"Jaelyn," Valentine said silkily, "how nice of you to join us."
"Wouldn't… miss it… for the world," I panted, doing my best to drag myself over to the wall so I could lean against it. It seemed like a better choice than slumping over on the floor. There's a touch more dignity in slouching than slumping.
He let go of Clary who immediately ran over to my side. "What happened?" she hissed.
"I see you tried to wield Maellertach," Valentine continued. "It looks like it nearly killed you."
"Better luck next time, huh?"
Clary shot me a look of confusion.
"There's a long explanation," I told her briefly. "Short version: I can do magic. Evil Maellertach doesn't like that."
"So the Queen did manage to get ahold of you." He sounded like he was discussing a doctor's office calling about an appointment. "I'm glad. I'm very curious about what you're able to do, Jaelyn."
"Her name is Jaci!" Clary shouted, launching herself to her feet and moving considerably closer to where the sword rested on the table.
"Clary, no," I said evenly, guessing her plan. "The sword will only burn you. You can't use it. Only he can." I paused to glare at the quietly gloating psychopath. "That's why it's not locked up."
"For all your shortcomings, Jaelyn, you still are somewhat smart."
Time to stall and pray that help was on its way. "Excuse me for not being flattered."
Valentine sighed as he considered both of us. "It's such a shame you were both ruined by your upbringing. You had such potential but… your mother was always a stubborn woman. It was one of the things I loved about her in the beginning. I thought she would stand by her ideals."
"She did!" Clary spat.
His eyes flashed and he slowly started to cross the room, coming barely closer. "Do you know why your mother left me?"
"Because you're an arrogant bastard?" I suggested.
"You mean there's only one reason?" Clary snapped.
He, of course, ignored us both. "She told me that I had turned her first child into a monster. She left me before I could do the same to her second. You. But she was too late."
He was reaching for the sword and that had to be stopped at all costs. I tried to think of the runes that would distract him and take the least amount of energy. Before I could, Clary spoke.
"She'd never say that," Clary whispered. "Jace isn't a monster. Neither am I."
"I wasn't talking about Ja-"
He was interrupted by the trapdoor falling open just to his right. Two figures dropped through and if I'd had any sort of energy to speak of, I would've been grinning.
"Simon!" Clary cried, her voice filled with emotion. Hashtag not dead!
Valentine whirled, looking truly surprised.
"What did you do to her?" Jace's voice was horrorstricken and I realized I was the her he was talking about.
Valentine took a moment to gather himself. "Nothing. Yet."
"Clary," I said her name as barely more than a breath. Fortunately, she heard me.
"What is it?" She'd turned her head so that her ear was closer to my mouth and she could still see Valentine advancing towards Jace.
"Valentine cannot pick up the sword no matter what, got it?"
"But how am I supposed to do anything about that?"
With a tremendous amount of effort, I pulled my stele out from its designated pouch on my belt and passed it to her. "By doing whatever it takes."
She looked at the stele, then at Valentine, then at the wall I was propped against. "I have an idea, but I don't think I'm strong enough."
"You are," I said without hesitation, taking her left hand in both of mine. "I'll give you whatever strength I can, just do what you have to."
Valentine had finally noticed us. "What-" He was crossing the room, going for the sword.
I divided my attention, half of it focusing on Clary and the other half furiously working to create a barrier between Valentine and the sword. Each task was draining and I could feel myself fading but both were succeeding. Valentine's progress across the room was significantly slowed, as if he were trudging through tick, waist deep mud and the stele in Clary's hand was shining brightly, leaving behind a line of fire instead of the usual black, charred look of the runes.
Then Clary finished the rune and my strength was all focused on Valentine who stumbled back several steps, sword forgotten. He was staring – along with Simon and Jace – at what Clary had done.
"What does it say?" Simon asked softly.
A look of horror had come to settle on Valentine's face. "It says, 'mene mene tekel upharsin.'"
Clary climbed to her feet and I noticed that the edges of the room were going black.
"It says open," she snapped.
After that, I've been told, the ship tore itself apart. Every bolt and rivet separated, water rushed in, demons drowned, and Nixies pulled the Shadowhunters – dead and alive – out of the river. The oil from the ship caught fire and the air was filled with ashes. All this happened just as the sun was beginning to rise. Simon, trapped in the open, had survived the direct rays of light and earned himself the title of Daylighter. The wounded were taken to the infirmary in the Institute where I woke up, two days later, between Robert Lightwood and the Inquisitor.
"Oh thank God," Isabelle's voice said the moment I opened my eyes.
I turned to see her sitting next to me, on the side of her father.
"Hi, Izzy," I croaked.
"Here, drink," she ordered, holding a cup up to my mouth. Water had never tasted so wonderful.
Something moved by my feet and I glanced down to see Peeta curled up by my toes.
"How are you feeling?" Isabelle asked, taking the cup of water away.
I sighed. "Exhausted."
She raised her eyebrows at me. "I bet. Magnus said you nearly used up all of your strength casting spells and fighting demons, you little Shadow-Mage."
"Shadow-Mage?" I echoed.
She shrugged. "It's what Magnus has been calling you."
"Where is Magnus?"
"Probably with Alec. Actually, I was supposed to let him know the moment you woke up." She glanced towards the door to the Infirmary. "I'll just text him."
I glanced over at the table beside my bed. My weapons from the battle were all piled there. "You should also ask him how to undo the Ritual of Infernal Conversion."
"Honey," Isabelle said, resting her hand on my arm. "Valentine got away with the Mortal Instruments. I'm glad you're looking to the future but we can't worry about the Sword's alliance until we actually have it."
I couldn't help grinning. "We do have it. I was able to switch my sword for the Soul Sword."
Isabelle gave me a look that clearly showed she was worried about my mental state. "Jaci, I'm looking at your sword right now and it's definitely not Maellertach."
"Give me your hand," I instructed. "I'm going to use your strength to undo the glamour, okay?" I closed my eyes and focused, peeling away all the layers I'd so carefully placed. I knew I'd been successful when I heard the sound of the scabbard breaking. Maellertach was bigger than the longsword I'd previously carried.
"You're more skilled than I thought," Magnus said, having entered the Infirmary while I was concentrating on the spell. He approached the side of my bed, gazing down at the Sword. "Valentine didn't notice?"
"He never picked up the fake. He had no idea."
His smile was tight. "Maryse will be happy to hear that. Now out of my way, Shadowhunter. I need to see my patient."
Isabelle stepped aside. "I'll go find Jace."
I closed my eyes as Magnus checked to make sure there wasn't an imminent threat of death.
"You're fine," he announced at last. "Better off than these two. They were both poisoned," he explained. "You were just severely exhausted but there's no reason you'd have to stay here any longer. You can go back to your room just don't go hunting demons or performing incredibly complex magic for a while, all right?"
This was the friendliest I'd ever seen Magnus. "Magnus, did you know?"
"Did I know what?"
"That I'd be a Mage?"
He chuckled. "Oh no. Mages were only a theoretical thing. It was suggested that if a Shadowhunter and a warlock were able to have a child – impossible, as you well know – then the child could potentially wield Light magic and utilize the runes. There were many who tried it. One experiment was nearly successful: a warlock child was born of a Shadowhunter mother. Unfortunately, the girl could never carry Marks and could only use Neutral magic but she is a very powerful warlock."
"So Valentine was the first to think of using faerie blood," I pointed out.
"Or at least the first to use it successfully." The sparkling warlock shrugged. "It doesn't matter how you became what you are, it just matters what you choose to do with it."
"The Seelie Queen wanted to use me."
"Of course she did."
We were quiet for a few minutes. The light in the Infirmary was soft and warm, so different from the dark interior of Valentine's ship.
"I think the Clave's found out about me," I said in a small voice.
"So you'll be going to Idris then."
It wasn't a question so I didn't answer it.
"Jaci, if you ever need any help with magic – or someone to teach you – Alec has a key to my apartment."
"Thanks, Magnus." I meant it for far more than this most recent kindness.
He seemed to understand.
"So this has been a long time coming," I began, looking at the group assembled. "And I know there are parts of this that are going to sound entirely crazy. But," I gestured towards the three books I had stacked on Hodge's old desk, "I have evidence to back me up."
Jace, Isabelle, Alec, Clary, and Magnus all waited patiently for me to continue. Well, maybe patiently wasn't the right word. I'd already talked to Jace a bit so he knew a little about what I was going to say. The memory came up unbidden-
"I have to tell you something," I said, staring intensely at the leaf I held in my hands. "Actually, it'd be easier if I just… fixed something."
"Okay," he answered cautiously.
I drew the rune for Remembrance on his skin and brought back his memories of the book and consequently, my erasing those memories.
He was very quiet for a moment. "You had no right to do that." And with that he got up and walked away.
-and I couldn't help but glance nervously at Jace. His expression was impossible to read.
"Why don't you sit down?" Isabelle suggested.
I nodded, grabbed the books, and sat down on a couch between Isabelle and Clary.
"So… there are other dimensions. And we always believed that only demons can travel between them but that's not true. Angels can travel between dimensions, too, and they can send people to other dimensions.
"There is another dimension where this entire world is fiction. You are all characters in books in another dimension. Everything that's to do with Valentine, ever since Clary showed up at the Pandemonium Club, it's in books. These books, actually."
I handed City of Bones to Clary. Almost as if she were afraid the book would bite her, she gently opened the cover and started reading the first chapter.
"This isn't possible."
"Obviously, it is," I countered, handing the other two books to Isabelle and Magnus. "Now for the really weird part: I'm originally from that other dimension. That's why I have the books.
"The angel Peliel brought me here and dropped me into a world that was once a story I knew but somehow the books managed to come with me."
"But you grew up here," Clary argued. "I know you did."
I sighed. "Peliel altered everything so that I fit into this world seamlessly. But the reason I'm telling you all this is because we've reached the end of City of Ashes and war breaks out, and soon. I think we can save a bunch of people their lives if we're all able to call the shots before they're fired."
Isabelle cracked open City of Glass and started reading aloud. "'The cold snap of the previous week was over; the sun was shining brightly as Clary hurried across Luke's dusty front yard, the hood of her jacket up to keep her hair from blowing across her face. The weather might have warmed up, but the wind off the East River could still be brutal. It carried with it a faint chemical smell, mixed with the Brooklyn smell of asphalt, gasoline, and burned sugar from the abandoned factory down the street.' Then it talks about Simon. This is crazy."
"By the way," I said, "Jace, you really ought to talk to the Inquisitor. And soon. P.S. You and Clary aren't related."
Jace said nothing, just turned to lean over Alec's shoulder and inspect City of Bones. He wasn't upset about the dimension hopping or the existence of the books, he was upset that I'd tampered with his memories and I couldn't blame him.
"This woman, Madeleine," Clary said suddenly, "she knows how to wake mom!"
Alec shook his head sadly. "Madeleine was one of the Shadowhunters killed on the ship."
We all fell into silence respectfully for a few moments.
"We still know how to heal Jocelyn," Magnus pointed out, taking City of Glass from Isabelle and paging through it. "Unless this author was a horrible woman and never let Clary and her mother get reunited."
"Who's Sebastian?" Isabelle asked, skimming pages with Magnus.
"Oh," I said, my heart sinking. "Him. We need to talk about him…"
"You could have just told me all of this, you know," Jace said quietly.
We were the last two left in the library, it was dark and the fire had almost burned itself out so that it was very difficult for me to see Jace.
"I know that now," I pointed out. "The Clave's definition of a demon is anything that travels between dimensions. I was scared, okay? And I wasn't very smart about it. I thought the Clave would kill me if they found out."
"So you erase my memories."
"I panicked, Jace."
"What did you think I was going to do?"
I wanted to disappear. "I don't know."
"Is there anything you do know?" I wished he would yell. His calm tone was so much worse.
"I know that I royally messed up and I never meant to hurt you. I was scared and I panicked and there's no excuse. I should've trusted you more."
"Promise me you'll never tamper with my memories again."
That was easy. "I swear by the Angel that I will never magically alter your memories again."
He sighed and got to his feet. "It's late, Jaci. We should get to sleep."
I stared at the fire as I nodded, unable to meet his gaze, hating the threat of tears.
Jace came and knelt in front of me, taking my hands in his. "Jaelyn Catori," he began, "I am pissed off at you. I am terrified by you. I don't understand you. Sometimes, you infuriate me. But I want you to know that I love you."
I felt extremely dizzy. "What?"
"I love you," he repeated, "you wonderful wreck of a Shadow-Mage."
I didn't know if I should laugh or cry, so I did both. In a moment, I'd slid off the chair and had my arms wrapped around him as tightly as I could. "I love you, you stupid, arrogant Shadowhunter."