first time I ever saw you, you must have been about two years old. I was watching out this window”—he tapped the glass, freeing a shower of dust and paint chips—“and I saw her hurrying up the street, holding something wrapped in a blanket. I was surprised when she stopped at my door. She looked so ordinary, so young.”
The moonlight touched his hawkish profile with silver. “She unwrapped the blanket when she came in my door. You were inside it. She set you down on the floor and you started ranging around, picking things up, pulling my cat’s tail—you screamed like a banshee when the cat scratched you, so I asked your mother if you were part banshee. She didn’t laugh.” He paused. They were all watching him intently now, even Alec. “She told me she was a Shadowhunter. There was no point in her lying about it; Covenant Marks show up, even when they’ve faded with time, like faint silver scars against the skin. They flickered when she moved.” He rubbed at the glitter makeup around his eyes. “She told me she’d hoped you’d been born with a blind Inner Eye—some Shadowhunters have to be taught to see the Shadow World. But she’d caught you that afternoon, teasing a pixie trapped in a hedge. She knew you could see. So she asked me if it was possible to blind you of the Sight.”