He blinked. His hair was dry now. “Whatever you know, Emma,” he said in a low voice, “it’s time to tell me.”
So she did. Leaving nothing out, she told him what Malcolm had said to her about the parabatai curse, how he was showing her mercy, killing her, when otherwise she and Julian would watch each other die. How the Nephilim hated love. What Jem had confirmed for her: the terrible fate of parabatai who fell in love; the death and destruction they would bring down around them. How she knew that neither of them could ever become mundanes or Downworlders to break the bond: how being Shadowhunters was part of their souls and their selves, how the exile from their families would destroy them.
The light from the fire threw a dark gold glow across his face, his hair, but she could see how pale he was, even under that, and the starkness that took over his expression as she spoke, as if the shadows were growing harsher. Outside, the rain poured steadily down.
When she was done, he was silent a long time. Emma’s mouth was dry, as if she’d been swallowing cotton. Finally she could stand it no longer and moved toward him, knocking the pillow onto the floor. “Jules—”
He held a hand up. “Why didn’t you tell me any of this?”
She looked at him miserably. “Because of what Jem said. That finding out that what we had was forbidden for good reason would just make it worse. Believe me, knowing what I know hasn’t made me love you any less.”
His eyes were such a dark blue in the dim light they looked like Kit’s. “So you decided to make me hate you.”
“I tried,” she whispered. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
“But I could never hate you,” he said. “Hating you would be like hating the idea of good things ever happening in the world. It would be like death. I thought you didn’t love me, Emma. But I never hated you.”
“And I thought you didn’t love me.”
“And it didn’t make any difference, did it? We still loved each other. I understand why you were so upset about what we did to Porthallow Church, now.”
She nodded. “The curse makes you stronger before it makes you destructive.”
“I’m glad you told me.” He touched her cheek, her hair. “Now we know nothing we can do will change how we feel about each other. We’ll have to find another solution.”
There were tears on Emma’s face, though she didn’t remember starting to cry. “I thought if you stopped loving me, you’d be sad for a while. And if I was sad forever, that would be okay. Because you’d be all right, and I’d still be your parabatai. And if you could be happy eventually, then I could be happy too, for you.”
“You’re an idiot,” Julian said. He put his arms around her and rocked her, his lips against her hair, and he whispered, the way he whispered when Tavvy had nightmares, that she was brave to have done what she did, that they’d fix it all, they’d find a way. And even though Emma could still see no way out for them, she relaxed against his chest, letting herself feel the relief of having shared the burden, just for this moment. “But I can’t be angry. There’s something I should have told you, as well.”
She drew away from him. “What is it?”
He was fiddling with his glass bracelet. Since Julian rarely expressed any anxiety in a visible way, Emma felt her heart thump.
“Julian,” she said. “Tell me.”
“When we were going into Faerie,” he said in a low voice, “the phouka told me that if I entered the Lands, I would meet someone who knew how to break the parabatai bond.”
The thumping of Emma’s heart became a rapid tattoo beating against the inside of her rib cage. She sat up straight. “Are you saying you know how to break it?”
He shook his head. “The wording was correct—I met someone who did know how to break it. The Seelie Queen, to be precise. And she told me she knew it could be done, but not how.”
“Is that part of returning the book?” Emma said. “We give her the Black Volume, she tells us how to end the bond?”
He nodded. He was looking at the fire.
“You didn’t tell me,” she said. “Is that because you thought I wouldn’t care?”
“Partially,” he said. “If you didn’t want the bond broken, then neither did I. I’d rather be your parabatai than nothing.”
“And there’s more,” he said. “She told me there would be a cost.”
Of course, a cost. There is always a cost when faeries are involved.
“What kind of cost?” she whispered.
“Breaking the bond involves using the Black Volume to dig out the root of all parabatai ceremonies,” said Julian. “It would break our bond, yes. But it would also destroy every parabatai bond in the world. They’d all be snapped. There’d be no more parabatai.”
Emma stared at him in absolute shock. “We couldn’t possibly do that. Alec and Jace—Clary and Simon—there are so many others—”
“You think I don’t know that? But I couldn’t not tell you. You have a right to know.”
Emma felt as if she could barely breathe. “The Queen—”
A sharp bang echoed through the room, as if someone had set off a firecracker. Magnus Bane appeared in their kitchen, wrapped in a long black coat, his right hand sparking blue fire, his expression thunderous. “Why in the names of the nine princes of Hell are neither of you answering your phone?” he demanded.
Emma and Julian gaped at him. After a moment, he gaped back.
“My God,” he said. “Are you . . . ?”
He didn’t finish the question. He didn’t have to.
Emma and Julian scrambled out of the bed. They were both mostly dressed, but Magnus was looking at them as if he’d caught them in flagrante.
“Magnus,” Julian said. He didn’t follow up his greeting by saying it wasn’t like that, or Magnus was getting the wrong idea. Julian didn’t say things like that. “What’s going on? Is something wrong at home?”
Magnus looked, at that moment, like he was feeling his age. “Parabatai,” he said, and sighed. “Yes, something’s wrong. We need to get you back to the Institute. Grab your things and get ready to leave.”
He leaned back against the kitchen island, crossing his arms. He was wearing a sort of greatcoat with several layers of short capes in the back. He was dry—he must have Portaled from inside the Institute.
“There’s blood on your sword, Emma,” he said, looking at where Cortana was propped against the wall.
“Faerie blood,” said Emma. Julian was yanking on a sweater and running his fingers through his wild hair.
“When you say faerie blood,” Magnus said, “you mean the Riders, don’t you?”
Emma saw Julian start. “They were looking for us—how would you know?”
“They weren’t just looking for you. The King sent them to find the Black Volume. He instructed them to hunt all of you—all the Blackthorns.”
“To hunt us?” Julian demanded. “Is anyone hurt?” He strode across the room to Magnus, almost as if he meant to grab the warlock by his shirt and shake him. “Is anyone in my family hurt?”
“Julian.” Magnus’s voice was firm. “Everyone’s fine. But the Riders did come. They attacked Kit, Ty, and Livvy.”
“And they’re all right?” Emma demanded anxiously, shoving her feet into boots.
“Yes—I got a fire-message from Alec,” Magnus said. “Kit got a bump on the head. Ty and Livvy, not a scratch. But they were lucky—Gwyn and Diana intervened.”
“Diana and Gwyn? Together?” Emma was baffled.
“Emma killed one of the Riders,” Julian said. He was gathering up Annabel’s portfolio, Malcolm’s diaries, shoving them into his bag. “We hid his body up on the cliff, but we probably shouldn’t leave it there.”
Magnus whistled between his teeth. “No one’s killed one of Mannan’s Riders in—well, in all the history I know.”
Emma shuddered, remembering the cold feeling as the blade had gone into Fal’s body. “It was horrible.”
“The rest of them are not gone forever,” said Magnus. “They will come back.”
Julian zipped his bag and Emma’s. “Then we need to take the children somewhere safe. Somewhere the Riders won’t find them.”