Clary made a little noise, a pained exhalation of breath, but Magnus went on remorselessly.
“I told her that crippling that part of your mind might leave you damaged, possibly insane. She didn’t cry. She wasn’t the sort of woman who weeps easily, your mother. She asked me if there was another way, and I told her you could be made to forget those parts of the Shadow World that you could see, even as you saw them. The only caveat was that she’d have to come to me every two years as the results of the spell began to fade.”
“And did she?” asked Clary.
Magnus nodded. “I’ve seen you every two years since that first time—I’ve watched you grow up. You’re the only child I have ever watched grow up that way, you know. In my business one isn’t generally that welcome around human children.”
“So you recognized Clary when we walked in,” Jace said. “You must have.”
“Of course I did.” Magnus sounded exasperated. “And it was a shock, too. But what would you have done? She didn’t know me. She wasn’t supposed to know me. Just the fact that she was here meant the spell had started to fade—and in fact, we were due for another visit about a month ago. I even came by your house when I got back from Tanzania, but Jocelyn said that you two had had a fight and you’d run off. She said she’d call on me when you came back, but”—an elegant shrug—“she never did.”
A cold wash of memory prickled Clary’s skin. She remembered standing in the foyer next to Simon, straining to remember something that danced just at the edge of her vision … I thought I saw Dorothea’s cat, but it was just a trick of the light.
But Dorothea didn’t have a cat. “You were there, that day,” Clary said. “I saw you coming out of Dorothea’s apartment. I remember your eyes.”
Magnus looked as if he might purr. “I’m memorable, it’s true,” he gloated. Then he shook his head. “You shouldn’t remember me,” he said. “I threw up a glamour as hard as a wall as soon as I saw you. You should have run right into it face-first—psychically speaking.”
If you run into a psychic wall face-first, do you wind up with psychic bruises? Clary said, “If you take the spell off me, will I be able to remember all the things I’ve forgotten? All the memories you stole?”
“I can’t take it off you.” Magnus looked uncomfortable.
“What?” Jace sounded furious. “Why not? The Clave requires you—”
Magnus looked at him coldly. “I don’t like being told what to do, little Shadowhunter.”
Clary could see how much Jace disliked being referred to as “little,” but before he could snap out a reply, Alec spoke. His voice was soft, thoughtful. “Don’t you know how to reverse it?” he asked. “The spell, I mean.”
Magnus sighed. “Undoing a spell is a great deal more difficult than creating it in the first place. The intricacy of this one, the care I put into weaving it—if I made even the smallest mistake in unraveling it, her mind could be damaged forever. Besides,” he added, “it’s already begun to fade. The effects will vanish over time on their own.”
Clary looked at him sharply. “Will I get all my memories back then? Whatever was taken out of my head?”
“I don’t know. They might come back all at once, or in stages. Or you might never remember what you’ve forgotten over the years. What your mother asked me to do was unique, in my experience. I’ve no idea what will happen.”
“But I don’t want to wait.” Clary folded her hands tightly in her lap, her fingers clamped together so hard that the tips turned white. “All my life I’ve felt like there was something wrong with me. Something missing or damaged. Now I know—”
“I didn’t damage you.” It was Magnus’s turn to interrupt, his lips curled back angrily to show sharp white teeth. “Every teenager in the world feels like that, feels broken or out of place, different somehow, royalty mistakenly born into a family of peasants. The difference in your case is that it’s true. You are different. Maybe not better—but different. And it’s no picnic being different. You want to know what it’s like when your parents are good churchgoing folk and you happen to be born with the devil’s mark?” He pointed at his eyes, fingers splayed. “When your father flinches at the sight of you and your mother hangs herself in the barn, driven mad by what she’s done? When I was ten, my father tried to drown me in the creek. I lashed out at him with everything I had—burned him where he stood. I went to the fathers of the church eventually, for sanctuary. They hid me. They say that pity’s a bitter thing, but it’s better than hate. When I found out what I was really, only half a human being, I hated myself. Anything’s better than that.”
There was silence when Magnus was done speaking. To Clary’s surprise, it was Alec who broke it. “It wasn’t your fault,” he said. “You can’t help how you’re born.”
Magnus’s expression was closed. “I’m over it,” he said. “I think you get my point. Different isn’t better, Clarissa. Your mother was trying to protect you. Don’t throw it back in her face.”
Clary’s hands relaxed their grip on each other. “I don’t care if I’m different,” she said. “I just want to be who I really am.”
Magnus swore, in a language she didn’t know. It sounded like crackling flames. “All right. Listen. I can’t undo what I’ve done, but I can give you something else. A piece of what would have been yours if you’d been raised a true child of the Nephilim.” He stalked across the room to the bookcase and dragged down a heavy volume bound in rotting green velvet. He flipped through the pages, shedding dust and bits of blackened cloth. The pages were thin, almost translucent eggshell parchment, each marked with a stark black rune.
Jace’s eyebrows went up. “Is that a copy of the Gray Book?”
Magnus, feverishly flipping pages, said nothing.
“Hodge has one,” Alec observed. “He showed it to me once.”
“It’s not gray,” Clary felt compelled to point out. “It’s green.”
“If there was such a thing as terminal literalism, you’d have died in childhood,” said Jace, brushing dust off the windowsill and eyeing it as if considering whether it was clean enough to sit on. “Gray is short for ‘Gramarye.’ It means ‘magic, hidden wisdom.’ In it is copied every rune the Angel Raziel wrote in the original Book of the Covenant. There aren’t many copies because each one has to be specially made. Some of the runes are so powerful they’d burn through regular pages.”
Alec looked impressed. “I didn’t know all that.”
Jace hopped up on the windowsill and swung his legs. “Not all of us sleep through history lessons.”
“I do not—”
“Oh, yes you do, and drool on the desk besides.”
“Shut up,” said Magnus, but he said it quite mildly. He hooked his finger between two pages of the book and came over to Clary, setting it carefully in her lap. “Now, when I open the book, I want you to study the page. Look at it until you feel something change inside your mind.”
“Will it hurt?” Clary asked nervously.
“All knowledge hurts,” he replied, and stood up, letting the book fall open in her lap. Clary stared down at the clean white page with the black rune Mark spilled across it. It looked something like a winged spiral, until she tilted her head, and then it seemed like a staff wound around with vines. The mutable corners of the pattern tickled her mind like feathers brushed against sensitive skin. She felt the shivery flicker of reaction, making her want to close her eyes, but she held them open until they stung and blurred. She was about to blink when she felt it: a click inside her head, like a key turning in a lock.
The rune on the page seemed to spring into sharp focus, and she thought, involuntarily, Remember. If the rune were a word, it would have been that one, but there was more meaning to it than any word she could imagine. It was a child’s first memory of light falling through crib bars, the recollected scent of rain and city streets, the pain of unforgotten loss, the sting of remembered humiliation, and the cruel forgetfulness of old age, when the most ancient of memories stand out with agonizingly clear precision and the nearest of incidents are lost beyond recall.
With a little sigh she turned to the next page, and the next, letting the images and sensations flow over her. Sorrow. Thought. Strength. Protection. Grace—and then cried out in reproachful surprise as Magnus snatched the book off her lap.
“That’s enough,” he said, sliding it back onto its shelf. He dusted his hands off on his colorful pants, leaving streaks of gray. “If you read all the runes at once, you’ll give yourself a headache.”
“Most Shadowhunter children grow up learning one rune at a time over a period of years,” said Jace. “The Gray Book contains runes even I don’t know.”
“Imagine that,” said Magnus.
Jace ignored him. “Magnus showed you the rune for understanding and remembrance. It opens your mind up to reading and recognizing the rest of the Marks.”
“It also may serve as a trigger to activate dormant memories,” said Magnus. “They could return to you more quickly than they would otherwise. It’s the best I can do.”
Clary looked down at her lap. “I still don’t remember anything about the Mortal Cup.”
“Is that what this is about?” Magnus sounded actually astonished. “You’re after the Angel’s Cup? Look, I’ve been through your memories. There was nothing in them about the Mortal Instruments.”
“Mortal Instruments?” Clary echoed, bewildered. “I thought—”
“The Angel gave three items to the first Shadowhunters. A cup, a sword, and a mirror. The Silent Brothers have the Sword; the Cup and the Mirror were in Idris, at least until Valentine came along.”
“Nobody knows where the Mirror is,” said Alec. “Nobody’s known for ages.”
“It’s the Cup that concerns us,” said Jace. “Valentine’s looking for it.”
“And you want to get to it before he does?” Magnus asked, his eyebrows winging upward.
“I thought you said you didn’t know who Valentine was?” Clary pointed out.
“I lied,” Magnus admitted candidly. “I’m not one of the fey, you know. I’m not required to be truthful. And only a fool would get between Valentine and his revenge.”
“Is that what you think he’s after? Revenge?” said Jace.
“I would guess so. He suffered a grave defeat, and he hardly seemed—seems—the type of man to suffer defeat gracefully.”
Alec looked harder at Magnus. “Were you at the Uprising?”
Magnus’s eyes locked with Alec’s. “I was. I killed a number of your folk.”
“Circle members,” said Jace quickly. “Not ours—”
“If you insist on disavowing that which is ugly about what you do,” said Magnus, still looking at Alec, “you will never learn from your mistakes.”
Alec, plucking at the coverlet with one hand, flushed an unhappy red. “You don’t seem surprised to hear that Valentine’s still alive,” he said, avoiding Magnus’s gaze.
Magnus spread his hands wide. “Are you?”
Jace opened his mouth, then closed it again. He looked actually baffled. Eventually, he said, “So you won’t help us find the Mortal Cup?”
“I wouldn’t if I could,” said Magnus, “which, by the way, I can’t. I’ve no idea where it is, and I don’t care to know. Only a fool, as I said.”
Alec sat up straighter. “But without the Cup, we can’t—”
“Make more of you. I know,” said Magnus. “Perhaps not everyone regards that as quite the disaster that you do. Mind you,” he added, “if I had to choose between the Clave and Valentine, I would choose the Clave. At least they’re not actually sworn to wipe out my kind. But nothing the Clave has done has earned my unswerving loyalty either. So no, I’ll sit this one out. Now if we’re done here, I’d like to get back to my party before any of the guests eat each other.”
Jace, who was clenching and unclenching his hands, looked like he was about to say something furious, but Alec, standing up, put a hand on his shoulder. Clary couldn’t quite tell in the dimness, but it looked as if Alec was squeezing rather hard. “Is that likely?” he asked.
Magnus was looking at him with some amusement. “It’s happened before.”
Jace muttered something to Alec, who let go. Detaching himself, he came over to Clary. “Are you all right?” he asked in a low voice.
“I think so. I don’t feel any different …”
Magnus, standing by the door, snapped his fingers impatiently. “Move it along, teenagers. The only person who gets to canoodle in my bedroom is my magnificent self.”
“Canoodle?” repeated Clary, never having heard the word before.
“Magnificent?” repeated Jace, who was just being nasty. Magnus growled. The growl sounded like “Get out.”
They got, Magnus trailing behind them as he paused to lock the bedroom door. The tenor of the party seemed subtly different to Clary. Perhaps it was just her slightly altered vision: Everything seemed clearer, crystalline edges sharply defined. She watched a group of musicians take the small stage at the center of the room. They wore flowing garments in deep colors of gold, purple, and green, and their high voices were sharp and ethereal.
“I hate faerie bands,” Magnus muttered as the musicians segued into another haunting song, the melody as delicate and translucent as rock crystal. “All they ever play is mopey ballads.”