“Does that include you?” asked Cristina, with a smile.
“Obviously,” said Kieran, and he smiled too, just slightly.
Theirs might be the weirdest friendship she’d ever seen, Emma thought.
“We’re off topic,” said Livvy. “Annabel Blackthorn is in our library. That’s weird, right? Doesn’t anyone else think it’s weird?”
“Why is that weirder than vampires?” said Ty, clearly perplexed. “Or werewolves?”
“Well, of course you wouldn’t think it was,” said Kit. “You’re the one who told her to come.”
“Yes, about that,” Julian began. “Is there a particular reason you didn’t tell any of us—”
Ty was saved from a brotherly chastisement by the infirmary door opening. It was Magnus. Emma didn’t like the way he looked—he seemed grimly pale, his eyes shadowed, his movements stiff, as if he were bruised. His mouth was set in a serious line.
“Julian,” he said. “If you could come with me.”
“What for?” asked Emma.
“I’ve been trying to talk to Annabel,” Magnus said. “I thought she might be willing to open up to someone who wasn’t a Shadowhunter if she had the option, but she’s stubborn. She’s stayed polite, but she says she’ll only speak to Julian.”
“Does she not remember you?” Julian asked, getting up.
“She remembers me,” said Magnus. “But as a friend of Malcolm’s. And she’s not his biggest fan these days.”
Ungrateful, Emma remembered Kieran saying. But he was silent now, rebuttoning his torn shirt, his bruised eyes cast downward.
“Why doesn’t she want to talk to Ty?” said Livvy. “He sent her the message.”
Magnus shrugged an I couldn’t tell you shrug.
“All right, I’ll be right back,” said Julian. “We’re leaving for Idris as soon as possible, so everyone grab anything they might need to take with them.”
“The Council meeting is this afternoon,” Magnus said. “I’ll have the strength to make a Portal in a few hours. We’ll be sleeping in Alicante tonight.”
He sounded relieved about it. He and Julian headed out into the hallway. Emma meant to hang back, but she couldn’t—she darted after them before the door closed.
“Jules,” she said. He had already started down the corridor with Magnus; at the sound of her voice, they both turned.
She couldn’t have done it in the infirmary, but it was just Magnus, and he already knew. She went up to Julian and put her arms around him. “Be careful,” she said. “She sent us into a trap in that church. This could be a trap too.”
“I’ll be right there, outside the room,” Magnus said, subdued. “I’ll be ready to intervene. But Julian, under no circumstances should you try to take the Black Volume from her, even if she isn’t holding it. It’s tied to her with pretty powerful magic.”
Julian nodded, and Magnus disappeared down the hallway, leaving them alone. For long moments, they held each other in silence, letting the anxiety of the day dissipate: their fear for each other in the battle, their fear for the children, their worry over what was going to happen in Alicante. Julian was warm and solid in her arms, his hand tracing a soothing line down her back. He smelled of cloves, as always, as well as antiseptic and bandages. She felt his chin nudge her hair as his fingers flew across the back of her shirt.
“Of course I’m worried,” said Emma. “You saw what she did to Etarlam. Do you think you can convince her to just give you the book?”
“I don’t know,” Julian said. “I’ll know when I talk to her.”
“Annabel’s been lied to so much,” said Emma. “Don’t promise anything we can’t deliver.”
He kissed her forehead. His lips moved against her skin, his voice so low that no one who didn’t know him as well as Emma did could have understood him at all. “I will do,” he said, “whatever I need to do.”
She knew he meant it. There was nothing more to say; she watched him go down the corridor toward the library with troubled eyes.
Kit was in his room packing his meager belongings when Livvy came in. She’d dressed for the trip to Idris, in a long black skirt and a round-collared white shirt. Her hair was loose down her back.
She looked at Ty, sitting on Kit’s bed. They’d been discussing Idris and what Ty remembered of it. “It’s not like any place else,” he’d told Kit, “but when you get there, you’ll feel like you’ve been there before.”
“Ty-Ty,” Livvy said. “Bridget says you can take one of the old Sherlock Holmes books from the library and keep it.”
Ty’s face lit up. “Which one?”
“Whichever you want. Your choice. Just hurry up; we’re going to leave as soon as we can, Magnus said.”
Ty bounded to the door, seemed to remember Kit, and swung back around. “We can talk more later,” he said, and darted off down the hallway.
“Only one book! One!” Livvy called after him with a laugh. “Ouch!” She reached up to fiddle with something at the back of her neck, her face crinkled in annoyance. “My necklace is caught on my hair—”
Kit reached up to untangle the thin gold chain. A locket dangled from it, kissing the hollow of her throat. Up close, she smelled like orange blossoms.
Their faces were very close together, and the pale curve of her mouth was near his. Her lips were light rose pink. Confusion stirred in Kit.
But it was Livvy who shook her head. “We shouldn’t, Kit. No more kissing. I mean, we only did it once anyway. But I don’t think that’s how we’re meant to be.”
The necklace came free. Kit drew his hands away quickly, confused.
“Why?” he asked. “Did I do something wrong?”
“Not even a little.” She looked at him for a moment with her wise and thoughtful eyes; there was a soft happiness in Livvy that drew Kit, but not in a romantic way. She was right, and he knew it. “Everything’s great. Ty even says he thinks we should be parabatai, after all this is cleared up.” Her face glowed. “I hope you’ll come to the ceremony. And you’ll always be my friend, right?”
“Of course,” he said, and only later did he stop to think that she had said my friend, and not our friend, hers and Ty’s. Right now he was just relieved that he didn’t feel hurt or bothered by her decision. He felt instead a pleasant anticipation of getting through this Council meeting and going home—back to Los Angeles—where he could start his training and have the twins to help him through the rough parts. “Friends always.”
Julian felt a twist of apprehension in his stomach as he entered the library. Part of him half-expected Annabel to have vanished, or to be drifting around the stacks of books like a long-haired ghost in a horror movie. He’d seen one once where the ghost of a girl had crawled out of a well, her pale face hidden behind masses of wet, dark hair. The memory gave him shivers even now.
The library was well illuminated by its rows of green banker’s lamps. Annabel sat at the longest table, the Black Volume in front of her, her hands clasped in her lap. Her hair was long and dark, and half-hid her face, but it wasn’t wet and there wasn’t anything obviously uncanny about her. She looked—ordinary.
He sat down across from her. Magnus must have brought her something to wear from the storage room: She was in a very plain blue dress, a little short in the sleeves. Jules guessed she had been around nineteen when she died, maybe twenty.
“That was quite a trick you pulled,” he said, “with the note in the church. And the demon.”
“I didn’t expect you to burn the church down.” That pronounced accent was back in her voice, the strangeness of a way of speaking long outdated now. “You surprised me.”
“And you’ve surprised me, coming here,” Julian said. “And saying you’d only talk to me. You don’t even like me, I thought.”
“I came because of this.” She drew the folded paper from the book and held it out to him. Her fingers were long, the joints strangely misshapen. He realized he was looking at evidence that her fingers had been broken, more than once, and that the bones had knit back together oddly. The visible remnants of torture. He felt a little sick as he took the letter and opened it.